Spoilers for books 1-9 and Crossroads of Twilight to ch.5-15| 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 10, Crossroads of Twilight. This post covers chapter 5-15.
A Walk In The Woods
Perrin wakes up from a bad wolf dream, smelling something that is scary for wolves. Waking up, he asks some wolves about the smell but they just go mum after a warning that the Last Hunt is coming. Well, that’s no big news is it.
It’s been about three weeks since Faile was captured, and Perrin is on the Shaido’s trail, thanks to the gateways of the Asha’man. Although, what he’s going to do with his meager forces when he does catch up to them I don’t know. He could try a sneaky rescue, but it’s one thing to do it with a bunch of Whitecloaks like in the Two Rivers, and quite another with a huge camp of super observant Aiel.
Perrin meets with Balwer and Selande, one of Faile’s followers. It’s mostly news that Masema is up to something, and that some of the Aes Sedai have been spotted meeting with him. Once she departs, Perrin and Balwer discuss the issue, interleaved with descriptions of the camp in minute detail. All in all, Perrin is concerned about what schemes Masema is hatching, but way more focused on rescuing Faile right now.
Riding in the woods outside the camp, Perrin finds traces of a large pack of Darkhounds. That’s the smell he felt in the dream. Sending Aram to warn the camp, Perrin follows the trail and finds that the Darkhounds left after circling around the camp. He runs into Berelain and the Wise Ones. Under a pretense of giving him breakfast, Berelain tells him that her people have found a document in Masema’s possession. Said document is a letter signed by Suroth:
The bearer of this stands under my personal protection. In the name of the Empress, may she live forever, give him whatever aid he requires in service to the Empire and speak of it to none but me.
Solid proof that Masema is working with the Seanchan. Although Perrin seems to overrate the importance of the letter. There’s no way he can use it against Masema, because one, even with a witness, it’s not ironclad evidence since it doesn’t name any names, and two, Masema’s followers are anyway not the most logical of people. This is not going to sway them, so it’s basically useless for now.
Perrin shows them the Darkhound trails. One of the Aes Sedai, Masuri, gives some info on Darkhounds. It seems they just happened on the camp, and are not actually after Perrin. I wonder what they could be hunting? Rand’s nowhere near, and I don’t see the Dark One/Forsaken sending out so many Darkhounds after anyone else.
Elyas returns from scouting. He’s found the Shaido camp, and it is way larger than they were expecting. Annoura counsels negotiation, but Perrin is wisely unwilling to give away the element of surprise for a very slim chance that the Shaido will actually let Faile go after taking the ransom. They Travel to the camp to check it out, and it’s less a camp and more a huge city. Thousands of Shaido, and all of the Shaido wise ones, not to mention all the gai’shain. Assault is out of the question. But I think it gives them a better chance at sneaking in. A city is easier to sneak into than a small camp. Maybe they could disguise themselves as gai’shain, get Faile, and then Travel away. The problem will be finding/communicating with the captured women though.
Then we have the “OMG something is happening, huge amount of the Power in the distance” moment from the Wise Ones and the Aes Sedai. Like Mat, Perrin sees an image of Rand and Nynaeve, and decides that it’s none of his business.
Meanwhile, in the Shaido camp, Faile is giving a report on Sevanna to one of the Wise Ones when Rand happens, and she is dismissed. Faile meets with Chiad who tells her that it seems that Lacile and Arrela have managed to escape successfully. Faile’s got plans for her own escape, and wants Bain and Chiad to come with, but of course, stupid ji’e’toh.
On her way to do Sevanna’s laundry, Faile is grabbed by a random Shaido who decides to force himself on her, gai’shain or no. Filthy Shaido dogs have no honor. Fortunately, Rolan, the man who captured her in the first place, saves Faile. It seems he’s kinda falling for her too. Faile plays along a bit, hoping to get his help in escaping.
While she is doing the laundry, Aravine summons Faile to Sevanna. But, she takes a detour first and show her that Lacile and Arrela have been recaptured. Aravine tells her that she will help Faile if they agree to take her along with them, and if they don’t, she’ll betray them to Sevanna. Faile has no choice but to agree. And so Aravine swears fealty to Faile.
That done, Faile goes to Sevanna.Therava, spooked by Rand, wants to move off to the mountains for safety, but Sevanna is having none of it. Galina has found a knife that Faile had hidden away and given it to Sevanna – because, of course, she wouldn’t want them escaping without freeing her from the oath rod – and so Faile finds herself bound up naked in the cold as punishment. Rolan turns up once again, not to free her, but to comfort her and make her laugh.
A Blazing Beacon
Elayne is out gathering support for her succession, visiting minor houses loyal to her.
Just as they’re preparing to return to Caemlyn via gateway, she senses Rand. Or rather Nynaeve, because women can’t sense saidin. It’s interesting that she can tell how far the source is. I mean, I always though this sensing as seeing a glow, so I’d have expected that a strong glow far off and a weak one nearby would feel the same. But it seems Elayne can tel the difference, so although she senses it very weakly, Elayne knows something big is happening. It scares her and she wants to go check it out until Aviendha tells her she foresaw this in Rhuidean and that they must not interfere.
