Spoilers for books 1-6 and A Crown of Swords to ch.17| 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 7, A Crown of Swords. This post covers chapter 8-17.
Egwene is doing her Amyrlin stuff, and trying as usual to assert her authority over Sheriam. And also succeeding quite a bit. Not long until she has Aes Sedai jumping around like Siuan used to. I quite enjoyed seeing Sheriam squirm, when Egwene surprises her with knowledge of a spy mission she sent to Tar Valon. Sheriam claims her little group did it to spread the information about the Red Ajah raising up Logain as a False Dragon. The mistake Sheriam made is not to tell the Hall of this, and this gives Egwene leverage over her. She’s just pressing her advantage when Marigan is rescued by Halima. She doesn’t know that of course. All Egwene feels is the saidin used to break the bracelet, and then nothing. And of course she panics and rushes to Marigan’s tent, and doesn’t find anything there. Also, I don’t like that we now seem to be jumping around in time, because Marigan escaped in the epilogue of Lord of Chaos, and so this must mean this chapter actually occured before ther previous ones. The plot is already knotty enough without bringing in temporal non-linearity.
Anyway, Egwene brings Siuan and Leane up to speed on this disastrous development. They know that saidin was used to free Moghedien, and so of course all their speculation is useless – Logain or Forsaken or whatever, while the real culprit is chilling out right in their camp. Who is Halima? Asmodean? Or any of the other dead male Forsaken? Or some new character? They talk on other topics, like Rand (they still don’t know the crazy stuff that’s happened with him) and their embassy. Egwene goes for a walk, and is approached by Nicola and Areina. Nicola, like most novices, is not happy with her teachers telling her to take it slow, but what is surprisinng is she and Areina know of Nynaeve and Elayne’s pretending to be Aes Sedai (they did come with the two on the boat) and basically try to blackmail Egwene with the info. Gasp! What has the world come to, when Novices try to strong arm the Amyrlin Seat! Egwene employs the best defence, ie, offence and gets all angry and threatening, and the two all but run off trembling. Well, that’s one problem nipped in the bud. (I hope)
Egwene gets back to her tent and goes to sleep. Frankly, she seems to be handling Moghedien’s escape remarkably calmly. If it were me, with a super powerful basically-immortal pure evil woman out there with a huge grudge against me, I’d be like screw all this and get on a boat to the farthest place I knew of. Or maybe just sail off into the Aryth Ocean. Anyway, Egwene visits Tel’aran’rhiod and warns Nynaeve and Elayne not to return until she has definitively taken care of the Nicola issue. Then she chats with the Wise Ones for a bit (who surprisingly don’t tell her of Rand’s capture/rescue). Finally she has a bunch of prophetic dreams, most of which I don’t get, except one that’s obviously about Mat harnessing the Illuminators’ fireworks for warfare. Maybe the Dark One will be killed by a rocket. Just kidding. Although, that would be pretty good idea for a series – a magic world, but technology and science is growing too, and we get to see the point where it overtakes magic in strength, so that the big problem is solved not by prophecied hero or powerful magic, but science. Actually, there is a series that has some of this, called Shadows of the Apt. It’s pretty great. But I’m rambling now.
The next day, Egwene gets ready with much internal grumbling over her maid and goes to her study to find Theodrin and Faolain waiting. They’ve been asking around Marigan’s tent, but no one remembers seeing anyone but Halima. Argh, they’ve done such a great job, but no one knows! But then, surprise, Faolain gets all loyal, talking about how she’ll follow Egwene because she’s the Amyrlin, and long story short, the two swear fealty to her. Nice. Though I remember Siuan making a similar oath to Gareth Bryne and running away at the first chance, so you can’t really trust Aes Sedai.
There’re more troubles brewing already. Egwene wants to talk to Myrelle about something but is interrupted by Gareth Bryne wanting to take her to show something, who in turn is interrupted by Lelaine and Romanda. Turns out that Delana (who btw is Black Ajah and working on Halima’s orders) wants the Hall to condemn Elaida as Black Ajah. The two women are divided on the issue – Romanda wants everyone questioned, while Lelaine wants the matter hushed down. I can’t decide which one is a better choice, Egwene too delays, and instead goes with Bryne to see whatever it is, with Myrelle and Siuan in tow.
