Spoilers for books 1-8 and Winter’s Heart to ch.14| 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 9, Winter’s Heart. This post covers chapter 5-14.
The Search Continues
Perrin is looking for Faile – in the wolf dream. It’s more an act of desperation than anything useful. Hopper turns up and tells him that’s he should get out, staying in the dream for too long can kill him. Perrin wakes up to find himself in bed, in Berelain’s tent. Berelain reports that Faile is still missing, and her own scouts were found killed in an ambush. While waiting for food to come, Berelain gives him further intel. Masema’s men have started arriving – thousands of them, while the man himself still hasn’t come. She also tells him about the report Faile received – about Masema meeting with the Seanchan. Agitated by all this news and fed up with Berelain’s continued flirting (wtf woman!), he leaves without eating.
He orders everyone to pack up and get ready to move to the ambush site. Tallanvor it seems has gone after Maighdin, not much anyone can do about that for now. To make Perrin’s mood even worse, turns out that Lini went to check up on him while he was asleep, and it was implied to her that he and Berelain did it last night, and now the news seems to have spread. I mean seriously woman, do you have no decency? The maidens and warders return then, and tell Perrin that Faile’s alive and been taken gai’shain. And they know the Shaido are present in large numbers – multiple septs. There’s also signs of another large army, some large six-clawed creature and Seanchan raken. None of which fazes Perrin – they are still going after Faile. This could actually be very disastrous – no way can Perrin’s forces survive a battle against the Shaido septs, even with the two Asha’man.
Masema comes then, and Perrin tells him to go on alone (alone as in only with his thousands of followers), Perrin will catch up later. But the nutter wants to stick, because killing Aiel is the “Light’s work”. He even agrees to Travel by a gateway. The man I think is not being completely honest with Perrin.
The Streets of Caemlyn
Elayne is taking a stroll through Caemlyn, chatting with her party about various topics – like the ten Aes Sedai hanging out at the Silver Swan, her safety etc. A couple of lines strike me as kinda weird:
The Palace fed thousands every day, at kitchens set up throughout the city, but too many could not even summon the energy to collect their bread and soup.
Food was still plentiful in the city, but no command could force people to eat.
Anyway, she meets up with Birgitte and finds out that the guards escorting Naean and Elenai have been ambushed, the two are now missing. IIRC these were the claimants that Dyelin had imprisoned for trying to claim the throne. This means that there’re spies in the palace, and also Elayne drops this:
“It is very simple, Sareitha,” she said in a carefully controlled voice. “If Jarid Sarand took them, Elenia will give Naean a choice. Declare Arawn for Elenia, with some sweetening of estates for Naean in return, or else have her throat slit in a quiet cell somewhere and her corpse buried behind a barn. Naean won’t give in easily, but her House is arguing over who is in charge until she returns, so they’ll dither, Elenia will threaten torture and maybe use it, and eventually Arawn will stand behind Sarand for Elenia. Soon to be joined by Anshar and Baryn; they will go where they see strength. If Naean’s people have them, she will offer the same choices to Elenia, but Jarid will go on a rampage against Arawn unless Elenia tells him not to, and she won’t if she thinks he has any hope of rescuing her. So we must hope to hear in the next few weeks that Arawn estates are being burned.”
I did not even try to understand that. They get to the Palace, Elayne and Birgitte have a (not so) little spat, mostly over Birgitte not jumping when Elayne says jump. I’m not taking sides. Elayne meets Reene Harfor, who basically lists out her schedule for the day. Standard kingdom-running stuff. Also, Rand’s sent the captive Seanchan women to Elayne, and she’s not pleased about it. Understandable. The whole damane thing is so awkward to handle because the damn damane don’t want to be freed.
But before Elayne can get on with the administrative stuff, Vandene comes to meet her. The two runaway novices they found amongst the Kin have figured out that the killer of Ispan and Adeleas is one of Merilille, Sareitha or Careane. Honestly though, the reasoning given is pretty damn shaky. The crux of it is they assume that since Ispan didn’t know of the Kin, none of the Black Ajah would either, and so there can be no Darkfriends in the Kin. The implicit assumption here is that Darkfriends and Black Ajah share everything they know, which is obviously not true. It is entirely possible that some of the Black Ajah know fo the Kin, but Ispan is not one of them.
Anyway, Vandene is pissed that the novices used their brains, which feels kinda unfair to me. She and Elayne agree the novices need more studies to keep their mind from wandering. Nynaeve arrives then, and the three have a sort of “I’m too busy for this shit, you do it” standoff, which ends with Vandene getting the job, because Nynaeve is stronger in the power. That handled, Nynaeve and Elayne go meet Reanne Corly next. She’s been trying to convince the sul’dam that they too can channel, but so faced hasn’t been able to get through their denial. However, some of the captive damane want to be freed. They’re concerned over one Alivia though. She’s Seanchan, and has been a damane for most of her four hundred year life, plus she is stronger even than Nynaeve. So they’re worried she might make mischief if freed. And by mischief I mean free the sul’dam and wreck the Palace. Lan points out that if they keep her chained against her wishes, they’re no better than the Seanchan. It’s not the same thing, but still, the man has a point. In the end, they decide to free her.
