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 8: The Dragon Reborn
Rand walks stiff legged and nervous beside Lan. Rand feels as though he has something caught in his throat. The corridors bustle. No sign of the fighting from the night before remains but an air of alertness remains, even among the children playing. Ingtar gives Lan and Rand a peculiar and almost troubled look as they past him, but he says nothing. One of the men shouts “Tai’shar Malkier! Tai’Shar Manetheren!” as they walk past. Rand jumps. Lan raises his fist and replies “Tai’shar Shienar!” Rand wonders what could happen if he made a run for it.
As they approach the women’s apartments, Lan snaps a command – “Cat Crosses the Courtyard.” Started, Rand assumes the walking stance as he has been taught. His back is straight but every other muscle is loose. It is a relaxed and almost arrogant saunter. Rand has no time to know what he is doing. He walks beside Lan who has assumed the same walking stance. The women at the entrance of the women’s apartments look up calmly as they approach. One of the Lady Amalisa’s attendants, Nisura, puts aside her embroidery as they come to a stop. Her mouth tightens at the sight of their swords but no more. All of the women stop what they are doing to watch.
Nisura tells them that the Amyrlin Seat awaits them. She motions and two other ladies arrive to serve as escorts. The women bow and motion then through the archway. Rand notices small knots of conversation as they pass through. Lan strides as though he notices nothing. Then they reach the Amrylin Seat’s door. Leanna Sedai stands there, holding her staff. Rand does not know the other two Aes Sedai standing there but he recognizes that one is White Ajah and the other is Yellow Ajah based on the color of th efringe on their shawls. The women who had brough Rand and Lan curtsy and hand them over to the Aes Sedai.
Leanna smiles but speaks with a snap in her voice. She asks Lan Gaidin if he has brought a young lion to see the Amyrlin Seat. She also suggests that it would be well if no Green sisters see him lest one of them bond him before he can take a breath. She says Greens like to bond them young. Rand wonders if it is possible to sweat inside his own skin. Rand introduces himself. It was part of Lan’s instructions.
I am Rand al’Thor son of Tam al’Thor, of the Two Rivers, which once was Manetheren. As I have been summoned by the Amyrlin Seat, Leanna Sedai, so do I come. I stand ready.
Rand is surprised that his voice did not shake while he spoke. Leanna addresses Lan.
Leanna: This is supposed to be a shepherd, Lan Gaidin? He was not so sure of himself this morning.
Lan: He is a man Leanna Sedai… no more and no less. We are what we are.
Leanna replies that the world grows stranger every day and she supposed aloud, that the blacksmith will wear a crown and speak in high chant. She tells both of them to wait where they are. Leanna returns and motions Rand to go inside. When Lan starts to follow, she thrusts her staff across his chest stopping him. She tells him he cannot go in and says that Moiraine Sedai has a task for him. The doors swings closed behind Rand but not before he can hear Lan, firmly, say “tai’shar Manetheren.”
Moiraine is sitting on one side of the room. A brown Aes Sedai that Rand remembers from the dungeon, is sitting on the other side of the room. The woman in the tall chair behind the wide table is the one who holds his eyes. Rand recognizes her. She is the Amyrlin Seat. Rand drops to one knee, right hand on sword hilt, and left fist pressed against the patterened rug.
Rand: As you have summoned me Mother, so have I come. I stand ready.
Rand lifts his head in time to see her eyebrows rise.
Siuan: Do you now, boy?
Sounding almost amused, she commands Rand to stand so that she can have a look at him. He straightens and tries to keep his face relaxed. He meets her look eye to eye and she does not blink. Then she gestures to a chair and tells him to sit. As Lan instrusted him, Rand replies by bowing to the chair and touching his sword.
Rand: Thank you, Mother. By your leave Mother, I will stand. The Watch is not done.
Siuan makes an exasperated sound and looks at Moiraine. She asks Moiraine if she let Lan at him. Moiraine replies that Lan has been teaching all the boys. She notes though that Lan has spent a little more time with Rand than the other two because Rand carries a sword. The Brown sister notes that the Gaidin are stiff necked but useful. She says she would not be without Tomas as Siuan would not be without Alric. The Brown sister continues, saying that she has even heard Red sisters say a few times that they had a Warder.
