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 47: To Race The Shadow
Tallanvor leads Mat quickly from the great courtyard to the front of the palace. Mat feels the urge to be gone and a need to hurry. He hopes that maybe, just maybe, things had been what they seemed back there and that Gaebril does not suspect that Mat knows something. He forces himself to walk, and not run, as if he has all the time in the world. Tallanvor then leads Mat through a sallyport in one of the gates and follows him out.
The fat officer with the rat’s eyes is still outside and when he sees Mat his face goes red again. Before he can open his mouth, Tallanvor speaks to tell him that Mat has delivered a letter to the Queen from the Daughter-Heir. He tells Elber to be glad that neither Gaebril nor Morgase knows that he tried to keep Mat from them. Tallanvor adds that Lord Gaebril was most interested in the Lady Elayne’s missive. Elber’s face goes from red to as white as his collar.
Mat thanks Tallanvor, having forgotten all about the fat man until he was staring him in the face again. Mat starts across the oval plaza, trying not to walk too fast, and is surprised as Tallanvor walks along with him. Mat is just beginning to feel an itch between his shoulder blades, as if a knife is about to go in, when the young officer finally speaks. He asks Mat if he spent long in Tar Valon or long enough to learn anything of it at least. Mat replies that he was only there for three days and did not learn anything of any importance.
Tallanvor presses Mat and asks who Sheriam is and if talking to her in her study means anything. Mat shakes his head to keep relief from showing on his face. Mat says truthfully that he does not know who she is and suggests that she may be an Aes Sedai.
Mat: Why should it mean anything?
Tallanvor: I do not know. There is too much I do not know. Sometimes I think she is trying to say something.
He gives Mat a sharp look and asks if he is a loyal Andorman. Mat answers that of course he is and asks if he serves Morgase and Gaebril loyally. Tallanvor gives him a hard look and answers that he serves Morgase to the death. He then turns to go and as he goes, Mat mutters that he wagers Gaebril says the same. Mat thinks to himself that he wants no part of the games being played in the palace and that he means to be certain Egwene and the others are out of them, too.
“Fool women, now I have to keep their bacon from burning instead of my own.”
Mat does not begin running until the streets hide him from the palace. As he dashes into The Queen’s Blessing, he finds that nothing much has changed in the library. Thom and the innkeeper are still sitting over a Stone’s Board, though a new game now.
Mat announces to Master Gill that he will be leaving and he says to Gill that he can keep the coin and take a meal out of it. He explains that he will stay long enough to eat before setting out for Tear. Thom asks Mat his hurry as Gill confirms that Mat delivered the Lady Elayne’s letter. Gill asks if the letter soothed Morgase and if the people of Caemlyn will need to continue on tip toes. Mat replies that he thinks it soothed her but quickly asks Gill what he can tell him of Gaebril aside form the fact that he does not like Aes Sedai.
Gill answers that there is not much to tell as Gaebril came out of the west during the winter and he speculates that it was from somewhere near where Mat is from – perhaps even The Two Rivers. Mat tells him that there are no lords in the Two Rivers but offers that perhaps there are some up around Baerlon. He explains that Gaebril arrived while Morgase was in Tar Valon and half of the city was afraid that the Tower would make her disappear as well. He tells Mat and Thom that the other half of the city did not want Morgase back and that this led to riots starting up in the city. Gill explains that during the riots, Gaebril made himself the leader of the faction supporting Morgase. He explains that by the time Morgase returned Gaebril had got all of the rioting suppressed.
Gill shares that Gareth Bryne did not like Gaebril’s methods but Morgase was so pleased to find order restored that she named him to the post Elaida used to hold. The innkeeper stops talking as Mat asks what else and says he must have a reason for what he does. Mat asks if Gaebril will be king if Morgase dies – assuming Elayne dies first. Gill tells him no and says Andor has a Queen and will always have a Queen. He explains that if Morgase and Elayne both die, their nearest female relative will take the throne. Gill says that there is no question of who that is this time and that she is a cousin, the Lady Dyelin. He suggests to Mat that she could keep Gaebril as an advisor or marry him to cement the line, though she would not likely do that unless Morgase has a child by him first. Gill says Gaebril would be the prince consort even then and no more than that. Gill asks if the letter said that Elayne is ill and Mat replies that she is well while adding to himself that she is well for now.
Mat asks if there is anything else Gill can share about him and points out that Gill doe snot seem to like him. Mat asks why that is. Gill frowns in thought and has no answer for why he does not like the man. He expresses displeasure at how much has changed since Gaebril arrived and he adds that the man has also changed too many of the guards and not for the better. He admits also that many people have been muttering in corners and having bad dreams since Gaebril’s arrival. Finally Gill asks Mat why he is asking all of these questions about Gaebril.
Mat: Because he wants to kill Elayne, and Egwene and Nynaeve with her.
Both men are staring at him as if he is mad and Gill asks if he is coming down sick again. Mat tells them that he overheard Gaebril telling some man named Comar to have Elayne’s head cut off as well as the other two women while he’s about it. Mat describes Comar as a large man with a white stripe in his bear. Gill admits that the description sounds like Lord Comar. He tells Mat that it is said Comar was once one of the best blades in the Queen’s Guards. and seems to now believe Mat’s story.
