Yay, it’s Friday! Yay, it’s a Wheel of Time Re-read! I declare it a Day of Yay!
Giddy, me? I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Today’s entry covers Chapter 12 of Winter’s Heart, in which I laugh and laugh and laugh (and laugh, and then laugh), and also commit crimes against fair use, capslocking, and Stupid Font Tricks, probably because I’m too busy laughing. And clapping. And yaying. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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, yep. Post? Post!
Chapter 12: A Lily in Winter
Elayne strides down the hall with Min and Aviendha, trying to ignore the servants’ stunned gaping at Caseille and Deni, who are resplendent in their new Guardswomen’s uniforms. Elayne thinks Caseille and Deni look quite dashing, and they don’t even have their helmets and specially fitted breastplates yet. Elayne reminds Min and Aviendha not to say anything to Rand about spies or forkroot and give him notions about “rescuing” her; Min retorts that she doesn’t tell him things he doesn’t need to know, which draws a suspicious “You lie to him, then?” from Aviendha. Elayne wishes they would like each other already and stop showing off how good they are with knives, though she thinks Aviendha was impressed by how many knives Min had on her. Elayne feels Birgitte off somewhere concentrating, and hopes she remains distracted until it’s too late for her to interfere when Elayne masks the bond.
To think that she had been so worried about Birgitte sensing what she did not want her to when the solution lay in a simple question to Vandene. The answer had been a rueful reminder how little she actually knew about being Aes Sedai, especially the parts other sisters took for granted. Apparently, every sister who had a Warder knew how, even those who remained celibate.
Outside Nynaeve’s door, she orders Caseille and Deni to wait outside, knowing that they are under the impression she is here to meet a lover, and tells herself to stop dithering just because the man she dreamed of every night is inside the room. She asks Min and Aviendha if they are ready; they agree faintly, and they go in. Rand leaps up at the sight of her, and then starts dry-heaving; he waves Nynaeve off, telling her it’s nothing she can Heal.
“In any case, it seems you win the argument.” His face was a rigid mask hiding emotion, but his eyes seemed to Elayne to be drinking her in. And Aviendha as well. She was surprised to feel gladdened by that. She had hoped it would be that way, hoped she could manage for her sister’s sake, and now it took no managing at all.
He tells Min it’s time to go, and Elayne gapes and asks if he really thinks he can leave without talking to her. (Min and Aviendha: “Men!”) Rand replies quietly that the men who tried to kill him in Cairhien would turn the Palace into slag if they knew he was here, and warns her not to trust any Asha’man except perhaps three named Flinn, Narishma, and Hopwil, and it’s best if he goes quickly. Elayne mourns that all the boyishness in him seems to be gone. Lan interjects that he is right about the danger in being near him, and Nynaeve snorts for some reason. Aviendha retorts that Rand has toh to them, and it must be worked out.
Min spread her hands. “I don’t know what anybody’s toes have to do with anything, or feet either, but I’m not going anywhere until you talk to them, Rand!” She affected not to notice Aviendha’s outraged glare.
Rand sighs, and apologizes for giving them the sul’dam and damane prisoners, and supposes they can give them to the Aes Sedai with Egwene; he marvels at the rebellion and Egwene’s new status, adding that he guesses Mat and the Band can stay with her for now. Elayne blinks at his misinterpretations, but concludes that Rand is babbling, and tells him none of that matters; he and Elayne and Aviendha and Min are what they need to talk about, and he is not leaving until they do.
For the longest time, he simply looked at her, his expression never changing. Then he inhaled audibly, and his face turned to granite. “I love you, Elayne.” Without a pause, he went on, words rushing out of him, water from a burst dam. And his face a stone wall. “I love you, Aviendha. I love you, Min. And not one a whisker more or less than the other two. I don’t just want one of you, I want all three. So there you have it. I’m a lecher. Now you can walk away and not look back. It’s madness, anyway. I can’t afford to love anybody!”
“Rand al’Thor,” Nynaeve shrieked, “that is the most outrageous thing I ever heard out of your mouth! The very idea of telling three women you love them! You’re worse than a lecher! You apologize right now!” Lan had snatched his pipe from his mouth and was staring at Rand.
“I love you, Rand,” Elayne said simply, “and although you haven’t asked, I want to marry you.” She blushed faintly, but she intended to be much more forward before very long, so she supposed this hardly counted. Nynaeve’s mouth worked, but no sound came out.
