The Great Hunt (Chapter 24): New Friends and Old Enemies

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 24: New Friends and Old Enemies

Egwene follows an Accepted through the halls of the White Tower. The Accepted’s dress is exactly like her own except for seven narrow bands of color at hem and cuffs. Egwene frowns when looking at the dress. Since yesterday, Nynaeve has worn one and the former Wisdom seems to have no joy of it or the golden ring – the serpent eating its own tail – that marks her level. Since Nynaeve’s testing, on the few occassions Egwene has been able to see her, the older woman’s eyes have seemed shadowed – as though she has seen things she wished with all of her heart not to have seen.

The Accepted curtly gestures toward a door and directs Egwene inside. The Accepted, Pedra, is a short wiry woman a little older than Nynaeve. Pedra tells Egwene that she expects to see her in the scullery later. Egwene sticks out her tongue at the woman’s retreating back. Though Egwene had only been entered into the Novice book the night before, she already knows that she does not like Pedra. She goes inside through the door. A young woman with reddish gold hair is sitting inside the small room on one of two benches. The floor is bare. Egwene thinks the woman is her own age but she immediately senses a self-possession to the other woman that makes her seem older. The plainly cut novice dress somehow seems more on her – elegant. She introduces herself to Egwene as Elayne.

Elayne: And you are Egwene, from Emond’s Field in the Two Rivers.

Egwene notes that she said this as though it has significance. The other woman continues on anyway though. She tells Egwene that someone who has been in the White Tower for a while is always assigned to a new novice to help her find her way. She asks Egwene to sit. Egwene explains that she thought she would begin training with Aes Sedai now that she is a novice but says all that has happened thus far is that Pedra woke her two hours before first light to sweep the hallways. Egwene says that she is to wash dishes after dinner, too. Elayne grimaces and replies that she hates washing dishes and says she never had to before. Then she tells Egwene that there will be training every day from breakfast until high, then again from dinner to trine.

Elayne’s eyes suddenly take on a thoughtful expression and she asks Egwene if she was born with it. Egwene says that she was. Elayne says that she thought she felt it and she tells Egwene that she had the advantage of growing up around an Aes Sedai. Egwene wonders who grows up around an Aes Sedai but Elayne goes on and tells her not to be disappointed if it takes her some time to achieve anything with the One Power. She says even the simplest things take time. Elayne says that patience is a thing that must be learned before catching herself as quoting Sheriam Sedai. She tells Egwene that Sheriam will have her in her study, before she can blink, if she tries to run before she can walk.

Egwene tells Elayne that she has had a few lessons already. She opens herself to saidar and feels the warmth suffuse her body. Egwene tries to do the biggest thing she knows how to do. She stretches out her hand and a glowing sphere forms over it. Elayne holds out her own hand and a ball of light appears above her palm, too. Both women see the ball of light above their hand flicker. After a moment, a faint light glows all around Elayne. Egwene gasps and her ball vanishes. Elayne giggles and asks Egwene if she saw it around her. She says that she saw it around Egwene, too, and relays that Sheriam Sedai said that she would eventually. Elayne says this is the first time for her and laughs upon learning that it was also the first time for Egwene.

Egwene tells Elayne that she likes her and says that she believes that they will be friends. Elayne says that she thinks so, too. She again quotes where Egwene is from and asks her if she knows Rand al’Thor. Abruptly, Egwene finds herself rmembering a tale that Rand had told her – a tale she had not believed about Rand falling off a wall into a garden and meeting the Queen of Andor.

Egwene: You’re the Daughter-Heir of Andor?

Elayne says that if Sheriam Sedai her her mention it, she would be called into her study. Egwene notes that everyone including the Accepted mention being called into Sheriam’s study. She asks if Sheriam scolds so fiercely and relays that Sheriam has seemed kind to her thus far. Elayne tells her that Sheriam keeps a willow switch at her desk and says that if one cannot learn to follow the rules in a civilized way that she will teach another way. Elayne notes that there are so many rules for novices that it is very hard not to break some of them. Egwene says that is horrible.

Egwene: I’m not a child and neither are you. I won’t be treated as one.
Elayne: But we are children. The Aes Sedai, the full Sisters, are the grown women. The Accepted are the young women, old enough to be trusted without someone looking over their shoulders at every moment. And novices are the children to be protected and cared for, guided in the way they should go, and punished when they do not.

