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 6: Gateways
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Rand al’Thor
Rand wakes and smells something foul and evil below his room. He runs up the stairs so he will be able to fight without the Maidens being involved and possibly hurt. Three Darkhounds enter the room so he channels a sword. Using his new found mastery of the sword Rand easily kills them when they charge. Then they begin to pull together and reform so he uses Balefire to obliterate them. Moiraine arrives and checks to make sure they did not bite or bleed on him. She mentions that packs are usually ten to twelve so Rand runs to where other targets might be without explaining to Moiraine.
In another building three Darkhounds are clawing at a bronze door trying to enter. Moving to the side he uses Balefire again to destroy the dogs, but this time with only minor damage to the building. A naked Mat opens the door cautiously to Rand’s pounding and Melindhra wraps herself in a blanket. There are only small holes in the door but Mat remembers a larger hole and saliva dripping on to his arm. Moiraine arrives and tries to heal the burn on Mat’s arm, but the healing does not work. Mat mentions that his Foxhead medallion went cold, so Moiraine tells him to take it off. After he does, Moiraine is able to heal him.
Moiraine wishes to talk to Rand about using Balefire but he has another errand to run and tries to brush her off. She apologizes for how she has treated him and begs him to let her advise him, even promising to give an oath. She explains that balefire is prohibited from use and even the Forsaken were reluctant to use it. Rand reminds her that she used it in the Stone of Tear on Be’lal. When anything is destroyed by balefire it ceases to exist before the moment of its destruction. The more powerful the balefire, the further back it time so that actions taken have no longer been taken. The pattern could unravel if enough lives were destroyed that removed their actions far enough back in time.
Rand orders Moiraine to leave Mat alone and not try to take his medallion. He then makes a gateway to check on Asmodean, who was not attacked. Darkhounds did scout outside the room though so Rand erases the footprints that were left in the stone floor. He makes another gateway to his room, therefore avoiding the Maidens. He checks on the Choedan Kal Access keys and finds they are both safe, hidden in his room. Lanfear appears as he is hiding the access keys again, but not before she recognizes them. She again tries to tempt him to join her in a bid for power over the other Chosen. She tells him that Rahvin sent the Darkhounds and that he is in Caemlyn, with Morgase as a puppet of his.
There is a knock at the door and Enaila enters to say the clan chiefs have arrived to talk to the Car’a’carn and the maidens have been looking for Rand. The Shaido are on the move toward Jangai Pass and the other five clans are moving also, but not necessarily with the Shaido. Rand decides his clans will follow and they will leave at first light.
Rand is constantly dreaming about swimming with the girls he likes. He might be The Dragon Reborn but he is not particularly creative.
We encounter Darkhounds again. The last time we saw them was in the flight out of Illian during The Dragon Reborn. Unlike that pack, this group is smaller and this group required balefire to be destroyed. I wonder if Jordan’s idea for these creature changed over time, or if we will eventually get an explanation about the nature of what they are and why these were different from those we met previously.
It’s a good thing that Rand had Mat in mind immediately after his own attack. Moiraine would have inadvertently let him die. For as focused as she is on winning the Last Battle, she has been foolish with respect to Mat and Perrin’s value throughout the series. In this case, Rand is showing himself more focused on winning the Last Battle than she is – he even thinks of Mat’s value to that end while also thinking of him as a friend.
We learn for certain in this chapter that Mat’s medallion blocks channeling and that it gets as cold as ice when someone channels at him. When Mat was in Rhuidean, in the red stone ter’angreal, he said that he wanted a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power. The medallion is the gift he was given to achieve that. It was particularly enjoyable to read how freaked out Moiraine was by the medallion.
Moiraine finally changes her tactics with Rand in this chapter. This has been a LONG time coming. Bullying has never worked with Rand and it is AMAZING how much more influence she has with him after finally letting him lead. Rand knows that this is a manipulation, too, but it is a manipulation he accepts. Why? Moiraine is finally showing him respect. That’s all he ever wanted. Even I, as a reader, could feel a sense of relief in Rand finally being given some respect by her. The moment she finally showed him respect, his very first reaction was to apologize to her for his rudeness to her.
I liked Moiraine’s explanation of balefire in this chapter. In a story built on a foundation of circular time, balefire is Jordan’s “disastrous time travel paradox” element. It’s pretty obvious that we will continue to return to balefire going forward. Is the fact that Rand knows how to use it the thing that finally brings her to try humility? Maybe. “I guess if the alternative is that you might accidentally destroy reality itself, I’ll humble myself to let you take the lead.”
