Welcome back to this week’s episode of Reading the Wheel of Time! In this post, part nine of The Shadow Rising, we are covering chapters 10 and 11, in which Rand fights Shadowspawn and does new tricks with Callandor, while Egwene looks in Tanchico, finds what she needs, but doesn’t notice.
Really excited that she met a Wise One, though! It will be very interesting to see how this new relationship plays out. Now let’s get down to recapping!
Ignoring Lanfear’s warning, Rand steps out the doors into a chaotic battle scene, dead Gray Men and Aiel lying strewn about, as a group Defenders fighting for their lives against a group of Trollocs, led by a Myrddraal. The alarm gong of the Stone sounds as Rand takes in the scene, the Defenders outnumbering the Trollocs but their numbers falling swiftly, especially as they are struck by the fear of the Myrddraal, and calls out to the Fade to face him.
Shouting the battle cry “Rally to the Stone!” and “The Stone Stands!” which Rand remembers hearing when he and the Aiel were the ones attacking, Rand rallies some of the Defenders as he steps forward to engage the Myrddraal with his blade of red fire. He is hard pressed to defend himself from its skillful bladework, but when he has the opportunity to strike directly at the Myrddraal’s sword, his saidin-wrought weapon slices through the other’s, and Rand takes off its head with the second blow.
The Trollocs, connected to the Myrddraal, begin to fall too, and Rand gives instructions to the flabbergasted Defenders to direct their attentions away from the Myrddraal’s death throes, to clean their blades before its blood scars the metal, and leads them out into the large fray beyond the columned room.
Shouting “For the Stone and the Lord Dragon!” the men follow him out to an even worse sight, finding not just Aiel and Defenders down, but civilians, noblewomen and servants, even children slain all around them. Rand leads his band through the Stone, sometimes losing men in the fray, sometimes gaining others, as he finds knots of Aiel and Defenders engaged in battle with groups of Trollocs and the occasional Myrddraal. He encounters Moiraine and Lan at one point, sees Lan nearly fall while protecting Moiraine’s back, but can’t get to them or even see if Lan recovers.
That was the way of the contest for the Stone. Or the contest for Rand’s life. Battles sprang up and drifted away from where they began, or died when one side fell. Not only did men fight Trollocs and Myrddraal. Men fought men; there were Darkfriends siding with the Shadowspawn, roughly dressed fellows who looked like former soldiers and tavern brawlers. They seemed as fearful of the Trollocs as the Tairens did, but they killed as indiscriminately, where they could. Twice Rand actually saw Trollocs battling Trollocs. He could only assume the Myrddraal had lost control of them and their bloodlust had taken over. If they wanted to slay each other, he left them to it.
Eventually Rand finds himself alone and beset by three Trollocs, and Rand is unlucky enough to be tripped up by the death throes of the first one he kills and winds up trapped under the second as the third raises its weapon to kill him. Suddenly, a fourth Trolloc appears and skewers Rand’s attacker, snarls at him, and darts off again. Rand, confused but relieved, climbs to his feet, and the sight of two Myrddraal fighting each other down the hall has him wondering if he’s gone mad and is dreaming all of this.
And then Lanfear appears, in her Selene guise again, and accuses Rand of risking everything, rushing about with his flame sword, comparing it to a hut made of twigs when he could have a palace at the snap of his fingers, that he could take the Trollocs’ lives with little effort, instead of nearly being killed by them. She asks him again to join her.
“Was this your doing?” he demanded. “That Trolloc, saving me? Those Myrddraal? Was it?”
She considered him a moment before giving a slight, regretful shake of her head. “If I take credit, you will expect it again, and that could be deadly. None of the others is really certain where I stand, and I like it that way. You can expect no open aid from me.”
Rand scoffs at the idea of her aiding him, given that she wants him to turn to the Shadow, and throws her against the wall with saidin. But his victory is short-lived, as Lanfear just tosses him against the opposite wall, pinning him firmly as she mocks him for his use of only fractional power and reminds him that Callandor is sitting uselessly up in his room, waiting for any hand that wants to claim it. Rand panics, but Lanfear lets him go after a moment, patiently waiting for him to make a decision about her. Rand wavers—considering that she might be in danger if he left her pinned, then realizing that as long as she could channel, nothing could hurt her—until Lanfear takes things into her own hands cutting through the flows that are holding her and dropping to her feet.