“My heart is in your hands, Rand,” Aviendha said, treating his name like something rare and precious. “If you make a bridal wreath for my first-sister and me, I will pick it up.” And she blushed, too, trying to cover it in bending to take her shawl from the floor and arranging it on her arms. By Aiel customs, she should never had said any of that. Nynaeve finally got a sound out. A squeak.
“If you don’t know by this time that I love you,” Min said, “then you’re blind, deaf and dead!” She certainly did not blush; there was a mischievous light in her dark eyes, and she seemed ready to laugh. “And as for marriage, well, we’ll work that out between the three of us, so there!” Nynaeve took a grip on her braid with both hands and gave it a steady pull, breathing heavily through her nose. Lan had begun an intense study of the contents of his pipe’s bowl.
Rand examined the three of them as if he had never seen a woman before and wondered what they were. “You’re all mad,” he said finally. “I’d marry any of you—all of you, the Light help me!—but it can’t be, and you know it.” Nynaeve collapsed into a chair, shaking her head. She muttered to herself, though all Elayne could understand was something about the Women’s Circle swallowing their tongues.
Elayne tells him there is something else they need to discuss, in her rooms; she’s afraid Nynaeve will try to stop them otherwise. Rand agrees slowly, and adds to Nynaeve that she’s won, and he won’t leave without seeing her again. Nynaeve jumps and smiles inanely and “blathers” something about watching him grow up to Elayne, and Elayne suspects she must be up to something even she knows is wrong to be behaving like this. Rand puts on an Illusion disguise of a hideously ugly man, which Aviendha and Min agree (to their surprise) would “make a herd of goats faint”; Elayne is highly amused by Caseille and Deni’s reactions to the disguise outside, until they get to her rooms and they are very against letting the three of them go inside alone with him. Finally Elayne kicks them out, and Rand lets the Illusion go and heads straight for the wine; Elayne wonders why he isn’t doing everything with the Power like he used to. He asks what it was they wanted to talk about without Nynaeve knowing.
“We want to bond you our Warder,” she said, smoothing her dress under her as she took a chair. Min sat on the edge of the table, legs dangling, and Aviendha settled onto the carpet cross-legged, carefully spreading out her heavy woolen skirts. “All three of us. It is customary to ask, first.”
He spun around, wine sloshing out of his cup, more pouring from the pitcher before he could bring it upright. With a muttered oath, he hastily stepped out of the spreading wetness on the carpet and put the pitcher back on the tray. A large damp spot decorated the front of his rough coat, and droplets of dark wine that he tried to brush away with his free hand. Very satisfactory.
“You really are mad,” he growled. “You know what’s ahead of me. You know what it means for anyone I’m bonded to. Even if I don’t go insane, she has to live through me dying! And what do you mean, all three of you? Min can’t channel. Anyway, Alanna Mosvani got there ahead of you, and she didn’t bother asking. She and Verin were taking some Two Rivers girls to the White Tower. I’ve been bonded to her for months, now.”
All three of them are furious at the revelation, and Elayne opines that Alanna has “more toh to [Rand] than she could repay in a lifetime!”, but then tells him that one bond doesn’t prevent another; it is only because Aes Sedai are not interested in sharing Warders that it isn’t done, not because it can’t be done.
“Well, we do want to share you! We will share you, if you agree.”
How easy it was to say that! She had been sure she could not, once. Until she came to realize that she loved Aviendha as much as she did him, just in a different way. And Min, too; another sister, even if they had not adopted one another. She would stripe Alanna from top to bottom for touching him, given the chance, but Aviendha and Min were different. They were part of her. In a way, they were her, and she them.
She asks again, pleading, and Rand says to Min despairingly that she knew this would happen, didn’t she. Min replies she didn’t know about the bonding, but she does know that some things have to be.
Rand stared into the winecup, moments seeming to stretch like hours, and at last set it back on the tray. “All right,” he said quietly. “I can’t say I do not want this, because I do. The Light burn me for it! But think of the cost. Think of the price you’ll pay.”
Elayne did not need to think of the price. She had known it from the beginning, had discussed it with Aviendha to make sure she understand, too. She had explained it to Min. Take what you want, and pay for it, the old saying went. None of them had to think about the price; they knew, and they were willing to pay.
Elayne and Aviendha link and begin creating the weave, which she and Elayne had worked out with a great deal of practice, basing it on the weaves used in the sister-adoption ceremony. They lay it on each of the three of them, and then Elayne extends it to Rand, changing it into the Warder bond, and sets it in place.
