Chapter 41: Old Friends and New Threats
Rand runs back to the Inn, all sweaty and befuddled after his brief foray into the Princess Zone.
Lamgwin [a security dude employed by the Inn] was sitting on a bench by the door, a brindle cat in his arms, when he came running up.
Apparently a brindle cat is like one of those tortoiseshell cats with the patchwork fur. I’ve never seen them referred to that way anywhere else.
Rand tells the Innkeeper Gill and Loial about his princess experience, and Loial mutters “Ta’varen”. Shhh stop thinking about how unlikely it is that Rand would sit on the wall of the palace without realizing where he was or that he’d just happen to fall at the princess’ feet it’s destiny SHHH.
Gill announces that Rand and Mat need to skedaddle within two days at the very most, because that’s how long it will take the Queen’s Guards to search every Inn in the city at Elaida’s behest (how does he know that?). Loial once again requests to come with them, and this time Rand bows to narrative inevitability and agrees.
As exciting as yet more endless travelling would surely be, we don’t get to read about it quite yet. Instead a bunch of Whitecloaks burst in looking for Rand, and when they insult the Queen all the men unsheathe their weapons and act all tough and manly and shit while the serving maids flee the room (remember how this is a matriarchal culture?) and they send the Whitecloaks running.
“No worries about that, lad. The Queen’s Guards still uphold the law, even if they do let traitors strut around showing white. As for the night . . . well, Lamgwin and his friends might not get much sleep, but I could almost pity anybody who tries to put a mark on my door.”
It’s interesting to think how this scene would be written differently depending on the level of idealism inherent in the story. In your post-Martin gritty grimdark work, one of the Children would offer Lamgwin more money than Gill is paying him to let them in, which would show how everyone is secretly a greedy asshole and people would read it and be all amazed at how it’s totally edgy and real, man. Here, I have no doubt that Lamgwin is a proper upstanding sort who’d never betray an employer once he’s given his word.
“Off with you, girl,” the innkeeper said sharply. “And keep quiet about what you’ve heard. It’s nobody’s business.”
THIS FANTASY CULTURE IS SO MATRIARCHAL, UNLIKE ALL OF THE OTHER GENERIC FANTASY SETTINGS
A woman shows up looking for Rand, and it turns out to be Egwene, with the rest of the cast in tow. Earlier I claimed that the characters end up scattered and drifting further and further apart into their own storylines after being separated, but clearly I was conflating events from slightly later in the series with what goes down in this book. Jordan was evidently still able to keep the disparate plot threads connected at this early stage, something he quickly stopped prioritizing.
Rand tried to hug the two women and shake Perrin’s hand,
Hasn’t Rand known Perrin since they were both children? If you thought your childhood friend had been eaten by not-Orcs and you hadn’t seen him in weeks, would you really shake his hand during your reunion?
He could not get over being back together. It was nearly as if he were home again. He could not stop grinning.
Since the story moved into Caemlyn, the quality of the writing has been going downhill. In particular, Rand’s already-flatlining personality is becoming even duller and less pronounced. He’s not all that far from Eragon territory at this stage.
They all go to Mat’s bedside, where Moraine confirms what everyone else worked out ages ago: the dagger he took from the haunted city place is cursed, and it’s basically turning him into Gollum.
The Fades are building their numbers in the countryside. That’s plain enough from the sign, if you know what to look for. Already there are more Trollocs than they need just to watch all the ways out of the city, a dozen fists, at least.
I think Jordan might be over-estimating the emptiness of the countryside surrounding a Ye Olde History-period city. Would literal armies of beastmen actually be able to hide out in rural areas without anyone noticing? What would they eat?
“Better we were all dead,” Perrin said suddenly, and Rand jumped at the echo of his own thoughts.
Perrin continues to be the worst character, I see.
Moiraine sends everyone out of the room and announces that she’s going to try and de-Gollumify Mat. I’m on tenterhooks waiting to see if she succeeds.