Spoilers for books 1-5 and Lord of Chaos to ch.39| 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 29-39.
Nynaeve is having a very bad time. Pages are spent upon her internal grumbling – over scrubbing pots (totally her fault), the Weather, her unsuccessful attempts to break her block with Theodrin and more besides. Plus to avoid scrutiny, she’s stopped “discovering” stuff and now the Aes Sedai are even more concerned with her block. All in all, things are not fun at all.
She tries to find Siuan to do research, but she’s busy with Aes Sedai. Thom and Juilin arrive at last from scouting, but after a quick meeting – the most notable thing is that Thom tells Elayne exactly what Morgase is up to, though he thinks it’s just a rumor, and Elayne point blank refuses to accept it and says she now believes that her mother is dead. Oh my god Morgase why did you have to go to bloody Amador of all places? Then they’re whisked off for a debriefing, and this leaves Nynaeve with nothing to do so she heads to Logain to try and do research on him.
And while she’s exploring with saidar, her mind wanders on about this and that, and suddenly, she does stuff and Logain is healed.
Uh oh. Classic case of “You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could you didn’t stop to think if you should”. Now Nynaeve has a man who can channel, a man who was once a False Dragon, who has reason to hate Aes Sedai, on her hands. She panics, and immediately shields him and sends Elayne to fetch Sheriam.
Oh man, I’ll admit I’m not really surprised, it was something that’s been coming for a while now, but still, this a huge deal. Also, stupid Aes Sedai. It seems all their knowledge about what can and can’t be done is based less around actual knowledge and more around what they’ve been just telling everyone. A few very tense minutes follow, where Logain is all chill and Nynaeve is almost terrified. Soon though, a bunch of Aes Sedai arrive and with them the real shocker – they seem to believe Nynaeve is full of shit. Of course, women can’t sense when men channel saidin can they? What if Logain just fools them all? They at least accept Nynaeve’s request to shield the man, and then she’s hauled off for questioning.
Luckily though, all the roughness turns out to have been a charade to have Nynaeve angry enough for what she must do next – heal Siuan and Leane. How could I have forgotten them?! Thankfully, the same thing Nynaeve did to Logain also works with them, and Siuan and Leane are healed too. Yay! Three cheers for Nynaeve al’Meara, soemtimes infuriating but sometimes awesome. Or not. There’s none of the praise for poor Nynaeve – the Aes Sedai are more interested in the discovery itself. Well, at least Siuan and Leane are properly grateful. And then a bunch of yellow descend on Nynaeve, fighting over her like vultures, asking her to demonstrate the thing for them.
Siuan is happy, but everything is not entirely rosy. For one thing, she is way weaker than she used to be before stilling. The only explanation I can think of is that she needs a man to heal her properly. Like, Nynaeve healed Logain and he’s apparently as strong as before, so similarly if a man healed Siuan she would be back to full strength. This is just conjecture though. Another thing is that the shock of her warder’s death, which she avoided because she was stilled is back, and she’s now crying all over the place.
In the night, the four of them – Siuan, Leane, Elayne and Nynaeve sort of formalise their alliance and friendship. Nice. There’s also a lesson on Aes Sedai politics – basically, that one’s strength in the power is relevant in how much weight her opinions get. This is of zero surprise to me.
Meanwhile, Siuan’s friend Delina receives a mysterious visitor and OMG Delina is Black Ajah! Wow, there are a lot of Black Ajah around. The thirteen at the start, Alviarin, the two in the embassy to Rand and now Delina. And who knows how many more. I don’t have the statistics for Darkfriend populations handy, but I feel this is probably a higher percentage than the percentage of Darkfriends in the general populace. Maybe in standard fantasy fashion, wizards and witches are especially power hungry.
Oh, and the visitor? She’s Aran’gar, who we last saw in the prologue. Who is directly a part of the Dark One’s plans. Damn.
