Aitch to the eye, my fair feathered fronds! Welcome back to the Wheel of Time Re-read!
Today’s entry covers Chapters 9 and 10 of Winter’s Heart, in which we discuss the financial benefits of securing solid futures in mineral commodities, the efficacy of varying methods of facilitating shifts in interpersonal power dynamics, and the pros and cons of maintaining an organization’s status quo versus the incorporation of a more innovative infrastructure.
…And also, murder, espionage, and chair-throwing. Whee!
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 now, ze post!
Chapter 9: A Cup of Tea
Elayne changes clothes and meets with Halwin Norry, who tells her he has important news: high-quality alum, a rare and prized commodity, has been discovered on one of her estates at Danabar, and as a result he thinks the bankers will stop being so reluctant to extend credit to Elayne from now on. Elayne is ecstatic at the news, and Norry is pleased enough that he even thinks there will be enough to fund the Academy which Rand had ordered founded and Elayne wants to take over, which he had been very much against previously.
Norry was trying to husband Andor’s gold, but she was looking to Andor’s future. Tarmon Gai’don was coming, yet she had to believe there would be a future afterward, whether or not Rand broke the world again. Otherwise, there was no point in going on with anything, and she could not see just sitting down to wait.
Norry goes on to tell her of Elaida’s proclamation declaring Rand to be the Dragon Reborn and that he is under the Tower’s “protection and guidance,” and the warning against approaching him except through the Tower. Norry has not asked which side of the split has Elayne’s allegiance, but he opines that it is “wise to be wary of Tar Valon’s anger.” Elayne is amazed at the stupidity of such a proclamation, since in her opinion no one could guide Rand “with a barge pole,” but Norry goes on to say that someone attacked the Sun Palace in Cairhien with the One Power, destroying most of the wing where Rand had his apartments, and Rand himself has vanished; many think that he has gone to submit to the White Tower, though a few think he is dead.
He paused, head tilted in thought. “From what I saw of him, my Lady,” he said slowly, “I myself would not believe him dead unless I sat three days with the corpse.”
She almost stared. That was very nearly a joke. A rough witticism, at least. From Halwin Norry!
Elayne dismisses both rumors, thinking that if Rand can’t even bring himself to kneel to Egwene, his childhood friend, then Elaida has about as much chance of it as “a goat at a court ball,” but silently promises to “slap [Rand] silly” if he doesn’t take care of himself. Norry goes on with other news, including that none of the four rulers of the Borderlands had been seen in public for quite some time. Norry is also worried about King Roedran activities in Murandy, and Elayne’s lack of authority to do anything about him, but Elayne reassures him that Roedran’s aims are internal to Murandy itself, and they do not have to worry about him just yet. Norry is impressed at her knowledge, and adds something that he had “forgotten” to mention before: that many of the nobles in Cairhien are talking of sending troops to Andor to aid Elayne in gaining the Lion Throne, so that her claim to the Sun Throne may also proceed faster. Elayne knows perfectly well that Norry never forgets anything, but only tells him to write a letter to them thanking them for their support and mentioning that when she comes to claim the Sun Throne she will bring no Andoran soldiers with her, as that would “incite all of Cairhien against [her], and rightly so.” Hopefully they would get the implied message that the reverse is also true. Norry agrees and goes to leave, remarking that Elayne reminds him of her mother as he goes.
Watching the door close behind him, she wondered whether she could count him in her camp. Administering Caemlyn without clerks, much less Andor, was impossible, and the First Clerk had the power to bring a queen to her knees if unchecked. A compliment was not the same as a declaration of fealty.
When Norry is gone, maids bring in Elayne’s lunch, not hiding their disapproval that she only takes broth, bread and tea. They leave, but Elayne is only alone a moment before Dyelin barges in to report breathlessly that there is a huge army of Borderlanders in Braem Wood, near the border of Andor. Elayne yawns and opines they’re there because of Rand; Dyelin takes this to mean Rand sent them to help Elayne, which isn’t what Elayne meant, and Elayne hopes Rand isn’t that foolish, but cannot complete the thought.
She covered another yawn, and suddenly her eyes widened above her hand, staring at her teacup. A cool, minty taste. Carefully, she put the cup down, or tried to. She nearly missed the saucer altogether, and the cup toppled over, spilling tea onto the tabletop. Tea laced with forkroot.
