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 16: Hunters Three
Nynaeve’s room is considerably larger than the Novice rooms. She has a real bed instead of one built into the wall as well as two chairs, instead of stools, and a wardrobe for her clothes. The furnishing are all plain but compared to the novices’ quarters it appears luxurious. She even has a rug.
The room is not empty when Egwene and Nynaeve enter. Elayne stands in front of the fireplace with arms crossed beneath her breasts. She is accompanied by two armed young men who are occupying Nynaeve’s chairs. One of them is Elayne’s brother Gawyne and the other is her half-brother Galad. Galad stands when Nynaeve enters and Egwene thinks – not for the first time – that he is the most handsome man she has ever seen. Galad takes Egwene’s hand and tells her that it is good to see her again. He tells her that he – and Gawyn – have worried much over her.
Egwene blushes and then furiously banishes her thoughts over him from her mind. It does not help her that she knows half of the women in the Tower, including Aes Sedai, look at him and react in the same way. It also does not help that Galad’s smile seems for her alone. Gawyn leans forward in his chair and asks them where they have been. He tells both of them that Elayne has been dodging his questions.
Elayne: I told you Gawyn that it is none of your affair. I came here Nynaeve because I did not want to be alone. They saw me and followed.
Galad tells Elayne that her safety is very much their affair. He looks at Egwene and tells them that the safety of all of them is very important to him. Gawyne adds that they deserve an explanation and he admits that he would rather let Galad thump him all over the practice yard, all day, than face their mother again for even a single minute. Gawyn tells Elayne that he has never heard of a Queen sending her own sons to the headsman but says he thinks their mother may have been ready to make an exception if they do not bring her home safely.
Galad tells Elayne that they managed to convince Morgase that if she does return to the White Tower, that Elayne would need someone still in the Tower to look after her. When Elayne replies angrily at the idea of needing someone to look after her, Galad tells her quickly that the Tower has become dangerous in her absence.
Galad: There have been deaths and murders with no real explanations.
He adds that he knows some Aes Sedai have been killed even though the Tower has tried to keep it quiet. He further states that he has heard rumors of the Black Ajah spoken aloud inside the Tower itself. Galad finishes by telling Elayne that he and Gawyn are to return her to Caemlyn as soon as she finishes enough of her training that the One Power is no longer dangerous to her.
Gawyn tells Nynaeve that he and his brother are not villains. He says that all they want to do is help. He tells her that their mother commanded it either way so that there is no chance of Elayne talking them out of it.
Nynaeve tells the two men that Morgase’s commands carry no weight in Tar Valon. She further tells them that she will remember their offer of help and also that they will be among the first to hear of it should they need help. She then points toward the door and tells them that for now she wishes them to leave. They protest but Nynaeve raises her voice. She tells them that they are in her room, not the common room of an inn, and that she wants them out of it.
They continue to protest but Nynaeve speaks over them sayin that she doubts they asked permission to enter the Accepted’s quarters. Their surprise tells her that they did not. She then tells them that they will be out of her room and out of her sight before she counts to three. She threatens to write a note to the Tower’s Master of Arms about this if they do not.
Gawyn continues to protest but Galad stands, steps toward Nynaeve, and apologizes. He smiles at her, promises to go, and reminds her that they can help her with whatever she might need. Nynaeve replies by saying “one.” His smile fades. He turns to Egwene and tells her that she especially can turn to him at any time, for anything. Nynaeve then says “two.” Galad gives her an irritated look. He bows to Egwene. As Nynaeve begins to say “three” he darts through the door.
After they go, Elayne claps her hands delightedly. She tells Nynaeve that she did not know men are forbidden from visiting the Accepted’s Quarters. Nynaeve tells her that they are not, but that those two louts did not know it, either. Elayne claps her hands again and laughs. Nynaeve tells her that she would have just let them leave if Galad had not made such a show about taking his time.
Nynaeve: That young man has too fair a face for his own good.
Egwene almost laughs at that because Galad and Nynaeve are almost the same age. She also almost laughs because Nynaeve is straightening her dress at just the mention of him. Elayne tells her that she doubts her trick will work again and Nynaeve replies that she will have to think of something else, then. She adds that they cannot afford to have the two of them looking over their shoulders all the time. Nynaeve offers to make Elayne a salve but Elayne turns her down saying that if Sheriam found out that they would both have another visit to the Mistress of Novice’s study. Elayne points out that Egwene has been quiet and asks if a cat has got her tongue – or if Galad has. Egwene blushes and says in as dignified a tone as she can muster that she simply did not choose to argue with them.
Elayne admits that Galad is attractive but says that he is also horrid. She then describes Galad as someone who will not do anything wrong, at all, even if it hurts himself. Egwene replies that this sounds uncomfortable but not horrid. Elayne tells her that if she wants to look at someone she should look at Gawyn instead of Galad and adds that Gawyn is besotted with her.
Egwene: Gawyn? He has never looked at me twice.
Elayne: Of course not you fool, the way you stare at Galad until your eyes look ready to fall out of your face.
Egwene’s cheeks feel hot and she is afraid it might be true. Elayne explains that Galad saved Gawyn’s life when Gawyne was a child. She explains that this bonded the two men closely and that Gawyn will therefore never admit he is interested in a woman if Galad is already interested in her. Egwene says that is nice to know and laughs, suggesting that maybe she can get Gawyn to speak to herself rather than his sister. Elayne tells Egwene that she can choose Green Ajah so that she can marry and adds that she would truly like to have Egwene for a sister.
Nynaeve: If you two are finished with girlish chatter there are important matters to talk about.