But all that excitement was for nothing – all Bryne has to show are a bunch of merchants, who’ve brought the rumor that Rand has allied with Elaida, which of course Egwene dismisses immediately. Egwene sends Bryne back, and after a bit of rambling, we find that Siuan somehow knows about Lan and Myrelle. And she’s told Egwene. They go to where Lan is camped, to find Nicola and Areina there too – apparently they applied the blackmail tactic to Myrelle too with more success. Man, I hate these two girls now. Or rather, these two women. But for now I’m more concerned about Lan. Moiraine’s death has hit him hard. As I understand it, it’s destroyed any instinct for self-preservation he might’ve had, and that makes me sad. I think Egwene’s approach is pretty great – sending Lan to take care of Nynaeve will give him both a purpose (keeping that stubborn woman safe) and give the two of them some happiness together. I sure hope it works and Lan returns to his old (compared to now) cheerful self.
Egwene skims with him to a few days’ distance from Ebou Dar, where Lan rushes off to the city, and Egwene returns to the camp, to do basically what Nicola had been doing – only instead of extra lessons, she wants an oath of fealty from Myrelle and Nisao. And she gets it. Wow, Egwene’s on a roll today. But then all my good mood is wrecked when Halima comes to meet Egwene and give her a massage. Nononono! Egwene, you cannot go liking that woman(man? whatever!). Oh god, this can lead to so much disaster. I’m now half convinced that the headache Halima “soothes away” is in fact caused by her. Is she doing something to Egwene’s mind? I’m worried for her. She could be doing whatever and Egwene would never know, because women can’t sense saidin. All because Nynaeve couldn’t just kill Moghedien when she had the chance.
In Ebou Dar, Aviendha, Nynaeve, Elayne and Birgitte are on a boat. I love that this chapter is from Aviendha’s POV. Just watching everything through Aiel eyes is so fun and interesting. Like how she casually tells them that the solution to the blackmail by Nicola and Areina is to just kill the two of them. Or her open wonder at seeing the sea for the first time. I like the chapter in general too, it just feels.. funny. Not the laugh out loud funny, but it’s giving me a lot of chuckles. This gem from Nynaeve for instance:
Only a ninny thinks she can threaten people, Elayne, and still get anywhere.
This from a woman who has been terrorising people from Emond’s field to Tanchico to Amador to Ebou Dar.
Or the way that Aviendha thinks that if the Sea Folk men wore necklaces, it was not much of a stretch to believe they were cannibals too. Oh Aviendha. It’s so much more funny because it never occurs to her that her customs might seem strange to the others.
Anyway, now that I’ve established this chapter is fun, let’s get back to the plot. The supergirls are here to meet the Sea Folk, who have a bunch of their ships anchored in the harbor. Not just any Sea Folk, but their Mistress of the Ships, which I mentally equate to Queen. Interestingly, her name is Nesta din Reas Two Moons. Could this mean that the Daughter of the Nine Moons is of the Atha’an Miere? So, the reason for the visit is that they want their help in using the bowl when(if) they find it, seeing as the Windfinders are experts on weather magic. This is actually a pretty great idea. In fact it turns out that they even know of this ter’angreal – they call it the Bowl of the Winds. But instead of just saying, “Okay, we’ll help you gals saving the world” they start to bargain.
Oh, and I totally forgot to mention, they’ll ask for Mat the ta’veren for help finding the bowl. This did not go well with Nynaeve, of course.
An Old Acquaintance
While the girls are making international treaties to save the world, Mat is hanging out at a horse race, betting all his money on Olver. Nalesean is worried about losing money, but me and Mat have zero worries over that. Mat’s more concerned over Olver getting hurt, and then the women moving him to the palace with them. I love how Mat’s getting all father-y over him. He notices a woman in the crowd, who feels familiar to him. And reminds him of straw. For a minute I think it might be the Illuminator he and Thom saved (in a stable, I might add) but it turns out it’s the Darkfriend who tried to off them back when he and Rand were making their miserable way to Caemlyn alone. While Nalesean gushes over the money they’ve just won and the woman he’s going to court, Mat follows the Darkfriend. Eventually the trail leads him to a palace. A palace? I though palaces where royalty lived, that was their definition. But it’s not the palace where the Queen lives, it’s a palace, because apparently in Ebou Dar anyone can live in a palace. And he’s just wondering aloud who lives there, when an old man obliges him by telling it’s Carridin. Who is also a Darkfriend, so it makes sense. And then when the man is gone, Mat remembers he too was at the race, standing near the woman. Oh Mat, what have you gotten yourself into now?
