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 1: Fanning the Sparks
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Min
Elmindreda Farshaw, Siuan Sanche, and Leane Sharif are prisoners awaiting judgment for burning down a barn and stealing money. Min gives the name Sarenla which amuses the local lord, because it means “stubborn daughter” in the Old Tongue. Logain Ablar, their traveling companion was not captured. Leane adjusts her dress and uses Min’s makeup to make herself more attractive in hopes she might be able to reduce whatever sentence is in store for them.
Gareth Bryne listens to the testimony from Admer Nem. Leane tries to charm Bryne while Min pleads for mercy and Siuan is defiant but silent. Bryne decides the three will work for him and requires an oath if they are to avoid working in the fields where they will be watched closely. Min resolves to give a weak oath and then leave anyway until Siuan gives an oath as strong as possible to repay the costs.
Siuan still plans to escape, not scrub pots. She will do first what she must do, then come back and do what she swore to do. While they are being carted away to Bryne’s estate, Logain uses a sling to knock out Joni, their escort, and rescue them.
Point of view: Gareth Bryne
Bryne collects his men to follow after the oathbreakers. Just before departing he receives word that Callandor has been drawn from the Stone of Tear and that Elaida is now the Amyrlin. He is also informed that Siuan Sanche and Logain were executed.Point of view: Alteima
The High Lady Alteima arrives at the Royal Palace of Andor. She has fled Tear to get away from the High Lady Estanda and from Rand al’Thor. She hopes to find a rich old husband in Caemlyn and achieve power by befriending Morgase Trakand. During her audience with the Queen of Andor, though, Lord Gaebril sends Morgase away and uses Compulsion to make Alteima tell him everything about Rand al’Thor and Tear.
Point of view: Morgase Trakand
After being sent away by Rahvin, Morgase returns to her room. During this time it is obvious her mind tries to combat Rahvin’s Compulsion on her, but without success.
This should have been “The Prologue: Part 2” instead of Chapter 1. If I were to guess, that’s probably how it was composed. Maybe the publisher or his editor told Jordan to break it up into two parts. We get multiple additional POVs, from the good guys this time, and none of those POVs are main characters from Emond’s Field.
When we pick up with Min, Siuan, Leane, and Logain, it is just after they were arrested. the arrest happened in the space between books 4 and 5. The women (Logain got away) *just so happen* to find themselves in the company of maybe Randland’s finest general. The Pattern is doing pattern-y things. We also get what starts like the beginnings of a love story arc between Siuan and Gareth Bryne. I guess they have in common that they were both recently tossed out of high ranking jobs by agents of the Shadow (the Black Ajah definitely aided Elaida’s coup, right? Even if she didn’t realize?) And Gaebril is obviously one of the Forsaken.
If you’re a careful reader, then you know who Gaebril is. We were told in the prologue that Rahvin was as handsome as Lanfear was beautiful. Here we have Alteima describing Gaebril as extraordinarily handsome. Rahvin also got the POV position in the prologue and we immediately revisit Gaebril in Chapter 1.
1 + 1 = 2
In the first section, Jordan finally decides to give Leane a personality and he did it really well. He also just built on what he’d already established with her. We already knew she was Domani and we’ve heard about the reputation of the women from that culture. We’ve also seen Leane flirt with Perrin (in Falme) when she was still the Keeper of the Chronicles.
It’s worth keeping in mind, then, that Siuan is trying to stay alive, via her desire for revenge and her duty to the world. Leane is trying to stay alive via the art of seduction. Who will be most successful?
Min reminds us that Logain has glory in his future. That implies that “gentling” may not always be a forever circumstance.
I can’t really see how Altiema, specifically, is more than just a kind of throwaway character in this scene, designed to demonstrate Rahvin’s power. He clearly uses compulsion on her, to control her mind, and get her to spill her secrets. In the next scene, during Morgase’s POV, we get something more significant in the form of a contrast. Morgase seems to be trying to fight Rahvin’s compulsion. It’s worth remembering that this mind control has been going on with her for a while. That’s why she fired Gareth Bryne. Thom was disturbed by her refugee choices during Book #3 (indicating that she was not in her right mind.) When Mat met with her in that book, he came away believing her to be besotted. This scene lets us know that she’s trapped inside her own mind… which is pretty horrifying when you think about it. Then it’s even more horrifying that Rahvin is 100% sleeping with her. The compulsion has some large part of her mind being happy with that sexual arrangement, while some tiny part of her *knows* she’s being raped.
The Forsaken are the worst of the worst, but Rahvin is a new iteration of what that looks like.