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 52: Need
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Nynaeve al’Meara
Nynaeve is in the Heart of the Stone in Tear after entering Tel’aran’rhiod. When Egwene arrives, she comments on the odd dress Nynaeve is wearing, a skirted suit of armor. Amys and Bair are with Egwene and they pass on the news of what has been happening with Rand. Nynaeve explains what they have found about Amathera and Liandrin’s group of Black Sisters. Nynaeve wishes help from the Wise Ones but is less than tactful in trying to obtain it. Despite that, the Wise Ones agree to teach her a technique.
Amys explains that need is the key. Concentrate on what you need and you will shift closer to whatever you seek. Each time you try you will come closer until you are where the solution to your need is. After disguising herself as Rendra, Nynaeve concentrates on her need―whatever the item in Tanchico is that is a danger to the Dragon Reborn―and finds herself in a bedroom. There Temaile Kinderode is holding Amathera captive and making her sing bawdy songs. Just before Temaile turns, Nynaeve concentrates again and is in the exhibition hall of the palace. A woman appears examining something in a glass case, then moves to a white stone stand.
Nynaeve finds herself pulling on her braid, hard, without knowing why. Suddenly images come forth and she remembers the woman that came to the inn and interrogated her and Elayne. Just before she attacks the woman, Birgitte appears and warns her to silence and motions for Nynaeve to move away to talk. Birgitte tells her that the woman is Moghedien and the man Nynaeve saw previously in the Waste was Asmodean. Birgitte explains that she is violating the precepts to even talk with someone in Tel’aran’rhiod, but she can’t help herself. Gaidal Cain appears and agrees that Birgitte should not be talking to anyone.
Birgitte tells Nynaeve something of Moghedien: she hides and does not take risks but strikes when she is sure of victory. Moghedien once promised Birgitte to make her weep alone for as long as the Wheel of Time turns. Nynaeve returns to the hall to see what Moghedien was looking at. She finds one of the Seven Seals to the Dark One’s prison and the Domination Band, a male a’dam. Elayne wakes her and she tells what she has learned and found.
Point of view: Elayne Trakand
Elayne is horrified at Nynaeve’s tale. Earlier she freed Egeanin‘s wrists from their bonds and hopes Nynaeve won’t make a fuss over it. As they begin to make plans there is a commotion in the hall. A pale haired man attacked Thom but is now unconscious on the floor since Juilin and Bayle helped. Juilin recognizes the man as someone that tried to steal from him. Egeanin recognizes him as the Seeker she met and suggests slitting his throat. Nynaeve has them dump him in the alley alive, instead, and decides they should meet to make plans.
Theme: Nynaeve is the best. This chapter is all about why.
We start with where the last chapter dropped. Nynaeve is feeling angry and emotionally confused about the fact that Egeanin is Seanchan. We learn some more about the aftermath of Egwene’s rescue (weeks of screaming nightmares) but Jordan also adds a layer to her anger. In addition to her other feelings, she is also upset at having lost a friend. She even comments to herself about how difficult it has been for her to make friends since leaving home. I like the addition of that very brief aside because it so effectively humanizes her. Let’s be honest, also. She probably struggled with making friends *before* she left home, too. Let’s get Nynaeve some friends, okay? She’s good at keeping her friends alive, she’s insanely brave, she might hit you with a stick if you’re acting foolish.
The encounter with the Dreamwalkers was both entertaining and insightful. The entertaining part of it is how Nynaeve is so lacking in self-awareness. She’s courageous to a point that borders on insanity. When everyone tells her to be careful though, she cannot understand why and she genuinely believes that she *is* careful. Somehow she manages that lack of self-awareness in a way that is charming (at least from my perspective as a reader and not as a person who has to interact with her.) I will add though that I do think Nynaeve is careful. She planned out her Egwene rescue in Falme. It’s just that she’s so brave you forget that she’s got an excellent brain (most of the time.)
The foregoing said, I sided with Nynaeve in her encounter with the Aiel and Egwene. That interaction (changing her hair, talking down to her) veered just a touch into bullying. Nynaeve wasn’t being disrespectful or belligerent. She just spoke from ignorance. It all hit badly with me because she was so clearly trying to bond with Egwene after the revelation with Egeanin reminded her viscerally of Egwene’s Seanchan experience. As mentioned, Egeanin also left her feeling lonely and Egwene might be the only person in the whole world she feels comfortable with – fights and all (hence all the time spent with her arm around Egwene in T’a’R.) She wanted to be on a team with someone again but did not know how to express it.
The Aiel finally decide to treat Nynaeve with respect and tell her outright how to find what she’s looking for. She finds it. She’s mostly careful in doing so. Along the way, she discovers the Panarch is a captive, that Birgitte Silverbow has been watching over them, and that Moghedien is in Tanchico and has previously used the Power to control her mind. Sometimes Nynaeve tugging her braid feels overdone in this story but in this instance I really felt Jordan’s use of it to hint at subconscious trauma was *really* effective. Nynaeve filling herself with the Power and going out into the open is an example of being less than careful. So maybe Egwene and the Aield had a point.
My initial reaction to Nynaeve wanting to fight the Black Ajah and Moghedien was to be annoyed by her but this is also the same type of thing Rand would have done in the first three books. I am broadening my suspension of disbelief from “Yeah, but he can do that because he’s the Dragon Reborn…” to add “and she can do it because she’s Nynaeve al’Meara.” At this point, everyone else in the series needs to pick fights in their own power range. Rand and Nynaeve can do whatever they want and I’m okay with it.
We are now finally ready for the this arc’s big finish. Nynaeve and Elayne’s team will soon be invading the Panarch’s Palace. It kind of feels like the story is setting up a confrontation between Nynaeve and Moghedien. That will be fun.