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 5: Among the Wise Ones
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com
Point of view: Egwene al’Vere
The Wise Ones, Bair, Amys, and Melaine request Egwene to come to their sweat tent. Aviendha is busy keeping the tent steaming. Moiraine and the Wise Ones are discussing Rand‘s plan to move the Aiel in to the West lands, to bring the nations under his control before the Last Battle. Moiraine fears it will have the opposite effect and create chaos just before the Last Battle. She wants Rand to wait for the Amyrlin Seat to bring the nations to his side.
More Tinkers have entered the Waste than usual and some Aiel are joining them to practice the Way of the Leaf. The Wise Ones are considering whether Aviendha should sleep in the same room as Rand, an idea Aviendha strongly protests against. Amys wishes Egwene to find Elayne‘s and Nynaeve‘s dreams which will allow her to communicate with them more directly. Melaine asks Amys and Bair to approach Dorindha about becoming her sister-wife.
Aviendha asks Egwene if someone from her land could accept a sister-wife. Egwene doesn’t think so, but tells Aviendha, perhaps if they are friends. When they go outside they are told to run around the camp fifty times for their earlier transgressions. As they run they compare notes and find that the Wise Ones are using each of them as comparisons to the other for motivation.
It’s funny to be in an Egwene POV and to know that she is being dishonest with herself… and that she likely knows she is being dishonest with herself. This is one of the things about Jordan’s writing that I really enjoy. It’s extremely relatable. Most people lie to themselves internally all the time. If pressed to think about it, she knows and would admit that the Maidens are not acting like servants toward Rand, and she would admit that he likely has people walking in on him to speak with him all the time, whether he wishes it or not. I find the self-dishonesty endearing in Egwene because I like her. I know a lot of people hold that type of thing against her, though.
Most of the first half of the chapter centers around Moiraine arguing with the Wise Ones over Rand’s plans to send the Aiel into the Westlands. Moiraine seems to think that the Westlands will rally together against him, rather than join him. I wonder if she’s discussed this with Lan. Alternatively, maybe she doesn’t believe what she’s saying but is arguing for another purpose. It seems pretty obvious that Rand will completely overrun the Westlands, with some ease, all things being equal (which they obviously aren’t – we just don’t know the details yet.) With what we know now, though, Cairhien won’t resist due to their state of anarchy. Tear already belongs to him. The Borderlands will be practical. They’ll fight alongside the Aiel to defeat the Dark One – especially if Lan is vouching for Rand. Rand isn’t even a stranger in Shienar… he spent months there with national leaders. He has a small army of Dragonsworn already, in the western part of the continent, ready to rally to him. Rand spent plenty of time kissing the daughter heir of Andor, he has met her mother already, and he grew up in the western part of Andor. Andor will follow him – especially if Tear, Cairhien, and the Borderlands are following him.
Where is this massive show of resistance going to come from in Moiraine’s mind? The only rallying point for that would be coming from the White Tower and at this point, Moraine still believes her best friend is the Amyrlin Seat. Long story short… Moiraine is not making sense and I kind of understand why Rand is resisting her attempts to give him orders.
Aviendha was whipped for lying – at her own request. We can guess that she lied twice to Rand. She said she hated him and that seems to be a pretty obvious lie. I didn’t pick up on the second lie.
It makes sense that she genuinely considers that Rand is sending for Isendre. She doesn’t know him. She’ll like him more though when she realizes that he isn’t sending for her. She’ll forgive herself more for liking him when she realizes that, too. Jordan subtly lets us know that she’s clever by having her puzzle over Isendre’s actions openly – while the other women around Rand are not doing so. If Rand did not know what Isendre was, she could represent a genuine danger to him. She might anyway. So good for Aviendha for noticing. Also, if Aviendha is going to start sleeping in Rand’s room… that romantic relationship will advance, sooner than later. The Aiel Wise Ones appear to be attempting to tie a string around Rand’s heart, via Aviendha. The Wise Ones want him to care about the Aiel – at least one of them, anyway, and maybe through her, the rest of them, too. For all of Rand’s cleverness, the Wise Ones are more clever than he is in this regard.
Egwene seems to be coming to the realization that she doesn’t know Rand as well as she used to know him. She’s still monologuing internally that she only loves him as a brother. I still don’t believe her, entirely, but it might be more true now than it was in the previous book. Keep in mind that during her Accepted test (Book #3), all of the tests were about Rand. Her relationship with him was the core of her fears and anxieties. If that changed, it didn’t happen in the Tower. It happened in Tear. Her behavior in TSR was – initially – to break up with Rand very early in the book. However, when they were in the Waste together later, without Elayne, Egwene spent time subtly and ineffectively driving a wedge between her and Rand. I don’t think she took Elayne’s interest in Rand seriously, or vice versa, until *this* book. Especially vice versa.
In this chapter, we learn that “Dream Walking” is more than just navigating The World of Dreams. It’s also visiting the actual dreams of other people, too. Egwene is about to power up again. I look forward to seeing what might happen if she visits either of her friends’ dreams. Imagine being a Wetlander with this power a hundred years before the story starts. You’d be insanely powerful. That’s probably why the Aiel are so stringent about the practice. They know that this power would be wildly abused by someone of low character. Undoubtedly, in addition to teaching Egwene, they’re also assessing her character.
We get an exchange near the end of the chapter, as one of the Wise Ones seeks help in becoming the sister-wife of another woman. The purpose of this scene was for what followed – the conversation about sister-wives in the Westlands. Aviendha asks Egwene about it. Egwene inadvertently encourages her.
“I don’t know. Maybe if it was a close friend.” – Egwene
Here she sets into motion Aviendha’s need to be good friends with Elayne. If she’d already been thinking about it, that might explain why she told Rand that Elayne was her near sister. (I just realized that her telling Rand that Elayne was her near sister was lie #2.) Egwene is actually Aviendha’s near sister.
I enjoyed the jogging scene conversation at the end of this chapter. Both Wise One apprentices realize that they are being encouraged, respectively, by having the strengths of the other woman pointed out to her. The brilliance of this tactic is that it will work even after they both understand that it’s happening… and it will cause the two to bond over it because it’s happening equally.
The chapter also lets us know that Aiel see in Egwene someone with Aiel-ish character traits. I think they see that in Rand as well. Interestingly, they are both trying very hard to fit in (Egwene as an apprentice, Rand is learning Aiel hand to hand combat, etc.,) while both tell themselves that they’re just doing what they must. The try-hard, duty driven people of the Two Rivers have a lot in common with the Aiel… at least internally. The noble warrior Aiel see past the surface.