Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: The Daughter-Heir’s Justice and the Wisdom’s Power in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 37)

I can’t decide what I enjoyed more about Chapters 54 and 55 of The Shadow Rising, Nynaeve’s awesome battle with Moghedien, or her internal journey towards acceptance of—and even friendship with—Egeanin. This is a climactic section with a lot of action, but the emotional development for both Nynaeve and Egwene was just as important, and just as riveting. I also learned a few new things this week about how channeling works, which is always exciting. Also, Egeanin and Domon continue to be cute.

But before we get into all of that, the summary. Onward to the Panarch’s Palace!

Chapter 54 opens with Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egeanin crowded into a cart, following Bayle Domon and an escort of twenty of his sailors towards the Panarch’s Palace. They are in disguise, with braided hair and veils and rough farm women’s dresses, hoping to come across as poor Taraboner women earning money by helping Domon deliver his shipment of ice peppers to the Panarch. Thom and Juilin had both wanted to come along as their protection, but there was really no way for the two men to be included in the plan; then Egeanin had announced that she would like to come with them and help bring the Darkfriends to justice. She swore an oath on her “hope of a higher name” not to betray them, which neither Nynaeve nor Elayne understood, but Domon’s assessment of her skills in a fight tipped the balance in her favor and the girls agreed to let her help.

They have to pause as Domon talks with some Whitecloak guards, and they hear someone in the crowd shouting that the Panarch has been killed, a rumor that Thom and Juilin started the night before. Elayne is relieved when the Whitecloaks allow them to pass on; they’re stopped again, briefly, by some soldiers of the Panarch’s Legion, and then allowed to proceed and unload their baskets of ice peppers. Domon, pretending to be inspecting the baskets, fills them in on the strife between the Panarch’s Legion and the Whitecloaks, which may work to their advantage. Then he escorts them into the kitchen, where the cook is somewhat surprised that he has brought more ice peppers, but remarks that the Panarch enjoyed the last batch and has the girls take the baskets to the storeroom. Elayne and Nynaeve keep their heads down, desperate not to be noticed by Marillin Gemalphin, the cat loving member of Liandrin’s Black Ajah cohorts, who would know them in a second if she happened to look up from feeding cream to her cat, or to pay any attention to them at all.

Once sequestered safely in the storeroom, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egeanin quickly unearth different dresses, shoes, and veils from beneath the peppers and change to look like servants. Elayne notices with disgust how stocked the pantry is while the people outside go hungry, but Nynaeve brings her focus back to the task at hand. They emerge cautiously, glad to see that Marillin is gone, but the head cook catches sight of them, and, assuming they have come for a particular lady’s breakfast, berates them for lounging about. Elayne—not wanting her accent to give away that she does not belong—gives her a little servant’s curtsey and takes the tray quickly, which is apparently the wrong move as the cook accuses Elayne of mocking her. They hurry out of the kitchen, glad when the woman doesn’t follow them.

Nynaeve and Egeanin find something to fill their arms with as well, Nynaeve taking a feather duster from a closet while Egeanin hides a stone pestle under some towels, just in case. That way, looking like three servants going about their work, they manage to move through the halls without being impeded, following their map, and eventually separate. Nynaeve sends Egeanin with Elayne, warning her not to let anything happen to Elayne, and reminding Elayne that she shouldn’t try to get Amathera if there is anyone with her, or guards by her door—she is not the main part of their mission.

Outside they can hear the riot—started by Juilin and Thom’s rumors and egged on by Domon’s sailors—begin, and Elayne regrets the necessity of putting the people of Tanchico in danger, but knows that pulling the guards from the palace out into the street is necessary to her and Nynaeve’s success. They part, Nynaeve going one way as Elayne and Egeanin hurry towards the Panarch’s room. They find no guards in the hallway but Elayne senses someone in Amathera’s room. Despite Nynaeve’s instructions, Elayne decides that the channeling will be a perfect cover for her own attack, and she has Egeanin throw open the door to give Elayne the element of surprise.