A POV from Eamon Valda, who I do not remember but is some big shot in the Whitecloaks, and it seems a completely and utterly ruthless, hateful person. The man has been killling refugees because some of them might be Dragonsworn. And he’s almost frothing at the mouth to hang Morgase, or at least “teach her to leap when he said leap”. Niall is nuts, but this Valda makes him look a reasonable, kindly old man. He’s invited to a shady meeting with the High Inquisitor fo the Questioners, in which nothing substantial happens – only vague references to Niall destroying the Whitecloaks and a promise to meet again.
NIall, of course, is not entirely stupid and is watching the meeting happen. Like Rand with the rebellions, he isn’t worried by brewing dissent in his followers. Back in his offices, he receives a message from a spy in Tarabon saying the man has helped another spy, Faisar, find a hiding place. Now, this Faisar according to NIall is just one of the people he sent to check out Tarabon, so he seems unimportant, but this message has Niall ordering a courier to Tarabon post haste, with a letter from him. What is Niall up to now?
Meanwhile, Morgase is in a pretty good mood. The reason is that Paitr and his uncle have found a way to get her out of the mess she’s put herself in. Firstly, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Pait’s merchant uncle looks neither like an uncle nor a merchant. I said it when we first saw Paitr, I’ll saw it now – something smells wrong here. But Morgase is too excited over the prospect of sneaking out in garbage to be suspicious. They’re revising the plan when a Questioner called Saren arrives to summon her. I’m immediately apprehensive, because one, the guy is a Questioner, and two, because Saren is the name of the antagonist in the video game Mass Effect 1. This is obviously irrelevant, but there it is.
And I’m mostly right. The man takes Morgase to Niall, but first shows her a mass hanging – including Paitr and his “uncle”. Well, so much for escaping. This display finally breaks down Morgase’s resistance – this and fear for the rest of the people around her, especially Tallanvor, and when she meets Niall, she signs the treaty. A pretty raw deal, but nothing that she can do now. This is going to cause so many unnecessary problems to our protagonists.
The big surprise is that the High Inquisitor actually believes that the people hanged are Darkfriends – they were apparently caught doing some shady rituals or something. Now, there are three possibilites – the poor people were innocent and genuinely helping Morgase, and just coincidentally got the “guilty until proven guilty” treatment Whitecloaks give everyone. This is stretching probability to breaking point, so rejected. The other is that Asunawa has been misinformed, someone knew of the escape plan and so had these people killed. The third is that these people really were Darkfriends, and Morgase just avoided the “frying pan to fire” treatment. I can’t decide which one of the latter two cases is likelier.
Summoned by The Hall
Things are on edge in Cairhien. Apparently all the Wise Ones’ tempers are razor sharp, and everyone is being generally unpleasant. We are told that things have been made worse by the arrival of Shaido Wise Ones, and Sevanna among them. I though Wise Ones were better than this, but apparently the Shaido ones aren’t. You know, the series is going for the whole people aren’t always good/evil thing, but there’s a huge imbalance – most everyone isn’t exactly good, but there are plenty of people and things who are thoroughly evil. It would’ve worked better if the Forsaken or Black Ajah or Darkfriends weren’t completely, rottenly evil, but they are. So we have two kinds of people – those who aren’t Darkfriends but not exactly good, and those who are totally evil. Which mean poor Rand and co. are kinda screwed.
That’s a bit unfair though, because plenty of people – majority of the Aiel for example – are good. Okay, enough rambling.
Egwene has had enough of this, so she hires herself a boat and goes to visit the Sea Folk ship. The visit starts off okay enough – she shouts to be allowed aboard, and though no one answered, a ladder is lowered for her. Unfortunately, before she can reach the top, the ladder is cut and poor Egwene falls into the river. And probably because of her panic, she doesn’t think to use the Power to get out, so she has to swim back up. It seems the reason for this was because the Sea Folk do not allow Aes Sedai on their ships (to keep the secret of the Windfinders). Instead of calmly accepting defeat like Aes Sedai or Wise Ones, Egwene throws a full blown tantrum. She proceeds to pick up the women on board with the Power, and throws them into the river. Obviously, these being Sea Folk, they just dive in gracefully and pop right back out. Fortunately, at this point Egwene realises how stupid she’s being and returns with what little grace she has left.
