Spoilers for books 1-9 and Crossroads of Twilight| 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 25-30.
A Visit To So Harbor
Edit : Turns out it’s actually So Habor, and I’ve been misreading it the whole time. So now I feel stupid for the following paragraph.
Perrin is no closer to freeing Faile, but he’s running out of food and supplies, so they’re planning a shopping trip to So Harbor. They make a gateway and ride out with a bunch of carts. The village (as I thought of it) turns out to be a decent sized town with defensive walls and everything. I wonder why it’s called So Harbor. I imagine people saying, “Oh, how’s the Harbor there?” “It’s so so”. And then they started calling it so so Harbor and then it became So Harbor over time. I don’t know why I’m even wasting your time telling you this.
Anyway, the place seems prosperous enough at first, but when they get closer there’s something off about it. The guards at the walls are not too welcoming, but that’s understandable since there’s Aiel roaming about. No, the freaky part is when the guards say “How do we know you’re alive?” Please don’t tell me WoT is turning into a zombie apocalypse, cause I’m 100% fed up with that.
But eventually Perrin and co. get in, and the inside of the town smells. Everyone is filthy and dirty and they seem scared of something. Probably relates to the whole “are you alive” thing. Though it is weird they’re all filthy – as Perrin points out, they’ve got a river close by and everything. They go to meet the merchants for buying supplies, and though they’re a twitchy lot like everyone else, they seem willing enough to trade. They show them a few grain samples but Perrin and Berelain want to check out the warehouses. So they make their way there, and it’s obvious the merchants do not want them to go into the place. But they do.
There’re rats in there – rats savage enough to kill a cat (yikes!), and the grain itself is infested with weevils. A quick wiki search reveals they’re a sort of tiny beetles. Oh man, this thing could be global. I remember Egwene fretting about their grain and food, going bad and weevils and stuff, even they used protective weaves. So does this mean people grumbling about bad food all the time until someone can find and use the Bowl of the Pesticides? But seriously, I think it’s just more signs of the Dark One’s influence.
And if that’s not bad enough, one of the men with Perrin suddenly screams and claims to have seen a ghost. Complete with walking through walls and everything. Oh, so that’s what they meant when the guards asked Perrin if he was alive. Oh, and now I recall one of Elayne’s maids claiming to see a dead woman back in the beginning of the book. What is going on with this? Are these like, actual returned souls? And, there’s talk of people dying when touched by one of these ghosts. Damn, no doubt the poor townsfolk are so twitchy.
Oh, and another penny drops. Masema noted that it was weird these people hadn’t sold their grain yet, but it’s no surprise if their grain has gone bad. Not that bad it seems, because Perrin is willing to buy it even with the weevils. I wonder why he doesn’t get his grain from somewhere else. I mean, he doesn’t have any idea it’s happening all over the place. Plus with traveling, there’s no difference between getting it from a nearby town and getting it from Shara.
So they buy the grain, get the villagers to clean it up a bit and travel back. Perrin receives news that the Maidens have manage to capture some of the Shaido, and Perrin goes to interrogate them. He finds Masema’s men gleefully torturing them, and it’s pretty gruesome, but the Aiel are nothing if not tough. The man just starts singing in response to Perrin’s questions.
Now, normally Perrin is a chill man, but this is for Faile, so he goes crazy mode, and straight up chops off the man’s hand. Then he has the Aes Sedai heal him, and he threatens to do more.
“Two hands and two feet,” he said coldly. Light, he sounded like ice. He felt like ice to his bones. “That means you get four chances to answer the same. And if you all hold out, I still won’t kill you. I’ll find a village to leave you in, some place that will let you beg, somewhere the boys will toss a coin to the fierce Aielmen with no hands or feet. You think on it and decide whether it’s worth keeping my wife from me.”
Disgusted with himself now, he runs off into the forest. Elyas finds him and consoles him a bit. Aram comes to tell him that he’s broken the Shaido. As he points out, it’s likely they’re scared of the sheer shame more than losing their hands and feet. But they really don’t have any useful information on Faile. You can hardly expect to grab random people from a camp of thousands and expect them to know about Faile. Poor guy lost his hand for nothing. Perrin decides to leave his axe for good this time though. Goodbye axe.
A few days later the grain carts arrive, and Balwer with them. And he’s found the lost Tallanvor. The man has some big news – the Seanchan are hunting the Shaido too. Makes sense – they wouldn’t want a murderous bunch of warriors terrorising their new settlers. And it seems Perrin is going to ally with them against the Shaido. Hmm, now they might actually have a chance.
A Strange Courtship
Mat and co. are riding through the countryside with Luca’s show, and Mat is grumbling. About what? Everything! The pace of the show, the Aes Sedai, the sul’dam, Thera and whatnot.
Once he runs out of stuff to complain about, Mat turns to Tuon. He wants to go meet her, and he wants Egeanin to come with, because he’s that nervous. It takes some convincing, but finally Egeanin comes along. Going to the wagon, they find Olver and Noal there. Noal takes into his head to recite a piece from the Prophecies of the Dragon:
“Fortune rides like the sun on high
with the fox that makes the ravens fly.
Luck his soul, the lightning his eye,
He snatches the moons from out of the sky.”
Obviously it refers to Mat. Interesting that the Prophecies of the Dragon cover more than just the Dragon.