Inside they find Amathera, wrapped to the neck in Air and singing a bawdy song as Temaile lounges on a bench and nods her head to the music. She has no time to react as Elayne shields her from the True Source and strikes out at her with flows of Air. Temaile is thrown across the room and knocked unconscious.

Amathera is confused by Elayne’s arrival, by the fact that Elayne is apparently Aes Sedai but not with the others. She tells Elayne how they controlled her rulings as Panarch, how Temaile, left to watch over her, has tortured her with pain and humiliation, even forcing her to learn lewd songs and dances. She is so incensed that she throws herself on the unconscious woman, slapping and punching her.

Elayne stops Amathera by wrapping her around the waist with Air and lifting her off, and realizes that all her training with Jorin has increased her strength in heavy weaves. She finds herself annoyed by Amathera’s behavior as the Panarch keeps trying to kick Temaile, and insists that she is the Panarch, and has the right to dispense justice.

Elayne reminds her that she is the Aes Sedai come to rescue Amathera, and tells the woman that they will take her out of there so she can reach the Panarch’s Legion and King Andric, with his army, to chase the Black Ajah out.

“I do not need Andric,” Amathera muttered. Elayne would have sworn she almost said “now.” “There are soldiers of my Legion around the palace. I know this. I have been allowed to speak to none of them, but once they see me, and hear my voice, they will do what must be done, yes? You Aes Sedai cannot use the One Power to harm…” She trailed off, scowling at the unconscious Temaile. “You cannot use it as a weapon, at least, yes? I know this.”

Elayne catches up each of Amathera’s braids with Air, pulling them up until the Panarch is forced to walk on tiptoe over to her. She informs Amathera that they are going to creep out, avoiding the detection of Temaile’s cohorts, and that if Amathera will not agree to that, then they will leave her behind. Amathera does agree, sulkily, and Elayne hopes Nynaeve is having an easier time of it.

Nynaeve has an easy time getting into the exhibition hall with her feather duster, but she knows that at any moment Liandrin and co. might show up to search it, so she hurries along, finding herself filled with an intense relief when she sees that the cuendillar seal and the necklace and bracelets are still there.

Climbing over the wrist-thick white silk rope, she touched the wide, jointed collar. Suffering. Agony. Woe. They rolled through her; she wanted to weep. What kind of thing could absorb all that pain? Pulling her hand back, she glared at the black metal. Meant to control a man who could channel. Liandrin and her Black sisters meant to use it to control Rand, turn him to the Shadow, force him to serve the Dark One. Someone from her village, controlled and used by Aes Sedai! Black Ajah, but Aes Sedai as surely as Moiraine with her scheming! Egeanin, making me like a filthy Seanchan!

She realizes that she is deliberately making herself angry enough to channel, and she embraces the True Source just as a serving woman enters the hall. Nynaeve stalls, running the feather duster over the bracelet and collar, thinking that the woman would leave in a moment… then wondering why she would think that. Glancing down toward the approaching woman, she catches a glimpse of a face. She strikes out at Moghedien.

The glow of saidar surrounds Moghedien at once, and she cuts through Nynaeve’s attack with a razor-thin edge of Spirit before striking back. Nynaeve doesn’t know what she did but she emulates it when Moghedien strikes back at her with a complicated weave, slicing through it in turn. They battle, and Nynaeve realizes underneath her anger that she is terrified. She’s aware that she’s using every bit of her strength in the battle, without an ounce of Power to spare, and that being stilled by Moghedien or being shielded and at her mercy are equally terrifying outcomes.

They are both trying to still each other, and Nynaeve considers letting go of her attempt in order to focus on driving back Moghedien’s attack, but she worries that doing so will give Moghedien too much extra power to bring to bear, if she doesn’t have to defend herself.