She tries to embrace saidar, but cannot. Dyelin asks what’s wrong, and Elayne manages to say she’s been poisoned, calling in her head for Birgitte. Dyelin jumps up, and Elayne thinks she might be about to stab Elayne, but then three men dressed as servants enter, drawing knives. Elayne tries to stand and draw her own knife, but is beginning to slip under.
Not without fighting back, she thought. It was like pushing through syrup, but determined even so. Not without fighting!
Strangely little time seemed to have passed. Dyelin was just turning to her henchmen, the last of them just closing the door behind him.
“Murder!” Dyelin howled. Picking up her chair, she hurled it at the men.
“Guards! Murder! Guards!”
The chair knocks two of the three men down, but the third avoids it and comes forward; Dyelin attacks him with her own knife, but he stabs her several times and she goes down. He advances cautiously on Elayne until he is sure she can’t channel, and is about to strike when he is impaled from behind with a sword. Elayne falls down, and sees one of the other two assassins is also dead, half-decapitated, and an “axe-faced” man in Guardsman uniform is struggling with the third for his dagger.
Hurry, Birgitte, she thought dully. Please hurry.
Darkness consumed her.
Dude, if I were Aes Sedai I’d just kick my tea habit altogether and have done with it. All wine, all the time! Whoo!
I’m going to talk about the assassination attempt more in the next chapter, but I must note here: Dyelin is fierce, y’all. You go ahead with your bad self, throwing chairs at assassins like you’re on Medieval Jerry Springer! Even though she ultimately lost the fight, that was some serious awesome on her part, sez me.
Alum: I left it out of the recap, but Elayne thinks to herself when gloating over her newfound mineral riches: “Dyers and weavers devoured alum, and so did glassmakers and papermakers among others.” The Wikipedia article on alum confirms its historical use as a dyeing agent, but says nothing about glassmaking or papermaking. It’s also a trifle odd that Jordan doesn’t mention its ascribed medicinal qualities, which from what I can tell was by far its most common use before the Industrial Revolution. Of course, maybe Jordan just used resources slightly more reliable than frickin’ Wikipedia and I should shut up.
Either way, yay for Elayne and all, but I can’t help wondering why we really need to hear about this. I mean, I know that it’s perfectly logical and realistic that Elayne would be having cash flow problems, but honestly, we really can skip over some of the details of the Crownening, don’t you think?
I can’t remember if the suspicion cast on Norry here ever pans out one way or the other. I don’t know that I really care, either.
However, his “joke” about Rand is notable for being yet another Christ/Messiah/Resurrection reference, and I’ve always considered these, plus the remarks about Nynaeve not being satisfied until she “Heals someone three days dead” to be Big Honking Clues re: this whole prophetic flurry of Alivia helping Rand die/to live you must die/paper puppet on a funeral bier/he who is dead yet lives/blood on the rocks/etc.
I mean, it’s like there’s a theme here or something! CRAZY.
No, I still have no clue how it’s all actually going to go down, though I’ve thought of at least three different scenarios which might be plausible, but I’m sure I’ll be able to look back on it afterward and be all, See, I told you it was going to happen like that, I TOTALLY knew it, man. I will be extremely proud of my crystalline-perfect hindsight!
I was very pleased that Elayne both understood and agreed with Rand’s reasons for founding the Academies. Though I wonder, is she still going to name the school after her mom (which I also left out of the recap) when Morgase turns up alive?
On the other hand, I was rather irritated with her next thought, about Rand’s stubbornness being so great that he wouldn’t even kneel to his childhood friend. Because it couldn’t possibly be that Rand is right not to do so, eh?
Sheesh. Unfortunately, the prophetical evidence seems to be steering us in a general Rand-submitting-to-Egwene’s-authority direction. I’m basing this mainly on the “face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger” thing, though of course that has a very good chance of being a big fat red herring, but if it isn’t one, it sticks in my craw, I tell you.
It’s not that I think Egwene is a bad person or that she should kneel to Rand; on the contrary, I don’t see why either one should have to kneel to the other at all. Why does one have to “win,” so to speak? Why can’t they be equals? Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Right, I forgot what series I’m reading for a second there. Never mind!