Elayne tells her many of the rules and Egwene protests that it sounds almost as though the Aes Sedai are trying to make them want to leave. Elayne says that they aren’t but then again they are. She tells Egwene that there are only forty novices in the Tower and of those only seven or eight will become Accepted. Elayne says that Sheriam Sedai says that this is not enough and that there are not enough Aes Sedai in the world to do what must be done. Elayne says, though, that the Tower will not – cannot – lower its standards. She says that the Aes Sedai cannot take a woman as a Sister if she does not have the ability, strength, and desire. Egwene says that Sheriam told her about some of that but says she never considered there not being enough Aes Sedai.

Elayne tells her that Sheriam has a theory. Sheriam believes they have culled humankind from the ability to channel by hunting down men who can channel for three thousand years. She advises Egwene not to mention that theory around any Red Sisters, though. Egwene says that she will not.

Elayne pauses and then asks Egwene if Rand is well. Egwene feels a sudden stab of jealousy. More than that, though, Egwene also feels a stab of fear. She thinks through Rand’s story about meeting Elayne and reassures herself that Elayne could not possibly know that Rand can channel. Egwene tells her that Rand is as well as he can be and says that he was riding with some Shienaran soldiers the last time she saw him. Elayne is surprised.

Elayne: Shienarans? He told me he was a shepherd.

Elayne tells Egwene that she finds herself thinking of Rand at odd times. She also tells Egwene that Elaida believes Rand is important in some way. She says the Aes Sedai did not tell her that directly but states the Sister ordered a search for Rand after he left the Royal Palace and says she was in a fury when she learned that Rand left Caemlyn.

Egwene: Elaida?
Elayne: Elaida Sedai, my mother’s counselor. She is Red Ajah but my mother seems to like her despite that.

Egwene’s mouth feels dry. She tells Elayne that she does not know where Rand is now. She says that Rand left Shienar and she does not believe he is returning to the country. Elayne gives her a level look and says that she would not tell Elaida where to find Rand even if she knew. She states that he has done no wrong that she knows of and she states more that she fears Elaida wants to use Rand in some manner. She also tells Egwene that she has not seen Elaida since the day that they arrived in Tar Valon with Whitecloaks dogging their trail into the city. Elayne tells Egwene that the Whitecloaks are still camped on the Dragonmount side. Elayne suddenly jumps to her feet and tells Egwene that two other women in the White Tower know Rand and she wants Egwene to meet one of them. Elayne takes Egwene’s hand and leads her out of the room.

Egwene: Two girls? Rand seems to meet a lot of girls.

Elayne says one of them is a lazy chit named Elsa Grinwell. Elayne does not believe Elsa will be in the White Tower long. She says the girl is always sneaking off to watch the Warders practice with their swords. Elayne tells Egwene that Rand came to her father’s farm with a friend of his named Mat. Elayne says that it seems they put notions of the world beyond the next village into her head causing her to runaway to be an Aes Sedai. Egwene mutters about men, how she dances a few dances with boy, and Rand runs around like a dog with a sore tooth.

Suddenly a man enters the hallway with Elayne and Egwene. Elayne’s hand tightens its grip on Egwene’s hand. There is nothing alarming about the man other than the suddenness of his arrival. He is tall and handsome, short of his middle years, with long dark curling hair. However, Egwene notices that his shoulders sag and that there is sadness in his eyes. He makes no move toward either Elayne or Egwene. He just looks at them until one of the Accepted appear at his shoulder. The Accepted tells the man that he should not be there. He replies that he wanted to walk. His voice is deep and is as sad as his eyes. She tells him that he should walk in the garden.

Man: With two or three of you watching my every move? You’re just afraid I’ll find a knife.

The man replies to the look on the Accepted’s face by saying the knife would be for himself. He then tells her to lead him to her garden and her watching eyes. The Accepted leads him away. After he is gone, Elayne says his name – Logain.

Egwene: The False Dragon?
Elayne: He has been gentled, Egwene. He is no more dangerous than any other man, now.

Elayne says that she can remember seeing him before though when it took six Aes Sedai to keep him from wielding the One Power. Both women shiver. Egwene asks if they always have to be gentled and Elayne stares at her, mouth agape. Egwene goes on quickly that it is just that she thinks the Aes Sedai would find something else to do with them. She also says that Anaiya and Moiraine told her the greatest feats of the Age of Legends required men and women working together with the One Power. Elayne cautions Egwene not to let any Red Sister hear her thinking that aloud. She then tells Egwene that they did try for hundreds of years. She says they eventually gave up because there was nothing to find that worked. Elayne changes the subject and tells Egwene that she wants her to meet Min.

