The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 49): A Storm in Tear

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 49: A Storm in Tear

Egwene returns to the table and her tea, thinking maybe Elayne is right that she went too far, but she cannot bring herself to apologize. Everyone sits in silence. When Ailhuin Guenna returns, she has a man with her. He is in his middle years, lean, and looks to have been carved from aged wood. Juilin Sandar takes off his wooden clogs by the door and hangs a flat conical straw hat on a peg. He wears a sword breaker on his belt and he carries a staff exactly as tall as he is but it is not much thicker than his thumb. Egwene thinks his quick dark eyes seem to record everything in the room.

Ailhuin motions him to a place at the table where he sits with his stff propped against his shoulder after first bowing to each of the three women in turn. He did not begin speaking until Ailhuin brings everyone a fresh cup of tea.

Juilin: Mother Guenna has told me of your problem.

He tells them that he will help them if he can but adds that the High Lords may have their own business to put him to soon. Ailhuin tells him not to haggle as if he knows when the High Lords might summon him and he replies that he will not claim it, but that he knows when he has seen men on the rooftops at night.

Juilin: No one has reported a theft yet but their are thieves hiding inside the walls and you can buy your supper with that.

He tells them that he is not trying to drive up his price before adding that whatever he does for these pretty women he must do soon. Ailhuin tells Egwene and the others that she believes him and says he may be the most honest man ever born in this part of Tear. Elayne and Egwene struggle not to laugh. Juilin focuses his attention on Nynaeve and tells her that he will admit his curiosity about the thieves they are after, saying he has known women thieves and bands of thieves, but never a band of women thieves. He tells Nynaeve that he ows Mother Guenna favors.

Nynaeve asks him sharply what he charges and he replies just as briskly that to recover stolen goods, he asks a tenth part of the value of what he has recovered, and for finding someone, he asks a silver mark for each person. He lets Nynaeve know that he has been informed the things stolen have little value, except to their group, so he suggests that they charge him for the recovery of the goods.

Juilin: I would not take money from you at all except that the brotherhood would frown on it. But I will take as little as I can, a copper or two, no more.

Elayne speaks up and tells Juilin that she knows a thief-taker from Shienar, a respectable man who carries a sword and a sword breaker. She asks him why he does not. Sandar looks surprised for a moment before recovering to reply that they are not Tieran and that he has heard tales of Shienar and trollocs and every man there a warrior. He looks as though he considers these stories for children until Egwene says that the stories are true enough as she has been there before. He blinks at her before telling them he is not a lord or a wealthy merchant or a soldier and that the Defenders would put him in a cell under the Stone for carrying a sword. Juilin touches his staff, focuses his smile on Nynaeve, and tells her that he does as well as most even without a sword.

He asks her to describe the things they are after but then stops as Nynaeve sets her purse on the table and counts out thirteen silver marks. She tells him that there are thirteen women for him to find and just as much silver again to receive when he does find them. She instructs him to find the women only so that they can recover their property themselves. He protests that he will recover their property himself for less than this but Nynaeve tells him she will pay what she pays and that she insists he do no more than find the women. When he reluctantly nods, she begins to describe them.

When she is done, Egwene is certain that Sandar could have recited her descriptions back, word for word, if asked to do so. As Nynaeve finishes, she gives him an additional admonition.

Nynaeve: Mother Guenna may have told you this but I will repeat it. These women are more dangerous than you can believe. Over a dozen have died at their hands that I know of and I would not be surprised if that is only a drop of the blood on their hands.

Both Sandar and Ailhuin blink at this. She tells him that if the women discover he is asking after them, he will die. She says that if they take him, they will force him to tell where the three of them are, and that Mother Guenna will likely die with them. The gray haired woman looks disbelieving. Nynaeve tells them both to believe it and her stares demands agreement from them. She tells Juilin that if he does not believe her, she will take back the silver and find someone else with more brains. Juilin Sander finally speaks.

Juilin: When I was young a cutpurse put her knife in my ribs because I thought a pretty young girl wouldn’t be as quick to stab as a man. I do not make that mistake anymore. I will behave as if these women are all Aes Sedai and Black Ajah.

Egwene almost chokes, causing Sandar to give her a rueful grin as he scoops the coins up. Juilin apologizes and says he did not mean to frighten her before telling all of them that it will take a few days to find them unless they are staying some place together. He says he will find them more quickly if they are together.

