Spoilers for books 1-7 and The Path of Daggers to ch.19| 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 8, The Path of Daggers. This post covers chapter 15-19.
Egwene wakes up from a troubled sleep and gives us a review of her latest mysterious dreams. Siuan is her to see her, though Halima tries to send her away. The woman seems to be working her way closer and closer to Egwene, and unsurprisingly, Egwene’s headaches are still troubling her. I also think Halima is doing some magic to make Egwene like her more – from the way Egwene notices all the inappropriate stuff that Halima does, yet mentally shrugs it off, or makes excuses for her. Turns out Siuan herself doesn’t have any real news – just that Bryne wants to meet with Egwene. So Egwene goes to meet him in her study.
By the way, the weather seems to have taken an absolute about turns – instead of complaining about the heat, people are complaining about how cold it is. I wonder if it’s because the Sea Folk overcorrected when using the Bowl, or people have just become used to the heat and this cold feels more extreme to them. Egwene also grumbles about how hard it is marching through snow. Hmm, if only they had a way of instantaneous teleportation. Oh wait, they do! Why not make a gateway and be at Tar Valon tomorrow?
Bryne has come to tell Egwene of an army, comprised of Andorans and Murandians waiting in their path. There is a mention of some battle to the east involving Aes Sedai, though Siuan claims it’s just rumors. Looking at the map, I can’t even think of anyone to their east – Rand is to the south, Perrin and Sevanna to the west. But I don’t think there would be rumors if there was no kernel of truth. But a battle between whom, and over what?
But more pressing is the issue of the army ahead of them. Egwene doesn’t want a fight though, and asks Bryne to arrange a meeting with their leaders. And she asks him to keep the army secret – to what purpose though? I mean, if she is going to negotiate with them, no way she can keep it a secret from the Hall. Egwene aks Bryne how much of a break he’d like before the army attacks Tar Valon, and he says he’d like a month for the soldiers to recover from the march. One month? I get a few days, a week at the most, but a month?! What sort of an army is this!
Then, Egwene and Siuan have a heated discussion about the Oaths. Egwene wants to remove them, because they are a hindrance anyway. But Siuan wants them around. Both of them have some good points – like Egwene pointing out the threat of Seanchan that the Aes Sedai can’t face because they can’t channel unless to save their lives. But, on the whole, I come down on Siuan’s side. It’s kind of like the regulations on government powers – yes, they sometimes allow lawbreakers to get away, but on the whole that’s better than to risk the government abusing power. Similarly, I think some sort of regulations on this group of powerful channelers is a must. Otherwise people just won’t be comfortable having them around. And Aes Sedai are powerful, but even they couldn’t survive everyone uniting against them.
And then Egwene finally realised that there’s a sort of romance brewing between Siuan and Bryne. But she doesn’t comment on it much, except to not reveal any secrets to him. Which I think is a bit unfair, seeing as the man came out and gave her his loyalty at considerable risk.
Egwene seems to have further schemes though. She sends Siuan off with orders to the Aes Sedai who have sworn fealty to her. It’s good that Egwene is trying to outsmart everyone, but I hope her conspiracy doesn’t crash down on her head like what happened with Siuan.
The next day, Egwene convenes a meeting of the hall and tells them that they’re going to stop for two-three days. That done, she and Siuan get to work on a stack of reports and stuff – just general boring administrative work.
A tiny Aran’gar POV, in which she disposes of a corpse. Who? She(he?) wouldn’t commit a random murder – it’s got to be a part of the Dark One’s plan. Which means someone significant – but they’d be noticed missing. Unless she plans to replace them with an impostor – we know the Forsaken can do disguises, and if done with saidin, the Aes Sedai wouldn’t be able to sense the weaves.
Meanwhile, Egwene is visited by Romanda and Lelaine, who want to know why Rand is meeting with the Sea Folk in Cairhien. Chill women, it’s nothing sinister. But of course they don’t know that. Romanda also criticises how Merilille handled the Bowl – she thinks it should’ve been brought to the Tower, and that using it with Sea Folk “wilders” in the circle was a mistake. So much of a mistake in fact, that she threatens Lelaine, since she supported Merilille. Wrong on so many levels. Firstly, Merilille didn’t do shit – Elayne is calling the shots now. Second, the sheer arrogance and the derogatory attitude toward the Sea Folk women is astounding.
