Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Men and Women Quarrel Until the Stone Shakes in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 13)

Welcome back to the read of The Shadow Rising. This week is lucky number 13, and our heroes are going to need some luck, as Perrin, Faile, and Loial journey into the Ways (with some company) and Nynaeve and Elayne are attempting to garner passage with the Sea Folk. It’s exciting to be introduced to a new culture, and I’m intrigued by what we see here of the Sea Folk customs and society, as well as the fact that we’re encountering a new set of prophecies.

It’s interesting that people keep being surprised that other cultures would have their own prophecies surrounding the Dragon Reborn, and I think it speaks to the prejudice of the Aes Sedai and the mainland cultures of the world that they haven’t considered that the more secretive societies of the world might have knowledge about its workings that the White Tower, Andor, and other powerful nations might not.

Chapter 18 opens with Perrin gathering up the last of his things and reluctantly replacing the axe back at his belt. He finds Gaul waiting for him outside the door, ready to travel with his weapons and pack, but no other Aiel. Gaul explains that his people have had enough of strange lands, of breathing wet air and being surrounded by so many closely-packed people. Perrin understands, and hides his disappointment that here will be no company of Aiel to drive the Whitcloaks from the Two Rivers.

Gaul and Perrin have made kept their preparations secret, but the Aiel warns Perrin that Faile and Loial haven’t taken any such precautions. Perrin threatens vengeance if Faile gives him away to Moiraine, but he also makes Gaul promise to take Faile away from the Two Rivers, even if she refuses, should anything happen to Perrin.

They see few people as they do their best to sneak down servants’ staircases and through the halls of the Stone, and Gaul tells Perrin that Rand has summoned everyone to the Heart of the Stone. Whether Rand has done this to help Perrin or for some other reason, Perrin is glad that it makes it easier to avoid being noticed—and no sign of Moiraine—as they escape out to the stable near the Dragon Wall. Inside, they find Loial and Faile, and also Bain and Chiad, waiting for them.

Suddenly Gaul’s comment that he would “try” to take Faile from the Two Rivers makes more sense, and when Perrin asks, he explains that the women will take Faile’s side, and that Chiad’s clan and his have a blood feud. He also says that he thinks that the Aiel women are fascinated by the argument between Perrin and Faile, that they like her and are coming because of that. Perrin hopes aloud that they will keep her out of trouble, and Gaul just laughs.

Loial comes up to Perrin, urging him to hurry, Faile is getting impatient and Loial worries that she will make them leave without Perrin.

“I will not leave him,” Faile called. “Not even if he is yet too stubborn and foolish to ask a simple favor. Should that be the case, he may still follow me like a lost puppy. I promise to scratch his ears and take care of him.” The Aiel women doubled over laughing.

Gaul leaped straight up suddenly, kicking higher, two paces or more above the floor, while twirling one of his spears. “We will follow like stalking ridgecats,” he shouted, “like hunting wolves.” He landed easily, lightly. Loial stared at him in amazement.

Bain, on the other hand, lazily combed her short, fiery hair with her fingers. “I have a fine wolfskin with my bedding in the hold,” she told Chiad in a bored voice. “Wolves are easily taken.”

A growl rose in Perrin’s throat, pulling both women’s eyes to him. For a moment Bain looked on the point of saying something more, but she frowned at his yellow stare and held her peace, not afraid, but suddenly wary.

“This puppy is not well housebroken yet,” Faile confided to the Aiel women.

Perrin decides to ignore her, focusing instead saddling on his mount, Stepper, and dealing with the packhorse. Loial has his big horse, and Faile hers, but the Aiel remain on foot, and Perrin wonders if there’s more to their dislike of horses than just pride in their own ability to run.

When Faile finally mounted, in her narrow divided skirts, she reined closer to Perrin. She rode well, woman and horse moving as one. “Why can you not ask, Perrin?” she said softly. “You tried to keep me away from where I belong, so now you have to ask. Can such a simple thing be so difficult?”

