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 12: Tanchico or the Tower
Elayne and Aviendha are relieved when Egwene finally awakens from The World of Dreams. Elayne explains that despite shaking her, she would not wake. Nynaeve was about to dump a pitcher of water on her and lets some of the water spill out as she sets it down. Egwene tells them that she had reason to stay late on this visit but that she will try to return on time, the next time. Nynaeve asks if she found something. As she changes out of her sweaty shift into a clean one, Egwene tells them that she met a Wise One named Amys who told her to come to Cold Rocks Hold in the Aiel Waste to learn.
Egwene sees a reaction to the name Amys, by Aviendha, and asks if she knows the woman. Aviendha nods reluctantly and explains that Amys was once Far Dareis Mai until she gave up the spear to go to Rhuidean. When Egwene asks, Aviendha tells her that she knows where Cold Rocks Hold is and that it is Rhuarc’s hold. She tells them that Rhuarc is Amys’ husband. She adds that she used to visit there because her sister-mother Lian is sister-wife to Amys. The relational terms confuse the girls and then shocks them when Aviendha explains that sister-wife refers to two women with the same husband. When Aviendha realizes that this is not their custom, she asks what they would have done if Egwene had not been willing to step aside, regarding Rand, for Elayne. She then asks if it would not have been better had they both took him to be their husband. Egwene protests, saying she wanted to step aside, while Elayne is reminded of Min’s viewing about her sharing Rand with two other women. She thinks to herself also that one of those other women better not be Berelain.
Elayne: You sound as if the man has no choice in the matter.
Aviendha: He can say no but if he wishes to marry one, he must marry both when they ask. Please take no offense but I was shocked to learn that in your lands a man can ask a woman to marry him.
Avienda then says she knows little of these things as she has wanted nothing but the spear and her spear sisters since she was a child.
Nynaeve, who looks embarrassed about all of this, says that she supposed Egwene did not find what she was looking for, or else she would have said something by now. Egwene admits that she found nothing, but she tells them that Amys said that there is an evil in Tanchico.
Egwene asks Aviendha what kind of woman Amys is and the Aiel woman replies that Amys is as hard as the mountains and as pitiless as the sun. She says even the other Wise Ones step carefully when Amys speaks and that Rhuarc is the only one who can stand up to her. She tells Egwene, though, that Amys can teach her. Egwene asks if beign in a strange place would unsettle her and Aviendha laughs that waking to find a lion in her bed would not make Amys nervous. They discuss whether the evil sensed by Amys in Tanchico could possibly be the Black Ajah.
Egwene tells them that she needs to learn how to use her abilities and she believes that if she knew how to use them, she could find Liandrin in her room, regardless of where she is. She then declares that she has decided to go to the Waste to seek Amys. When Nynaeve seems shocked by this decision, Egwene adds that Aviendha can take her right to Cold Rocks Hold. She says that if she was certain that the Black Sisters are in Tanchico she would go with them, but she argues that without being certain, she might better be able to find them by learning from the Aiel.
She proposes to leave them the twisted stone ring and to meet with them in The Stone, in the World of Dreams, to share information. She adds that she can also teach them what she learns, during their meetings.
Egwene: You don’t believe that I am running out on you? If you do I won’t go.
Elayne agrees that she must go, and Nynaeve agrees, saying that Egwene being trained will do them far more good in the long run. She adds that it is not as if they even know for certain that any of the Black Sisters are in Tanchico. Nynaeve plows on, and says that the Waste is dangerous, that Egwene must look out for herself, and hten she asks Aviendha will look out for her. Before the Aiel woman can respond, they all hear a knock on the door. Moiraine enters and announces that Joiya and Amico are dead. Nynaeve asks if that was the reason for the attack, but Moirainie replies that she thinks it was not the main purpose. She then tells them that the two Black Ajah members were killed by something of the Shadow during the Trolloc attack. She tells them that the guards stayed at their posts during the attack and saw nothing, but afterwards found the two dead, with their throats cut, and their tongues nailed to their cell doors.
