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 6: Doorways
Moiraine angrily announced that Rand is a mule-headed stone willed fool of man.
Nynaeve: We breed them that way in the Two Rivers. Two Rivers women never have any trouble with them.
ELayne sees the startled look on Egwene’s face and concludes that what Nynaeve just said is a lie big enough to warrant having her mouth washed out. Egwene heads off Moiraine’s reply to Nynaeve by asking the Aes Sedai what Rand did. Moiraine notices Joiya and Amico before answering. She mutters to herself about seeing the Black Ajah guards outside, but not thinking of what their presence means. Moiraine composes herself and walks toward Joiya, telling her that she has made arrangements for her and Amico’s transport to the White Tower, in four days time. She advises the Black sister to find the truth before her trip. She also adds that she will not hear the other woman speak even one more word unless it is to confess something new. Then Moiraine tells Aviendha to get the guards outside. Elayne blinks having not noticed the Aiel woman. She thinks to herself that sometimes Aviendha can be so still as to almost not seem present at all.
The guards enter the room but Aviendha is not with them. She apparently used the opportunity to escape Moiraine’s foul mood. Moiraine discusses with the captain of the guards the special orders for the two prisoners, including the number of men assigned to each and instructions on overseeing their food preparation. The Defenders do not know that the prisoners are Aes Sedai and as a result, there are a hundred rumors floating through the Stone as to why two women need to be guarded so heavily. Moiraine dismisses them.
When the guards and the prisoners leave, Egwene approaches Elayne to say that she looks as if she is about to cry. Elayne berates herself for not doing a better job of keeping her face calm and thinks of a saying her old nurse Lini used to tell her.
“A weeping woman is a bucket with no bottom.”
Nynaeve abruptly shouts at Moiraine for her lack of participation in the questioning of the Black Ajah Sisters and how now, without helping, she is sending them away to Tar Valon.
Nynaeve: If you will not help at least do not interfere.
Moiraine tells her not to presume that the Amyrlin’s orders do anything to remove her authority over their group. She reminds them all that they are still only Accepted, and woefully ignorant, regardless of the letters they might carry from the Amyrling Seat. Moiraine asks if they meant to question the prisoners forever before reaching a decision as to what they must do, and adds next that Two Rivers people seem to work hard at avoiding decisions they must make. Before Nynaeve can respond, Moiraine turns to Elayne and tells her to pull herself together. She also reminds her that not every land has the customs she was born into. She also reminds Elayne not to let her feelings hurt others.
Egwene asks what she means. In a small voice, Elayne tells Egwene that Berelain was in Rand’s chambers the night before. Moiraine, believing that the news will hurt Egwene, tells her that she would have spared her this information if Elayne had managed to maintain her sense. She reminds both of them again that the customs of Mayene are not those either of them were born into. She also tells Egwene that she must realize by now, also, that nothing can come of her feeling for Rand because he belongs otto the Pattern and to history. Egwene whispers to Elayne that she loves Rand like a brother, and her like a sister. She wishes Elayne well with Rand. Elayne smiles and the two women hug with Elayne telling her thank you. The two also share a laugh at how Moiraine finally got something wrong. Egwene asks Moiraine if she has ever been in love, to which Moiraine replies that she would wager that she knows the face of her future husband better than either of them know the face of their future husband. Moiraine seems to regret, almost immediately, having said so much and turn to Nynaeve and adds that if she ever chooses a man to wed, that it will not be Lan.
Nynaeve asks if the other three are done chatting about men and tries to the bring the conversation back to something more important. She admits that she does not enjoy continuing to interrogate Joiya and Amico, but says also that they were tasked with tracking down Liandrin and her cronies. Her voice rises as she tells Moiraine that she is tired of walking into traps and that she does not want to chase a false story all the way to Tanchico. Elayne wonders to herself how she has fallen into the role of peacemaker among these women and then decides to divert Nynaeve’s anger by bringing up why they were summoned away from the interrogation for so long. She mentions that they went to see Rand and that he is alright now because Moiraine healed him. The diversion works as Nynaeve gasps and asks what happened to him.
Moiraine tells them that Rand almost died and then tells them about the bubble of evil. As an afterthought, Moiraine says she is sure that Perrin and Mat experienced something similar but escaped unharmed. Nynaeve asks Moiraine why she does not teach Rand but Moiraine tells Nynaeve what she already knows, namely that saidin and saidar are not the same. She said a bird would have an easier time teaching a fish to fly than a woman would have teaching a man to use saidin.
Egwene diverts the conversation this time, asking Moiraine what Rand is being so stubborn about. Moiraine tells the trio that Rand must move, but instead he sits. She points out that the longer he sits, the more than the Tairens lose their fear of him and the more than the Forsaken will see his inaction as a sign of weakness. She tells them of her plan to have Rand and Tear invade Illian to fight Sammael. Nynaeve balks at this plan, saying that she not only wants Rand to start a war, but to seek out one of the Forsaken as well. She tells Moiraine that Rand is not a fool, at least not for a man.