A man who came in then, or any woman unable to channel, would have seen only two women facing each other across the white silk rope from a distance of less than ten feet. Two women staring at one another in a vast hall full of strange things. They would have seen nothing to say it was a duel. No leaping about and hacking with swords as men would do, nothing smashed or broken. Just two women standing there. But a duel all the same, and maybe to the death. Against one of the Forsaken.

Moghedien begins to speak, furious that Nynaeve has ruined her plans, and threatens to take her and keep her as a live mounting block, or perhaps give her to Rahvin, who always repays favors and likes to have pretty women dancing attendance on him. The threats boost Nynaeve’s anger, though, and she pushes “her weapon of Spirit a hair closer to severing Moghedien from the Source.”

Moghedien asks what Nynaeve intends to do with the collar and bracelets—explains the drawbacks of it, how a woman who wears the bracelets can control the man on the other end, but she cannot stop him from going mad or stop the feedback from the other direction. Eventually the man will be able to fight back, even if two women share the control, each wearing one bracelet. And the collar cannot be destroyed, not even with balefire. Moghedien points out that controlling Lews Therin might not be worth the price—she herself has left the bracelets and collar there, after all.

Nynaeve can’t figure out why Moghedien is telling her all this until she realizes that it is because Moghedien is using all her strength against Nynaeve, and has nothing else to give. She is trying to distract Nynaeve to gain an opening before her strength gives out. Nynaeve wonders if she can do the same, before her strength gives out, and tunes out the Forsaken as she goes on about how she learned about the collar, which was made after she was imprisoned, and about how even the legends and tales that Nynaeve knows are far from a true understanding of Moghedien’s power.

Instead, Nynaeve lets herself sag a little, showing her weariness, drawing Moghedien in. The woman steps closer, sensing victory, and Nynaeve grabs the collar and hurls it at her, hitting the Forsaken between the eyes. Moghedien’s control slips just a little, and Nynaeve’s Shield of Spirit slides between Moghedien and the True Source.

Moghedien tries to run, but Nynaeve catches her in a weave of Air. She checks her work, seeing that she wasn’t quite able to still Moghedien but only to shield her. Moghedien tries to bargain, to talk of what she could teach Nynaeve, who counters by suggesting she might visit upon Moghedien the same torments Moghedien wanted to visit upon her. But she catches herself, turning away from Moghedien’s anguished face to gather up the collar and bracelets.

I was ready to torture her by letting her think I would! She deserves it surely, but that is not me. Or is it? Am I no better than Egeanin?

She can’t find the cuendillar seal for a moment, then discovers a tiny, intricate weave of Air and Fire that looked like another figurine in the case but hid the seal behind it. She realizes that Moghedien hid it in plain sight, and is sure that none of Liandrin’s group could have found it. She liberates the seal and adds it to her pouch.

Nynaeve knows that there is no possible way for her to bring Moghedien back to the Tower for a trial, but she hesitates before going, not quite able to give up on the desire to bring Moghedien to justice. She pauses in the doorway on her way out, then turns to go, only to find Jeaine Caide in the courtyard outside, raising the fluted rod ter’angreal that makes balefire in Nynaeve’s direction.

She just has time to jump out of the way, and the white bar shoots through the hall, taking out artifacts and even a piece of the wall as if they had never been. Nynaeve hurls Fire blindly behind herself as she scrambles away on hands and knees, the balefire cutting through the hall and causing more and more damage. Everything except the artifacts made of cuendillar vanishes, leaving spots in Nynaeve’s vision. Moghedien seems to be screaming behind the gag of Air Nynaeve put on her,

She peers across the hall to see that Jeaine is swaying and clutching her head, but another rod of balefire shoots out before Nynaeve can attack, and she has to crawl away again. When she next has a chance to look, Jeaine is gone. Nynaeve doesn’t care enough to go see if using the rod has killed her, and takes a brief moment to rest instead, exhausted from her battle with Moghedien.