The name sounds vaguely familiar to Egwene. When she sees the woman, she remembers why. Min is sitting cross-legged on a bridge in the garden. With her tight britches, baggy shirt, and short hair, she can almost pass for an uncommonly pretty boy. Egwene approaches Min and says that remembers her from working at the Inn in Baerlon. Min smiles and says that Egwene is one of those who brought the Darkfriends down on them to burn the Inn down. Min then tells her that the messenger who came to fetch her brought enough gold that Master Fitch is rebuilding the Inn twice as big. Min greets Elayne, too, with a bantering tone as between friends, and asks her if she is not busy with her lessons or slaving away over pots to clean. Elayne replies that Sheriam has not yet managed to get Min into a dress. Min laughs wickedly and says she is no novice. Min makes her voice squeaky.

Min: Yes, Aes Sedai. No, Aes Sedai. May I sweep another floor, Aes Sedai?

She resumes her own low voice and says that she clothes herself the way that she wants. Min turns to Egwene and asks if Rand is well. Egwene’s mouth tightens and she thinks to herself that Rand should wear ram’s horns like a trolloc. Instead of answering Min’s question, she tells Min that she was sorry Master Fitch’s Inn caught fire, states that she is glad he is rebuilding it, and then she asks why Min has come to Tar Valon when it is clear she does not want to be an Aes Sedai.

Min arches an eyebrow in what Egwene is sure is amusement. Elayne explains that she likes Rand. Min says that she knows and for an instant Egwene thinks that she sees sadness or regret in Min’s eyes. Min carefully tells Egwene that she is in Tar Valon because she was sent for and was given the choice between riding or coming tied in a sack. Elayne tells Min that she always exaggerates it. Elayne says that Sheriam Sedai saw the letter and she says that it was a request. Elayne explains to Egwene that Min sees things and that is why she is here – so the Aes Sedai can study how she does it. Elayne says it isn’t the power.

Min mutters the word request and says that when an Aes Sedai requests your presence, it’s like a command from a Queen with one hundred soldiers to back it up. Egwene, confused, says that everybody sees things. Elayne explains further that Min sees auras and images around people. Min puts in that she does not see them all the time. Elayne adds that Min can read things about people from those images and auras but says she is not sure the other woman always tells the truth about what she sees.

Elayne: She said I’d have to share my husband with two other women and I’d never put up with that.

Elayne also adds that Min told her that she would be a Queen before knowing who Elayne was. Min says that she saw a crown and then describes the Rose Crown of Andor. Despite herself, Egwene asks Min what she sees when she looks at her.

Min: A white flame, and, oh, all sorts of things. I don’t know what it means.

Elayne explains that Min says that a great deal. Elayne tells Egwene that one of the things Min sees when looking at her is a severed hand, and she points out that Min clarifies that it is not her own hand.

Elayne: She claims that she does not know what it means, either.

Min says that she does not know and that she does not know what half of it means .

The three women hear the crunch of boots on the walk. They turn to find two young men approaching with shirts and coats across their arms with chests bare. Egwene finds herself staring at the most handsome man she has ever seen. She suddenly realizes he is bowing over her hand – she had not even felt him take it in his. She fumbles in her mind for the name she had heard and mumbles the name Galad. She sees that he is older than she is and older than Rand. The other young man grins and introduces himself as Gawyn.

Gawyn: Since I don’t think you heard the first time.

Min is also grinning and only Elayne wears a frown. Egwene abruptly remembers her hand, still held by Galad, and frees it.

Galad: If your duties allow, I would like to see you again Egwene. We could walk, or if you obtain permission to leave the Tower, we could picnic outside the city.

She stammers and replies that would be nice. She is uncomfortably aware of Min and Gawyn with their amused grins and Elayne with her scowl. Egwene thinks to herself that he is so beautiful, and then she jumps, afraid she spoke the words aloud. Galad tells her “until then” and finally takes his eyes from hers. Galad acknowledges Elayne as “sister” and strolls on across the bridge. Min murmurs to Egwene that Galad will always do what is right no matter who it hurts. Egwene says “sister” in surprise to Elayne. Egwene had thought Elayne’s frown was jealousy.

