Spoilers for books 1-10 and Knife of Dreams to ch.12| 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 11, Knife of Dreams. This post covers chapter 5-12.
Faile is waiting on Sevanna, along with a bunch of others, when Therava comes to meet her. She and the other Wise Ones want to move, into more defensible mountain valleys, but Sevanna disagrees, partly because she’s pretty comfy right here and partly (I think) because she’s just unwilling to go “obey” the Wise Ones. But Therava is one step ahead of her. Since Sevanna’s authority comes from being the last chief’s widow, the Wise Ones have sent a guy to Rhuidean to try and become the new chief.
On the way back to her tent, Faile is accosted by a Wise One who wants her report on Sevanna’s activities. She’s doing just that when the world ripples, her and everything else around her. Pretty sure it’s just the Dark One’s effect. Still, must be pretty damn weird and scary to feel like you’re about to dissipate like mist. But, well, no harm seems to be done and life goes on.
Getting to her tent, Faile finds a couple of gai’shain waiting for her. They’ve managed to filch the Oath Rod from Therava’s tent. I’m as happy as Faile for a moment until I remember Galina will just kill them before escaping if Faile gives it to her. Shit.
Rolan comes to tell her that a number of the Mera’din are planning to leave the Shaido and return to the Waste, and that he’ll help her escape if they do. Well that’s better news.
After all the tension over the runaway sul’dam, the show is still sticking around in Jurador, mostly because Luca wants the visitors and their money. Mat’s – and Rand and Perrin’s – swirling colors seem to be evolving into them getting a glimpse of the others whenever they think of them. Pretty weird stuff. It’s almost like there’s something other than the One Power in action – neither Perrin nor Mat can channel, not to mention Mat’s medallion. And yet it’s clearly not a normal thing. I sure hope there’s a more concrete explanation for this than “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.”
Anyway, Mat goes into town for another day of shopping, this time alone. He buys a black yew stick that’s used to make stout Two Rivers bows, and a horse that, by the description, sounds more like a zebra, but not before lengthy bargaining and detailed weird ways of checking the horse/zebra is in good health. Returning to camp, he goes to visit Tuon. Noal is there, and turns out he’s a cousin to Jain Charin a.k.a Jain Farstrider. I thought that guy was like, ancient history. Also, I’m kinda tempted to think that Noal is Jain, just under a different name. Would make sense, given the continuous tales of far off lands he’s telling.
Just then Juilin comes with news that a bunch of Seanchan have arrived and are setting up camp across the road. Mat goes to check out the situation, and finds a fight brewing. The soldiers want to get in without paying, and things get heated when the bouncers insist on payment. Fortunately their officer arrives and reprimands them, defusing the situation. Next, Mat goes to the Aes Sedai wagon, and from his cold medallion, knows that they’re channeling in there. With Seanchan across the road. This understandably pisses him off. He barges in to find Joline slapping Bethamin. When he tries to stop her, she slaps him too. And now Mat’s had enough. He proceeds to spank her. Seriously. A grown ass man spanking an Aes Sedai. Cue eye roll.
The next day, Luca decides to leave early to avoid any further trouble with the Seanchan soldiers. They leave early for once, but soon Luca is back to a crawling pace, and Mat cannot grumble enough about it.
One day, he goes to meet Aludra, and we officially get the answer for the bellfounder riddle – launch tubes. They normally use wooden tubes to launch the fireworks, but bronze ones will be able to send the fireworks further. And also cannonballs. Aludra has worked it all out, because she wants her revenge on the Seanchan. She and Mat strike a deal – her knowledge in returns for his help in this revenge. It’s going to be epic. But the trouble with new deadly weapons is that sooner or later you find yourself facing them too.
Mat’s courtship of Tuon also continues, though it’s hard to judge how much real progress he’s making. He gifts her the zebra and they go on a ride. It’s hilarious imagining a princess riding a zebra. They come across a caravan of Tinkers, and suddenly Tuon rushes off the road and into the woods at a breakneck pace. Mat gives chase. He’s confident that it’s not an escape attempt, but a man can hardly let his wife to be racing off into the woods. Eventually she stops, and accepts Mat’s tirade with surprising calmness. After soothing the Tinkers who thought Mat was up to something with the women, they return to the show.
