Chapter 16 (Tellings of the Wheel): So Rand is trying to shore up his power base and legitimacy in Andor. He has this meeting with some important Andoran nobles. Rand states his intention to only hold the throne till Elayne can be brought to Caemlyn. A couple of the nobles think House Trakand should be removed from the throne altogether, and pledge their support to the Lady Dyelin. Problem is, Dyelin promptly throws her weight behind Elayne. Now, Morgase did alienate a bunch of her longtime allies when she was under Rahvin's Compulsion, so it's no surprise that there would be a move to put a new house on the throne. But it seems like awful tactics to back someone who doesn't want it, and who furthermore supports the existing heir. Rand mentions that the wine he served them was chilled with the Power, which disturbs them a good deal. Likely being reminded of the fact that Rand is a channeling man gives them the willies. Well, it gives me the willies too, given the way the last Age ended. As they wind it up, another push for Dyelin as queen is made, and she still backs Elayne instead of herself. Dyelin speaks with Rand privately before leaving, and asks who his parents were. She thinks he bears a strong resemblance to Tigraine, who used to be Daughter Heir years ago. It seems that Tigraine disappeared and rumor has it that Gitara Moroso was involved somehow. Rand knows that Shaiel, his biological mother as the Aiel knew her, was not born Aiel, and Gitara sent her to become Aiel and join the Maidens. So it seems pretty clear that Tigraine was his mother. Rand's whole world is shaken. The sort of reaction you expect the average sheep-herder to have when finding out his real mother was royalty. before Rand can leave Caemlyn, he gets a messenger from Sammael of all people. Sammael offers a truce, which would have Sammael standing by doing nothing while Rand takes out the other Forsaken. Rand angrily refuses, and the messenger... suddenly dies. I've heard of the recipient of a bad message blaming the messenger, but not so much with the sender. I have doubts as to how much Sammael would have kept to this deal anyway.
Chapter 17 (The Wheel of a Life): Rand goes off to Cairhien. Things don't look like they have calmed down much there. The Shaido are building holds in Cairhienin territory. They mean to stay, to sort of colonize Cairhien. The Cairhienin have begun blowing winds of change. Women are inspired by the Maidens and schools of combat begin teaching them how to fight. The Aiel are offended, though, because the Cairhienin women are learning to fight with swords! As any Aiel knows, swords are bad. Worse, some Cairhienin are starting to dress in white and act as servants, and call themselves gai'shain, even though they weren't taken in battle, and haven't incurred any debt of honor to anyone. So the Aiel are just generally offended. But when it comes to all things Cairhienin, it doesn't take much to offend an Aiel.
Chapter 18 (A Taste of Solitude): Not much about this chapter leaps out at me. Rand goes off to visit the school he founded in Cairhien, and several wondrous inventions are shown off. A printing press and a telescope could be most useful in their own ways, although I suppose a six-furrow plow will help agriculture get back on its feet whenever the drought is over. Idrien's big, long-range crossbow has already shown itself useful. Rand's own school is spying on him, as they knew he was coming. Cut to Egwene, who is still being excluded from whatever the Aiel Wise Ones are up to. So she goes to Rand's rooms in Cairhien, and only finds Aviendha's sister Niella, who is gai'shain. She is unwilling to talk about Aviendha. Rand comes in after Niella leaves, and tries to use his whole ta'veren thing on Egwene to get her to tell where Elayne is. Egwene gets mad and walks off. Rand thinks about how much Egwene has changed. Now, Rand has changed a lot too. It hasn't been lost on him that he is different than he used to be. The thought of compelling Egwene - especially Egwene - into anything would be inconceivable for him back in his Two Rivers days. Not just that he would have the ability to even try, but shocking ethically as well. Never mind that he didn't try to compel her consciously; he didn't seem to be aware he was doing it. One thing I did notice here was that he says he intends to make Elayne Queen of Andor and Cairhien! Now Elayne is the Daughter Heir, so with Morgase presumed dead - as far as Rand or anyone else connected to him knows - that makes her the legitimate successor in Andor. But how does Rand mean to justify putting Elayne on the Sun Throne in Cairhien?