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 41: Old Friends and New Threats
Back at the Queen’s Blessing, Rand throws himself against the front door, panting. He ran the entire way home. Lamgwin, holding a cat, is at the door when he comes running up. He stands to look the way Rand had come, and then he sits again after seeing nothing. Lamgwin reports that a couple of men wearing white, across the street, had tried to steal the cat. Rand sees that the men across the street are nursing bruises. He asks Lamgwin where Master Gill is and is directed to the Library.
Rand finds Master Gill in the library playing stones with Loial. He tells Rand he had begun wondering whether he ran into the beggar out on the street or got into a fight with the white-wearing traitors. Rand says he saw the beggar and that he also saw the Queen and Elaida. Gill laughs and says that Gareth Bryne was in the Common Room an hour ago arm wrestling.
Rand tells the story and Gill’s skepticism fades away. Loial mutters ta’veren. Rand tells everything except except what Elaida whispered to him and except what Gawyn said to him at the Palace Gate. When he was finished talking, Gill tells him he can no longer wait for his friends. He will have to leave the city quickly because Elaida will set the Queen’s Guards to the task of finding him. Gill says that the Guard will be able to search every Inn in the city in two days and that is assuming that they do not stumble into The Queen’s Blessing in their first hour of searching.
Gill says that he will send for Mother Grubb to care for Mat if Rand cannot rouse him from bed. He also offers to lend the two of them a couple of horses.
Rand tells Gill that he’s a good friend and that it seems like he and Mat have brought him nothing but trouble. Gill seems embarrassed but he says Thom was always a good friend to him. Loial again asks if he can go with Rand when he leaves. He says that he understands the danger and that Rand truly is ta’veren.
L: The Pattern weaves itself around you and you stand at the heart of it.
Rand feels a chill at how close Loial’s words are to what Elaida whispered to him. He bursts out in anger that he does not stand at the heart of anything. Gill and Loial are taken aback and Rand calms himself, finding the Void that Tam taught him. He then tells Loial that he can come but that he does not know why he would want to.
A tap comes at the door and one of the serving maids, Gilda, sticks her head into the room. She tells Master Gill that Whitecloaks are in the Common Room. He tells Loial that he had best stay in the library. Gill then hurries from the room. Rand follows him but only to the door of the Common Room. He stands far enough back to listen and not be seen.
Five Whitecloaks are in the room and one of them has the mark of an officer. Gill crosses the room to him quickly and greets him. The officer says he is looking for Darkfriends – a boy from the Two Rivers. Gill says that everyone in the Inn is a good Queen’s man and the officer replies that they all know where Morgase and her Tar Valon witch stands. Every man in the room is suddenly on his feet. The officer tells Gill that things will go easier if he cooperates, insinuating that an Inn with the Dragon’s Fang on the door will not get much custom. He also says that fire sometimes happens at establishments with the Dragon’s Fang. Gill commands him to leave the Inn. All of the men inside the Common Room have pulled swords and daggers.
Officer: The Dragon’s Fang…
Gill: … won’t help you five.
Gill gives them to a count of five as he tells the officer that Whitecloaks hold no writ in Caemlyn. The Whitecloaks leave. After they leave, the men inside the Common Room sit and a couple of them clasp Gill on the shoulder. Gill wonders at what he has just done. “The Light illumine me.”
He finds Rand in the hallway and tells him that their group will be back or that they will send spies into the Common Room wearing red. He tells Rand he will have to hide until he can get him outside of the city. Rand tells him that he has no idea why Whitecloaks would be after him.
Gilda reappears again and tells Master Gill that there is a Lady in the Kitchens. The Lady is asking for Master Rand and Master Mat by name.
Gill: Lad, if you’ve actually managed to bring the Lady Elayne down from the Palace into my Inn, we’ll all end up facing the headsman.
Gill sends a stunned Gilda away and tells her to keep quiet about what she’s heard. When she is gone, Gill tells Rand that she will be telling the other serving maids, within five minutes, that Rand is a prince in disguise. By nightfall, he says, it will be all over the new city.
