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 34: He Who Comes With the Dawn
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Rand and Mat climb back toward the camp on the slopes of Chaendaer above Rhuidean, wounded and tired from their fight with the bubble of evil. Dawn is just arriving and they hope to reach camp before the blistering heat of day reaches them, but Rand doesn’t think they will make it. He ponders the prophecy that he will bind the Aiel and destroy them. He knows he needs the Aiel who will hopefully follow him without trying to manipulate him or use him as a path to power or fortune. As they reach the camp, Couladin confronts them, accusing them of murdering Muradin. He and two others throw spears and Rand and Mat. Rand channels his sword and Mat uses the ashandarei to deflect the spears.
Bair hurries down the slope to stop the fight, then tells Rand to show them the signs. Rand is momentarily confused but then he remembers. He loosens the left sleeve of his shirt and sees that the dragon of a clan chief on his arm is indeed there. Egwene, Amys, Melaine, and Seana come out of the tents. Bair tells Rand to show all the signs, then pulls back the sleeve on his other arm which shows a second dragon, making him the Car’a’carn, chief of chiefs. The Wise Ones look both relieved and fearful at the same time. Rand recalls the passage from the Prophecies of the Dragon; twice and twice shall he be marked. Along with the herons branded into his palms, the dragons form the second set of markings. Bair announces him to the assembled Aiel as the Car’a’carn, He Who Comes with the Dawn. Couladin turns around and angrily stalks back to his tent and the Shaido follow him. The Taardad disperse as well, leaving only Rhuarc. Mat cannot believe it and can only drink from the proffered water pouch before giving it to Rand.
Egwene asks what happened to them but Bair interjects, saying that it is forbidden to speak of what happens in Rhuidean to anyone except others who also have gone. Rand asks for Moiraine so she can heal Mat and himself. She, like Aviendha, is in Rhuidean still and they have all been gone for seven days. Rand is shocked that so much time has passed as many things could have happened in seven days. He cannot give his enemies time to plan and outmaneuver him. Lan regrets that he did not follow Moiraine, but the Wise Ones prevented him from going.
Rand asks Rhuarc what he saw in Rhuidean in case Moiraine had modified his visions somehow. The Wise Ones object to the discussion again but Rand insists, saying he will be changing many customs. Rhuarc agrees that change is coming and confirms that everyone sees visions of their ancestors in the glass columns. Rand asks about the sharing of water mentioned by Rhuarc who explains that it was the ancestors of the Cairhienin who gave the Aiel water freely when nobody else would do so. Rand reflects on the effect on the timeline – the Cairhienin shared water with the Aiel which led to the Avendoraldera sapling being given as a peace offering. This in turn allowed Laman Damodred to cut it down and start the Aiel War which allowed Rand to be born on the slopes of Dragonmount as foretold by prophecy.
Mat is patched up by the Wise Ones in their tent since they don’t know healing weaves. Melaine wishes to see the wound in Rand’s side but he says there is nothing that can be done since even Moiraine can not heal it. Rand asks Rhuarc how to go about informing the other clans that there is a chief of chief. Rhuarc says they should arrange to meet at Alcair Dal, a traditional meeting place for the clans. Mat comments that the name means golden bowl, unknowingly confirming that he speaks the Old Tongue fluently now. The Wise One Dreamwalkers will inform the chiefs in their dreams which is much faster than sending messengers.
Rand asks for information about his mother and Amys tells him some of Shaiel‘s story, how she came to the Waste. Shaiel came to the Waste because of a Foretelling by Gitara Moroso, even though she had to abandon her son. Through sheer determination, she was able to become a Maiden of the Spear and was adopted into the Chumai sept of the Taardad. Rand realizes he has a half-brother somewhere. Janduin was Rand’s father, clan chief of the Taardad over twenty years ago. He was a great leader who made peace among many clans and might have united them all had it not been necessary to cross the Dragonwall to hunt for Laman. Janduin led four clans over the Dragonwall and took Shaiel with him. She became pregnant in the third year and should have been sent back to the Three-fold Land, but Janduin could not make her do it. After she was lost in the battle near Tar Valon, he fell into utter despair. Taking the unprecedented step of resigning his role as clan chief, he went with a Shadowspawn hunting party into the Blight and did not return. Those who came back said he was killed by a man who looked like Shaiel, whom he would not defend himself against.
Rand lays down to watch Rhuidean for any sign of Moiraine returning. He feels the time passing – time when he should be moving, so the Forsaken can’t anticipate him. He asks the Wise Ones why they are helping him when it is foretold that he will destroy the Aiel. Bair clarifies the Prophecy of Rhuidean; although Rand will break the Aiel, a remnant of a remnant will survive. Were it not for Rand, the Aiel would be lost completely. Aviendha finally returns and looks at him with hostility. Late in the day Moiraine finally appears. Rand contemplates his next move, which he hopes will surprise everyone.
Rand makes it back, fulfills prophecy, gets a dragon on each of his forearms, becomes the leader of the Aiel… and everyone just kind of glares at him after. I really enjoyed the contrast here with the completely opposite way that events unfolded in Tear when he took Callandor. In both instances, Rand is with people who think he’s going to be a kind of destroyer savior for them… but he’s met with completely opposite reactions. Both reactions felt completely realistic.
A have a couple of favorite moments from this chapter. The first is Rand’s realization that his vision in the columns of people sharing water with the Aiel represented the Cairhien ancestors sharing water with them… and then realizing how much of history was rooted on that one decision. Cairhien was allowed exclusive permission (among Westlands nations) to trade across the Waste – as the result of a decision that was probably not thought about much at the time by their ancestors. If this had not happened, then Cairhien has no sin to commit against the Aiel later, such that the Aiel are drawn across the Dragonwall, and Rand is never born at all.
It’s fun to think about real moments like that in history, or in one’s own life. For me, an email I once sent to a former classmate (asking about job openings on behalf of a different friend who had just lost a job) led to me getting a job offer for which I had not been looking. When the Great Recession began not long after, the new job kept me working while my former company shut down shop… thus I avoided having to relocate for work. Being able to avoid relocation eventually led me down a path to some new friends within that same year. Those new friends directly led me to meet my spouse. My kid… exists… because I had a spur of the moment idea to send a work-ish email several years before he was born.
My other favorite moment from this chapter was Mat winning over the Aiel women. Rand kind of marvels at it. Mat sarcastically asks the Wise Ones if they added something special to his drink (headache medicine) to give it a memorable taste. They laugh. The reason this works for Mat is because whether they added something to his drink, or not, he is essentially accusing them of being clever and of getting one over on him. He is also demonstrating that he is a good sport about it. This is subtle and playful flattery. This whole scene is just excellent writing and characterization from Jordan, for Mat. I even liked Rand’s thought that Mat’s silence, prior to his drink, is indicative of how much pain he’s in. Mat is the opposite of most people in this respect. He whines constantly until he has something worth whining about, but once he does, he bears it silently. I don’t know why exactly, but that is a big part of why I like the character so much.
There’s a fair bit of info dump in this long chapter. We get the story of Rand’s biological parents. His father dies – while choosing not to defend himself – at the hands of a man who looks like Rand’s mother. That’s… interesting. His mother was a wetlander who was told by an Aes Sedai to join the Maidens. Rand learns he has an older half-brother, too.
Just as a total aside, one of the best fight choreography scenes in Amazon’s The Wheel of Time TV adaptation involves a flashback to Rand’s mother Shaiel giving birth to him. Obviously spoilers for the TV series, a warning that the clip contains a lot of violence (directed toward a pregnant woman and coming from her), etc.