“I do not have to see a flow to unravel it, if I know what it is and where. You see, you have much to learn. I like you like this. You were always too stiff-necked and sure of yourself for comfort. It was always better when you were a bit uncertain of your footing. Are you forgetting Callandor, then?”
Still he hesitated. One of the Forsaken stood there. And there was absolutely nothing he could do. Turning, he ran for Callandor. Her laughter seemed to follow him.
Rand runs, passing battles, even Perrin and Faile, without stopping, until he reaches his room and finds Callandor waiting where he left it. He’s almost hesitant to take it, remembering how it felt the one other time he really used it, but as he’s taking it from its stand, another Myrddraal appears in the doorway.
Drawing saidin through Callandor, Rand destroys the Myrddraal, leaving only its clothes and some oily dusty motes flowing through the air. Rand goes out again, burning and destroying Myrddraal and Trollocs as they try to flee from him, but as fast as he runs after them, there are still more out of his reach, still fighting and killing, and Rand is desperate to find a way to kill them all. Without understanding what he is doing, he draws on still more power, forming a whirling, boiling mass of air, streaked with red, black, and silver, that collapses in and in on itself, becoming denser and denser, as Rand struggles to hold onto the Power running through him, blinded by the light emanating from Callandor.
Now. The thought floated like cackling laughter on the rim of his awareness. He severed the flows rushing out of him, leaving the thing still whirling, whining like a drill on bone. Now.
Lightning rushes out of the thing Rand made, streams of it flowing out and striking down every Myrddraal and Trolloc, and Rand can feel them dying. He knows that he could kill every Myrddraal and Trolloc in the world, as surely as he knows that doing so would kill him too. When it’s over the lightning vanishes, but Callandor, and Rand, still ablaze with the power.
He realizes that Moiraine is there, staring at him in shock, and she puts up a hand to stop Lan from stepping closer, as though Rand isn’t safe to approach. She tells Rand that she didn’t think what he has done could be possible, and asks, hesitantly, if he is well.
But Rand’s focus lands on the body of a small girl, and despite Moiraine’s gentle assurance that she will have someone take care of her, and that there is nothing he can do, Rand begins to use the power to animate her body.
Breathe. She has to breathe. The girl’s chest rose and fell. Heart. Has to beat. Blood already thick and dark oozed from the wound in her chest. Live. Live, burn you! I didn’t mean to be too late. Her eyes stared at him, filmed. Lifeless. Tears trickled unheeded down his cheeks. “She has to live! Heal her, Moiraine. I don’t know how. Heal her!”
“Death cannot be Healed, Rand. You are not the Creator.”
Staring into those dead eyes, Rand slowly withdrew the flows. The body fell stiffly. The body. He threw back his head and howled, as wild as any Trolloc. Braided fire sizzled into walls and ceiling as he lashed out in frustration and pain.
Rand pushes saidin away and has to hold himself up with Callandor as he asks after his friends. He’s informed that they are all okay, and Lan explains how Darkfriends smuggled the Trollocs in via grain barges and wagons. As Rand sags from weariness, Moiraine finally lets Lan close enough to hold him up while she Heals him, restoring most of his energy, although she purposely leaves enough weariness so that he will sleep later.
Rand tells Moiraine about Lanfear, noting that she isn’t surprised by the information, and Moriaine tells him that while little is known about Lanfear, they do know that she is in love with Lews Therin Telamon, and won’t kill Rand as long as she has some hope of getting Lews Therin back.
Wearily, Rand tells Moiraine that tomorrow he will tell her what he is going to do next. He thinks that Lanfear has accidentally given him the last piece of information without meaning, and wonders what Moiraine would think if he told her everything.
That night finds Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Aviendha all assembled together as Egwene prepares to try to enter Tel’aran’rhiod, this time on her own power instead of with the aid of the stone ring. She thinks a little regretfully that if she hadn’t guarded her ring so jealously, Elayne or Nynaeve might be skilled enough by this time to come with her. Unfortunately, neither of them knows enough of the rules of the Unseen World for it to be safe for them to undertake this mission with her, as they explain to Aviendha when she suggests the idea.