Suddenly the Stone rings like a great bell, causing the floor to leap beneath their feet and terrifying the horses. As the grooms scramble to comfort the other horses in the stable and the ceiling shakes above them, Perrin feels the pull of ta’veren, and knows that Rand is responsible. He has to struggle not to dismount and run back into the Stone, but he manages it, shouting “We ride now, Loial!” and even Faile doesn’t object.

They tear out of the stable, past the shaken Defenders at the Dragon Wall, tearing as fast as they can through the streets, people staring at them as they go or leaping out of their way. They don’t stop until they are surrounded by farmland, and Perrin can’t feel that pull of ta’veren to ta’veren anymore.

Loial’s ears were stiff with shock. Faile licked her lips and stared from the Ogier to Perrin, white-faced. “What happened? Was that … him?”

“I don’t know,” Perrin lied. I have to go, Rand. You know that. You looked me in the face when I told you, and said I had to do what I thought I must.

Faile is upset that they’ve left Bain and Chiad so far behind, but Perrin refrains from telling her how little she knows about the Aiel, and turns back to spot the three of them in the distance, running at incredible speed. Faile doesn’t believe that he sees them, though, and remarks to Loial that Perrin is “incredibly boastful” of his eyesight but has a terrible memory, even needing to be reminded to light a candle at night. She suspects that it’s just some poor family running from what they think is an earthquake.

Loial avoids engaging with this, and it’s not long until the Aiel come up to them, ribbing each other about their respective running abilities. Faile interjects sharply that it’s time to go, and that she can’t let a stray puppy stay close for long, lest it think she’s going to take care of it. Loial protests that she is taking this too far, but Faile only answers that she will take it as far as she must.

Perrin enjoys the journey through the farmland, but Loial gets irritated, muttering about the Ogier grove that used to be there, cut down just for grass. Perrin is reminded that while Ogier are not easy to anger, you really wouldn’t want one to be angry with you.

They finally find the Waygate, with its Avendesora leaf key. When Loial uses it to open the gate, even the Aiel are stirred. They all peer at their own reflections in the dully-shimmering surface.

“Once, it is said,” Loial murmured, “the Waygates shone like mirrors, and those who walked the Ways walked through the sun and the sky. Gone, now. Like this grove.”

Hastily pulling one of the filled pole-lanterns from his packhorse, Perrin got it alight. “It is too hot out here,” he said. “A little shade would be good.” He booted Stepper toward the Waygate. He thought he heard Faile gasp again.

Perrin goes through slowly, remembering what he learned the last time, and is followed by Gaul, who observes that Faile is angry with him for breaking the rules. He remarks that Perrin should not let Bain and Chiad get him alone, as they mean to teach him a lesson for Faile’s sake. But Perrin replies that he never agreed to these rules, and only follows them because he has to, due to her trickery. For now, he is taking the lead for as long as he can.

He indicates the white line that will lead to the first guidepost. They will need Loial to decipher it, but this much he can do on his own. Gaul asks if Perrin knows what he’s doing, and Perrin replies that he doesn’t, but there’s no need for Faile to know that. Gaul laughs, and observes that it’s fun to be so young, but Perrin can’t tell if Gaul is laughing at him or not.

He heels his horse on, knowing that he will be completely out of sight by the time Faile steps through. If she worries for a little, he thinks, it serves her right.

Earlier that morning, Elayne and Nyenave are taking a carriage down to the docks, and it’s not exactly a comfortable ride. Nynaeve tells the driver off angrily for managing to hit every pothole on the way, but Elayne thanks him for giving them the speed they asked, and doubles the amount of money she was about to give them, earning a grateful look and thanks from the driver, as much for her words as the coins, she thinks.

Nynaeve seems to take Elayne’s unspoken point, and admits she was unfair. But she also remarks that Elayne needs to be more careful with money, and that a family could live comfortably for a month on the money Elayne gives away to people just for doing the job they are paid to do. Elayne, in turn, is annoyed at the way Nynaeve seems to think they should live worse than servants unless there is a reason not to.