Meanwhile, Carridin and the woman, a.k.a Shiaine, are having a chat. She’s been using the funds given for her job for gambling, and also disrespecting her superior, ie, Carridin. What irks Carridin even more is that she shows the other guy, Old Cully, the proper respect. It seems they are looking for the cache of artifacts as well. In fact, this is the cache that Sammael was talking to Graendal about, in the last book (I think it was the last book). Carridin also spots Mat, but Sammael (who’s popped in for a visit) is not interested in anything other than the artifacts. But, Carridin remembers Ba’alzamon instructing him and bunch of others to find the three boys, and so he instructs Shiaine a.k.a Mili (because we don’t have to deal with enough names already so we need multiple names for people) to find him, and gives her a dose of fear and threats for good measure.
Mat makes his was to the palace, where he’s met by a veritable maze of bureaucracy, as he’s bounced from one servant to the next in his quest to see the supergirls. He’s just starting to lose his temper when he finds Aes Sedai – just not the ones he was looking for. Oh no, it’s the emissaries from Elaida, and one of them Red Ajah. Things turn from tense to rather funny when Adeleas/Vandene grabs hold of him and Mat becomes the rope in a tug-of-war between two Aes Sedai. There’s quite the catfight. I would say that Aes Sedai are better than this, but the things I’ve seen man, I’m no longer of that opinion. Finally Mat is rescued by a summons from Queen Tylin.
But it turns out it was less rescue and more trap. The Queen has Mat write his note to the girls then and there. Not much, he just tells them of Carridin being a Darkfriend, the woman he saw, and tells them to be careful. He also tells Tylin of the Darkfriends, but she has other things on her mind. Blatantly flirting with Mat for instance. Poor Mat is like a deer caught in headlights. He finally manages to get out of the headlights when Tylin’s son Beslan comes into the room. Beslan takes an immediate liking to Mat, and wants to hang out with him. It seems the tales about fierce Ebou Dari women were true.
Mat eventually escapes the deadly palace and seeks sanctuary in the Wandering Woman. He chats with his men, the highlight of which is that there was a bubble of evil in the Rahad recently, and that there was an Illuminator looking for Mat. Mat goes to his room, and is ambushed by a thug with a club. (Does that rhyme? Thug-club? I think it does). Mat’s luck saves him though – a the floor’s squeaking warns him, and he turns just in time to save his head from being cracked open. He’s barely dispatched the fellow, when another one attacks him. A throwing knife to the throat takes care of him too. Assailants : 0, Mat’s Luck : 2. The noise brings people, including the Inn’s owners. They think the men were just thieves, but I think it was an attack directed at Mat. Maybe Carridin’s people. Also, Mat finds a note in his pocked, saying that the girls are still in danger from the Tower and should be careful. He doesn’t know who put it there, and my guess would by Tylin. Just a hunch.
We see Teslyn and Joline chatting, the tl;dr is that Joline decides not to send Elaida any reports until she asks her nicely.
At least two of the Black Ajah are in Ebou Dar too, and they’ve just tortured a wise woman to death looking for info about the cache – apparently Moghedien is after it too. Or was, until she was captured by Nynaeve, though Falion and Ispan don’t know that. They also know that the girls are in town. It’s nice to see Ispan almost afraid of Nynaeve after what went down in Tanchico.
And as if Ebou Dar wasn’t crowded enough with plans and counterplans, there’s some guy looking for Shiaine, and also there seems to be something wrong with his head, and he seems to be trying to remember something. I have no idea what to make of it.
That brings us halfway through the book. What, so soon? Either this book is really short or I’m really enjoying it (hint: it’s actually pretty long). I don’t know why exactly. But I find I’m going through it a lot faster, I’m pretty sure we’ll be done with A Crown of Swords by this Sunday. I do know that I loved that Aviendha chapter and want more of her POV. As for the plot, Ebou Dar is turning into quite the mess, with so many parties scheming to get their hands on the Bowl. I sure hope the girls don’t get to the bowl to find Sammael there. Or even Moghedien. Actually, what is that one up to? There’s been no sight of her since her escape. Also, I want to know how the Illian campaign is going. But plenty of time to resolve all that in the next half of the book. If we’re lucky the Salidar Rebels might even reach and take Tar Valon, while Elaida is busy building her palace and sending laughably outnumbered and outmatched Aes Sedai to fight the Black Tower.
Also, I used to think made up swear words are lame, but I kinda like flaming.