Welcome back to my re-read, recap, and reaction to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This post will only have spoilers through the current chapter.
You can find my previous chapter recaps HERE.
Chapter 37: The Long Chase
Nynaeve is holding the reigns of three horses. She looks into the darkness of the night trying to see the Aes Sedai or the Warder. Neither of them let her know what they were planning when they left. She is now alone surrounded by trees.
Nynaeve thinks about her travels since Whitebridge. They had traveled through villages that seemed strangely ordinary to her when placed in the context of myrddraal, trollocs, and Aes Sedai. She remembers that after traveling on the Caemlyn Road for some time, one day Moiraine abruptly stared to the north and then led her horse into the forest.
M: The Wheel weaves as The Wheel wills.
One of the boys was somewhere far to the north and he still had his coin. They followed after him. One evening, after they left the road, as they camped by a fire, Moiraine abruptly stood up beside the fire and said, with eyes widened, that “it is gone.”
Moiraine tells Nynaeve that the boy did not die but that he no longer has the token. Moiraine sat down. She says they will keep on as they have been going and that when they get close enough she will be able to find him without the coin. Nynaeve remembers that she could not sleep that night.
Later that night, while Moiraine was also not sleeping, the Aes Sedai suddenly opened her eyes and said that the boy has regained the token and that all will be well. Moiraine went to asleep almost at once. Later that same night, Nynaeve awoke, startled, to the feel of Lan’s hand on her arm. He told her that she was needed. He led her by the hand through the dark to a small rise where Moiraine was sitting. He pulled her down and she looked out over the rise. In the distance, dimly, she is able to see a small encampment of about two hundred Whitecloaks.
Lan tells her that one of the boys is in the middle of the camp. Moiraine can point right to him. Lan says that he went close enough to see that he is under guard.
Nynaeve asked him how he was going to free him. After asking, she was surprised by her own assurance that Lan could walk into a camp of two hundred men and come out with the captive.
Lan told Nynaeve his part of their plan. He wanted her to sneak down to the Whitecloak picket line and cut the ropes tying the horses in place most of the way through. He tells her that he wants the ropes cut enough so that they only break after Moiraine creates a diversion. He warns her that there are guards.
L: If you are half as good as I think you are they will never see you.
Nynaeve agreed to do it. She thought internally about how stalking around guards with weapons is not the same as stalking a rabbit. She also thought to herself, “so he thinks I’m good, does he?”
Lan also warns Nynaeve that there are wolves about. He tells her, puzzled, that it was almost as though the wolves wanted him to see them. Moiraine grabs Nynaeve’s arm and tells her to take care and return quickly when her work is done.
Nynaeve tied her skirts up to help her move more quickly and quietly. Alone in the darkness, she finally caught the smell of horses. She was nearly on the guards before she saw them. She hid on the ground with the guards not ten paces away. The men turns and marched in the other direction. She watched the guards march their circuit twice before she moved to the horses. She sliced at the picket rope while she worried about the horses making a noise. After cutting through most of the picket lines, she debates returning. However, she cannot bear the thought of returning without cutting through them all – even if what she had done to that point would have been enough to keep the Whitecloaks busy.
On the last picket line, the first horse she saw was Bela. Nynaeve began shaking. She now believed that Egwene was in the camp, too. She became convinced that if they left, with the boy and Egwene, and everyone riding double, that the Whitecloaks will be able to catch up with them no matter what they do. She was as certain of that fact as she used to feel when listening to the wind as Wisdom.
She is unnerved by the how of her certainty.
She cut the rest of the picket rope and then untied Bela’s lead reign. Bela woke with a start. Nynaeve calmly stroked her and soothed her. She led Bela and another horse away from the line and wants fervently for Moiraine to do whatever it is that she plans right now.
Abruptly lightning shatters the darkness. Thunder smote her ears. The horses went made screaming and rearing. Again the lightning struck. Again and again. Nynaeve pulled herself onto Bela’s back and leads the other horse behind her. She sees wolves running through the camp.
The story-telling is a little weird in this chapter from a passage of time perspective. We start with Nynaeve thinking back about their journey from Whitebridge while she is holding horses – two of which are Lan and Moiraine’s horses. A lot (all?) of the rest of the chapter is told as a remembrance from Nyaneve.
The chapter title is a little ironic, in my opinion. While we got every excruciating detail of Mat and Rand’s trip to Caemlyn, “The Long Chase” pretty much just skips us directly from Whitebridge to the Whitecloak camp. We even start the rescue operation before the chapter is over. This is a short chapter, too.
Despite Nynaeve’s remembrance starting while she holds Mandarb and Aldieb, the chapter ends with Nynaeve holding two horses that are not Moiraine and Lan’s horses. Maybe this will make sense later. I know from the previous Rand and Mat section that Robert Jordan enjoyed making the travel sequences hard to follow from a chronology standpoint. Maybe we just are not yet caught up to where the chapter started.
As the kids say, I stan Nynaeve. She is fearless. She competently performs her job and outmaneuvers trained soldiers with her Two Rivers stalking skills. She even thinks ahead about their escape and gets a couple of extra horses in case they are needed.
One other thing I like about this chapter is that it is increasingly clear that Nynaeve has a crush on Lan. One of her chief motivations is impressing him. She also believes that he can just march into a camp of two hundred people and come out with the boy. Her increasing self-awareness of her feelings is enjoyable to read, too.
Also… Bela is back!
This is low-key one of the most important castings in the entire TV series because Nynaeve is a hard character to really *get.* Getting her is important because she is central to the story. Nynaeve is highly competent, highly insecure, very much lacking in self-awareness, keenly aware of what is happening around her… and I think somehow she has to be all of those things juxtaposed against each other, with the tempest temper that comes with it, and still mostly likeable. Her heart is always in the right place.