They know very little about Tarabon or Tanchico, although Egwene has found a book in the Stone’s library with a map of Tanchico, which she has memorized in hopes of using it to navigate Tel’aran’rhiod. The other women are doing their best to exude confidence and comfort, but Egwene catches Elayne nervously chewing her lip and she can see fear in Nynaeve’s eyes. They all fear an increased sense of urgency after the attack on the Stone and the appearance of one of the Forsaken in their midst. They are now desperately feeling the need to have some information less vague than Amico’s tale, although Egwene finds herself stretching the moment out, looking over the map again and asking what a Panarch is, even though she doesn’t really care about Elayne’s resulting explanation of how Tanchico is governed by the King and the Panarch.
Finally, after double-checking that Elayne and Nynaeve will wake her at the designated time, she lies down in bed, staring up at the ceiling as she thinks of all the dreams she’s been having lately, dreams of Rand as a giant, crushing people under his feet, or Rand in chains, or Rand building a wall between him and her. Dreams of Aiel fighting each other or throwing their weapons down and running around as if they had gone mad. Dreams of a Seanchan woman tying an invisible leash to Mat, or of Perrin as wolf, fighting a man whose face keeps changing. Dreams of Galad “wrapping himself in white as though putting on his own shroud” and of Gawyn wearing an expression of pain and hatred. Of Egwene’s own mother weeping. Though Egwene doesn’t know the significance of the dreams, she knows they mean something. Still, despite these thoughts and her other anxieties, she’s tired enough to be able to fall asleep easily.
She finds herself standing right in front of an enormous skeleton. She had been picturing it, and the room in which it is displayed, from the image on her map, and she’s arrived right before it, inside the white silk rope that marks it off from the room. She opens herself at once to saidar, wanting to be prepared for anything, and notices that her clothing looks almost like Aviendha’s Aiel clothes, except that it’s much fancier, and done in red leather and brocaded silk. Apparently part of her mind wants to be ready to move fast, and another part wants to be ready for a ball. Carefully she imagines different clothing, first proper Aiel dress, then a copy of Faile’s dresses. She feels a little silly, considering that no one will see her here, as few dreams even reach Tel’aran’rhiod, and then only for a short time.
She thinks it wouldn’t matter if she were naked, and then accidentally is naked for a moment. Egwene reminds herself the power that her thoughts have in Tel’aran’rhiod, and vows to be more careful.
There are other skeletons on display in the great room, as well as different objects. As Egwene examines them—recognizing one as an angreal, and sensing darkness and pain around a collar and two bracelets made of dark metal—one object tucked away in a corner catches her attention.
… the upper half of a broken figure carved from some shiny white stone, a woman holding a crystal sphere in one upraised hand, her face calm and dignified and full of wise authority. Whole, she would have been perhaps a foot tall. But why did she appear so familiar? She almost seemed to call to Egwene to pick her up.
Not until Egwene’s fingers closed on the broken statuette did she realize she had climbed over the rope. Foolish, when I don’t know what it is, she thought, but it was already too late.
As her hand grasped it, the Power surged within her, into the half-figure then back into her, into the figure and back, in and back. The crystal sphere flickered in fitful, lurid flashes, and needles stabbed her brain with each flash. With a sob of agony, she loosed her hold and clasped both hands to her head.
The figure falls to the floor and shatters, the pain vanishing. Egwene wonders if it hurt her because it’s broken, and could not do what it was meant to do, and remembers how dangerous it is to test ter’angreal. Still, she wonders why it called to her. And when she open her eyes, the figure is back on its shelf, unbroken.
Refocusing on her task, Egwene leaves the room and hurries to find a way out of the Panarch’s palace. She encounters no one save for a man in gilded armor who calls to someone named Aeldra to come see that he has been named Lord Captain of the Panarch’s Legion. He has accidentally dreamed himself into Tel’aran’rhiod, and vanishes again after a moment. Egwene thinks about how sometimes people dream themselves into Tel’aran’rhiod without knowing, and if they die in that place, they don’t wake up.
Egwene finds her way out of the palace into an outdoor square, and looks out over the expanse of Tanchico. She thinks of how much she has to search, and how she doesn’t even know what she is looking for or how to interpret what she sees. But there is no one left to teach her, unless she could find an Aiel Wise One who could help.
