Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Rand and Egwene Plot Their Own Paths in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 25)

My friends, Rand has learned so much this week in our read of The Shadow Rising. And by Rand, I mean me. This is even more exciting than the reveal about the history of the Aiel—we finally get the full story of what happened to Tigraine, we find out something very interesting about her brother, and we learn more about the Prophecy of Rhuidean and what it means for the future of the Aiel. Not to mention seeing glimpses of Egwene’s future, and what kind of woman she is going to become. There are so many pieces slotting into place that I feel like I’m a game of Tetris that Robert Jordan is playing.

But first, let’s do the recap. Chapters 34 and 35 continue on below, followed by a lot of yelling about bloodlines.

Rand and Mat stumble back up the slope towards the Aiel camps, racing the rising sun. Rand’s old wound from Ba’alzamon aches terribly, and Mat looks in even worse shape, stumbling along with blood on his shirt and clutching at his head. Rand knows that it’s serious because Mat isn’t complaining. Rand wishes, not for the first time, that he could climb on his horse’s back and just take off running as far as Jeade’en could carry him, but he knows he can’t run from his destiny as the Dragon Reborn or his destiny as He Who Comes With the Dawn.

Rand doesn’t want to destroy the Aiel, can’t imagine how he could, but he knows that he needs them—he needs people he can trust who won’t try to use him for their own ends. He went into Rhuidean as was required of him, and now he will use the Aiel.

The sun completely overtakes them before they reach the camp, but eventually they scramble up to the Wise One’s tent and are met by Bair, who is holding a water skin. Before they can do anything, however, Couladin appears and starts accusing Rand of murdering Muradin, then throws a spear at him. Another Aiel with him throws two more, and Rand and Matt knock them away with the flame-wrought sword and the new black spear, respectively. Couladin claims the weapons prove that they went armed to Rhuidean, and Rand and Mat have to leap out of the way of a dozen more spears. But as Rand gets to his feet he can see that all the spears have been diverted from the spot where he had been standing, landing in a perfect circle around the spot.

Bair begins shouting at the attacking Aiel, leveling threats against those who would violate the peace of Rhuidean. Couladin is unconvinced, although Bair gives her word as a Wise One that the boys did not take any weapons into Rhuidean. She instructs Rand to show “the signs” and Rand lifts his sleeves to show the marks on his arms.

Around his forearm wound a shape like that on the Dragon banner, a sinuous golden-maned form scaled in scarlet and gold. He expected it, of course, but it was still a shock. The thing looked like a part of his skin, as though that nonexistent creature itself had settled into him. His arm felt no different, yet the scales sparkled in the sunlight like polished metal; it seemed if he touched that golden mane atop his wrist, he would surely feel each hair.

Rand hadn’t realized that there would be a dragon on both arms—Rhuarc had only one—and realizes that this is also part of the prophecy. “Twice and twice shall he be marked” the lines run, one dragon for “remembrance lost” and one for “the price he must pay.” Rand wonders what that price is.

Apprehensive or not, Bair did not pause before shoving that arm above his head, too, and proclaiming loudly, “Behold what has never been seen before. A Car’a’carn has been chosen, a chief of chiefs. Born of a Maiden, he has come with the dawn from Rhuidean, according to prophecy, to unite the Aiel! The fulfillment of prophecy has begun!”

The Aiel disperse, even Couladin and his Shaido, and Rand is surprised by the subdued reaction. Once they are gone, Mat and Rand remember their thirst, and ask after Moiraine to heal them. They learn that Moiraine and Aviendha have gone to Rhuidean, and that none of the Wise Ones present have the ability to heal with the Power. They also learn it has been seven days since they went down into Rhuidean.