Mat goes to Egeanin for help again, but she doesn’t really know all that much about the Blood, let alone the Imperial family. Turns out his exotic “horse” gift was pretty good because it implies that he’s lower in standing than Tuon, plus she’s into training and riding horses.
Meanwhile, the Aes Sedai are now pestering Mat to examine his ter’angreal. I don’t know about them, but I think he should eventually let Elayne study it. Would be pretty nice to have devices that can protect normal people from the Power. He does agree to show it to Mistress Anan. She also explains how she knows so much about Aes Sedai stuff. It’s clearly implied that she was an initiate who got burned out. I know, she should get Nynaeve to heal her! But of course she isn’t up to date on the latest developments in healing magic. But I hope it ends up happening. She’s a nice lady, and deserves it.
Somehow, news leaks out that Tuon is of the Blood (though not that she’s the heir to the Crystal Throne) and the Aes Sedai start pestering her for treaties with the Seanchan, but Tuon just ignores them. That is, until one night they barge into her wagon and try to bully her into talking with them. But Tuon is prepared. In moments she has all three Sisters collared with a’dam. And I just realise that this means Tuon can channel too. Tuon wants to “train” the three, but Mat’s having none of it and soon frees them. That medallion is just so handy in such situations. The Aes Sedai agree to stop bothering Tuon though, so there’s that. That night, Mat goes off and buries the a’dam. Good riddance.
A Village in Shiota
The next day, Mat makes some progress with Tuon. She rides with him, and shoos off Selucia when she tries to get between them. There’s fun chit-chat between the two. It seems he is getting there. Man, these two will make a fantastic couple.
Some time in the evening, they come across a village. Weirdly, the villagers pay no notice to the show, and I know it’s a dead walking kind of village. But a whole village? That’s new. There’s a peddler passing through, and he seems real enough. And then suddenly, the fellow and his horses start sinking into the ground. As is the entire village around him. Bit by bit he slips under the ground until he’s gone. Well that was some freaky shit. *shudders*. RIP peddler.
And of course, the entire show is totally scared now. They want to turn around, but Luca of all people rises to the occasion. He spins tales and makes promises and gives grand descriptions of the cities ahead, so much so that by the time he calls for a vote, everyone agrees to press ahead. There’s a tense moment when they’re crossing the stretch where the peddler went down (poor guy) but there is no further scary stuff. Surprisingly, no one thinks to go through the woods or something to bypass that portion of the road. Yeah, it’s a chore to get wagons and everything through non-road ground, but it’s better than risking a horrible death.
That day, they press on late and only stop when the light is totally gone. No one is feeling too sleepy, so Mat just hangs around in his tent with Olver and Noal and Thom and so on. In between games of stones and snakes and foxes, Mat noticed Thom reading Moiraine’s letter, and asks him about it. He tells Mat it’s from Moiraine, and tells him to read it.
I assumed it’d be about the Red Sisters who had the run in with his nephew, but it’s something else. Allow me to quote:
There are many things I cannot tell you lest I bring disaster, but what I can, I will. Heed carefully what I say. In a short while I will go down to the docks, and there I will confront Lanfear. How can I know that? That secret belongs to others. Suffice it that I know, and let that foreknowledge stand as proof for the rest of what I say.
When you receive this, you will be told that I am dead. All will believe that. I am not dead, and it may be that I shall live to my appointed years. It also may be that you and Mat Cauthon and another, a man I do not know, will try to rescue me. May, I say because it may be that you will not or cannot, or because Mat may refuse. He does not hold me in the affection you seem to, and he has his reasons which he no doubt thinks are good. If you try, it must be only you and Mat and one other.
Best. Letter. Ever. Yes! YES!! YES!!!
Moiraine is alive. I knew it. Allow me to quote myself, from the final The Fires of Heavens post:
Moiraine will be back. Lan can’t feel her, but surely that is only because she went into another dimension. She’ll be back, she has to be alive! She’ll find a way. The Tower of Ghenjei! Yes, Birgitte told Perrin it was some sort of gateway to the world of those fox people. Moiraine has a way back.
I was right! Oh my god, this feels so good. To know that Moiraine is not dead, and that she’ll get rescued and to have predicted it. Such a nice feeling. Ok, I’ll admit I was not a 100% percent certain that this would happen, but still, I’m proud. Also, screw all the “may”s in the letter. Moiraine is getting rescued. You can’t show this letter and then not have it happen. Please don’t be that cruel RJ.
