The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 22): The Price of the Ring

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 22: The Price of the Ring

Egwene was only a short distance from Verin’s rooms when Sheriam met her. The Mistress of Novices wears a preoccupied frown saying that if someone had not remembered Verin speaking with her that she may not have found her. She tells Egwene to come with her and says that she is holding everything up. Sheriam asks Egwene about the papers she is holding. Egwene clutches them a little tighter and tells the Aes Sedai that Verin said she should study them. As Egwene wonders what excuse she could give the Mistress of Novices for refusing to give her papers concerning the thirteen Black Sisters who left the Tower and the stone ring ter’angreal, Sheriam seems to dismiss them from her mind. She tells Egwene that everyone is waiting.

Egwene asks her what they are waiting for and Sheriam, exasperated, asks if she forgot about being raised to the Accepted. Egwene stammers that she is tired, dirty, and that she thought she had days yet to prepare. Sheriam tells her that the hour waits on no woman. She adds that Egwene already knows the things she must – more than Nynaeve did when she was raised. She pushes Egwene forward and down stairs toward increasingly lower portions of the Tower. Egwene asks why she cannot at least have a good night’s sleep first and Sheriam replies that the Amyrlin herself decided she should be raised tonight.

Sheriam: Her exact words were “once you decide to gut a fish there’s no use waiting ’til it rots.”

She tells Egwene that Elayne has already been through the Arches by this time and she says that the Amyrlin means to see Egwene through tonight also. Sheriam admits that she does not see the point herself in the hurry but says that they are to do as the Amyrlin commands. A knot begins to form in Egwene’s belly. Nynaeve had not been forthcoming at all about her experience being raised. She would only say with a grimace, when it came up, that she hates Aes Sedai. Egwene is trembling by the time the downward ramp finally ends in a broad hallway far below the Tower in the rock of the island. There is only one set of doors. Sheriam pulls her through.

As they enter, Elaida snaps that Egwene has arrived not before time. Egwene sees three silver chalices on the table and three arches, just tall enough to walk under, joined together beneath the domed ceiling of the room. An Aes Sedai sits cross-legged on the bare rock of the floor at each of the spots where the arches are joined together on a ring. All three are wearing their shawls. Egwene recognizes the Green Sister, Alanna, but she does not recognize the Yellow Sister or the White Sister.

Sheriam tells Egwene that she has the right to refuse to take the test twice. She says that a third refusal means that Egwene – or any novice – would be put out of the White Tower forever. Sheriam adds though that she suspects the Amyrlin would be very displeased if Egwene refuses the testing tonight. Elaida speaks, with iron in her voice, and says that Egwene should not be given this chance. She says that Egwene should be sent to scrubbing floors for ten years before given this opportunity. Sheriam gives Elaida a sharp look and tells her that she was not so adamant about Elayne. Sheriam tells Elaida that she asked to be part of this, perhaps because of Elayne, and tells her that if she will not do her part, Sheriam will send for another Sister who will. They stare at each other for a long while until Elaida gives a toss to her head and says that if this must be done, they should get on with it.

Elaida says that Egwene can be given her opportunity to refuse but Egwene replies quickly that she will not refuse. Sheriam tells her that this is good. Then she says that once the testing begins, Egwene must continue until the end. She says that quitting a portion of the way through the testing is treated the same as a novice refusing to begin three times. Sheriam also tells Egwene that to seek and to strive is to know danger. Sheriam’s face is a mixture of sternness and sympathy as she speaks – with the sympathy frightening Egwene more than the sternness. She explains that some women have entered the Arches and never come back out again. She tells Egwene that if she is to survive she must be steadfast.

“Falter, fail, and…” Sheriam’s face drove the unspoken words home. Egwene shivered.

Sheriam tells Egwene that this is her last chance. She explains that if she refuses now it will still only count as her first refusal. She tells Egwene that if she accepts now, there is no turning back. Sheriam tells her that it is no shame to refuse and admits that she herself could not do it her first time. Egwene swallows hard at the thought of women going inside and never coming back out again. Egwene says that she accepts, and then Sheriam nods. Sheriam tells Egwene to ready herself. Egwene blinks not knowing initially what she means. Then Egwene remembers that she has to enter unclothed. Egwene sits down the tied bundle of papers that Verin had given her but then she hesitates. She knows that if she leaves them there, Sheriam or Elaida, either one, can go through them while she is inside the ter’angreal. They might also find the smaller ter’angreal in Egwene’s pouch. She thinks that if she refuses to go on, she can hide these things away or perhaps leave them with Nynaeve. Her breath catches when she realizes that she is beyond the point of refusal.