Chapter 10: A Plan Succeeds
Elayne wakes up in her bedroom, and relaxes when she senses Aviendha and Birgitte in the room with her. She immediately checks to make sure she can touch saidar, and asks after Dyelin and the Guardsman. Nynaeve, who is also there, tells her the Guardsman didn’t get a scratch, and Dyelin has been Healed. Birgitte is upset that Nynaeve had used herbs instead of Healing on Elayne, but Aviendha defends her by pointing out Nynaeve hadn’t been sure what the effects would be of Healing someone with forkroot in them. Nynaeve is irritated, and Elayne thinks she’s been touchy about Healing ever since several of the Kin had started outstripping her in skill. Elayne channels the lamps alight, ignoring Nynaeve’s warning to rest first, and remarks to Aviendha that she thinks she has toh to Dyelin, for doubting her loyalty. Aviendha, who is back in Wise One apprentice garb, shrugs and replies it is very small, if any; Elayne had cause to doubt. She makes a joke about being overproud, to which Birgitte makes a dry rejoinder, and Aviendha eyes her warily.
Since she and Elayne had adopted one another, Birgitte had adopted her, too, in way. Not as a Warder, of course, but with the same elder-sister attitude she often displayed toward Elayne. Aviendha was not quite sure what to make of it, or how to respond. Joining the tiny circle who knew who Birgitte really was certainly had not helped. She bounced between fierce determination to show that Birgitte Silverbow did not overawe her and a startling meekness, with odd stops in between.
Turning to the assassination attempt, Birgitte shows her the fourth knife the assassins had on them, which was poisoned. Elayne considers it all a rather overcomplicated plan, but Birgitte points out it is well-known that Elayne takes her lunch alone, and it was lucky that Mellar had happened to walk by Elayne’s rooms and heard a man cursing inside. Elayne sighs, and concedes that maybe she needs a bodyguard inside the Palace. Satisfied, Birgitte immediately begins making plans to detail “twenty or so” women to guard her, since women would be viewed as ceremonial, and can go with Elayne where men couldn’t, and debates with herself over who to place in command. Elayne winces, and asks about this Doilin Mellar who saved her. Birgitte thinks he is skilled, but coldhearted, and probably lied about his background; he’s too free with his hands but hasn’t pressed any of the Palace women who’ve turned him down.
A rescue just in time, one man against three, and a sword hurled across the room like a spear; very much like a gleeman’s tale. “He deserves a suitable reward. A promotion to captain and command of my bodyguard, Birgitte. Caseille can be his second.”
“Are you mad?” Nynaeve burst out, but Elayne shushed her.
“I’ll feel much safer knowing he’s there, Nynaeve. He won’t try pinching me, not with Caseille and twenty more like her around him. With his reputation, they’ll watch him like hawks. You did say twenty, Birgitte? I will hold you to that.”
Birgitte wants to know if Elayne wants to keep the matter quiet, but Elayne wants the news of the attempt and the rescue spread far and wide, though she wants the detail about the poisoned knife held back, in case someone makes a telling slip. Nynaeve glares and makes a remark about being overly clever, but to everyone’s shock accepts the idea without further argument. Then she and Nynaeve argue over whether she should be allowed to enter Tel’aran’rhiod to meet with Egwene that night, and Birgitte jumps in on Nynaeve’s side, dressing Elayne down like a child. Aviendha snaps back at Birgitte that she has no business talking to Elayne like that, and Birgitte is about to light into Aviendha in turn when Nynaeve cuts her off. She tells Birgitte to lay off Elayne and be quiet, or they will have words later. Birgitte is astounded, but obeys sullenly.
She wished she knew how Nynaeve did it. Once, Nynaeve had been as much in awe of Birgitte as Aviendha ever was, but that had changed. Completely. Now Nynaeve bullied Birgitte as readily as anyone else. And more successfully than with most. She’s a woman just like any other, Nynaeve had said. She told me so herself, and I realized she was right. As if that explained anything. Birgitte was still Birgitte.
Nynaeve goes to her own room, warning Aviendha and Birgitte to keep a close eye on Elayne as she goes, to both the other women’s indignation. They mutter imprecations about Nynaeve, but Elayne notes that both of them had waited until Nynaeve was gone to say them, and thinks that Nynaeve was becoming very much Aes Sedai after saying for so long she didn’t want to be one. Elayne drinks the wine, which Nynaeve had put a sleeping potion in, and quickly finds herself in the Dream World’s reflection of the Palace throne room.
[…] she looked up at those stern faces overhead. “Women have taken the throne as young as I,” she told them. Not very many, though; only seven who had managed to wear the Rose Crown for very long. “Women younger than I.” Three. And one of those lasted barely a year. “I don’t claim I will be as great as you, but I will not make you ashamed, either. I will be a good queen.”