The Amyrlin Seat notes that Rand’s sword is heron marked. She asks Moiraine how Rand came by that. Moiraine tells Siuan that Tam al’Thor left the Two Rivers as a boy and joined the army of Illian, serving in the Whitecloak War as well as the last two wars with Tear. She says that in time, Tam rose to become a blademaster and the Second Captain of the Companions. She says that after the Aiel War, Tam returned to the Two Rivers with a wife from Caemlyn and an infant boy. She says it would have saved much if she had known this sooner but she says she knows it now.
Rand stares at Moiraine. He knew Tam had left the Two Rivers but he did not know the details. The Amyrlin frowns slightly at the mention of Tam fighting against Tear.
Siuan: Well, there was blame enough on both sides in those wars.
Siuan asks Verin if she can tell whether or not the blade is authentic. She asks Verin to take Rand’s sword and to test it. Rand grips his sword hilt hard.
Rand: My father gave this sword to me. Nobody is taking it from me.
Rand notices that Verin never rose from her chair. The Amyrlin muses that Rand has some fire in him, in addition to whatever Lan put in. She says that he will need it.
Rand: I am what I am Mother. I stand ready for what comes.
Siuan grimaces. She tells Rand that in a few hours, Mat and most likely Perrin will accompany Ingtar and others in an effort to find and retrieve the Horn of Valere. She asks him if he wishes to accompany them. He asks why they are going. She tells him that they think the dagger is with the Horn and that Mat is the only one who can handle the dagger safely. She says that unless the dagger is found, the link between Mat and the dagger cannot be broken, completely, and that Mat will die. She says that she will also be leaving in a few hours with Moiraine, Nynaeve, and Egwene, for Tar Valon. She tells Rand that if he does not go with Ingtar’s men, he will be staying in Fal Dara alone. She tells him that the choice is his.
Rand is confused. He cannot determine whether the Aes Sedai are trying to push him in a particular way. He thinks that he is determined to go another way that the one they suggest. He also thinks that Mat’s dagger must be found. The Amyrlin tells him that he does not have to make the choice now but that he will have to decide before Ingtar leaves.
Rand: I will ride with Ingtar, Mother.
Siuan nods absently. She says now that they have dealt with where Rand will go, they can move on to important matters. She tells Rand outright that she knows he can channel. Rand’s mouth falls open and he sweats. Siuan asks him what he knows and learns forward to hear his answer. Rand has the feeling that she wants to lean back.
Rand tells her that he has never channeled on purpose, that he does not want to, and that he says that he will never do it again. She replies that not wanting to is both wise and foolish. She explains that for people who are born with the seed of channeling inside of them, they continue to channel whether they want to or not. She tells Rand that he needs to learn to channel and to control it or he will not live long enough to go mad.
Siuan: The One Power kills those who cannot control its flow.
Rand complains that he cannot learn. He tells Siuan that Moiraine said she cannot teach him. He then says he does not know how to learn or what to learn. He then reiterates that he does not want to learn. He wants to stop.
Moiraine speaks up and tells him that she told him the truth. She tells him that those who could teach him are three thousand years dead. She says that no Aes Sedai living can teach him to touch Saidin anymore than he could learn to touch Saidar.
Moiraine: A bird cannot teach a fish to fly nor a fish teach a bird to swim.
Verin interrupts saying that she has always thought that to be a bad saying, noting that there are some fish in the Sea of Storms that do fly and some birds that can swim. Rand uses the interruption to do as Tam taught him long ago. He pictures a single flame in his mind, places all of his emotion into it, and assumes The Void. When the Aes Sedai look back at Rand again, his face is calm. He asks Siuan why she is talking to him this way. He says that she should be gentling him.
Siuan frowns and asks Moiraine if Lan taught him this. She tells Siuan that Rand learned this from Tam al’Thor. Rand demands again to know why. Siuan looks him in the eye and speaks.
Siuan: Because you are The Dragon Reborn.
The Void and the world rocked around Rand. He feels as though everything is spinning. He concentrates and the emptiness returns and the world steadies.
Rand: No, Mother, I can channel, the Light help me, but I am not Raolin Darksbane or Guiare Amalasan, nor Yurian Stonebow. You can gentle me, or kill me, or let me go, but I will not be a tame False Dragon on a Tar Valon leash.
