Well, and a jocular corpulent Day of Tiw to you, party people! And as is tradition among my people on this particular calendarial epoch, let the good (Wheel of) Times (Reread Redux) roll!
All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on Tor.com.)
The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as an e-book series! Yay!
All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And now, the post!
Chapter 15: The Gray Man
I assumed in the original commentary that Mesaana sent the Gray Man, and was also pretty dismissive of the suspicion cast on Sheriam. For the former, I don’t remember if it was ever refuted later, but barring that I see no reason to change the assumption that Mesaana was responsible.
As for the latter, well. Normally I would say that’ll learn me about assuming a red herring instead of genuine foreshadowing, but in Sheriam’s case I remain divided in my mind as to whether her Darkfriendliness was intended from the beginning, or… well, wasn’t. There’s still something about that whole reveal in TGS that sits oddly with me. But, it is what it is, and choosing to roll with the idea that Sheriam was Black Ajah all along certainly does make this chapter read differently than it did before.
So, I guess I am to assume now that Sheriam did indeed send the Gray Man, and the other one she finds dead in her bed later was a warning for screwing up the assassination attempt? I’m not sure, though. It makes as much sense to me to suppose that Mesaana was directly responsible for the attempt, and put the other Gray Man in Sheriam’s bed as a warning for interfering in the aftermath. I like the latter theory better, actually, because if Sheriam had actually been assigned the task of offing the Supergirls, then she is woefully incompetent, considering the absolute wealth of opportunities she must have had as Mistress of Novices to get rid of them in a much more subtle way.
In fact the whole thing strikes me as needlessly ostentatious, really. Why not poison their food, or asphyxiate them in their beds, or push them down a flight of stairs or something, instead of sending a clearly Shadow-associated hitman to kill them in a way which is guaranteed to cause an uproar? Unless the obviousness/uproar is the point, but if so, I can’t quite suss out why that would be so.
I dunno, the whole Gray Man-in-the-Tower thing never really made much sense to me, honestly, but since it never seemed to matter much except to contribute to the general theme of “everyone’s trying to kill Our Heroes ALL THE TIME,” I really never bothered to get that upset about it. And the scene itself was very dramatic and suspenseful, aaaand maybe that shouldn’t count more than the scene actually making sense, but, uh. Two out of three ain’t bad?
[Egwene:] “If the Black Ajah is still here, Nynaeve, and if they even suspect what we’re doing… I hope you didn’t mean what you said about acting as if we are already bound by the Three Oaths. I don’t intend to let them kill me, not if I can stop it by channeling.”
I’m puzzled by this conversation. Why should the Three Oaths interfere with them defending themselves from Black Ajah? The Third Oath specifically allows for using the One Power in defense of oneself against agents of the Shadow, a set of which Black Ajah are most certainly members.
…Oh, or maybe Egwene is talking about killing with the Power, and Nynaeve is advocating less lethal methods. Which, if so, proves that at this stage of things Nynaeve most definitely should still be the boss of them, because wow, Egwene.
And a minor note:
Sheriam put a hand to the man’s chest, and jerked it back twice as fast, hissing. Steeling herself visibly, she touched him again, and maintained the Touch longer. “Dead,” she muttered. “As dead as it is possible to be, and more.”
So this is something I never noticed before, the capitalization of the word “touch” in this passage. Maybe it’s just a typo in my edition and got corrected later, but it’s interesting if it isn’t, because then it’s a Power thing that never got mentioned or explained since—again, as far as I recall.
Or, possibly “Touch” got replaced with “Delving” later, since it seems to be much the same thing.
Chapter 16: Hunters Three
One of those fun instances where the (new) icon and the title tell you pretty much exactly what is going to happen in the chapter.
Although it doesn’t tell you about the small high school drama interlude we have before it. I don’t remember if I initially found Gawyn and especially Galad to be as infuriatingly condescending here as I do now, but I would be surprised if I hadn’t, because ugh. Even acknowledging that they were acting under orders from both their monarch and their mother, they still make me want to smack them upside the head for the douchey way they went about it.
I do take back what I said in the original commentary complaining about the lack of indication from Gawyn that he was into Egwene. Given what we will learn (or possibly have already learned, I forget) about Gawyn’s gratitude toward and semi-hero-worship of Galad, it actually makes perfect sense that he would go to considerable lengths to hide how he feels about a girl Galad has shown an interest in. He’s being a good bro, literally, and I feel like I shouldn’t fault him for that.
Especially since I will have so, so many other things to fault him for Real Soon Now. (Ugh.)
“Nynaeve, you wouldn’t—” Gawyn began worriedly, but Galad motioned him to silence and stepped closer to Nynaeve.
Her face kept its stern expression, but she unconsciously smoothed the front of her dress as he smiled down at her. Egwene was not surprised. She did not think she had met a woman outside the Red Ajah who would not be affected by Galad’s smile.
So this bit is hilarious for several reasons, but in part because I keep being startled anytime there is a reference in the story to the fact that Nynaeve is, in fact, quite short. Just as Galad continually gets rendered ugly in my mind because of his (to me) toxic personality, I constantly subconsciously assume Nynaeve’s height matches her personality, when instead she’s about seven feet of attitude in a 5’4” body.
And yes, that is actually her height, at least according to Jordan—most of the time, anyway. As a side note, it’s so perfectly geeky that so many fans have specifically asked how tall the characters are that it was a FAQ. I mentioned this to a non-geek friend once and she was completely puzzled about why this was important to know. Admittedly, my reply (“we need to know for reasons”) was not exactly helpful, but I tend to think this is the kind of thing where, if you have to ask why, you’re not going to really get the answer anyway.
As for Nynaeve’s decision to bring Elayne in, in retrospect it was probably less about being clever and sneaky as it was about deciding not to postpone the inevitable. Because seriously, there was no way Elayne wasn’t going to muscle her way in on this, whether Nynaeve wanted her there or not. She’s not exactly used to taking “no” for an answer, after all. Plus there’s that whole “more courage than sense” aspect, though really none of the Supergirls can throw stones on that account.
Also, Nynaeve has her blind spots and there’s no doubt about that, but she is pretty perceptive in her deduction here that the Amyrlin was considering letting Mat die, even without knowing why Siuan was considering it in the first place (i.e., Mat’s link to the Horn). Granted, it’s probably easier to see ulterior motives in people when you are automatically predisposed to think the worst of them, but that doesn’t change the fact that Nynaeve is quite correct. Nicely done, girl.
And here’s where we stop for the nonce, mes amies! And now I will have king cake, and you will be sad you don’t live in the coolest city ever, but I will make it up to you by returning with more Reread-y goodness next Tuesday! Whoo!