Hello, and welcome back to the Wheel of Time Re-read!
Today’s entry covers Chapters 15 and 16 of The Path of Daggers, in which the Plots Put Molasses To Shame. Dun!
Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of information regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.
This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And that’s about it, as per the usual, so click on to read the post.
A note before we begin, which I regret has been made necessary, but, well. Please note that this is not directed at any one person, but at a general trend which I have at length decided I am done with.
A while back on the re-read I went back and edited a post in response to a request made by a commenter, who was offended by something I had said in that post. I now realize that this was a mistake, in more ways than one.
In the less important sense, it was a mistake because (as I should have realized) it immediately opened the floodgates for anyone who had a problem with anything I wrote to think they had the right to ask me to stop writing whatever it is that particular person didn’t like or disagreed with. In the more important sense, it was a mistake because on reflection, going back and editing my words in that manner is ethically shaky, and kind of like cheating; if I’m going to say something in a public venue, I should either stand by it, or not say it in the first place.
Ironically, the more important of these two issues is the one easiest to correct, and here I go: Henceforth, a blog post laid is a blog post played. I will no longer retroactively edit the content of any re-read post, except to correct typos and/or formatting errors. Bam, look at that, fixed.
As to the other, this is what I have to say, and this is the last time I’m going to say it:
I write the way I write. The way I write is not going to be to everyone’s taste. The things I write about are not going to be to everyone’s taste. If you have been reading the blog long enough to be reading this particular entry, then you are by now more than well aware of how I write, and objecting to the manner in which I write at this late stage strikes me as more than a little disingenuous, even if I did inadvertently open the door for it.
Well, I am closing that door now.
If you do not like the way I write, that is of course totally fine. I am not here to tell you what to like or what not to like. But in that case I respectfully suggest you stop reading this blog, because the way I write—which can be considered an expression of what I like and do not like—is not going to change.
Because just as I am sure that you do not appreciate people telling you what you should or should not like, I don’t appreciate it either. And frankly, I would lose all respect for myself if I were to kowtow to “suggestions” that I should tailor my methods of expressing my thoughts to anyone else’s standards other than my own. As both a writer and as a human being, I find the notion not just questionable but actually ethically bankrupt—and not to mention a fool’s errand anyway, since it is logistically completely impossible to adhere to everyone’s standards all at once even if I were that spineless.
In short, forget it. Not happening. Not to get all twee on you, but I have an obligation to be true to myself that far outweighs my obligation to cater to the tastes of others. Assuming I have any obligation to cater to the tastes of others, which, actually? I don’t.
Let me be perfectly clear: As a reader, you have every right—you have an open and warm invitation, in fact—to debate and discuss to your hearts’ content the merit of the views, observations, and opinions I put forth in this blog. That’s what it’s here for; that’s the point of me writing it. And I think I’m safe in saying that’s why so many people enjoy it, including me. So have at it, seriously. Nothing about that has changed.
At the same time, as a reader you also have every right to make your own decisions about whether you like or do not like the way in which I express those views, observations, or opinions—and, consequently, whether you then choose to read those views, observations, or opinions. As a reader, that is a choice which is completely and totally up to you, as well it should be.
What you absolutely, positively, and most decidedly do NOT have, as a reader, is the right to dictate or demand, politely or otherwise, either which opinions I get to express, or the way I get to express them.
As the writer, those are MY choices. Mine. And a year and a half in, I think those choices are pretty clear. If you do not like them, that is unquestionably your prerogative, but you have had by now more than ample opportunity to either make your peace with them, or decide that this blog is not for you. If you have not yet made that decision one way or the other, make it now, please.
I write the way I write. Accept it, or move on.
Full stop. This is me, this is my writing, what you see is what you get. And now that I have re-stated and/or clarified my stance on the topic in exhausting detail, I hope that you will have the courtesy to respect my right to express myself the way I choose on my own blog series, and lay the matter to rest in future.
In return, I will shut up about it too, and start this damn post already. Right? Right. Off we go!
Chapter 15: Stronger Than Written Law
Egwene wakes from disturbing dreams, which are even more disturbing because she can’t remember them, despite being trained to remember all her dreams. She is relieved that she at least remembers the significant ones. Halima is arguing with Siuan over whether Siuan should wake her up, and Egwene sighs over Halima’s lack of deference to Aes Sedai and tells Halima to go back to bed. Egwene thinks Halima’s curiosity “innocent”, but still decides to talk with Siuan outside the tent.