In any case, they are at the docks now, and the way they both reacted to the carriage driver is less important than how they are now going to handle the Sea Folk they are about to meet. Elayne expresses a hope that Nynaeve can be a little more tactful. Nynaeve answers that she will be, as long as they don’t toss her about, but Elayne’s first up-close view of the thin, light-looking ship makes her think it will toss about much worse than the carriage, even despite how large it is.

Elayne observes the crew at their work, dark-skinned, barefoot men and women, wearing gold and silver jewelry. The men are bare chested as well, while the women wear bright, colorful blouses and some have rings in their noses as well as their ears.

Elayne notices the gracefulness of the women, especially, and remembers hearing tales of the alluring and exotic beauty of sea folk women. She doesn’t think they look any more beautiful than other women, but the way they move makes her believe the tales. She also notices two women in particular, standing on the raised deck in the stern, whose rich, brocaded clothes set them apart, and is confused by the wheel behind them where there should be, she believes, a tiller for the ship’s rudder.

They approach the two women, and Nyenave gives them a careful greeting, worded based on Moiraine’s instructions to them, and introducing them as two Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah. The older woman returns the greeting, introducing herself as Coine din Jubai Wild Winds, Sailmistress of the Wavedancer and the other as her sister, Jorin din Jubai White Wing, the ship’s Windfinder.

Elayne notes that there is something about Jorin, the Windfinder, that reminds her of Aviendha, although she can’t say exactly what. Coine takes them down to her cabin to talk about the possibility of granting the two Aes Sedai the gift of passage. Elayne is started to recognize a Seanchan helmet on display and asks where they came by it.

“Wavedancer encountered a Seanchan ship last year,” Coine replied. “They wished to take him, but I did not wish to give him up.” She shrugged slightly. “I have the helmet to remind me, and the sea took the Seanchan, the Light be merciful to all who sail. I will not go close to a vessel with ribbed sails again.”

“You were lucky,” Nynaeve said curtly. “The Seanchan hold captive women who can channel, and make them channel as a weapon. If they had had one on that ship, you would be regretting ever having seen it.”

Elayne makes a face, worried that the women would be offended, but if they are they don’t show it, and Elayne is starting to realize that they don’t show much of what they are thinking, at least not to strangers.

They all sit, and a woman in a red sash appears to serve tea. Elayne and Nynaeve are surprised when they see she is shirtless, and after the tea has been poured, the Sailmistress asks the young woman if there is land still in sight before sending her to work at cleaning the bilges until there has been no land in sight for a full day.

When the woman has gone, Coine apologizes, explaining that it is the young woman’s first voyage, and that the young often forget “the ways of the shorebound.” She offers to punish her further if Nynaeve and Elayne are offended, but Elayne assures her that only a fool is offended by customs different than her own. Inwardly, though, she is quite shocked, and a little worried that the Sea Folk won’t wear any clothes once they get out to sea.

“Nynaeve gave her a level look, bland enough for the Aes Sedai they were pretending to be, and took a deep swallow from her cup. All she said was “Please think no more of it.” It was not possible to tell if she meant it for Elayne or the Sea Folk women.

“Then we will speak of passage, if it pleases you,” Coine said. “To what port do you wish to sail?”

Nynaeve tells her that they wish to go to Tanchico, and offers a letter-of-rights which would allow the bearer “to draw up to three thousand gold crowns from bankers and moneylenders in various cities,” although those bankers and lenders probably don’t know that it is Aes Sedai money. Moiraine told Elayane and Nynaeve that such a vast sum might be needed to make the Sailmistress forsake her intended ports of call, but what she hasn’t told them, and that Coine proceeds to explain, is that the Sea Folk never refuse passage to anyone who ask except for Aes Sedai, and that Aes Sedai are almost always refused. Because this is well known, Aes Sedai almost never asks, and Coine is even more intrigued by the “gift.” Nynaeve, falling back into her usual bluntness, asks why the women brought them down to talk if they knew they were going to refuse.

