Spoilers for books 1-5 and Lord of Chaos to ch.8| More info and previous posts |Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 6, Lord of Chaos. This post covers chapter 9-15.
Pedron Niall is in a meeting with his spymaster. Also, for some reason, Tarabon is quarantined. I don’t recall hearing of any plagues there. The guy wants Niall to try and introduce spies into the Illuminators’ Guild, which – as Niall points out – is not a very good plan. There’s some internal monologuing over how the spymaster is totally useless, though in what is rapidly becoming a trend, some of the outrageous rumors he reports are actually accurate.
And yet, Niall is the greater fool in my eyes. He continues to refuse to accept that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, that Tarmon Gai’don is coming. Him and his drive to gain more power are causing and will cause so much trouble everywhere. Anyways, he then meets with his real, secret spymaster. I actually like this, having a dumbass decoy spymaster. Smart. Anyway, the spymaster brings him more news. Interestingly, there are meetings between the stedding. I guess they have their own prophecies or some such.
Hey, that reminds me, how do stedding work? Like, why are there random places where the magic is inaccessible? Are they too ancient remnants, or naturally occurring phenomena? Is there a pattern to their placement? I mean, it’s pretty cool as a world building element, but when you think about it the stedding just feel a bit… artificial to me.
Anyway, the meeting continues. To nobody’s surprise, Niall wants to use the split in the Tower to his advantage.
A quick look at how Morgase is doing – physically, safe and sound, but Niall’s prisoner in all but name. Though she still hasn’t accepted his offer.
Oh no she didn’t!
Rand is hanging out in his – or rather, Morgase’s palace – grumbling to himself about how hard it is to be king in the fashion of all people in power. He’s also gotten the trick of not feeling the heat. Which makes no sense, because the reason we sweat is not because we feel hot, it’s because if we don’t sweat, our temperature will rise and that will cause all sorts of metabolic issues. That could be handwaved away with magic, but we are explicitly told that it doesn’t require channeling. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing, but this really kicked my suspension of disbelief in the nuts.
There’s some news – some of Morgase’s loyal nobles have returned to Caemlyn. I hope that Rand smoothes things over with them. More importantly, there’s two Aes Sedai in Caemlyn. Elaida’s or Salidar’s representatives? Worryingly, there’re rumors of one of the Black Ajah in the city. Of course Rand doesn’t recognise the Aes Sedai fond of cats for what she is, but I think it’s one of Liandrin’s associates. Damnit, this fantasy series is turning into a proper cold war style spy story. Anyway, Rand spots Aviendha, and in order to avoid her (he’s still taking Lan’s advice to stay away for her good seriously) he decides to visit the two Aes Sedai instead.
The journey is described in much detail, but eventually we get to the obligatory inn. Turns out the Aes Sedai are Verin and Alanna, returning with the rich crop of recruits they found in the Two Rivers. And wow, these girls have no idea who Rand is. They still think he’s basically a farmboy out seeing the world, instead of a farmboy out conquering the world as a prep to fighting the Dark One. Rand chats with the girls until the Aes Sedai arrive, when he goes into a private dining room that all inns also seem to have. And wow, these two don’t have any idea about the broken Tower.
Alanna checks Rand’s health, and then suddenly does something to him. Rand goes into rage mode, the Aes Sedai try to shield him, but he’s too strong for them, and then it turns out Alanna bonded him. As her warder. What the bloody hell!
This is just wrong. It’s obvious why she did it – wanting to exercise some sort of control over Rand is a pretty universal desire nowadays, but for a faction that I believed to be more or less on the side of good, this is rather… sinister. I mean, you strip away all the conventions, and the warder bond is basically an unequal partnership, where both get something out of it, but on the whole, the Aes Sedai commands, and the warder obeys. I hate Alanna right now. Someone tell me that Rand can break this. Or at least that it won’t impair his free will.
Understandably, Rand is pissed. He orders them to stay in the Outer City, and exits to find that the girls are finding it hard to believe that he’s the Dragon Reborn. Well, no more, after a display of saidin that leaves them a quivering, crying mess. Which was a bit harsh, but I blame Alanna.
With Rand gone, the two Aes Sedai calm down everyone. Verin seems to have some sort of ulterior motives in the way she’s dealing with Alanna, but what I can’t fathom. Now that I think of it, she definitely does fishy things. Like giving Egwene the ring ter’agnreal. She’s.. well, I don’t think straight up Black Ajah, but she’s definitely up to something.
Rand meanwhile gallops back to the palace, with Lew Therin’s voice blaming his pride. He visits the farm. The recruits seem to be doing spectacularly well for a week’s worth of lessons – it took the supergirls that much to embrace saidar reliably. Mazrim Taim convinces him to allow Taim to go look for more recruits. Seriously, these damn Aes Sedai might mean well, but they are just too full of themselves, too eager for control. Someone needs to teach them a lesson. Someone like the Dragon Reborn. I’m seeing a confrontation between male and female channelers in the future.
Questions and Answers
Elayne and Nynaeve are living the thug life, being rebels and stuff – which basically involves running around doing chores for the Aes Sedai, who still haven’t really made up their minds about how to deal with all the stuff going on. Out of the blue, Moghedien goes all confident and sure, and tells Nynaeve they should go to Caemlyn, and though she presents some arguments that I agree with – mostly that the Aes Sedai are bound to become suspicious sometime or the other, but I don’t want Nynaeve to do it if only because the advice comes from a Forsaken, and one who wants bad stuff to happen to Nynaeve in particular.