Everyone knew now that Siuan had thrown in her lot with Egwene, after a fashion, as they thought, sullenly and grudgingly. A figure of some amusement and occasional pity, Siuan Sanche, reduced to attaching herself to the woman who held the title once hers, and that woman no more than a puppet once the Hall finished fighting over who would pull her cords. Siuan was human enough to harbor sparks of resentment, but so far they had managed to keep secret that her advice was far from grudging.
It is snowy and freezing outside. Egwene hopes Siuan doesn’t have another revelation like the Kin for her; Siuan apologizes, but points out that she has to pick and choose what are the most important things to tell Egwene about. Egwene, thinking of how Siuan is compressing twenty years’ worth of learning into months for her, concedes the point. Siuan tells her Gareth Bryne is waiting in her study, and proceeds to grouse about the abrupt way Bryne had sent her to get Egwene. Egwene stifles sudden hope, and they set off to the tent that serves as the Amrylin’s study, holding on to each other to keep from falling down on the ice. Egwene asks why Siuan was sleeping in Bryne’s tent, hoping that their peculiar situation was not leading Siuan to let him take advantage of her, but Siuan snorts and answers her chores ran too late to go back in this weather. Siuan then changes the subject and opines that Egwene shouldn’t let Halima sleep in her tent. Egwene replies that she is very glad Delana can spare her nights, as her massages are the only thing that make Egwene’s headaches go away.
Trudging arm-in-arm, they went on in silence, the cold fogging their breath and seeping through their flesh. The snow was a curse and a lesson. She could still hear Siuan going on about what she called the Law of Unintended Consequences, stronger than any written law. Whether or not what you do has the effect you want, it will have three at least you never expected, and one of those usually unpleasant.
Egwene remembers how the first rains had occasioned wild celebration, and then the rains had turned into howling storms, then blizzards, slowing the army’s pace to a miserable crawl, and thinks that the snow itself might be the least unpleasant consequence. Inside the tent, Egwene only channels a small light, fearful of discovery.
There had been Amyrlins who reigned in strength, Amyrlins who managed an even balance with the Hall, and Amyrlins who had had as little power as she, or less upon rare occasions, well-hidden in the secret histories of the White Tower. Several had frittered away power and influence, falling from strength to weakness, but in over three thousand years, precious few had managed to move in the other direction. Egwene very much wished she knew how Myriam Copan and the rest of that bare handful had managed. If anyone had ever thought to write that down, the pages were long lost.
Bryne reports that there is an army north of them, comprised of Andorans and some Murandians, and led by Lord Pelivar Coelan and Lady Arathelle Renshar, who head two of the strongest Houses in Andor. He says if both armies continue as they have been, they will meet head on in two or three days. Egwene keeps her face smooth, hiding her relief at the news, but Siuan gasps, then to make up for it, glares at Bryne and demands to know if has qualms about fighting Andorans. Bryne answers calmly that he will fight whomever the Mother wishes him to fight. Egwene asks what happens if they stop here, and Bryne answers that tomorrow the Andorans will reach an excellent place to defend, which Egwene’s army cannot reach first; he suggests that if Egwene means to fight, they should fall back to the ridge they crossed two days ago. Carefully, Egwene asks if the Andorans will talk if they are offered the chance. Bryne thinks that they almost certainly only want to keep a foreign army out of Andor; they will talk if they can, but fight if they have to, even against Aes Sedai. He adds that they’ve probably heard the rumors about the battle “out east somewhere”; Siuan snorts her derision that Aes Sedai would have been mixed up in that.
Strangely, Bryne smiled. He often did when Siuan showed her temper. Anywhere else, on anyone else, Egwene would have called the smile fond. “Better for us if they believe,” he told Siuan mildly. Her face darkened so, you might have thought he had sneered at her.
Why did a normally sensible woman let Bryne get under her skin? Whatever the reason, Egwene had no time for it tonight.
