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 48: An Offer Refused
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Aviendha berates Rand any time his gaze falls on Isendre for ill-treating Elayne. Rand refuses to wear Aiel garb except a shoufa since he doesn’t want to pretend to be Aiel. Eleven days have passed since the fight with Trollocs at Imre Stand. Aviendha also tries to educate him on the Waste and the Aiel. Moiraine occasionally talks to him, mostly to try to find out what his plans are, which he won’t divulge. Egwene mostly stays with the Wise Ones and finally stopped wearing her hair in two braids. Each evening Rand practices the sword with Lan and spears with Rhuarc.
Kadere approaches Rand repeatedly with claims of knowledge Rand could use but only if he receives guarantees of safety and protection. Natael, the gleeman, tries to get information he can use in his epic composition. Moiraine and the Wise Ones check on Rand’s health and whether the heat is affecting him. One day while Aviendha is travelling with the Wise Ones she channels a huge fireball. Rand realizes that Aviendha is learning to channel from the Wise Ones and that he doesn’t have a teacher to teach him what he needs to learn. Mat pursues Isendre but doesn’t get anywhere. Finally, on the twelfth day they arrive at Cold Rocks Hold.
A confusing travel chapter. We learned about the 11 days of travel between the trolloc attack at Imre Stand and the group’s arrival at Cold Rocks Hold. Jordan – as he likes to do with travel chapters – kind of jumps around in time. We are at one point on Day 11of the journey, with Aviendha lecturing Rand on Aiel customs, and then a short time later the story is a reflection on the trip so far. Just as the chapter ends, we’re back at Aviendha’s lecture.
Rand is catching feelings for Aviendha. She lectures him, stares daggers at him, and yet he finds her outbursts amusing and he is now dreaming about her. I think we have to imagine that this is aggressive banter. Jordan subtly continues to play up the Aiel woman’s feelings of discomfort over having feelings for Rand at all. When she sees Rand looking at Isendre, she starts lecturing him that he belongs to Elayne. The reader can catch on that she’s declaring Rand’s intentions toward Elayne as a way of denying that he might have feelings for her, and vice versa. We did get one big clue about her feelings in this chapter, though. After chastising Rand for looking at Isendre, Avi inadvertently lets slip that “she” would not accept Aiel marriage customs. Rand thinks Avi means Isendre, but she really means Elayne. We get a less obvious hint of Avi’s feelings when Rand catches her, once, looking at him with compassion. If there was any doubt before, there should be none anymore. Min’s vision of Rand having three women refers to herself, Elayne, and Aviendha.
Kadere wants to sell information to Rand, but he wants protection for doing so. It seems to me that he wants to tell Rand who the *really* bad Darkfriend in his group is but he wants blanket protection from Rand against him/her, and a full pardon for being a Darkfriend, before he’s willing to do it. Rand does not see this, though, and is not sure what the man is after, since Kadere won’t give him more than hints.
The gleeman seems intent on focusing Rand’s attention on his looming madness. That’s a pretty interesting – and notable – approach to dealing with The Dragon Reborn. It’s also not a throwaway that the gleeman acts like he is at least an equal of Moiraine. Rand is suspicious of the entire peddler group but does not seem to read too much into Natael’s behavior – since it was so similar to Thom. Thom was not a normal gleeman, though, and it seems unlike that Natael is either.
I thought the Mat/Isendre/Keille interaction was fascinating. Keille offering to sell Isendre is an indication of rank, as between the two. Assuming that whole group is Darkfriends, then Keille must outrank Isendre. If Lanfear is disguising herself as Isendre, would she tolerate someone else threatening to sell her? I doubt it. Would Lanfear – as Keille – go out of her way to publicly demean Isendre after seeing her flirt with Rand? Probably. So if Lanfear is in their group, she has to be Keille, right? That also explains the continued observations of surprise as to how light the large woman is on her feet.
What did Keille mean when she said men don’t usually decline her offers once, let alone twice? The offer with Isendre here was just one offer. Mat has not declined any others from her. He *did* once decline Lanfear’s offer when she visited him in the White Tower after his healing. So… there’s another clue.
Mat is *usually* the Two Rivers youth who has the best eye for social nuance. It’s often how he gets out of the danger he puts himself in. So… it’s annoying that he seems unwilling or unable to pick up on the dark vibes form the peddlers wagons. Rand even told Mat when they showed up that evil is now traveling with them. It’s possible that Mat recognizes that Isendre is bad news but boredom and a desire to distract himself from his recent experience in Rhuidean has him mentally in a state where he doesn’t care. This whole sequence just feels a little out of character, for him, to me.
Onward to Cold Rocks Hold.