Rand hears Verin gasp and sees Siuan’s eyes widen. The Amyrlin asks him where he heard those names. She asks him who told him that Tar Valon pulls the lines on any False Dragon. He tells her a Gleeman, Thom Merrilin told him. He tells her Thom is dead now, too. Rand returns to the Void. Siuan tells him firmly that he is not a False Dragon. She says that he is the true Dragon Reborn. Rand replies that he is a shepherd from the Two Rivers.
Siuan instructs Moiraine to tell Rand the story. Siuan tells Rand to listen well.
Moiraine explains that nearly twenty years ago, the Aiel crossed the Spine of the World, the Dragonwall, and she says that it is the only time they have ever done so. She says they ravaged Cairhien, destroyed every army sent against them, and fought all the way to Tar Valon. She says that it was winter but cold nor heat mean anything to an Aiel. She says that the last battle against them was fought outside the Shining Walls in the shadow of Dragonmount. She says that in three days and nights of fighting the Aiel were turned back. She says that it may be they turned themselves back because they completed the thing they came to do which was to kill King Laman of Cairhien for his sin against the Tree. She says her story, and Rand’s story, begin at that time.
Rand remembers words that Tam murmured during his fever dream in the Westwood on Winternight. Tam’s story matched what Moiraine is now saying. Moiraine continues. She says that at this time, she was one of the Accepted. She says the Amyrlin Seat, Siuan, was also Accepted at this time. She says they were soon to be raised to Sisterhood and that on that night, they stood in attendance on the Amyrlin at that time. She says that the Keeper of the Chronicles at that time was named Gitara Moroso. Moiraine says that every other full sister in Tar Valon was healing as many wounded as she could find. As the memory of Tam’s voice continues intruding on Rand’s mind, Rand interjetcts again aloud who he is. Moiraine cuts him off explaining that the Prophecies of the Dragon state that the Dragon will be reborn on the slopes of Dragonmount, the same place he died during the Breaking of the World. She says that Gitara Sedai had the Foretelling sometimes. She says Gitara was old with white hair. Moiraine recalls that as the Amyrlin asked her what news there was from the field of battle, Gitara Sedai stood up out of her chair. She says that the woman’s arms and legs were rigid and her face looked as though she was looking into the Pit of Doom at Shayol Ghul.
Moiraine: And she cried out ‘He is born again. I feel him. The Dragon takes his first breath on the slope of Dragonmount. He is coming. He is coming. Light help us! Light help the world! He lies in the snow and cries like the thunder. He burns like the sun.’ And she fell forward into my arms, dead.
Rand continues remembering Tam’s words. Tam had said that on the slope of a mountain, he heard a baby crying. Tam had said someone gave birth there alone before she died. Rand tries to force Tam’s voice away from his mind and The Void grows smaller.
Rand’s legs tremble as he says his name and that he was born in the Two Rivers. Moiraine goes on saying that this is how they knew the Dragon was reborn. She tells Rand that the then Amyrlin swore them to secrecy – herself and Siuan. She says that the then Amyrlin knew not all Sisters would see the rebirth as it must be seen. Moiraine says the Amyrlin set them to searching. She says that eventually they found a story about a man who found an infant on a mountain but that was all they knew. She says that they searched for years, looking for clues and studying the prophecies.
“He will be of the ancient blood and raised by the old blood.”
She says that in Emond’s Field, where the old blood of Manetheren flows like a flood, she found three boys who were born within days of the battle at Dragonmount. She says that one of those three can channel.
You think trollocs came after you just because you are ta’veren? You are The Dragon Reborn.
Rand’s knees give way. He places his hands on the rug to prevent himself from falling on his face onto the rug. The Void is gone and the stillness is shattered. The three Aes Sedai are staring at him. Rand thinks to himself that some way, somehow they are lying and trying to use him.
Rand: I will not be used by you!
Siuan: An anchor is not demeaned by being used to hold a boat.
She tells him he was made for a purpose. She says that the prophecies must be fulfilled or the Dark One will break free and remake the world in his own image. She tells Rand that the Last Battle is coming and that he was born to unite mankind and lead them against The Dark One.