After he goes, Elayne says aloud that she hopes he is not overconfident. Ailhuin tells her that he has never been a fool and that he is the best thief catcher in Tear.

After they eat and clean up, Nynaeve and Ailhuin sit at the table talking of herbs and cures. Elayne works on embroidery and Egwene tries reading. Egwene cannot concentrate on her reading and wonders to herself what the Black Ajah wants at the Heart of the Stone. Ailhuin shows all of them their rooms before the women regather in Nynaeve’s room. Egwene plans to sleep with the stone ter’angreal as the other two stand watch. She tells both of them to wake her after an hour. Both of them warn her to be careful.

Egwene wakes on rolling hills, beneath a blue sky. She has learned some of the rules of this place, through trial and error, and now believes she knows how to travel in the World of Dreams. She empties her mind, as she would when embracing saidar, and pictures the Heart of the Stone in every detail. When it is so real that she is sure she can reach out and touch it, she opens her eyes and she is there.

Around the Heart of the Stone, thirteen women are sitting cross-legged, staring at Callandor. Honey-haired Liandrin turns her head toward Egwene and smiles. Egwene gasps and wakes up so fast she almost falls off the bed. The other two women are alarmed with Nynaeve reminding her that this is the first time she has ever come back without being awakened. They both ask her what happened and Elayne points out that she can see Egwene is frightened.

Egwene removes the cord from around her neck, holding both the ter’angreal and her Great Serpent Ring, and tells the other two that they are waiting for them. There is no need for her to say who she means. Egwene adds that she believes the women know that they are all in Tear.


Mat stares at a Stones board on the table between himself and Thom. He struggles to concentrate as he places a stone knowing that in three moves he will capture a fifth of Thom’s pieces. Thom moves in reply and tells him that he could be a good player if he puts his mind to it. Mat blinks at the board and see that in those same three moves, Thom will capture a third of his own pieces. He asks the older man if he ever loses. Thom answers honestly that he has not lost in a long while but that Morgase used to beat him about half of the time. He tells Mat that it is said good commanders of soldiers and good players of the Great Game are good Stones players. He suggests that Morgase is the one and that he has no doubt she could command a battle as well.

Mat asks if he would not rather dice some more but Thom replies that he would like a chance to win more than one toss of the dice in nine or ten. Suddenly the door to the cabin bursts open as the Captain enters and tells them that they are docking now in Tear. He ads, complaining about the speed that Mat forced upon him, that he will never carry any passengers that can talk ever again. Mat reminds him that he wanted the gold.

Mat glances out the window and can see a wet stone dock but not much else. He fishes the second purse of gold and tosses it to the captain. He then puts a bundle of fireworks over one shoulder and a bundle containing his clothes on the other, covering both with his cloak so that the fireworks do not get wet. The captain, with the gold in hand, asks Mat what this speed has all been about and Mat replies to him that it concerns a wager. The captain is incredulous and says that there must be a kingdom riding on it. Mat tells him that more than that rides on it.

None of the crew join Mat and Thom on the docks as the rain pours down. Mat says loudly, so that Thom can hear him, that they will hire a room in an inn before he goes out looking for the girls. Thom cannot believe Mat would go out in the rain but Mat replies that Comar may have had as much as a day’s lead on them when he set out from Caemlyn. Thom tells him that the boat they sailed on, Swift, deserves its name, but Mat replies that he has to find Comar before he finds Egwene and the others.

Mat rejects Thom’s argument that Comar won’t be out searching in the rain. As they walk through the mud, Mat rejects the idea that any of the women would stay in this part of the city, with the streets as they are and the smell of fish. Thom is less certain, and coughs before telling Mat that he might be surprised what women will put up with. Mat lengthens his stride, saying he wants to find Comar tonight, or the girls, one or the other. Thom limps after him coughing now and again.

They cross through the city gates and Mat is relieved to feel paving stones under his feet again. Not more than fifty paces up the street they find an inn, with music spilling out into the night. The White Crescent’s landlord is girthy with large baggy pants. The innkeeper is happy to give them rooms. He frowns at their muddy boots but is happy to see silver from Mat’s pocket. Thom’s offer to perform some nights also pleases him. He knows nothing of a big man with a white streak in his beard, nor of three women matching the descriptions that Mat gives, and Mat leaves all of his belongings except his cloak and quarterstaff in his room, barely looking even at the bed, before wolfing down a stew and then rushing back out into the rain.

