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 17: Deceptions
[This chapter was another super-long one so I opted to save time and use the Wheel of Time wiki plot synopsis here]
Point of view: Thomdril Merrilin
Thom is using his skills to raise spirits in the Stone following the Trolloc attack. He is also planting rumors about the High Lords to solidify support for Rand among the commoners. He returns to his room to find Moiraine looking through his things, including some of the plots he has been working on for Rand. He surprises himself by thinking she is attractive. Moiraine channels to remove his weariness from the long night.
Moiraine comments that the High Lord Carleon was accidentally shot by Tedosian, to which Thom claims ignorance. Tedosian fell ill shortly after but his “devoted” wife is looking after him. After Thom insists that such machinations are no business for a simple gleeman, Moiraine finally reveals that she knows he is Thomdril Merrilin, sometimes known as the Gray Fox, formerly Court Bard and lover to Morgase and a great player of the Game of Houses. She also implies that he was responsible for Taringail‘s death. Thom, shocked how much Moiraine knows about him, tries to regain his footing in the conversation by talking about Moiraine and her background as a scion of the powerful House Damodred of Cairhien and niece of the former king. He talks about how Moiraine has been aiding the Dragon Reborn since before she could have known who he was; she must be backed by powerful elements in the White Tower, perhaps multiple Sitters in the Hall, to risk such maneuverings. He implies it would be best for Moiraine to leave his secrets alone lest hers be exposed as well.
Moiraine is unfazed however and Thom finally asks her what she wants. Moiraine asks Thom to go with Elayne and Nynaeve to Tanchico to help them survive. Thom, not wanting to leave Rand alone and at the mercy of Moiraine’s manipulations, declines. Moiraine flatly guarantees that he will leave Tanchico alive and that she will see him again, and Thom knows that she must know this for certain due to the First Oath. Thom presses her on why he would want to go to Tanchico and Moiraine suggests that he would want to protect Elayne. Finally, Moiraine adds that she will reveal the Red Sisters who were involved in gentling Owyn without following White Tower law. After shakily asking Moiraine to leave, Thom knows that she has pressed just the right buttons with Owyn and Elayne to get him to do what she wants.
Point of view: Min Farshaw
Laras, the Mistress of the Kitchens, is teaching Min how to be a proper but also a lively young woman. Min hates her guise as Elmindreda except for the pretty dresses. She is working on her embroidery when Gawyn and Galad come by to visit. Leane had pointed out that embroidery would be perfect for allowing her to sit around and watch everyone for viewings. She seems familiar to Galad but he does not recognize her and Gawyn has agreed to keep her secret, even from Galad. Gawyn is concerned that Galad is considering joining the Whitecloaks and hopes Min will dissuade him. The role Min plays though doesn’t allow her to have a serious conversation on a topic like that and she cannot help much. Gawyn mentions that the Amyrlin speaks to her every day and asks if she knows anything about Elayne or Egwene. This annoys Min greatly and she has to pretend to be clueless to maintain her cover.
Logain appears accompanied by an Accepted and Min has a new viewing, showing a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. The halo shouted of glory and power for Logain. Min is not sure how that could come about to someone who has been gentled, but her viewings always come true. She makes an excuse so she can leave to tell the Amyrlin of such an important viewing. Gawyn accompanies her and she cannot tell him off without blowing her cover. She lets her anger out at him since he was close to ruining her alibi with his questions in front of Galad. Gawyn mentions the news of a new false Dragon in Tear and Min probes him, but he will not believe the news about the Stone falling unless he sees it for himself. After agreeing to tell him if she has any news of Elayne, he leaves her to go on alone.
Although normally Min has to wait for the Amyrlin to seemingly run into her by coincidence, she feels the viewing about Logain is too important. She reaches the Amyrlin’s Study and manages to sneak in to see Siuan with Leane looking at messages. Besides the usual news about famine in Cairhien and Trolloc attacks in the Borderlands, they also hear about the Prophet in Ghealdan and that the Blight has mysteriously receded by miles everywhere, which has not happened in living memory. Min tells them of the new viewing of Logain, and when pressed by Siuan, admits she really wants to leave the Tower and go to Rand in Tear. Min entreats Siuan to tell Gawyn and Galad where their sister is but Siuan will have none of it and the story cannot be changed now in any case.