Sheriam asks her if she has already refused. Egwene says no and hastily undresses, folding her clothes and setting them on the papers and her pouch. Beside the ter’angreal, Alanna suddenly speaks. The Green Sister says that there is some sort of resonance coming from the ter’angreal arches. She describes it as an echo. Sherian asks sharply if there is a problem. She tells Alanna that she will not send a girl in there if there is a problem. Egwene looks yearningly at her clothes and the pile of papers hoping for a problem that will give her an opportunity to hide the papers. Finally though, Alanna says that the resonance is not a problem as it is not interfering. Egwene follows Sheriam toward the arches.

Elaida intones the ceremonial question.

Elaida: Whom do you bring with you, Sister?
Sheriam: One who comes as a candidate for Acceptance, Sister.
Elaida: Is she ready?
Sheriam: She is ready to leave behind what she was and passing through her fears gain Acceptance.
Elaida: Does she know her fears?
Sheriam: She has never faced them but now is willing.
Elaida: Then let her face what she fears.

Sheriam says aloud that the first time is for what was. She warns that the way back will come but once and to be steadfast. Egwene takes a deep breath and steps forward into the arch and through the glow. Light swallows her whole.

““““““““““““

A voice tells her that Jaim Dawtry dropped by. He says that there is odd news coming out of Baerlon from the peddler. Egwene is rocking a cradle as Rand stands in the doorway. Her head spins as she looks from Rand, her husband, to the child in the cradle, her daughter. She hears a disembodied voice in her head warning her that the way will come back only once and to be steadfast. Her moment of wonder subsides and she knows Rand as her husband. She also knows and remembers Joiya, her daughter, to be the most beautiful and sweeting girl in all of the Two Rivers. Tam, Rand’s father, is out with the sheep, supposedly so Rand can work on the barn. However, Egwene knows that the real reason is so that he can have more time to play with Joiya. Egwene thinks that her mother and father are coming out from the village this afternoon, also, and Nynaeve is likely to also come. The Wisdom will likely be checking to see if Motherhood is interfering in Egwene’s studies to replace Nynaeve as Wisdom one day.

Egwene asks Rand what kind of news. Rand is so taken with Joiya that Egwene has to ask him twice about the news before he answers. Finally he tells Egwene that there is a large war taking up most of the world. The word is that everyone is fighting some folk called the Shawkin or the Sanchan… something like that. Rand says that he has never heard of them. For a moment Egwene thinks she knows but then the thought is gone. Egwene asks if Jaim said anything else. Rand says he said nothing that makes sense. First Jaim told him that these people use Aes Sedai in battle, but then he also said they are offering a thousand gold marks for anyone who turns an Aes Sedai over to them. Rand adds that he was told they are killing anyone who hides an Aes Sedai. He tells Egwene that this is nothing to trouble them as it is a long way from the Two Rivers.

Egwene hears a voice in her head again that says the way will come back but once and to be steadfast. She notices that Rand has a hand to his own head and asks him if he is having one of his headaches. He nods and his eyes are suddenly tight with pain. He tells Egwene that the powder Nynaeve gave him does not seem to be working the last few days. Egwene worries not just about the headaches but something else she has noticed that accompany them. She wishes she had not noticed. When Rand’s head hurts, strange thinsg happen soon after. Lightning out of a clear sky struck a stump that Rand has been working two days to uproot. Storms have happened that Nynaeve did not hear coming. Fires. The worse the pain, the worse the event. No one else has connected these things to Rand, yet. She is grateful for that as she does not want to think about the repercussions if someone did.

