The Shadow Rising (Chapter 15): Into the Doorway

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 15: Into the Doorway

Mat is deep in the Stone, holding a lamp high. He mutters that he promised not to do this, unless his life depended on it, but he says that it does. He goes to the last door at the end of an empty hallway, and finds a door askew before kicking it open.

The room, the Great Hold, is littered with dim shapes, barrels, and things stacked high. He sees boot prints on the dirty floor and suspects that Nynaeve had men in the Hold to help her move things about. He guesses that she deliberately sought out someone who had been enjoying himself. Then he sees what he is looking for – a tall, twisted, red stone doorframe. He admits to himself that he is going inside it. Then he steps through a sheet of brilliant white light.

On the other side, Mat stares around in amazement. He is in a new place, a round hall with high ceilings. Just before he turns around to go back, he hears a breathy voice.

A long time, yet the seekers come again for answers. The Questioners come once more.

A shape moves and Mat thinks to himself initially that it is a man. The speaker notes that it is good Mat has brought no lamps or torches. He says that this was part of an agreement. He inquires also as to whether Mat has brought iron or an instrument of music as the figure steps out and gives Mat a better look at himself. Mat cannot decide if it is human before deciding with more certainty that it is not. Mat thinks he is snake-like. The creature inquires again about whether Mat brought iron or an instrument of music and Mat tells it no.

Mat: I have come here for true answers. If you are not the one to give them, take me to who can.

The man tells Mat to come, according to the agreement before beckoning Mat to follow. They path down the strange corridors are empty, except for his silent guide, though sometimes he seems to catch a flicker of motion out of his eye, but no matter how quickly he turns, there is never anyone there. The view through the corridor’s windows appear to show the same forest landscape from each side of the hallway, though he does not think that makes sense as he should be catching a view of a building. He even sees the same set of spires out the window, from what should be multiple different directions. Mat grinds his teeth to avoid accidentally asking a question, and contents himself to complain that he hopes they are arriving soon. Finally the strange figure tell shim they have arrived.

Here your answers may be found. Enter. Enter and ask.

The guide seems to smell him before vanishing. Mat enters a large round room. There are three figures similar to his guide, two female and one male, atop thick pedestals in the room. They stare and him and breathe deeply, almost panting.

“It has been long,” the woman on the right said. “Very long,” the woman on the left added. The man nodded, “yet they come again.”

Mat makes himself go closer to them and carefully explains the situation with the Whitecloaks, in the Two Rivers, and a ta’veren pulling on him so he could hardly move. He asks his first thought out question.

Mat: “Should I go home to help my people?”

Three sets of eyes study him and the air above his head for a bit then respond that he must go to Rhuidean. They all lean forward to look at Mat again, and then at that moment, a bell tolls. The three discuss that he is another, and begin mentioning the strain and also the savor. One of the women says that there is yet time and they insist Mat ask his next question.

Mat had been planning to ask how he can get away from Aes Sedai, and how to recover his lost memories, but anger at their first answer causes him to ask why he should go to Rhuidean.

“If you do not go to Rhuidean,” the woman on the right said, “you will die.”

The bell tolls again, louder this time, and Mat feels the tremor of it through his boots. The three look at each other and discuss the strain. One of the women says hurriedly that it is too great, but the other woman mentions the savor of him, and how long it has been, and then the man says the strain is too great, insisting forcefully that Mat ask his third question.

Mat asks why he will die if he does not go to Rhuidean. The man speaks hurriedly that he will have sidestepped his thread of fate and so will be killed by those who do not wish his fate to be fulfilled. The man tells Mat to go quickly. A guide is suddenly at Mat’s side, tugging at his sleeve. Mat shakes him off, insisting that he will not go, accusing them of leading him away from the questions he wished to ask and giving him instead senseless answers. He asks them what fate their are talking about . The bell sounds again and the entire room trembles. All of the snake-like people are desperate for Mat to leave, but he fights away a dozen of the guides, asking for them to tell him what his fate is.

The snakes stand suddenly, shrieking answers, and he is not sure which of them said what.

“To marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons!”
“To die and live again, and live once more a part of what was!”
“To give up half the light of the world to save the world!”

They tell him to go to Rhuidean, calling him “name him “son of battles,” “trickster,” and “gambler.” A group of the snakes grab him, lift him into the air, and hurry him down the hallways before throwing him back through the doorway and into the Great Hold room in Tear He bounds to his feet and throws himself back to the door frame but finds that the doorway is just an empty doorframe to him now. He is angry and wonders to himself why it is not working now.

Mat thinks about Rhuidean, and marrying someone called The Daughter of the Nine Moons, and is not happy. He thinks that he would rather marry a pig than a noblewoman. He also thinks that if he gets killed on the way to Rhuidean, he fill find out how true that bit about dying and living again really is. Abruptly, a boot appears backing out of the doorway. Rand appears, wielding his channeled sword, and is started to see Mat. He asks Mat if he went through, too, and Mat admits to Rand that he did, calls them a bunch of bloody liars, and asks Rand what they are and that they made him think of snakes. Rand doubts that they are liars.

Rand: They were afraid of me, right from the first. And when that tolling started, the sword kept them back. They wouldn’t even look at it. Shied away. Hid their eyes. Did you get your answers?
Mat: Nothing that makes sense. What about you?

