Chapter 10 (A Saying in the Borderlands): Well, this chapter floored me a bit. Sooner or later, Rand was going to find some Aes Sedai in Caemlyn. It's just to pivotal a location for them to stay away from. Caemlyn is not only a major city. It also happens to be a centrally located major city in Randland, and the capital of the strongest nation. But I didn't think of Verin and Alanna stopping there, although for the reasons I just gave, perhaps I should have. I had no idea they'd found that many Two Rivers girls to take to join the Aes Sedai! I knew they found an above average number, but this is a huge number! Rand talks with Verin and Alanna alone, and learns they have only recently found out about the Tower split. Neither one is willing to tell him anything they might know about the rebel Aes Sedai, including where they are holed up. And then out of nowhere... Alanna bonds Rand without warning, without getting his consent at all! What the...? Is this even allowed for an Aes Sedai? I can't help but wonder what repercussions there will be for Alanna down the road on this. The two Sisters try to shield Rand, but he winds up shielding them instead. I suppose it helps that he has the little fat man ter'angreal in his pocket. Rand bans them from the Inner City (including the palace). Then he goes out to find that the girls have all heard about him being the Dragon, which they don't believe. Rand puts on a scary show to convince them. Happy Halloween, girls, and welcome to Caemlyn.
Chapter 11 (Lessons and Teachers): Verin and Alanna deal with the aftermath of Rand's visit. First, they have to calm the girls down. A little tea spiked with brandy helps. Here we learn that Alanna is still emotionally distraught over losing a Warder in Book Four, and Verin decides on some sort of plan to take advantage of it. Verin seems surprisingly forgiving of Alanna bonding Rand without his consent, even though it hasn't been done in centuries. Not counting Elayne bonding Birgitte, since Verin doesn't even know about it, and Birgitte was fine with it afterward anyway. I don't know just what the Aes Sedai attitude is to a forced bonding yet, just that they are rare and, according to Verin's thoughts, against custom. Whether it actually breaks Tower law is another question. Part of Verin being okay with it is explained by her thinking she has broken a few customs in her time as well. I'd also chalk some of it up to Aes Sedai arrogance (of which we've already seen plenty in this book from Sheriam and company) in believing that Aes Sedai are entitled to do whatever they think is best, regardless of however much it manipulates others or meddles in their affairs. Part of Verin probably thinks Alanna is entitled to bond Rand if she wants to bond Rand. I'd love to know what Verin has done in the past, and what skeletons she has in her closet.
Cut to Rand leaving the inn. He seems to want to get as far away from the inn as he can, but distance won't make the bond in his head go away. Rand Travels to The Farm, and warns Taim about the Aes Sedai in the city. Rand makes Caemlyn off limits to the male channelers. Taim wants to use Traveling to do his own recruiting; it seems that not only would it speed up finding men but also that Taim doesn't trust Bashere or the Aiel. I think I trust Bashere and the Aiel more than I trust Taim. He just doesn't seem to be playing straight with Rand. We have three possibilities with Taim here. One, Taim is a Darkfriend., Two, Taim isn't working for the Dark One at all, but is looking out for his own power base. This is the one that I like at this point in my reading. Taim had a sizable following up until his capture, and some of his followers even tried to break him free. He had been setting himself up for a bit of conquest, now all of a sudden he is serving Rand. He doesn't think too well of this situation, and hasn't seemed very enthusiastic about some of Rand's orders. Saying that Taim disagrees with Rand's decisions would be putting it mildly. Three, Taim is going to wind up being loyal to Rand, and quite useful to the plot as a total red herring. Maybe Jordan wants us to distrust Taim while he springs the real traitor in the ranks from somewhere unexpected. If this last option proves true, and Taim is a red herring, then I'd bet on the real traitor being either Bashere or someone highly placed among the Aiel. None of them have seemed at all untrustworthy to me yet, but Taim doesn't trust them. Maybe his mistrust is a foreshadowing?
Chapter 12 (Questions and Answers): I get the funny feeling that Moghedien isn't being fully forthcoming with Nyn and Elayne. This whole thing about detecting men who can channel, for one thing. She knows more than she has told them. Nyn eavesdrops on the Hall's meeting with the Tar Valon emissary. Negotiations sound like they are at an impasse, whatever is being discussed. Then after Tarna Feir stalks off, Nyn hears them talking about some "biddable child." Going by the previous conversation among the Salidar Cabal... er, Hall, excuse me..., I'm guessing this refers to their discussions on choosing a new Amyrlin. They talk about sending a message and summoning a "her". So they've picked someone, it sounds like, but that someone isn't in Salidar. Someone they think can be manipulated who won't have any real power, and that someone is young. Who? I think that they have taken Siuan's advice to choose someone who wasn't in the White Tower during Elaida's coup. The problem is, what Aes Sedai is young enough to make a good puppet and still be accepted by the rank and file in Salidar? Since the Tower is split, any choice that isn't respected will result in mass defections back to Tar Valon... or worse, a third Aes Sedai faction will establish itself. Theodrin catches her eavesdropping, and doesn't call her on it or alert the Hall to her presence, just takes her off to the scheduled channeling lesson around the anger block. Why is Theodrin keeping Nyn's secret? Blackmail? Or does Theodrin also have a secret or two, so she sympathizes? And who is the woman watching them from a second-floor window somewhere that they don't see?