Elayne says that she would not have wanted that, even for them, and Egwene asks if Grey Men did it. Moiraine replies that she doubts Grey Men could have done it and that it is likely the Shadow has resources beyond what they know. Egwene suggests that no attempt at rescue must mean the two were telling the truth, and Nynaeve adds that it might have been to stop them from telling the truth. Elayne, with more experience in the world, and in the court at Caemlyn, says that they might have been killed simply for being captured and she remains quiet about her thought that they may have been killed for the purpose of getting their group to believe what Joiya and Amico had told them.
Moiraine complains that they were to be ship bound soon, and seems to think hte two women escaped justice, even given the manner of their deaths. The Aes Sedai asks if they have decided between Tanchico and returning to the Tower. Nynaeve tells her that she and Elayne will go to Tanchico as soon as they can find a fast ship and that Egwene and Aviendha will go to Cold Rocks Hold in the Aiel Waste. When she does not explain why, Moiraine’s eyebrows rise. Aviendha interjects saying that Jolien, a different Maiden can take Egwene, and if not her, then one of the other Maidens in the Stone. She adds that she wants to go with Elayne and Nynaeve, saying that they may have need of a sister to watch their backs. Egwene looks surprised, and hurt, and Elayne is surprised also because she has thought Egwene and Aviendha were becoming friends. Moiraine takes out a letter, telling them that Aviendha is going neither to Tanchico, nor to Cold Rocks Hold. She tells them all that she received this letter from Wise Ones Amys, Bair, Melaine and Seana. The letter is addressed to Moiraine, in the Stone, and was written a month ago before any of them had even reached Tear. Aviendha tells Moiraine the named Wise Ones are all Wise Ones and all Dreamwalkers. Moiraine muses that may be why they knew to send this letter. Moiraine tells Aviendha that the Wise Ones say she must come to them at the slopes of Chaendaer, above Rhuidean, without delay. Moiraine comments that the Wise Ones issue commands like the Amyrlin and makes a vexed sound, causing Elayne to wonder if they gave her some commands as well. Aviendha says angrily that she is Far Dareis Mai and that she will go to Tanchico if she wishes. Moiraine tells her that, per the letter’s instructions, she has already shown the letter to Rhuarc. She tells the Maiden that he seems quite determined that she will do as the letter asks – as it orders. She tells Aviendha that she thinks it wise to do as the letter asks and ask Rhuarc and the Wise Ones wish. The Aiel woman stares around, wildly, and then leaves the room angrily. Egwene asks what they want with her, and adds that Moiraine always knows more than she lets on. Moiraine tells them that it is a matter between Aviendha and the Wise Ones, and that if she wished Egwene to know, Aviendha would have told her.
Elayne adds that at least Aviendha can journey with Egwene. Nynaeve begins discussing what they will all need for their journeys. Moiraine tells the girls that there is an Atha’an Miere ship at the docks in the Maule in Tear, a raker. She tells them there are no ships faster. Elayne asks Moiraine what Rand is going to do now and the Aes Sedai shares that Rand intends to reveal his plans tomorrow. Moiraine departs. Elayne considers what Rand will do or say when she tells him she is leaving for Tanchico before joining the other two in making preparations.
This is a fork in the road / the party splits up scene. We can all be thankful that the Nynaeve bickers with Egwene moments are hitting the pause button for a while.
Other than finalizing travel arrangements, not a lot happens in this chapter other than learning a little bit more of the Aiel. The Aiel practice polygamy, but the “balance” exists in that the women are the ones who ask and that the man must say yes to both. My eyes kind of glaze over in confusion with some of the other relational terms, such as “sister-mother” but that is probably due to it not being an integral element of the story. Polygamy, on the other hand, feels more like an important relationship dynamic to understand as Rand is allegedly going to be “shared” by three women. We know (or think we know) that two of those women are Min and Elayne.
The Dreamwalkers sending the letter, a month ahead of time, was really cool. I love trying to imagine the Aiel guy who carried the letter around for a month. When I think of that, I am reminded of the letter delivery scene at the end of Back to the Future 2.
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