The Great Hunt (Chapter 48): First Claiming

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 48: First Claiming

Min pushes up a cobblestone street through crowds. Some in the crowds are white-faced and staring while others are screaming hysterically. Min searches the faces of the people in the crowd, hoping to find Egwene, Elayne, or Nynaeve. Something is drawing her onward, as surely as if she has a string tied to her. Once she turns to look back and sees Seanchan ships burning in the harbor while still more burn in the harbor mouth.

Many squarish vessels are already small against the setting sun, moving as quickly as damane can make the winds drive them. One small ship is beaming along the harbor, tilting on the wind to take it along the coast – the Spray. Min does not blame Bayle Domon for not waiting longer after what he had seen. She thinks it a wonder that he remained so long. There is one Seanchan ship not burning, though it is blackened from fires already put out. As the ship approaches the harbor mouth, a figure on horseback appears riding across the water. Silver glitters as the figure raises a bow. When the arrow strikes, fire engulfs the ship anew. Min blinks and when she looks again the mounted figure is gone.

Min climbs the street again before stopping suddenly in front of tall stone buildings. She knows that she must go inside. She goes up the stair and pushes open the door. No one tries to stop her. As far as she can tell, no one is in the house. She goes on through the house into the garden behind. Rand lies sprawled on his back beneath an oak. His skin is pale and his eyes are closed. His left hand is gripping a hilt that ends in a foot of blade that appears to have been melted at the end. Rand’s chest rises and falls too slowly and not with the regular rhythm of someone breathing normally.

She takes a deep breath to calm herself to see what she can do for him. Her first goal is to get rid of the stump of a blade. Min knows that he can hurt himself, or her, if he starts thrashing with that. She pries his hand open and winces when the hilt sticks to his palm before tossing the sword aside with a grimace. The heron on the hilt has branded itself into his hand. It is obvious to her that this is not why he is lying down and unconscious. She hastily examines him and finds that most of his cuts and bruises are not new. Then she sees a hole burned through his coat on the left side.

Min opens Rand’s coat and looks under his shirt. Breath whistles through her teeth. There is a wound burned into his side but it has cauterized itself. She is shaken by the icy feel of his skin. Min grabs his shoulders and drags him toward the house. Rand hangs limp.

Min: You couldn’t be short and light, could you? You have to have all that leg and shoulder. I ought to let you lie out here.

Min struggles to drag Rand up the steps and is careful not to bump him any more than she can avoid. Once Rand is inside, she makes a hasty search of the house. There is a small bed in what she believes is a servant’s room. The bed is piled high with blankets and has logs on the hearth. After she gets the blankets pulled back and the fire started, she goes back for Rand. It is no small task getting him back to the room and under the blankets. A few minutes later, she sticks her hand under the blankets. The sheets are icy cold. There is no body warmth from Rand for the blankets to hold.

With a put-upon sigh, Min wriggles under the covers beside Rand, putting his head on her arm. His eyes are closed and his breathing is ragged. Min worries that he will be dead by the time she returns, if she leaves to find Nynaeve. Min thinks to herself that Rand needs an Aes Sedai. All she can do is keep him warm. Min studies Rand’s face. She cannot read the auras of anyone who is not conscious so she sees only his face.

Min: I like older men… I like men with education and wit. I have no interest in farms or sheep or shepherds, especially boy shepherds.

She smooths back the hair from Rand’s face. She notes that he is not a shepherd, not anymore. She asks him why the Pattern had to catch her up with someone like him. She asks why she could not have something safe and simple like being shipwrecked with no food and a dozen hungry Aielmen. Min hears a sound in the hall and raises her head as the door opens.

Egwene stands there staring at them by the light of the fire and the lamp.

Egwene: Oh.

Min’s cheeks color. She chides herself for behaving as if she has done something wrong before telling Egwene that Rand is as cold as ice and that she is trying to keep him warm. Egwene does not come any further into the room. Egwene says that she felt Rand pulling at her, needing her. Egwene tells Min that Elayne felt it too. She says Nynaeve did not feel anything. She tells Min that Elayne and Nynaeve are getting the horses. She says that they found Bela and that the Seanchan left most of their horses behind. Egwene tells Min that Nynaeve says that they should go as soon as they can.

Egwene: Min, you know what he is, don’t you, now.
Min: I know.

Min wants to take her arm from beneath Rand’s head but she cannot make herself move. She tells Egwene that she thinks she knows what he is, anyway. She says that whatever he is, he is hurt. Min tells Egwene that all she can do is keep him warm. She says that perhaps Nynaeve can help him.

Egwene: Min, you know, you do know that he cannot marry. He isn’t safe for any of us, Min.
Min: Speak for yourself … it’s like Elayne said. You tossed him aside for the White Tower. What should you care if I pick him up?

Egwene looks at Min for what seems like a long time. Finally, Egwene says that she will bring Nynaeve. She walks out of the room with her back straight and her head high. Min wants to call out to her but instead lays there as if frozen with frustrated tears stinging her eyes.

It’s what has to be. I know it. I read it in all of them.

She tells Rand that this is all his fault before saying to him that it is not, even if he is the one who will pay for it. She asks Rand what if she told Egwene that there is another woman yet to come, one she does not even know.

For that matter, what would you think of that my fine lord shepherd. You are not bad looking at all, but, Light, I don’t even know if I am the one you’ll choose.

She asks him if he will try to dandle all three of them on his knee.

Min: It may not be your fault, Rand al’Thor, but it isn’t fair.

A woman with a musical voice suddenly speaks aloud.

“Not Rand al’Thor … Lews Therin Telamon. The Dragon Reborn.”

