Spoilers for books 1-5 and Lord of Chaos to ch.28| 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 24-28.
Egwene is in a celebratory mood because the Wise Ones have finally given her permission to start visiting Tel’aran’rhiod and visit the meetings with the Aes Sedai. Little do they know she’s been having her own adventures in the dream world without their knowledge. There’s a long winded sequence of her just jaunting around in Cairhien. The most notable thing I got out of it is that a lot of the Aiel ways to be rubbing off on her – evidenced by her scolding four guys for taking on a lone person – not because they fought, but because they didn’t do it one on one.
Her stroll is stopped by the arrival of the embassy from Elaida, escorted by Gawyn’s Younglings. She rushes back to the Wise Ones’ tents, where she finds Berelain as well. Everyone’s pretty confused by how the Wise Ones seem to approve of Berelain, almost treating her like a daughter. I’m as lost as anyone on this issue. While Berelain goes to handle them, it is decided that Egwene will stay in the tents so as not to come to the embassy’s notice – though she doesn’t tell the Wise Ones the whole reason she wants to avoid them i.e. she’s an Accepted pretending to be Aes Sedai. This is followed by a round of vigorous exercise to test Egwene’s health. All the punishments and hard life she’s been undergoing in this apprenticeship seems to have at least made her fit, if not as much as Aiel, then much more than the common wetlander.
There’s something mentioned in passing that I find rather funny – Egwene of course rushes out of the sweat tents when men join them, but surprisingly, nobody has made the connection – it just hasn’t occurred to the Aiel that she may be uncomfortable sharing the sauna with guys.
The next day, Egwene briefs the Wise Ones about the Aes Sedai in the embassy that she’s familiar with, and warns them about the danger of thirteen linked Aes Sedai. Then, contrary to all sense and caution, she proceeds to walk to where the emissaries are staying. Wow, after all this worrying over them spotting her, she just rushes to them out of sheer curiosity. She doesn’t find out much despite spending hours trying to eavesdrop. One notable fact is that the Aes Sedai inside are continuously channeling, but we don’t know what mischief they’re up to because Egwene can’t see the flows. I always though “seeing” was meant in a metaphorical sense, but apparently there are actual physical flows that Aes Sedai have to see. Her futile attempt at spying is interrupted when she literally runs into Gawyn. The two get a room and profess their undying love for each other and stuff. It is refreshing to see two people just sitting down and honestly sharing their feelings after all this subterfuge that’s been going on in the story. They form a truce of sorts where they retain their respective loyalties but put them aside for their romantic dates.
Meanwhile, the embassy is obviously up to no good. And if that wasn’t bad enough, at least two – Katerina and Galina – are bloody Black Ajah. I was promised an explanation as to how Black Ajah gets around the Three Oaths – specifically the one about not lying, but so far it hasn’t materialised, or maybe I’ve missed it. Anyway, they’ve been trying to cut deals with the local nobles for their support. Their plan seems to be to surprise Rand by sneaking in extra Aes Sedai and probably overpower him with a full circle. This is guesswork on my part though, in what is rapidly becoming a trend, they don’t spell out exactly what they intend to do. Also, the channeling Egwene observed appears to have been just the embassy practicing.
Rand is inspecting the Saldaean cavalry, who are being less like a deadly force of murder and more like a circus IMO. However, there is something else going on, and for some unguessable reason, two white stones placed randomly by Rand are important. He’s also met by Bashere’s wife, who is in the tradition of WoT female characters, a complete hardass. On the way back to the palace, there’s an assassination attempt – a bunch of hidden men with crossbows. Rand survives, but a few bystanders end up dead, including a Maiden. And of course Rand gets all extra melodramatic over her death. I mean, dude, men are humans too! The attackers seem to be Whitecloaks on the surface – literally wearing white cloaks, and Rand sends off one of the captured ones to NIall as warning, but I honestly doubt Niall would be so stupid to make an attempt that so obviously tied to him.
Back in the palace, one of the Sea Folk – a full Wavemistress wants to see him, but weirdly, Rand delays seeing her, and instead meets one of the nobles whose name I can’t be bothered to remember. She’s apparently good with Andoran history, of which we get quite the lesson. Mildly interesting stuff. Rand however is more interested in the possibility that since he’s Tigraine’s son, he and Elayne might be related. We are assured that the relation is too minor to be a problem in their romance. Though given that Rand intends to stay away from Elayne romantically, I don’t know why he’s worried. Well, love isn’t the most logical of emotions.
