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: Disagreements
The column of Shienarans plod along through the country. It is cold and rainy. Rand’s cloak and his black coat are soaked through to his skin. Hurin sometimes pulls his cowl back to sniff the air. He says neither rain nor cold have any effect on the trail. So far, he has found nothing. Rand hears Uno mutter a curse and Loial checking his saddle bags to make certain his books are okay in the rain.
Rand asks Verin if she can do something the rain while simultaneously suppressing the urge to embrace saidin and do something about the rain himself. Verin gives a start and says that she supposes she could do something. Mat asks her why she does not. Verin explains that if she used that much of the One Power, any Aes Sedai within ten miles would know someone had channeled. She tells Mat that they do not want to bring the Seanchan down on them with some of their damane. Her mouth tightens angrily at the mention of the damane.
Their party had learned a little about the invaders at the village called Atuan’s Mill though most of what they heard created more questions than answers. The people babble one moment then tremble and clamp their mouths shut the next. They all shake with fear that the Seanchan will return with their monsters and their damane. The villagers are most frightened of the fact that women who should be Aes Sedai are instead leashed like animals. There was blackened ground in the village from an example the Seanchan made before leaving. The villagers had already buried their dead but Hurin had vomited upon entering the village and he would not go near the blackened ground. Atuan’s Mill was half deserted now. Some of the villagers went to Falme, hoping that the Seanchan would not be so harsh in the city where they are encamped. Others traveled east toward the fighting on Almoth Plain. A war was easier to face than what the Seanchan had done or what they might do.
Perrin wonders aloud why Fain brought the Horn here. Ingtar turns in his saddle and suggests that some men see opportunity amidst the chaos of war. He says that he believes Fain is this type of man. Verin adds that The Father of Lies never lays simple plans and that it may be he wants Fain to bring the Horn here for a reason known only in Shayol Ghul.
Mat mutters about monsters and says that the villagers probably just saw some trollocs or a Fade.
Mat: Oh, why not? If the Seanchan have Aes Sedai fighting for them, why not Fades and trollocs?
He flinches at the sight of Verin staring at him but goes on defensively. He says to her that they can channel and that makes them Aes Sedai. Mat gives a ragged laugh and looks at Rand.
Mat: That makes you Aes Sedai the Light help us all.
Masema gallops up and reports that there is another village ahead. He reports that the village is empty of villagers and Seanchan alike. He reports that the houses look sound except for two or three houses that are not there anymore. When they arrive, it is as he said. Ingtar dismounts in front of the largest house left standing and gives an order to Uno to search every house in hopes that he might find someone who can tell them what happened here. Verin goes inside out of the rain. Ingtar also orders Uno to bring any food and blankets that he finds. Uno nods and begins giving orders to other men.
Ingtar asks Hurin if Fain has been through here and the Sniffer says no. He notes though that whoever destroyed those houses in the village left a stench. He said people were inside the buildings that were destroyed. Ingtar says that it was Seanchan before setting Ragan the task of finding a place in the village to stable their horses. He and then others then join Verin in the building’s common room where she already has fires going and candles lit.
Ingtar says that they will never find Fain this way. He says that it has been three days since they arrived and shudders. Rand wonders what Ingtar saw in his other lives. He points out that Fain could have taken ship at any of the villages along the coast by now. Verin replies calmly that he is here and Rand says the same.
Ingtar asks aloud why Fain came here and says he would give a lot to know who these Seanchan are. Verin tells him that who they are is not important to them but says that it may be well to take the villagers at their word that these are Artur Hawkwing’s armies returned from across the Aryth Ocean. Verin then says that what matters is that Padan Fain has gone to Falme.
They argue about her insistence that Fain is here. Ingtar believes that the writings on the walls inside of Fal Dara were more likely a trick than a Dark Prophecy. He tells her that he means to quarter the ground on Toman Head until they either have Fain or the Horn of Valere.
Ingtar: I must have the Horn of Valere, Verin Sedai. I must!
Hurin mutters that this is not the way while Verin replies simply that they all must. Rand tells Ingtar that he is riding on to Falme and he says that he is certain Fain is there. Rand goes on to say that if he does not come soon, Fain will do something to hurt Emond’s Field. Rand has not mentioned the latter part before and everyone stares at him, including both Mat and Perrin who are frowning but considering. Verin stares at him as though she has just seen a new piece added to the puzzle. Loial looks astonished, Hurin confused, and Ingtar openly disbelieving.