Rand is frustrated at the delay, both his time in Rhuidean and now Moiraine being away. The Wise Ones take the boys to their tent to take care of their injuries, allowing Lan and Rhuarc to accompany them only because Rand insists. Rand asks Rhuarc about his experience in Rhuidean, although the Wise Ones object that speaking of that experience with those who have not been there is not permitted. But Rhuarc reminds them that Rand is bringing change, and explains that no two men see through exactly the same eyes “until the sharing of water, and the meeting where the Agreement of Rhuidean was made.” He believes that everyone sees through the eyes of their ancestors. Rand tentatively probes as to whether Rhuarc heard what the Aes Sedai said about He Who Comes With The Dawn. Rhuarc resignedly replies that yes, he knows.

Rand changed the subject. “What was ‘the sharing of water’?”

The clan chief’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “You did not recognize it? But then, I do not see why you should; you have not grown up with the histories. According the oldest stories, from the day the Breaking of the World began until the day we first entered the Three-fold Land, only one people did not attack us. One people allowed us water freely when it was needed. It took us long to discover who they were. That is done with, now. The pledge of peace was destroyed; the treekillers spat in our faces.”

Rand realizes that he’s talking about Cairhien and Laman cutting down the Tree. He thinks about how, if the ancestors of the Cairhien hadn’t shared their water with the Aiel then there would have been no compact between them, and then there would have been no pledge broken to result in the Aiel War. In which case Rand would not have been born on Dragonmount and taken to the Two Rivers.

Both Lan and Rhuarc caution Rand to be wary of Couladin and his followers, but Rand hardly feels he needs the warning.

Inside the tent their hurts are tended to, and Rand sets about planning for the future. Rhuarc tells him that there is a place to meet where a peace similar to that of Rhuidean would allow him to speak to all the clan chiefs, Al’cair Dal or the Golden Bowl. He also volunteers the Wise Ones to send messages to the men’s dreams, and the other Wise Ones’, to summon them to Al’cair Dal. Amys reluctantly agrees.

Rand then asks about his mother, and Amys tells him the story of Shaiel, a wetlander woman who showed up in the waste and was found by Amys when she was still a Maiden, along with some others. She seemed to be searching for something, and when she continued on even as her horse died and she ran out of supplies, they decided to give the fainting woman some water. Shaiel—meaning Woman Who Is Dedicated—is only the name she took when she eventually joined the Maidens, however, and no one ever knew what her original name was.

“She spoke of a child abandoned, a son she loved. A husband she did not love. Where, she would not say. I do not think she ever forgave herself for leaving the child. She would tell little beyond what she had to. It was for us she had been searching, for Maidens of the Spear. An Aes Sedai called Gitara Moroso, who had the Foretelling, had told her that disaster would befall her land and her people, perhaps the world, unless she went to dwell among the Maidens of the Spear, telling no one of her going. She must become a Maiden, and she could not return to her own land until the Maidens had gone to Tar Valon.”

Seana tells Rand that he looks a little like his mother, but not so much like his father, Janduin, a young clan chief of the Taardad who had an incredible way with people, “a power” as she puts it. Janduin brought peace between many warring clans, before he led his clan and some others over the Dragonwall when the tree was cut down. He allowed his wife to come even though she was pregnant, and when she died, and the child was lost, Janduin could not forgive himself for allowing her to break the laws.

He gave up his place as clan chief,” Bair said. “No one had ever done that before. He was told it could not be done, but he simply walked away. He went north with the young men, to hunt Trollocs and Myrddraal in the Blight. It is a thing wild young men do, and Maidens with less sense than goats. Those who returned said he was killed by a man, though. They said Janduin claimed this man looked like Shaiel, and he would not raise his spear when the man ran him through.”

Rand notices, as they are talking, that Mat understands everything that is said in the Old Tongue, instead of only a few words sometimes, and he isn’t the only one. Rand notices Egwene studying him, and Lan looking thoughtful as well.