She makes Siuan reheat the wine (Siuan refuses to pour for Bryne), and tells Bryne that she wants to avoid a battle if she can, and for him to send to Pelivar and Arathelle to arrange a meeting. She also asks him to keep it a secret from the army and the Hall as long as possible, knowing she is asking him to take a big risk. He doesn’t even blink, and answers that too many men already know to keep it a secret forever, but he will do what he can.
As simple as that. The first step down a road that would see her on the Amyrlin Seat in Tar Valon, or else deliver her firmly into the grasp of the Hall, with nothing left to decide except whether it was Romanda or Lelaine who told her what to do. Somehow, such a pivotal moment should have been accompanied by fanfares of trumpets, or at the least, thunder in the sky. It was always that way in stories.
Egwene asks Bryne how long he thinks the men would need to rest before beginning a campaign against Tar Valon; Bryne frowns, pointing out that Elaida would know within an hour that they would have arrived, but answers 10 days at the least, a month if possible. Egwene casually dismisses this answer and sends him off, and Bryne leaves. She regrets having to manipulate him, even though she thinks he knows she was doing so, but she cannot trust him further without an open declaration. She mutters that if nothing else, she can free the Aes Sedai from the Three Oaths; horrified, Siuan tells her that doing so would destroy the Tower. Egwene doesn’t understand why, and points out that the Oaths could be a fatal hindrance against the Seanchan, ending with them all either dead or collared. She also reminds Siuan of the full advantage Siuan had taken of her ability to lie once stilled, and if she hadn’t, the rebels would still be sitting in Salidar now, and Elaida would be secure on the Amyrlin Seat.
“You know she’d mishandle everything about Rand. I would not be surprised if she had tried to kidnap him by now, except that she’s concerned with us. Well, maybe not kidnap, but she’d have done something.”
Troubled, Siuan concedes that she has lied to almost everyone, except Egwene and Bryne, but says that’s exactly why she thinks the Oaths are so important, and she will swear them again on the Oath Rod as soon as she can. Egwene asks why.
“The Oaths are what make us more than simply a group of women meddling in the affairs of the world. Or seven groups. Or fifty. The Oaths hold us together, a stated set of beliefs that bind us all, a single thread running through every sister, living or dead, back to the first to lay her hands on the Oath Rod. They are what make us Aes Sedai, not saidar. Any wilder can channel. Men may look at what we say from six sides, but when a sister says, ‘This is so,’ they know it’s true, and they trust. Because of the Oaths. Because of the Oaths, no queen fears that sisters will lay waste to her cities. The worst villain knows he’s safe in his life with a sister unless he tries to harm her. Oh, the Whitecloaks call them lies, and some people have strange ideas about what the Oaths entail, but there are very few places an Aes Sedai cannot go, and be listened to, because of the Oaths. The Three Oaths are what it is to be Aes Sedai, the heart of being Aes Sedai. Throw that on the rubbish heap, and we’ll be sand washing away in the tide.”
Egwene frowns, but asks, what about the Seanchan; Siuan says she doesn’t know, but the Tower has survived thousands of years and crises with the Oaths, and she is sure they’ll discover a way to survive the Seanchan. Egwene isn’t so sure, but thinks about it. Siuan suddenly comments that Egwene doesn’t need to be so cagey with Bryne, that he can be trusted, and it is “tying his stomach in knots” not to be in the know with Egwene’s plans. Egwene has a sudden flash of insight, and realizes Siuan is in love with Bryne. She is flabbergasted, but sternly admonishes Siuan that she will not breathe a word of anything to Bryne, which Siuan stiffly confirms. They head back to Egwene’s tent; on the way Egwene says that it would be better if Pelivar and Arathelle believed those rumors about the battle to the east, and instructs Siuan to wake Beonin, Anaiya, and Myrelle and have them ride for the Andoran army immediately. She also gives instructions for what Sheriam, Carlinya, Morvrin and Nisao are to say over breakfast, to “plant the right seeds”. Siuan starts to leave, then turns back.
“I know you want to be a second Gerra Kishar—or maybe Sereille Bagand. You have it in you to match either. But be careful you don’t turn out to be another Shein Chunla. Good night, Mother. Sleep well.”
Egwene thinks of how the first two were remembered as the greatest Amyrlins in Tower history, in total control of the Hall, while Shein Chunla had frittered her power away until she was secretly deposed and exiled; the secret histories imply that at some point she was smothered in her sleep. Egwene shivers, and heads back to her tent.
