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 51: Revelations in Tanchico
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Elayne Trakand
Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egeanin are having difficulty eating their food with Sursa, which have recently become the fashion in Tanchico. As Rendra leaves them to their meal, she mentions regular eating utensils are under their napkins. Seven days have gone past since they first met Egeanin. They have met often since then. Riots have kept them confined to the inn while Thom and Juilin generally come back battered from their explorations looking for Liandrin’s group of Black Sisters.
Bayle Domon knocks and enters saying he has found them. He recognizes Egeanin immediately and the two start fighting. Domon pins her to the floor and when she grabs her belt knife, Elayne channels air to stop her from stabbing him. Domon announces that she is Seanchan which stuns Elayne since she likes her. Nynaeve says they know more than the Seanchan about sul’dam and damane, that sul’dam also can Channel. Egeanin replies that she knows that now, too.
Egeanin explains that she is here to find sul’dam that escaped from Falme. She found one and learned that an a’dam will hold her. She let Bethamin go last night. Nynaeve asks Domon to explain who he has found. Domon says he’s found the women they seek hiding in the Panarch’s Palace. Juilin then enters and says that he has also found them at the Panarch’s palace. Thom also enters, having found out the same as Domon and Juilin. They discuss how they might continue but they can’t really make plans until they know whether Amathera is a Darkfriend, being duped, or is a captive. The men go out to see if they can find out more while Elayne and Nynaeve keep watch on Egeanin.
The men come and go, each time leaving a tidbit of information they have come up with and looking a bit more bruised and battered. Nynaeve finally says there will be no more going out, instead they will keep watch while Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egeanin sleep. Nynaeve has Elayne bind Egeanin’s hands with the power. Nynaeve goes to sleep with the Dream ter’angreal so she can enter Tel’aran’rhiod to meet Egwene.
Everyone tries and fails to eat with chopsticks, err, Sursa. I must admit that this is not a skill I can boast about. I’m not sure that the scene needed to be *quite* as long as Jordan wrote it, though.
The supergirls find out in this chapter – finally – that Egeanin is Seanchan. Considering how long they were in Falme working on Egwene’s rescue, and the fact that they comment on her slurred accent multiple times, I am annoyed that it required Domon for them to find out. Unfortunately, the reason for their not figuring this out is pretty simple:
“Seanchan… but I like her!”
A lot of the rest of this chapter annoys me but that line rings true. We often fail to see what we don’t want to see.
This chapter also informs the supergirls that Egeanin has uncovered the deep dark Seanchan secret regarding the sul’dam, too. After centuries, the secret is uncovered for the first time by the supergirls. Weeks later, they meet someone else who also separately figured the whole thing out. It’s all too coincidental. As I’ve said, I’ll like this story arc better if we eventually find out that the secret has been learned many, many times, and that the Seanchan Empire just gets rid of the people who learn it.
My favorite part of that whole sequence is the awkward post-fight flirting between Domon and Egeanin.
This chapter is from Elayne’s POV. She struggles to stop liking Egeanin. We kind of get an unintentional glimpse into her loyalty for Egwene here (i.e. she doesn’t have much loyalty for Egwene – which should not surprise us as readers given her multi-book effort to pry Rand away from Egwene.) Nynaeve is fiercely loyal though. Nynaeve instantly hates Egeanin upon learning she is Seanchan.
“She’s Seanchan, Elayne. Seanchan!”
She sounded as if she hated the dark-haired woman for a personal wrong, which made no sense. Egwene had been in their hands, but not Nynaeve.
Honest question and I’m not sure how to phrase this. Is there something wrong with Elayne? Like… does she have a mental disorder of some kind that makes it hard for her to understand and interpret human emotions in other people? Am I supposed to have picked up on that by now? How does Nynaeve’s anger toward Egwene’s abusers not make sense to her? Elayne has been Egwene’s friend now for a while and they’ve gone through some stuff together. She’s known Egeanin, casually, for about a week. How is she not angry, too? Just to make the point, Elayne was present for this moment during The Great Hunt:
Egwene: She hurt me, Nynaeve. She hurt me! They all did. They hurt me and hurt me until I did what they wanted. I hate them. I hate them for hurting me. And I hate them because I couldn’t stop them from making me do what they wanted.
You can try to write off Elayne’s reaction in this chapter as an innate drive to be a peacemaker between people, but that does not really work because we are in Elayne’s POV. She genuinely is not angry with Egeanin and genuinely does not understand why Nynaeve is. She doesn’t even fake any outward anger (the bare minimum socially appropriate response) and we know she doesn’t fake it because Egeanin points out to Elayne’s face that she notices Elayne does not hate her even though Nynaeve does.
I want the series to give me a reason to like Elayne. She’s a main character, a protagonist, she gets POV chapters, etc. It just isn’t happening. Maybe it never will.
Anyway, the rest of the chapter sets up the big finish. The group is going to break into the Panarch’s Palace to find the weapon for which the Black Ajah is searching. But first… Nynaeve visits the World of Dreams.