While Min is there new messages arrive. Mazrim Taim has escaped, freed at the village of Denhuir. Siuan orders Leane to send a dozen sisters, as reliable as she can manage, with a thousand Tower Guards to recapture and gentle Taim immediately, despite the law. Leane is shocked by this but obeys. The other message is from Moiraine discreetly saying that Rand has Callandor and so has fulfilled the prophecy. Siuan can now move forward openly with plans to guide the Dragon Reborn. Leane is sent out to convene the Hall of the Tower immediately.
Point of view: Sahra Covenry
Sahra is working on a farm in the surrounding countryside of Tar Valon and does not understand why she was sent here, away from her studies as a novice. An Aes Sedai arrives and asks her about her meeting with Elmindreda. Sahra says she really doesn’t know anything until pain wracks her body. The Aes Sedai wishes to know everything that happened. When the Aes Sedai is finished interrogating Sahra, she kills her.
This is a long chapter – but each of the POVs shares a theme and it just so happens to be the chapter title.
I love the Thom/Moiraine back and forth. Moiraine got the better of it but she was naturally in a stronger position. She also knew she had a target, in Thom, before he knew he was being targeted by her. There is a very subtle romantic interaction between these two. Thom comments on how beautiful she is and he admires her. Moiraine smiles widely in delight by him, at least once on the verge of laughing. Have we ever seen her act that way about anyone or anything before? I don’t think so.
Thom will be going to Tanchico with Nynaeve and Elayne. And he will definitely survive. How could Moiraine have known that? The only two explanations are either 1) she was told in the redstone doorway ter’angreal, or 2) Min told her. Since earlier in this book, before her journey through the doorway, she told the Supergirls that she knows her husband’s face better than any of them… it seems likely that she had to have been referring to Thom and that he is her eventual husband. (We’ll have to read and find out.)
I don’t know quite how to feel about the portrayal of Laras. In my mind, I want to picture her as Honey Boo Boo’s mom. The whole focus on her weight, as a comedic character trait, is something that dates the novels. I just don’t see much of that anymore. On that note, I also have no idea how they might attempt to portray her in the TV series.
The action in the White Tower is just about primed to heat up. Siuan is convening the Tower to tell them about Rand within the day. It gets mentioned offhandedly, but an Aes Sedai recently going missing, in Tarabon, is not a good sign re: the Seanchan activities. And a group of people touting the Dragon Reborn as a Shienaran Lord… in Ghealdan? Moiraine sent the dragon sworn Shienaran soldiers (Uno, Masema, etc.) to Ghealdan during the events of The Dragon Reborn and we have not heard from them since.
The plot branches out with a lot of new information and questions.
I think Siuan has forgotten about Min’s viewings of violence from when she first returned to the Tower.
Min sees future glory for Logain. That is relevant. How does a gentled man find future glory?
Taim is loose. Did the Black Ajah plot mentioned by Joiya come to fruition? Didn’t Moiraine send Siuan a letter warning her about that? Did Siuan get that letter?
Galad is thinking of joining the Whitecloaks (ugh.) Why? The story here does not give me enough else to go on, to buy into this. Could a man who is incapable of doing the wrong thing fit in that organization? In theory. But why would a high rankin gnoble do that? Does he have nothing at home to go back to? I find that hard to believe. That said… it’s probably lucky for him that he has not gone home with a Forsaken running loose in the palace and all.
Min and Gawyn’s interactions in this chapter are funny. However, unlike the Two Rivers folks, she has always known that she is Andoran. They don’t know what they don’t know, and it shows, but she does know. Considering that, she is remarkably comfortable with the Andoran Royals. Would the average Brit bust Prince William’s chops given enough time and proximity? Maybe?
The last section is just a huge bummer and makes me really sad. An innocent, kind, young woman gets tortured to death, and for the bad luck of being the one who escorted Min to see Siuan. She obviously dies at the hand of a woman who can channel – so either the Black Ajah or worse. I suspect that one of the female Forsaken would not need to torture her like that, unless it was mostly for sport.
It probably bears some repeating (I think I noted this several chapters ago) but the set up in The Shadow Rising takes forever. We *still* aren’t to the main action, yet. Rand hasn’t decided his next move. Perrin hasn’t left yet. Whatever is about to happen in the White Tower hasn’t happened yet. Egwene is not gone for the Waste. Nynaeve and Elayne (and now Thom, I guess) have not left for Tanchico. The brilliance of Robert Jordan’s writing, though, is that he manages to make the world building and the set up and the info dump interesting. It’s a good thing, too, because that’s most of what he writes.