A Cup of Tea
Finally Elayne gets to work. First up is a meeting with Halwin Norry. Alum deposits have been found in Elayne’s estates. Apparently alum is a big deal in Randland, because it seems this will ease Elayne’s fiscal issues. He also tells her of Elaida’s recent proclamation, and the attack on Rand. There’s more back on forth on current political events. He leaves, and while Elayne is having lunch, Dyelin storms in with news of a Borderlands army in Braem Wood. This is I guess part of what we saw in the prologue for The Path of Daggers. They’re just discussing this development, when Elayne realises the tea had forkroot. Just as I’m thinking it’s okay, she’s got Dyelin with her and she’s in her own palace, a bunch of armed thugs come into the room. Dyelin tries to fend them off, but she’s useless in a fight. Fortunately, a guard arrives, and rapidly takes down two of the men, and is fighting with the last when Elayne faints.
She wakes up, fortunately not a captive but in her own rooms. The guard saved her after all. Of course, now Elayne has to agree to bodyguards, which I think is for the good. She appoints the fellow who saved her, Doilin Mellar, as the commander of her bodyguard. Elayne and Nynaeve then go to sleep to meet Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod. The venue seems to have shifted from the Heart of the Stone to the Grand Hall of the palace. They bring Egwene up to speed on the attack on Elayne.
The topic shifts to the Three Oaths. It seems Siuan has convinced Egwene that the Oaths are essential to Aes Sedai and must be kept around. Trouble is, taking the Oaths somehow shortens your life. At least, that’s the conclusion they’ve come to, after looking at the disparity in the ages of the Kinswomen and Aes Sedai. Hmm, it doesn’t really make sense to me. Anyway, I’m surprised Egwene is still insisting on the Oath. Losing half your life is a big deal. If I was to become Aes Sedai and found this out, I’d just nope out of there in a flash. The only ground Egwene is willing to give is that retired sisters can remove the Oaths and go live with the Kin.
Just then, they spot a man watching them, a man who resembles Rand. He turns and leaves, they run after him but he’s gone. They also hear someone else eavesdropping on them. Elayne tells Egwene about the Borderlands army, and it seems she intends to use them to secure the Sun Throne. I don’t think they’ll be willing to help though.
Turns out there were even more eavesdroppers than the girls knew. One of them Temaile, one of the runaway Black Ajah. Turns out she and a few others are in Caemlyn, and they’re planning to take Nynaeve and Elayne to get Moghedien’s favor, to offset their string of failures.
Meanwhile, Lady Shiaine is meeting with Marillin Gemalphin, who is also one of the thirteen Black Ajah runaways. Shiaine wants her to infiltrate for some purpose, but she can’t do it, because of all the channelers in the Palace. She says that there is someone already in the palace who can help. The murdered of Adeleas I’m guessing. And then the Daved Hanlon fellow arrives. He’s been made the Captain of the Queen’s Bodyguard. He was the guard who “saved” Elayne.
Rand and Min Travel into a storage room of the Palace. Rand’s in disguise – he does not want anyone to know he came here. They run into Reene Harfor, who recognizes Min, but of course not Rand. He says he has a package for Nynaeve. They also ask for Mat, but of course he is god knows where. So Min has Reene escort Rand to Nynaeve while she herself runs off to some mysterious errand.
Nynaeve meanwhile is teaching the Sea Folk, and having a tough time of it. She’s doing a sort of magic duel with a girl, each trying to shield the other. This girl is also almost as strong as Nynaeve. At the start, I remember, Nynaeve was supposed to be the strongest woman in centuries, but now it seems women as strong and stronger are popping up left and right. Anyway, Nynaeve beats the girls once, but then is defeated twice in a row. The second time, they want to confirm that the Shield cannot be broken, so they threaten to hang Nynaeve upside down. She tries super hard to break free, but can’t. All in all, poor Nynaeve is having a pretty crappy time.
After the class, the girl, Talaan, approaches Nynaeve, saying she wants to be a novice. Turns out she’s having a pretty crappy time – a lot of her family are super successful, so she’s treated really harshly because no one wants people to think she’s being favored because of her connections. IMO one is just as bad as the other. Stupid Sea Folk.
Nynaeve returns to her rooms, where she meets Rand. Lan’s there too. They chat a bit about this and that. The main reason Rand is here though is to give the statues to Nynaeve for safekeeping. He also wants her help when the time comes to cleanse the Source. Makes sense, women and men together are more powerful, and Nynaeve’s the most powerful Rand knows. Nynaeve wants to accompany Rand, and I approve.
Min, it turns out, went to fetch Elayne and Aviendha, so they could all three meet Rand together. The conversation goes about as I expected. Rand is all “nooo, it’s too dangerous to love me”, Aviendha is like “So what? You think I’m scared?”, and Nynaeve is just scandalised that Rand loves the three of them. But he does. And they all tell him that they do too.