Rand replies that Ba’alzamon is dead. The Amyrlin snorts in reply and says that if he believes that, he is a fool. Rand wonders to himself what the Amyrlin would say if she knew Ba’alzamon had spoken to him in dreams. Suddenly Rand realizes he is still squatting. Drawing on his own native stubbornness, he forces himself to stand. Rand steadies his voice.
“What are you going to do to me?”
The Amyrlin replies, “nothing.” She tells Rand that he can accompany his friends with Ingtar. She also says she has not marked Rand out in any way. She says that some of the sisters may know he is ta’veren but no more than that. She says that only the three Aes Sedai in the room know who he truly is. She tells Rand that Perrin will also be brought to her and that she plans to visit Mat in the infirmary. She tells him he can go as he pleases. Rand becomes angry but he holds it in check and asks why. The Amyrlin explains that the Prophecies must be fulfilled. She says that they must let him walk free so that he can fulfill them. She warns him that not all Aes Sedai feel the same and says that some here even in Fal Dara would strike him down without question knowing only a tenth of what he is. She points out, though, that there are man who have laughed with Rand who would do the same as those Sisters if they knew. The Aes Sedai look at Rand so calmly that it is hard for him to believe they are telling him that he is also the most hated and feared man in the history of the world. Rand suddenly remembers Lan’s instructions. He does a formal bow.
“By your leave, Mother. May I depart this place?”
She gives him leave to go. He says one more time that he will not be used.
The silence stretches on in the room after Rand leaves. The Amyrlin lets out a long breath and says that she cannot make herself like what they just did. She says it was necessary and then asks Verin and Moiraine if it worked. Moiraine says that she does not know but states again that it was necessary. Verin agrees. The Brown sister says that Rand is strong and as stubborn as Moiraine had told them. The Amyrlin states that they will do as they must and she hopes for the Light to help them all once Rand learns how to channel.
Nynaeve can feel a storm coming – the biggest storm she has ever felt. As Wisdom, she could listen to the wind and determine what weather is coming. She was more comfortable with that ability before learning that it was a manifestation of the One Power.
She thinks to herself that there is something wrong with her feeling. The storm feels distant, too far off for her to feel it, and yet at the same time she feels as though the sky should be pouring down rain and hail with howling winds. She can also feel the good weather, beneath her feeling of a storm, and it indicates to her that the weather will be good for days, yet.
There is a storm and there isn’t. It means something, but what?
Far down the hall, she sees Rand striding away with his half escort of women almost running to keep up. Nynaeve nods to herself and thinks that if there is a storm that is not a storm, Rand will be at the center of it. She gathers her skirts and hurries after Rand. Women in the apartments try to speak with Nynaeve, curious why the Amyrlin summoned him. She breaks into a run. However, before she can even exit the women’s apartments, she lost Rand around too many corners and too many people. She asks Nisura which way Rand went. The woman tells her that she does not know. Nisura is still somewhat scandalized that Rand wore a sword into the women’s apartments and in the Amrylin’s chambers. She asks Nynaeve if Rand is really a prince in her land. Nynaeve is not sure what she answered but whatever it was, it made the women let her go on. She hurries out of the women’s apartments, head swiveling, searching for him. She chides herself for not getting Rand away from Moiraine somehow, thinking to herself that she is their Wisdom.
A voice in Nynaeve’s head taunts her and asks if she really is their Wisdom. It reminds her that she has abandoned Emond’s Field to fend for itself. The argument with herself continues. She thinks that she brought Mavra up from Devon Ride to serve as Wisdom until she returns and the voice replies that Mavra will eventually have to return to her own village. Nynaeve cringes inside. She says aloud that she is the Wisdom of Emond’s Field. A servant walking by blinks at her and gives her a small bow. She blushes and looks to see if anyone noticed.
She was beginning to feel her search was futile when she came upon Lan looking through an arrowslit window down onto the courtyard below. Lan was so intent on watching that he did not seem to hear her approach. She hates that she can never sneak up on him regardless of how softly she steps. She stops in her tracks with her stomach fluttering. She studies him. She decides that he is too tall. She argues with herself about whether his face is cruel and decides that it is never cruel. She remembers that he is a King and asks herself what a King would want with a village woman. She also remembers that he is a Warder and bonded to Moiraine. She thinks that Moiraine has everything she wants. He turns from the arrowslit and she whirls to go. He says her name.
