Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 16


Chapter 16: The Wisdom

Get ready for some high-flying all-star seat of your pants glowering! Do you want to watch characters tug on their braids and sniff at each other over and over again until your soul dies? Well stick around buckaroo because we’re getting into the thick of it now!

But before that happens, Rand is accosted by Min on his way back to the Inn. She’s sampled from the premium crop again and saw The Sparks around Nyneave, which means that the erstwhile Emond’s Field Wisdom is involved in…whatever the rest of the characters are involved in.

“Part of the same bad luck we’ve been having since Winternight. Maybe having the Wisdom show up is no great affair to you, but I’d as soon have the Whitecloaks here, myself.”

I don’t get why these characters are all so terrified of Nynaeve.

I mean, I get why in real-world terms– it’s part of Jordan’s complex interlocking sequence of fetishes involving domineering women– but I don’t buy it within the logic of the story. She’s only a few years older than the rest of them, which might count for a lot when they’re kids but surely not as adults. There’s no way they’d be cowering around her like this.

Nynaeve’s braid was thrown over her shoulder, the end gripped in one fist; she kept giving it little tugs the way she did when she was being even more stubborn than usual with the Village Council.

Here’s some assorted pieces of fan art featuring Nynaeve. See if you can spot the common factor:


There’s a reason she’s so frequently portrayed tugging on her braid and looking pissed off.

(Technically two of those images are spoilers, but whatever)

“I am interested,” he said, “in how you found us.”
“So am I.” Moiraine leaned forward intently. “Perhaps you are willing to speak now that Egwene and the boys have been brought to you?”
Nynaeve sipped the wine before answering the Aes Sedai. “There was nowhere for you to go except Baerlon. To be safe, though, I followed your trail. You certainly cut back and forth enough. But then, I suppose you would not care to risk meeting decent people.”
“You . . . followed our trail?” Lan said, truly surprised for the first time that Rand could remember. “I must be getting careless.”

This part has always bothered me. Nynaeve is given a perfectly good explanation for how she tracked the party– Baerlon is more or less the only city accessible directly from the Two Rivers, so they’d have to pass through it– but the she also has super tracking skills and can follow them for more than a week without being spotted or caught by the Myrdraal, despite their escape being aided with magic.

It ties into this weird recurring thing where the Emond’s Fielders are all hyper-competent at more or less anything they turn their hands to, like this is Atlas Shrugged except instead of exalting capitalists it’s trying to convince you that rural farmers from the back end of nowhere are elite ubermensch… as long as they’re descended from ancient badasses and have Magic Blood running in their veins, don’t forget that part. If you’re just a regular farmer you get to be cannon fodder in someone’s army.

“If you can follow a trail I have tried to hide, he taught you well. Few can do that, even in the Borderlands.”
Abruptly Nynaeve buried her face in her cup. Rand’s eyes widened. She was blushing.

Christ I forgot about all this shit with Nynaeve and Lan. This all gets real fucking stupid later on, way past the point we’ll probably get to.

After a whole lot of bickering– like a whole lot– Nynaeve reveals that she came after Rand and co to bring them back to Emond’s Field. She’s reluctant to accept that they can’t go back but eventually relents.

The Light save me from men who think with the hair on their chests. Though I don’t know as there are any other kind.” She gave a hearty sniff, and looked up at him, an accusing glance.

A good 40% of Nynaeve’s dialogue sounds like this.

“She tried to disguise it, but most of all she wanted to know if any of you was born outside the Two Rivers.”

Rand realises that Nynaeve knows he was born outside the area and spills the beans about what his father told him during the fever. She confirms that this is true, but also tries to reassure him that the part about being found on a battlefield somewhere was only the fever talking, and that Tam and his deceased mother (who I don’t think has been named?) were his biological parents.

I can just remember when he came back to Emond’s Field, a grown man with a red-haired, outlander wife and a babe in swaddling clothes.

Nice attempt at a dodge by giving Rand’s adoptive mother red hair. 10/10, would be distracted from future plot twist again.

That was a pretty short post, but the next chapter is A Doozy so I’ll hold off on it until next time.





5 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 16

  1. reveen

    I like to think that if not for Jordan’s weird gender politics Nynaeve would escalate into BURNING PASSION AND FURY NGGGAAAAAHH and pretty much take over as protagonist.

    1. Ida

      I tend to think she would be a lot more interesting, too. Rand’s problem is that his only characterisations are “protagonist” and “bad shit happens to him all the time”. Nynaeve is much more dynamic, IMHO.

  2. Toastehh

    Huh, I always imagined Nynaeve like fiddling with her hair in an agitated way. Not holding it two handed like a claymore, so tightly it must hurt her scalp…

    1. anomie

      I have braids at the moment (not, mind you, the single braid depicted in the fan art) and do tug on them sometimes, since I often tie them back with a scrunchie or whatever and sometimes they bunch up or individual ones stick out in a most unsightly manner and need to be brought back into line.

      I sort of assumed that was what was meant when our host promised braid-tugging. I guess not though.


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