Egwene has a secret of her own. Three separate times, as she has sat with someone Nynaeve has given up for dead, the person has been miraculously healed. She has not yet found the courage to admit that she had in fact done nothing at all. Egwene things that she needs to learn how she is healing people. She also thinks that if she can help these people, she can also help her husband. She asks Rand to let her try to help him. As she stands, she sees a silver arch standing in front of her house. The arch is filled with white light.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Egwene takes two steps toward the door before she can stop herself. She halts and looks back at Joiya gurgling in her cradle and at Rand still pressing his hand to his head and looking at her as if wondering where she is going. Egwene says aloud, ‘no,’ and that ‘this is what I want.’ She does not understand her own words. Of course this is what she wanted – and she had it. Rand asks her what is it that she wants. He tells her that if it anything he can get, she knows that he will.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Egwene takes another step toward the doorway. The silver arch beckons her. She hears a thump behind her. Rand is on his knees with his head cradled in his hands. He cries out in pain and for Egwene. She takes a step outside toward the archway. It is hard – harder than anything she has ever had to do. As Rand calls out for her, she stiffens her back and continues walking. She cannot keep the tears from rolling down her cheeks. Rand’s roans build to a scream, drowning Joiya’s laughter. From the corner of her eye, Egwene sees Tam coming, running as hard as he can. She thinks to herself that Tam cannot help. Tears flow more freely and become sobs. As she thinks that there is something she could do, she steps into the light of the archway and light consumes her.

““““““““““““

Trembling and sobbing, Egwene stumbles out of the archway – the same one through which she had entered. Cold clear water washes away her tears as Elaida slowly empties a silver chalice over her head. Elaida pronounces that Egwene is washed slean of what sin she may have done and those done against her. She is washed clean of what crime she may have committed and those committed against her. She announces that Egwene comes to them washed clean and pure in heart and soul. Egwene hopes that it is so as water washes down her body.

Between sobs, Egwene tells Sheriam that her name was Joiya. She says nothign can be worth what she just did. Sheriam tells her that there is a price to become Aes Sedai. Egwene sees sympathy in her eyes, stronger than before. She tells Egwene that there is always a price. Egwene asks if it was real. Sheriam puts an arm around her shoulders and begins walking her around the circle of arches. Sheriam tells her that every woman she has ever watched come out of there has asked that question. She tells Egwene that no one knows. Sheriam tells her that it has been speculated that some who do not come back chose to stay because they found a happier place and chose to live out their life there.

Sheriam hardens her voice and says that if it is real, and they stayed by choice, she hopes the lives they live are far from happy. She says that she has no sympathy for any who run from their responsibilities. She softens her voice again and tells Egwene that she does not believe it is real – but she believes the danger inside is real. She warns Egwene to remember that. She stops in front of the next glow-filled arch and asks Egwene if she is ready. Egwene nods.

Sheriam: The second time is for what is. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Egwene trembles and thinks that whatever happens cannot be worse than what she just did. She steps into the glow.

““““““““““““

Egwene stares down at her blue silk dress sewn with pearls, all dusty and torn. Her head looks up and sees the ruins of a great palace around her. She is in the royal palace of Andor in Caemlyn. She knows that and wants to scream.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

The world is not the way she wants it. All of her tears were cried away long ago and the world is as it is. Careful not to make any sound, Egwene peers into the street. As far as she can see in every direction lies ruin and desolation. People are in the streets – bands of armed men prowling and searching. Trollocs are also in the streets. The men shy away from the Shadowspawn and in turn the Trollocs snarl at them and laugh. The two groups know each other and work together. A myrddraal comes striding down the street. Men and trollocs alike cower under its stare. Its voice sounds like something long dead, crumbling. It gives the men and trollocs the order to find him.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Egwene hurries back, quietly, into the ruined palace, stepping through rubble and over dead bodies. She finds a collapsed room where Rand lays inside with a heavy beam across his waist. His legs are hidden by stone blocks that fill half of the room. He opens his eyes when she comes near.

Rand: You came back. I was afraid. No matter, you have to help me.

Egwene sinks wearily to the floor. She tells Rand that she can move the beam easily, with air, but she says that as soon as it moves everything else will come down on top of him – on top of both of them. She tells him that she is not strong enough to manage all of it. Rand’s laugh is bitter and painful. Rand tells her that he could move the beam and the stones above them but he says he would have to let go of himself to do it and he cannot trust himself that much. Egwene replies that she does noto understand and she asks him what he cannot trust.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Rand tells her that it’s teh madness. He explains that he is actually holding it at bay but that it takes everything he has just to do that. Heh says that if he lets go, even for an instant, the madness will have him. He tells her again that she will have to help him. She asks how. Rand’s hand flops toward a dagger laying close by in the dust. His hand makes a painful journey back toward his chest.

Rand: Here – in the heart. Kill me.

