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 38: Hidden Faces
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Egeanin Tamarath
Egeanin is at the Garden of Silver Breezes waiting for a report by Floran Gelb. Gelb delivers an a’dam he found, his third one, which Egeanin pays for. Once Gelb kidnapped a suspected sul’dam but he was incorrect and Egeanin had to have the lady shipped across the ocean by the Seanchan courier boats which are still arriving on a regular basis, delivering her gold and providing services. The alternative would have been killing the woman. Gelb tries to get more money out of her and offers a rumor about the investiture of the new Panarch but Egeanin declines. After she dismisses Gelb, she sees a Sea Folk raker enter the harbor. As she gets up to leave she spots Bayle Domon and decides to wait for him to leave so he won’t spot her, although she realizes it is very unlikely he will recognize her while she is wearing a mask in the Tarabon fashion. As she is leaving she sees Jaichim Carridin entering.
Egeanin returns to her residence in a palanquin surrounded by guards. She looks around at the worn masses and the general desperation of the city which concerns her. She actually started donating to a soup kitchen using some of the money from the courier boats which she has no right to do and would be punished severely if found out, but she cannot help it. She burns with impatience for the Seanchan armies to return and restore proper order in this place, and cannot understand why the High Lady Suroth continues to wait and do nothing substantial.
Point of view: Jaichim Carridin
Carridin is in a meeting with noblemen from Tarabon, including King Andric. All of them are wearing masks. He still hasn’t carried out the orders from the Myrddraal and members of his family are disappearing or being killed, one per month. Carridin has been asked to help restore order to the city and he is negotiating to get the best terms for Pedron Niall. Andric, the King, hidden behind a mask, finally gives the assurances that Carridin seeks. Carridin will secure the Panarch’s palace so that Amathera can be invested as the new Panarch.
After he returns to his residence, Jaichim finds Liandrin waiting for him with orders. He is afraid Liandrin is there to kill him for failing to kill Rand al’Thor, whom he has failed locate. He pleads that he still has nephews, nieces, and a sister alive that should die before he does. Instead, she tells him he is to take over the Panarch’s Palace and send the Panarch’s Legion away.
Point of view: Liandrin
Following her meeting with Carridin, Liandrin dreams of the day she will occupy the King’s Palace. She enters the merchant’s house where the eleven Black Ajah sisters are staying. There she finds Gyldin sweeping the entryway. In the withdrawing room, Eldrith Jhondar, Marillin Gemalphin, Jeaine Caide, Asne Zeramene, and Rianna Andomeran are busy with their own activities. They are searching for a means to control Rand and believe it to be in the Panarch’s Palace somewhere.
Point of view: Egeanin Tamarath
Egeanin enters her house and confronts an intruder using a hidden mini-crossbow. The intruder shows a token, then a tattoo that he is a Seeker for Truth. The Seeker serves High Lady Suroth and is checking on the progress of those like Egeanin who were left behind. He wishes any sul’dam Egeanin finds to disappear rather than try to return them to Seanchan. He then asks for any military intelligence she has.
She goes to the basement where Bethamin, the only sul’dam she has captured, is leashed by an a’dam. Egeanin has found out that sul’dam can channel even though the Empire uses them to control women that can channel. She decides she needs to somehow confirm if all sul’dam can channel and ponder what she will do with the information, since it will create a huge upheaval within the Empire.
This was a LONG chapter and it covered the POVs of people that I absolutely do not care about. This might be the first time in the series where I thought that it’s feeling too expansive.
To the extent that the series is so massive, a chapter like this is probably necessary. Jordan is using these other story lines to inform the Reader about the lay of the land, before the protagonist characters get there to learn it for themselves.
We catch up with Egeanin in this chapter. We last saw her commanding a Seanchan ship in Falme. She is conducting a mission to seek out and capture sul’dam who fled after the Seanchan were routed by Rand and the Heroes of the Horn. We do some “law of conservation of characters” in this section. She meets with Floran Gelb – formerly a crew member on Bayle Domon’s ship. The last time we saw Gelb, he was being fired by Domon during The Eye of the World (Book #1) when Domon’s ship landed in Whitebridge.
Moments after Gelb leaves, we see Domon again, too. Egeanin recognizes Domon after having captured his ship during The Great Hunt just outside of Falme.
The Gelb/Domon thing feels too coincidental. Is it possible that Domon has rehired Gelb and is using him to gather intel? I could buy Domon being that sneaky.
This chapter gives us a rundown of Tanchico and its politics. Things are… bad.
All of the remaining Black Sisters in Liandrin’s group are in Tanchicho (Moiraine was wrong, back in Tear, that the plan with Mazrim Taim is the real plan.) That means then that Nynaeve and Elayne are about to walk into a seriously dangerous situation.
Does the housecleaner that Liandrin keeps yelling at (Gyldin) seem sus? I think she seems sus.
The last little bit of updating in this chapter is we learn Egeanin has accidentally also stumbled onto the “sul’dam can channel” secret. Given that this has happened twice now, in the span of a couple books, it’s a wonder Seanchan has kept this a secret for so long. It seems actually to be beyond plausible. No sul’dam, ever, put the collar on, or had one put on her, as a goof? In the whole history of the Empire? My head canon on this will be that it’s a recurring secrecy issue for the Royal Family and their spy network.
- Bors is a real weasel, begging Liandrin to kill more of his family members. I really love the way Jordan contrasts the way the Whitecloak thinks about himself (calm, cool, collected) with the reality (apparent to the Reader) that he is not those things. He seems divorced even from the reality of his own weeping to live.
- What is Eldrith doing with Marillin’s cats? I can’t imagine she’s doing anything I’d want to read about.
- The Seanchan drink “kaf.” It’s a recurring sci fi / fantasy deal that coffee exists in all universe and is always treasured.
So now we know what Nynaeve and Elayne (and Thom and Juilin) are walking into. Let’s see how it goes.