Elayne agrees and wants to know what the Amyrlin Seat had to say to them after she left. Egwene tells her awkwardly that she would rather not talk about it as it was unpleasant. Elayne presses again to find out what they were told. Nynaeve tells her that she must keep this just between the three of them.
Nynaeve: The Black Ajah…
Egwene: Nynaeve! The Amyrlin said Elayne was to be left out of it.
Elayne almost shouts “The Black Ajah” in reply. She insists vigorously that she will not be left out after knowing this much. Nynaeve assures her that she never meant for her to be. Egwene stares at Nynaeve in disbelief but Nynaeve responds to her. She tells Egwene that it was the two of them who Liandrin saw as a threat – not Elayne. She adds that it is the two of them who were just nearly killed inside the Tower itself. Elayne is shocked that they were just nearly killed by Nynaeve presses on saying that they were almost killed perhaps because they are still viewed as a threat.
Nynaeve tells Egwene that they need someone with them that the Black Ajah does not know about. She says that if Elayne helping them is also not known to the Amyrlin, so much the better. She tells Egwene that they are not certain they can trust the Amyrlin much farther than they can trust the Black Ajah.
Nynaeve She means to use us for her own ends. I mean to see she doesn’t use us up. Can you understand that?
Egwene nods reluctantly but tells Elayne that it will be dangerous – as dangerous or more than anything they faced in Falme. She tells Elayne that she does not have to be part of it this time. Elayne replies by sharing Andoran history. She tells Egwene that seven hundred years ago, Andor was losing a battle to Tierans when the Queen rode alone, and unarmed, into the thick of the right. She says that the Andormen rallied to her and won the battle.
Elayne: That is the kind of courage expected from the Queen of Andor.
She tells both of them that she must learn to control her fear before she can take her mother’s place on the Lion Throne. She giggles and asks them if they think she would pass up an adventure to scrub pots. Nynaeve replies that she will scrub pots anyway while hoping that everyone thinks that is all she is doing. Nynaeve tells her to listen carefully. Elayne’s mouth drop opens as Nynaeve explains what the Amyrlin told them and the tasks she laid on them and then the attempt on their live.
Elayne shivers over The Gray Man and then reads the document the Amyrlin gave to Nynaeve and Egwene. She murmurs that she wishes she had a document like that for when she faces her mother, next. When Nynaeve is finished, Elayne’s face is the picture of indignation.
Elayne: Why, that’s like being told to go up in the hills and find lions, only you don’t know whether there are any lions, but if there are they may be hunting you, and they may be disguised as bushes, oh, and if you find any lions, try not to let them eat you before you can tell where they are.
Nynaeve: If you are afraid, you can still stand aside.
Elayne replies that she is of course afraid, but is not goin to quit before she has even started. Nynaeve adds one more thing.
Nynaeve: I am afraid that the Amyrling may mean to let Mat die.
Elayne protests that Aes Sedai are supposed to heal anyone who asks. She tells Nynaeve that she cannot and will not believe it. Egwene replies that she does not believe it either.
Egwene: All the way here Verin said that the Amyrlin would see that he is healed.
Nynaeve: Verin said the Amyrlin would see to him. That is not the same thing. And the Amyrlin avoided saying yes or no when I asked her. Maybe she has not made her mind up.
When Elayne asks why, Nynaeve replies that The White Tower does what it does for its own reasons. She tells them that she does not know why but their decision will hinge on what serves their ends. She further reminds them that none of the Three Oaths say that they have to heal him. She tells them that Mat is just a tool to be used, as are they. Egwene asks what they can do about him. Nynaeve rummages through her wardrobe and pulls out a striped bag. She suggests that with luck, and her medicines, perhaps she can heal him herself.
Egwene reminds her that Moiraine and Verin together could not, even though Moiraine had an angreal. She wars Nyneve about drawing too much of the One Power alone.
Nynaeve: They keep telling me I have the potential to be the most powerful Aes Sedai in a thousand years. Perhaps it is time to find out whether they are right.
She tugs her braid. It is plain to Egwene that however brave her words are, Nynaeve is afraid. She knows that Nynaeve won’t let Mat die, even if it means risking death herself. Egwene notes that all three of them have been told how powerful they will one day be and suggests that they might combine their strength. Nynaeve says that the three of them have never tried working together that way before. She says she is not sure she will know what to do. Elayne stands up and says that if they are going to do it, they should just do it.
Elayne: The longer we talk about it, the more frightened I become.
She tells them that Sheriam told her that Mat is at least in the guest rooms. Just then, the door bangs open and an Aes Sedai enters. Egwene makes her curtsy deep to hide the dismay on her face.
This is one of those chapters, where very little happens, but it is necessary primarily to move the story forward. Elayne’s brothers are dealt with. Elayne joins the team officially. They all remember that it’s Chapter 16 and Mat still has not yet been healed and so they FINALLY decide to take matters into their own hands.
They are of course interrupted before they can do anything.
This chapter also introduces the idea of Gawyn as a romantic interest for Egwene in addition to Rand and Galad. Elayne wants Egwene out of the way so that she can have Rand to herself. It’s a little bit like it finally occurred to her that Egwene is into tall red haired guys and she just so happens to know one. “I’ll trade you my brother for your life long love who we both know is The Dragon Reborn.”
Is Nynaeve’s plan, to bring Elayne in on what they are doing, a clever plan? No. There’s zero chance that Siuan will not expect Elayne to be brought in on the plan. It actually benefits Siuan for Nynaeve to do this because it keeps her own hands clean of this re: Morgase. That said, the entire Tower knows those three are besties and that they all ran away together. They won’t fool anyone. Maybe Nynaeve plans to make it seem as though there has been a falling out? We don’t really find out here.