She upbraids herself for not realizing that their battle would draw attention from the Black Sisters, and realizes that she’s very lucky Jeaine didn’t come sooner. She also notices that Moghedien is gone, and not as collateral damage from the balefire, either. Somehow, she managed to escape the bonds Nynaeve put on her. Scrambling to her feet, she hurries off to find Elayne.

Nynaeve races through the hall as panicked servants rush around. She catches sight of Liandrin and some of the others pushing servants out of their way and is glad that she is no longer holding onto saidar, since they would have sensed her. She is too tired now to fight them—they will have to wait.

She finds Elayne and Egeanin at the designated meeting place, along with Amathera, dressed in a white dress and robe that might pass as a servant’s outfit if one didn’t look too closely. Nynaeve gives Elayne a quick hug and asks if she had any trouble; Egeanin mentions that the Panarch tried to sneak off and warn her soldiers about the Darkfriends, after being told not to.

“Do not scowl so, Nynaeve,” Elayne said. “I chased her down quickly, and we had a little talk. I think she is in perfect agreement with me now.”

The Panarch’s cheek twitched. “I am in agreement, Aes Sedai,” she said hastily. “I will do exactly as you say, and I will provide papers that should make even the rebels let you pass unhindered. There is no need for more… talking.”

Nynaeve decides to get to the bottom of that exchange later. Elayne asks about the commotion, mentioning that she had to restrain Egeanin from going to find Nynaeve. Nynaeve briefly explains what happened, and even makes herself apologize for not keeping her mind on their mission and getting distracted by wanting to bring Moghedien to trial. She asks Elayne not to scold her, and Elayne says she won’t as long as Nynaeve promises to be more careful in the future.

They are all getting very anxious waiting when Juilin finally arrives, urging them to hurry before things get out of hand. Nynaeve, looking out at Domon and his men holding the crowd back from the door, men with pitchforks and staves jostling with mounted Whitecloaks, sometimes knocking the horses down or knocking the men off their mounts. Thom also arrives to urge them to move, remarking that things might get messy if the Panarch’s Legion ever stops running.

Surrounded by the ring of sailors they move slowly down the street, jostled on every side. At one point Nynaeve grabs Egeanin’s arm to steady her and thinks about how they are not really that different, and even finds that it’s easy to smile at the Seanchan woman. Once they are away from the riot and on quieter streets, Thom greets Amathera cordially, surprised when she replies that she is not the Panarch but a poor refugee. Elayne cuts in to remark that this isn’t the place for conversation.

When they reach the Three Plum Court, Elayne introduces Amathera as Thera, and asks Rendra to give her some work to earn meals and a pallet, and Rendra leads her off into the kitchens.

Elayne explains that Rendra sees the sense in staying in hiding until she can get in touch with the Lord Captain of her Legion, but when pressed, she admits that Amathera has no idea what the lives of the common people are like, and while she appears to have a real concern for justice, she also didn’t seem to care that there was enough food in her palace for a year, or to even know about the soup kitchens in her city. A few days of working for her support, Elayne insists, will do Amathera good.

“The justice of the Daughter-Heir,” Thom murmured, “may yet supersede the justice of the Panarch. There were men streaming in through that door as we left, and I think some had already got in the front. I saw smoke coming out of several windows. By tonight, little more than a fire-gutted ruin will remain. No need for soldiers to chase the Black Ajah, and thus ‘Thera’ can have her few days to learn the lesson you want to teach. You will make a fine queen one day, Elayne of Andor.”

Elayne appears touched, then her smile changes to concern as she goes to tend the gash on Thom’s head. Thom, irritated, asks to see the things they all risked their lives for, and Nynaeve lays out the black and white disk and the bracelets and collar. Domon remarks that he owned something like the disk once, a comment Nynaeve privately dismisses as she considers that three of the seals are broken now, and only four still survive.