Yay, one of the cool political intrigue storylines!
Yeah, well. Sometimes I like the political intrigue bits, and sometimes I want them all to get sucked into a black hole and get out of my WAY, already. Sue me, I’m fickle. Fortunately for the moment, this is one of the former type. Even though I had no idea at this point what exactly Egwene’s figurative step off the Cliffs of Conspiracy was leading to, I was very agog to find out.
Egwene’s Dreams: I think these are all pretty much fulfilled by the end of TGS, particularly the one about Rand, since real or not, LTT has (by all evidence) gone bye-bye by the end of it. Although, there’s some wiggle room in there to my mind, based mostly on that other Dream Egwene had a while back about Rand being on a funeral bier but then his face breaking apart like paper. I’m not sure that counts, though, since the presumed faking of Rand’s death isn’t a “mask” in the psychological sense, so much as just a straight-up ruse. So, maybe?
(Also, no Mat. Mat is pale and not here. *is sad*)
It seems that Halima’s anti-Dream migraines took a while to totally kick in, since Egwene’s still having at least a few at this point. Those around in the fandom post-TPOD will remember the huge debate that raged around whether Halima’s massages (or as my old friend Mark Loy once put it, her habit of “kneading young girls”; heh, and ew) were simply blocking Eg’s Dreams, or putting Compulsion on her as well. You can read the major points for and against the idea here.
For my own part, while I thought it pretty strange that Halima wouldn’t use her access to Egwene to Compel her, I personally never bought any of the rationales used to try to prove that Egwene was acting in any way like she was not in control of her own faculties. Therefore, in my opinion all Halima was doing was giving her some righteously heinous head pain, however short-sighted of her I think that might be. Since the only result (so far) that has seemed to result from Egwene getting away from Halima is that she started Dreaming again, I feel fairly confident in that opinion. But hey, I’ve been wrong before.
Law of Unintended Consequences: This is another one of those truisms Jordan has come up with over the course of this series that rings so very true it’s not even funny. I also tend to suspect that this is a tiny bit of self-reflexive commentary as well. One of the things that always rather staggers me about writing something like WOT when I think about it is not necessarily how one would juggle multiple storylines, but how one would keep track of how all the myriad storylines affect each other. A prime example right in this chapter is Bryne’s vague mention of a battle “out east” which may or may not involve female channelers, which is of course a reference to the as-yet-unknown-to-this-storyline events of Dumai’s Wells. Seriously, just thinking about how much work it must take to keep track of who knows how much of what when gives me a migraine.
*tips hat to Team Jordan*
Amyrlin comparisons: This would be a project almost too geeky for words, but I would be laughingly thrilled if someone ever put together an authorized Secret Histories of the White Tower companion volume to WOT, in which we actually learn the full stories of Sereille Bagand and Shein Chunla and so on. Nothing crazy, but just a brief little précis of each one, perhaps in Wikipedia style. Am I the only one who thinks that would be a hella fun read?
Oaths: Oh, how this speech of Siuan’s conflicts me, let me count the ways.
On the one hand: okay, point taken. On the other, BUT IT CUTS YOUR LIFE IN HALF, WTFBBQBITCHPLZKTHXBYE.
Granted, Siuan doesn’t yet know that, but I seem to recall she sticks to her guns on this even after learning about it, and aaaaagh. Dude, I don’t know about anyone else, but if I’ve got an opportunity to live six hundred-plus years, I sure as bloody hell ain’t throwing half of them away so people maybe sort of don’t think I’m lying to them! I require a bigger return for my investment, y’all, is what I’m saying.
But on the gripping hand… there’s what happens in TGS, with Egwene and the Black Ajah Purge. Which would never have worked without the Oath Rod…
Bah. Bah, I say! I shall grump upon this. And then move on.
