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 35: Sharp Lessons
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Egwene al’Vere
Elayne is in Tel’aran’rhiod garbed as the Sea Folk are while away from shore when Egwene appears. Egwene tells Elayne what has happened at Rhuidean and that Rand has plans that he won’t share with anyone. Elayne mentions that the Sea Folk believe Rand is their Coramoor and Coine is spreading the word to other Sea Folk vessels as they travel toward Tanchico. They are only two or three days from making it to the port city. Elayne lets slip that some of the Windfinders can channel and Egwene confirms that some Wise Ones can too, Aviendha among them. Elayne is trying to tell Egwene about her letters to Rand when suddenly Egwene is yanked out of Tel’aran’rhiod.
Egwene becomes furious with Amys for taking her away from the meeting, but Amys is just as furious that Egwene did not keep her word to not go to Tel’aran’rhiod alone. Amys blocks Egwene from the Source, hangs her by her feet, and appears to transform into a terrible reptile in a dream before letting Egwene come fully awake. Amys threatens to stop teaching Egwene until Egwene promises not to break her word again. As punishment Egwene must braid her hair as a Aiel child does. After Egwene waits patiently without protest, Amys agrees to accompany her to future meetings with Elayne or Nynaeve.
Amys takes Egwene to a meeting with the other Wise Ones, Aviendha, and Moiraine. They discuss Rand and how they can maximize the number of Aiel who survive. The Wise Ones wish to have an Aiel close to Rand to guide and teach him Aiel customs, so that he does not offend any of the chiefs. The Wise Ones also need to know what he will do in advance so that they can plan accordingly. They discuss whether Egwene or Moiraine can learn about his plans but the two doubt he will confide in them, and Melaine points out flatly that their motives are not exactly aligned with those of the Aes Sedai in any case. Aviendha is chosen and is furious at the prospect, but won’t say why. Aviendha protests mightily and the Wise Ones threaten many punishments until Egwene soothes her and asks her to do it on her and Elayne’s behalf. She agrees and Egwene passes on Elayne’s message about the letters.
Egwene asks Moiraine about what she saw in Rhuidean but Moiraine only gives a cryptic response, saying she was already aware of some things that she saw. She mentions her life’s work of finding and aiding the Dragon Reborn, a quest that she will see to its end, no matter the cost. Her voice has an air of finality to it.
Maybe I’m just reading into the scene with some bias of my own, but I get the impression that Egwene believes Elayne is… flighty. I don’t think Elayne showing up to meet her, with no shirt on, really helped Egwene’s impression. Elayne also admits to blabbing about the secret that Windfinders can channel – literally at the first opportunity after promising to them that she would say nothing. That probably also contributes to Egwene’s impression.
I also continue to hold to the theory that Egwene did not mean it when she gave Rand up to Elayne. She seems selfishly interested in the news that Elayne may have said something to Rand, in one of her letters, that might have made Rand extremely angry. I think Egwene wanting to know more about Elayne’s letters is the undercurrent of why she is so angry with Amys for pulling her from the World of Dreams by force. She didn’t get to find out any details.
The section with Amys that follows probably gives the best description of Egwene’s primary character trait.
She wanted to learn. Sometimes it seemed an unending thirst however much she absorbed, she could not quench it.
Egwene is a know-it-all. She’s Robert Jordan’s version of a “Hermione Granger” type character. When she’s in the Two Rivers, she wants to be a Wisdom. I think not seeing her thirst for knowledge shared by Elayne is part of why Egwene views Elayne as flighty. When she was with the Tinkers in Book 1, she wanted to be a great Tinker. She spent lots of time learning their ways from the matriarch of their group and learning their dances. When she’s in the Tower, she wants to be the best Novice / Accepted. She wants to be the best Dreamwalker now, too. She dives headfirst into everything, going at maximum speed. Part of her self-justification for her thirst to learn is that she doesn’t see limitations for herself. That’s ingrained as her identity and it’s why she chafes so much when limitations are placed on her by someone else (as Amys does here.) Personally, I like this about her but it is a flaw at times as well.
I want to add one more Egwene-themed plot point that is extremely subtle but noteworthy. During the tent meeting, when Egwene is trying to convince Aviendha to stay near Rand, as the Wise Ones have ordered, she advises the former Maiden of the Spear to tell Rand that Elayne meant what she said to him in her letters.
- Egwene knows from Chapter 22 that Rand was confused by those letter.
- Egwene knows (from her encounter earlier tonight with Elayne) that the Daughter Heir said something in one of those letters that Elayne believed might have made Rand *very* angry.
Egwene is subtly attempting to drive a wedge between Rand and Elayne. I can’t think of any other way to read that advise. She is sewing in Rand, via Aviendha, either confusion or anger… on purpose.
Other than Egwene, the other thing I really noticed in this chapter is how fatalistic that Moiraine seems to be since returning from Rhuidean. That seems important, though we do not know yet in what way.