Egeanin remarks that the bracelets and collar are not an a’dam, which sparks irritation in Nynaeve until she thinks it through. Egeanin never wore the bracelet of an a’dam, and she let Bethamin go. Nynaeve considers that she herself would not have been so kind to Bethamin, who had been a sul’dam, had imprisoned and controlled women wearing the collar. She tells Egeanin that the collar and bracelets are at least as much alike as she and Egeanin are to each other, and after a moment Egeanin nods agreement.

Nynaeve does not want to return the bracelets and collar to the White Tower, fearing who else might consider using them on Rand, and tells Elayne to destroy them, but Elayne is unable to even mar it, no matter how much Fire she uses. Instead, Nynaeve asks Domon to drop it into the deepest part of the sea he knows.

Nynaeve notices Egeanin frowning, no doubt unhappy at the idea of the man leaving, and finds herself filled with joy that their task is almost done. And soon she can return to the Tower, or to wherever Lan is.

Facing Moghedien, realizing how close she had been to being killed or worse, only made her urgency to deal with him greater. A man she had to share with a woman she hated, but if Egeanin could look fondly on a man she once took prisoner—and Domon was certainly eyeing her with interest—and if Elayne could love a man who would go mad, then she could puzzle out some way to enjoy what she could have of Lan.

 

Oh, my friends, the dramatic irony of Elayne and Nynaeve thinking about taking their prisoners back to the White Tower to be tried, of them thinking of this journey as almost over, with the relative safety and comfort of the Tower awaiting them! This is the kind of thing that makes me want to rush on immediately to the next book instead of holding myself to my “a few chapters at a time” pace. What are they going to do when they find out about Elaida’s coup? How will this change the weight of responsibility they feel for Rand, and for the unfolding of events at large? And what does Min’s dual vision—of Gawyn breaking Egwene’s neck and of Gawyn kneeling at her feet—portend for the future of the outcast Aes Sedai?

I found myself thinking about that vision a lot more this week than I did during the week we actually covered that chapter. It may be a while yet before Egwene and Moiraine return from the Waste, but then again, Rand’s about to make his bid to unite the Aiel behind him, so I imagine he’ll be leading them back into the Westlands sooner rather than later. And now that Elayne and Nynaeve are contemplating returning to the White Tower, I find myself wondering how long it will be before Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egwene are all united again, and what will happen if and when they find their way back to Siuan.

The former Amyrlin said that her purpose is now to gather up the Aes Sedai who are outside the Tower and to help them choose someone new to lead them, and she has put more of her trust in the three girls (well, and Moiraine) than any of the other Aes Sedai. The fact that the Green and Blue Ajahs have been scattered and their Amyrlin has been stilled makes me wonder if this isn’t the moment where we will see the new generation start to take up the mantles of leadership and responsibility. Given that Egwene saw herself as Amyrlin during her trip through the three-arched ter’angreal and given the idea that Gawyn (who recently sided with Elaida against the Amyrlin) is apparently going to either choose to kill her or pledge his allegiance to her, I think we have reason to suspect that she may become the new leader, the new Amyrlin, for the displaced Aes Sedai. After all, she will return to them with knowledge and experience that none of her elders possess, and we are starting to see all three girls come into their real power, just as Rand, Mat, and Perrin are.

But it’s Elayne, not Egwene, whose future leadership these chapters are concerned with. The narrative has been very consistent with her throughout the entire series, with little asides and bits of her thoughts about what it will mean to be Queen of Andor one day. She is always considering and applying her mother’s lessons to her observations and actions as she moves through the world. She often encourages herself by remembering the vaunted courage of the Andoran Queens who came before her. And she has a strong empathy with the common people, is very conscious of what they need and what they lack, and of their leaders’ responsibility towards them.