Chapter 16: Unexpected Absences
The next morning, Egwene convenes a public meeting of the Hall to announce that the army is stopping for two or three days, for rest and repairs. There are no objections, since many of the sisters are eager for any chance to delay the approaching confrontation with Elaida, and Romanda and Lelaine and their hangers-on leave almost before Egwene is finished. Egwene feels lightheaded, as she is committed to her plan now. Sheriam walks with Egwene, and expresses mild surprise that Egwene allowed such a long stop, but accepts it with equanimity; Egwene reflects that of all the women she had blackmailed into swearing fealty to her, Sheriam had handled it with the most aplomb by far, and seems much happier now. As they walk through the bustling camp, Egwene notes Morvrin talking with Takima, which she thinks is a slightly odd choice (she would think Janya or Escaralde more likely), but puts it out of her mind. Sheriam heads off, and Egwene meets Siuan in her study to go over supplies; the upshot is that they are running out of everything, especially coin. Egwene groans at the various Sitters’ schemes to address their monetary difficulties, which include stopping the soldiers’ pay, demanding tribute from nearby nobles, and levying taxes on the villages they pass.
Crumpling the three addresses together in her fist, Egwene shook them at Siuan. She wished it were three Sitters’ throats she was gripping. “Do they all think everything has to go the way they wish, and never mind realities? Light, they’re the ones behaving like children!”
“The Tower has managed to make its wishes become realities often enough,” Siuan said complacently. “Remember, some would say you’re ignoring reality, too.”
Egwene sniffs, and asks if the Hall is always like this; Siuan nods, and tells Egwene to remind her to tell the story of the Year of the Four Amyrlins sometime, which was almost as bad as what’s going on now.
Of one thing, Egwene was certain. She would avoid Shein’s fate if she could, but she would not remain as she was, little better off than Cemaile Sorenthaine. Long before the end of her reign, the most important decision left to Cemaile’s discretion was what dress to wear. She was going to have to ask Siuan to tell her about the Year of the Four Amyrlins, and she did not look forward to it.
Growling, she asks Siuan what’s next.
Heading back from the woods and thinking idly of “tonight’s dreams”, Aran’gar sneers at the primitive trappings of the camp, and thinks she could have destroyed these “Aes Sedai” easily, were it not for the fact that she wouldn’t survive disobeying the Great Lord’s wishes for very long; she has no intention of throwing away her rare second chance. She enjoys the attention from some men she passes, and wonders if she had been such an “easily manipulated fool” before.
Getting through that swarm with a corpse unseen had been difficult, even for her, but she enjoyed the walk back.
Egwene and Siuan are still doing paperwork when Lelaine sweeps in with a resignedly meek Faolain in tow. She murmurs something sympathetic to Siuan, but then tells Egwene that they need to speak of the Sea Folk. Egwene is at first relieved that Lelaine obviously does not know about Bryne’s activities yet, but then worries that she has somehow learned about the “insane” bargain Elayne and Nynaeve had made. Egwene asks if Lelaine means the Sea Folk in Caemlyn or in Cairhien; before Lelaine can answer, Romanda busts in, followed by Theodrin. Romanda answers, Cairhien, of course, and continues that “that young man” has been talking with the Sea Folk, and she wants to know if Egwene knows about what.
Despite the title, Romanda hardly sounded as if she were addressing the Amyrlin Seat, but then, she never did. There was no doubt who “that young man” was. Every sister in the camp accepted that Rand was the Dragon Reborn, but anyone who heard them talk would have believed they were speaking of an unruly young lout who might come to dinner drunk and throw up on the table.
Lelaine tells Romanda that Egwene can hardly be expected to know what’s in the boy’s head, and she and Romanda proceed to have a fight over how to find out what the Sea Folk want, which ends in Romanda making a not-so-subtle threat to accuse Lelaine of collusion in the matter of Merilille (whom they believe is responsible for how the Bowl of the Winds was used). Egwene finally interjects that she will tell Elayne and Nynaeve to pass on their instructions regarding Merilille when next she meets them in Tel’aran’rhiod; she grinds her teeth to realize the two women had completely forgotten she was there. Chesa briefly interrupts to bring Egwene her lunch, mentioning in passing that Meri seems to have wandered off. Chesa leaves, and Lelaine goes to take her leave as well, with a suggestion to Egwene that she think on the matter that sounds more like an order.
“I will think hard,” Egwene told her. Which was not to say she would share her thoughts. She wished she had a glimmer of the answer. That the Atha’an Miere believed Rand was their prophesied Coramoor, she knew, though the Hall did not, but what he wanted from them, or them from him, she could not begin to imagine. According to Elayne, the Sea Folk with them had no clue. Or said not.