To their surprise and confusion, Coine begins to talk about all the things that have happened, a man who can channel has taken the Stone and Callandor, and the Aiel ride to his aid, and war is breaking out over the land. The prophecies are being fulfilled, she says, but when Elayne agrees that “he” is the Dragon Reborn, Coine corrects her assumption.

Coine turned. “Not the Prophecies of the Dragon, Aes Sedai. The Jendai Prophecy, the prophecy of the Coramoor. Not the one you wait for and dread; the one we seek, herald of a new Age. At the Breaking of the World our ancestors fled to the safety of the sea while the land heaved and broke as storm waves do. It is said they knew nothing of the ships they took to flee, but the Light was with them, and they survived. They did not see the land again until it was still once more, and by then, much had changed. All—everything—the world—drifted on the water and the wind. It was in the years after that the Jendai Prophecy was first spoken. We must wander the waters until the Coramoor returns, and serve him at his coming:”

She talks about how most of the Sea Folk never set foot on land except to change ships, and how women ashore go to the sea to give birth, even if they must do so in a rowboat, as their people must be born and die on the water, and be given to the sea upon their death. But now the Jendai prophecy is coming true, including the part that said that Aes Sedai will serve him, “The White Tower shall be broken by his name, and Aes Sedai shall kneel to wash his feet and dry them with their hair.”

Nynaeve remarks that Coine will have to wait a very long time to see her wash any man’s feet, and tries to turn the conversation back to the question of passage. Coine insists on knowing why they would go to such a place, however, and the girls are forced to tell the truth, that they are hunting the Black Ajah. Elayne adds that, if they are not found, the Black Ajah may harm the Cooramor.

“The Light see us safe to docking,” the Windfinder breathed. It was the first time she had spoken, and Elayne stared at her in surprise. Jorin was frowning, and not looking at anyone, but she spoke to the Sailmistress. “We can take them, my sister. We must.” Coine nodded.

Elayne and Nynaeve share looks, confused as to why it is Jorin’s decision, rather than the Sailmistress’s. Just then, they are interrupted by a man, Coine’s husband, who has come to talk to Coine about trading snowfox pelts for three small barrels of Two Rivers tabac. He apologizes for interrupting them, but soon has other things to worry about, as Coine explains to him that they will not be staying in port long enough to wait for the pelts to be delivered, and that they are not going to the previously intended ports, but to Tanchico.

Coine’s husband, Toram, is frustrated further when the Sailmistress refuses to explain the change, and leaves angrily after she pulls rank on him. Elayne and Nynaeve apologize for being a cause of trouble, and assure Coine that they aren’t asking her to keep their secret from her husband, certain that he would be soothed by the three thousand crowns.

“I must keep you secret, Aes Sedai. What you are, and why you travel. Many among my crew consider Aes Sedai bad luck. If they knew they not only carried Aes Sedai, but toward a port where other Aes Sedai may serve the Father of Storms … . The grace of the Light shone on us that none was close enough to hear me call you so above. Will it offend if I ask you to keep below as much as possible, and not to wear your rings when on deck?”

Coine also goes on to refuse their gift of the letter-of-rights, doing the service instead for the Coramoor.

Jorin made a strangled sound. “My sister, has a Cargomaster ever mutinied against his Sailmistress?”

Coine gave her a flat-eyed stare. “I will put in the gift of passage from my own chest. And if Toram ever hears of it, my sister, I will put you in the bilges with Dorele. For ballast, perhaps.”

That the two Sea Folk women had dropped formality was confirmed when the Windfinder laughed aloud. “And then your next port would be in Chachin, my sister, or Caemlyn, for you could not find the water without me.”

Coine tells them that, as Aes Sedai in service to the Coramoor, she should honor them as she would the Sailmistress and Windfinder of another ship, but unfortunately she must make ready to sail. Just then she is cut off as Wavedancer suddenly begins to jump and thrash about, knocking against the dock, and Elayne is nearly thrown from her seat. As soon as the trashing subsides, Coine and Jorin dash for the ladder and hurry up to the deck, shouting orders.