Egwene stares at him and at the dagger as if they are both poisonous serpents. She tells him that she cannot and will not and asks him how he could ask her such a thing. Rand’s hand strains toward the dagger. He cannot quite reach it. Before he can try again, Egwene kicks it away from him. Rand collapses with a sob. Egwene asks him why he wants her to murder him.

Rand: They can turn me, Egwene.

Rand tells her that if he is taken, the myrddraal and the dreadlords can turn him to the Shadow against his will. He explains that if madness has him, he will not be able to fight them. He says that he will not know what they are doing until it is too late. He says that they can do it if there is even a spark of life in him when they find him. He asks her to kill him and she again tells him that she cannot.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

She looks over her shoulder and a silver arch filled with white light takes up most of the space among the rubble. Rand pleads for Egwene to help him. She stands and takes a step toward the arch. He pleads with her. She tells him that she cannot kill him and she asks him to forgive her. She steps forward. Light burns her to ash.

““““““““““““

Egwene staggers out of the arch. A shudder runs through her and she covers her mouth with both hands. She whispers to Rand that she couldn’t and asks his forgiveness. She pleads with the Light to help him. Cold water pours over her head.

Elaida: You are washed clean of false pride. You are washed clean of false ambition. You come to us washed clean in heart and soul.

Sheriam gently takes Egwene’s shoulders and guiders her toward the last arch. She tells Egwene that she has one more to go and then she will be finished. Egwene whispers to Sheriam.

Egwene: He said they could turn him to the Shadow. He said the myrddraal and the dreadlords could force him.

Sheriam misses a step and looks around quickly. Elaida is almost back to the table. The Aes Sedai surrounding the ter’angreal are staring at it, seemingly lost to anything else. Sheriam tells her that this is an unpleasant thing to talk of. She tells Egwene to come and that there is one more. Egwene asks her insistently if someone can be turned to the Shadow in that way. Sheriam tells her that custom is not to speak of what happens within the te’angreal. Egwene asks again if it can happen. Sheriam sighs, glances at the other Aes Sedai again, and drops her voice to a whisper.

Sheriam: This is something known only to a few Child, even in the Tower. You should not learn it now, if ever, but I will tell you. There is a weakness in being able to channel. That we learn to open ourselves to the True Source means that we can be open to other things.

Egwene shudders and Sheriam tells her to calm herself. She says it is not easily done and is something, as far as she knows, that has not been done since The Trolloc Wars. She explains that the process requires thirteen Dreadlords – Darkfriends who can channel – weaving flows through thirteen myrddraal. She tells Egwene that there are no Dreadlords today. She adds that this is a secret of the Tower. She says that if others knew, they could never be convinced of their safety. In a tiny voice, Egwene says that thirteen is the number of Sisters who left the Tower – Liandrin and twelve more. Sheriam’s face hardens and tells Egwene that this is nothing for her to dwell on. Her voice climbs to a normal volume.

Sheriam: The third time is for what will be. The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

Egwene stares at the glowing arch, at some far distance beyond it, thinking of Liandrin and twelve others. She steps into the light. It fills her and shine through her and burns her to the bone.

““““““““““““

Egwene stares into a mirror. She is not certain whether she is more surprised by her own ageless face or by the striped stole hanging around her neck – the stole of the Amyrlin Seat.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

She thinks of thirteen. She sways and nearly topples herself and the mirror to the floor. Something is wrong, she thinks. She has no idea what, though. An Aes Sedai is at her elbow – a woman with Sheriam’s high cheekbones but with dark hair and eyes. The woman is wearing the hand wide stole of the Keeper. Egwene has never seen the woman before, though. Hlatingly, Egwene puts a name to the woman – Beldeine. Her stole is Green which means she was raised from the Green. The Keeper is always chosen from the same Ajah as the Amyrlin which means that Egwene was raised from the Green as well. That thought shakes her – not that she was raised from the Green but that she has to reason it out. She think that something is wrong with her.

The way back will come bu

The voice in her head trails off and finishes in a buzz. Egwene tells Beldeine that she is well. Egwene says that they must not keep them waiting. She does not know who she is keeping waiting except that she feels endlessly sad about ending that wait. Beldeine says that they will be growing impatient. Unless Egwene misses her guess, beneath that outer calm, Beldeine is terrified. Egwene says that in that case they had best be about it. Beldeine says that she supposes they must. She then leads Egwene out in a two person procession. She is not certain why she feels that somethign is wrong. She feels almost certain that she is still a novice.