Romanda gives Egwene a similar suggestion/order regarding Merilille, and she and Lelaine glare each other out of the tent. Egwene and Siuan go back to work, interrupted again by Chesa (who remarks that Selame has gone missing too), and by Sheriam, who seems to want to hang out until Egwene dismisses her. They go over the news from Siuan’s eyes-and-ears, most of it bad; Egwene is relieved that at least they can dismiss the rumors of Aes Sedai serving Rand in Cairhien as nonsense, thanks to the Wise Ones’ reports.
A printer in Illian asserted that he had proof Rand had killed Mattin Stepaneos with his own hands and destroyed the body with the One Power, while a laborer on the docks there claimed she had seen the former King carried, bound and gagged and rolled in a rug, aboard a ship that had sailed in the night with the blessings of the captain of the Port Watch.
Egwene is exasperated at all the rumors of Shaido, opining that there just can’t be that many to cause this much havoc, when she notices Siuan staring into space. Upon inquiry, Siuan hesitates and then tells Egwene that she’s noticed an odd pattern about the Hall.
“It’s this. Aside from Romanda and Moria, the Sitters chosen in Salidar are… they’re too young.” Much had changed in Siuan, but speaking of other sisters’ ages clearly made her uncomfortable. “Escaralde is the oldest, and I’m sure she isn’t much past seventy. […] It isn’t often the Hall has held more than one Sitter under a hundred, and here we have nine!”
Siuan says that when a woman is raised too young, there is always a reason—including when Siuan herself was raised to Amyrlin, but in this case there were more than enough “suitable” sisters to choose from, and Siuan doesn’t buy five Ajahs all deadlocking on a candidate. Egwene doesn’t think there is any significance to this, but before she can say anything, a furious-looking Romanda enters and kicks Siuan out with one word, before weaving an eavesdropping ward around the tent. She calls Egwene a fool for thinking she could keep “this” a secret, and Bryne will be lucky if he doesn’t end up beheaded. Carefully, Egwene reminds Romanda that rudeness to the Amyrlin Seat is a crime.
“The Amyrlin Seat.” Romanda strode across the carpets to within arm’s reach of Egwene, and by her glare, the thought of reaching more crossed her mind. “You’re an infant! Your bottom still remembers the last switching it had as a novice! After this, you’ll be lucky if the Hall doesn’t put you in a corner with a few play pretties. If you want to avoid that, you will listen to me, and do as I tell you. Now, sit down!”
Egwene seethed inside, but she sat. It was too soon.
Romanda tells Egwene that this meeting with Pelivar and Arathelle will have to go forward now that it’s been arranged, but at the meeting Egwene is to name Romanda to be her spokesperson, and then be silent. Romanda is sure Lelaine will be along to demand the same thing, but reminds Egwene of the “trouble” Lelaine will soon be in with the Hall re: Merilille and Merana.
“So, if you have any hope of gaining the experience you’ll need to grow into that stole, it lies with me! Do you understand me?”
“I understand perfectly,” Egwene said, in what she hoped was a meek voice. If she let Romanda speak in her place, there would no longer be any doubts. The Hall and the whole world would know who held Egwene al’Vere by the scruff of her neck.
Satisifed, Romanda leaves, and Egwene throws an inkwell at the tent flap right as Lelaine comes in. Lelaine dodges the missile and admonishes Egwene for her temper before weaving her own ward. Unlike Romanda, she seems very pleased. She says Egwene must know her little secret is out, and fortunately for Bryne, Lelaine thinks he is too valuable to kill; she supposes Romanda has already been in here to tell Egwene to let Romanda speak for her, but Lelaine has been polling the other sisters, and they are very displeased with Egwene, but they are not happy with Romanda either. Lelaine will be the person Egwene names to speak for her, not Romanda. Lelaine informs Egwene that she should know by now that she isn’t actually in charge of anything.
“In another hundred years, you may grow into the stole, but for now, sit quietly, fold your hands, and let someone who knows what she is about see to pulling Elaida down.”