Eventually the time comes to visit Tel’aran’rhiod and meet the Aes Sedai. And then Egwene is terrified that her charade of being an Aes Sedai will come to an un-fun end. She basically tells herself to (wo)man up, and goes to the meeting. The moment the Aes Sedai spot her, they go into full formal mode and tell her the Hall summons her, and she should come ASAP. Egwene, with her guilty conscience, thinks it’s because they know what she’s been up to, and are summoning her to punish her. We know however, that what Sheriam and friends actually want is to make her Amyrlin Seat. I kind of enjoy seeing Egwene lose her shit and be terrified, safe in my knowledge that nothing bad is going to happen.
Egwene promises to hurry, and to try and physically enter Tel’aran’rhiod to speed her passage. She also fails to recognise Siuan, despite the others actually calling her Siuan. Wow.
But there’s an eavesdropper – Rand, who of course knows to enter Tel’aran’rhiod without fully realising what it is, and liked to come to the Stone and see Callandor. Honestly though, it’s a pretty transparent attempt by RJ to get around the fact that no one is telling him where Elayne is. Still, this is good.
The Heart of An Aiel
Egwene is making her preparations when Amys, Bair and Sorilea visit her. Egwene expects them to be angry about her plan to physically enter the world of dreams, They aren’t. What they disapprove of more is that she lied to them. And this triggers the seed of ji’e’toh that’s been growing in Egwene all this time. She confesses to all the other stuff she’s been up to as well – visiting Tel’aran’rhiod without their permission, and more significantly, that she’s not Aes Sedai, only Accepted. But that’s not enough. She has toh, and she must accept the punishment.
Meanwhile, Mat is visited by Rand. Of course, now that he knows where Elayne is, everything else takes a back seat, and he orders Mat to go to Salidar and escort her to Caemlyn. Nice intent, but soemhow I don’t think this will be as simple as Rand thinks. He also believes that the Salidar Sedai are frightened and will gladly accept his “protection”. Rand’s generally gotten better at politics, but now he’s just being blinded by concern for Elayne. In the words of Tom Hardy’s Bane, “Admirable, but Mistaken”.
Mat is not at all happy about the whole affair, what with his impression of Elayne and Aes Sedai in general, but Rand will not be budged, and finally get Mat to promise that he will do it. Also, Aviendha is to accompany him. That is probably about how she has toh to Elayne for sleeping with Rand.
Back in Cairhien, Egwene’s ordeal is finally over. Poor woman was switched by all the Wise Ones and other she ever lied to. A lot of pain, but it earns her their forgiveness and admiration. With some last minute hugs and well wishes and advice, they leave Egwene. She finalises her preparations, and channels and enters Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh. No big deal. It’s actually kind of the women’s counterpart to Rand’s gateways. Surprisingly, instead of teleporting straight to Salidar like I expected, Egwene instead summons a dream version of good old Bela, and rides her to Salidar, though in huge leaps and bounds that take her there in hours. Fast, but teleporting would’ve been faster.
Egwene al’Vere, The Watcher of the Seals, The Flame of Tar Valon, the Amyrlin Seat
Well, Egwene arrives and goes through the predictable shock of being told that instead of being punished, she was summoned to be made Amyrlin. Obviously Egwene is all “I can’t do this, I’m just Accepted” but the Aes Sedai demolish her objections one by one, and finally the ritual/election begins.
The most surprising part is every woman in the committe stripping down to show she is indeed a woman. So weird. The first time, she only gets half the votes, but another round, and she is unanimously (which is apprently how Aes Sedai do every vote) raised to the Amyrlin Seat. Saw that one coming from ages back.
Then the brand new Amyrlin is taken to her rooms. Even I feel weird seeing all these Aes Sedai call this (relatively) little girl “mother”. They talk at her for a long time, preparing speeches and generally executing their plan – to put a noob on the Amyrlin Seat then control her from behind the scenes. I have a feeling this won’t go as well as they planned, because Egwene, if not Nynaeve, is still Egwene. Three factions soon become apparent – one is Sheriam and friends, one is Romanda, and third is Lelaine, and all three want to do the controlling. They are not prepared.