Mat tries to do his Mat thing, but Tuon is no barmaid to be charmed by witty words and a ready smile and a shiny necklace, and it goes horribly. And Egeanin is worse than useless – her Seanchan instincts kick in and she’s bowing and scraping to Tuon, and even to Tuon’s maid. In short order Mat finds himself all but kicked out of the wagon. I still don’t quite get Mat suddenly accepting this fate, and even actively trying to make it come about. Not with any success though.
But there’s the Two Rivers stubbornness. Mat returns again, and again, and starts courting Tuon under the pretense of playing stones with her, and continues bringing her stuff, though he refrains from anything actually expensive, because I guess you can’t impress a Seanchan princess with jewelry, no matter how blingy. Tuon seems to respond too. Nothing too overt or gushing, but there are hints and signs.
Egeanin notes this, and in between berating him for it, gives some info on Seanchan marriage tradition. All it takes is for a man and woman to say they want to be husband/wife thrice in front of witnesses, and it’s done. They don’t even have to do it together – so long as they do it within a year of each other it’s still valid. And Mat said his part the day he escaped.
Time passes, and in the town of Jurador, Mat decides to take Tuon shopping for new dresses. Mat runs into some ghosts on the way. Interestingly, neither Tuon or Selucia seem to notice them. They vanish suddenly, but Mat doesn’t seem to give it much thought beyond checking his medallion for magic use. He certainly doesn’t seem to think they were ghosts. They get to the town proper, and it’s shopping time. Mat’s experience is very close to what I myself experience whenever I find myself dragged into shopping for clothes. The women just go from shop to shop to shop checking and evaluating but never buying.
I kind of feel the women are doing this on purpose this time though. Eventually Mat’s had enough and he tells them point blank to just get on with it. Surprisingly, Tuon responds with a smile instead of anger, and promptly buys a bunch of stuff and is ready to leave. Women!
Getting to camp, they find disaster awaiting them. One of the sul’dam has stabbed Egeanin and run away. The Aes Sedai manage to heal her, but the escaped sul’dam is dangerous – if she gets to Seanchan soldiers and rats Mat out, he’s screwed. Mat, Vanin and a few others give chase, but she’s got a head start on them. Eventually they manage to get near her, but she’s almost reached a Seanchan garrison. Mat is too far to reach her in time, so he has to order her shot down. And she is. Disaster averted, but Mat is super sad about having to kill another woman.
What The Oath Rod Can Do
The morning brings Egwene more news of disaster. Another sister has been killed in the night. I wonder what Halima is up to? Are these women actually significant in some way, or is she just trying to create chaos and fear and prevent an alliance with the Black Tower?
Egwene does her Amyrlin stuff for a while, talking with Siuan and Sheriam about this and that. Nicola the pain in the ass novice has run away. I choose to mention this from all the stuff they talk about because it just feels rather uncharacteristic. Whatever her faults, she was eager to learn, and the Tower is the best place for it. Unless she’s gone off to the other side, or was removed against her will. More meetings and more talk.
Romanda comes to see Egwene. As I expected, negotiations with Elaida are getting nowhere. They also talk about the Kin, and Romanda is all for hunting them down, but Egwene points out the difficulty in finding out hundreds of women scattered all over the place that look just like normal ones and though capable of channeling, rarely do it. She also breaches the topic of revoking the Oaths for retired sisters. Romanda departs in shock. Lelaine is next. She seems to be handling negotiations with the Black Tower. Lelaine wants to bond the men, and with a modified weave that would allow easy control. Egwene points out that this is very close to Compulsion, and strongly forbids it.
Suddenly, Egwene decides she must do something. She sneaks off into the night, and goes to the river. Apparently she had given Bode some task, but she’s going to do it herself. She rides on a boat and gets to the Tar Valon harbor, and in blink, convert the harbor chain to cuendillar. Just as I’m marvelling on this massive feat – that chain is huge – something strikes Egwene and she goes unconscious. She wakes to the minty taste of forkroot in her mouth.
So. It seems Egwene planned to have the harbor chain turned to cuendillar, but decided to do it herself, and got captured by the Tower. First question – how did they know she’d be there? My guess would be the Black Ajah – they still presumably talk to each other. Or maybe the runaway Nicola. Or maybe someone else entirely. Secondly, why? Like, what did she hope to achieve? “Behold! Your big ass iron chain is now indestructible and super expensive! Despair!”
An epilogue with Bashere telling Rand that the Seanchan are willing for a truce, but want to meet him first. And with whom? The Daughter of the Nine Moons.
What? Is this Suroth still hiding Tuon’s absence? Or did Tuon run off? Or did Mat let her go?
And that’s book ten down. Five more to go.
And even though there wasn’t any huge climax, I liked this final part the most in the book. Perrin’s chapters just hit some great notes – with the intense interrogation scene, or the spooky visit to Spooky Harbor. Mat and Tuon’s relationship development is pretty fun to read about too.
Poor Egwene got captured again though. That sucks. I’m still pretty chill – Elaida had a Foretelling about the Tower reunited, and I refuse to believe it will be under her. The biggest question though is this – why did Egwene want to turn the chain to cuendillar anyway? I can’t think of any way that’d help.
New Spring, here we come.