Spoilers for books 1-6 and A Crown of Swords 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 7, A Crown of Swords. This post covers chapter 18-28.
An Unexpected Visitor
Rand is putting on a show for the clan chiefs – having Aes Sedai serve him tea and stuff to dispel rumors about him being under their thumb. It seems to be working mostly, and after some discussion of what to do with the Shaido (kill or capture the lot of them), the chiefs depart. Next up is Berelain and her Aes Sedai advisor, Annoura. Berelain is unhappy because Rand has ordered her back to Mayene, apparently spooked by someone trying to assassinate her. Dobraine will take her place instead. I don’t really care one way or another, anyway Berelain had to go sometime – it’s one thing to have Elayne rule Cairhien, but Rand can hardly give the city to Berelain forever. Berelain is also worried that Rand will reward those who serve him but will forget her because she’s back in Mayene. -1 respect points to you Berelain, how could you think Rand would be like that?
The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of yet another Aes Sedai (seriously, they seem to be outnumbering every other group combined in terms of sheer numbers of characters), this one called Cadsuane. By the reaction of the Aes Sedai present, she’s a pretty big deal, and she certainly acts like she’s the boss of everyone. I immediately dislike the woman, acting all haughty and bristly towards Rand, causing him to get angry enough to throw stuff about. One things she does say before leaving that’s intriguing – that she knows about the voice in Rand’s head, and from her words it seems that it’s a common thing for male channelers. What if the “madness” is just every male channeler having their past lives rattling in their heads? I mean, we haven’t actually seen a man gone mad have we? Rand is sane, Taim, Logain and the Asha’man seem sane too.
And just to make Rand more miserable, in comes Idrien bearing the news of Fel’s death.
Meanwhile Cadsuane interrogates Merana etc., while Merana’s thoughts reaffirm the fact that yes, Cadsuane is a pretty big name amongst Aes Sedai.
Min meets Rand, and they exchange bad news – Rand tells him of Fel’s death, and she tells him that Colavere has hanged herself, thus fulfilling the prophecy Rand was trying to avoid. Apparently the woman values her titles and nobility more than her life. They soothe their grief by doing it. High five, Rand! Two down, one to go.
A small POV from Cadsuane, which just tells us that she’s up to something. Who isn’t? Every damn character seems to have a hidden agenda.
Patterns Within Patterns
Sevanna summons someone using a ter’angreal that same someone gave her. Or rather, she has her Wise Ones do it, because she can’t channel. And I love how much it grates her that she can’t. Anyway, the women channel into the thingy, and they have a phone call with some guy called Caddar. He tells her to hold the line while he comes to meet her in person. This of course surprises Sevanna and co., because they don’t know how to Travel. Well he arrives, with a woman in tow. This woman can channel, and strongly.
It seems that both parties think they’re using the other one, as is often the way of schemers. Myself, I think Sevanna is the one getting fooled here, and Caddar is the one using her. He promises a lot of goodies though – a way to control Aes Sedai, a way to Travel, a way to control Rand when Sevanna captures him.
And someone is watching them in turn. Turns out Caddar is Sammael and the woman is Graendal. He’s been using the Shaido to try and get at Rand indirectly, and of course as we saw in an earlier book, Graendal now obeys him. Much more interesting to me is something called the True Power, which seems to be something distinct from saidin and saidar. There is very little revealed – that it is drawn directly from the Dark One (what the heck?), that there is some sort of cost associated with it (the only thing we do see is some harmless black flecks in your eyes), and that it is undetectable by both male and female channelers. Whatever the True Power is, I feel it will play a significant role later on. Oh, and who is this mysterious watcher?
Mat returns to the inn after dispatching yet another group of attackers, who he still believes were only trying to rob him. I’m pretty sure it was an attempt to kidnap/kill him, and on Carridin’s, or rather Old Cully’s orders, since the attackers were beggars.
Returning to the Wandering Woman, Mat finds Birgitte waiting for him. He finally remembers her from Falme, and realises she’s the Birgitte. The two get along pretty well, because Birgitte is not at all stuffy and uptight like the rest of the girls.