 

Jordan’s really ramping up The Shadow Rising’s exploration of the relationships between men and women these past few chapters; continuing on with Faile and Perrin’s feud, showing us the tempestuous relationship between the Maidens and Gaul, and now showing a different but similar balance between Coine and Toram. In each case, the factors at play seem to be part culture and circumstance and part an innate difference between men and women that is true for all humans, though it expresses itself differently in different lands.

I’m still with Loial in my opinion that both Perrin and Faile are being childish in their stubbornness, and like Loial, I think the seriousness of their situation is more important than one or the other proving that they are right, or winning the argument somehow. Perrin is holding the line mostly because he still doesn’t want Faile involved. His feelings over the likelihood of his own death and the danger to her safety haven’t changed, and Faile’s manipulative tactics aren’t exactly designed to address those fears. Rather, she is focused only on the slight, and convincing him that she has a right to make her own choices and to stand beside him. I agree with her on this, but Perrin’s not going to be able to acknowledge it if he’s too wrapped up in his own fears, and he’s not likely to question his right to put that fear before Faile’s desires unless someone calls him on it.

Meanwhile, Gaul and the Maidens don’t seem to understand the full extent of the fight—or perhaps it just doesn’t mean the same thing to them. The relationship between men and women seems to be regarded by the Maidens as kind of game—see the Maiden’s Kiss—and I doubt they realize how Perrin feels, or would take his fear and pain seriously if they did. Gaul does, but whether that is a gendered thing or merely because he respects Perrin for the debt that he owes him I’m not sure. There’s also the fact that Gaul is older than the others to consider; Bain and Chiad are closer in age to Perrin and Faile, I believe.

Gaul is not without his own vanity and need to show off, however. I know the whole display he put on about following like stalking ridgecats and hunting wolves was supposed to be impressive, but I have to admit that I laughed a little.

It does make a lot of sense that the Maidens of the Spear would like Faile, and vice-versa. Faile has a similar temperament to the Maidens we’ve met thus-far, and the way she ran away from her home and seeks to become part of great legends would resonate with the Maidens: the way Aviendha talks about Wedding the Spear feels very similar to the way Faile talks about seeking her own great adventure. Faile also tried to fight Berelain, as Aviendha wanted Elayne or Egwene to do, when Berelain threatened to come between her and her man, so I imagine that garnered her some respect.

It’s hard to say right now how much of the relations between the Maidens and the other Aiel warriors are because of gendered rules in their society at large and which may be specific to the all-female Far Dareis Mai. The culture around Aiel courtship seems to generally align with how the Maidens talk about men. We also know that women who are friends might take the same husband. Rhuarc’s is the only example of married life that we have so far—we know he is married to a Wise One, although it isn’t clear yet if they have children together, since Amys isn’t his only wife.

In the meantime we are also learning about the Sea Folk and their culture. It’s tempting to see parallels between the two, the people of the desert and the people of the ocean, and I was particularly struck by Coine’s description of the Atha’an Miere’s experience during the Breaking. Just as the Aiel seem to have been driven into the Waste during the Breaking, so were the ancestors of the Sea Folk driven into the Sea, and I wonder if having the Coramoor return means a change in the lifestyle of their people, as it seems to do for many others. He Who Comes With the Dawn is supposed to lead the Aiel to reclaim “what was ours,” as Rhuarc puts it, which could mean leading the Aiel out of the Waste to a new home, or to a new way of life, or a new purpose. I have suggested before that the new Breaking prophesied in the Karaethon Cylce might be more metaphorical than literal, and it’s possible that it refers to the way Rand will change the lives and cultures of many people of the world, either directly or indirectly through the very fact of his existence.

It seems as though only women are captains of Sea Folk ships, although we can’t yet be certain there aren’t Sailmasters as well as Sailmistresses. I think that the job of the Windfinder is also a female-only position, although I have more evidence for this suspicion, given some of the clues revealed in this chapter.