Unfortunately, the suggestion works on Nynaeve, and she’s all raring to leave for Caemlyn. She talks to Birgitte about it, who is luckily much more skeptical. This is followed by a long almost interrogation at the hands of two Aes Sedai, trying to wring out some more scraps about Rand. You bunch of bloody manipulators! (If it’s not clear, I’m still pissed about Alanna), but doesn’t lead anywhere.
Next, Nynaeve tries her hands at spying, trying to eavesdrop on Sheriam and co. She overhears them sending the final reply to Elaida, though not what it is, and some more stuff which leads me to believe they still intend to go by Siuan’s plan – choosing a new Amyrlin that they can control. Now, if it were to be Elayne we would have heard already (the word biddable simply cannot apply to Nynaeve), so I think Egwene is going to be their choice. Theodrin finds Nynaeve there, though she doesn’t comment on her spying. And we are told one other woman was spying on them in turn, which if I had to guess, would be Moghedien.
A session with Theodrin follows, which continues to fail to break Nynaeve’s block. Back in their rooms, Nynaeve is trying to convince Elayne to go to Caemlyn, and I’m happy to see Elayne is skeptical as well. They are visited from Tarna of the Red Ajah, who long story short, tries to get Nynaeve on her team, which predictably does not work. For all her flaws, Nynaeve’s loyalty is rock solid.
But it does spook the pair of them, and eventually they decide to try the Wise One’s trick of need again – this time their need being to have the Salidar rebels support Rand. The first few blind jumps take them into a cache of artifacts in the White Tower, but deciding they can’t get to them, they try again and manage to find a ter‘angreal in some random storehouse in Ebou Dar, one which can control the weather according to Elayne. Finally someone is going to do something about this damn weather. I was getting a tad sick of hearing every single POV moan about the heat. They decide to head off to Ebou Dar and try to get their hands on it. The chapter ends with Nynaeve crying over the whole mess, and me feeling quite sorry for her.
Dreams and Nightmares
Meanwhile, Egwene is having her own adventures in Tel’aran’rhiod. She’s apparently been jaunting about in the dream world, trying to figure out stuff, find out things and generally flamboyantly disobey the Wise Ones. Currently she’s floating in some sort of mindscape where all is void except dreams that appear as stars. Interestingly, these include dreams from alternate universes as well, because Tel’aran’rhiod is apparently shared between all possible worlds. Spooky.
Funny thing though – she’s been seeing Siuan and Leanne (I think) around Tar Valon, and hasn’t even recognised them. Which is a bit confusing to me, because as I understand it, being Aes Sedai kind of stop aging and makes people look a bit mature. So the stilling might have been enough to alter their appearance a bit, but it shouldn’t have been enough to make everyone fail to recognise them. Egwene’s indecision over what to do is taken care of when she’s sucked into a dream – Gawyn’s dream. And in the way these things work out, Egwene has almost no control over what happens, and so Gawyn “rescues” her from Rand and they make romantic love, though by the end Egwene isn’t struggling against the dream at all.
Meanwhile in Salidar, the day ends with a bubble of evil bursting in Salidar, leading to random objects trying to strangle/stab/bludgeon people to death, which leads to some deaths and much chaos. Stupid Aes Sedai continue to refute Nynaeve’s claim that they’re bubbles of evil, insisting that it is an unusual sort of attack by Sammael. The main highlight for me is watching a circle of linked women firsthand. Unfortunately it isn’t quite as exciting as I expected since they basically calm down murderous pots and bedsheets.
In the aftermath of last night’s adventures, Egwene has a headache, which is apparently something that happens after dreaming ever since the Lanfear incident. The Wise Ones seem to be taking good care of her though. The dream thing is also explained as being caused by a strong emotion between Gawyn and Egwene – their love.
Much more memorable is Elayne and Nynaeve’s morning. The envoy from Elaida finally leaves, and the Hall gives a public message that is standard politician bullshit, which boils down to zero information. Nynaeve and Elayne talk to Sheriam and co. about going to Ebou Dar to get their hands on the weather ter’angreal, Elayne even falsely states it needs men and women to work together so they’ll work with Rand. But the Aes Sedai continue to consider the supergirls as excitable little children, and refuse them permission. This in turn blows up Nynaeve’s fuse, and all her frustration that’s been building up about the rather sloppy behaviour of the Aes Sedai comes pouring out.
Unfortunately it doesn’t have the effect I was hoping of – the Aes Sedai coming to their senses and listening to sense. Instead, it ends with the two of them scrubbing pots. Elayne is determined to go to Ebou Dar nevertheless, and unless I’m very wrong, we’ll be seeing them run away yet again.
So, over a third of the book down, and things are starting to happen. That big mess with Rand and Alanna aside, things seem to be going rather well with our protagonists – as well as can be hoped, anyway. Also, if anyone reading this has the time, can you tell me more about the nature of the warder bond – I want to think about how Rand can get out of this, but I just don’t have enough information. No spoilers though.
Also, it is becoming increasingly clear that Rand has Lews Therin rattling around in his head. Whether this is good or bad depends on the ratio of useful knowledge to lunatic ravings in what he says to Rand.