While Mat and Birgitte are hanging out, Nynaeve and the rest are anxiously waiting for Birgitte. Of course, Birgitte is there to get Mat to help them in the search for the Bowl of the Winds. Nynaeve is in an extra bad mood, because she’s Nynaeve, but also because she senses a storm coming. Not an actual rain and wind storm. I guess it’s the inevitable fight over the Bowl. Elayne’s seemingly gotten drunk again.
I love it that Aviendha doesn’t get why Tylin doesn’t go and kill Carridin ASAP now that they know he’s a Darkfriend. Thom is explaining the situation to her – mostly that Whitecloak’s Power > Tylin’s Power, when Elayne starts up with drunk shenanigans. Actually, her idea is pretty sensible – disguise themselves and spy on Carridin to find solid proof. What makes Nynaeve furious is that Elayne puts illusions on the three of them right in front of Thom and Juilin (thus ruining their secret of how they get out of the palace without anyone knowing) and makes Nynaeve into a bare-chested Sea Folk woman. In front of two men. Nynaeve is almost apoplectic with rage, but it’s pretty hilarious.
Birgitte returns, and it turns out Elayne is not drunk. Birgitte is, and their bond has made Elayne act drunk as well. Birgitte reports that Mat is willing to help them, but wants an apology and thanks. For what happened in Tear. Yes! Even I feel grumpy about how the girls treated Mat the rescuer back then. And the whole story comes out – Black Ajah, Be’lal etc. Birgitte believes they owe Mat thanks for it all, and Aviendha chimes in with ji’e’toh. The latter convinces Elayne as well, because she wants her near-sister’s approval. That leaves Nynaeve, shouting over and over that she will not apologize to Matrim Cauthon. Oh you will Nynaeve. You will. I’m going enjoy this.
A Long Overdue Apology
The next day, Elayne and Nynaeve make their way to the Wandering Woman. Elayne is all quiet determination, but Nynaeve is behaving like she’s going to her beheading. *Rubs hands in anticipation*
Eventually Elayne bullies Nynaeve into Mat’s room, where they find Mat experiencing a pretty bad hangover. So they make their apologies and thank him (though it takes Elayne flicking Nynaeve’s ear to make her). Mat is all “Oh that, it was nothing”. This of course makes both women furious – it has taken so much effort for them to thank him, so of course they expect him to be overwhelmed with emotion or something. More apologies follow, regarding how they’ve ignored him and not listened to him and kept him in the dark this whole time. There are promises, to accept his bodyguards, not to insult or shout at him or order him about. About damn time! I like these girls, but their strenght in the power seems to make them think they are wiser and better at everything than everyone, not to mention danger-proof. Of course, only Elayne says all this, and Mat notices it. Nynaeve also promises, in a way.
“I won’t shout at you,” Nynaeve shouted. “And all the rest, too. I promise, you . . . you . . . !” She gobbled on the edge of swallowing her tongue as she realized she could not call him one of the names he warranted without breaking the promise already.
This is fun. So much fun. It’s going to be.. interesting, to see Nynaeve try and control her temper. She’ll probably explode trying to keep it all in.
The girls then tell him about the Bowl of the Winds, and ask his help securing it. They also convince him to move in to the palace with them, and take their leave.
Well, not quite. Because then the innkeeper corners them, thinking that one, they’re flirting with Mat or something (ha!), and second that they’re just pretending to be Aes Sedai. Elayne starts off with her “I am Elayne Trakand, Daughter Heir of blah blah blah”, but Mistress Anan is not fazed at all. All that is bad enough, and it’s compounded by the way the Aes Sedai in the palace treat them like children, and they had to treat Mat like a respectable human being, and no wonder the two swell up with indignation and anger. Nynaeve binds Mistress Anan with Air, but the woman is not put off her stride even by this. I’m loving this chapter.
