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 50: Traps
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Rand wishes he could trust Moiraine and then wonders how he can use her―her and the Aiel. He has resolved to try to make peace with Aviendha, although he doesn’t know the cause of the conflict. He makes his way to where the Maidens reside in Cold Rocks Hold. He asks the Maidens to suggest an appropriate gift for Aviendha’s teachings. All of the Maidens come out to watch as he examines the potential gifts, finally selecting a ivory bracelet decorated in carved roses with thorns. Adelin refuses payment for the bracelet and begins a tea ceremony where each maiden takes a sip of tea, and then Rand does. After each sip they say “remember honor” and kiss Rand on the cheek.
He approaches Aviendha, now beating rugs outside Lian‘s house. She is ungracious about receiving the bracelet. Rand mentions the tea ceremony which means that the Maidens approve of his interest in Aviendha, even though that wasn’t the reason for the gift. He talks to Amys, Bair, Melaine, and Seana about Aviendha and tells them that he knows she is their spy. They hint that they had a different purpose in mind and that he could send her away if he wanted. Melaine starts a rant which Amys interrupts but not before she says, “…if I have to lay the―”.
Rand shocks Chion, the gai’shain showing him his room, by requesting wash water. Rand dreams of swimming in the Waterwood when Elayne and Min join him while Aviendha watches from the bank. Another beautiful woman he almost recognizes stands on the opposite bank and wonders aloud if she should allow him to be unfaithful even in his dreams. Elayne, Min and Aviendha disappear nad the woman dives into the water and embraces him, and bites his neck “to mark him”. A blurred shape of a man appears and speaks to the woman contemptuously. Rand awakes and finds tooth marks on his neck, realizing it was Lanfear. Traps, he thinks, traps all around.
Rand realizes he is not alone and channels all of the lamps alight only to find that it is Aviendha sitting on the floor. Aviendha lets slip that the Wise Ones watch over him in his dreams. Rand senses some evil, some wrongness and channels his sword before exiting his room. He encounters a Draghkar just after it finishes killing Chion. Rand kills it, then another as Aviendha examines Chion. As he exits, Rand sees Seana dead on the path to his rooms. Rand rings the gong to rouse everyone and then hears shouts from Trollocs.
Point of view: Matrim Cauthon
Mat joins the fight, killing a Trolloc and cursing Rand for getting him into another mess. Mat recognizes that the Trolloc attack was a diversion so the Draghkar could reach Rand, then curses the memories of other men and battles he now has in his head. When the battle is over, Mat tries to impress Isendre, but she ignores him.
Rand and Moiraine have another argument, with Moiraine wanting Rand to confide in her and he wanting to keep his plans to himself. He tries to get Moiraine to promise not to interfere if he tells his plans, but she refuses. Rhuarc wants Rand guarded all the time, and the Maidens volunteer for that duty. Mat asks after the Shaido and Rhuarc says they left at dusk. Rand asks where, and Rhuarc replies north, toward Alcair Dal. Rand resolves to leave for Alcair Dal immediately since he cannot let the Shaido influence events there for a month while the rest of the clans gather. Rand insists all of the spears travel with him, not just the customary honor guard. Mat agrees to come along with Rand.
It’s interesting to me that Rand wishes he could trust Moiraine at the beginning of this chapter. He wishes for that again just before he falls asleep, too. It makes sense, though. He’s barely beyond being a kid and is in way over his head, in many respects. Someone he could trust to help him – someone especially with Moiraine’s knowledge – would be enormously beneficial. However, from Rand’s perspective, Moiraine is going out of her way to let him know that he cannot fully trust her.
The other side of this coin is reflected at the end of the chapter. Moiraine seems strained almost to the point of having a mental breakdown over the fact that Rand won’t confide in her. She just can’t bring herself, yet, to accept Rand’s terms. Not for nothing, I understand why. She does not want to be forced by the Three Oaths into helping Rand do somethin gthat she believes to be a bad idea. On the other hand, though, she’s not signing off on anything as it is and she has not been doing so for a while.