He is surprised that Thom comes with him. Thom pats the flute case under his cloak and replies that people talk to a gleeman and that he might learn something Mat does not. He adds that he would not like to see anything happen to the girls, any more than Mat would. They begin to travel from inn to inn, staying long enough for Thom to flourish his cloak, and to drink a glass of wine, but neither of them learn anything.

By the time they have visited two dozen common rooms, Mat feels as if his eyelids have weights The rain has lessened, but it still falls steadily in big drops. Thom tells Mat that if they do not go back to their rooms, now, that he will sleep in the street. He adds to Mat that they just walked past three inns and Thom complains that he is too tired to think. He asks Mat if he has a scheme of where to look that he has not shared. Mat sees a sign for an inn called The Golden Cup, and though the sign looks nothing like a dice cup, he decides to go inside. He promises Thom that this will be the last stop for the night.

Two steps inside of the inn, Mat sees Comar. He is sitting at a table on the far side of the room, rattling a dice cup. and smiling at the man sitting across from him. Comar calls loudly, asking who is next.

Comar: Surely someone else wants to try his luck?

It seems to Mat that no one does but the big man shakes the cup loudly anyway. The innkeeper is polishing a mug and staring angrily at Comar, though not when the big man is looking. Mat suppresses his first urge to rush over to the man and instead tries to assess the situation from all sides. Something about this situation feels wrong to him. Mat and Thom approach the innkeeper and ask about Comar. The man tells them that he has never seen him before tonight, but that he is an outlander like they are, and the innkeeper thinks he must have made a fortune in trade. Mat asks why he believes that Comar is a merchant and the innkeeper, somewhat in exasperation, tells him that it is his coat. He explains that Comar cannot be a lord so he must be a rich merchant. The innkeeper continues complaining about Comar’s luck and says that it must be how he made his fortune.

Yawning, Mat asks about how often Comar wins. The other man replies that he loses sometimes but only when the stakes are low and only sometimes. Thom mutters about weighted dice and gives Comar credit for being smart enough to not have weighted them in such a way as to have made it the highest toss. The innkeeper says he has heard of such a thing but argues that it cannot be the case as both men use the same dice. Thom asks the innkeeper to bring him two cups of dice so that he can demonstrate what the big man is doing.

Thom dumps out one cup of dice and instructs Mat to put a mark on them. Thom reaches over for the dice cup, sets them back down, and tells Mat to look for his marks. Thom’s hand is on the other upended leather cup, which he has not moved since the innkeeper brought it over. When Mat picks up the dice, he sees that none of them have the mark he placed on them. Thom then turns his free hand over revealing five dice. The innkeeper gasps as Mat’s marked dice are in that free hand. Thom tells them that it is a simple trick though he would never have suspected the big man of having the fingers for it.

Mat tells the innkeeper that he should call the Watch, or whatever it is called in Tear, and have him arrested. The innkeeper is incredulous at even the idea of denouncing a merchant to the Defenders. He says they would not even look at his dice and that it would be him wearing chains instead. He adds that the man could cut him down where he stands and the Defenders would stay he earned it. Mat asks if it would be good enough for the innkeeper to call the Defenders if he exposes the man publicly.

Mat gets up and tells the other two men to wait there. Thom urgently tells him to wait but Mat waves for him to stay there as he approaches Comar. The big man eyes Mat with interest and begins to mock Mat’s coat until Mat lays a gold crown on the table. Mat yawns without even covering his mouth. Comar tosses his dice revealing three crowns and two roses. Mat grabs those dice before Comar is able. The big man glares at him but then lets him have the cup. If both tosses are the same they will throw again until one man wins. Mat smiles as he rattles the dice, thinking that if they both throw exactly the same toss, three or four times in a row, that it should be sufficient proof against Comar.

Mat spills the dice onto the table top and they bounce oddly. Mat can feel something shifting, as if his luck has gone wild. When the dice come to rest, they show five crowns. Mat softly tells him “you lose” as the big man’s eyes look ready to pop out of his head. Mat decides that if his luck is in this strongly that it’s time to push it.

Mat: I think your luck is used up, Comar. If you’ve harmed those girls it’s all gone.

Comar mutters that he has not even found them before cutting off in astonishment at what they are talking about. His face goes white as he asks Mat how he knows his name. Mat is grateful for the luck of knowing the man has not found them yet and asks his luck to just stay with him a while longer. Mat tells him to return to Caemlyn and to tell Gaebril that he could not find them, or that they are dead, but in any case he should leave Tear tonight.