In all this intrigue and planning and plotting, Egwene at least is managing to have fun with Gawyn, meeting with him and basically doing what he dreamed of. She returns after a morning of this to the tents, and finds out that Rand will be meeting the embassy this afternoon. (that afternoon? My grammar isn’t too good). This makes her completely lose her shit, like she’s heard confirmation that he’s meeting with the Forsaken or something. Relax lady, Rand is not stupid. But Egwene rushes through the city and goes to meet with Rand, all sweaty and huffing and puffing. She pretty much demands that he sends her away. Rand puts her in her place though with a reminder about how she refused to trust him with Elayne’s location. Egwene now changes tracks, attempting good old reverse psychology – telling him to be polite and well behaved with them in the hopes that his stubbornness will cause him to do the exact opposite.
But as she constantly forgets, Rand is no longer the simple farmboy he once was, in more ways than one. He’s onto her, and immediately agrees to follow her advice. Ha! Changing topics, she mentions another sea folk envoy waiting in Cairhien. I think Rand is being unnecessarily rude by not meeting with them. They’re both surprised by the embassy’s early arrival. Instead of just hiding her, Rand makes her invisible. Dude, Aes Sedai can sense other women who can channel, they’ll know she’s there, even if they can’t see her.
Or not, because none of them seem to notice her. The meeting goes pretty well I think. Rand does neither what Egwene told him to nor what she wanted him to do, but is courteous but also firm. They of course want him to come with them to the tower, but Rand stalls them for now. He surprises them by asking about Alviarin. Now, this extra surprises Galina because she and Alviarin are both Black Ajah. Wait, is Galina Mesaana? Damnit, games within games. As if worrying over Black Ajah wasn’t enough, now I have to worry over which of them is a Forsaken.
Also, it seems at least a few of them noticed Egwene, but they’re thinking she might be Moiraine. How I wish they were right.
A Dream Come True
Rand has now become completely sure that the voice in his head is indeed a self-aware Lew Therin. Unsurprisingly, this freaks the hell out of him. He spends the day in a very bad mood and the night goes little better. Following his pattern, faced with this, Rand decides to just run back to Caemlyn. The man is stuck in a rut. Bad stuff happens at A, go to B, bad stuff happens at B, go to A and repeat. The poor sea folk are now down to sending him letters, and he can’t even be bothered to read them. Rand I thought you were better than this.
Teleporting back, he runs into a naked Aviendha who is all abashed. Rand notes that this doesn’t make sense, and it bloody well doesn’t. She can undress in front of him, have baths with men, but now she’s acting all coy? Out of the blue, Lews Therin starts saying that Rand is coming, and even talks directly to Rand. It seems he himself doesn’t know that he’s just a voice in Rand’s head, and is as surprised by Rand as Rand is by him. Lews Therin lapses into silence after this. Rand receives another letter from the sea folk – this time from the one in Caemlyn. He finally opens the letters and they’re basically the same – asking him to come visit them on their ship. Another letter is brought, by none other than Sulin. Dressed as a servant. Turns out that she broke customs by treating some gai’shain as Maidens back when Rand was going to Shadar Logoth, and for this shame she’s going to be even lower than a gai’shain – a wetlander servant. There’s some discussion about jie’toh the result of which is I’m more sure it’s just madness. The letter is coded, and it says that Rand has the support of Ghealdan’s queen. Which is not much, because IIRC Ghealdan already is in the hands of the Dragonsworn more or less, but it pleases Rand.
And then the door opens – but there’s no one there, except there is and it’s a bloody Gray Man. Damn, even I missed it when he entered. Somehow, Rand senses him though – probably sensing the Shadow in him, and binds him with Air. Which is proved unnecessary and Mazrim Taim appears oh so conveniently and kills the Gray Man. Well, that’s one of the Wise One’s dreams confirmed. Rand is angry with Taim for killing the guy, and though he gives reasonable excuses I’m more than half sure that it was Taim’s doing somehow, and even more sure that he’s up to something. Oh my god everybody is up to something. It used to be so simple – there were the protags, and the Shadow. Now there’s Aiel, Wise Ones, Tower, Salidar, Verin, Dark One, various Forsaken, Supergirls, Siuan, Black Ajah, Taim, Whitecloaks and whatnot. And even these have their internal factions and intrigue. It’s enough to give a man headaches.
And even single people are not simple, because Rand has Lew Therin in his head, who chooses that moment to reappear and tries to take control of Rand and saidin to kill Taim. Good idea, bad execution. Rand manages to hold on to control, but it’s a close thing. Also, now that I think about it, the reason Taim gives for coming – to tell Rand about a new guy he’s found that can channel – seems like a remarkably lame excuse. For that matter, how did he know exactly where Rand would be? No, Taim is certainly up to something. (In case he’s not no doubt you all WoT alumni are having a laugh over me)
A thankfully brief POV from Fain, nothing new, just more confirmation that he’s almost beyond evil, and he’s developing all sorts of strange power. Which doesn’t make sense, he’s not a channeler, and he isn’t using ter’angreal, then what is the source of his abilities?
Nothing to say here, except all the intrigue is making me wish I had started taking notes and making charts.