Eventually Anan mentions a group of women who can help them, and instead of politely declining the offer, Nynaeve accepts that they’re not Aes Sedai, and that yes, they would like some help. Elayne’s objections continue to have no effect, and the three make their way to this “Circle”. On the way, Nynaeve explains her thinking – it there’s an organised group of channelers in Ebou Dar, and there is a cache of artifacts, then the former must be related to the latter. I dunno, the reasoning seems pretty shaky, almost like grasping at straws. Which it might well be, because the real reason Nynaeve is doing this is it will let them find the bowl without Mat’s help.
So they get to the house, and it does seem a pretty well organised affair, and there are indeed women who can channel. In fact, one of the women, Reanne, is actually pretty strong, which raises the obvious question that what is she doing here instead of being in the Tower. And then – surprise! – one of them shields Nynaeve, a shield that with all her strength, Nynaeve cannot break. Wow.
An interrogation of sorts follows, where the women satisfy themselves that Nynaeve and Elayne have at least been to the Tower, and aren’t just wilders. The girls then try to tell them that they are in fact Aes Sedai, and are looking for a cache of angreal and ter’angreal. To no surprise, the women deny knowledge of any such thing (which they would even if they did) and refuse to accept that they really are Aes Sedai. Long story short, Nynaeve and Elayne are let go with strict instructions to leave Ebou Dar or they will tell the Aes Sedai in the Palace about them.
Once Nynaeve and Elayne leave, the women discuss the fact that they did not sweat (almost an Aes Sedai trademark), and whether they might really have been Aes Sedai. Also, one of them has been killed, and the One Power was used in killing her. I guess this is the poor women Ispan murdered.
Meanwhile, Elayne and Nynaeve discuss the Circle on the way back to the Palace. Elayne gives a mini-lesson in Aes Sedai aging, the gist is that all women who can channel age very slowly, whether they actually use saidar or not, and so if Reanne looked sixty, she must be incredibly old. The main takeaway for Nynaeve is that this is why everyone thinks she’s younger than she is, and it will be very long until Nynaeve will get gray hairs and be taken more seriously by people. Only Nynaeve could be grumpy over getting an incredibly long life with slowed aging.
And then something hits her in the head, making her groggy, and she turns to find Elayne unconscious with a bruise on her head. A man and woman appear, saying Elayne is ill, and try to take them into a carriage. Carridin’s men? Black Ajah’s? Luckily, finding a stone-head arrow makes Nynaeve angry enough to channel, and she gets rid of the people and onlookers in short order, and heal Elayne. The chapter ends with Nynaeve crying over not having gray hair for a long time. The woman is nuts.
Moghedien is having flashbacks. She remembers her escape, Aran’gar rescuing her, and then a summons to Shayol Ghul. The Dark One gives her a standard villain speech, about how she let herself be captured and taught the captors secrets, and basically failed him. (I’m assuming the Dark One’s a him). Moghedien prepares for her death, but Shaidar Haran does something else instead. He does some sort of blood magic or something by taking her blood and saliva and scraping them onto a little gilded cage, called a cour’suvra, or mind-trap. I think it’s some sort of mind control/torture device. It certainly terrifies Moghedien. The dream starts looping again, from the rescue by Halima, when Shaidar Haran wakes Moghedien.
So, this is why she’s not been wrecking Nynaeve’s shit all over the place. She’s actually in a worse situation than before, IMO. And still not free. Anyway, Shaidar Haran somehow teleports her to some other room, with a guy there. The method of transport is revealed to be a vacuole, a bubble in the pattern that is actually outside the pattern. It doesn’t make much sense to me. The man names himself Moridin, and it seems that he’s the watcher in the Patterns within Patterns chapter. At least they both can channel this newfangled “True Power”, as evidenced by black fleks in Moridin’s eyes. Moghedien tries to act all high and mighty with him, but he whips out Moghedien’s mindtrap, and that quiets her fast. It seems she’s been demoted.
I guess the Dark One did a performance review on the Forsaken, and found them lacking. I mean, they haven’t managed to accomplish much since their escape, and quite a few have ended up killed by Rand and co. I used to think the Forsaken were the top in the Shadow hierarchy, only the Dark One above them, but Shaidar Haran and now this Moridin seem to be taking that place.