Rand doesn’t believe he’s much affected by the news about his parents—he never knew them, after all, and he had Tam and Kari—but he finds he does not want to eat. Instead he lies down on some cushions and watches the valley, hoping for Moiraine to return. Eventually he asks the Wise Ones why they are helping and taking care of him, rather than conspiring with Couladin to kill him. Bair explains that the knowledge that He Who Comes With The Dawn will destroy the Aiel is only part of the Prophecy of Rhuidean, that Rand is prophesied to be their doom but also their salvation.

“Without you, no one of our people will live beyond the Last Battle. Perhaps not even until the Last Battle. That is prophecy, and truth. With you… ‘He shall spill out the blood of those who call themselves Aiel as water on sand, and he shall break them as dried twigs, yet the remnant of a remnant shall he save, and they shall live.’ A hard prophecy, but this has never been a gentle land.”

After that revelation, Rand goes back watching the valley, and eventually he spots Aviendha making her way back up the slope. When she sees him, Rand knows that her opinion of him has changed—the dislike in her eyes is wholly different than the protective coldness she’d had for him over her belief that he had mistreated Elayne. She is taken in by the Wise Ones, and the next time he sees her she is wearing their bulky dresses and shawls, and looking decidedly miserable about it.

That evening Moiraine returns as well, barely able to walk, and Lan runs down the slope to catch her and carry her up to the tents, although they won’t let him come inside while they tend to her. Rand thinks he should be relieved for her and Aviendha’s safety, but all he feels is relief for the days saved.

Rand laughs, earning him a worried look from Mat, but all he can think about is the time saved. Mat asks what Rand is going to do, and Rand responds that he is going to break the rules.

“I meant are you going to get something to eat? Me, I’m hungry.”

In spite of himself, Rand laughed. Something to eat? He did not care if he ever ate again. Mat stared at him as if he were crazy, and that only made him laugh harder. Not crazy. For the first time somebody was going to learn what it meant that he was the Dragon Reborn. He was going to break the rules in a way no one expected.

That night, Egwene travels to the Heart of the Stone in Tel’aran’rhiod, where she meets with Elayne. She has quite a start when she sees Elayne dressed like one of the Sea Folk women on the Wavedancer, and Elayne admits—after changing into something more her usual style—that she was curious about what it would feel like. She reports that it feels cold, and also that it makes you feel like everyone is watching you.

The two women fill each other in on their respective adventures, and Egwene admits that she is concerned about Rand’s behavior, how he seems as hard as Rhuarc or Lan, and seems not to see people as people anymore, but merely as stones on a board. Elayne reminds her that Rand is a king, even though he has no specific kingdom of his own, and that Kings don’t have the luxury to always see people as people. “…if he won’t do anything that will hurt anyone, he will end by hurting everyone.” Egwene can see the sense in the argument, but she does not like it, and believes that people must always be seen as people.

She explains to Elayne about the ability of some Wise Ones to channel, and about Aviendha having the spark. In turn she learns about the Sea Folk Windfinders, and inwardly marvels at the idea of channelers who are respected within their people and not bound by oaths to make them “safe.”

She promises not to tell anyone about the Windfinder secret, and the two discuss Rand’s safety as Elayne briefly wonders if Rand shoved Callandor through the floor because he was upset with her. Though she tries to play it off. She starts to ask Egwene to take a message to Rand, to “tell him I meant what I said in—”

But Egwene doesn’t hear the rest because something pulls her away. She wakes in her bed, Amys sitting beside her, and the Wise One begins to upbraid her for breaking her word not to go into Tel’aran’rhiod alone, to call her a fool and a child crawling through a nest of vipers. She picks Egwene up with the Power, suspending her upside down and Shielding her so that she can’t reach the True Source.

“You wanted to go off alone,” Amys hissed softly. “You were warned, but you had to go.” Her eyes seemed to glow in the dark, brighter and brighter. “Never a care for what might be waiting. There are things in dreams to shatter the bravest heart.” Around eyes like blue coals, her face melted, stretched. Scales sprouted where skin had been; her jaws thrust out, lined with sharp teeth. “Things to eat the bravest heart,” she growled.