The way back will come bu

This time it ends abruptly. Egwene thinks again about thirteen Black Ajah. It is a frightening thought and it fills her to the marrow beyond fear. It feels personal. She awnts to scream – to run and hide. She also thinks to herself that this is nonsense and that the Black Ajah has been destroyed. She has a vague memory of something called The Great Purge though she is sure no such thing has happened. Egwene thinks that Beldeine is scared to her toenails and she wonders to what in the Light she is being led.

Beldeine stops before tall doors. She wipes her hands on her dress as if they are sweaty. The ramp leads into a large domed room. At the opposite end of the room is a high backed chair. Beldeine raps her staff sharply on the floor and there is a tremor in her voice.

“She comes. The Keeper of the Seals, The Flame of Tar Valon, The Amyrlin Seat. She comes”

A group of twenty-one woman, seven groups of three, get up off of their chairs. Egwene realizes that this is the Hall of the Tower and the Sitters for the Ajahs. She thinks that she has been here thousands of times. She wonders why she is here.

The way back will come bu… the way back.. the way…

The Black Ajah awaits. That thought is whole and it comes from everywhere. No one else seems to hear it. Seated, Egwene realizes that she has no idea what to do next. The other Sisters sat when she did and they seem to be waiting on her. She says to begin and that seems to be enough. A Red Sitter, Elaida, stands. She knows somehow that Elaida is the foremost of the Sitters for the Red and her own bitterest enemy. The look on Elaida’s face is stern, cold, and triumphant. She says loudly to bring him in. From one of the ramps come the crunch of boots on stone. A dozen Aes Sedai appear with three men, two of them burly guards. The third man is Rand in chains. His eyes are half closed and his head is sagging.

Elaida proclaims that Rand has named himself The Dragon Reborn. She adds that he has channeled the One Power. She calls on the Amyrlin Seat to pronounce the sentence of Gentling on him. Elaida’s eyes glitter at Egwene. She calls out to Egwene asking her why she hesitates. A Green Sitter stands and speaks, and calls Elaida to shame for her lack of respect for the Mother. Elaida replies that respect can be lost as well as won. Rand tries to lift his head but cannot. Egwene scrambles to her feet. Inside, she wants to tell all of these women that she is a novice and that she does not belong here.

Egwene says that she cannot and will not. Elaida shouts that Egwene betrays herself. As Egwene moves to speak, Beldeine moves beside her. The Keeper’s staff strikes her head. First there was pain. Then she felt something cold and hard upon her ack. She hears voices, murmurs.

A voice like a rasp says that she is still unconscious. A woman says that Egwene will be dealt with before she knows what is happening to her. The woman says that then she will be theirs to do with as they will. She suggsts to the rasped voice that perhaps they will give her to him for sport.

Egwene opens her eyes a crack. She is naked and lying on a rough wooden table in what seems to be a disused storeroom. She has a metallic taste of blood in her mouth. She counts the Aes Sedai in the room. There are thirteen. Thirteen black cloaked and hooded men join the Aes Sedai who seem caught between cowering and trying to dominate with their presence. One of the men turns to look toward the table. The dead white face within the hood has no eyes. She knows that there are thirteen myrddraal without counting them. She screams in pure terror.

She reaches desperately for the True Source. The women shout that they cannot shield he now because she is too strong. Hands reach for her arms and legs. The power fills her. Flames burst from the myrddraals’ skin. They burn like oiled paper. Egwene forces herself off of the table and stumbles toward the door. An Aes Sedai looms in front of Egwene – a woman with death in her eyes. Egwene’s mind puts a name to the face – Gilda – Elaida’s closest confidant. Disdaining the Power, Egwene balls her hand into a fist and punches the woman in the eye as hard as she can. The Red Sister, Black Sister, crumbles as if her bones melted. Egwene staggers out into the hall. She thanks Perrin for showing her how to do that but bemoans that he did not tell her how much it hurts.

In the hallway, she forces herself to run. She decides that she needs to find clothes. She knows that they will look for her in her room so she goes to her study where she has a spare stole. She finds nobody in the hallway and sees no one at all until she readers her study. There, she finds Beldeine on the floor with her head in her hands. The Keeper scrubs her hand across tear stained cheeks and tells Egwene that she had to. In a rush, she tells Egwene that three nights ago they took her while she slept and stilled her. Beldeine tells Egwene that they promised to give her back the ability to channel with the power of the Dark One.