He tells her that he wanted to speak to her alone. She turns to face him trying to keep her face calm. She tells Lan that she is looking for Rand. Nynaeve continues, saying that she and Lan said all that they need to say long ago. She says that she shamed herself and that she will not do it again. She finishes by saying that he told her to go away. Lan replies that he told her he had nothing to offer for bride price but widow’s clothes. He says that is not a gift any man could give a woman – at least not a man who can call himself a man. Nynaeve replies that she understands and says that in any case, a King does not give gifts to village women. She says that in this case, this village woman would not take the gifts anyway. She asks him again if he has seen Rand.
Lan’s eyes blaze like blue ice. Nynaeve stiffens her legs to keep from stepping back. Lan growls that The Dark One can take Rand al’Thor and the Amyrlin Seat both. He presses something into Nynaeve’s hand. He says he will make her a gift and she will take it even if he has to chain it around her neck. She pulls her eyes away from his. In her hand is a signet ring. On the ring is a crane flying about a lance and a crown. It is the ring of Malkieri kings. She lifts her face up, forgetting to glare. She says that she cannot take this. He shrugs. He says that it is old and useless to him but that there are those who will know it.
Show that, and you will have guest right, and help if you need it, from any Lord in the Borderlands. Show it to a Warder and he will give aid or carry a message to me. Send it to me, or a message marked with it, and I will come to you without delay and without fail. This I swear.
Nynaeve’s vision blurs at the edges. She thinks to herself that if she cries now she will kill herself. She tries to give the ring back to him but he fends her off. His hand envelopes her hands and close them around the ring. He tells her to take it, for his sake, as a favor to him. He says she can also throw it away if it displeases her. He brushes her cheek with a finger.
He calls her Nynaeve Mashiara and says that he must go now because the Amyrlin wishes to leave before midday. He suggests, hopefully, that they might have time to talk again on the journey to Tar Valon. He turns and strides away down the hall.
Nynaeve touches her own cheek where he had touched it. Mashiara means beloved of heart and soul. It also means a love lost beyond regaining. She clutches the ring and turns, finding herself face to face with Moiraine. The Wisdom asks her how long she has been there. Moirains says she has not been there long enough to hear anything she should not have. She says that she did hear that they will be leaving soon and confirms that it is true. She tells Nynaeve to see to her packing. Nynaeve mutters to herself that she will have to say goodbye to the boys. Then she gives Moiraine a sharp look and asks her what she has done to Rand.
Moiraine tells Nynaeve that the Amyrlin plans to see all three boys and notes that ta’veren are not so common, especially all in one place. She says that perhaps the Amyrlin will give them some words of encouragement because they are all three joining Ingtar to hunt after the Horn of Valere. She tells Nyneve that they will be leaving at about the same time as they themselves. Looking out a window, she says aloud to Moiraine that she should have gotten the boys away from her. She thinks that she should have done the same for Egwene, too, if she could be sure that doing so would not kill her.
Moiraine replies that they are all old enough to be off apron strings and that she knows very well why she cannot take them all home. She also points out to Nynaeve that if she does not go to Tar Valon herself, and train, she will never know enough to use the One Power against her. Nynaeve turns to face Moiraine. Moiraine asks her if she really believed she did not want to use the power against her? She says Nynaeve can have things as she wishes. She then confirms that Nynaeve is coming to Tar Valon and gets that confirmation.
Nynaeve represses a desire to strike Moiraine and thinks to herself that Moiraine wants to use her, too, somehow. She asks Moiraine what she is doing with Rand and asks her why she has not yet had him gentled. Moiraine points out that if Rand were brought to the Amyrlin in the wrong way, she may be forced to gentle him. She suggests that it is best to let a sleeping lion sleep and tells Nynaeve that it is best if she sees to her packing. Moiraine strides away in the direction that Lan went. Nynaeve thinks to hself that she will learn, better than Moiraine thinks, and that she will pull the Aes Sedai down for what she has done.
