Welcome back to my chapter-by-chapter recap and reaction to Robert Jordan’s “The Eye of the World.” I plan to read through the entire 14 book Wheel of Time series.
I’m no Darkfriend so I will warn you that there are spoilers ahead.
Chapter 15: Strangers and Friends
Rand wakes up. After the first bad dream from the night before, he had others. He could only remember the first, though. Rand’s body aches from the hard travel to Baerlon and he has a headache. With the sun high in the sky, Rand hurriedly gets dressed. He does not want to miss his first chance to see a real city. He hesitates over whether or not to wear the sword before deciding to put it on.
Rand quickly went down to the kitchen to get some food before taking a look around Baerlon. He walks up to a conversation between the cook and the Innkeeper, Master Fitch, concerning Sara the cook’s cat. Master Fitch has been receiving complaints from guests that they are finding rats throughout the Inn with broken backs. After Fitch leaves the room, the cook tells him that over a dozen rats were found that way.
Rand freezes when she mentions the rats with broken backs.
After eating, Rand decides to talk to Thom, who is currently performing in the Common Room, about the situation. However, after standing in the room for some time, he realizes he will not soon get advice from him. He remembers that the cook had mentioned one of the boys from their party was not up yet, either, so Rand goes to the room where Mat and Perrin were staying. He finds Perrin. Rand suggests that if he is sick, he should go back to sleep. Perrin replies that he does not know if he will ever sleep again. Rand cautiously sits down on the bed and asks Perrin, “did he kill a rat?” Perrin confirms that he had the same dream as Rand. Rand asks about Mat and Perrin says that Mat laughed, but that the laugh seemed forced.
The two boys discuss what they should do and neither knows. Finally Rand tries to talk Perrin into getting up and seeing the city but Perrin declines and lies back down. Rand puts on his cloak and decides to walk around Baerlon. Thom will not be done in the common room for hours. He hopes he might run into Mat to confirm that Ba’alzamon was also in his dreams.
Rand steps out of the stable yard and sees crowded city streets. He decides to wait a while before joining the throng so he sits on a barrel in the stable yard and waits. A stableman named Mutch continues giving Rand unwelcome stares and Rand thinks to himself that maybe Mutch is a Darkfriend.
A shepherd with a heron marked sword, said a low woman’s voice, that’s almost enough to make me believe anything. What trouble are you in, down-country boy?
The speaker is a woman, only a little older than himself, that Rand had seen the previous day, with Moiraine. She has a short hair cut and is dressed in a man’s shirt and trousers. Rand jumps to his feet. She knows Rand’s name and introduces herself as Min. She asks him what trouble brought him to Baerlon and Rand tries to deny that there has been any trouble at all in the Two Rivers.
Moiraine didn’t tell me everything. But I see what I see.
Rand jumps again at the use of the name, Moiraine. Min smiles and says “Mistress Alys if you prefer.” She tells Rand that Mistress Alys told Min her real name. “Not that she had a choice.” We find out that Moiraine “knew about” Min and that Min has talked to “others like her” before.
Min explains to Rand what she means by “seeing things.” Moiraine has told her that she is seeing pieces of The Pattern but Min says simply that she just sees things when she looks at people, sometimes, and sometimes she knows the meaning of the things she sees. “
I look at a man and woman who have never even talked to one another and I know they’ll marry. And they do. That sort of thing. She wanted me to look at you – all of you together.”
Rand shivered. “And what did you see?”
When you’re all in a group, sparks swirling around all of you. Thousands of them. And a big shadow darker than midnight. It’s so strong I almost wonder why everybody cannot see it. The sparks are trying to fill the shadow and the shadow is trying to swallow the sparks.
Rand is surprised to find out that Min says the entire party that left the Two Rivers, including the Gleeman, is part of what she sees. Min also tells Rand that she can see that Rand loves Egwene, and vice versa, but that she is not for him, nor he for her.
Rand wants to get away from this girl, and the things she can see, but he pauses. Rand asks for more information instead.
Master Andra has seven ruined towers over his head and a babe in a cradle clutching a sword. The image she sees for Thom is a man juggling fire – not him – and the White Tower. For Perrin, she sees a wolf, a broken crown, and trees flowering all around him. Mat has the image of a red eagle, an eye on a balance scale, a dagger with a ruby in the hilt, a horn, and a laughing face.
Min waits, grinning, just short of laughter, until Rand asks about himself. She tells him that she sees a sword that isn’t a sword, a golden crown of laurel leaves, a beggar’s staff, Rand pouring water on sand, a bloody hand and a white hot iron, three women standing over a funeral bier with Rand on it, and black rock wet with blood. Rand interjects that she does not have to list it all. She continues though by saying
Most of all, I see lightning all around you. Some striking at you. Some coming out of you. I don’t know what any of it means except for one thing. You and I will meet again.
As they part, Min pats Rand’s cheek and says that if she told him everything she saw, Rand would be as curly haired as Perrin. Rand jumps back. He asks her if she has seen anything about rats or dreams. She says no to rats.
As for dreams, maybe it’s your idea of a dream but I never thought it was mine.
Rand tells her he has to go meet his friends. She calls out to him that he can run if he wants, but he cannot escape her. She laughs but he speeds up.
Rand wanders through the city. After some time spent noticing how similar or dissimilar to home Baerlon is, he stumbles into a ragged man. He sees Padan Fain. Fain darts away and Rand chases after him, apologizing to the people he jostles as he does so. Rand corners Fain in a dead-end ally. He tells him that they all thought trollocs had taken him. Fain admonishes Rand not to mention trollocs because Whitecloaks are in the city. Rand tells him that he and his friends are staying in the Stag and Lion. Fain asks how long they will be staying and Rand tells him that they will leave the next day. He says that he does not want to be within miles of an Aes Sedai but that he may have to be. Then Fain begs Rand not to tell Moiraine that they saw each other. Rand again tries to convince him to go with him to the Inn right away. Fain dashes past him and Rand attempts to give chase. However, Rand inadvertently runs into someone else, knocking both of them down. The person that he has knocked over is Mat.