He stared at them, expressionless, and slowly put his fingers to his temples.
“Oh, Light, Rand, the pain,” Min murmured in a hurt voice. “I never knew; I never imagined. How can you stand it? There are pains you don’t even seem to know, as if you’ve lived with them so long they’re part of you. Those herons on your hands; you can still feel the branding. Those things on your arms hurt! And your side. Oh, Light, your side! Why aren’t you crying, Rand? Why aren’t you crying?”
“He is the Car’a’carn,” Aviendha said, laughing, “as strong as the Three-fold Land itself!” Her face was proud—oh, so proud—but even as she laughed, tears streamed down her sun-dark cheeks. “The veins of gold. Oh, the veins of gold. You do love me, Rand.”
Elayne simply stared at him, felt him in her head. The pain of wounds and hurts he really had forgotten. The tension and disbelief; the wonder. His emotions were too rigid, though, like a knot of hardened pine sap, almost stone. Yet laced through them, golden veins pulsed and glowed whenever he looked at Min, or Aviendha. Or her. He did love her. He loved all three of them. And that made her want to laugh with joy. Other women might find doubts, but she would always know the truth of his love.
She feels him steel himself, and says again that he has to go; Elayne stops him and says there is one more thing. Min and Aviendha hastily clear out, eyeing each other doubtfully. Rand watches warily.
“There is something they have had from you that I haven’t,” Elayne began, and choked, a flush scalding her face. Blood and ashes! How did other women go about this? Carefully she considered the bundle of sensations in her head that was him, and the bundle that was Birgitte. There was still no change in the second. She imagined wrapping it in a kerchief, knotting the kerchief snugly, and Birgitte was gone. There was only Rand. And those shining golden veins. Butterflies the size of wolfhounds drummed their wings in her middle. Swallowing hard, she took a long breath. “You will have to help me with my buttons,” she said unsteadily. “I cannot take this dress off by myself.”
Caseille and Deni are horrified when Aviendha and Min come out alone (“Her taste can’t be that bad”), but Min and Aviendha manage to dissuade them from going in. Min sees she and Aviendha are both playing with their knives and wonders if all this “jiggery-pokery” with the Power is making them mirror each other or something. They walk down the corridor uneasily, and Min doesn’t understand why Aviendha is having such a big problem when the Aiel are supposed to be used to women sharing a man. She marvels over the presence of Rand in her head, and wonders what it will be like to make love with him now, and then realizes to her horror that she is getting a preview. She stumbles, and tries the “handkerchief” trick Elayne had told her about, but it doesn’t seem to work.
Frantically she tried again, but the raging fire was still there! She had to stop looking at it, stop feeling it. Anything to get her attention anywhere but there! Anything! Maybe if she started talking.
“She should have drunk that heartleaf tea,” she babbled. She never told what she saw except to those involved, and only then if they wanted to hear, but she had to say something. “She’ll get with child from this. Two of them; a boy and a girl; both healthy and strong.”
Aviendha is surprised, and makes the connection between Min and the person the Wise Ones had told her about. Min wonders if she should tell her that she had also seen that Aviendha would have his children too.
Four of them at once! Something was odd about that, though. The babies would be healthy, but still something odd.
She sees Aviendha’s discomfort, and asks if the kerchief trick didn’t work for her either; Aviendha is embarrassed that she forgot. Min apologizes for her “toes” joke, and offers to groom Aviendha’s horse to make it up to her. Aviendha mutters to herself about Min’s better qualities, and is about to offer to find some oosquai when she growls “No! Not yet!”
Coming toward them was an apparition that made Min’s jaw drop. Consternation pushed Rand beyond awareness. From comments she had known that the Captain-General of Elayne’s Guards was a woman, and Elayne’s Warder to boot, but nothing else. […] Auras danced around her and images flickered, more than Min had ever seen around anyone, thousands it seemed, cascading over one another.
The woman is wobbly, but snarls that first “she” vanishes, and if she’s doing what the woman thinks she’s doing, she’ll “kick her tickle-heart around the bloody Palace!” Aviendha pleads with her, calling her “Birgitte Trahelion,” and Min gasps that she’s Birgitte Silverbow, who she saw at Falme. Birgitte jumps, but then tells Min very rudely that Silverbow is dead, and asks if Min always shows off her legs “like a bloody feather dancer.”