Egwene screams and batters at the shield with all her strength as the monster closes its jaws around her face. Abruptly she is awakening a second time, Amys sitting as she was before, looking normal. Egwene is panicked, scrambling across the floor looking for her knife, and Amys scolds her again. After assuring Egwene that it is her, and just her, she admits that Egwene is stronger than she, and Amys couldn’t have held her much longer. But she will not instruct her if Egwene will not keep her word.

They argue, Egwene insisting on her right and abilities as Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah, Amys retorting that she is an untried novice in Dreaming and that she won’t instruct someone only to help them get themselves killed. Egwene tries to bargain, Amys tells her she must braid her hair in pigtails like a little girl, since that is what she is acting like, and eventually Egwene agrees, forcing herself to a still meekness that she does not feel. Satisfied, Amys tells her that she will be powerful one day, but that she has no idea how little she understands of Tel’aran’rhiod, and that she must prepare for a very long and difficult period of learning. She also says that she will accompany Egwene into Tel’aran’rhiod when she needs to meet Elayne or Nynaeve.

“In case you did not listen when I first told you, learning will be neither easy nor short. You think you have worked these last days. Prepare to give real time and effort now.”

“Amys, I will learn as much as you can teach me, and I will work as hard as you want, but between Rand and the Darkfriends… Time to learn may turn out to be a luxury, and my purse empty.”

Amys says she knows, then tells Egwene to throw a blanket over her shoulders and follow. The two step out into a cold night and walk to a small tent that is securely staked down on every side, rather than open at the sides. Stripping down, they go inside to find a steamy space occupied by the other Wise Ones, Aviendha, and Moiraine. There is a basin of hot rocks to which Aviendha is occasionally adding water, looking disgruntled at being assigned the chore.

The Wise Ones declare that they must decide what to do with Rand. He is the one from the Prophecy, but they still must do their best to ensure as many of their people as possible survive, and to ensure that he survives long enough to do what must be done. It is more than just protecting him from the Shaido, as Rhuarc and his clan are doing—they also want to guide him.

Moiraine asks if they think he needs guiding, but Amys reminds her that Rand does not know the ways of the Aiel, and Rhuarc is not a diplomat. Rand needs someone close to make sure he doesn’t make a wrong step with the Aiel. The Wise Ones also need some idea of what he plans before he does it, so that they can prepare accordingly. They designate Aviendha for the task, horrifying her, and she refuses.

“I do not like him!” Aviendha burst out. “I hate him! Hate him!” Had Egwene not known better, she would have thought her close to tears. The words shocked her, though; surely Aviendha could not mean it.

“We are not asking you to love him, or take him to your bed,” Seana said acidly. “We are telling you to listen to the man, and you will obey!”

“Childishness!” Amys snorted. “What kind of young women is the world producing now? Do none of you grow up?”

Egwene realizes that the Wise Ones expect to be obeyed, and as they list the punishments Aviendha will receive, she leans over and asks Aviendha to do it for Elayne. She gives Aviendha the message from Elayne, that she meant what she said in both letters, to give to Rand, and Aviendha reluctantly agrees to do it “for Elayne.”

Amys shook herself. “Foolishness. You will watch him because we told you to, girl. If you think you have another reason, you will find you are painfully mistaken. More water. The steam is fading.”

They sit in silence for a while, and Egwene finds the hot air of the sauna relaxing. She can see that Moiraine doesn’t seem relaxed, though, and asks if Rhuidean was really that bad. Moiraine replies that the memories fade, most are gone already, and some she already knew. And for the rest…

“The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern. I have given my life to finding the Dragon Reborn, finding Rand, and seeing him ready to face the Last Battle. I will see that done, whatever it requires. Nothing and no one can be more important than that.”

Egwene, thinking that Moiraine is a lump of ice rather than a woman, closes her eyes and tries to recapture the relaxed feeling. She knows such feelings will be few and far between in the days to come.