The Irrevocable Words
Morgase in a bad state. It seems like most people, she’s discovered that she doesn’t hold as well under torture as she thought she could. As I suspected, Valda is treating her worse than Niall. Plus there’s the Questioners. All in all, a bad place for a Tar Valon trained Queen. Breane is telling her to (wo)man up, when Tallanvor rushes in saying that “something” is happening.
That something turns out to be full blown Seanchan invasion. Morgase and co don’t know that of course. The first though they have on seeing the huge Seanchan dragon-thingies is Shadowspawn. Are they dragons though? I mean, the description is pretty spot on – huge, lizard like, with membranous wings. But I haven’t seen them breather fire yet, so can’t be sure. Anyway, next the damane attack, but Morgase doesn’t know about damane and sul’dam, so she thinks it’s Aes Sedai. They think of escape, but it’s too dangerous outside with a high chance of getting randomly killed. So everyone chills out in Morgase’s rooms until the battle is over. One of the Seanchan officers come to take Morgase to meet High Lady Suroth. So, I guess that’s the Whitecloaks defeated, and Amador with them. Plus the Seanchan have Taraboner soldiers with them. So, they already conquered Tarabon and now Amador.
Ah, this was what Niall read in that letter right before his death, from his agent in Tarabon. So, anyway, after a bit of grandstanding, Suroth gets to the point – she wants Morgase to swear oath to them, and in return rule Andor under the Empress, may she live forever. Or not. I don’t care. Morgase doesn’t fold quite yet though, telling the Seanchan that everyone will oppose them and they won’t find it easy to control the wetlands. I mean, she doesn’t actually say wetlands, but this is the most suitable term I have for all these countries as a whole. I dunno Morgase, the Seanchan are good organised fighters, and who knows how big a force they can marshal from their lands across the ocean. Plus they have the huge advantage of freely using the Power in battle. In a normal world, they might well succeed. Now though, I’m hoping Rand (and Mat) can take care of them eventually.
Suroth sends Morgase back with promises to talk again. Now Morgase is in a dilemma – should she take the oath, or let Suroth do her worst? She chooses a third way, relinquishing her Queenship. I don’t really see how this would help though – just saying the words to herself doesn’t change the fact that everyone else still considers her the Queen. Just then Balwer, Niall’s secretary/secret spymaster (note that you can’t spell secretary without secret) comes with an offer. An offer to help Morgase escape. And Morgase accepts the offer, and without much fuss (the Seanchan are very trusting once someone does take the oath) they leave the Fortress of the Light.
Why did Balwer do it though? The goodness of his heart? Probably not. Does he seek to help Morgase rise again and rise with her? Or is he working for some third party? Hard to say, we don’t really know anything about the man.
Oh, and by the way, Morgase and Tallanvor are totally going to get together.
To Be Alone
Perrin is preparing to leave Cairhien, and sad about it. It seems Rand and he fought, Rand bodily threw him, and ordered him to leave. Aw man! Not the trio, don’t break the trio Rand! This makes me so sad. Yeah, Rand and Perrin had a few heated words over the captive Aes Sedai, but this… Oh my god Rand what have you done. And after Perrin risked his life rescuing you too! Everything was going so well – the girls apologising to Mat, Morgase escaping Amador. Sigh.
Perrin meets Loial, who is going on a mission with one of the Asha’man, to do something about the Waygates. Loial wants him and Faile to come too, but Perrin declines. Leaving the city, he goes to where Faile is. And Aram. And the Two Rivers people. And Wise Ones and Maidens and Asha’man. Something is off here. Why would Perrin be accompanied by Maidens and Wise Ones? And even Asha’man? One of the men opens a gateway to somewhere, and everyone goes through. And Berelain is here too. It seems all that fighting was a sham, and Perrin and Berelain are out on some secret mission. Which means he and Rand did not actually fight. Whew, that’s a relief. I’m no longer sad.