You see at first, I assumed that Windfinder was merely a title for a navigator, just as Sailmistress basically means “captain.” But then I remembered how the Amyrlin’s envoy to Fal Dara used channeling to help speed their boats upriver—Siuan said that they turned currents to their aid and also that they “called the wind.” It makes me wonder, therefore, if the Sea Folk Windfinders are channelers who use their abilities for the benefit of the ship, much like the Seanchan damane are forced to.

Elayne did feel a kinship with Jorin—the Windfinder reminded her of Aviendha, although Elayne didn’t know why. I’m now basing a hunch on a theory, but if I’m right about Aviendha being summoned to Rhuidean because she has the spark, that might explain why Elayne feels this connection. We know, after all, that full Aes Sedai have the ability to recognize other female channelers as well as those born with the spark, and it seems as though this ability is a result of use of the power rather than a skill that is taught, so Nynaeve, Egwene and/or Elayne may be getting to that point now.

Also, while I believe it has been said that there are Aes Sedai in the Tower who came from the Sea Folk, that doesn’t mean that all of their channelers are sent to Tar Valon. Since the Sea Folk keep to themselves and even go so far as refuse to carry Aes Sedai on their ships, despite the custom of never otherwise refusing passage, this would enable them to keep their secret. It would also explain why Jorin’s input in whether or not to grant Nyenave and Elayne’s request was so important.

It occurs to me to wonder what happens to men born with the spark in the Sea Folk and Aiel cultures. Do the Wise Ones know how to gentle men? Are there women channelers among the Sea Folk who can perform the same task? I suppose I can see the Sea Folk asking the Aes Sedai for help in such matters, but surely the Aiel handle things internally. I’ve wondered the same about the Seanchan, too, and if the sul’dam and damane teams have ways of dealing with men who can channel. (Given the Seanchan attitude towards channelers who don’t suffer from the taint, I’m guessing they probably just kill the ones who do.)

Whether or not my theory about the Windfinder is correct, it still seems like the position, and the Sailmistress’s, is exclusively female, while the Cargomaster is always male. That’s not definite yet, but I’m pulling the assumption from the way Jorin genders her question about a Cargomaster rebelling against his Sailmistress, and from Coine’s comments about how they would entertain the Sailmistress and Windfinder from another ship.

If this is the case, it is yet another example of how Jordan treats the idea of gender roles within The Wheel of Time, and the strange separation of what women are and what men are. Different cultures have different roles, but the stark divide remains no matter if you’re on an Atha’an Miere ship or walking in the Aiel Waste. We have yet to encounter a culture whose roles are gender equal, where women’s participation in war isn’t couched in caveats and constraints, where gender doesn’t dictate, at least to some extent, what jobs are or are not open to a person. The only society so far that seems not to fall into this is the Seanchan, where social and class status is everything but gender doesn’t appear to factor in (unless you’re a damane). There is an Empresses, but no insinuation that only a woman can rule, as is the case in Andor. Suroth is able to rise up to take Turak’s position without gender being a factor, and the lower class servants and slaves seem to be treated and dressed the same regardless of sex.

I think the reason I keep getting caught on these ideas is that there are moments in The Wheel of Time where Jordan does unexpected and interesting things with gender. He takes the time to build different cultures with different attitudes towards gender relations, towards public or semi-public nudity, towards the professions and family positions open to the different genders. I’ll never love a binary, but I respect some of the very interesting and vivid details that he puts into his world-building. On the other hand, there are traits that remain universal, and universally agreed upon, despite one’s nationality. Women are always sneaky, and even when in positions of power they are often tricking or manipulating men into doing what they want. Men are more steadfast and loyal, but they are also more ruled by emotions and can be brought to acts of thoughtlessness or stupidity by them. So you can’t trust women, but men need a steady hand to make sure they do what they’re supposed to.

And it seems that in the world of The Wheel of Time, the only time a woman can be completely herself is if she is functionally or socially removed from men in some way. The Aes Sedai do not marry (with the exception of the Green Ajah and their warders, wich is a very particular power imbalance that still keeps the Aes Sedai somewhat separated, functionally speaking) and have no men within their ranks due to the taint. Aiel women can become warriors but only in a special company of their own, with special rules around marriage and family that do not apply to men. Andor has a history of always having a female ruler, but that gender reversal doesn’t seem to apply to the rest of society. The Women’s Circle may be the group really running the Two Rivers, rather than the Village Council, but once again the groups are divided, and the women’s part is based on manipulation and letting the men think that they are in charge.