Who will let the other take the lead officially?
One other thought: Is Rand’s squabble with Moiraine keeping Moiraine from being a target of the Forsaken? Perhaps the Pattern is protecting Moiraine for now by causing her to stubbornly refuse to let Rand lead.
Cold Rocks Hold is by far one of the places I am most looking forward to seeing brought to life on the TV series. I’m genuinely curious about where the Waste’s filming location will be.
In case it wasn’t already abundantly clear, Aviendha is the 3rd woman from Min’s Viewing (i.e. the viewing that Rand will have three woman that love him – Min, Elayne, and a third.) The third is Aviendha. The official confirmation is the innuendo-laden dream of Rand swimming with Min and Elayne. Aviendha standing on the bank means she’s #3. Or is it that she’s not truly official until she jumps into the water? I think the bank is good enough – she’s Aiel after all.
I liked the tea ceremony scene with Rand and the Maidens and Aviendha’s sense of wonder at the bracelet gift Rand gave her. Jordan wrote that really well, giving Aviendha a dual motivation reaction. Wearing a bracelet is an outward sign that her days as a Maiden are truly over. This is a *big* deal to Aviendha and it was not a choice she wanted to make. But Jordan also makes it clear that she liked the gift and Rand for getting it for her. Her appreciation for the gift overpowers her other feelings and causes her to soften toward him. She even apologizes for giving him such a hard time at dinner.
We get the best glimpse into what the Wise Ones are up to in this chapter.
“What we want?” Melaine snapped; her long hair swung as she tossed her head. “The prophecy says ‘a remnant of a remnant shall be saved.’ What we want, Rand al’Thor, Car’a’carn, is to save as many of our people as we can. Whatever your blood, and your face, you have no feeling for us. I will make you know our blood for yours if I have to lay the—”
They accept that Rand must lead them, despite being so young and an outsider. They can’t change that even if they’d like to change it. Their goal is to have Rand care for them as a people. They believe that Rand’s care for them will help to save as many of them as can be saved. I also think that the Wise Ones generally *like* Rand but don’t fully trust him yet.
Of course, there is a fourth woman in the mix: Lanfear. She makes the other three disappear during Rand’s almost tawdry dream and then… she aggressively attempts to *know* Rand. Of course, she only gets to bite him before she’s interrupted by another of the Forsaken. I think it’s safe to assume that there are *two* Forsaken in the Peddler’s wagons.
Note: Lanfear mentions another of the Forsaken, Moghedien, in her brief conversation with the unnamed male Forsaken here. She describes Moghedien as “the spider” who makes moves from the shadows rather than openly. If that description is familiar, it is because that is exactly how the woman who controlled Nynaeve and Elayne’s minds in Chapter 46 described how she operates. So… Nynaeve and Elayne met Moghedien?
As far as Forsaken go, Lanfear is my favorite so far. I like that her motivations and allegiances are murky. Does she serve the Dark One? Of course. Would she challenge the Dark One with Rand / Lews Therin at her side? Probably. When she acts, in the text, she seems always to plausibly be on both sides of that divide. Her pursuit of Rand, sexually, is arguably a pursuit of Rand for the Shadow as a whole. It’s also evidence of her potential willingness to betray the Shadow.
One interesting thing we get from Aviendha in this chapter is that she says she cannot enter the dream without a Dreamwalker to help her. Does this mean she has entered the the World of Dreams before? When? Has she spied on Rand’s dreams? Viewing someone’s dreams would be a complicating factor in how one feels about that person. She makes clear that Rand’s dream, just now, did not include herself, though, because the Wise Ones said “it was too dangerous tonight.”
Probably the only thing I really didn’t like about this chapter was Mat’s continued efforts to impress Isendre. Usually Mat would be complaining about her, to himself, by now. He’d be calling her snooty or something, right? This effort doesn’t seem to fit his character. I can only assume Mat probably knows deep down that she is bad news but also seems very limited options for “companionship” in the Waste.
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