Suddenly Rand realizes that he never mentioned Mat to Elayne. A huge smile comes across his face and Rand runs toward the kitchens as Gill calls after him to wait. Rand enters the Kitchens and there they are.
Moiraine lays her eyes on him with no surprise. Nynaeve and Egwene run toward him, laughing, and throw their arms around him. Lan is in the doorway between the yard outside and the kitchen. Rand tries to hug the two women and shake Perrin’s hand all at the same time. Rand’s throat is so tight he can barely talk.
From behind Rand, Master Gill says that he knows these people after all. He asks if they are the friends he has been looking for and he nods, yes. Moiraine and Lan glance sharply at him for using their real names. Gill bows deeply to her. Moiraine tells Master Gill that she will stay in the Inn for the short time that she will remain in Caemlyn and she insists that Gill allow her to pay.
Gill’s cats approach Moiraine. She bends down to pet one of them and asks if he has a problem with rats. He says that he does, as does most of the city. Rand tries to exchange a look with Perrin and his friend continues looking down and away. Rand is surprised at how silent Perrin is. Moiraine offers to do something to keep the rats away and Gill accepts.
Suddenly Nynaeve asks where Mat is. Rand tells her that Mat is not feeling well. Moiraine tells all of them to go up and to stay out of sight. Nynaeve wants to check on Mat and heal him. Out of sight, Perrin finally talks. He tells Rand that Moiraine said she could take them right to Rand and Mat and then she did. He said the rest of them – except Lan – could not stop staring at how large the city is.
Egwene notices that Rand’s sword has red wrappings and asks him what it means. Rand tells her it’s nothing important. Egwene then picks up Perrin’s story and says that Moiraine led them back and forth through the streets of Caemlyn, like a dog hunting a scent, and then abruptly she took off down a street and walked right into The Queen’s Blessing and asks a kitchen servant to go let Rand al’Thor and Mat Cauthon know she is there to see them.
Egwene: And there you were! […] Like a ball popping into a gleeman’s hand out of nowhere.
Perrin then asks where the Gleeman is and Rand’s stomach lurched. He tells them that Thom is dead, or at least that he thinks Thom is dead. “There was a Fade…” Nynaeve muttered under her breath.
Outside of Mat’s door, Rand tells them that Mat is not sick, exactly. Then he tells her “you’ll see.”
Rand opened the door and said “look who’s here, Mat?”
Mat’s skin is tight and his face is sweaty.
Mat: How do I know they are who they look like? How do I know you’re who you look like?
Nynaeve pushes past Rand. Mat looks and Perrin and states that everyone changes. He notes to Perrin that he has changed, hasn’t he. Mat’s laugh sounds like a cough. Nynaeve put her hand to Mat’s face and he jerks back from her. His eyes are bright and glazed. She notes that he is burning but that he should not be sweating with the fever. She sends Rand and Perrin to fetch clean cloths and water. She states that she will bring his temperature down, first.
“Pretty Nynaeve,” Mat spat. “A Wisdom isn’t supposed to think of herself as a woman, is she? Not a pretty woman. But you do, don’t you? Now. You can’t make yourself forget that you’re a pretty woman, now, and it frightens you. Everybody changes.” Nynaeve’s face paled as he spoke, whether with anger or something else, Rand could not tell. Mat gave a sly laugh, and his feverish eyes slid to Egwene. “Pretty Egwene,” he croaked. “Pretty as Nynaeve. And you share other things now, don’t you? Other dreams. What do you dream about now?” Egwene took a step back from the bed.
Moiraine walks into the room, with Lan on her heels and she states that they are safe from The Dark One’s eyes for the time being. When her eyes fall on Mat, she hisses as if she is touching a hot stove. She shouts at everyone to get away from him. Nynaeve does not move. Moiraine takes two quick steps and hauls her across the floor like a sack of grain. Moiraine eyes Mat the way she would eye a viper. Mat eyes her the same way. She slowly approaches him and he convulses. Suddenly he grabs his ruby hilted dagger and slashes at her face. Lan catches Mat’s wrist as if it struck stone.
