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 9: A Signal
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com
Point of view: Nynaeve al’Meara
Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom, and Juilin set up camp about a mile from Mardecin. Nynaeve levers up a floorboard to get at their money. Besides the gold purse, they have jewelry from Amathera, a box with ter’angreal they recovered in Tear, and one of the Seven Seals. Thom heads to town to get supplies they need. Nynaeve and Elayne talk about the dangers they face: the Black Ajah and the Forsaken Moghedien.
Thom returns with the supplies but what he purchased is not satisfactory to Nynaeve so she and Elayne decide to go into town. When Thom and Juilin start to decide who will go with them, Nynaeve tells them it won’t be necessary. Nynaeve wants to talk about the way Elayne flirts with Thom even though she passes messages through Egwene to say she loves Rand. After shopping in town for a bit, Nynaeve spots a flower arrangement that indicates someone in a dress shop is a Yellow Ajah eyes-and-ears with an emergency message.
Nynaeve talks with the seamstress, Ronde Macura, and mentions “heal” and “yellow”―the passwords needed to find out what the emergency message is. Ronde has her assistant, Luci, brew up some of her “best” tea. The message is “All sisters are welcome to return to the White Tower. The Tower must be whole and strong.” The message makes no sense to Nynaeve or Elayne and Ronde can not provide any background about the message either. Elayne and Nynaeve are suddenly very weak and sleepy and too late, Nynaeve realizes there was something in the tea.
We learn that Elayne is flirting with Thom, in part, because she is imagining that Rand is flirting with women in the Aiel Waste. Is Elayne the sort of woman who has a dream that you cheated on her, and as a result, gets even by cheating on you in return after she wakes? Those are the vibes. To be fair though, I think Elayne is mostly flirting with Thom because she know he’d never actually act on her advances. If Thom did act on her advances, Elayne would likely be angry with him for doing so.
At least in this instance, she has some justification for worrying about Rand. 1) Though she won’t tell her friends, she knows privately that she wrote a completely insane “I hate you” letter to Rand right before leaving, 2) she knows Rand is alone in the Waste with Egwene and other women, and 3) she has very good reason to believe that Min had a viewing about herself sharing Rand with someone else.
Given her limited knowledge, then her most likely fear is that Rand and Egwene alone together will result in Rand and Egwene together again. Since we have also had reason to believe (a subtle undercurrent in the previous book) that Egwene did not take Rand’s interest in Elayne seriously… maybe these two have a rivalry? Maybe they’ve always had a rivalry? Are these two pretending to be friends while secretly kind of hating each other? (Remember that time that Elayne could not fathom Nynaeve hating the Seanchan because Egwene’s brutal weeks-long torture had only happened to Egwene?) Could Lanfear have put her thumb on the scale against Egwene to push her into the breakup (Egwene is the one of the two with the romantic interest in Rand that Lanfear actually knows about)? Lots of undercurrents here.
Ah, Nynaeve. I wrote an entire couple of paragraphs on why I love her, in the previous chapter recap, and then she leads herself and Elayne into an ambush. She foolishly does not trust Thom to buy the groceries, then she insists on walking without the men into a dangerous town, and then she drinks an unknown tea from a stranger. She’s supposed to be the one who knows about herbs!
We do get a bit of new intel here. Off the page, at some point, Nynaeve has been hanging around with Yellow Ajah sisters and she has more or less decided to be in the Yellow Ajah (the healing ajah.) It all fits and makes sense. Her first encounter with one of their ajah’s informants gets her captured, though.
“All sisters are welcome to return to the White Tower. The Tower must be whole and strong.”
This message sounds like something sent by Elaida, so maybe the supergirls are about to find out Siuan has been deposed.