I remember way back in The Eye of the World, when she told Rand about how she questioned Elaida, and the use of the Power to grow beautiful gardens in the palace, while outside their walls winter wouldn’t end and crops wouldn’t grow. Even then, her commitment to justice was based in empathy for others, rather than a sort of theoretical understanding like the one Amathera seems to hold. And yet that empathy is tempered—complemented might be a better word—by a practicality and levelheadedness that surpasses most of the other characters in The Wheel of Time, especially the younger generation.

If I’m honest, though, I found her handling of Amathera rather unsettling. It was a very Aes Sedai way of doing things, of course, and I understand where she was coming from. Just as the common people were manipulated into rioting for the greater good of stopping Liandrin and co., so Amathera’s personal impulses had to be curtailed in order to prevent them all from getting caught. And I fully understand Elayne’s moral standpoint as well; here’s hoping Amathera’s time working in Rendra’s kitchen and common room makes her a better and more empathetic ruler. (I’ve always felt that everyone should have to work a stint in customer service, I think it would make us all kinder and more patient people.) However, there is still something icky and uncomfortable in watching Elayne rescue Amathera from Temaile and then use her power on the Panarch in turn. The same power—I should say, Power—that Temaile used to control, bully, and physically harm Amathera is the one that Elayne then uses to… bully, control, and physically manipulate Amathera. The fact that Elayne is doing it for a moral reason while Temaile is doing it because she enjoys hurting people is still relevant, of course, but the whole thing reminded me that it’s been a while since I really thought about the power dynamic of channeling, and the inherent division it creates between people who can access the True Source and people who cannot.

The fact that the Aes Sedai are loathed, judged, and feared for being who they are, the fact some cultures would (and do) enslave women who can channel, and the fact that men are corrupted by the taint on saidin have been the main focus of these power dynamics. And much of my own attention, especially in sections spent in the White Tower, has been on the division between channelers of different experience. We spend much of the text watching Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egwene (not to mention Rand) being asked or even forced to submit in various ways to those with more experience and (for now) ability than them. The militaristic nature of the White Tower’s discipline and hierarchy is an example of this. The way Rand is always being chided for not understanding his responsibility when he is the person who must carry it, and suffer for it, is another. Oh, and then there’s the increasingly immediate danger of the Forsaken, whose knowledge and power most of the modern Aes Sedai can’t even really comprehend.

But Elayne’s actions here remind us that it’s not only the Black Ajah who can use their power to get what they want. Elaida certainly has used hers in circumspect ways, and the question of the responsibility of power has been raised often between Moiraine and Nynaeve. The Three Oaths restrain the Aes Sedai a little bit, but there is still much they could do with their power, especially when one considers that the word “weapon” can be a bit open to interpretation. Restraining someone isn’t using the One Power as a weapon, even if those restraints are uncomfortable. And of course, Elayne isn’t bound by the Three Oaths, and might never be—I’m guessing the girls will just go on calling themselves full Aes Sedai from now on, and may even be given some official recognition from the Aes Sedai outside the Tower without ever going through the formal process that ends with swearing by the Oath Rod. This way they will circumvent that handicap, just as Egwene saw for herself in her vision, and will be able to lie if they want, use the One Power as they want, and people won’t even know they can do it.

Speaking of unrestrained power, I really did not expect Nynaeve to have a full-on battle with Moghedien. This is a real level up, not only for her personally but for the stakes of the narrative; we’ve heard a lot of talk about the promise in Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve, about how much more power they have than the other modern Aes Sedai, but this is a moment where we actually see it measured. Nynaeve, who can only channel when angry and who has not yet completed even the comparatively minimal training the White Tower can currently offer, pits her strength against one of the Forsaken and finds that they are evenly matched—which means that Nynaeve will eventually be more powerful than Moghedien is now, since Moghedien had many more techniques and tricks to bring to bear than Nynaeve did. There is something delightful about this battle coming down to a difference in how they handle conflict outside of channeling. Moghedien, who sneaks around, who is tricky and subtle and always trying to get her adversary to look the other way. And Nynaeve, who pulls her own hair when upset, dunks people’s heads in buckets and hits them with sticks for not listening to her, and, apparently, throws things.

