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 37: Imre Stand
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Rhuarc tells Rand that they will camp at Imre Stand, which is only a mile ahead. Rand would like to travel farther before stopping but Aviendha scornfully tells him they must camp where there is water if possible. The peddlers also have a hard time traveling late in the day due to the shadows on the broken terrain. Rand believes Aviendha is wearing a dress to spy on him and does not realize she is an apprentice to the Wise Ones now instead of a Maiden. Rand is surprised the Wise Ones are not looking at him but rather they are huddled with Egwene around Moiraine who is holding something sparkling in her hand. Lan is riding a bit further back, seemingly having been sent away.
Scouts bring word to Rhuarc and the Shaido that something is wrong at Imre Stand. Rhuarc tells Adelin to pass the message to the Wise Ones, but Mat observes that they seem to already know. Rand sees that the Wise Ones have suddenly become very animated and Egwene is looking straight at him. Aviendha tells Rand that it was probably a raid by another clan. Rhuarc leads the Taardad at a run while Rand rides at a brisk walk and Mat trails behind. Imre Stand appears deserted except for a few goats and that is very unusual, even after a raid. The residents appear to have been slaughtered and Mat believes it was Trollocs. Aviendha disagrees since Trollocs do not come into the Waste except in the far north.
Kadere leads Isendre to the blood-soaked rooms, then she leads Kadere over to talk to Rand. Aviendha then chides Rand for looking at Isendre. Rand goes to Lan to work sword forms so he can get away from Aviendha. Rand asks Lan about how the Aiel fight and Lan shares some of what he knows of their tactics and how to counter them. Aviendha butts in and dismisses Lan’s tactics. Rhuarc disagrees and acknowledges that Borderlanders have indeed fought the Aiel with some success in the past. Rhuarc finally lectures Aviendha about how she talks to Rand and what her obligations will be as a Wise One. Rand realizes that Aviendha is now learning to become a Wise One and can probably channel. Rhuarc then asks Rand if he wishes to learn the spear and Rand immediately agrees, as he wishes to know as much about the Aiel as possible. The Aiel are Rand’s people even though he does not know them.
Point of view: Matrim Cauthon
Mat observes the Aiel trading with the peddlers. Much of the loot from Tear is traded for various objects such as cloth, books and alcohol. Heirn even asks for Two Rivers tabac but there is none available. As he sits, his mind wanders to battlefield tactics with crossbows. The holes in his memory before he went to Rhuidean are now filled with memories of dances, cities, battles, like a hundred different memories from a hundred different men. He also realizes he is fluent in the Old Tongue, not just the occasional lapses in speech he had before.
Jasin Natael comes over and catches Mat talking to himself in the Old Tongue. Natael mutters about the Aiel, saying that they are not what he expected at all. Natael begins to question him about Rand and his travels, supposedly as a bard collecting stories. Natael is especially interested in what Mat saw in Rhuidean and tries to get every detail. Mat skips over the ter’angreal (especially the twisted redstone doorframe) and the bubble of evil and only talks reluctantly about the buildings and Avendesora. Natael is particularly interested in the fog that surrounds the city. Keille comes over and she and Natael argue as they leave. Natael seems to win the argument. After a supper of roasted goat Rhuarc asks Natael for a song, startling him. Natael then brings out his harp and sings an epic song of a battle long ago that involved Manetheren. Mat is shocked to realize he remembers the battle and that it did not end the way the song portrays.
Suddenly a horde of Trollocs with some Myrddraal attack. The Aiel immediately engage them and Mat fights with his ashandarei. His new memories seem to help him wield the weapon. Several times he is about to suffer a mortal wound but Aiel spears or arrows take out the attacker. Periodically the silver foxhead medallion on his chest goes cold, but he barely notices. After the Trollocs are dead, Rand comes over to check on Mat, trailed by Aviendha with a spear. Rhuarc notices that the bulk of the Trollocs attacked the Taardad, with only a cursory number attacking the Wise Ones and Shaido, seemingly to prevent them from assisting the Taardad. Rand tells Rhuarc that enemies will always follow in his wake.
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Moiraine checks on Rand but he was uninjured in the attack. Moiraine also comments that the attack was focused on Rand. Rand heads to his tent to sleep, with Aviendha still following. She is outside his tent when he wakes in the morning.
Rand thinks that he knows what Aviendha feels for him as the chapter ends. I suspect he is wrong about that. (The obvious to the reader explanation for Aviendha’s behavior is that she is falling in love with Rand and is angry about that fact – hence all the effort by her to make Rand think about Elayne, instead.)
Despite this chapter spending more time in Rand’s POV than Mat’s POV, Mat is the most interesting figure here. We learn that the holes in his memory are filled with what seem to be memories of old military generals. The memories seem to be (so far, at least) from generals who fought in battles that took place in “the Wetlands.” How did Mat acquire those memories from a ter’angreal in Rhuidean? I guess we have to assume that the Snake people and Fox people interact with each other. It seems quite likely that the redstone doorway ter’angreal that lived in Mayene, and then Tear, most likely had military commanders step through it on numerous occasions. What’s interesting though, is that it seems as though someone who goes through the doorway continues contributing his memories to the red doorway folks, even after he returns home. (Maybe I’m just totally misreading how the memory acquisition even works for the Snake and Fox folks.)
On top of that… we also know that Mat already seemed to have past life memories. When he was being healed of his connection to the dagger, he remembered an old battle in Manetheren.
In any event, Mat has been powered way up. He was already good enough with a quarterstaff to beat Gawyn and Galad, simultaneously, but I think this chapter has indicated that his fighting skill is now improved. He seems to be more than able to general an army now, too.
It was kind of a throwaway line, but probably important in fact, is that during the battle, Mat feels as though his foxhead medallion is pulsing with coldness.
We spend a little more time with two other people from the peddler’s wagons. The gleeman picks Mat’s brains about Rhuidean. Isendre seems to be there to seduce Rand if she can. Which of the four peddler’s are the Forsaken? Rand suspects Kadere – which probably rules him out. He was also clearly the junior partner of Keille when we first met them. Isendre seems to be junior to Kadere. The gleeman argued with Keille and seemed to win the argument. So is Nateal running this show? I guess we’ll have to RAFO.
How did the trollocs get to Imre Stand? If one of the peddlers is a Forsaken, I guess they travelled via portal stones. I don’t think we have any reason to believe the Ways extend into the Waste. However, they must have arrived via a different portal stone than the one Rand took to get to Rhuidean. It seems pretty likely that Lanfear followed Rand’s party, out into the countryside from Tear, to see where they were going.
It’s kind of funny that Mat thinks he will leave with this group of peddlers if he can. He’s usually pretty astute about people but he seems to be failing pretty miserably as to that, with these folks, so far.