Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 21

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Chapter 21: Listen to The Wind

Who is this chapter about? Is this a Perrin chapter? It better not be a Perrin chapter.

Sunrise creeping across the River Arinelle found its way into the hollow not far from the riverbank where Nynaeve sat with her back against the trunk of a young oak, breathing the deep breath of sleep.

Thank god.

It turns out Nynaeve spent the night sleeping under the trees after getting out of Shadar Logoth and crossing the river.

If Moiraine or any of the younglings were over there, they were well hidden.

Younglings

On a superficial level, Nynaeve seems similar to Rand in that she doesn’t want anything to do with this adventure malarky and does lots of hand-wringing over Aes Sedai, but unlike Rand her attitude seems (in relation to that first point at least) much more pragmatic and down to Earth. Also, she’s not the main character so her attempts to get out of the plot aren’t as irritating.

During the previous night Nynaeve was confronted by ten Trollocs, but before they could attack they picked up a scent on the wind and took off in the opposite direction, ignoring Nynaeve completely. This convinced her that Moiraine is telling the truth and the Trollocs really are after one of the boys.

If she found neither, the river would take her to Whitebridge eventually, and there was a road from Whitebridge to Caemlyn, and all the way to Tar Valon if need be.

Getting to Tar Valon becomes most of the characters’ goals, as they believe they’ll be able to reconnect.

After some trudging, Nynaeve stumbles onto Lan and Moiraine at a makeshift camp.

If those thousand were here to be sent into the Two Rivers, why were they not? There is only one answer. They were sent only after we crossed the Taren, when it was known that one Myrddraal and a hundred Trollocs were no longer enough. How? How were they sent? If a thousand Trollocs can be brought so far south from the Blight, so quickly, unseen—not to mention being taken off the same way—can ten thousand be sent into the heart of Saldaea, or Arafel, or Shienar? The Borderlands could be overrun in a year.”

I’ve wondered a few times about how the Trollocs are getting around without being seen; it seems I should have given the book the benefit of the doubt, because Lan and Moiraine bring it up here and I think we’ll get an answer at some point in this book.

“What have you meshed Egwene and the boys in? What filthy Aes Sedai plots are you planning to use them in?”

Okay, dial it back a little Nynaeve. This person ha saved all your lives a whole bunch.

“You have very little room to talk, Wisdom.” Moiraine showed more interest in her hot tea than in anything she was saying. “You can wield the One Power yourself, after a fashion.”

OH SNAP

I like how Moiraine clearly kept this to herself until she could deploy it at the most dramatic possible moment.

Moiraine tells her that her unusual skill at Wisdoming for someone so young actually comes from unknowingly channelling the One Power; likewise, the reason she named Egwene as her apprentice is because Nynaeve could unconsciously sense the same ability in her.

“Perhaps as much as eight or ten years ago—the age varies, but always comes young—there was something you wanted more than anything else in the world, something you needed. And you got it. A branch suddenly falling where you could pull yourself out of a pond instead of drowning. A friend, or a pet, getting well when everyone thought they would die.

Man, Nynaeve would have made a much better protagonist than Rand. I’d rather read about all of this than his cliched chosen one nonsense.

“You felt nothing special at the time, but a week or ten days later you had your first reaction to touching the True Source. Perhaps fever and chills that came on suddenly and put you to bed, then disappeared after only a few hours. None of the reactions, and they vary, lasts more than a few hours. Headaches and numbness and exhilaration all mixed together, and you taking foolish chances or acting giddy.

Now where have we seen this before?

All of this shocks Nynaeve, as Moiraine is bang on the money with all of this. She also solves a complaint I had earlier, about how Nynaeve managed to track down the other characters so fast: she magically healed Perrin or Egwene at some time in the past without realizing it, and now maintains an ability to sense them when in close proximity.

The interesting part about all of this is low-key Nynaeve’s abilities are, a combination of psychic abilities and traditional folk practices. Maybe I’m just boring, but I find this more interesting than the displays of pyrotechnics and metaphysical tampering we’ll see later.

The Aes Sedai chose a good example, she thought, Light burn her! Using the Power like an Aes Sedai. A filthy, Darkfriend Aes Sedai!

God I can’t wait until the characters stop cringing every time an Aes Sedai sneezes on them.

(So for the male characters, the last page of book 14)

Moiraine tells her that she’s only managed to avoid death via improper Source-using through sheer luck and the fact that her abilities only activate sporadically, and that if she prevents Egwene from going to Tar Valon for teaching it’s unlikely she’ll have the same good fortune.

Of four who have the inborn ability that you and Egwene have, three die if we do not find them and train them. It is not as horrible a death as the men die, but neither is it pretty, if any death can be called so. Convulsions. Screaming. It takes days, and once it begins there is nothing that can be done to stop it, not by all the Aes Sedai in Tar Valon together.”

This is finally enough to convince Nynaeve, as she knows of two Wisdom apprentices who died in the way described.

“You have great potential, I think,” Moiraine continued. “With training you might become even more powerful than Egwene, and I believe she can become one of the most powerful Aes Sedai we have seen in centuries.”

“I believe you may be a main character in this story.”

Moiraine managed to get Nynaeve to come with them on the way to Tar Valon through simple reverse psychology, and engages in a few bouts of irrationality before they get going.

 

How dare he mock my crying!

[…]

I can use it, woman! You told me so yourself. I can use it against you!

As much as I like Nynaeve, I don’t understand why she keeps fuming at Moiraine and swearing vengeance against her for so long, given that Moiraine has spent a large amount of time and risked her safety trying to keep Nynaeve and her friends safe.

Chapter 22: A Path Chosen

Okay, cool title, it has an ominous tree picture, let’s go.

In a small copse of trees, beneath a pile of cedar branches roughly cut in the dark, Perrin slept long after sunrise.

NOPE next time.

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 21

  1. reveen

    I’m seeing a lot of elements in this chapter specifically that make it look like Robert Jordan originally had something a lot more interesting planned for this series.

    We have the protagonists being distrustful of Aes Sedai to the point of paranoia, we also have the Children of the Light, who are the same except violently so. It’s almost as if that the protagonists were originally supposed to come from lands under the control of the Light regime and are brainwashed. Except we can’t have that, because the characters have to come from an idyllic village of basically good people, and not the kind of village that burns women at the stake, because Fantasy.

    And we have Nynaeve who keeps setting off heroes journey bells, has an Obi-Wan mentor, is more proactively disposed to heroism. It’s almost looks like she was originally supposed to be the protagonist until Jordan decided he needed a bunch of dudes to be the protagonists because fantasy is for dudes and dudes only want to read about dudes.

    Not that I’m actually saying that this is the case, but this is what it looks like from my limited perspective.

    Reply
  2. Elspeth Grey

    Between your recaps and the comments, I am getting REALLY enamored of the idea of basically rewriting this with Nynaeve as the protagonist, accompanied by Egwene, Moiraine, Lan, and maybe ONE boy as a distraction.

    This would also mean I could create a competent romance between Nynaeve and Lan.

    Reply
  3. Kitts

    People used to make fun of me in high school for liking Nynaeve, but I’ve always liked that even though she’s often petulant or bossy, she seems interested in being a decent human being, while everyone else gets caught up in giant destiny machinations or is really boring (sorry Perrin). Then again, I only made it halfway through the series, so I have no idea what happens to anyone.

    Reply
    1. braak

      yeah I kind of liked her too, and I also liked that somehow Jordan resisted the urge to make the solution to her channeling block something other than a sex thing

      (I realize that this is faint praise, but by that point in the series…I don’t know, I felt like we were pretty deep into Jordan’s kinks)

      Reply

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