In which Egwene and Nynaeve arrive at the White Tower, Rand lends Selene a shirt, Rand earns the moniker “Shadowkiller,” we are given a slight introduction to the Choedan Kal, Moiraine and Lan reminisce over their meet-cute, Moiraine tells Lan their bond will be passed, and Lan saves Moiraine from a Draghkar.
I loved the “Shadowkiller” set piece as a kid and still love it (although the moniker isn’t given until later). I like Selene’s role in these chapters a lot more than her role in the last tranche. There are a couple big introductions—the Choedan Kal! Sheriam!—but the heart of these chapters is the exploration of the relationship between Moiraine and Lan.
Sheriam will play a big role much later in the series, and there is that shocking reveal, but it is the introduction to Tar Valon that grabs my attention here.
The island was so big it looked more as if the river split in two than contained a bit of land. Bridges that seemed to be made of lace arched from either bank to the island, crossing marshy ground as well as the river. The walls of the city, the Shining Walls of Tar Valon, glistened white as the sun broke through the clouds. And on the west bank, its broken top leaking a thin wisp of smoke, Dragonmount reared black against the sky, one mountain standing among flat lands and rolling hills. Dragonmount, where the Dragon had died. Dragonmount, made by the Dragon’s dying.
I like the scene where Selene wears Rand’s shirt, and the scenes with the Carhienien, but Selene remains hilariously off the mark in trying to use glory to sell Rand.
It sets up Rand’s reluctance to even enter the Void when he fights Turak at the end of the book. It sets up a tie to the wolves that will be relevant for Dumai’s Wells and the Last Battle. But Rand sneaking into the Trolloc camp, grabbing the Horn and the Dagger, and escaping while killing a number of Trollocs is a great scene in its own right. Gone is the farm boy with hay in his hair tripping over his sword. The Rand of The Great Hunt can singlehandedly slay grolm with his bow and Trollocs with his sword.
Where get a lot of Moiraine and Lan’s backstory here that would be expanded on in New Spring. We learned at the end of The Eye of the World that Lan is the uncrowned king of a murdered Borderland nation. Here Jordan hints at how such a man came to be Moiraine’s Warder.
“Your humility, Lan Gaidin, has always been more arrogance than most kings could manage with their armies at their backs. From the first day I met you, it has been so.”
Moiraine is wise by now to Lan’s divided loyalties, but I think she is wrong to ascribe them entirely to Lan’s relationship with Nynaeve. He has loyalty to Rand independent of that. Moiraine is a little sexist in her thinking, assuming a woman is responsible (women being the ones more usually exercising agency in the world of The Wheel of Time). But Lan’s desire to help Rand has a lot to do with the challenges of being a man in a woman’s Aes Sedai world.
“A young wolfhound must meet his first wolf someday, but if the wolf sees him as a puppy, if he acts the puppy, the wolf will surely kill him. The wolfhound must be a wolfhound in the wolf’s eyes even more than in his own, if he is to survive.”
Here it is revealed for the first time that Moiraine has arranged for Lan’s bond to be passed to Myrelle (and, rather obviously, eventually to Nynaeve). Fal Dara, of course, was the only time Moiraine is around other Aes Sedai in numbers and thus in a position to do something like that. It is a magnanimous gesture on her part, but also one showing a desire to continue to spit in Sightblinder’s eye well after her own death. Moiraine is nothing if not committed to the cause.
Interestingly, unlike Aes Sedai, Lan never compares Moiraine’s arrangement to rape, so I will leave discussion of that analogy for another time.
Moiraine is wrong about Rand and Lan, but she is right about Nynaeve and Lan.
She thought of Nynaeve and cracks in a wall. Without trying, without thinking what she was doing, that young woman had put cracks in Lan’s walls and seeded the cracks with creepers.
Moiraine is a little too dismissive about how much Aes Sedai need to worry about Taim and Logain (it occurs to me now that the former is always referred to by his last name and the latter by his first name).
You can find all of my reread posts at The Wheel of Time Reread Index.