The next day Egwene gives the pompous speech she was fed by the others, but thankfully cuts it rather short. She names Sheriam her secretary (no surprise), declares a holiday (always good for morale), and makes Theodrin, Faolain, Nynaeve and Elayne full Aes Sedai. Yes! Of course, in absolute terms, these three have become full sisters rather fast, but for me, I’ve been waiting six books for this. Back in her study, the other Aes Sedai are obviously not happy with this spontaneous pronouncement, but Egwene deftly handles them with a combination of politeness and acting all innocent.
And after about three books and god knows how many pages, the three supergirls are reunited. It’s a pretty fun and upbeat scene, but moslty consists of them bringing each other up to speed. Moghedien and the a’dam is mentioned, and Egwene summens Moghedien a.k.a Marigan, and dishes out some Wise One style menace, which has the Forsaken a quivering terrifying mess, at least on the surface. They also discuss how to handle the Aes Sedai’s attempts at controlling Egwene. To this end, Siuan, Elayne and Nynaeve do some rather obvious manipulation on Sheriam, Romanda and Lelaine. Turns out the latter two also wanted to be Amyrlin, but backed off to prevent the other one becoming Amyrlin, thus clearing the way for Egwene. Ha!
Mat and his army are marching up to Salidar. The poor guy is very much on edge, and Aviendha scowling and shaprening her knife all the time isn’t helping. He now thinks Aviendha means to kill Elayne. But if I understand anything of ji’e’toh, she has the opposite in mind. Her toh towards Elayne. Though I still don’t know what toh might need her to kill Rand.
Eventually they reach the village. And find out instead of fifty scared Sedai, there are many more and with an army besides. An army larger than theirs. Wait, where are they getting so many soldiers from? And paying and feeding them? While Mat is deciding what to do, Aviendha up and marches to the village. Mat tells his soldiers to stay put and himself hurries after her with a small party. While Aviendha is covered in Aes Sedai like honey with ants (because she’s Aiel and a strong channeler), Mat is shown to the Amyrlin’s office. Hilarity ensues.
First off, Mat (very reasonably) thinks that Egwene is just playing at Amyrlin, and promptly removes her shawl and takes her out of the chair. One of the supergirls tries to use the power on him, and unlike the time they very rudely suspended him midair in Tear, the medallion protects him. Then they try to talk to him (notice how the first response was to use the Power) but Mat talks right over their protests. He lays out the preposterous (as it sounds to them) plan – basically, abandon ship and come with him. Once he runs himself down, Egwene’s Amyrlin-ship is confirmed by a serving girl who enters.
Now it’s Mat’s turn to be stunned! But he still isn’t backing down, brave fellow. Well, the medallion protected him against channeling, but it doesn’t protect him when Nynaeve literally kicks his ass. Which was funny, even funnier was Mat looming over Nynaeve in anger and she backing off. Eventually though, the three of them bully him into retreating for the moment, though he is sitll adamant about taking Elayne back. Egwene has some sort of plan about him, which she tells them. Eventually they decide that Mat should go with Elayne and Nynaeve to Ebou Dar. Then Egwene meets with Sheriam and verbally traps her till she has to agree that the Aes Sedai must move out of Salidar.
All this is well and good, and much fun, but what the hell will happen to the campaign against Sammael now?
Three quarters done with the book now, and yes it’s taking a lot of posts, but in my defence this a long book. The story is now preparing to enter climax phase, which if the last two are anything to go by, will not be at all what I expect it to be, which is always nice. I just wish that all the protagonists would just get together and have a honest conversation, and work together and be nice and friendly to each other, instead of working at cross purposes, which if not opposite, are not aligned to each other either. That I think would cut the scheming in half right away. Some of the climax was spoiled to me in the comments of Part 4, but I’m assured that it will still be epic, so fingers crossed for Part 8. (Yeah I know this is 6, but there will be another one before we get to the finale)