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.
A man who calls himself Bors is in a vaulted chamber. He is wearing a black silk mask and no self-identifying garments of clothing. The other other one hundred faces in the chamber are also wearing similar black masks. Bors notes to himself that if one does not look closely, he might believe himself to be in a palace. However, upon a closer inspection, the fires give no warmth. The walls in the room are undressed stone, black, with no windows.
It was as if someone had intended to give the semblance of a palace reception chamber but had not cared enough to bother with more than the outline and a few touches for detail.
Bors does not know where the chamber is, suspects none of the others do either, and does not want to think about where it might be. For Bors, it was enough that he had ben summoned – something else he does not like to think about.
Bors is not wearing only a black silk mask. He is wearing a bulky black cloak also. He uses the cloak to disguise a stoop. His intention with the stoop is that other attendees not to know his height or his weight. Bors watches his companions silently in an effort to see if they give anything away.
Servants circulate among the gathering. They are golden haired and slender. They also look so much alike that Bors struggles to tell them apart. A smiling golden haired girl offers Bors a drink. He takes it with no intention of drinking. However, he does not want to appear untrusting. Bors wonders if the servants will be disposed of after the meeting. Servants, he thinks, hear everything. Then he catches the eyes of the serving girl and notices that they are blank and empty – a doll’s eyes. He shivers.
Bors’ life has been marked by finding weakness in those he serves and then using that weakness to advance himself. However, he notes that his current masters have not shown him any weakness. He returns his study to his companions and is comforted by plenty of weakness among their ranks.
Bors sees a woman’s golden slippers and thinks that they mark her from Illian. Another woman nearby stands serenely and silently. The cut of her dress, both clinging and revealing nothing, as well as her coppery skin mark her as being from the First Blood of Arad Doman. Bors guesses that this woman’s golden bracelet probably also bear her house symbols. A man wearing a sky blue Shienaran coat passes Bors, next. This man’s posture all but proclaims him to be a soldier.
Bors thinks to himself that he can read all of his companions, both to social class and to country, commoner and noble. They seem to be from every nation and every people – including even a Tinker. He sees a High Lord of Tear. He sees a high ranking officer in the Andoran Queen’s Guards. He sees one of the Sea Folk. He sees an Aes Sedai – or at least a woman trained in Tar Valon by Aes Sedai. Then he sees another woman wearing a Great Serpent ring.
Bors thinks to himself that witches will be missed less than Tinkers if his companions’ numbers must dwindle before The Day.
Suddenly, a single chime sounds. The room becomes silent. Two trollocs enter the room. The trollocs then turn back toward the door and bow. A myrddraal enters. Bors hates to admit, even to himself, that he fears the myrddraal. He notes that the Fade has its hood pulled back. It has a man’s face but instead of eyes, the creature has smooth skin.
The man who calls himself Bors thinks to himself that a day will come when The Great Lord chooses new dreadlords. He believes that on that day, the halfman will cower before men – before himself personally. Then Bors wonders why the myrddraal is not speaking.
“Your master comes,” The myrddraal’s voice rasped like a snakeskin crumbling. “To your bellies, worms.”
Bors sees am image above the halfman shimmering in the air. He seems the trollocs on the ground as if they are trying to burrow into the stone. Bors bruises himself as he drops face first onto the stone. Words spring to his lips like a charm against danger.
“The Great Lord of the Dark is my master and most heartily do I serve him to the last shred of my very soul.”
The others in the room spoke the same words. While more words spring forth from his lips, he hears others in the back of his mind. He thinks to himself that The Dark One and all of the Forsaken are bound, bound at Shayol Ghul, by the Creator at the moment of creation. He chastises himself and continues his pledge to the Shadow.
Bors finishes the creed as if he has run for ten miles. The rasp of breath all around tells him that the others are doing the same. A mellifluous voice tells them all to rise. Bors is surprised by the voice. Cautiously Bors lifts his head and sees the figure of a man wearing a blood red robe hanging in the air. The man is wearing a blood red mask as well.
Would The Great Lord of the Dark appear to them as a man? And masked besides?
The myrddraal trembles and cowers in the figure’s shadow. Bors thinks to himself that perhaps the man is one of the Forsaken. If the Forsaken are now free, then it must mean the day of The Great Lord’s release must be near.
The red-masked figure tells the group again to rise, this time with a snap in his voice. He gestures with his hands. Bors scrambles to his feet. Halfway to is feet, he notices the figure’s hands are horribly burned. When the figure’s eyes sweep across him, though, he straightens. The man in the blood red robes speaks.
“I have been known by many names but the one by which you shall know me is Ba’alzamon.”
Bors can barely prevent his teeth from chattering. Ba’alzamon continues talking. He tells them that they are in the shadow of Shayol Ghul. He continues, telling them that the day of their master’s return is near at hand. Ba’alzamon tells them that soon the Great Serpents will die and the Wheel of Time will be broken. He tells them that when that happens, their master will remake the world in his own image at that time.