 

Lord Luc isn’t a Hunter for the Horn, he’s Tigraine’s brother! I completely forgot about him because he was such a throwaway line in The Eye of the World, but that guy Bunt, who gave Mat and Rand a ride in his wagon, actually mentioned him when he was chattering on about Morgase and rambling through the history of Andor.

“Luc dead in the Blight before he was ever anointed First Prince of the Sword, and Tigraine vanished—run off or dead—when it came time for her to take the throne.”

And the glossary is even more illuminating.

Luc; Lord Luc of House Mantear (LUKE; MAN-tee-ahr): Tigraine’s brother, who would have been her First Prince of the Sword when she ascended the throne. His disappearance in the Great Blight is believed to be in some way connected to Tigraine’s later disappearance. His sign was an acorn.

I. Am. SHOOK.

Also worth noting, the person who told Tigraine to run off and become a Maiden is the same person who set Moiraine and Siuan on their path to search for Rand, when she saw Rand’s birth on Dragonmount—Gitara Moroso. So not only did she recognize the moment when the Dragon was reborn, she also set in motion the events that led to his conception and birth. I wonder how much she knew. Was she aware the two Foretellings were linked? Was what she told Tigraine everything she saw—that “disaster would befall her land and her people, perhaps the world” unless she ran away and became a Maiden? Or did she also see that Tigraine was going to be the mother of the Dragon Reborn? How much did she know of what she was setting in motion?

Knowing that Tigraine left because she was told to by someone who could see part of the Pattern changes a lot, I think. I mean, we know Tigraine hated her husband, Taringail. (Father of Galad, Rand’s half-brother. Also father of Gawyn and Elayne. And somehow related to Moiraine as well, since his last name is Damodred. And they are both related to Laman, the tree-cutting-down-guy.) If she’d run away for that reason, Rand’s conception and birth would have been a lucky chance, so to speak, or whatever passes for chance in this universe. But instead of the random workings of fate, here we have a specific agent of it, which makes me think Gitara must have been ta’veren. This Foretelling didn’t just guide the hands of Aes Sedai in their work, it actually changed the course of the world significantly, driving Tigraine from a home she never would have left on her own. That sounds like ta’veren powers to me, and I think there’s an argument to be made that the way she affected Moiraine and Siuan, shaping the entire course of their lives—beginning when they were quite young—is another example.

I wonder if she had anything to do with Luc going to the Blight. The glossary tells us that Tigraine’s disappearance was after Luc died—i.e. he didn’t head off to fight Shadowspawn due to his grief over losing his sister, like Janduin when he lost his wife. The way the glossary entry is worded could insinuate that the two events were connected in some other way, but it might also be a false trail, simply explaining that the Andoran rumors wondered if the two were related. They were brother and sister, after all. It’s terribly suspicious.

But now we know Luc didn’t die in the Blight, although apparently something bad happened to him, since now he has become Slayer. Some infection of the Dark One, I expect, or maybe he just broke under some horrible experience he had there. Maybe he found out he killed his sister’s husband. Or maybe he killed Janduin because he’d already snapped.

The importance of bloodlines in The Wheel of Time is becoming more apparent now. First, there’s the ongoing speculation about how much of the ability to channel is hereditary and whether the the removal of channelers from the reproductive pool (men being stilled, women becoming Aes Sedai and rarely marrying or having children) is responsible for the shrinking numbers of Aes Sedai with strong abilities. Now we are also seeing a significant importance in Rand’s ancestry. On his mother’s side he is descended from a former Daughter-Heir of Andor; on his father’s side he comes from a long line of powerful Aiel chiefs and leaders going all the way back to Charn, who served Mierin, the Aes Sedai who became Lanfear and who apparently had something to do with the hole in the Dark One’s prison.