Lelaine leaves, and Egwene wonders for a second if she and Romanda are right, that she is too young to handle this. Siuan comes back in to tell her Bryne said the Hall knows about the meeting, and that it is set for tomorrow at a lake about five hours away. Egwene thinks to herself, no; if she led herself be led around now, she would always be led around. She had to grow now. Siuan asks how it went with Romanda and Lelaine.
“About as we expected.” Egwene smiled with a wonder that touched her voice, too. “Siuan, they couldn’t have handed me the Hall better if I had told them what to do.”
Sheriam enters her tent, and someone shields her and throws her onto her cot, where she is swiftly stripped and gagged. Her assailant strokes her hair and tells her she was supposed to keep this person informed about what “the girl” is up to.
It took a long time to convince her questioner that she had already told all she knew, that she would never hold back a word, not a whisper. When she was left alone at last, it was to lie curled up and whimpering from her welts, bitterly wishing that she had never in her life spoken to a single sister in the Hall.
I have to congratulate Jordan on this chapter, because I totally fell for the mislead here the first time. I remember I was actually getting really upset when Lelaine and Romanda were laying out their supposed smackdown, thinking that Egwene’s plan had all gone to shit, and then, ah-ha, gotcha, and I was like, damn.
(That may be the single least grammatical sentence I’ve ever written. Okay, probably not. But it’s up there.)
This is why I say my general lack of ability to see plot twists coming is a happy flaw. I say, in re: entertainment, getting a properly-delivered frisson beats feeling smugly smarter-than-the-writers any day. Go me!
Even with comfortable hindsight, though, I still wanted Egwene to jump up and deck Romanda, because wow with the snotty, woman. Not that Lelaine is any better, but Romanda annoys me more, for some reason. (I had to laugh that Egwene threw an inkwell after her; evidently she agrees with me.)
All that being said, while on a personal level I can’t stand them, I appreciate Romanda and Lelaine for what they are (which is, a classic example of Our Heroine turning a disadvantage into an advantage), and find them to be quite believable characters to boot. Every fictional government needs at least two bullheaded jackholes jockeying for position, that’s why we invited you!
Mattin Stepaneos: Okay, that is hilarious. I would never in a million years have noticed this passage before, but given where ex-King Mattin turns up in KOD, all I can say is HAH.
The Great Sitter Mystery: I know I have been outdated-FAQ-pointing like a mofo lately, but nevertheless do yourself a favor and gaze upon the magnificence that is the “Too-Young Sitters” page of the WOTFAQ, because even today I am somewhat in awe of it. Not least because it is one of the few articles of the FAQ (possibly the only article) that I had not one single thing to do with—a delightfully stress-relieving feat only made possible by the efforts of one Rich Boyé, who has my eternal gratitude even yet for taking that particular monster off my hands for three updates in a row. Seriously, dude, you the man.
And, outdated or not, I haven’t seen anything (that I recall) in either KOD or TGS that contradicts the article’s general conclusion, either, which is that the “too-young” sitters in Salidar and the “unusual” Sitters in the Tower were placeholders chosen in anticipation of an eventual reunification of the two Halls. As to what all the stuff is with the votes and the Ajah Head conspiracy and alla that, I’m starting to get Logic and Probability flashbacks, so I’mma leave that the hell alone for now, though I’ll have to come back to it in later chapters.
Sheriam: Again, totally different experience reading this knowing she’s Black. Although, that actually makes her contentment with being an Egwene lackey even more bizarre; surely that was not in The Plan? But, I guess the rationale might be that since her torturer wants info on Egwene, being a sworn and therefore theoretically more trusted member of the coterie is something Sheriam imagines might make her spying easier. Fortunately for us, she’s wrong.
Did we ever get 100% confirmation on who’s beating Sheriam? I’m assuming Halima, because that the only thing that really seems to make sense. This page is, as usual, very outdated, but it sums up the case for Sheriam’s torturer to be Halima quite well.
Of course, it’s all kind of a moot point now, I suppose. Though I still retain the right to grumble about the as yet appallingly unfired Chekhov’s Gun of the 13+13 Trick. So should have been Sheriam’s deal, you guys. Oh well.
Halima: IN UR WUDS, KILLIN UR MAYDZ
…Just in case you were worried I could sink no lower, there you have it. Go me!
And I’m spent. Have a lovely rest of the week, everyone. See you Friday!