I am continuing my re-read and reaction to each chapter from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series… starting with Book 1, The Eye of the World.
There are spoilers ahead but they only cover the material through this chapter.
Chapter 16: The Wisdom
Rand and the other men go inside the Inn. Rand does not see Min until she grabs him by the arm and pulls him aside. The others are impatient to be on their way but Min refuses to let Rand go. She tells Rand that Nynaeve is “part of it,” that they are all in more danger today than the previous day, and that the vision of sparks that she sees has only grown sharper and more furious. Rand finally pulls his arm away. Min appears to have had more to say and shakes her fist at him as he leaves with the others.
Rand tells Mat that Nynaaever is “part of it” and understanding covers Mat’s face. When Thom asks “part of what?” Mat says that she is part of the same bad luck they have been having since Winternight. Rand clarifies that Min saw Nynaeve arrive and thought that she was part of their group. He did not want to tell anyone but Mat about Min’s secret because it might prove dangerous for her.
The men enter the private dining room where they had eaten the night before. Nynaeve and Moiraine were the only people at the table. They stared at each other. Nynaeve tugged her braid. Lan was leaned against the mantle and Egwene was standing against a wall with her hood pulled up. Rand walked to the table.
Sometimes you have to grab the wolf by the ears, he reminded himself. But he remembered another old saying, too. When you have a wolf by the ears, it’s as hard to let go as to hold on.
The rest of the Emond’s Field party sat down at the table. Lan states that they can begin now that everyone is present and offers Nynaeve a glass of wine. He inquires about how she found them.
She explains that there was no place for them to go except to Baerlon. She also states that in order to be safe, she followed their trail. Lan is shocked that she was able to track them. She says that he left very little trace but she is as capable a tracker as any man in the Two Rivers except perhaps for Tam al’Thor. She shares that her father, until he died, used to take her hunting and taught her as he would have taught the sons he never had.
Lan praises her for her skill and tells her that few men, even in the Borderlands, are capable of following a trail he has tried to hide. Nynaeve hides her face in her wine cup. Rand is astonished that she is blushing. Moiraine tries to get Nynaeve to answer some of her questions, but the Wisdom asks why she should. She then states that she plans to return the four Emond’s Field youths to their homes.
Lan and especially Thom both warn Nynaeve to be careful saying Aes Sedai out loud. The latter points out that the youths from her village might not get out of the city alive if the Whitecloaks knew with whom they arrived. When Lan says that he is surprised by Thom’s concern, the Gleeman points out that it is known he arrived with them, too. Nynaeve points out that the danger of their company is all the more reason for them to return home as soon as possible.
The youths talk over each other explaining why they cannot go back. Rand takes the lead in providing the explanation.
They’re hunting us. I don’t know why, but they are. Maybe we can find out why in Tar Valon.
Nynaeve does not believe this. She berates the boys and states disappointment in “others” for not exercising better judgment.
Moiraine tells Nynaeve that she can protect them from the minions of the Dark One. She then asks Egwene to take the others out of the room while she remains in the room alone with Nynaeve.
Outside the room, Rand is thinking about how Nynaeve can possibly be “part of it.” Just then, the Wisdom emerges from the room. She and Rand talk. She tells Rand that he has grown and that the sword fits him, now. Rand asks if she is coming with them. She says she hopes to change their minds and convince them to return home. However, Rand thinks she sounds as though she believes them now.
Rand asks about what happened in the village meeting. He also questions why she is the one who came looking for them, stating that it makes more sense to send the mayor than the Wisdom. Nynaeve is impressed that Rand is standing up to her, to some extent, and that he is piecing information together so well. “You have grown.”
Nynaeve gives him the real story of the village meeting. “It was a shambles.” One group felt as though the youths needed to be rescued but could not decide who to send. The others did not believe the youths needed rescue but did feel as though they should not be left alone with strangers. Almost every man in Emond’s Field wanted to be in the party sent to find them. Nynaeve could see that it would take another day or two before a decision was made. She felt certain somehow that they not dare wait that long. As a result, she went herself.
Rand then asks Nynaeve what Moiraine said to her. Nynaeve says that in addition to making the same arguments which had already been made, Moiraine asked her questions about “you boys” in hopes of learning why they had attracted the kind of attention that they have. Moiraine was most curious to know whether any of them were born outside the Two Rivers. Nynaeve told her that they were all born in the Two Rivers.
Rand hears a pause when Nynaeve gives the last statement and then confesses to her what Tam told him in the midst of his fever dream on Winternight. She tells him that she remembers Tam and Kari al’Thor returning from outside the Two Rivers with a baby.
Rand asks if any of the others were born outside the Two Rivers then retracts the question. He then asks Nynaeve what she plans to do and she states that the first thing she will do is take a bath.
I really enjoy the vision in my head of Min shaking her fist at Rand. I feel like I just don’t see that many fists shaken in my day to day life. We should bring that back.
Nynaeve arrives. You know, from her perspective, her actions are both on point AND preposterously brave. She left by herself, with trollocs in unknown numbers not far outside her village, and she tracked an Aes Sedai – someone who can literally throw balls of fire – with an intention of CONFRONTING her. She has no reason to believe that any of the evil creatures are specifically targeting any of the kids who left. She has every reason – at least all the reasons she grew up with – to not trust Moiraine. She went anyway. ALONE.
I guess it’s fair to say that at this point in the book I’m a Nynaeve stan.
Lan’s surprise – for the first time in the novel – about someone tracking him when he did not want to be tracked… it’s the best. But even better was how much his astonishment and subsequent praise made Nynaeve blush. Those two draw out unusual reactions from each other.
It is notable to me that Rand takes the lead among the young members of the party. Even after the meeting, he stays by himself to talk to Nynaeve. She is right that he has grown. Being hunted by monsters will do that. Rand got a bigger taste of that than the others before they left.
When the TV show airs, one of the random scenes I am most excited about seeing is the Village meeting to decide what should be done about the four missing children. I want to know in detail what Cenn Buie has to say.