Egwene watches the maids fold her dresses and place them into a travel chest. She thinks about how long it may be before she is able to return home. Nynaeve enters the room. She asks of Egwene is ready and the younger woman says that she is nearly ready and she comments on the fact that they will have few opportunities in Tar Valon to wear the nice dresses given to them by Amalisa. Egwene then laughs, addresses Nynaeve as Wisdom, and says she will not miss bathing without looking over her shoulder to see if a man is coming to join her in the Shienaran community baths. Nynaeve blushes and agrees saying it is much better to bathe alone.
Nynaeve tells her that she should probably not call her Wisdom any longer. Egwene blinks and asks why not. Nynaeve tells her that she is a woman now. She repeats again that Egwene is a woman and says that they are two woman on a journey a long way from Emond’s Field. She says it will be long until they see home again.
Egwene: We will see home again, Nynaeve, we will.
Nynaeve: Don’t try to comfort the Wisdom, girl.
There is a knock at the door and Nisura enters, clearly agitated. She tells Egwene that the young man of hers is trying to enter the Women’s apartments. She sounds scandalized. She says he is wearing a sword, sounding even more scandalized. She says “Lord Rand” is causing an uproar. Egwene asks Nynaeve to let her speak with Rand alone. Nynaeve agrees.
In the hallway with Nisura, Egwene mutters that if Rand has not learned manners by now she will skin him alive. Nisura agrees that sometimes that is what it takes. She then politely asks Egwene if she intends to marry Lord Rand, noting that Egwene is going to the White Tower and saying that Aes Sedai seldom wed. Egwene has heard talk in the Women’s Apartments about a suitable wife for Rand. At first, she remembers that it caused her stabs of jealousy and anger. She repies to Nisura, sadly, that she does not know if she will marry him. Nisura nods. Then she points out that Rand is ahead.
He is being confronted by Agelmar and another man. Agelmar explains to him why he cannot go in. Rand replies that he did not try to go inside. He says that all he did was shout at her from the door. He says that he did not try to enter. He says that one might have thought he was naming The Dark One for the way they started in on him. It is explained to Rand that he has to send a message inside, and wait, per custom. He replies stubbornly that he has to see her now because they are all leaving soon.
Suddenly, the man with Agelmar sees Egwene and points her out. They leave him with Egwene. Rand stands looking at Egwene. Egwene feels her heart going out to Rand and she asks him to walk with her. She says she heard about his exploits – running through the women’s apartments the night before carrying a sword and wearing a sword to the women’s apartments for an audience with the Amyrlin Seat. Rand does not speak. Egwene delicately asks him if the Amyrlin hurt him. He jerks and says no.
Rand: Egwene, the Amyrlin… no, she didn’t hurt me.
Egwene had the feeling that Rand had been planning to say something else and then changed his mind. She asks what the Amyrlin wanted with him and he replies that it was nothing important. He says that she wanted to see ta’veren. Rand’s face softens and asks if she is alright. He says that Moiraine had said she would be alright but he says he thought she was dead when he found her. She laughs and says she is not dead. She tells Rand that Moiraine said she wished she could heal the rest and leave Egwene with a headache, for being foolish, but it was not possible to only partially heal. Rand mutters that he told her Fain was dangerous.
She bristles and says that if that is the way Rand wants to be, she can hand him over to Nisura. She tells him that the last man who tried to enter the women’s apartments spent a month with his arms in soapy water. She says that with Rand wearing a sword, too, the Light only knows what she would do to him.
Rand: Everybody wants to do something to me.
He says that everybody wants to use him. He tells her that once they find the Horn and Mat’s dagger, he will never be used again. Egwenen grabs his shoulders and makes him face her. She tells him that if he does not start talking sense, she will box his ears. He replies that she sounds like Nynaeve and he laughs. He looks down at her and his laughter fades.
Rand: I suppose… I suppose I’ll never see you again. I know you have to go to Tar Valon. I know that. And you’ll become an Aes Sedai. I’m done with Aes Sedai, Egwene. I won’t be a puppet for them. Not for Moiraine or any of them.
Rand looks so lost that Egwene wants to put his head on her shoulder. He also looks so stubborn that she really does want to box his ears.
Egwene: Listen to me, you great ox. I am going to be an Aes Sedai. And I’ll find a way to help you. I will.
Rand: The next time you see me you will likely want to gentle me.