Elayne finds herself agreeing with Moiraine, though. Moiraine notices the comprehension on Elayne’s face. Elayne muses on the fact that Moiraine grew up in the royal palace of Cairhein, and though she was not destined to rule herself, she no doubt heard the same type of lectures that Elayne did. Nynaeve charges on with her complaints about Moiraine’s plan, though, so Moiraine tells Elayne to explain it to the other two. Elayne does not want to comply by does so under Moiraine’s stare.
Elayne: War will come whether Rand begins it or not. The Forsaken will not stand idly and wait. Sammael cannot be the only one to have seized a nation’s reigns, just the lone one we know. They will come after Rand eventually, in their own persons perhaps, but certainly with whatever armies they command.
She continues on, telling them that if Rand stands idle, the nations not under the control of the Forsaken will convince themselves that the fall of the Stone is a lie, rather than fall in behind him. She says they will believe he is a false Dragon that must be put down.
Moiraine knows Elayne did not say all that she has figured out, so Moiraine continues Elayne’s explanation by adding that in attacking Illian, it will cement the Tairens to him, add the Illianers as well, and likely also lead to declarations for Rand from Tarabon and Arad Doman where the dragonsworn now gather. Moiraine finishes by saying that with this coalition of nations, Rand will have made himself so strong that only a coalition of every other nation, from where they are now, all the way to the Blight, could defeat him. She says this move will make the Forsaken wary and buy him the time to fully learn his own strength.
Moiraine: He must move first – be the hammer, not the nail.
Moiraine complains that instead of taking action, Rand spends all his time reading the Prophecies of the Dragon. When Nynaeve says quietly that Rand is desperate, Moiraine says she is also desperate. Moiraine intimates that she has a backup plan, and Elayne demands to know it, thinking the Aes Sedai intends to do something to Rand if she must. Moiraine says she will do nothing to Rand then tells the trio of her plan to visit the Great Holding in the Stone, where the Tairens collect and store objects related to the One Power. She tells the Accepted that she might enter a ter’angreal there, a twisted red stone doorframe, and she says that on the other side of the doorway she can have three questions answered, accurately, about the past, present, or future. Moiraine explains that using the ter’angreal is dangerous after Egwene and Nynaeve proclaim that they could use the ter’angreal and get answers to their dilemma regarding the Black Ajah plans.
Moiraine: You three rush in blindly where Lan and a hundred warders would tread warily. Why do you think I have not stepped through? Days ago I could have asked what Rand must do to survive and triumph, how he can defeat the Forsaken and the Dark One, how he can learn to control the power and hold off madness long enough to do what he must.
Moiraine waits as if expecting one of them to speak, before going on. She tells them that there are rules and dangers through the doorway. She says no one may step through more than once. She says you may ask three questions, but you must ask the questions and hear the answers before you are permitted to leave. She tells them that frivolous questions are punished, but that what might be frivolous for one is not for someone else. She adds, lastly, that questions touching the Shadow have dire consequences.
Moiraine: If you asked about the Black Ajah, you might be returned dead, or come out a jibbering mad woman, if you came out at all. As for Rand, I am not certain it is possible to ask a question about the Dragon Reborn that does not touch the Shadow in some way. You see? Sometimes there are reasons for caution.
Nynaeve demands to know how Moiraine knows all of this, and Moiraine explains that the ter’angreal used to be owned by the Firsts of Mayene. Moiraine tells them that the ter’angreal was given as a gift to the High Lords, by the First Halvar, about three hundred years ago, in exchange for peaceful relations with their larger neighbor. Prior to that, Moiraine tells them that the Firsts had allowed the Tower to examine and experiment with the doorway.
Egwene sighs and says that without help from the doorway ter’angreal, they are left right where they were. Moiraine advises them to focus on Tanchico since she already sent three pigeons to the Amyrlin explaining the plot to free Mazrim Taim. Elayne tells her coolly that it is nice of her to keep them informed. Moiraine pretends that this was a genuine compliment and then dismisses herself.
After Moiraine leaves, Elayne asks Egwene if she meant what she said about Rand. Egwene tells her that she did. Elayne asks Egwene if she remembers Min’s jokes about sharing Rand and speculates aloud if that was not a viewing she had that she did not want to share with them. Elayne tells Egwene that Rand loves her, causing her to say that he will have to be put straight. She tells Elayne that she will tell Rand that she will not marry him.
Elayne says that this is all very well before telling them that Berelain was in Rand’s chambers. Egwene compares Berelain to Else Grinwell, and says she will not keep her attention on him for long enough to cause him to fall in love with her. She sayys two days prior she was making eyes at Rhuarc and says in two days time she will be after someone else. Elayne says that Berelain was not just flashing her eyelashes at Rand, in his bedchamber, causing Egwene to ask if she means to let her have Rand. Elayen fiercely tells Egwene no. Elayne muses on how her mother would react to learning of her interest in Rand. Egwene replies that Morgase can hardly say much if Mat is to be believed, or even half believed. Elayne says primly she is sure that Mat exaggerated and she thinks to herself that she had never even heard of Lord Gaebril before Mat mentioned his name.