Nynaeve appears and makes fun of her for talking to windows, and says she has half a mind to order her back to true sleep.
“Please don’t. I’m not Vandene, Nynaeve. Light, I don’t even know half the customs Vandene and the others take for granted. But I would rather not disobey you, so don’t, please.”
Nynaeve scowls, but agrees. Egwene appears, startling them both, and Elayne tells her about the assassination attempt and all the other news. Egwene shakes her head and replies that she would make them join her Murandy tonight if it weren’t for the uproar the Kin would cause among the Sitters. Nynaeve says she thought the Hall was under Egwene’s thumb, and Egwene dryly replies that that is very like “having a ferret under your thumb”; the Kin issue is no part of the war with Elaida, the only area where Egwene has total authority, so she doesn’t want to risk it. They discuss the new novices, and Egwene comments that she can’t wait for Nynaeve to meet one in particular, a grandmother named Sharina Melloy.
Nynaeve’s chair disappeared completely, and she hit the floor with an audible smack. She hardly seemed to notice, sitting there and staring at Egwene in astonishment. “Sharina Melloy?” she said in a shaky voice. “She’s a novice?” Her dress was a style Elayne had never seen before, with flowing sleeves and a deeply scooped neck worked with flowers in embroidery and seed pearls. Her hair flowed to her waist, held by a cap of moonstones and sapphires on golden wires no thicker than threads. And there was a plain golden band on her left forefinger. Only the ki’sain and her Great Serpent ring remained the same.
Egwene asks if she knows the name, and Nynaeve says something about her being in Nynaeve’s Accepted test before angrily insisting she doesn’t have to talk about that. Egwene gives her a strange look, but agrees. Elayne asks if Egwene has thought about their information about the Oath Rod; Egwene replies that the Oath Rod is what makes them Aes Sedai, and she will swear the Oaths the moment she reaches the Tower. Nynaeve calls this madness.
“You know what it does; the Kin are proof! How many Aes Sedai live past three hundred? Or reach it? And don’t tell me I shouldn’t talk about age. That’s a ridiculous custom, and you know it. Egwene, Reanne was called Eldest because she was the oldest Kinswoman in Ebou Dar. The oldest anywhere is a woman called Aloisia Nemosni, an oil merchant in Tear. Egwene, she’s nearly six… hundred… years… old! When the Hall hears that, I wager they’ll be ready to put the Oath Rod on a shelf.”
Elayne puts in that she doesn’t relish the prospect of cutting her life span in half, and also brings up the potentially fatal side effects of swearing someone already past the three hundred-year limit on the Oath Rod. Egwene’s face hardens, and she answers that anyone who wants to be Aes Sedai must swear, but acknowledges the issues, and tells them her plan: to have Aes Sedai approaching the end of their time limit under the Oaths unswear them and retire into the Kin, which will address the lifespan issue and additionally tie the Kin to the Tower. Nynaeve thinks this is great until she realizes that since the Kin figure rank by age, any Aes Sedai joining them will be far below most of the existing Kin, but Egwene shuts down the subject. She is about to move on when she stops, staring at the doorway, and Elayne turns to see a tall red-haired man in a blue coat watching them. He runs, and Egwene blinks over to the door (Elayne follows), but he is already gone. Nynaeve runs up, asking if they recognized him, because he seems familiar to her somehow.
“Rand,” Egwene said. “He could have been Rand’s uncle.”
Of course, Elayne thought. If Rand had a mean uncle.
Then they hear someone leaving at the opposite end of the room, and Nynaeve demands to know how many people are spying on them, anyway? Egwene doesn’t know, but suspects the two aren’t friends. She comments that the man was wearing a Shienaran coat, reminding Elayne of Dyelin’s news about the Borderlander army, which she relates to the other two, concluding with her bet that all four “missing” rulers are there with them. Egwene asks whether she thinks the Borderlanders are there to offer Rand allegiance, or turn him over to Elaida?
“I think I can find out,” Elayne said. “Why, I mean. And at the same time . . . You gave me the idea, Egwene.” She could not help smiling. Something good had come of today. “I think I might just be able to use them to secure the Lion Throne.”
Asne is busy ignoring Chesmal, in the hopes that she won’t tell again the story about how instrumental she was in interrogating Tamra Ospenya, or getting the Reds to murder Sierin Vayu, which is talk both boring and dangerous in Asne’s opinion, when Eldrith enters. Chesmal demands to know where she’s been, and Eldrith says absently that she lost track of the time. She reassures them that her Warder Kennit hasn’t found them again; she’s kept the bond masked since Samara. Asne thinks of how they had stayed in Samara per Moghedien’s instructions despite her disappearance and the riots and chaos in the area.
