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 1: Seeds of Shadow
“The Shadow shall rise across the world, and darken every land, even to the smallest corner, and there shall be neither Light nor safety. And he who shall be born of the Dawn, born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy, he shall stretch forth his hands to catch the Shadow, and the world shall scream in the pain of salvation. All Glory be to the Creator, and to the Light, and to he who shall be born again. May the Light save us from him.”
— from Commentaries on the Karaethon Cycle
Sereine dar Shamelle Motara
Counsel-Sister to Comaelle,
High Queen of Jaramide
(circa 325 AB, the Third Age)
Min returns to Tar Valon, wearing a dress, with a hooded cloak, as a disguise. She has arrived from the Mountains of Mist with information from Moiraine Sedai, for Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat – the leader of the Aes Sedai. Min intends to avoid being noticed by anyone who might recognize her until she speaks with Siuan, and then after, she plans to visit two friends before leaving the city as quickly as possible.
After entering the Great Hall, Min begins to see images around people – including Aes Sedai and Warders – which indicate that they will die by violence and at the same time. After a short wait, Min is approached by an Accepted, Faolain. The Accepted are initiates of the Tower, training to be Aes Sedai if they can. Faolain interacted with Min previously but does not seem to recognize her in this disguise. Min tells her that she will only speak with the Amyrlin Seat and pressers her right to do so. Faolain warns her that speaking with the Amyrlin may necessitate a long wait, and suggests that she speak with another Sister, but Min insists. Faolain relents, warning that her wait may be long, and Min gives the Accepted her full name – Elmindreda – hoping that Siuan will recognize it.
While waiting for a response from the Amyrlin, Min has other viewings concerning people in The Great Hall. She sees bars floating in front of one of the Accepted, like a cage. She sees Sheriam Bayanar, the Mistress of Novices for the White Tower, with a bruised face. She also sees a Brown Sister with a fading aura. Beyond this, she sees images of violence and death all around her.
Finally, Min is told that the Amyrlin will see her and she is guided by a novice, Sahra Covenry, to get there. Along the way she continues seeing similar viewings all around her. Notably, she sees an Aes Sedai wearing a silver bracelet and she believes that image means that her viewings might be connected to the Seanchan.
Min makes it all the way to just outside the Amyrlin’s chambers, unnoticed, but then runs into Gawyn Trakand. He recognizes her immediately. He presses her for information as to the whereabouts of Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve. Min is shocked that the three are not in the Tower, as they left for Tar Valon months prior with Verin and an ill Mat. Gawyn explains that they returned briefly but are now gone again. He explains that they were sent from the Tower, for a penance, but that he cannot find out where this penance is occurring. Min also has a viewing of Gawyn with blood on his face, a grim face, and wounds that are more than physical.
Min abruptly recalls that she should be visiting the Amyrlin and ends her argument with Gawyn. As she goes, she sees a sword floating above his head with a banner behind it, with Gawyne’s usual sigil. However, it is noted that the banner is green rather than Andor’s usual red. He tells her that he will be in the practice yard and says he hopes to speak with her again.
When Min reaches the Keeper of the Chronicles, Leane Sharif, the Aes Sedai immediately recognizes her. She does not question Min but instead sends her in, curious as to why Siuan wants to speak with her. Min has a viewing of Leane and Siuan, in pain. Min tells Siuan of the visions she has had since reaching the city, including the deaths of the Aes Sedai that she has seen. She also tells Siuan that she has gone unnoticed, and unrecognized, except for Sahra the novice and Gawyn, so Siuan begins planning to remove both of them from the Tower so that they cannot spread word of Min’s arrival.
Min speculates that her vision might mean a Whitecloak attack but cannot imagine how or why they would achieve success. She also says that the silver bracelet can only mean the Seanchan. At this point, Siuan tells her that she believes the attack will come from the Black Ajah. After telling Min that this secret Ajah is real, she demands information from Min regarding the goings-on of Rand and Moiraine. Min tells her of what happened in Falme and that Rand is traveling to Tear. Siuan is not happy to hear that Rand is on his way to Tear. She says he is not ready to take Callandor, and she blames Moiraine for not having a better handle on Rand, but Min tells her her that Rand left in the middle of the night without telling anyone of his plans.
Siuan admits that she and Moiraine and trying to control Rand, in order to help him achieve his destiny and to protect him. As they talk, Siuan realizes that Min is in love with Rand, comments aloud on that, and Min reluctantly admits that she is and that she had a vision that herself and two other women would also love Rand. She says she does not know whether Rand will love her, or any of them, in return.
Min tells the Amyrlin that she wants to leave and travel to Tear. Siuan tells Min that she wants her to remain in the Tower and adds that being near Rand will be very dangerous. Min argues that it is well known she is connected to Rand, as well as Egwene and Nynaeve, and she adds that once word gets out that Rand can channel that she will be taken into custody by the Red Ajah. Siuan agrees and suggests that Min will need to adopt a disguise inside the White Tower. She tells Min to adopt her full name, Elmindreda, and to change her personality to that of a flighty woman pursued by two love interests between whom she cannot choose.
It is revealed that Siuan intends to use Min’s talent of viewings to root out the Black Ajah from within the White Tower. Upon learning Siuan’s plans, Min realizes that Siuan must be using Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve for the same purpose. When she mentions her suspicion to Siuan, the Amyrlin tells her that where they are is not her business. Siuan explains to Min that if the White Tower falls to the Black Ajah, Rand will receive no aid from the Aes Sedai. This argument causes Min to reluctantly agree to Siuan’s plans.
