Welcome back to my chapter-by-chapter reread of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I am currently on Chapters 14 of “The Eye of the World.” Spoilers ahead.
Chapter 14: The Stag and Lion
The party from Emond’s Field follows Master Fitch into the busy Inn. The Innkeeper tells Mistress Alys and Master Andra that seemingly all the miners and smelters from their region have come down from the Mountains of Mist, to Baerlon, now that the snow has thawed enough for them to do so.
Moiraine asks Master Fitch about the Children of the Light. He tells her that the Whitecloaks claim there is an Aes Sedai in the city. Their hope is that if they can produce an Aes Sedai, the governor of Baerlon will let the rest of the Children inside the city walls. Fitch assures “Mistress Alys” that there are no Aes Sedai in Baerlon. Moiraine then asks him if Min is still there.
Rand does not hear the answer as the rest of the Emond’s Field party is ushered to their rooms and a bath chamber by an Inn worker named Ara. The men from the party bathe for the first time in over a week. As Ara is about to leave the men to soak, he notices the weapons they have and asks if there has been trouble down country, too. Before Mat can answer, Rand asks, “too?” Ara tells them about the Whitecloaks stirring up fights in the streets. He then clarifies his earlier question by saying, “I meant the Ghealdan kind of trouble.” Mat starts to tell Ara about trollocs when Thom interrupts and says that he does not want to hear his own stories back from Mat.
Mat does not realize the others are trying to keep him from talking about the events of Winternight, and protests that he is not telling Thom’s stories. When Rand is wondering how to keep Mat from talking, short of jumping on him, Lan enters the room. He tells Ara that he will attend to his own bath and then “bundles him out” of the room. When he is certain that Ara is gone, he tells Mat – and the others – that telling tales about trollocs, in a city where Children of the Light are camped, is as good as naming yourself a Darkfriend in their eyes. He reminds everyone that the Dark One has eyes and ears everywhere and that they need to keep their trust small.
As the men finish their bath, they find Moiraine talking to a girl at the end of the hall. She had hair cut short and she wore a man’s shirt and trousers. The girl looks at the boys, nods to Moiraine, and then leaves. Moiraine then tells the men that Master Fitch has arranged for them to have a private dining room.
Rand sees Egwene and thinks about apologizing for their argument while traveling. As he approaches her to do so, she stiffens and turns her back on him. He decides to stay quiet instead. Master Fitch, and two of his serving girls, Mari and Cinda, serve the party dinner. Fitch apologizes for the food, stating that the winter has limited his stores and the farmers’ crops.
When Lan is certain that nobody is listening to their conversation from the door, they begin serving food and then talking. Moiraine asks Lan what he learned in the common room. He states that there was a battle in Ghealdan and that Logain was the victor. Rand thinks that this is the first time he has heard the False Dragon’s name. The stories are not clear or consistent about what happened to the Aes Sedai in Ghealdan. Moiraine and Lan decide to stay in Baerlon for two nights before leaving again toward Tar Valon. Thom is amused about the idea of “these country folk in a… city.”
Rand is given a room to share with Lan and Thom. Moiraine and Egwene share another room. Mat and Perrin share a third. Rand decides against hearing Thom perform in the common room and opts for sleep instead.
Rand is in a stone hallways with bare walls. His head hurts and thoughts are hard to hold. He is thirsty and follows the sound of dripping water. After a long time of following the dripping, and never getting nearer, he decides instead to open a door in the hallway. The door opens and he steps into a grim stonewalled chamber. Beyond the chamber is a balcony. Rand looks out and sees the sky. Striated clouds of black and gray and red and orange stream by as if driven by storm winds. He turns to look back in the chamber. It is filled with odd curves and peculiar angles – as if the chamber had been melted into place. The fireplace has a fire but it gives off no heat. The stones of the hearth, from the corner of is eye, appear to be the faces of men and women writing in pain. Rand suddenly notices a man in front of the fireplace.
“Once more we meet face to face,” the man said, and just for an instance his mouth and eyes became openings into endless caverns of flame.
Rand ran out of the room and opened the door across the hallway. It is the same room he just left and the man is still standing in the room. Rand thinks to flee again but now the hallway corridor is gone and the door clicks closed.
Rand steadies himself and believes that he is dreaming. The man says that Rand seems thirsty and that he should take a drink. He motions Rand toward a goblet on the table. Rand has the goblet halfway to his lips when he notices how intently the man is watching him. He sets the wine down and asks the man who he is and what he wants.
Some call me Ba’alzamon.
The Dark One. Rand tries to flee. He asks Rand “are you the one?”
Are you expecting glory? Power? Did they tell you the Eye of the World would serve you? What glory or power is there for a puppet? The strings that movie you have been centuries weaving. Your father was chosen by the White Tower, like a stallion roped and led to his business. Your mother was no more than a broodmare to their plans – and those plans lead to your death.