Suddenly she finds herself surrounded by stone columns and bare, sparse vegetation, the sun baking down on her as the heat of the air seems to suck the moisture right out of her breath. She also sees a lion, and, a little further off, something boar-like and an Aiel woman stalking it with a spear. Egwene realizes that she has dreamed herself into the Aiel Waste, and that the Aiel woman is looking at her. Quickly she closes her eyes and brings back the image of the skeleton, and again she returns to the original display room.
She makes her way quickly back to the square and moves through the streets, wondering why Tel’aran’rhiod has birds and insects and dogs, but not people. She doesn’t know what to look for, what might be signs of the Black Ajah, but notices the way the city seems to be worn and in a bit of disrepair.
She jumped as a shrieking man suddenly plummeted out of the sky in front of her. She only had time to register baggy white trousers and thick mustaches covered by a transparent veil before he vanished, only a pace above the pavement. Had he struck, here in Tel’aran’rhiod, he would have been found dead in his bed.
He probably has as much to do with anything as the roaches, she told herself.
She starts looking in buildings, noticing the lack of dust, taking in the state of people’s homes, with their tools and clothing and other possessions stored or laid out on surfaces. Once, she retraces her steps and looks back into a home she already inspected, and notices little changes in the positioning of items and furniture. She wonders why it changed, but also knows no reason that it shouldn’t change.
There was a stable across the street, the white plaster showing large patches of brick. She trotted to it and pulled open one of the big doors. Straw covered the dirt floor, just as in every stable she had ever seen, but the stalls stood empty. No horses. Why? Something rustled in the straw, and she realized the stalls were not empty after all. Rats. Dozens of them, staring at her boldly, noses testing the air for her scent. None of the rats ran, or even shied away; they behaved as if they had more right there than she. In spite of herself she stepped back. Pigeons and gulls and dogs, flies and rats. Maybe a Wise One would know why.
As suddenly as that she was back in the Waste.
The boar-like creature (up close it’s not a pig at all, and it has four toes on each foot and a mouth full of sharp teeth) darts directly for Egwene, and she falls on her back as it leaps over her. She climbs to her feet, her back feeling scorched by the stone she was lying on, cross at herself for getting so distracted, and frightened by the fact that, if that creature had harmed her, she would have woken in the real world gravely injured, or maybe even not woken at all. Again, she finds the Aiel woman looking at her. She’s about Aviendha’s age, though the hair that shows from under her head-covering is so light as to be almost white, and she is holding her spear ready to be cast.
Knowing that the Aiel don’t like people being in the Waste without permission, she changes her clothes to match the woman’s as she calls out that she means no harm.
The woman did not lower her weapon. Instead, she frowned and said, “You have no right to wear cadin’sor, girl.” And Egwene found herself standing there in her skin, the sun burning her from over head, the ground searing her bare feet.
For a moment she gaped in disbelief, dancing from foot to foot. She had not thought it possible to change things about someone else. So many possibilities, so many rules, that she did not know. Hurriedly she thought herself back into stout shoes and the dark dress with its divided skirts and at the same time made the Aiel woman’s garments vanish. She had to draw on saidar to do it; the woman must have been concentrating on keeping Egwene naked. She had a flow ready to seize the spear if the other woman made to throw it.
When the Aiel woman lowers her spear in surprise, Egwene seizes the moment to get herself back to the display room again. Frustrated, she pushes aside questions of how the Aiel woman affected her that way, knowing that those sorts of questions are what keep pulling Egwene off-track.
“She did hesitate, though. Just as she had closed her eyes it had seemed she saw another woman, beyond the Aiel woman, watching them both. A golden-haired woman holding a silver bow. You are letting wild fancies take you, now. You’ve been listening to too many of Thom Merrilin’s stories. Birgitte was long dead; she could not come again until the Horn of Valere called her back from the grave. Dead women, even heroes of legend, surely could not dream themselves into Tel’aran’rhiod.
She hurries back to the square for a third time, and notices a woman, wearing the same transparent veil as the falling man had been wearing, flying above the buildings in her dreams. She disappears in a moment, but Egwene, who also often dreams of flying, is struck by the idea, and just like that, she too is soaring up into the air. But despite her new view-point, she can’t see any clues in the empty streets or the tall spires of buildings, or in the ships crowding the harbor and docks. She considers picturing Liandrin, but worries that she might find the Black Ajah actually in Tel’aran’rhiod.