Moiraine asks how Mat came by the dagger. She states aloud that she had asked if Mordeth gave them anything and that they had told her no. Rand replies that Mordeth gave them nothing but that Rand took the dagger of his own volition. He also says he did not find out until after they were separated.
Moiraine says it is a wonder Mat got so far carrying the dagger and that she felt the evil of it when she laid eyes on Mat. She says that a Fade could sense the dagger miles away. She says some Darkfriends can also probably feel the dagger, too. She states that the dagger should have drawn Darkfriends to them like a magnet draws iron filings.
Rand tells her that there were Darkfriends more than once, and a Fade. He tells her that there are rumors of strange thing sin the night outside the city. Lan tells him that there are trollocs outside the city. He says he has seen sign outside the city for two days. Egwene protests that the Fades and trollocs cannot strike at them in Caemlyn and Lan scoffs. He tells her that a dozen fists of trollocs patrols the outskirts of the city – enough to spy on every exit from the city. Lan states that they are waiting to build enough numbers to enter the city.
It looks as if you’ve brought a new trolloc war to Caemlyn, Sheepherder.
Egwene gasped. Rand suddenly imagines the city in flames, the royal family dead, and people dying on the streets. Moiraine tells them that if they can find a way out of Caemlyn the trollocs and halfmen will lose interest in Caemlyn.
Perrin: Better if we were all dead.
He repeats the thought and Moiraine asks him what he thinks to gain for himself or others by dying. She says that if The Dark One can influence the Pattern, now, he can reach their group more easily dead than alive. “Dead, you can help no one.”
Rand finally notices that Perrin’s eyes are yellow. Perrin says that they cannot stop events alive, either. Moiraine tells them that Mat needs her attention, now. She points at Mat’s dagger and reminds them that it is from Shadar Logoth. She tells them that the evil that killed the city is in the dagger and now in Mat. She tells them that if the dagger does not kill Mat first, he will spread the evil from it like a plague wherever he goes.
Just as one scratch from that blade is enough to kill and destroy, soon, a few minutes with Mat will be just as deadly.
Nynaeve asks if Moiraine can do anything and the Aes Sedai says that she hopes so. She tells all of them to leave her.
So let’s assess.
- Yay! Everyone – except Thom – is reunited. RIP (maybe, but probably not) to the old Gleeman. Even Rand seems to be coming around the idea if that if you don’t see a body, then you aren’t actually dead.
- Elaida is most likely looking for Rand and he’s on a clock to get out of the city and avoid her.
- The Whitecloaks are going to return to The Queen’s Blessing. Little does Rand know they were probably looking for Perrin.
- Loial wants to travel with Rand – and Rand agreed.
- Mat’s dagger has basically been a homing beacon for all the baddies.
- Mat is either going to die or turn into a living plague of deadly suspicion and hatred. That seems less than ideal.
- The baddies are marshalling a huge army outside of Caemlyn’s walls – and managing to avoid being seen for the most part. The Queen’s Guards and the Whitecloaks should probably improve their skills.
- Moiraine is about to use a lot of the One Power in an effort to heal Mat – which is probably also going to serve as its own homing beacon for both Elaida and the baddies. We have multiple homing beacons of danger, folks.
That’s… a lot of not good. It’s probably also note-worthy that Perrin has just made a public declaration of wanting to die. Your eyes are golden yellow and you can talk to wolves. Buck up, my dude.
I really enjoyed Gill’s moment to shine in this chapter. It was a little bit adorable that his big moment is kicking some Whitecloaks out of his Inn. But we all have our own part to play, no? I hope he doesn’t die soon at the hands of Whitecloaks or the Shadow. We are not told which Whitecloak was the officer but it is probably Byar, right? Seems like Byar.
I am looking forward to Moiraine’s reaction to finding out that Rand met the Queen and Elaida. I suspect she will not be happy.