I’m not sure how I feel about it, really. As you all know, I’m against hierarchical thinking in general, despite how common it is in western-based fantasy. But more than that, I know that Jordan has said that one of his inspirations in writing The Wheel of Time was to explore the idea of what it would be like to discover that you were the Chosen One, and how horrible that would be. And for me, having Rand come from this incredible lineage seems to cheapen that, and having him be raised in Emond’s Field almost seems like a cheat, like Jordan is trying to have it both ways. Granted, that doesn’t much change how he experiences the trials and trauma of discovering his destiny, nor would it have told him that he was the Dragon Reborn. But from a narrative standpoint, from a thematic one, it feels off to me, almost as if the truth being revealed is telling us we should have known all along that Rand was better than all other people, and therefore had to be the Dragon Reborn.

This is something I’m going to touch on more next week, but for now let’s move on because the penny just dropped, and I’ve realized that Elaida’s Foretelling about the importance of the Andoran royal family might not have been about Elayne at all, but about Tigraine!

She had the Foretelling when she was still an Accepted, after all. Check out this excerpt from Chapter 1.

The very first thing Elaida had ever Foretold, while still an Accepted—and had known enough even then to keep to herself—was that the Royal line of Andor would be the key to defeating the Dark One in the Last Battle. She had attached herself to Morgase as soon as it was clear Morgase would succeed to the throne, had built her influence year by patient year.

In other words, when she had this Foretelling, Tigraine’s family was still the royal line of Andor. So Elaida might be completely and utterly off base with her obsession with Morgase and Elayne.

Of course, she might not. Perhaps the Foretelling did mean that it would be the family that was ruling while the Last Battle was gearing up/taking place. And Elayne is deeply involved, both in events and in her personal connection to Rand. Either way, Elaida is kind of a horrible person and it would please me to see her get so utterly bamboozled.

I had previously assumed that the peace between Cairhien and the Aiel had something to do with Tigraine and some as yet unrevealed connection she had to them, based on the fact that I had figured out that Rand was her son and that Rand had also been identified as looking like an Aiel. (By the way, which is it? Seana claims that Rand looks like Shaiel, but everyone else thinks he looks like an Aiel. I guess he just has Aiel coloring, but facial structure-wise he looks like his mom?) But the connection goes farther back than that, and I must say it’s a fascinating reveal. I wonder how much Laman and the Cairhienin knew or remembered of the reason for the gift of the Tree and its significance. Was Laman’s folly one of ignorant pride, or pride and hubris?

I have a lot of sympathy for Aviendha in these chapters. I don’t blame her at all for hating the Wise One’s dresses—they sound terrible. And she is going from a position of incredible freedom to one where she is little more than a new recruit in a barracks. It’s interesting to me to see the stark difference between the life of a maiden and the life of a Wise One; this is not the first time Jordan has shown that women in societies can either have more freedom and fewer responsibilities than men, or be more restricted and burdened by duty than any man in their culture. It is, however, a particularly stark reality in the world of the Aiel. There are many rules to being a maiden, including that they can’t choose to be a mother and a warrior, a restriction that is not placed on men. They can qualify to wed the spear, but they can’t become clan chiefs or other leaders. On the other hand, only women can become Wise Ones, and they don’t have to be channelers. This position comes with authority greater than any clan chief (except He Who Comes With The Dawn) but also a greater burden.

It struck me as kind of funny the way the Wise ones kept harping on this idea of Aviendha and Egwene behaving like children whenever they disagreed or disobeyed. I get the point that children can be stubborn and selfish, and lack the self-discipline and reasoning skills to consistently choose sacrifice and duty over pleasure and fun. But the Wise Ones are also asking that Aviendha and Egwene be reduced to the roles of children, expected to do as they are told without understanding, robbed of their adult independence and freedom of choice. The suggestion that an adult would choose hard duty and a child would fight it is in conflict with the fact that there is little choice in either girl’s decision—none, in fact, in the case of Aviendha. We’ve seen this narrative in other places, of course. The Aes Sedai perspective is very similar, even down to the way the Amyrlin is “mother” to the other Aes Sedai, and the way novices and Accepted are disciplined with corporeal punishment by the Mistress of Novices. Elayne has been taught about duty and responsibility from her mother, and has passed on some of those conversations and the lessons learned about how one must grow up quickly to accept the burden of leadership. But again, the Aiel drive it all home, harsh as the land in which they live.

