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 5: Questioners
Egwene is frustrated that Moiraine has not returned. She was supposed to have been with her and Nynaeve for an hour but left abruptly after only five minutes with Elayne in tow, immediately after receiving a message delivered by Careen. Egwene asks Aviendha, who is also present, about why Moiraine was called upon but Aviendha does not know as Careen whispers and she felt improper listening in. Egwene feels guilty about deceiving Aviendha with the claim that she, Nynaeve, and Elayne are full Aes Sedai. Moiraine did not lie to the Tairen nobles about their actual station, as Accepted, but her neglect to mention the truth allowed the nobles to think what they wanted. They had let the Tairens believe that they were all Aes Sedai, because they thought it better that the Tairens believed four full Sisters are in the Stone, instead of one. Egwene therefore cannot reveal the truth to Aviendha because it will be easier to keep the secret safe if fewer people know. Moiraine has ordered Aviendha to accompany Egwene and Nynaeve, and Egwene does not know why, but she thinks it may be in order that she might serve as a body guard for them.
Nynaeve’s mutters about Tanchico and brings Egwene’s attention back to their current task. The former Wisdom mutters that there is nothing for it except to travel to Tanchico. Egwene thinks to herself about the dresses she and Nynaeve are wearing, and how strange they feel. She thinks fleetingly about the flimsy dresses Berelain wears, and how they are unsuitable for public eyes, but she admits to herself also that they are likely much cooler in the Tairen heat.
Egwene tells Nynaeve that she is not convinced yet that they must make the journey to Tachico. She and Nynaeve are supposed to be questioning two Black Ajah prisoners, Joiya Byir, formerly of the White Ajah, who has lost none of the White’s cool arrogance. Egwene beleives that murder is likely the least of the woman’s crimes. The other prisoner is Amico Nagoyin, who was stilled on the night their party took control of the Stone. Amico, in contrast with Joiya, is stoop shouldered and bowed down. As Joiya is held prisoner by the One Power, including having her ears blocked from being able to hear what the others are said, Amico continues to tell them that they should go to Tanchico. Amico says under intense questioning, tired from having repeated the story many times, that she knew the names of no other Black sisters than two or three before leaving the Tower for Tear. She also relays wearily that she heard Liandrin speak to Temaile of something in Tanchico that is able to control the Dragon Reborn, with some risk to the controller as well.
Nynaeve becomes impatient and demands that they speak to the other prisoner, but Egwene is annoyed at getting cut off. The two women stare at each other for a while until Amico breaks the impasse by turning to face the far wall, waiting to be bound once more by the One Power. Aviendha shudders as Egwene weaves air around Amico. Before Egwene and Nynaeve question Joiya, Aviendha abruptly speaks.
Aviendha: Her face… Amico’s face. She does not have the look she did, as if the years had passed her by, not as much as she did. Is that because… because she was… stilled?
Egwene moved down the table to where she can see Amico’s face and agrees, telling her that she has sharp eyes. She admits that she does not know if this is related to stilling but says that it must. As Egwene thinks to herself that this confession does not sound much like an Aes Sedai answer, Nynaeve adds that relatively few Aes Sedai have ever been burned out and far fewer stilled. Nynaeve, in a lecturing tone that Egwene recognizes as an imitation of Sheriam Sedai, the Mistress of Novices, says that stilling is not a thing anyone would choose to study and is generally considered irreversible.
Egwene changes the subject by returning to their interrogation of Joiya. She releases Joiya who then tries to convince them that she has repented and returned to the Light, saying that she sees her error now that she knows the Dragon is reborn and that the prophecies are fulfilled. She adds that no one can walk so long in the Shadow that she cannot return to the Light. Egwene thinks about the lies that she believes Joiya is speaking and conjectures to herself that the oaths a Black Sister swears must undo or override the Oath Rod and the Three Oaths. Egwene orders the prisoner to give her tale again, but worded differently, in an attempt to catch Joiya in a lie. The Black Sister recalls a plot to rescue Mazrim Taim, the false Dragon from Saldaea, and set him loose upon the land, wreaking destruction unseen since the War of One Hundred Years, while posing as Rand al’Thor. She says that if the plan were to work, it would mean that Rand al’Thor would be blamed for the actions of Rand al’Thor. She says that then the nations would unite to destroy the Dragon, destroying him, and the Dark One will break free with no Dragon to fight him at Tarmon Gai’don. Joiya tells the story with no satisfaction or remorse evident in her voice. Egwene thinks that it sounds plausible, even more plausible than Amico’s story, but she believes Amico and not Joiya.
Suddenly the door bangs open to reveal Moiraine, with Elayne following. Moiraine’s serenity is gone and her face reveals fury.
With a title like “Questioners” I am thankful that this chapter has nothing to do with the Children of the Light. Nynaeve and Egwene would be terrible Whitecloaks. But as that order is terrible and inept, perhaps being terrible at it would mean they are good? I digress.
The big bit of new information is the mystery surrounding Amico’s face. Does being stilled cause one to lose her Ageless appearance? I guess we’ll have to read and find out.
We also learned of two Black Sister plots. One of them involves an object in Tanchico would can be used to control the Dragon Reborn. The other is a convoluted (and likely true) plan to use Mazrim Taim to wreak havoc on the world. How does that work exactly if Taim is super-strong unless Taim is a Darkfriend? Wouldn’t he just turn on his controllers at the first opportunity? Perhaps he is a Darkfriend.
Unfortunately, this chapter lets us know that Nynaeve and Egwene bickering with each other continues to be a thing. Ugh. It’s not fun to read, in particular when there are MUCH bigger fish to fry that should be keeping both of them on task.