Gill asks what Morgase said and asks for confirmation that Mat told her.
Mat: Of course I did, with Gaebril standing right there, and her staring at him like a love sick lapdog. I said, “I may be just a simple village man who climbed over your wall half an hour past but I already happen to know your trusted advisor there, the one you seem to be in love with, intends to murder your daughter.” Light, man, she’d have cut my head off.
Thom agrees that she might have at that adding that her temper was ever as sudden as lightning and twice as dangerous. Gill states that Thom knows that better than most. Gill scrubs his hands through his hair and says that there has to be something he can do, adding that he has not held a sword since the Aiel War. He points out that he would just get himself killed and not help at all but says he needs to do something.
Thom: Rumor. No one can keep rumors from Morgase’s ears and if she hears it strongly enough she will start to wonder. Rumor is the voice of the people and the voice of the people often speaks truth. Morgase knows that. There is not a man alive I would back against her in The Game. Love or no love, once Morgase sets examining Gaebril closely he’ll not be able to hide as much as his childhood scars from her. And if she learns he means to harm Elayne Lord Gaebril will have a most elaborate funeral.
Gill mutters about the game of houses but agrees that it might work. Gill smiles and says he knows who to tell to start the rumors. He explains that if he tells Gilda he dreamed it, that within three days, she will have told serving girls in half of the city that it is a fact.
Gill: She is the greatest gossip the Creator ever made.
Thom advises him to be certain it cannot be traced back to him. Gill says that there is no fear of that and shares that only a week ago another man told him one of his own bad dreams as a thing he heard from somebody who heard it from somebody else. He thinks Gilda must have eavesdropped on him telling it to someone else but adds that he asked the man about it and said man gave him a string of names that went all the way to the other side of the city and then vanished. Gill continues and says he crossed the city out of curiosity and met the source of the other man’s story and the other man claimed it was his very own dream.
Mat does not car what they do with their rumors as rumors will not help Ewene or the others. Suddenly he points out to Thom that he is taking this well as it is his understanding that Morgase is the great love of his life. Thom replies that a wise woman once told him time would heal his wounds and that it seems to have happened. Mat is relieved and admits that he half thought Thom would run to the palace to warn her. Thom explains that he is not so great a fool as that and he tells Mat that men and women are different.
Thom: Men forget but never forgive. Women forgive but never forget. Morgase might kiss my cheek and give me a cup of wine and say how she has missed me. Then she might just let the guards haul me off to prison and a headsman.
The gleeman says Morgase is one of the most capable women he has ever known and that he can almost pity Gaebril when she learns what he has been up to. Thom asks Mat if there is any chance of him waiting until tomorrow to leave for Tear. Mat answers that he means to be as far toward Tear as he can be before nightfall. He then pauses and expresses surprise that Thom might want to come with him. Thom asks Mat if he did not just hear him say he does not want to have his head cut off. He tells Mat that Tear sounds a safer place to be than Caemlyn.
Thom: Besides, I like those girls.
Thom tells Mat that if he means to reach Tear quickly he needs to travel by boat. Mat agrees so long as the boat is fast. Gill leaves to see about getting Mat a meal. Before he gets out of the room, Mat hands him the purse Gaebril gave him in the palace. Gill asks what this is and Mat answers that it’s stakes.
Mat: Gaebril doesn’t know it but he and I have a wager.
Mat takes down the wooden dice cup and spins the dice out onto the table. He rolls five 6s.
Mat: And I always win.
Mat learns after his Palace meeting that Tallanvor is loyal to Morgase exclusively . Considering the peril that we the Readers know Morgase to be in, though none of the characters are as yet aware, Tallanvor seems very relevant. He also seems to have a point about Morgase trying to communicate something slyly. One does not have quiet talks in Sheriam’s study. One gets spankings in Sheriam’s study.
How long has Sheriam been Mistress of Novices? Was she even in that position when Morgase was in the Tower as a Novice? Something about that exchange seems odd.
Thom is woefully wrong about Morgase’s ability to save herself. It’s for the best though that he doe snot know that or he would likely try to save her in some way that also gets himself killed.
Jordan makes clear to the reader in this chapter, in case they failed to see the clues in the previous one, that Gaebril is one of the Forsaken. The rule established in this book is that if a whole community is having shared dreams about someone, that person is a powerful channeler. The concept was introduced with Rand but recently reinforced with Sammael in Illian. It seems the Forsaken just walked into the palaces of the world and assumed authority. High Lord Samon seems to be a similar situation in Tear.
So… I think we know about seven of the Forsaken at this point. Aginor, Belthamel (both of which died at The Eye), Ishamael, Lanfear, and the three rulers we learn about in this book – one of which we know to be Sammael. That means there are SIX more left to introduce.
I wonder about that coin purse Gaebril gives to Mat. Did he do the trick with the coins that Moiraine did with the Emond’s Field boys in The Eye of the World? Can he track Mat via that coin purse? Will one of Gaebril’s men be showing up to wherever those coins are sometime later? I assume that Mat’s urgency in getting out of Caemlyn is partially motivated by the Pattern pulling his thread to get out.
Thom and Mat are back on the road / river for Tear. Comar seems like Mat’s next hero obstacle and Gill just happened to mention offhandedly that the man is very, very good with a sword. So that shoudl be fun.