It then occurs to her that, if any of the Black Ajah are in Tel’aran’rhiod, she is flaunting herself to them, flying around in plain sight like this, and starts to come down.
A tall woman was suddenly standing in the street ahead of her, slim in a bulky brown skirt and loose white blouse, with a brown shawl around her shoulders and a folded scarf around her forehead to hold white hair that spilled to her waist. Despite her plain clothes she wore a great many necklaces and bracelets of gold or ivory or both. Fists planted on her hips, she stared straight at Egwene, frowning.
For a moment Egwene thinks this is just another person who has accidentally dreamed themselves into Tel’aran’rhiod, but then realizes that the woman isn’t disappearing the way the others did. The woman tells Egwene to put her feet on the ground, and just like that Egwene’s feet thump on the pavement. She recognizes the Aiel woman’s voice, although now she looks older than before. She remarks that the woman seems different. The woman, slightly embarrassed, answers that “you can be what you wish to be, here” and that she sometimes likes to remember. She remarks that it has been a long time since the White Tower had a dreamwalker, and introduces herself as Amys, of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel.
Egwene realizes, excitedly, that she is talking to a Wise One, and introduces herself, claiming to be Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah. The woman seems skeptical, but only remarks that she was surprised by Egwene’s ability to turn her trick against her. Egwene is clearly strong, but also untaught, given how she kept popping up where she didn’t want to be, and is flying around. She asks why Egwene is here in this city, wherever it is.
Egwene wonders how Amys could have found Egwene here when she doesn’t even know where here is, and explains that it is Tanchico, and that Egwene is hunting the Black Ajah.
“It truly exists, then.” Amys almost whispered it. “An Ajah of Shadowrunners in the White Tower.” She shook her head. “You are like a girl just wedded to the spear who thinks now she can wrestle men and leap mountains. For her it means a few bruises and a valuable lesson in humility. For you, here, it could mean death.” Amys eyed the white buildings around them and grimaced. “Tanchico? In… Tarabon? This city is dying, eating itself. There is a darkness here, an evil. Worse than men can make. Or women.” She looked at Egwene pointedly. “You cannot see it, or feel it, can you? And you want to hunt Shadowrunners in Tel’aran’rhiod.”
Egwene excitedly explains that the evil could be the people she seeks, and ask if Amys could locate the women if she described them. Amys, dryly comparing Egwene to a child “demanding a silver bracelet from her father this minute when she knows nothing of trading or the making of bracelets,” tells Egwene that she has much to learn, and tells her that she must come to the Three-Fold Land, and to give her name and show her ring, so that she can be conducted to Amys. Egwene continues to beg for Amys’s help, but as the woman explains that she can’t do what Egwene is asking for, Egwene begins to find herself pulled away. Amys calls after her as Egwene drifts into darkness, telling her that she must come.
Whew! I’m not sure where to start here, so much has happened. Thing are really starting to pick up now, propelling us forward into the meat of the book, so to speak.
One thing I enjoyed about doing these two chapters together is how there’s a symmetry between them. Both Rand and Egwene are experimenting with abilities they have that are particularly strong, and particularly rare. Although the romantic phase of their relationship is past and their personal journeys appear to be so separate, it still feels like their paths are connected in a meaningful way. Of course, all of the Two Rivers Folk, along with Thom and Moiraine and Elayne, seem to be caught up in Rand’s ta’veren pull, and are all clearly part of the Wheel’s plan, but right now Egwene’s specific part is perhaps a little clearer than the others’. Of course we don’t know much about Tel’aran’rhiod yet, but with so much focus on it, with the knowledge that at least Lanfear and Ishmael are/were using it for travel and secret meetings, it’s clearly important. And since Dreaming is a very specific skill that the White Tower has lost, it seems very significant—more significant than just some young people with unusual levels of power—that the ability should return at this exact moment, and in someone who has been so very close to Rand.
I wonder if Perrin’s wolf ability to navigate the World of Dreams will also be significant. Might be useful to Egwene to have that kind of aid, given how dangerous Tel’aran’rhiod is. And I imagine at some point the two might be able to learn to find each other in the Dream World, and perhaps pass messages from group to group, no matter how far the physical distance between them.