What had sparked the decision to leave was the arrival of Eldrith’s Kennit in the town, sure that she was a murderer, half convinced she was Black Ajah, and determined to kill her no matter the consequences to himself. Not surprisingly, she had been unwilling to face those consequences herself, and refused to let anyone kill the man. The only alternative was to flee. Then again, Eldrith was the one who had pointed out Caemlyn as their only hope.
Asne wonders if it isn’t time for Eldrith to have an accident. Temaile enters in her nightgown, holding a dreaming ter’angreal, and none of the others can quite hide how nervous she makes them, after seeing what she’d done to Liandrin. Eldrith protests weakly that they agreed not to enter Tel’aran’rhiod; if Nynaeve can best one of the Chosen in the Dream World, what chance do they have? Temaile only smiles, and replies that Eldrith was right: Elayne and Nynaeve are both in Caemlyn. Eldrith doesn’t see how that helps, with all those wilders in the Palace, but Temaile rejects the notion that they would be any trouble.
“There are only three sisters to trouble us, and we can dispose of them. We can take Nynaeve, and perhaps Elayne in the bargain.”
Asne knows that the plan is to use the two girls as gifts, to gain a new Chosen patron and protect themselves from retribution for their failures in Tear and Tanchico, but she wonders how exactly they are supposed to find any Chosen to offer them to. Temaile goes on that she wasn’t the only one spying in the dream; there was a man who let the girls see him, and someone else Temaile couldn’t see. Asne senses her four Warders coming closer; she had unmasked her bonds to them after Samara. She thinks they will all believe and obey her even though only one of them was a Friend of the Dark; she wants armed men close by without the others knowing.
Muscles and steel were very useful. And if worse came to worst, she could always reveal the long, fluted rod that Moghedien had not hidden so well as she thought she had.
Lady Shiaine orders Falion, dressed in servant’s livery, to pour more wine; Falion scurries to obey. Sitting across from her, Marillin Gemalphin opines that Shiaine is playing a dangerous game; Falion will take her revenge once she can channel again. Shiaine counters that her treatment was Moridin’s idea, and Shiaine is not about to risk even slightly disobeying one of the Chosen. She asks Falion if she’d like Shiaine to ask Moridin to take her away, and Falion pales and reassures her that she is very content. Shiaine thinks to herself that she also has permission to kill both Falion and Marillin at her discretion, which she might do. Sourly, Marillin says that Moghedien has instructed her to offer assistance, but she isn’t going near the Palace; it’s “stuffed with wilders,” and Marillin wouldn’t get ten feet. Shiaine tells her she knows her orders are to obey Shiaine, not assist her, and bets it is because Moghedien jumps for Moridin in turn. Marillin is unnerved, but repeats that she cannot get into the Palace.
“But there’s a woman already in the Palace. She can do what you need. It may take time to make contact, though.”
“Just make sure it’s not too long a time, Marillin.” So. One of the sisters in the Palace was Black Ajah, was she? She would have to be Aes Sedai, not just a Darkfriend, to do what Shiaine needed.
Daved Hanlon enters and immediately starts manhandling Falion, which is part of her punishment. Shiaine asks if it went well.
A broad smile split his axe-like face. “It went exactly as I planned it, of course.” He threw one side of the dark cloak over his shoulder, revealing golden knots of rank on his red coat. “You are speaking to the Captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard.”
Blargle argle long-ass chapters snerg.
Nynaeve: I remember being rather perversely pleased at her increasing Aes Sedai-ness, mainly because I thought it indicated she was finally having a go at that whole maturity thing, but seriously, the Healing thing? NO BUENO, MUCHACHOS. Now she’s not only not the strongest Lightside female channeler anymore, she’s also not the best Healer anymore either? Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over?
That is a whole bowl of bullshit, my friends. Why are we systematically de-awesomeing my girl Nynaeve, WOT? Why-eee? What have I ever done to you?
Bah. Bah, I say!
Sharina: Nice touch, having Nynaeve’s clothes change to what she was wearing in the Accepted test. Yet another sideshow reunion I wonder if we’re ever going to have time to see.
