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 36: Misdirections
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Rand and Rhuarc and the Aiel who follow him, the Taardad clan, break camp. The Shaido leave also and follow a parallel course, since their home is in the same direction. The Wise Ones travel in between the two parties. Despite the Peace of Rhuidean covering the safety of anyone heading toward or away from Rhuidean, the situation is tense and the Taardad are poised for attack from the Shaido. It may only be the presence of the Wise Ones in the middle that prevents it. Couladin should have waited another day to see if Muradin would return, even if Rand observed him committing suicide. Leaving early meant that Couladin was abandoning Muradin.
There is more vegetation in the main body of the Waste compared to the slopes of Chaendaer, but everywhere the land is littered with stone, rock and various jagged mountains. It appears the Breaking had a much bigger impact on this area than the rest of the world. Aviendha met Rand when he left the tent in the morning but she is far from friendly. Aviendha berates him over how he treated Elayne and mentions that her two letters should make it clear how she feels about him. This confuses Rand greatly since the two letters contradicted each other. Aviendha repeatedly tries to convince Rand that Elayne is the woman for him.Point of view: Matrim Cauthon
Mat is glad that Aviendha is focused on Rand and not himself. His wounds still sting, but he refused healing from Moiraine and will just put up with the discomfort. Mat wonders whether he can leave now that his requirement to visit Rhuidean has been met, but he knows that he would have to test it by actually trying to leave. The Wise Ones are keeping a close eye on Rand with Melaine even joining Moiraine on her horse so they can talk.
Dorindha brings word to Rhuarc that there are peddlers ahead, heading this way. There are eighteen wagons, two are boxes on wheels for accommodations, two carries water and the rest are typical peddler’s wagons. The leader of the peddlers is Hadnan Kadere. He claims to be looking for Cold Rocks Hold and pales visibly when he finds out he is nearing Rhuidean where he is forbidden to go. Rhuarc is surprised that he managed to come so far into the Aiel Waste without being spotted. Rhuarc tells Hadnan to travel with the Taardad to Cold Rocks Hold. Couladin objects since the Shaido is the larger party, but he has no right to argue because he is not actually a clan chief.
Mat offers to buy Kadere’s hat for a gold mark and a nearby woman accepts the deal. Keille Shaogi introduces herself. She is ugly and fat but has a melodious voice. She then orders Kadere around. Rand mutters to Mat about Kadere’s eyes which never change despite his outward expression. Rand says that Kadere is likely evil and laughs at his current situation, where he is watched by Moiraine, the Wise Ones and probably even Lanfear. Mat thinks that perhaps Rand is close to madness now and wonders if he can follow the peddlers out of the Waste and away from Rand.
I wonder if “Misdirections” is a meta title. We’ll see.
One writing tactic that Jordan employs masterfully is switching his POV characters. When Rand is the POV character, he seems sane, rational, and under a lot of stress. When we get to look at Rand through Mat’s eyes, though, Rand comes across as someone teetering on thee edge of insanity. This is important because it reminds the reader that male channelers collectively always go insane. It would be easy to forget that Rand is going inane if we didn’t occasionally look at him through the eyes of someone else.
Is Rand actually crazy here, though? Probably not. A peddler wagon did not just coincidentally show up, unguided at this particular spot. Run of the mill darkfriends could not have crossed the Waste to find Rand. That means we are now dealing with the Forsaken again – and not a particularly subtle Forsaken, either. Most likely, anyway. Rand mentions Lanfear specifically.
So what do we make of the newcomers?
- There is an incongruity between Keille’s appearance and her voice. It’s also noteworthy that she outranks Kadere, despite the other man’s muscular physique and evil eyes.
- There is a gleeman in their group… for some reason. People who are in a place where they don’t make sense are noteworthy people.
- Kadere’s eyes cause Rand to believe he is evil. That’s not for nothing.
Have we met any Forsaken who make a habit of disguising as someone else? Yes we have… Lanfear, in fact.
The other kind of comment-worthy thing from this chapter is Aviendha’s determination to manifest into existence a relationship between Rand and Elayne. She tells Rand (per Egwene’s advice) that Elayne meant every word in her two letters. Egwene, of course, knew when telling Aviendha to say that to Rand that it would likely confuse or anger him. It did. What Egwene probably did not anticipate, though, is that Rand’s heart would turn toward Min in this moment. She likely intended herself to be the person to whom Rand would turn.
I think it’s also safe to assume that Egwene has missed Aviendha being highly attracted to Rand. The former Maiden of the Spear is resisting that attraction via the useful person of Elayne. If she’s talking about Elayne, to Rand, it probably means she’s got the hots for him in that moment. Otherwise, what is her motivation to cheerlead for the Daughter Heir? I can’t think of one.