I wondered last week if Lanfear’s power over Rand, whatever sparkly glamour she uses on men to make them go all drooly, had changed because she was doing something different, or because his love for Elayne canceled it out somehow. But he does still seem to be struggling with something here. He’s still afraid of her, but his fear is not the same as the bone-chilling feeling he experienced with Aginor and Balthamel—maybe just because it’s harder to be as horrified by a beautiful, well-dressed woman, or maybe because she has some other influence on him. They did travel together for a while, and those memories may feel emotionally more real than acknowledging that he’s standing in the room with Lanfear. On some level, he still thinks of her as an ordinary woman, as we see when he worries that passing Trollocs might kill her if she was left pinned to the wall, then has to remind himself that nothing could ever get close to her as long as she has the ability to channel.
He also thinks that it’s Elayne that Lanfear is jealous of, as I briefly did before I realized that Lanfear probably meant Ilyena, when she mentioned the golden-haired woman who stole Rand from her. Ah, the irony of Rand finding himself in a love triangle that does not involve Egwene.
Speaking of emotionally acknowledging things, can we talk for a moment about how the Myrddraal told Rand he was going to feed him to the Trollocs and “take your women for my own”? I know that Trollocs and Fades are made by crossing humans and animals, but I wasn’t really thinking about it as done in a… traditional way. I just got to this point, shouted “Fades are sexual beings?!” and had to walk away from the book for a bit.
So intrigued by whoever is manipulating the Trollocs. It was unclear to me if Lanfear denied credit because she was responsible but didn’t want him to think so, or if she didn’t do it, and was just deciding in the moment that taking credit wouldn’t serve her ends. I suppose that vagueness is the point, but it’s really the only time we’ve seen her be vague. Usually she’s very deliberate, even her subterfuge is pointed. But if Lanfear wasn’t responsible, then who else could control Trollocs in such a way? It seems a very Moiraine-like trick, but we’d know if she had such abilities. I half-expected it to turn out to be something Nynaeve had suddenly, half-accidentally figured out from getting really angry at Trollocs, but it doesn’t seem to have come up, either, and I’m sure at least Egwene and Elayne would know if she did something like that.
But we do have a name for another female Forsaken! When Lanfear taunts Rand about someone taking Callandor, she mentions that Moghedien would take it to trade for favors with a male Forsaken.
It’s creepy that they call themselves the Chosen.
I enjoyed Rand and Lanfear’s little half-battle, throwing each other against the wall. First because it’s a fun visual, very Saruman vs. Gandalf, but also because it gives us a little bit more of a clue about how men and women can work together in channeling. I was musing on this subject a few weeks ago—we know that some of the greatest works of the Age of Legends were created by men and women channeling together, as was the Eye of the World, despite the inability to touch each other’s half of the True Source or to sense each other’s channeling. This is the first time we’ve seen proof that a woman can interact with a man’s channeling. Obviously this ability is lost in the modern age since there are no male channelers for the female Aes Sedai to work with, but I imagine Rand and Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne will be rediscovering some of those tricks over the course of the books.
The whole Shadowspawn-killing lightning section was pretty intense. I don’t have a lot to say about it, but it’s a good reminder both of how the taint feels to Rand, as well as the amount of power he can draw, both on his own and with the sa’angreal. It’s hard to understand the baseline of how much Power is used by a channeler at a given time, but between Egwene coming to understand how much stronger Rand is than she, and then seeing how much different it is for Rand to channel with Callandor than without, we begin to have a more concrete picture.
I had a bit of a laugh during Egwene and the others’ conversation about how weird it would be to have clocks in a bedchamber, and I also had a lot of fun trying to guess which animals Egwene was looking at in that display room in the Panarch’s palace. I thought the first one seemed like it could be an elephant, and the slender, long-necked one could be a giraffe. I wasn’t sure about the one that’s supposed to look like a bear with beaver teeth, but the internet tells me that there used to be such a thing as a giant beaver so I suppose that’s a possibility. Then again, they might all be what we would call prehistoric beasts—the big one could be a woolly mammoth, and lots of dinosaurs had long necks.