Mat: If I see you again, I’ll kill you.

The big man asks Mat unsteadily who he is before drawing his sword and lurching to his feet in an instant. Mat shoves the table at him, overturning it, before grabbing his quarterstaff. Comar shoves the table right back at Mat and stabs at him. Mat is only just able to deflect the blow from the sword but the effort knocks the staff from his fingers. Mat finds himself gripping the man’s wriest with his blade close to his face. With a grunt, Mat rolls backward, heaving as hard as he can with his legs. Comar’s eyes widen as he sails over Mat and crashes into a table, face up. Mat scrambles for his staff but when he reaches it, the big man has not moved Comar lays splayed atop the table. The men who had been sitting at the table are now a safe distance away and eyeing each other nervously.

Mat approaches him and kicks his sword away, telling him that his luck is all used up. Comar quietly speaks.

Comar: Fool, you think I was the only one hunting them? They won’t live til…

He dies before finishing his sentence. The innkeeper begins pulling frantically at Mat’s arm, telling him to go before the Defenders come. He promises to show them the dice and to tell them that the other man in the fight was an outlander, tall, with red hair and gray eyes. He quickly says no one will suffer over a man he dreamed of last night.

Everyone in the room is looking another way as Mat and Thom leave. They go hurriedly down the street, with Thom warning him that the Defenders will arrest any outlander within two streets regardless of the description given by the innkeeper.

Mat tells Thom that he has figured out how his luck works. He says it works best when things are random, like dice. He tells Thom that he could not find Comar until he walked into one by chance. He explains that this means he will need to search for Egwene and the others without any pattern to hs efforts if he is to find them in time.

Thom asks what he is talking about, reminding him that Comar is dead. Mat tells him that Comar let it slip that he has not located them, but also that he is not the only one looking for them. Mat tells Thom he has to find them and the gleeman replies that he will not find them tonight. Mat reluctantly agrees but says he is going out again as soon as it’s light out. Thom nods and they make their way back to the White Crescent.

For three days and nights, after, Mat and Thom wander through Tear, in the rain, tossing a coin to decide which direction to go. Thom’s cough grows worse, to the point that he stops performing and telling stories at the inns they visit. Neither of them hear anything useful.

Mat begins to have bad dreams, no doubt from all the worrying, of Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne, and some fellow with close cropped white hair, laughing and weaving a net around them. Sometimes his net is for Moiraine. Sometimes he holds a crystal sword. Sometimes Rand is the one who holds the sword. For some reason, Mat dreams of Rand a good deal. Mat is sure all of this is because he is not getting enough sleep and not eating enough, but he will not stop. He has a wager to win and he will do so if it kills him.


The story is really getting good. From the perspective of a person recapping though, this is a LONG chapter.

The chapter highlight for me, in the supergirls’ section, was Nynaeve’s speech to Juilin about how dangerous the women are.

Nynaeve: Mother Guenna may have told you this but I will repeat it. These women are more dangerous than you can believe. Over a dozen have died at their hands that I know of and I would not be surprised if that is only a drop of the blood on their hands.

Juilin reacts with appropriate gravity but then the whole moment is undercut by his misinterpretation of Egwene’s reaction when he says he will act like they are Black Ajah. That undercutting of the tension now leads one to believe he will not take this quite as seriously as he should – even if he knows he should take it quite seriously.

Adding to that sense of foreboding… Liandrin smiles at Egwene in the World of Dreams. That’s probably not good. I’m not sure why Egwene is so sure that the Black Sisters know that they are in Tear, though. Perhaps that is just a “Dreamer” thing. Or maybe she’s wrong.

In the Mat section, Mat just continues to be the perfect rogue character. His powers are such that he might as well be the God of Luck at this point, which gives him kind of a Loki vibe, too. I could probably read chapter after chapter of Mat telling a bad guy that his luck is all used up. It’s just a lot of fun. Thom’s cough is a concern. I wonder if he’ll need to see anyone about that and where they’ll go for help?

It’s easy to miss but the fact that the innkeeper where Mat killed Comar dreamed of someone who looked like Rand, the night before, means that Rand is now in Tear, too.

It’s also easy to miss that Julin sees people who are extremely good at hiding, climbing around on the roofs of Tear. Have we met any people in this story who are elite level Hide and Seek players? Yes. Yes we have. Those folks were on their way to Tear, too.

Can’t wait to finish this book up. I’m really enjoying the home stretch.



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