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 39: A Cup of Wine
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Elayne Trakand
Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom, and Juilin arrive at the Tanchico docks aboard Wavedancer. Coine, the Sailmistress of Wavedancer will be sailing to Sea Folk ports to spread word of the Coramoor. As they walk down the dock Bayle Domon spots Nynaeve and rushes off his ship to greet her. He promised to wait for her in Falme, but when she didn’t come he finally had to leave without her and he was unsure of her fate. Bayle boasts of his successful shipping and smuggling enterprises and how he evades taxes.
Domon recommends the Three Plum Court and arranges an escort so they can arrive safely. Tanchico is a very dangerous place at the moment. After dinner, Nynaeve tells Domon that they are hunting the Black Ajah and may need his help. He mutters about ‘Falme all over again’. He considers taking his ships back to Illian, but Nynaeve mentions that the Forsaken Sammael rules there now, which changes his mind. After discussing plans and sharing information, Nynaeve heads off to bed, Juilin goes out into the city while Thom and Elayne head to the common room of their inn. Thom begins to perform while Elayne sips from a cup of wine. A solicitous servant keeps the wine cup full.
Elayne listens to Thom perform and believes she has heard him before. She does not realize how much she has drunk and that she is inebriated when Thom finally finishes and goes off to bed. Elayne goes to his room. In slurred tones, she tells Thom that she finally remembers sitting on his knee when she was little, and that her mother did the same. Thom explains that he was the court-bard to Morgase but does not explain why he left and he hopes Elayne will forget again by morning. Back in the room, Nynaeve recognizes Elayne’s condition and dunks her head in a bucket of water. Elayne then helps Nynaeve prepare to go to tel’aran’rhiod and see if Egwene is there. They’ve tried each night since Egwene left abruptly but have not seen her since.
Point of view: Nynaeve al’Meara
Nynaeve is in the Stone of Tear and calling for Egwene. When she gets no response, she ponders on where Egwene might be and thinks of Rhuidean. Suddenly she is in the Waste overlooking the fog-shrouded city. She spies a man down near the fog barrier to the city. A woman speaks to her, telling her she must get away quickly or the man will kill her. She turns and sees a woman who looks exactly the way Birgitte is described in the stories. Birgitte chases her off and she finds herself in Emond’s Field. She sees a man who strangely looks very much like Lan, but he raises a bow and shoots an arrow at her.
Point of view: Elayne Trakand
Elayne bandages Nynaeve where the arrow nicked her. They decide to go to bed. In the morning Elayne has a hangover and Nynaeve concocts a vile brew to help cure her of it. Thom comes downstairs and Elayne pretends to not remember learning his history. Juilin joins them and shares out the information he came up with during the night. A competition springs up between Thom and Juilin to find the Black Ajah sisters first.
When Elayne proposes to go out looking also, Thom and Juilin try to discourage her. Nynaeve has arranged disguises for her and Elayne to make it more difficult for Liandrin to figure out who might be looking for her. Elayne reminds herself that they must also find the item that the Black Ajah seeks, that will bind Rand so he can be used by them.
I appreciated that Thom and Bayle Domon recognized each other (Domon gave Thom, Rand, and Mat a ride from Shadar Logoth to Whitebridge) but neither said anything. It’s more fun to imagine what they might be trying to make of each other. It also explains why Domon was so fatalistic while talking to the two women.
I also enjoyed that Jordan maintained continuity within the series, while not explaining what he was doing. Juilin and Domon refused to speak to one another. One is from Tear and the other Illian (two countries that hate each other.) We get a brief scene of the two communicating through Thom and it is never explained why they are going through Thom. Jordan assumes you’ll remember without the explanation and I just like being asked to remember.
The main focus of this chapter is Elayne.
I’ll start with what I like about Elayne. The good cop / bad cop routine, completely unintentional, between her and Nynaeve is pretty consistently funny. It fits well with both their personalities. I particularly liked that Domon calls them out on it in this chapter. And that’s about it.
I know some people love Elayne, but I just don’t. I never have (other than her garden meeting with Rand in Book 1.) She’s supposed to be highly educated, to have been trained to be a Queen, to be a Queen, to know the world, to play the Game of Houses, but she is remarkably and consistently naïve about so many things. I would be fine with spoiled – that makes sense – but not naïve. She’s also flighty. I saw a cute boy once, met his girlfriend, worked for two plus books to peel him away from said girlfriend, then went out of my way to confuse him about whether I even like him before I left Tear… for reasons. (Terrible reasons.)
“Why are these people hungry? Where is their king?” I mean… she should in theory be among the most savvy about the how and the why, of Tarabon, in this group – from just her education and upbringing alone. She also gets tricked into getting completely drunk with some remarkable ease. She stomps her foot, like a child, when Thom tells her that she is behaving like a child.
She does finally remember, at least temporarily, that Thom spent time in the Andoran Royal Palace, as a Bard, and as her mother’s lover. She again demonstrates childishness, though, denigrating her own mother while intoxicated. Egwene would never. Thom, of course, slaps her and then threatens to spank her if she keeps it up. While the threat fits better here than the whole ordeal between Perrin and Faile, especially because of the way Elayne is behaving, it still feels a bit… icky. Elayne, however she might act, is not actually a child. That whole exchange does lead to the best line in the chapter, though, once she returns to the room with Nynaeve:
“Rand must think I’m crazy. Thom is a Bard. And my mother isn’t Berelain after all.”
At first I wanted to think Nynaeve took the head-dunking too far, but then I thought about 1) the insane danger they are in generally, 2) the fact they needed to visit the World of Dreams that night, and 3) the fact Nynaeve had to help her vomit for a good long while, and then clean her up. Nynaeve probably had the right of it.
Nynaeve’s World of Dreams visit: She definitely saw a male Forsaken outside the fog of Rhuidean before Birgitte warned her away. That means (probably) that one of the peddlers with Rand is a male Forsaken.
Nynaeve seeing a man who looks like Lan in Emond’s Field… that is Slayer. That’s interesting.
Hopefully Jordan does not subject me to much more Elayne in this book.