Again, the Seanchan buck this trend, and we know that Wise Ones can and do marry, since we know that Rhuarc is married to Amys and Lian. Perhaps I will also rescind my judgement on the Sea Folk as we learn more about their society and customs: I was very intrigued by this suggestion that they have no upper-body nudity taboo for women, and that they are constrained instead by the rules of other societies to occasionally cover up.

I have a lot of other questions this week. I wonder if this theme around the extreme poverty in the Tairen lower classes will be a theme that comes around again, now that everyone is leaving Tear. I am curious about Nynaeve and Elayne’s struggle to understand each other’s class-informed perspectives about money, especially since Nynaeve in some ways seems more naive about poverty than Elayne. Sure, she has a point about Elayne not being careful, and Nynaeve is used to having a finite amount to work with. However, I wonder if Elayne isn’t actually more familiar with the struggles of the poor than Nynaeve, who grew up in an area without much of a class disparity. In the Two Rivers they might have suffered during a year of bad harvests or cruel winters, but that would have been as a community, and there would have been no lords and rulers safe and warm in their palaces while the people starved. Meanwhile Elayne has had conversations with her mother about aiding areas of Andor in need, we even have that first conversation with Rand about Elaida’s garden to show Elayne’s struggle with the idea. She may be more privileged, but she’s also been more exposed to the question of what she can do about poverty and suffering. Nynaeve has a more practical, think-of-yourself-first approach.

I wonder if Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne will all end up choosing the Green Ajah, as they have all been claiming Green while they’re pretending to be full Aes Sedai. It makes sense, of course, given that all three of them are currently deeply embroiled in the fighting against the Dark One. I also wonder if there isn’t a hint in this section as to the meaning of Min’s viewings—part of the Jendai prophecy says that “The White Tower shall be broken by his name,” and the Amyrlin, we know, is about to announce that the Dragon Reborn has taken Callandor. We also know that Elaida is suspicious of Siuan and Moiraine, and something tells me the Amyrlin’s announcement might not go as smoothly as she is hoping.

I mean, even if the White Tower did accept Rand as the Dragon, that doesn’t mean they’ll all agree as to what to do about him. And even if they got that far, I think Siuan and Moiraine’s secrets could still cause trouble for them if they come to light. There’s also the suspicious fact that we saw Elaida try to overthrow Egwene from her position as Amyrlin in the fictional future Egwene experienced during her trials, which to me feels like a symbolic warning rather than a literal picture of what is to come. Will Elaida pull a similar move against Siuan once the Dragon’s identity is declared? Will factioning amongst the Aes Seai create disarray that leaves them open to attack? An all-out civil war in the Tower seems unlikely, but I suppose it’s possible. More likely is that they’re so busy fighting each other that they give the Black Ajah exactly they opening they need in order to strike.

There’s a lot of conjecture in this week’s post, but I think that’s because the last few chapters of The Shadow Rising have been especially tight. Our protagonists have splintered off into groups again, but right now each team’s adventure feel like a gear that fits into the other, and you can see how they are all turning together, each one driving the other. There’s always a lot of clues and foreshadowing in Jordan’s work, but right now you can really see how the information a character imparts in one directly relates to what some other character learns in another. Even the titles seem to be in dialogue with each other.

I really do feel like I’m watching the Wheel weave, so to speak.

Next week we will cover two more chapters, 20 and 21, in which a few more familiar faces seek passage on Wavedancer and we get to find out what Rand did to make the Stone shake so much. Things are really picking up now, and it’s hard to believe we’ve only reached 20 chapters out of 58.

Sylas K Barrett isn’t sure, but using one’s hair to dry things doesn’t seem like it would work very well. Hair is not a towel.

citation

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