You shall live and rule forever.
Ba’alzamon tells them that there is much to do before The Day of Return. The air next to him shimmers and the figure of a young man hangs there. The man Bors sees appears to be a country lad, with a light of mischief in his eyes. Bors notes that its flesh looks real but its chest does not move with breath and its eyes do not blink. A moment later a second country lad is suspended in the air below Ba’alzamon. This one is a curly haired youth and as muscled as a blacksmith. Bors notes that this second boy has yellow eyes and wears a battle ax at his side. Then a third shape of a young man solidifies under Ba’alzamon. This boy has blue-gray eyes, with dark reddish hair. He is another villager or farmer. The third figure wears a sword with a bronze heron on the scabbard and another on the long hilt. Bors notes that the myrddraal are trembling at these figures but this time the trembling is from hatred and not fear.
Ba’alzamon tells them that there is now one who walks the world who was once, but is not yet, The Dragon. A murmur runs through the listeners. The Shienaran asks if they are to kill him. Ba’alzamon merely says perhaps. He tells the group that a bend is forming in the Pattern where he who would become The Dragon could be turned to his service – must be turned.
Better that he serve me alive than dead. But alive or dead serve me he must and will.
Ba’alzamon tells the gathered group that they must know the three suspended figures because each is a thread in the Pattern that he means to weave. He tells the group that it will be up to them to see that the three boys are placed as he commands. As the room returns to silence, Bors sees the Illianer woman again. Her eyes are wide and she is nodding eagerly as if face to face with someone. Sometimes she even seems to reply but Bors cannot hear a word. Suddenly she arches back on her toes, then, just as abruptly, she settles onto her feet bowing and shivering. As the Illianer woman straightens, one of the women wearing a Great Serpent ring begins nodding.
Each of us hears his own instructions and none hears another’s.
Impatiently Bors waits for his turn. He watches as the group receives instructions one by one. Suddenly a red mask fills Bors’ eyes. He feels dizzy.
Ba’alzamon asks him if he is faithful. Bors replies that he is. Ba’alzamon tells him to return to Tarabon and continue his good works there. He commands Bors to redouble his efforts there. Ba’alzamon also commands Bors to watch for the three young men and to have his followers also watch for them. Bors sweats. Bors attempts to ask for more information and Ba’alzamon tells him that it is enough that to be commanded and enough that he obeys. Ba’alzamon commands Bors to speak of those who have landed at Toman Head, and of the Domani, to no one.
Abruptly, Bors feels as though a giant hand grabs him by the temples and lifts him off the ground. He sees images. First he sees a woman in white, and then in black, who is then gone. Then he sees a raven that knows him personally. Next he sees a man dressed in the armor of what looks like a monstrous insect. He sees a horn, curled and golden. He sees a wolf that leaps out of the shadows and rips out his throat. The torrent of images goes on.
The images that flooded into his mind fade. Hesitantly, he straightens.
Ba’alzamon: Some commands are too important to be known even by he who carries them out.
Bors bows. He knows that there was something he had been trying to remember but now he cannot. He stares at the three human figures hanging in the air and tries to puzzle them out. He starts at a touch on his arm from a golden haired servant. There is a servant for each attendee. Bors notices that Ba’alzamon and the myrddraal are gone. The three figures continue to hang in the air, though.
The servant asks to guide him to his room. Only after they are in the hallway did Bors realize he is alone with the servant. The servant suddenly tells him that the others are being shown to their rooms, also. Bors grinds his teeth but he follows in silence.
The servant tells him that he may change into his own garments as none will see him depart or arrive at his destination. Bors changes into the cloak of a Child of the Light. The sunburst on his chest, with the red shepherd’s crook behind it, signifies his office.
Bors thinks to himself that there is great work to be done in Tarabon and on Almoth Plain.
Welcome to Book 2!
Jordan does not waste any time letting us know that our big bad from Book 1 did not die at Rand’s One Power wielding hands. Sure, he was burned pretty badly, but he lived.
Jordan also lets us know that the continent is crawling with Darkfriends.
What jumps out about this Darkfriend gala?
- Ba’alzamon appears to be keeping it a secret among his followers which of the three Emond’s Field boys is The Dragon Reborn. He clearly knows already from events in the previous book.
- Someone close to The Emond’s Field Gant, in Shienar, is a Darkfriend. It was the Shienaran, after all, who asked if he is supposed to kill the boys.
- It’s enjoyable to me that Perrin’s yellow eyes freak out a bad guy so much.
There was something enjoyable in reading all of the boys described by someone who does not know them. Ba’alzamon calls them The Swordsman, the Trickster, and the Blacksmith. I’ll be honest. Mat wins the nickname battle. The Trickster has some strong Loki vibes, IMO, and I am here for that.