I suppose that will make it even harder for them to deal with the changes that Rand will bring to their society. I admit I chuckled when Moiraine asked if they thought Rand needed to be guided, remarking that he “has done what he had to without guidance so far.” I wonder if she really believed that, if the evidence of Rand’s accomplishments has made her think that her guidance isn’t needed, at least in the way she originally believed, or if she was just saying that as a cover, not wanting to give her own designs away. It’s also possible, probable even, that something she saw or experienced in Rhuidean has affected her perspective and determination around Rand. (For that matter, I wonder if Aviendha saw something more than just the destruction/salvation that Rand will bring to the Aiel, given her particular hatred for him. It just seemed so personal, somehow.)

Egwene is figuring out how to fake submission and meekness, though, and it kind of makes me like her more. I wonder how common that is in Aes Sedai students—they don’t learn to be accepting of authority as much as they learn to bow their heads when they have to, and then go plot in secret. Egwene musing on how Wise Ones and Windfinders don’t have to be bound by the oath rod reminded me of how, in her future-vision during her Accepted trials, she was aware that she had never taken the Three Oaths. I think we have every reason to believe she will find her way out of being bound that way, given the evidence. She’s having a pretty easy time pretending she’s full Aes Sedai these days. Maybe she’ll just keep saying she’s Egwene Sedai of the Green Ajah until it just… becomes true.

I think Egwene got Elayne’s message to Rand garbled though. My guess is that Elayne, who has been concerned about that second letter ever since she sent it, to the point where she believes that Rand would unleash a huge saidin-fueled fit over it, and maybe stab the floor with a magical sword. I bet she was going to tell Egwene to clarify the letters, to tell Rand that she meant what was in the first one, not the second, but Egwene was pulled away too quickly. Now Rand will get another messy message from Elayne, instead.

He stabbed the sword into the floor. Heh. It’s really the Sword in the Stone now.

Next week I am not going to cover any new chapters. Instead, we will have a piece exploring the idea of kingship and sovereignty as it relates to chosen one narratives in The Wheel of Time as well as in other fantasy stories. Until then, I wish you all well, and leave you with my final thoughts.

  • Poor Lan, getting stuck unable to protect Moiraine. He was chafing at the bond a week ago, now he’s being repeatedly denied the ability to do his duty by it.
  • I have a lot of feelings about the Aiel men who discover they can channel, and have to go north and fight Shadowspawn in the Blight, dying before they can go mad from the taint. Maybe that’s what was up with Luc’s disappearance. Maybe he was a channeler and ran off that way, and the reason he has become Slayer is related to taint madness. That seems somewhat unlikely, given the difficulty of hiding something like after so many years, but it’s possible.
  • If there’s one thing I’ve learned about these books, it’s that if you feel like someone is watching you, someone is. So who was watching Elayne and Egwene? Or was it just Amys the whole time?
  • Apparently punishing people by making them drink gross “medicine” is a world-wide practice
  • The more Rand insists to himself that he’s not crazy yet, the less I believe him.

I’d also like to leave a brief note here about the usage in my recaps of the words “crazy” “madness” etc. I personally do not believe in using such language, which is ableist and demonizes neuroatypical folks and those with mental illness. There’s not really a way, given the narrative of The Wheel of Time to avoid using such terms, so I just wanted to acknowledge that here.

Have a good week everyone. I am thinking of you all, and wishing you safety and peace. Maybe a good romp with wolves in your dreams. Or a plunging neckline. Or both!

Sylas K Barrett is very tired, but he is really grateful for this column, and particularly enjoyed this weeks post. So thank you all for that! :-)

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