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 19: The Wavedancer
Elayne and Nynaeve arrive at the docks in a carriage, as Elayne thinks on how the Tairen nobles have mistreated their people. She thinks to herself that Rand will do better and she wonders what changes she will find in Tear upon returning. As they head for the raker, the largest ship Elayne has ever seen, Nynaeve complains tothe carriage driver that their ride was too rough. Elayne sighs and doubles the tip for the man. She thanks him for going fast, as they had asked him, and she says aloud that the streets were not his fault, adding that he did an excellent job despite the conditions.
Once the man and his team were out of sight, Nynaeve said she should not have snapped at him. She adds though that the silver should soothe any of his wounds and that Elayne must be more careful with money. She ignores Elayne’s indignant stare and turns toward the docks. On their way, Elayne asks Nynaeve to try to be tactful when dealing with the Sea Folk, noting that they can be touchy. Nynaeve says that she will, so long as the Sea Folk do not bounce her about.
Aboard the ship, Nynaeve takes the lead with bargaining their passage, because she is older and more likely to command respect. She introduces them both as Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah to the Sailmistress of Wavedancer, Coine din Jubai Wild Winds. Coine introduces them to her sister, Jorin din Jubai White Wing, the Windfinder. She tells them that their may be passage available, if it pleases the light, and then asks them to join her in her cabin to discuss the gift of passage. Elayne cannot help but feel there is some similarity between Jorin and Avienda, though she cannot say what except that both of them are young.
Inside the cabin, among an assortment of decorations, Elayne sees a Seanchan helmet and gasps. Coine says aloud that she should expect Aes Sedai to know of them, though she adds that this far east she has heard many tales. Elayne asks her how she came to possess the helmet and Coine explains that last year, a Seanchan ship attempted to take the Wavedancer, but they were able to fend it off. She tells them that she keeps the helmet as a reminder and adds that she will not go close to a vessel with ribbed sails again.
Nynaeve: You were lucky. The Seanchan hold captive women who can channel, and make them channel as a weapon. If they had one on that ship, you would be regretting having ever seen it.
Elayne grimaces, not knowing whether the Sea Folk will appreciate Nynaeve’s tone, but Coine merely suggests that they should begin to speak of passage. A slender woman, Dorele, who is bare to the waist, brings in tea. Coine punishes her for being topless, before the ship has been away from land for one day, by having her work the bilges. After the girl goes, the group drinks tea and begins their discussion. Nynaeve asks that the ship take them to Tanchico, as quickly as possible, and without stopping during the passage if that is possible. She offers what she tells them is a small gift, though it is a letter-of-rights which allows the bearer to withdraw up to three thousand crowns from bankers and money-lenders, in various cities. Coine murmurs that this is a large sum for the gift of passage, adding that Aes Sedai are almost always refused the gift of passage. She tells them that Aes Sedai are actually the only ones who can be refused passage and almost always are. She tells them that Aes Sedai know this, so they almost never ask. Nynaeve abandons tact for bluntness and asks if they mean to refuse them passage. She then asks why the meeting is being held if the Sea Folk never carry Aes Sedai.
Coine rises, looks out a window, and remarks that he can wield the One Power and holds the sword that cannot be touched, that the Aiel have come over the Dragonwall to his call, and the Stone of Tear has fallen. She also mentions that war breaks out across the land, and that those who once ruled have been driven back for the first time. She tells them that prophecy is being fulfilled.
Elayne and Nynaeve are confused, though Elayne speaks up to say that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. Coine tells her that she is referring to the Jendai Prophecy, not the Prophecy of the Dragon. She tells them that the Jendai Prophecy is the prophecy of the Coramoor. She says their prophecy is not one to dread, but it is one they seek
Coine explains the history of the Sea Folk, and how during the Breaking, their ancestors fled to the sea, despite not knowing much of ships, and did not return to the land again until it was still. She explains that in the years after the Breaking, the Prophecy of the Cooramor was first spoken, and it said that their people must wander the waters until his coming, and then serve him once he does. Coine views the prophecy as being fulfilled, with Aes Sedai in Tear serving Rand. She adds that the White Tower must be broken also, and that Aes Sedai will wash the Coramoor’s feet with their hair. Nynaeve tells her bluntly that she will have a long wait before she washes Rand’s feet with her hair and as Elayne cringes at her tone, Coine responds just as bluntly, asking why they wish to go to Tanchico, noting that the city is unpleasant.
Nynaeve asks why she questions her passengers this way, and asks if they want more money, but Coine presses the question. Elayne tells them that they hunt the Black Ajah to prevent them from harming the Dragon Reborn, or the Coramoor as the Sea Folk see Rand.
Jorin: The light see us safe to docking.
This is the first time she has spoken. Jorin, as Windfinder, decides they must take the two to Tanchico. Elayne does not understand why it was the Windfinder who decided, and not the Sailmistress.
The door abruptly opens and a heavy shouldered gray haired man, Toram, Coine’s husband and Cargomaster of the ship, walks into the cabin to discuss his trading before noticing Elayne and Nynaeve. Coine informs him that the ship will be underway shortly and he must cut short his trading in Tear. She tells him that they will be going to Tanchico and the papers in his fist are crumpled. He reminds her that she told him their next port would be Mayene and then eastward unto Shara, adding that their goods will not be worth much in Tanchico. Coine replies that she is Sailmistress and it is her decision. After he leaves, stiff-backed, she says she will have to make it up to him. Elayne apologizes for witnessing the exchange but Coine explains that no embarrassment was caused, but that she will have to make it up to Toram while not telling him the reason for the changein plans due to the need for secrecy.
Coine: It is the things I cannot tell him that I must make up to him, because he deserves to know.
Nynaeve says aloud that she does not understand, and adds that surely three thousand crowns is enough reason to take the ship to Tanchico. Coine explains that she must keep what Nynaeve and Elayne are, a secret, as well as why they are going. She asks that they stay below deck as much as possible and to not wear their rings when on deck because the Sea Folk believe Aes Sedai to be bad luck and that this belief would be magnified if the crew knew that they were sailing to find other Aes Sedai who serve the Father of Storms. Both Elayne and Nynaeve take off their rings and put them in a pouch, as their answer.
Coine decides to give passage without a gift, as a favor for the Coramoor. She says that she will put in a gift of passage herself and tells Jorin to keep it a secret from Toram.
Suddenly the ship moves violently, and when the ship finally stills, the two Atha’an Miere women leap to their feet and rush out to assess damage to the hull.
This chapter is our first formal introduction to the Sea Folk. We get a sense that the Aes Sedai know a lot less about prophecy than we have been led to believe thus far. Just as the Aiel have a Rand-centered prophecy, so too do the Sea Folk.
The Dragon is a global figure, not a person limited to the continent.
To that end, then we must wonder what Rand’s relationship with the Seanchan and Shara (mentioned in this chapter) must be. We’ll have to keep an eye out for that.
This chapter sets the stage for Nynaeve and Elayne’s one-on-one dynamic. They’re a bit of an odd-couple. Nynaeve is the stick and Elayne is the carrot – or something like that. They probably come across in negotiations like they’re doing a good cop, bad cop routine, and only we as the reader know that the routine is totally unintentional (which is kind of funny, or at least has the potential to be.)
In the short term as a reader, though, I think the effect of their interactions will likely be that I start learning to like Elayne more and Nynaeve less. So… the sooner we can get Nynaeve away from Elayne, the better.
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