Suddenly Moiraine appears out of the doorway. She sees them and is angry, sayng that it was extremely dangerous for them, both ta’veren, to be through the doorway at the same time. She asks if Perrin is in there, too. Mat replies that when last he saw Perrin, he was getting ready to go to bed, though wondering if Perrin would be the next to step out of the thing. He hopes that Perrin can get away from her before she knows what he is doing before wagering to himself that Moiraine was noble born herself.

She asks them how they found out about the doorway and threatens to punish whichever of the Accepted told them.

Moiraine: I will make her wish I had peeled off her hide like a glove.

Rand tells her calmly that he learned of this from a pair of books, Treasures of the Stone and Dealings with the Territory of Mayene. Mat avoids giving her a direct answer so that Egwene will not get in trouble, not because he thinks she does not deserve some punishment after what she did to him getting back the Amyrlin’s letter, but because it is more fun to tweak Moiraine’s nose.

Moiraine asks about their answers and Rand tells her forcefully that his answers are his own. He does admit to Moiraine that this process was not easy because the snakes had to bring an interpreter who spoke like an old book. He says he could hardly understand some of what his interpreter said. Moiraine tells him the snakes speak the Old Tongue and Mat realizes he must have been speaking the Old Tongue throughout his trip. Mat lies to Moiraine, telling her that he didn’t get to ask any questions once the bell started tolling and the walls began shaking.

Mat asks her what the snakes with legs get out of this bargain and wonders aloud if they will go upstairs and find that ten years has gone by while they were inside. Moiraine says that the creatures get sensations and adds that they probably feed on the sensations, emotions, and experiences that they get from the visitor, in exchange for answering the questions. Rand asks if their answers are true, as Moiraine starts to turn away, and she tells him that they are. She admits though that she does not know how they do it, explaining that the speculation is that their world is folded in some way. Moiraine offers to help them interpret their answers. Rand asks if she will tell them her questions in exchange. She declines by saying nothing, and then turning to leave. Finally Mat asks her why he couldn’t go in twice, but she implies that she doesn’t know and leaves.

After she goes, Mat asks Rand if he really will let the Whitecloaks do what they want in the Two Rivers. Rand replies that Perrin will do what he has to do, to save Emond’s Field. He sounds pained as he says it, though. He adds next that he must do what he has to or more than Emond’s Field will fall, and to worse than Whitecloaks.

Mat watches Rand leave, before remembering where he is, snatching up his lamp, and hurrying out, too. He thinks again about needing to go to Rhuidean.


I love this chapter. I love moments in a story when someone realizes they can level up. (Think: Neo in The Matrix realizing he knows kung fu, or later, that he can stop bullets in mid air.)

An interesting thing I noticed in this chapter is that Mat’s swear word choices inside the ter’angreal were different than his usual swear word choices. Normal Mat doesn’t talk about burning his bones. In fact, he spoke differently in there, in general. Does he swear differently in The Old Tongue or is more going on there? When he was being healed in the White Tower, and gave his Old Tongue monologue, he appeared to be speaking from the perspective of a past life. Was this scene kind of adjacent to that? Hmmm.

Mat’s fate is…. big. Recapping:

“To marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons!”
“To die and live again, and live once more a part of what was!”
“To give up half the light of the world to save the world!”

Point one: Matrim Cauthon = Matrimony Cauthon. His marriage as a big point to the fate of the world has been hiding in plain sight all along. That’s awesome.

As for the next two things… isn’t Rand supposed to be the savior figure? Here we’ve got Mat resurrecting and saving the world. Worth noting, Mat – or his soul – is known to the snake-people as “son of battles,” “trickster,” and “gambler.” Trickster gives me a very Loki feel. The son of battles thing tracks, too. As mentioned, when he was healed in Tar Valon, he was reliving a past life memory of a battle. In The Eye of the World, outside of Shadar Logoth, he shouted the Old Tongue for the first time when facing a skirmish. Gambler? That tracks, too, obviously. So Mat is the god-tier version of these things?

I’m a little annoyed that we did not get to go through this experience with Rand and/or Moiraine. However, I think we *might* know what Moiraine’s questions were. Quoting from Chapter 6:

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.

In this explanation, she mentions three specific questions to Egwene and Nynaeve. My guess is that we will find out that these were not her exact questions, or that her answers were unintelligible to her. She mentions to Rand and Mat in this chapter that the true answers will be given if the questions are about oneself. These three questions are about someone else.

The only clue I have about Rand’s questions is his answer about Perrin. I think he asked about that in some way.

A couple other notes:

  • Rand can channel in the snake-people world. That seems kind of strange to me. Maybe it shouldn’t.
  • Moiraine – who literally cannot lie – said she would make Egwene/Nynaeve wish her own skin was peeled off if she finds out one of them told Rand or Mat. Since she did not find out, they both are safe. How much room does an Aes Sedai have for exaggeration? If she finds out Egwene told Mat, ten years from now, does her Oath to speak the truth kick in and lead her on a futile request to keep her oath? Does forgetting what she said release her from the obligation to tell the truth?

All in all, great chapter. Mat is going to the Aiel Waste!



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