There’s something relatable and haunting about how Rand’s thoughts continue to linger on the little girl he couldn’t save in The Stone of Tear. That moment taught him that he is not to be trusted with too much power… and he is still tempted, anyway. That memory is helping to hold him in check.
Moiraine sees Rand open a Gateway and freaks out again (she’s having a big “I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did” kind of night.) Rand tells us that there’s an even faster way to travel called… Travelling… but that he doesn’t have it mastered yet. I guess we’ve seen the Forsaken do this already (Lanfear does it at the end of the chapter.) I wonder why the medium-fast Gateways even exist?
Lanfear sees that Rand has both the male and the female super-powerful sa’angreal. She had looked for the female one in Rhuidean in the previous book and Rand hid it from her. Her response to seeing them now is to immediately betray the Forsaken she has been trying to form an alliance with earlier in this book. Rahvin allegedly sent the Darkhounds. That makes sense as he is the Forsaken we’ve spent the most time with in this book. I’m guessing he’s our big baddie in this one.
“Beside Lanfear, Elayne or Min or Aviendha would look almost ordinary.”
Total aside, here, but Jordan did adaptation casting agents no favors with this character. He essentially created a woman who could only be portrayed, book accurately, by the most beautiful woman on earth (provided said woman had raven black hair and pale skin.)
The Wheel of Time TV series cast a beautiful woman for the role, but did not try to go for someone who made other beautiful woman ordinary looking. For whatever it’s worth, what they landed on was probably my favorite character from season 2 (though I’m not exactly happy with the series as a whole so far.)
Back on point, Rand calls her Mierin (her name before she joined the Shadow during the Age of Legends) and then tells her that her ambition disgusts him and that she was out of his heart long before he met Ilyena, whatever she might believe to the contrary. That’s a pretty bold thing to say to one of the Forsaken, especially one he has relied on at times. Is he forgiven a little for the fact that it’s his past life self who says it?
Lanfear immediately realizes that Rand is displaying madness symptoms that Graendal had apparently already explained to her. She begins pleading with Lews Therin (as though he’s present) that she loves him while Rand tries to recover from his own shock of not knowing where those words had come from. She is off-balance. We rarely see her off-balance. The next thing we see, she guesses out loud that Rand might have learned this knowledge from Asmodean. She pivots to trying to drive a wedge between he and Rand.
That whole scene and interaction is really layered because I think Lanfear knows that Lews Therin bled through, but she wants to give Rand an alternative explanation as to how she interpreted that bleed through – so that he won’t think that she knows for sure that Lews Therin bled through. Why do that? I’m not exactly sure, but I think part of the answer is that she does not want to believe what he said.
Lanfear’s explanation for why Rahvin attacked Rand kind of makes sense. He wants to rule in Cairhien and Andor, and Rand’s big new army is a threat to his interests in Cairhien. On the other hand… I only kind of buy this as an explanation. Rand being dead sort of ends the game for the Forsaken and the world. Killing Rand to protect his interests in Cairhien is like buying a McDonald’s franchise because you like the french fries. It makes just as much sense that Lanfear sent the Darkhounds because she wants Rahvin out of the way and is baiting Rand to attack him.
As predicted, Lanfear confronts Rand about warding his dreams and warns him that she can break through. Of course, she had to know he would do this when she got him a teacher and has to be happy that Rand is protected from the other Forsaken in that way. THAT SAID… she suggests an alternative to having his dreams warded – her personal protection. Rand thinks she doesn’t like the thought that he might be having dreams about coed swimming in the Two Rivers with women who are not her… which is 100% accurate. Her offer to serve as his dream bodyguard forces him to point out that the other Forsaken know how to enter dreams, too, and that if he let her be his bodyguard, she’d be outing herself as on his side. This is obvious even to her, so she pivots and reveals where her insecure mind is at.
Lanfear tells us that Egwene has salacious dreams about Gawyn and Galad. The books have set up Egwene’s interest in Galad previously (in the same way that everyone who meets Galad is interested in him,) but this is the first we’ve heard of her having a thing for Gawyn. IMO, that means we should be suspicious of Egwene showing an interest in Gawyn in particular, later on. Lanfear has the skillset to force Egwene to be interested in someone else. Lanfear has the motive to do that to her, too. Come to think of it, Lanfear was hanging around in the Stone of Tear when Egwene broke up with Rand out of the blue AND she was interacting with Egwene in the World of Dreams in that time span, too.
New head canon to build on the existing head canon: Egwene did not want to break up with Rand (as evidenced by her Accepted testing) but Lanfear compelled her to do so. Then Lanfear planted um, interest, for her with Gawyn to secure the brek-up. Let’s see how it plays out.