Her winning this battle by chucking the super dangerous artifact she’s trying to save Rand from into the face of her terrifying opponent is the most Nynaeve thing ever, and I love it. I also really want to know how they’ll do this fight (and channeling battles in general) in the upcoming Amazon Prime series. It makes me think of the battle between Gandalf and Saruman in The Fellowship of the Ring and how silly it looked (amazing acting aside) to have the wizards battle by basically smacking each other with their staves, but from a distance. The description of how, to anyone who cannot channel saidar, the duel would have looked like two women just staring and sweating at each other made me imagine how the scene might look on screen, cutting between a sort of “saidar-o-vision” where we can see the power represented somehow and then to how the room looks without it, and then back again.

Although I’d enjoy the comedic value of just having the actresses stand and stare at each other for awhile until Zoë Robins suddenly just breaks and starts throwing things.

Anyway, I think it’s worth talking about how, in the same chapters as she is being brilliantly, quintessentially Nynaeve, the former Wisdom of Emond’s Field also does some serious growing. I loved all the little moments when she was reminded of Egeanin and actually sat with those feelings instead of just reacting with anger to cover the things she didn’t want to think about. She even acknowledges the vindictive part of herself that wants to torture Moghedien, and when she finds herself comparing that impulse to whom she thinks Egeanin is, she allows understanding to come from it, rather than doubling down in hatred towards the other woman, as we have seen her do to Moiraine in the past. And in acknowledging her mistake in getting distracted, and therefore put in danger, she softens further towards Egeanin and the fact that the Seanchan had wanted to come help her.

We know it’s not much easier for Nynaeve to accept someone’s help than it is for her to apologize. It might be harder. And committing to her feelings for Lan is no simple feat, either, and here we see that her perspective is shifting the more she spends time in the wide world, the more she shoulders her new responsibilities and moves past her fears. I’m sure it’ll be a long time before she actually meets up with Lan again, but I’m excited that she’s embraced this new practicality, that she’s ready to let go at least a little of her stubborn pride, and find a compromise they can both be happy with.

I’m curious about Egeanin’s oath “on my hope of a higher name.” I’d kind of forgotten, or maybe just glossed over, the fact that there is some mobility in the Seanchan social structure. Suroth raised Alwhin in status, for example, and there is always the ability to fall in stature if one does not perform adequately or disobeys one’s higher ups—even nobles can become slaves for something as simple as breaking custom. But on a personal note, I’m still wildly curious about what Egeanin will choose to do next. She has violated her duty by letting Bethamin go free, and she has learned that what she was taught about channelers and about Aes Sedai is largely untrue. Will this destabilize her ability to continue in her duty, or will she find a way to hold both her loyalty to Seanchan principles while also acknowledging her friendship with Nynaeve and Elayne?

If she goes back, though, I imagine she wouldn’t be able to pursue Domon unless he agreed to swear loyalty to the Empress. Still, the Seanchan way of life is deeply ingrained in its people, and I can’t imagine walking away would be at all easy. It might also be very dangerous, and I’m still worried about that Seeker.

She should just join Domon’s crew. She can push his self-interest further towards service, and he can move her away from her lawful alignment. They can fight all the time about who gets to be in charge, and bond about sailing things. It’s perfect.

It’s Chapters 57 and 58 next time, the final two chapters. And hoo boy am I ready! So many reveals, so many impressive Rand moments, and also a really long chase scene that kind of bored me. Oh, and Lanfear. Because I knew it, and so did Rand.

A very lovely week to you all! Stay safe, practice empathy, and remember that we are all not so different after all. Just people, doing our best.

Sylas K Barrett cannot help his romantic heart, and he really wants Bayle and Egeanin to kiss. What’s their ship name, anyway. Something about captains?

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