In light of the conversation in the comments to the last entry (discussing some people’s disgruntlement about Elayne suddenly letting Nynaeve be in charge because of the silly strength-based Aes Sedai ranking system), I made particular note of Elayne’s line to Nynaeve here asking Nynaeve not to give an order Elayne would be forced to disobey. Which is about what I figured; Elayne’s going along with the Aes Sedai hierarchy in the larger sense, in terms of letting Nynaeve make the decisions, but it seems like when it comes to strictly interpersonal business (or something Elayne feels really strongly about, maybe), she’s more than prepared to tell Nynaeve to stuff it if she disagrees. And, more importantly, Nynaeve acknowledges this, however reluctantly. Which is as it should be, if you ask me.
Birgitte: Still being a jerk. I’m trying to remember if this flip-flop in her and Nynaeve’s relationship is as out-of-nowhere as it seems like to me, or if it actually was telegraphed earlier on and I just forgot. On the other hand, I only just noticed that Birgitte is acting semi-toolishly, so maybe Nynaeve just saw it (and got tired of it) around the same time I did.
Oath Rod: Ermmph. In light of what happens in TGS, I don’t know that I can still be quite as censorious of Egwene’s decision to uphold the Oaths as I was when I originally read this; that said, however, I still don’t like it very much. I’m also realizing I’m not sure whether the Supergirls have ever figured out that in addition to shortening lifespan, the original Age of Legends use for the Oath Rod was to punish criminals. That certainly changed how I looked at the thing (“Here, wear these handcuffs! It’ll make people trust you more!”), but if they don’t even know about that, well.
And anyway, while you can argue about the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the First Oath, it strikes me that continuing to prevent Aes Sedai from making weapons on the eve of frickin’ Armageddon is a, shall we say, somewhat unsound tactical decision? I mean, really. Pony up some Power-wrought blades, at least!
Mean Uncle: Well, look who’s back. Long time no see, killer boy(s)!
I’m trying to figure out if I’m supposed to accept Slayer is actually stupid enough to stand in a doorway in full view until Egwene gets around to noticing him, or if I’m supposed to be led to conclude that he allowed them to see him. I’m leaning toward the latter on sheer principle, but I’m stymied because I can’t imagine why he would want the Supergirls to see him. The only thing I can think of is that it might be a subtle form of rebellion against whoever ordered him to spy on them, you know, like, whoops, they saw me, my bad, no intel for you!
If that is, in fact, why he was spying, because it’s perfectly possible he’s doing it on his own recognizance. Maybe he’s just interested because they’re from the Two Rivers like his BFF Perrin… Actually, that strikes me as quite a good possibility. Another is that he’s somehow found out about Nynaeve’s marriage to Lan, which might make Isam a bit pissy, I guess.
(“Mean Uncle.” Heh. Sounds like a grunge rockabilly band.)
Black Ajah: Temaile is still creepy as hell. Again, this interlude was interesting for its clues when we didn’t know that Careanedunnit, but now it’s mainly remarkable for the little mystery I’m not even sure I noticed being set up here before this time around, which is of course the identity of the third listener to the Supergirls’ apparently Not Really Secret At All clubhouse meeting. Really, at this point they should have just broadcast it on public access. Or, you know. Shut up.
Maybe this gets cleared up for us later and I just forgot. I hope so, because as of this moment I am drawing a total blank on who this could be or whether we ever find out or whether it ever ends up mattering. Oh well!
Mellar/Hanlon: I don’t remember for sure whether I initially fell for the various misleads here about Mr. Makes Me Need A Shower Every Time I Read About Him, And Also I Believe In Succinct Nicknames, but my instinct is that I actually didn’t. Fall for it, I mean.
Which is surprising, since I can usually be relied upon not to see the big twist coming, but for whatever reason I’m fairly certain I called bullshit on this “rescue” from the moment it happened. And even if I didn’t right away, I definitely called bullshit the moment I saw Elayne’s little “My HE-ro” camouflage re: promoting Mellar to captain of her bodyguard. Keep your enemies closer, indeed.
This certainty was perhaps helped by the fact that for some reason I can never keep Hanlon’s name in my head, and immediately just connected the physical description to Icky Scum Darkfriend Guy I knew was in Caemlyn without being thrown off by the different names. Instead I was surprised to find out at the end of the chapter that his name hadn’t actually been Doilin Mellar all along. Sometimes a lack of brain is an asset to figuring out mysteries, who knew!
There’s more here, but a lack of brain is also a good sign that I should shut the hell up already and finish this post, so I’ll, uh, do that now. Later, taters!