Rand tells Ba’alzamon that his father and mother were good people and that he should not talk about them. Ba’alzamon laughs.
The Amyrlin Seat will use you until you are consumed – just as Davian was used and Yurian Stonebow and Guaire Amalasan and Raolin Darksbane. Just as Logain is being used.
Rand struggles to respond. He grasps at his thoughts and shouts the catechism he learned as a child about the Dark One and the Forsaken.
Rand: You are bound in Shayol Ghul, you and all the Forsaken, bound by the Creator until the end of time.
B: The end of time?… The death of time will bring me power such as you cannot dream of, worm. … Fool! I have never been bound! I stood at Lews Therin Kinslayer’s shoulder when he did the deed that named him. It was I who told him to kill his wife and his children and all his blood. And every living person who loved him or whom he loved. It was I who gave him the moment of sanity to know what he had done…. A thousand years later I sent the trollocs ravening south. .. I whispered in Artur Hawkwing’s ear and for the length and breadth of the land, Aes Sedai died. I whispered again and the High King sent his armies across the ocean, across the world sea, and sealed two dooms… You will serve me or you will dance on Aes Sedai strings until you die. And then you will be mine. The dead belong to me.
Ba’alzamon turns Rand’s head. He sees a rat. Ba’alzamon crooks his finger, the rat squeaked and arched its back, and then its back broke. He tells Rand to go to the Aes Sedai and tell them about “this dream.” He tells Rand that doing so will probably cause the Aes Sedai to kill him.
Rand jerked awake. Thom is in the bed next to him snoring. His head hurts and he thinks that maybe Moiraine can help him with dreams.
This is a long chapter and a LOT is happening here. We will start with the section that occurs before Rand’s dream.
They finally bathe, thank the Light.
The Children of the Light are in Baerlon and claim that an Aes Sedai is hiding in Baerlon somewhere. Master Fitch humorously does not know he is speaking with an Aes Sedai when he relays that information. Let us pocket that Whitecloak belief to see if they were indeed correct.
Min is mentioned. A mysterious short haired girl wearing men’s clothes is later seen. Who could this person be?
At this point in the story, it is now Mat’s turn to be the dummy. Rand and Egwene’s big loud fight had him/them occupying that role previously. Now Mat’s inability to realize he needs to keep quiet has him as the new problem child of the group. So far, so good, Perrin Aybara.
We learn some more about the situation in Ghealdan. The name of the (False?) Dragon is Logain. He has won a battle against forces supported by Aes Sedai. Moiraine and Lan both seem worried about these developments.
In one of the previous reaction sections, I asserted the belief that Rand must be the Two Rivers boy that the Dark One is interested in… because he has the special sword and gets all of the POV chapters. The fact that Moiraine put Rand in a room with both Lan and Thom strongly implies that she shares this belief. She just cannot be completely certain, yet, otherwise I think Mat and Perrin might be sent home.
Rand has a dream where he is visited by The Dark One. That is terrifying.
More specifically, he visited a place with a strange – though similarly described – sky in a previous dream. He meets the man with caverns of fire in place of his eyes and a mouth, again. The last time we met this guy he was wearing a blood red cloak. He seemed to be better dressed for this meet-up.
The man in the dream calls himself Ba’alzamon. Rand knows that to be a name for the Dark One. However, this chapter reminds me – overtly and intentionally – of events from the prologue. In the prologue, Elan Morin Tedronai (i.e. the Betrayer of Hope) is the one who healed Lews Therin of his madness. Here, Ba’alzamon takes credit for those events. Thinking more about the prologue, if all of the Forsaken were bound at Shayol Ghul, what was Elan Morin Tedronai doing at Lews Therin’s house *after* that occurred?
Something about that catechism that Two Rivers folk say, concerning the Dark One and the Forsaken, appears not to be true.
Beyond a potential connection between the man from the prologue and Ba’alzamouthonfire, he reads us his resume. Jordan does some more world-building infodump through Ba’alzamon’s monologue about his own greatness.
- “I was never bound!”
- He claims that the Aes Sedai plan to set Rand up as a puppet. Specifically “The Amyrlin Seat will use you until you are consumed – just as Davian was used and Yurian Stonebow and Guaire Amalasan and Raolin Darksbane. Just as Logain is being used.” The only one of those names that we know is Logain. He is the False (?) Dragon. Are these other names also False Dragons? Is the implication here that the Aes Sedai intentionally set people up as False Dragons to further their own ends?
- Ba’alzamon takes credit for the Trolloc Wars – which occurred 1,000 years after the “Breaking of the World.” He says he accomplished his goal of breaking the Ten Nations with that war.
- Ba’alzamon also takes credit for advising / manipulating Artur Hawkwing. We do not know much about Hawkwing at this point in the story.
The chapter ends on a disturbing note. Mr. FireFace crooks his finger and kills a rat by bending it backward and breaking its back… that is some dark stuff, Mr. Jordan.