The Keeper’s eyes squeeze shut as she moans that they hurt her and they made her. She says that Elaida promised to make her whole again if she obeyed. Egwene says aloud as if in long suspected confirmation that Elaida is Black Ajah. Egwene gets a green silk dress from a narrow wardrobe against the wall. She dresses herself quickly. Egwene asks Beldeine sharply where Rand is. The Keeper tells her that they took Rand to the Traitor’s Court. She shivers in fear and rage. Gentling a man in the Traitor’s Court requires an order from the Amyrlin Seat. Egwene asks Beldeine who is wearing the Amyrlin’s Stole out there. She is almost certain that it must be Elaida. Yet, she knows she cannot be stripped lawfully of stole and staff without a trial. Beldeine asks Egwene what she will do as she leaves the room.

Egwene: More than anyone suspects. I never held the Oath Rod, Beldeine.

The Keeper’s gasp follows her from the room. She cannot remember why she did not take the Three Oaths and she knows that it should not be possible to be raised without holding it. Nevertheless, she knows that somehow she managed to not take the Three Oaths. She knows why she did not see anyone in the hallways. Every Aes Sedai and Tower initiate will be gathered in the Traitor’s Court. She knows that the Warders will be ringing the courtyard against the possibility that someone might try to free the man set to be gentled.

Egwene knows that she can force her way it but she knows it must be done quickly. There is no point in forcing her way into the court if Rand is gentled while she is wrapping Warders in flows of Air. She also knows it will do no good to break Tar Valon’s power in order to save Rand. She knows that she has to save both Rand and Tar Valon. She finds a balcony that looks out upon the city and the Traitor’s Court as well. She can make out the lone man swaying in his chains in the cleared space. Twelve Aes Sedai surround him and another woman is there also. Egwene knows the other woman must be wearing a striped stole though she cannot make it out at this distance.

Egwene pushes out of her thoughts what she knows Elaida must be pronouncing. She rids herself also of the thought that the traditional number for gentling is the same as the number she just escaped from in the store room. She has no time for anything except what she must do. At this distance, she thinks she an pick him up with Air and bring him straight to her. She knows that it would be a slow process – even assuming she does not drop him halfway – with him a slow moving target for archers and herself a target as well with her glow identifying her location. She mutters that there is no other way short of starting a war within the White Tower. She says that she may do that anyway.

Egwene gathers the power and directs the flows.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

It has been so long since she last heard those words that she gives a start. Egwene looks over her shoulder. There on the Tower top is a silver arch. It flickers and wavers. Angry colors dart through the bright light.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

The archway thins to transparency and then becomes solid again. Egwene gazes toward the Traitor’s Court and thinks that there must be time. There must be. Voices bore into her head – not the disembodied voice she is familiar with but women’s voices that she almost knows.

“Can’t hold much longer. If she does not come out now..”
“Hold, burn you, or I’ll gut you all like sturgeons!”

The voices fade to a drone. The drone becomes silence.

The way back will come but once. Be steadfast.

There is a price to be Aes Sedai.

The Black Ajah waits.

With a scream of rage and of loss, Egwene throws herself through the silver archway. She almost wishes that she misses and plunges to her death. The Light plucks her apart fiber by fiber.

REACTION:

Whew.

I’m trying to keep my expectations for the TV series within reasonable limits but I *really* want to see this chapter on screen. I’m not really sure what to say about this. It’s epic. But it’s unclear how much of it is real/prophetic or relevant to the future of the story. We do get one big revelation, though.

Channelers can be forced to turn to the Shadow against their will. That’s not a small piece of information. We also know that there are at least 13 Darkfriend channelers – enough to turn folks per the stated formula.

Beyond that, we know that something was going wrong with Egwene’s trip through the arches there at the end in particular. I guess we’ll learn more about that in the next chapter.

Generally, I am intrigued by how central Rand is to Egwene. Her devotion to Rand has been central to her character since she was a child and since the books started, too. All three of her fears here center on Rand. When Nynaeve went through the arches, she fought Aginor one time, abandoned Emond’s Field to a scary Wisdom another time, and abandoned Lan and a family the third time.

Anyway, this is a great read. I am impressed by her in particular in how she overcomes an impossible situation in the third vision.

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