Mat says that he just saw Fain. This gives Rand the opportunity to tell him about the discussion he just had with Fain. Rand asks Mat about a nightmare with a rat. Mat confirms that he did. Rand tells Mat that there were over a dozen rats found in the Inn that morning, with their backs broken. Rand suggests talking to Thom, or Moiraine, and Mat is adamant about not talking to Moiraine.
The two boys discuss the pros and cons of telling Moiraine and decide for now not to tell her about the dreams. However, Mat realizes that if Perrin tells her first, that will be moot. Mat and Rand then try to hurry back toward the Inn.
During the walk back, Rand’s head begins to hurt and he begins to feel as though his mind is drifting. He has a hard time focusing. He tells Mat about his conversation with Min and Mat seems pleased to hear about the dagger with a ruby. Rand continues to rub his head and Mat becomes concerned about Rand being sick. He pulls Rand suddenly to a stop as three Children of the Light walk toward them on the street.
Rand stares at the Children. Mat decides in the moment that he does not think much of the Children and gets a gleam in his eye. He points toward a cart and darts off. A moment later, the stake holding barrels in the cart cracks as the Whitecloaks came abreast of the alley where the cart had been parked. The Children avoided the barrels as they rolled down the alley, toward them, but they did not avoid the mud that splattered over their white cloaks. Rand begins laughing. He feels as though he has lost control of his own actions. The Children stare at Rand. They ask if he is responsible for the mud. Rand responds by saying accidents happen even to the Children of the Light. He sweeps his cloak over his shoulder to display the herons on his sword hilt.
The Whitecloaks notice the heron mark. Their leader, Lord Bornhald, dismisses the marking and says that he is too young. He asks Rand where he is from. Rand feels a tingling thrill up his arms. He asks if the Whitecloaks know of a good Inn. The Whitecloak asks him why he avoids answering their questions. Rand’s body is overwhelmed by the sense of tingling. He feels warm. His body feels so good and full of energy that he wants to laugh. Rand hears a voice telling him that something is wrong but instead of answering, or doing anything, he just rocks on his heels and waits for what will happen next.
Just then, a dozen of the town watch appear up the street, armed with quarterstaffs. The Whitecloaks prepare to leave. Before they go, though, Bornhald tells Rand, “Darkfriends do not escape us, youngling. Even in a town that stands in the Shadow.”
After they leave, Rand continues standing still, rocking on his heels, full of energy and tingling so much that his body almost quivered. Mat returns to Rand.
You aren’t sick. You are crazy.
Abruptly, the feeling was gone like a pricked bubble. Mat and Rand returned to the Inn. After a while, they ran into Thom. Mat and Rand tell Thom about the dreams. When one of the boys mentioned “Ba’alzamon” the Gleeman grabbed them fiercely and commanded them to hold their tongues. “It is a very dangerous name.”
Thom is troubled by the fact that they both had the dream. They give him the names of men whom they were told had “been used” by the White Tower. Thom recognizes the names as dangerous. He advises them to not say the names aloud. When they press him about who the men were, Thom does not give them more information. He does say that the White Tower killed the men, but he disagrees that the White Tower “used” the men.
Mat asks him what “the Eye of the World” is supposed to be. Thom tells them that it is a legend. He tells them that men from the Borderlands hunt the Eye of the World the way that men from Illian hunt the Horn of Valere. They ask if they should tell Moiraine and Thom considers. He advises them to hold their peace for now, noting that the can change their minds later.
The three of them hurry to find Perrin. As they enter the Inn, they run into Perrin on his way out. They confirm that he has not told anyone about the dream. He then tells them that Nynaeve is inside the Inn.
When asked how she crossed the Taren, Perrin says she bullied Hightower into finding her a boat big enough for her and her horse and then bullied him into rowing her across himself.
Nynaeve is with Mistress Alys right now. When Mat suggests that they hide until nightfall, and then sneak into the Inn, Thom points out that if she does not get to have her say soon, she may end up attracting unwanted attention.
The four men enter the Inn as if to face trollocs.
A lot happens in this chapter. A LOT.
Rand finds out from the Innkeeper and cook that there are rats with broken backs all over the Inn. What does it mean? Well, it implies that “the dream” may have been a bit more real than a normal dream. That is, of course, terrifying.
Rand then meets Min. She unloads a lot of vague prophecy in this short encounter. She also seems amused about something, having to do with her future and Rand’s future, but she does not give him more information than that.
Rand meets Padan Fain. Even in my first read of this story, I felt as though telling Fain where they were staying was a bad decision on Rand’s part.
Then Rand and Mat meet the Children of the Light. I probably read the first few books several times before I realized what was going on here with Rand in this section. I’ll leave it at that right now. In any case, Rand and Mat go out of their way to draw a lot of attention to themselves when they were trying to keep a low profile.
We find out when the boys run into Thom – assuming that we can trust Thom – that the dreams were more than normal dreams (as if the rats were not clear enough on that point) and that the things told to them were significant. “Dangerous names.” Notably, though, Thom does not tell them why a two thousand year old name might be dangerous.
And… Nynaeve. I knew we were not done with her given all of Moiraine’s hinting about two people from Emond’s Field who can channel. And here she is. Given what they have faced, it cracks me up how scared they are of her.
Once again, we keep dispensing a lot of world-building information in each chapter. It continues to be delivered in a way that feels organic.