Min stares at the most beautiful woman she has ever seen. She has pale smooth skin, long black hair, and eyes as dark as night. She wears a white dress that would make snow seem dingy, belted in silver. All of her jewelry is silver. Min feels herself bristle. Min asks her who she is as she comes to stand over the bed, smoothing Rand’s hair as if Min is not there.

“He doesn’t believe yet, I think. He knows but he does not believe.”

The woman tells Min that she has guided his steps, pushing him and pulling him. She notes that he was always stubborn but she says she will mold him this time.

“Ishamael thinks that he controls events but I do.”

The woman’s finger brushes Rand’s forehead as if drawing a mark. Min thinks to herself uneasily that it looks like the Dragon’s Fang. Rand stirs, murmuring. it is the first sound he has made since Min found him. Min demands of the woman again to know who she is. The woman looks at her, only looks, but she finds herself shrinking back into the pillows.

“I am called Lanfear, girl.”

Min’s mouth is abruptly so dry that she could not speak if her life depended on it. All Min can do is shake her head and the denial makes Lanfear smile.

Lanfear: Lews Therin was and is mine, girl. Tend him well for me until I come for him.

Abruptly the Forsaken is gone. Min gapes. One moment she is there. The next she is gone. Min discovers that she is hugging Rand’s unconscious form tightly wishing that she did not feel as if she wants him to protect her.

“““““““““““““““`

Gaunt faced and set with a grim purpose, Byar gallops with the sinking sun behind him and never looks back. He had seen all that he needs to see. The Legion is dead. Lord Captain Geofram Bornhald is dead. There is only one explanation for that – Darkfriends betrayed them. Darkfriends like Perrin of the Two Rivers betrayed them. Byar has to carry worry if this to Dain Bornhald, the Lord Captain’s son. Byar thinks to himself that he has worse to tell and to none less than Pedron Niall himself. Byar has to tell him what he saw in the sky above Falme.

REACTION:

It’s interesting to consider what the chapter title here means. “First Claiming.” Is that a reference to Min claiming Rand, to Egwene’s face no less, or is it a reference to Lanfear openly claiming him to Min’s face? Perhaps both.

We *still* do not have complete proof that Lanfear = Selene… but it is extremely obvious now, in my opinion.

So where do things stand now more generally?

  • The Seanchan are routed and fleeing Falme.
  • I am STOKED to see the Heroes fight the Seanchan on camera. That description of Birgitta taking out the Seanchan ship is really cool.
  • Bayle Domon left – so the Two Rivers girls will not be leaving on his ship.
  • Rand is alive. The Pattern guided Min to him. I think we should assume that he would have died of cold, otherwise.
  • Min claims Egwene’s boyfriend (more on this in a minute)
  • Min tells Rand that he will have three love interests – herself, Elayne, and someone we have not met yet. She does not know which of them that Rand will choose or whether he will try to have all three of them simultaneously.
  • Lanfear did *something* to Rand causing him to stir. Perhaps she gave him some minor healing with the One Power. Maybe she did something else, too.
  • Lanfear mentions Ishamael. She implies he is free and has been free. This is not the first mention of him being free. Have we met any super powerful bad guy men who seem to be controlling events thus far? Yes we have. Ba’alzamon.
  • Wait… does that mean Ba’alzamon is a human Forsaken and not The Dark One? Maybe. That would go a long way toward explaining burn scars. There is an obvious issue, though:

    How could a human have fire behind his eyes and mouth? Maybe a trick of the One Power?

It’s truly fascinating to see Min’s reaction to Lanfear. Once she hears the name, she is TERRIFIED. The Forsaken are to the Wheel of Time world what it would be like to have the evil fallen angels / gods of our modern religions walking around and interacting with us in the flesh. Unlike religious belief in our real world, though, everyone in the Wheel of Time world believes that the Forsaken were real. The evidence of their existence dots the landscape.

Let’s talk about the Min interaction with Egwene.

Egwene: Min, you know, you do know that he cannot marry. He isn’t safe for any of us, Min.

Min: Speak for yourself … it’s like Elayne said. You tossed him aside for the White Tower. What should you care if I pick him up?

Egwene has not tossed Rand aside overtly. The statement here does not qualify as such. Just before the chaos of their escape, Egwene told Min that she saw Rand and shared that she was fantasizing about him (or Galad) riding in to rescue her. Min knows that Egwene still loves Rand. Min has been Egwene’s one and only friend and confidant for weeks. Egwene, shocked to see Min in bed with Rand, and intuiting correctly from the scene that Min probably likes Rand, reminds her about the consequences of a relationship with Rand. (Alternatively, she might have screamed and told her to get out of bed with her dying boyfriend.) Min uses the opportunity of this moment to make the false claim that Egwene tossed Rand aside for the White Tower. The claim is false because Egwene has not officially tossed him aside… yet.

On the surface, Min is kind of being a bad friend here. There is another layer to it, though. Min can read the future. She seems to feel obligated to drive the wedge between Rand and Egwene because their destiny dictates that Egwene is not one of Rand’s three women. Min feels bad while doing this and has tears in her eyes after. She even talks about how none of them have any control over any of this. Maybe it mitigates her behavior somewhat in that she seems to be aware of her own bad behavior but feels obligated to do it anyway.

Let’s imagine that all of this had played slightly differently. What if Egwene is the one who finds Rand under the tree? Would she be under the blanket with him, mentally planning her extremely complicated life with him? I think so. I doubt what she just told Min about him not being safe would factor in for her. She loves him. She just did not find him first. Min did. In conclusion, I think the Pattern is pushing Egwene in a direction contrary to the direction her heart is choosing.

(Alternatively, maybe Lanfear kills Egwene, or Elayne, or anyone who can channel, when she finds her in bed with Lews Therin. So maybe Egwene is only alive because she did not find him first. There is that, too.)

4 thoughts on “The Great Hunt (Chapter 48): First Claiming

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