Egwene looks around hastily and tells Rand to watch his tongue. She asks him if he wants everyone to know and he replies that too many know already. He tells her that he wishes things were different but they are not. He tells her to take care of herself and asks her to promise him that she will not choose the Red Ajah. Egwene’s vision is blurred by tears and she throws her arms around him. She tells him fiercely to take care of himself. She thinks she hear him murmur that he loves her. Then she feels him gently unwrapping her arms and walking away.
Egwene jumps when she feels Nisura touch her arm. Nisura tells her that Rand looks as if Egwene set him on a task he will not enjoy but she advises Egwene to not let Rand see her crying over it. The woman tells her that Nynaeve wants her. Egwene scrubs her cheeks and follows her.
“Take care of yourself, you woolheaded lummox. Light, take care of him.”
I thought Chapter 7 was long. Chapter 8… whew. Not to criticize Robert Jordan, or anything, but I think we could have had a chapter break before the POV switch to Nynaeve.
There’s a lot to talk about here so we’ll take it bit by bit.
Lan’s “Cat Crosses the Courtyard” instruction to Rand is one of my favorite moments in the series. The mentorship, combined with the arrogance in the face of potentially hostile power, and really just being a friend when Rand has none… I just love it. Lan gave Rand the tools to survive that meeting without falling apart in the process.
Leanna mentions “the blacksmith” (Perrin) wearing a crown and speaking in High Chant. I for one look forward to Perrin, the Gleeman Wolf King. [Imagines the wolves gathered around Perrin while he juggles and tells them tales about great trolloc kills throughout wolf history.]
In this chapter, Moiraine gives us Tam al’Thor’s backstory. We are not told how she acquired the information. I find it interesting that Tam joined the army of Illian instead of Andor’s army. Maybe it occurred to him that joining Andor’s army might cause Andoran nobles / military leaders to remember that they technically claim the Two Rivers? We also learn that Kari al’Thor is from Caemlyn. We know from previous chapters that she had red hair and light colored eyes because those are the explanations for why Rand has those features. The end of The Eye of the World also implied that she was a Darkfriend during her life. It is not clear to me how Ba’alzamon could have created an accurate depiction of her… unless she was actually a Darkfriend.
The section with Rand being told he is The Dragon Reborn… it had to occur to Rand at some point, deep down, that he might be, right? Why would the Dark One be so interested in him otherwise? Why was Ba’alzamon always talking to him about False Dragons? Why was Ba’alzamon talking to him at all? Why did he find The Dragon Banner at the Eye of the World? Rand’s quick reply about not being a False Dragon strongly implies that he has thought about the possibility of being named the Dragon. The safer mental space for him is to believe they want him to be a False Dragon. I enjoy the self-realization stuff in fantasy stories. This felt particularly well done.
For context here, Lews Therin Kinslayer is Randland’s version of the Antichrist… except that he already existed. Nobody really seems to remember the part about The Dragon saving everyone from The Dark One. They just remember he ushered in The Breaking (i.e the greatest calamity BY FAR in Randland’s human history.) It’s not a comfortable name to wear.
The next section here was the Nynaeve section – mostly with Lan. This is the section where Lan clarifies his feelings for her. He did not want her to leave thinking that he wasn’t into the idea of being with a “village woman.” He basically says he’d do anything for love, but he just won’t do that (i.e. get married.)
I also enjoyed the catty way Moiraine let Nynaeve know that she knows Nynaeve wants to take her down. The Wisdom is a lot of things but subtle is not one of them. Among the million other reasons, I stan Nynaeve for her lack of subtlety (mostly her tracking abilities but the bluntness too.)
The last part of this chapter is with Egwene and Rand. On the one hand, I wish he had told her everything. “So, uh, Egwene, Moiraine says I’m the Dragon Reborn. Help.” It makes complete sense that he did not tell her though. He already believes he has to hide from her, for the rest of his life, to protect her. Why make her afraid of him when they’re saying what he believes is their last goodbye to each other?
On a lighter note, it seems that love from Egwene is… physically aggressive. She’s constantly throwing herself at Rand and tackling him to the ground when it seems necessary. She threatens to box his ears in this chapter, too. Strangely, he seems to appreciate it coming from her in a weird Two Rivers-y kind of way.