This was Birgitte Silverbow, hero of a hundred legends? The woman was foul-mouthed! And what did she mean, Silverbow was dead? The woman was standing right in front of her! Besides, those multitudes of images and auras flashed by too quickly for her to make out any clearly, but she was certain they indicated more adventures than a woman could have in one lifetime. Strangely, some were connected to an ugly man who was older than she, and others to an ugly man who was much younger, yet somehow Min knew they were the same man.
Irritated, she informs Birgitte that she, Aviendha, and Elayne just bonded a Warder, and she’d better think twice about interrupting Elayne’s “celebration.” She also notices with relief that Rand and Elayne seem to be done now. Birgitte figures out who they’re talking about, and opines that Elayne would’ve been better off with a horse thief, and he’s “too pretty” in any case. She is determined to stop them before she “puts him through his paces again.” Frantically, Aviendha pleads with her to consider it a good joke and not shame Elayne so, and offers oosquai to get them drunk. Birgitte considers, then grins and declares her intention to get drunk enough to “take off my clothes and dance on the table.” Aviendha cracks up; Min doesn’t get it, but realizes Rand is a “raging wildfire” in her head again and drags them off to the liquor.
A very sated Elayne wakes the next morning to find Rand gone, but he’s left a golden lily in bloom on her pillow. She can’t imagine where he found it in the dead of winter, but weaves a Keeping around it to preserve it.
The weave was Moghedien’s teaching, but it would hold the blossom fresh forever, the dewdrops never evaporating, a constant reminder of the man who had given her his heart.
She is soon to discover that Alivia, Lan, and Nynaeve have vanished from the Palace, along with several of their stash of angreal and ter’angreal, leaving behind a hastily scribbled note from Nynaeve that Elayne finds disturbing.
Excuse me, I have to clap like a seal now.
Okay, I’m done.
So, if you have been waiting with bated breath to find out which scene in WOT is my second favorite, after the scene with Birgitte and Mat in ACOS, you can rest easy, for you have found it. As you can always tell by how much I quoted from the book rather than summarizing.
Also, the clapping may have been something of a giveaway. And the sparkles. Maybe a small clue, there.
However, it’s not the triple bonding ceremony that’s the best part (although: Aw, *sniffle*), or even the Metaphysically Public Sexing (although: HA); those are both great, but the best scene is the one in Nynaeve’s room, where they FINALLY FINALLY, GODDAMN FINALLY all Declare Their Love. THAT is the best part.
The reason this is the best part, though, is not actually because of said Declaration (although: FINALLY), or any of the actual players in the I Love Yous. Not directly. The reason it is pushed from being a merely great scene into a completely and totally bleeding awesome scene is quite simply because of Nynaeve.
Because she is HILARIOUS, you guys. I about hurt myself laughing the first time I read her reaction to this, and I laugh every time I’ve read it since, because it is just that damn funny to me. Even just thinking of it makes me grin, every time. I don’t know exactly how Jordan came up with the notion to have her in the room when this all went down, but let me tell you it was a frickin’ genius move as far as I am concerned. And Lan, too, who in his own way is freaking out just as badly as Nynaeve is. Which is also hilarious. How completely insane and perfect it is to have them both in the room hearing (and reacting to) this craziness, I cannot express.
Ha ha ha, too funny. Wonderfully done, the whole thing.
Of course, the enforced voyeurism was only slightly less funny, because HA. But Nynaeve still wins. Heh.
As for this Rand + Three Women Thing overall… well. I think sometimes it baffles people that I can be critical of a thing in general while at the same time being perfectly sanguine about it in the specific. By which I mean, on an individual basis I have no issues with the idea—not moral ones, anyway. Rand and Elayne and Aviendha and Min are all consenting adults (if only barely in Elayne’s case), and if they feel it’s worth it to tackle what could be a potential minefield, both emotionally and literally (not to mention a logistical, er, conundrum, shall we say), who am I to tell them they can’t?
Especially since it’s apparently all prophetically Fated and stuff—which makes for some interesting in-world moral implications if you think about it. I mean, can you legitimately get in a snit about polyamory if the fabric of reality itself is apparently all in favor of the notion? I think this might weaken your stance against!
All that said, while I don’t have a problem with the whole concept in principle, I do once again have to sigh at the lopsidedness of it all as applied to the overall series. It’s the same as with the pillow friends thing: once again, it is only women who are allowed to deviate from the sexual “norm,” and once again I am irritated by the unpleasant subtextual implications of that, whether they were intended or not.