Chesa walks into the argument, bringing Elayne’s lunch, and says something whose significance I realise just as I’m writing this post –
Forgive me for intruding, Mother, Aes Sedai. I am sorry this is late, Mother, but Meri seems to have wandered off.
Methinks Meri was the one murdered by Aran’gar. Maybe she wants to get closed to Egwene by eliminating her other maids. I’m even surer of this now, because soon after Romanda and Lelaine depart, Chesa returns to take the tray away, muttering about how Selame is missing too. I’m afraid that poor woman is dead too. Man, RJ is so good with hiding these subtle hints that I totally miss most of the time. I got this one only because of this post. That’s a general trend – my grasp of the plot and the world is dramatically better thanks to writing this stuff. Kind of like reinforcement learning.
Anyway, Siuan points out to Egwene about how there seems to be a pattern with the new Sitters – they all seem to be comparatively young, but Egwene waves it off as irrelevant. There’s talk of soldiers moving out of Kandor, no doubt this ties into what we saw in the prologue. Later on, Romanda and Lelaine arrive in quick succession – they know about the army, as expected, and want Egwene to make them her official representative in the negotiations. But it seems all this is part of Egwene’s larger plan. Now I’m really curious about what she intends.
Another tiny POV, from Sheriam this time. Someone tortures her from information. It seems this is a regular affair. I wonder if it’s Halima or someone else. I’m leaning towards the latter, if only because if it were Halima, RJ wouldn’t go to such lengths to not mention her name. Unless he’s playing mind games with me?
Coup de Grâce
The next day, Egwene and her retinue make their way to a meeting with the nobles. The issue the nobles have is that they don’t want to get caught in Aes Sedai politics. They see Egwene and co. as rebels, and fear the Tower will punish them for allowing them to pass through their lands. The Aes Sedai Elaid has gathering to take on the Black Tower (though they don’t know the purpose) have spooked them further. Basically, they want them to take another way to Tar Valon. (hint Traveling hint).
Egwene placates them by saying that they will just chill out for one month there, and after that move on, but not enter into Andor. It seems she does plan on using Traveling. The nobles accept this – it is a pretty reasonable offer. And Egwene says that admissions to Sedai school are open to anyone – no matter her age. Part of her desire to have all women who can channel connected to the Tower, plus I guess she wants to counter the growing numbers of the Black Tower. This latter is just speculation though.
With that the official meeting is over, and the groups split up to mingle and chat. The sitters, especially Romanda and Lelaine are obviously pissed at Egwene, but they can’t publicly back out now – that would mess with the whole “united front” approach Aes Sedai like.
Egwene talks with Talmanes, who is leading the Band in Mat’s absence. He wants to know where Mat is – apparently he and some other have been feeling that Mat needs them, courtesy ta’veren. But of course Egwene doesn’t know anything beyond Ebou Dar. (And neither do we. Where is Mat?!). Then, Talmanes tells her that he intends to hire out the Band to Roedran, King of Murandy, who’d like an army to secure his rule. Egwene is not happy about this, but agrees as long as Talmanes promises to not let the Band get into a Murandian war.
Soon after, the gathering breaks up, and Egwene and the rest head back to camp. She has a meal and chats with Siuan, until Sheriam tells to call her for a meeting of the Hall. This is it – the culmination of whatever the hell Egwene has been planning. The meeting settles down, and Egwene opens up by asking for war to be declared on Elaida. Before this can be discussed, Romanda barges in, no doubt about all the stuff Egwene has pulled today, but apparently the law is that a question of war must be discussed before any other. Egwene makes a convincing speech about how they must make the war official so no one will doubt their resolve, and then the Hall votes in favor of her motion.
And then comes the Coup de grâce. Now that they are in a state of war, the Law gives the Amyrlin much stronger powers so as to lead them properly. Basically like martial law or declaring an emergency. Whatever decree Egwene passes regarding the war, the Hall must carry it out. Lawyered!
And Egwene confirms that at the end of the month, they’ll be Traveling to Tar Valon, none of this pesky marching.
Yes, I know this is a rather short post. It was going to be longer, but it so happened that I accidentally clicked the publish button, and couldn’t figure out how to un-publish the post. So I basically hurried on until the post was reasonably long, and ended it. Pretty awkward.
Anyway, this was basically the climax for me of all the intriguing that began with Sheriam arriving in Salidar. And respect to Egwene for having pulled this off. A bit underhanded and sneaky, but this had to be done. She could hardly wait a hundred years for the Hall to begin taking her seriously, as Lelaine suggested!