Ingtar asks Rand why he would do that. Rand replies that he does not know but says that the threat to Emond’s Field was part of the message he left with Barthanes. Perrin points out that Rand will need Hurin to find Fain’s trail. Hurin says that he can take Rand directly to Fain with one whiff of his trail. He says nothing has ever left a trail like Fain’s trail. Mat says that he needs the dagger. Verin then tells Rand that he must make his own choice about riding on to Falme but she reminds him that it is held by invaders about whom they know next to nothing.
Verin: I am sure whatever choice you make will be the right one.
Uno enters the room and says that there is not a soul to be found in the village. He says the livestock and wagons are also gone and that the houses are stripped to the floors. Ingtar asks about clothes. Uno replies that they did leave some clothing behind and Ingtar replies that it will have to do. He tells Hurin that he intends to dress him and a few others as local people.
Rand is leaning against a mantle and staring into the fire. He says that he feels something drawing him to Falme and he states that there is not much time. Verin is watching him and says that the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.
Rand goes upstairs and looks for a bed upon which to sleep. He finds a bed and then proceeds to try to get warm and dry. That night he rolls around on the sagging bed wondering if he should ride on ahead of the others to Falme. He finally rolls to his side and finds Ba’alzamon standing beside his bed holding the Dragon’s Banner in his hands. Nearly healed burns criss-cross his face. For an instant, his dark eyes vanish and are replaced by endless caverns of fire.
Ba’alzamon: The time comes closer, Lews Therin. A thousand threads draw tight and soon you will be tied and trapped, set to a course you cannot change.
He asks Rand if he will once more kill everything he loves before he dies. Rand glances at the door but makes no move except to sit up on the side of the bed. Rand calls him Father of Lies and tells him that he is not the dragon. Ba’alzamon laughs.
Ba’alzamon: You honor me and belittle yourself.
Rand asks him what he wants. He says that he will die before he serves him. Ba’alzamon tells him that he will die, and calls him a worm. He tells Rand that the grave is his and that this time there will be no rebirth. He says that he will kill the Wheel of Time itself and remake the world in the image of the Shadow.
Ba’alzamon: Which will you choose, death everlasting or life eternal? And power?
Rand hardly realized that he was on his feet. The Void has surrounded him and Saidin flows through him. Rand wonders if this is real and if he can channel in a dream. He hurls the power at Ba’alzamon. The power disappears into a shadow around him. Rand pulls for more Saidin, and still more. His bones feel on the point of crisping to cold crystal ash. He does not care.
Ba’alzamon: Fool, you will destroy yourself!
A thought for Mat, the dagger, and the Horn floats through Rand’s mind. He thinks about Fain and Emond’s Field and how he cannot die yet. Rand is not certain how he did it but suddenly the One Power is gone. Ba’alzamon tells him that this is better. He drops the banner to the floor and places his hand on the back of the chair in the room. Wisps of smoke curl up around his fingers.
He tells Rand that the Wheel itself holds him prisoner to his fate but he offers to set Rand free.
Ba’alzamon: I alone can teach you how to wield the power. I alone can stop it from killing you before you have a chance to go mad. I alone can stop the madness. You have served me before. Serve me again, Lews Therin, or be destroyed forever!
Rand: My name is Rand al’Thor.
Rand opens his eyes and Ba’alzamon is gone. His saddlebags stand against the chair with the buckles done up, bulging with the bulk of the Dragon’s Banner, just as he had left it.
On the chair back, tendrils of smoke still rise from the charred impressions of fingers.
Almost nothing new happens in this chapter. We learn that Rand’s party has been riding on Toman Head for three days. They have found no sign of Fain. They are up to speed on the Seanchan. Rand wants to just ride on ahead to Falme.
That night, Rand gets a visit from Ba’alzamon. We got a lot more of “serve me or die” and “I’m going to end the Wheel of Time.”
It seems pretty obvious at this point that turning Rand to the Shadow is the most important part of the bad guy plan. They could have killed him a lot of times. They just won’t do it. It appears that there are orders given even to the Shadowspawn not to kill him. Remember that time Rand, holding a glass of milk, ran into a Myrddraal in an Inn’s hallway and it just left him there?
Anyway, if this is the most important part of the plan, then Rand wins by simply not joining the Shadow.
It seems fair to guess though that the choice will become more complicated as we go forward… for the next 12 books after this one.