All the more irritating because, again, it’s such an easy fix. Really, all I need to see to shut me up on this is ONE passing mention of, say, an Aiel marriage with one woman and two men in it. That’s it! And hey, while I’m wishing, how about we throw in two guys in a unambiguously stated romantic relationship, just for shits and giggles? No? Well, silly me. Sigh.
Anyway. Nevertheless, I wish those crazy kids all the best with it, even as I wonder how (and if) the Rand/Aviendha/Elayne/Min thing would work long term (assuming there is a long term), and whether we’ll ever get to find out if it does.
I also wonder what the hell is up with Min’s viewing of Aviendha’s babies. As my FAQ predecessor Pam Korda put it, “Holy multiple births, Batman!” Especially on top of the knowledge that Elayne’s going to have twins. Motility? Not an issue for Master al’Thor, apparently!
Of course, I kind of doubt the viewing means that Aviendha is literally going to have quadruplets—at least I hope it doesn’t, because ow. My best guess on this is that possibly Aviendha is going to have twins as well, but it will seem like Elayne’s twins are hers too (hence four, yet odd) because of the sister-bond. Or, bolstered by the perhaps significant mention in this chapter that Min can’t see things about herself, maybe it’s Min having the other two, and the four-way Warder bond gets that all tangled up with all of them.
Or—you know what, I have no frickin’ clue, it all sounds nuts to me. Y’all are welcome to speculate on the proper disposition of the Randspawn, but I give up.
It’s worth mentioning here the popular pet theory among fans that Elayne’s twins are Shivan and Calian. In case you have no idea what that means, here’s the quote from ACOS, when Mat is remembering summoning the Heroes of the Horn at Falme:
[…] and Shivan the Hunter behind his black mask. He was said to herald the end of Ages, the destruction of what had been and the birth of what was to be, he and his sister Calian, called the Chooser, who rode red-masked at his side.
(The real-world reference is, of course, to the Hindu deities Shiva the Destroyer and Kali, goddess of death, though I think their WOT counterparts are not meant to be literally divine. Which is, by the way, really cool.)
As for the theory re: them being Elayne’s kids, I don’t know if I totally buy it myself, but I certainly admit the idea has symbolic merit to it. And again, I really don’t know that we are ever going to have an opportunity to find out in the series proper anyway.
Speaking of Heroes of the Horn, let’s talk about our favorite grumpy one! Man, but Birgitte is pissy these days. Like most people, I take Min’s viewing of her here to mean that she is still a Hero of the Horn regardless of what she thinks, but I really wonder what’s going to happen when (if?) Mat blows the Horn again and Birgitte is (presumably) standing there already. This one, we might actually find out about!
By the way, if you want to give yourself a headache there is no better way than to consider the Gordian Knot that is now Rand’s bonding situation, which is like what happens when the previous tenant of your new apartment had the assitude to get his cable and phone cut off and then the company sends their single most brain-impaired technician possible to reconnect it and he has no FRICKIN’ CLUE and the end result is a big hole in your wall that looks like what would happen if a wire factory committed seppuku and really I just want to watch HBO for Christ’s sake and since when am I living in Brazil, I ask you?
…I may have gotten off topic, there. My point is, uh, it’s tangled! Yes.
But seriously, folks, the bond thing here, it really is kind of insane. I have to wonder, what exactly will happen if any one of the six people involved here (I’m including Birgitte here via her bond to Elayne) gets killed? I mean, normally if the bond holder dies, the bondee goes batshit suicidal, right, but what happens if you’re bound to more than one person? Does it, like, cancel out, or maybe just get blunted, or maybe does the batshit get spread around, yikes? Or is it just as bad for Rand regardless? And if/when Rand dies (however temporary that turns out to be), does it affect the girls as much, or less, or more? Does it affect Min differently because she can’t channel? Does it affect Birgitte by proxy? It’s All So Complicated!
Also, no bets on how we’re going to find out: if Alanna doesn’t snuff it Real Soon Now I will be AMAZED. There’s a shoe that’s been waiting to drop for over fifteen years now.
Um, what else. Oh, yeah: Toes. Or, in other words, the absolute worst pun in all of WOT. Oy.
Especially when you consider that Min’s “joke” doesn’t even make sense unless Randlanders speak English, which of course they don’t. But then, by the same reasoning none of the song lyrics should rhyme either, so I guess at some point you have to just chalk it up to artistic license and let it go. But still: toes. Good Lord.
Other than that, though, I declare this chapter Made Of Total Awesome, total yay, The (total) End.
And we out! Yay! Enjoy your weekend, gurls and bois, and see you Tuesday!