Y’know, this whole four way thing kinda irks me. I mean, a love triangle would have been bad enough. But three? And they all are cool with Rand loving the others? It all just seems improbable and unnecessary.
Anyway, the three women then take Rand to Elayne’s rooms. I’m thinking a four-way is going to happen, but it turns out something much more serious. They want to warder-bond him – all three of them. Rand tells Elayne that Alanna got there first, but apparently that’s no hurdle – multiple women can bond the same man, it’s just not custom to do so. Rand agrees. Elayne uses a version of the first sister bond to link herself and Min and Aviendha, and then uses that three-way weave to bond Rand. And just like that, it’s done. The women are all aghast at all the pains and hurts Rand is carrying around. I’m hoping this bonding will make Rand a bit more flexible, a bit more strong and a bit less hard.
And then Min and Aviendha leave to get to know each other, while Elayne does it with Rand. Three out of three!
I get a chuckle out of seeing the guards scandalised that Elayne is with an ugly warty fellow (as they saw Rand in disguise) and Min and Aviendha defending her. Min can sense both Rand and Elayne’s passions, which makes her super embarassed. She blabbers about how she’s seen that Elayne will have Rand’s babies – a boy and a girl. She’s also seen that Aviendha will have them too, quadruplets, though she doesn’t tell her. They’re planning to get drunk to help with what they’re sensing from Rand and Elayne, but then Birgitte marches in. Of course, she can sense it too. At least from Elayne. Elayne had masked the bond, but apparently she’s too distracted right now to keep it that way, and Birgitte knows what’s up and wants to stop it. Min and Aviendha manage to stop her and she joins them in getting drunk.
The next day, Elayne wakes up to find Rand gone. He’s left a lily for her though. She makes a weave around it that will keep it fresh forever. I’m guessing forever just means a very long time here. But all is not well. Alivia the super strong ex-damane has vanished in the night. Killed? Escaped? Planning something? Nynaeve and Lan are gone too, with Rand I presume. They’ve also taken an angreal (makes sense) and all the ter’angreal (does not make sense).
In Cairhien, the Sea Folk are demanding the release of their Windfinder, but Cadsuane is basically ignoring them. She’s more concerned about the sisters claiming they want to serve Rand. Sorilea and Verin come in.
“That will help you sleep,” Sorilea said, “but remember, just three drops in water or one in wine. A little more, and you might sleep a day or longer. Much more, and you will not wake. There is no taste to warn you, so you must be careful.”
Tasteless. Deadly. I’m prepared to bet this will come up again.
Cadsuane rudely dismisses the Sea Folk. Sorilea says that a bunch more of the captives want to serve Rand. All of them, at this point. Even the Reds. Verin also tells Cadsuane that Shalon and Ailil are actually lovers, and that’s why they were together when Rand found them. So Cadsuane orders them released.
BAM! I just realised why all the captives want to serve Rand. Verin. We saw her doing Compulsion-ish stuff to the Aes Sedai she was “interrogating”. Methinks she planted this seed in all of them, and now it has resulted in them wanting to serve Rand. Why Verin did this I don’t know. Maybe just to help out Rand with more loyal Aes Sedai.
More news – Damer, who I’m guessing is an Asha’man, has Healed one of the stilled women. They’re shocked. I guess they don’t know Nynaeve figured that out already. Also, Alanna has gone unconscious. Maybe something to do with what Elayne did to Rand. Oh, and Dobraine has freed Darlin and Caraline. They try to Heal Alanna, but it doesn’t work. Hmm, perhaps it is something more serious. Cadsuane is worried. Less for her, more for what she has – a link to Rand.
Meanwhile, the Forsaken are having a meeting. Demandred is worried about Rand. It’s good to see all the false trails Rand has made are frustrating him. Osan’gar and Aran’gar are there too. Moridin walks in with Cyndane in tow. They know. They know Rand intends to cleanse the source. That he has the statues. That he intends to use them with Nynaeve. How? The only people who should know the last part are Rand, Lan, Min and Nynaeve. Maybe it was the rat Moridin just killed. They’re supposed to be the Dark One’s spies if I remember correctly. Damnation! The plan was already risky, but with the Forsaken knowing about it… Moridin says it’s okay to kill Rand if that’s what they need to stop him doing it.
What a Veil Hides
An uneventful chapter, basically giving a bit of background on the Seanchan culture, and depicting the arrival of a new character to Ebou Dar. Tuon Athaem Kore Paendrag, Daughter of the Nine Moons. Daughter of the Nine Moons.
Well, things are starting to happen now. This one’s certainly going better than The Path of Daggers. In part I think it’s just because there are no solo Rand chapters. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t see anything of the Tar Valon siege yet. The big even for this climax seems to be shaping up to be the attempted cleansing of saidin. Totally looking forward to how they do it, but I’m afraid it’ll be something like Rand and Nynaeve linking and then making a weave “just so”, which will be a bit disappointing. But I’m still pretty happy. Because I peeked at the next chapter, and Mat’s back!