Elayne says firmly that she is not Galad’s sister. She says that she refuses to be. Gawyn speaks and says dryly that their father was also Galad’s father.

Gawyn: You cannot deny that unless you want to call mother a liar and that I think would take more nerve than we have between us.

Egwene suddenly notices that Gawyn and Elayne have the same red-golden hair color. Elayne declares that Min is correct and she says that Galad has not the smallest part of humanity in him.

Elayne: He takes right above mercy or pit or… he is no more human than a trolloc.

Gawyn grins. He says he does not know about that based on the way Galad was looking at Egwene. He caught both Egwene and Elayne’s looks at him and holds his hands up as though to fend them off. He adds that Galad has the best hand with a sword that he has ever seen. Elayne tells Egwene that “this disgracefully unclothed lummox” is her brother. Elayne tells Gawyn that Egwene knows Rand al’Thor and is from the same village. Gawyn is surprised and asks Egwene is Rand was really born in the Two Rivers. Egwene makes herself nod calmly and says that she grew up with Rand. Gawyn says Rand was a strange fellow, calling himself a shepherd, but not looking or acting like any shepherd he has ever seen. Gawyn notes that he has met all sorts of people who have met Rand al’Thor, some without even knowing his name, though the desription could not be anyone else. Gawyn says that Rand has shifted every one of their lives.

Gawyn tells a story about an old farmer who came to Caemlyn just to see Logain. He says the old farmer stood for his Mother when the riots started and he did so because of a young man off to see the world who made him think there was more to life than his farm. Gawyn says that you could almost think Rand is ta’veren. Gawyn says that Elaida is interested in Rand and he wonders aloud if meeting him will shift their lives in the Pattern.

Egwene looks at Elayne and Min. She is sure that they could not know that Rand really is ta’veren. She has never really thought about that part of it before. To Egwene, he is simply Rand, and he has been cursed with the ability to channel. Egwene awkwardly tells all of them that she really likes them and wants to be their friend. Elayne says that she wants to be Egwene’s friend. Impulsively, Egwene hugs her. Min jumps down and the three women all end up hugging one another. Min says that the three of them are tied together and she says that they cannot let any man get in the way of that. Gawyn asks if one of them would mind telling him what this is all about. Elayne tells him that he would not understand and then the three girls all catch a fit of the giggles. Gawyn says that if their hugging has anything to do with Rand to not let Elaida catch wind of it. He says that she has been at him like a Whitecloak Questioner three times since arriving in Tar Valon.

Gawyn: I do not think she means him any…
[a woman crosses the garden in a red fringed shawl.]
… name the Dark One and he appears.

Gawyn says he does not need another lecture about wearing his shirt outside of the practice yards and he departs. Elaida spares Gawyn only a glance as she crosses over the bridge. Egwene sees hardness in the Sister’s eyes when they pass over her.

Elayne: Elaida, this is Egwene She was born with the seed in her, too, and she has already had some lessons so she is as far along as I am. Elaida?

Elaida tells Elayne that in Caemlyn, she is counselor to her mother. She then says that they are now in the White Tower and Elayne is a novice. Min makes as if to leave but Elaida sharply tells her to stay and that she wishes to speak with her. Elaida tells Egwene and Elayne to be off, just as a gong begins to toll. Elaida tilt her head and says that they must hurry if they do not want further admonishment. Before they go, Elaida tells Elayne to see the Mistress of Novices after her studies. She says that a novice does not speak to Aes Sedai unless bidden to. She then tells Elayne and Egwene to run.

Behind them, Egwene hears Elaida begin.

Elaida: I am given to understand girl that you were brought here by Moiraine Sedai.

Egwene wishes that she could stay and listen. However, she runs as she had been commanded to run. She growls that she will be Aes Sedai and Elayne flashes a quick smile of understanding.

……………………….

Min’s shirt clings to her when she finally leaves the bridge. The sweat is not from the sun but from the heat of Elaida’s questions. She looks over her shoulder to be certain the Aes Sedai is not following her. She wonders how the Red Sister had known that Moiraine is the one who summoned her. Min had been sure that was a secret known only to herself, Moiraine, and Sheriam. She also wonders about all the questions regarding Rand. She thinks that it had not been easy keepin g a smooth face and a steady eye while saying she had never heard of Rand and knew nothing of him. She wonders what Elaida wants with Rand and what Moiraine wants with him.