Outside of the Amyrlin’s study, we see that Elaida recognized Min as she entered the Tower. She remembers Min’s connection to Elayne as well. Elaida believes Elayne is important to the outcome of the Last Battle due to a Foretelling she had years earlier, which stated that the Royal Line of Andor would be the key to defeating the Dark One. This Foretelling is why she put aside ambitions within the Tower itself to pursue an advisory role to Queen Morgase after she ascended the throne of Andor. Elaida thinks that had she not gone to Andor, she might now be Amyrlin rather than Siuan.
Elaida remembers that the other two missing Accepted are also connected to Min and that they come from Rand al’Thor’s village. She remembers meeting Rand al’Thor in the Royal Palace of Andor and Foretelling that Rand would be at the heart of future troubles for Andor and the world. She thinks about how Moiraine got him out of Caemlyn before she could find Rand, later, and she knows that two other taveren were traveling with them – Perrin Aybara and Mat Cauthon.
She muses over the fact that Moiraine and Siuan were once best friends and that their friendship seemed to abruptly end after they were raised to the shawl. She does not believe that their friendship truly ended, but also cannot fathom that the two might be involved in a conspiracy that goes back twenty years. She decides that she will stop Siuan.
Just then, she runs into Alviarin Freidhen, a White Sister. She invites Alviarin for a while and shares some of her theories about Siuan with her.
Dain Bornhald leads half a legion of the Children of Light into the Two Rivers. He looks across the river toward Taren Ferry and thinks of his father dying at the hands of Darkfriends from this region.
In the village, the people of Taren Ferry deny that there are any Darkfriends there and tell the Children that Darkfriends must be farther south.
Bornhald confronts Ordeith, a name which means wormwood in the Old Tongue, abut the fact that a couple of the Tinkers which were questioned are now missing. He cannot understand why the Lord Captain Commander trusts this strange man, this mad man, and sent him with them. Ultimately, his desire to avenge his father outweighs his other concerns.
The High Lady Suroth Sabelle Meldarath has gathered the Seanchan forces expelled from Falme and taken them to the Sea Folk island of Cantorin. She now leads the Hailene, Old Tongue for The Return. She thinks to herself that if she can deal with the man calling himself The Dragon Reborn, she may be able to avoid returning to the Court of the Nine Moons and apologizing to the Empress, may she live forever.
Suroth enters a room where a pair of sul’dam wait with a damane. One of the sul’dam, Alwhin, has been raised to so’jihin, and is now permitted to shave the left side of her head to reflect her elevated status. This honor has never been given to a sul’dam before, however, Alwhin knows too much. Suroth is uneasy around sul’dam since learning that they can be training to channel.
The other sul’dam, Taisa, holds the leash on a damane named Pura, who used to be an Aes Sedai of the White Tower. Suroth questions Pura about how the White Tower is controlling the man calling himself The Dragon Reborn. Pura tells her that the Tower would not control a False Dragon. Suroth knows from Falme that the man in question can not only channel, but can do so powerfully, and she considers whether he might be the true Dragon Reborn. When Suroth presses Pura, telling her that Seanchan soldiers fought women who can channel at Falme, she says this means the Tower must be aiding the man. Pura insists that she does not know anything about this. In her pleading, she touches Suroth, a significant offense in Seanchan culture. Alwhin orders Taisa to punish Pura and then to turn herself in Surela for punishment.
Suroth thinks on the other Aes Sedai that they captured at Falma but does not know what became of her when they were forced to flee the city. Suroth thinks on the face that Pura seems unable to tell even simple lies, but she cannot believe it. Suroth thinks about the number of people who now know the secret, regarding sul’dam learning to channel, and muses on having the three people who are not herself killed. Alwhin says that the Empress would be deeply unhappy to learn that Suroth kept this information from her. Suroth dismisses Alwhin and muses to herself about what she should do with the Dragon, false or not, should she capture him.
This summary was quite a bit more truncated than my usual chapter summaries. There was just too much verbosity from Mr. Jordan to do it the usual way and I did not want to break Chapter 1 into “Part 1” and “Part 2” when so much of the text was just catch-up and description.
I do not know why this chapter was not treated as a prologue. Spoiler alert: Future Wheel of Time novels that begin this way (multiple POVs, none of them main characters) are labeled as prologues.
I really love Min’s journey into the White Tower. The whole thing, with all the violence viewings, masterfully builds a ton of suspense for what feels destined to transpire sometime soon. We know that what Min saw is going to happen. Now we wait to see how it happens and what leads to it and who is involved.
I was thinking of Siuan and Moiraine’s perspective, re: Rand, in that section. Are they wrong for thinking that they need to guide him? Probably not. There’s nothing to say that Rand has to go his own way to fulfill the Prophecies. Does it all feel a little naive and arrogant? Also, yeah.
Elaida is an interesting figure. We know from her POV that her ultimate goal is to defeat the Dark One. In a lot of ways, she is really similar to Moiraine and Siuan. The key difference IMO is that she is trying to save the world by herself. Imagine how different things might go for her if at some point she confesses what she knows to Siuan. Of curse, she does not trust Siuan and honestly has no great reason to do so. There’s a certain tragedy of circumstances in that case for Elaida. (Perhaps also for Siuan depending on how this Tower violence thing shakes out.)
Whitecloaks and Fain in the Two Rivers? This is…. very bad. I have anxiety.
The Suroth section just seems to be there as a reminder that the Seanchan are still nearby and a legitimate threat. Naming an Aes Sedai “Pura” just makes my skin crawl.