There is still a lot of tension between Faile and Berelain, even after Perrin and Faile have made up. And, the mission is to take care of Masema the Prophet. They are in Ghealdan. About time someone saw to controlling the rabid rabble he’s gathered in the name of the Dragon Reborn.
The Chased Chaser
Agreeing to move into the Palace may have stopped the tumbling dice in Mat’s head, but he’s not at all happy about it. His men’s joy over getting to live in a freaking royal palace only makes it worse. I wonder how it feels to feel that dice are tumbling in your head.
Well, the band moves to fancier digs, and Mat is certainly impressed by the grandeur. His appreciation of the fine pottery is interrupted by Tylin arriving, and the woman is fierce. In short order she has Mat in a chair and her on top of him, kissing and laughing over his protests. A knock on the door saves Mat – it’s Thom and Juilin. The Queen departs, and they tell him about the girls’ disguises.
Firstly, it’s pretty funny to see Tylin stalk Mat like an eagle stalks a rabbit. But wait, eagles don’t stalk, do they? Whatever, you get my point. Poor Mat cannot handle the reversal. Secondly, it shouldn’t be funny. I mean, if it were Egwene being forcibly kissed by a king? And you can’t say that Mat chases women, so it’s cool – Mat never forces women. And Tylin is very clearly doing that. So I’m caught between finding this mess funny and not being pleased at myself for finding it funny.
Anyway, Mat goes to check on Olver, and finds the boy flirting with maids. Mat blames Harnan and the rest for Olver’s habits, but I’m pretty sure Olver is following in Mat’s footsteps. Mat somehow passes the time until Nynaeve and Elayne return from their adventures. He’s not happy that they went alone, and tells them they have to accept two bodyguards from now. To Mat and Thom’s shock, the women immediately agree, telling him how good an idea it is. Maybe because they got attacked on the way back?
Soon enough, they have Mat and a few of his men watching the Circle’s house. They clearly expect ta’veren stuff to happen, but haven’t told the man what he’s watching. Mat is understandably frustrated.
“If the pig-kissing Bowl is in the Rahad, how am I supposed to find it on this flaming side of the river?”
Returning to the palace later, he finds a note from Tylin inviting him to dinner. Oh yeah, we know who’s going to be feasting on who in that dinner. This spooks Mat so much he literally locks himself in the room for the night. Still, the night is an uneasy and sleepless one for him. The icing on the cake is Elayne and Nynaeve chiding him for missing the dinner. Nnyaeve’s attempt at talking nicely to him is so much fun to watch:
“Just don’t do anything to offend her,” Nynaeve muttered. There was no doubt with her that being civil hurt; her brows drew down in concentration, her jaw tightened, and her hands trembled to pull her braid. “Be accommodating for once in your—I mean to say, remember she’s a decent woman, and don’t try any of your—Light, you know what I mean.”
“Decent Woman”. That is one way I would never describe Tylin.
Two more miserable days Mat spends keeping watch on the Circle’s house, and Birgitte joins him too. Mat is surprised to find himself seeing as a friend who happens to be a woman, and one with whom he can be like he is with his other bros. But on the whole nothing notable happens that he can see. Of course he can’t. I don’t know what Nynaeve and Elayne were thinking putting him on watch there for so long.
Things are no better in the palace. Mat has moved Olver to his rooms to protect against Tylin, and that plus the lock seem to be keeping him safe. Tylin is a wily one though. Now that he doesn’t go to dinner out of fear of her, she has made sure he can’t get any food in the kitchen either. And so Mat has to listen to Olver describing all the exotic delicacies while living off bread and cheese.
On the third day, the dice start rolling again.
A bunch of pretty uneventful chapters plotwise, but I had quite a blast reading them. Especially the Ebou Dar chapters are just gold. The book is almost done – there will be either two medium sized posts more, or a big one. I would like to apologise for the numerous errors in the last post (now fixed). I’ve double checked this one so hopefully there won’t be any this time. Also, what do you think of the new header image?