Elayne returns to Caemlyn, and in between mundane stuff, tells us how the succession works. It’s kinda democratic in the sense that you need the support of ten of the nineteen major houses to secure the throne. The trouble is, she only has two so far. Dyelin is out gathering support, but so far it’s just promises. Meanwhile, Arymilla, she who has armies camped outside, already has six on her side.
The Aes Sedai in the palace have been spooked by what’s going on with Rand, and Elayne calms them down. She tells Mellar off for leading a sortie without permission. I’d like to note that Sareitha does her damnedest to make it seem like he did a good thing. Suspicious. If one them is a Darkfriend, my money is now on Sareitha.
All that done, Elayne and Aviendha take a bath. The bath is described in painstaking detail. I just found it weird that Elayne has bathtubs brought to her rooms instead of, you know, having a bathroom. The relaxation is interrupted by the arrival of the Sea Folk women. Their Queen has been killed by the Seanchan (one of those who died the day of Mat’s escape?) and Zaida must go to elect a new one. She wants to take her Windfinders with her and wants the Aes Sedai teachers she was promised as well.
Trouble is, Elayne depends on the Windfinders for the gateways that are keeping Caemlyn supplied. Bargaining ensues, and Elayne gets to keep some of them in returns for giving up some to the Sea Folk in perpetuity. At this rate these people will conquer the world piece by piece. Still, they come to an agreement and Zaida departs.
As Elayne is getting dressed, Dyelin returns. Elayne goes to meet her, and finds she’s brought the High Seats of four houses with her. All four happen to be rather young and inexperienced, not to mention cocky. Elayne is a bit unhappy with that, but support is support and beggars can’t be choosers. Good job Dyelin.
Next is another meeting, this one with Reene Harfor and Halwin Norry. They discuss spies and stuff. I’d like to quote Morgase’s advice to Elayne on servants:
We must follow the steps of the dance as surely as our servants, her mother had told her once. You can keep hiring new servants, and spend all your time training them and suffering till they learn, only to find yourself back where you started, or you can accept the rules as they do, and live comfortably while you use your time to rule.
On the one hand, it’s kinda ridiculous that a Queen would have to worry about offending her stewards and stuff. On the other hand, it makes for a nice contrast with say, the Seanchan, who’d probably just kill the servants and be done with it.
Norry reports that Arymilla has taken multiple loans from various banks, and this worries Elayne because her army is mostly fickle mercenaries. But there’s not much she can do if they decide to switch sides.
Once the two are gone, Elayne, Birgitte, Dyelin and Aviendha discuss more boring Andoran politics until they’re interrupted by the arrival of Monaelle and Sumeko. The Wise One performs some sort of specialised delving on Elayne and her child. Or rather, childs, since there are two. Or rather, children because for some reason that’s the plural of child. All seems well, but she does warn Elayne that the pregnancy will interfere with her channeling – it will become harder and harder to form weaves, and eventually impossible during childbirth, but will be gone after delivery. It just feels totally random to me. Why would pregnancy interfere with magic? And I’m afraid this is going to cause trouble later on. Kind of like Nynaeve and her block which almost got her drowned.
Elayne receives news that Merilille has run away with two of the strongest Windfinders. Did she just run off because she was fed up with teaching the Sea Folk? From the brief glimpse wegot of that experience seeing Nynaeve give them a lesson, it seems to be a singularly unpleasant experience. Actually the Sea Folk seem rather rude and pain in the ass in general. That, or maybeMeirlille is the Darkfriend? I’m inclined to believe the first one.
Outside Caemlyn, Elenia spends a lot of pages grumbling about how Arymilla is stupid and how bad she is treated, and plotting to escape and take the throne for herself. I find it weird that for a woman who is supposedly rather idiotic, Arymilla has all these people under her thumb and is one of the leading contenders for the throne. Maybe she’s getting outside help, as in from dark side? Elenia does manage to get Naean on her side in exchange for a promise to help her escape. Typical noble. Just got out of captivity into another sort of captivity, all due to her ambition, and continues to plot for the throne.
In Caemlyn, Daved Hanlon is going to meet Shiaine. On the way, he’s followed by some fellow, but Hanlon tricks him and then murders him. Reaching the house, he chats with Falion for a bit. Pretty boring stuff – Falion and him exchanging notes on what’s going on with Shiaine and in the Palace. Then Shiaine summons him, and gives him a bunch of instructions. To free the Seanchan women, to help her people who have been trying to set fire to the food warehouses, and get closer to Elayne. She also seems to be planning to have Caemlyn sacked – perhaps by the armies outside?
But I really feel confused by the plan here. What do they hope to achieve by having Hanlon get close to Elayne? Control her? Graenal/Moghedien could do that way more easily. Kill her? He’s had plenty of chances for that. Or maybe they know about her and Rand and will use Hanlon as their trump card of sorts when the time is right? A lot of possibilities, but none of these feels quite right.
And that brings us to just over halfway through the book. So far, two plotlines, both of which could’ve been resolved in like two chapters. I’m particularly exasparated with Perrin – each chapter starts with a super boring description of his camp. Once is more than enough, but it’s like three times I’ve read about how and where everyone is camped.
Also, I was thinking. What’s to stop the Dark One from re-tainting the source? For that matter, if he/she/it could do it, why not screw up both saidin and saidar? And will we ever find out what can break cuendillar?