What does she want with him? Light, what does Moiraine want with him? What is he? Light, I don’t want to fall in love with a man I’ve only met once, and a farmboy at that.

She wishes again that Moiraine would come out from whatever it is she is hiding in the White Tower to tell her why she was summoned, so that she can go. Min grimaces and goes in search of a place to cool off.

REACTION:

I guess, looking at the chapter title, the new friends here are Elayne, Min, and maybe Galad and Gawyn? “Old enemies” probably refers to Elaida… and maybe Logain?

In this chapter, we get a too quick friendship formation between Egwene, Elayne, and Min, though I am not entirely sure that Egwene is not just working to fit in. Hugs as they parted, notwithstanding, she also flashed some jealousy when the other two girls mentioned Rand. I appreciate that Jordan remained consistent with Egwene’s impulsive physicality. If she’s not barreling into Rand, she is hugging people she just met. However, some of that abrupt hugging was just Egwene’s attempt to change the topic away from Rand. She’s making friends to protect the boy she loves. She’s a good egg.. wene.

A lot of this chapter is not quite self-realization for Egwene – it’s Rand-realization for her. She sees now that the boy she has spent her whole life intending to marry is ta’veren. She knew he was ta’veren before but now she is seeing it. There’s a difference between knowing and seeing. She’s struggling between annoyance at all of it and a desire to protect him. She not only desires to protect him she realizes increasingly how necessary it is.

My initial impression of Elayne is positive. Her weird reaction to Galad is maybe what you might expect from a teenager regarding her half-brother, especially if he spent their upbringing tattling on her. Otherwise she is friendly. She deduces quickly that Egwene *likes* Rand and treads carefully around the topic after. She does not avoid it but she is careful.

It’s interesting to meet Min through Egwene’s POV. She was kind of insta-angry when Min brought Rand up right away in a way that she was not insta-angry with Elayne. Maybe it’s those tight fittin’ britches. Things thawed after that, though, but only a little. Egwene did not really like Min’s amusement over her stammering with Galad, either. Yeah… that girl hug at the end was Egwene dipping her toes into friendship politics for Rand’s sake.

We meet Logain in this chapter, too. He’s sad and “gentled” but since he’s still around we should assume the story is not yet through with him.

Galad… handsome and romantically forward. “Galad: Hi, I just met you, and this is crazy, let’s go for a walk and have a picnic maybe?” In my head-canon, it’s not the indomitable Carly Rae Jepsen I think of, when I think of the reaction that women have to Galad. Instead, Take My Breath Away by Berlin starts playing for the female characters every time Galad is on the page… with all of the events moving in slow motion. The other hyper-attractive person we have met so far in this series is Lanfe…err, Selene. I’ll have to figure out what her 1980s theme song is.

Gawyn basically leaves no impression at all in this encounter other than the fact he seems more reasonable regarding his half-brother than Elayne. He also seems pretty amused by Egwene’s reaction to Galad.

Elaida… she does absolutely nothing unreasonable. Tracking down Rand in Caemlyn? Totally reasonable. She had a *significant* Foretelling about him and wanted to ask questions after Morgase turned him loose. Moiraine would have done the same thing. Her quiet Foretelling for only Rand to hear is why he didn’t end up in the palace prison. Then what does she do… she asks Min questions just as several other Aes Sedai had done already? She tells Elayne that she has to follow the White Tower’s rules? None of that establishes her as an enemy, IMO. Obviously the story is painting her a certain way but her actions do not *yet* justify the negative treatment. The Red Sister is actually pretty crafty here with Min. “I am given to understand that you were brought here by Moiraine Sedai” is a good way to make it sounds like she knows something – which Min likely confirmed to her – when she was simply guessing. She manages to avoid lying to achieve this goal. Again.. if Moiraine does this we’re cheering it on.

We end on a Min POV. We learn that Min is going to fall in love with Rand. She can see the future so she presumably knows. She also knows that Rand will not end up with Egwene – hence her sad look at Egwene in this chapter on that topic.

Actually, if we go back and look at Chapter 15 from TEOTW, we get a quote from Min to Rand. With the benefit of hindsight, I think we can see that it is regarding her future with Rand.

As for dreams, maybe it’s your idea of a dream but I never thought it was mine.

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