Nynaeve questions Elayne coldly, regarding her intentions with Rand, and asks if she wants to go to the effort knowing what he is and who might already have her claws in him. Elayne replies none of that matters, even if it should, and says that she loves Rand and wishes to marry him. Suddenly Nynaeve smiles at her warmly and sys that she had to be sure.
Nynaeve: You must be sure. It isn’t easy loving any man but loving this man will be harder yet.
Nynaeve returns Elayne’s attention to how she means to deal with Berelain. She points out that while Berelain might look soft, she is not. She also says she thinks Berelain is the type of woman to hold on to a thing just because someone else has told her not to do so.
Egwene: I would like to stuff her in a barrel and ship her back to Mayene in the bottom of the hold!
Nynaeve tells Egwene to try offering advice that helps or to stay silent while Elayne decides what she must do. When Egwene stares at her, Nynaeve tells her that Rand is Elayne’s to deal with now and she reminds Egwene that she has stepped aside. Elayne admits that she hardly knows Rand and has only talked with him half a dozen times in the space of a year. She says though that she knew she loved him five minutes after she set eyes on him. Elayne also admits aloud that as matters stand, she does not have the right to be angry at Rand or at Berelain while thinking that she would like to slap Rand’s face until his ears ring for a year. Elayne asks what she should do.
Egwene tells her that in the Two Rivers, if a woman wants a man to know she is interested in him, she puts flowers in his hair during a festival celebration, or she might embroider a feast day shirt for him. When Elayne looks incredulously at Egwene, she says she is not asking her to embroider a shirt but she adds that there are ways to let him know how she feels. Elayne suggests that she just might speak to Rand directly while thinking that this would be like acting like a Mayener hussy, herself. Nynaee reminds her that what is more important is what she will do when they need to leave for Tanchico. She asks Elayne what she will do if Rand asks her to stay with him, and Elayne replies that she will go with them and continue with the work they set out doing in hunting the Black Ajah.
Elayne: If I must accept him being the Dragon Reborn, then he must accept than I am what I am.
Elayne admits to them that she worried they would think she is foolish, fretting over love at a time like this. She sees a slight flicker in Egwene’s eyes, which seem to confirm her suspicion, but Nynaeve speaks up and says that Rand is not the only one who might die next year or next month.
Nynaeve: If you sit and wish for what you want, you might not see it this side of the grave.
Is this the first Elayne POV chapter in the series? I cannot remember any before this one. I don’t remember Elayne being in the room when Rand was healed. Was she outside in the hallway or something? Weird.
This is another LONG chapter packed with information. The big bits were:
- Elayne’s romantic interest in Rand.
- The Supergirls’ having their course charted for Tanchico.
- The twisted redstone ter’angreal.
I think Jordan wrote this chapter from Elayne’s POV because he wanted to hide the fact that Egwene did not really mean it when she gave her blessing to Elayne’s pursuit of Rand. The biggest hints for this were 1) Egwene’s furious reaction regarding what she wants to do to Berelain, and 2) Egwene’s eye flicker when Elayne mentioned them thinking that she was being foolish.
[In addition, I think Nynaeve knows Egwene did not mean it. That’s why she called out Egwene for reacting about Berelain. That was “this is the bed you are making so you have to lie in it.”]
In my opinion, Egwene loves Rand, still, but decided that their love can be used against him. To that end, she’s not wrong, as it has happened multiple times already. I think she is giving Elayne lip service support, because she believes Elayne is being foolish, and because she believes their romantic relationship will not actually work out.
Put this another way: All three of Egwene’s Accepted tests involved Rand, her love of Rand, and her failing Rand in some way. It devastated her. If tech from the Age of Legends told her a few weeks earlier (in the story timeline) that her romantic love of Rand is a core element of her identity, that did not just turn into a sisterly love since she left the Tower. This is a little tragic, too, because I think Rand *has* moved on from Egwene and only loves her like a sister. We’ll see, though. Maybe Jordan can change my mind re: Egwene actually meaning this.
The Tanchico thing was a pretty quick resolution. They had two trails to follow and Moiraine dealt with one of them. That voyage looms.
The redstone ter’angreal doorway is interesting. We did not learn much here except for the basic rules. But who are they asking questions of? Where are they going? That still remains to be seen. We definitely will see, though, because something like this is not mentioned without being explored further.
The other big element of this chapter was Moiraine’s plan for Rand. I have no doubt that he will do something completely different than her plan. In addition, his reading of the Prophecies makes a ton of sense. If I found out that there were ancient prophecies about me, I’d read them, too.
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