Okay, enough hyping. Let’s move on with the story. Mat and Thom discuss this groundbreaking news, and Olver of all people chimes in with info about the Tower of Ghenjei. Birgitte told him about it. And Mat remembers seeing it on the journey from Shadar Logoth to Whitebridge, on Domon’s ship. Perfect! There’s one hitch though – Mat believes the reason he remembers all this ancient stuff is because the Eelfinn put it in his head. And they got it from the heads of other people who visited them over the ages. Which means they have some way of accessing him memories too, maybe in real-time. Creepy thought. But still, Moiraine said Mat’s necessary, so he’s got to be there.
A Hell in Maderin
The show arrives at a real actual town this time and decide to stop for a bit. Selucia comes to summon Mat to Tuon. He takes his sweet time, but he goes to Tuon. She wants him to take her to a tavern or inn. But not any place, a rough place, a hell. Turns out hell is what they call the chapest seediest places. Whew. I was imagining all sorts of scary things from the title. Mat’s none too eager to do it, but Tuon is insistent. Thom offers to lead them to this place he’s heading to, and they’re off.
Turns out the place Thom chose is actually a pretty decent and reputable one. Not high society, but clean and safe still. Luckily, being a princess and all, Tuon doesn’t realise that and is satisfied. They drink and chat, and Tuon wants a demonstration of Mat’s luck, so they join a dice game. Suddenly one of the players gets up and leaves. I bet he comes back with trouble. Probably a Darkfriend. Anyway, the game goes on, and as usual, Mat gets win after win, until the last one. Which is still good luck, as it prevents people from getting too suspicious.
While Tuon is off to the bathroom, Thom returns with news of trouble. The Seanchan are looking for Tuon, but not to rescue her, but to kill her. Suroth. Tuon takes this remarkably calmly, thinking it’s one of her siblings. So they decide it’s time to leave the town and part ways with the show.
Outside, they run into a bunch of armed thugs. Mat goes into badass mode, taking down two straight away and jumping in amongst the rest with zero hesitation. His knifes make short work of them despite the wounds he gets, but the last one turns out to be a woman, and Mat is determined not to kill her. Fortunately, Tuon has no such qualms and finishes her with a punch to the throat. Mat finds the fellow who rushed off earlier amongst the dead, and decides this was no random robbery attempt. They decide to get gone even faster.
Perrin and his new Seanchan buddies arrive at the Amadician town of Amador. First order of business is getting some raken. While Faile’s people mingle with the soldiers to get info, Perrin and the two Seanchan officers go to take care of the paperwork. They summon the head clerk, and just then one of the people there gets up and vomits out a stream of black beetles. Ewwww! Why is this fun fantasy adventure turning into a horrow show! Totally stolen from The Mummy, by the way. The poor guy continues to vomit beetles until there’s only a dead husk left.
Everyone is rightly terrified, but Perrin has zero fucks to give about anything that doesn’t help him rescue Faile. So they get the clerk in his office, show him Suroth’s letter and get the raken they came for.
Next they go to the forkroot distribution center. The head here seems to be a somewhat important woman – even the Seanchan officer tiptoes around her. But Perrin plays the Suroth card again – complete with a subtle death threat, and she agrees to give them all the forkroot they need.
On the way out, an arrow strikes Perrin, narrowly missing his heart. The attackers, seeing they’ve failed, straight up kill themselves. Wow. Who could it be? either Seanchan or Darkfriends, IMO. I’m leaning more towards Seanchan.
And we stop here. Holy shit so much happened. But nothing matters besides the letter. I am so looking forward to that. Rescuing a favorite character? Check. Journey to strange worlds? Check. Mat? Check. It’s going to be great.
And all these creepy things – what happened to Faile, that poor peddler, that even sadder beetle clerk – are really hammering in the “end times” vibe of the world. I was excited, but now I’m also a bit scared. I mean, it’s the Dark One. Even bound in his prison, he can bring back the dead, almost destroy everything with a super hot winter, ruin all the food. What’s going to happens if it gets out? I was kinda hoping the Choedan Kal would be the answer, but the female statue got wrecked, so even that might not be enough.
Moiraine will figure something out when she get back.