This is a different section to analyze, because although I can tell that there are a lot of clues, I wasn’t sure what to make of them. Egwene thinks about all her dreams, but I can’t begin to guess who Mat or Perrin are fighting, or what Egwene’s mother weeping might be about. The image of Galad wrapping himself in white is an evocative one—of course it’s hard not to think of Whitecloaks from an image like that, and Galad and the Children of the Light do share a certain righteous blindness. Still, the color white has a lot of meanings, such as the White Tower, or even service to the Light in some other capacity. It’s also unclear if the image of Gawyn in pain and anger is related to the image of Galad or not.
All of the objects in the display room seem to be important, too. Egwene recognizes the angreal, of course, and with her senses heightened by saidar she’s able to get impressions off the other objects, the silvery star-like thing giving a sense of vanity, for example. There’s also the broken figure that Egwene picks up, which stumped me at first until I went back and read the disruption over again and remembered the way Rand was drawn to the giant statue he and Lanfear found being unearthed outside of Cairhien, which was of a man holding aloft a crystal ball. Lanfear has mentioned that she knows of two sa’angreal, one a man can use, one a woman can, that she believes would make them powerful enough to challenge the creator himself—perhaps there is a female statue to go with the male one, and this smaller figure that Egwene has found is connected to that somehow. It could be a dream representation of something, or an item designed to lead to or connect to the larger figure in some way, and the pain Egwene felt when she picked it up could have been some kind of message of warning.
As for the collar with the two bracelets, I think Egwene may have found exactly what she needed to, without realizing. She is looking in Tanchico for evidence of the truth of Amico’s story, and while she is taking that literally, looking for evidence of Liandrin and the others, what she has actually found may be the object of the Black Ajah’s hunt.
I will always be suspicious of a collar and bracelet set now that we have seen the a’dam and what it can do. I suppose Egwene is too, but it seems as though she’s shied away from considering the collar too closely because of the emotions dredged up by the association. Which is too bad, really, since she has some clues that might help her here. She can feel the pain coming off of that collar, for one. For two, she has Amico’s story that there was something in Tanchico that would bind Rand to them by his own ability to channel. She also said that the object was also dangerous to those who used it, which makes sense if we’re having women use objects made to interact with male channeling. I believe it was Alwhin who told the story of what happened when men were attached via the a’dam to a collared damane, sometimes nothing, but sometimes both man and damane died screaming. My guess is that those men who died had the ability to learn to channel, and they died because the a’dam was meant only for saidar, and certainly not for mixing the two halves of the One Power. So if this dark collar Egwene has found is what I suspect it is, then it would probably be very dangerous for a female channeler to use, even if its creators knew how to make such a thing possible.
Unfortunately, Egwene didn’t get to find out back in the early parts of this adventure about the boys and the rat dreams. I’m trying to remember if she was ever in the room when Moiraine explained that rats were often employed by the Dark One as spies. I don’t think she was, which is too bad because she could have been warned about what those animals presence means. Also I think other crawlies like bugs might be the same problem, as well as the pigeons. (Carrion birds are the ones we know the Dark One uses, but I could see him employing some city pigeons in a pinch.) Yeah, pretty sure everything except the dogs are spies for the Dark One in Tel’aran’rhiod. The dogs, I’m guessing, might have the same abilities as wolves; they are related after all, even if the wolves look down on their domesticated cousins.
But the question now becomes what she will decide to do. Will she catch any of these clues and know that there is a real threat in Tanchico? Will she decide instead to go find Amys and learn what she needs to know about Tel’aran’rhiod? Will the girls split up and try to cover both sides? Only time, and me reading on, will tell.
But in the meantime, Egwene has dreamed of Rand building a wall between them, determined not to let her stop him from whatever it is he is planning to do. Something no one expects, something we will have to wait for tomorrow to learn. But tomorrow in The Shadow Rising means several chapters from now, and so at least two weeks for Reading the Wheel of Time. What fun! Such suspense!
Join us next week for Chapters Twelve and Thirteen, and down in the comments to giggle with each other over whether or not I’ve guessed any of these things correctly. And as always, thanks for reading!
Sylas K Barrett fully believes that bugs are the spies of the Dark One. He found bedbugs in his apartment this weekend and spent several days cleaning and weeping and cursing the gods. Really could have used one an Aes Sedai presence to keep those monsters away. Apologies for any errors this week, resulting from my weariness and trauma.