In today's entry in my first read-through of A Crown of Swords, we switch the stage from Rand's company to Egwene and pals on the march northward. Aes Sedai politicking is abound in her chunk of chapters for the novel.
Chapter 8: The Figurehead
Egwene converses with Sheriam and Siuan in the Amyrlin’s tent, running through reports. Sheriam continues to challenge her authority, pushing for an extended rest for the army, and Romanda and Lelaine suggest a pay reduction for the increasing army of 30,000 soldiers. Egwene believes she has only the support of Delana amongst the Hall, and that tentatively.
Egwene asks Sheriam about the departure of ten sisters earlier, and she reluctantly reveals that, in retaliation for the Red Ajah’s ploy with Logain, she decided to have spies in the White Tower seemingly acquiescing to Elaida’s summons. They intended to spread the story about Logain. Egwene wonders if there are any spies in Salidar from the White Tower.
She senses a man channeling and removing Moghedien’s necklace through the bracelet. She attempts to stealthily return to Marigan’s tent, and finds her missing. Egwene returns to her tent, and reflects on the rumors about the Black Tower, but decides only a Forsaken could have done it. She lists the remaining male Forsaken: Asmodean (so she believes), Demandred, and Sammael.
So we officially begin Egwene’s portion of the novel. Although Jordan never switched around like George R.R. Martin, he usually doesn’t bunch the POVs together like it seems he does in this book. Or maybe it’s just me. I sorta prefer the ASOIAF style of doing it, when at least you’re with a different person and setting every time you start a chapter. Here, if you’re not interested in the story or the character, you’ll have to suck it up for a while. That’s one problem I had with The Shadow Rising (so I guess Jordan has done this before): at the time, I really wasn’t all that interested in Perrin, so reading through 6 or 7 of his chapters in a row when I wanted to return to Rand was irritating.
I do hope that’s not what happens here, especially with the slowed pace in this novel. I like Egwene’s recent character development and her politicking with the Aes Sedai, but not much really happened here. It’s more proof, though, that LoC’s Epilogue occurred after ACoS started, retelling Moghedien’s escape. Interesting also how many people still think Asmodean is still alive. I wonder when Rand at least will figure it out, as when it comes to the Forsaken, it’s rather important to keep count.
Chapter 9: A Pair of Silverpike
Egwene reveals Moghedien’s escape to Siuan and Leane. She thinks she can only trust them, Faolain, Theodrin, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Birgitte. Egwene decides to reveal some of Moghedien’s teachings to the Aes Sedai. She has Faolain and Theodrin investigate any strange men around the camp. Siuan refuses to have Egwene relieve her of her debt to Gareth.
Egwene walks to the enclosure for Traveling and Skimming, and reflects the message Sheriam received from Melana, briefly stating that they treated with Rand and his Asha’man and were accompanied by Verin and Alanna, the latter having an ‘attachment’ to Rand. Egwene distrusts Alanna, and cannot puzzle out the apparent attachment.
Egwene wishes to confront Rand, especially due to the possibility he still trusts Alviarin. She is approached by Nicola and Areina, who reveal that they overheard Thom and Juilin discussing Nynaeve and Elayne’s ruse as Aes Sedai on the trip to Salidar. They attempt to blackmail Egwene into giving Nicola quicker training, but she tolerates none of it.
More slow politicking, yay. Surprising that Faolain is on Egwene’s side, all I remember of her is that she was a tremendous bitch. And we still have Siuan and Gareth’s romance, which is definitely the most…peculiar in the series at the moment, which is saying quite a lot.
And damn, I want Egwene to know about Dumai’s Wells. Sorta important what happened over there, the little embassy turned into a tremendous clusterfuck, and now Aes Sedai from both sides are kneeling. That’s rather important for the Amyrlin to know, but I don’t see her finding out in the near future, considering Jordan’s penchant for keeping characters oblivious of various things. Also, I’m rather doubtful Rand still trusts Alviarin, ha-ha.
Finally, Nicola and Areina. I remember when those two, and Marigan, were gratuitously introduced in a chapter in TFoH, I had no idea why Jordan was wasting a time on Nynaeve and some friends on a boat. So, I had no clue Marigan was Moghedien, of course, which was a cool twist, but in the last two books, we’ve found Nicola and Areina becoming minor characters as well. Unlike Moghedien, though, they only serve to annoy. Good thing Egwene put em in their place, at least for now.
Chapter 10: Unseen Eyes
Egwene sends her foolish maid away and as she prepares to sleep, she spots a woman watching her tent. She enters Tel’aran’rhoid, delivering a message to Nynaeve and Elayne’s dreams (stressing the importance of the ter’angreal and the new problems with Nicola and Moghedien). She narrowly avoids Gawyn’s dream and meets with the Wise Ones in the Stone of Tear.
When Amys, Bair, and Melaine arrive, Egwene reveals her ascension to Amyrlin. The Wise Ones remain secretive concerning Rand. Egwene asks that they do not reveal to Rand her becoming Amyrlin. She also warns them about Moghedien.
Once Egwene returns to her body, she has more prophetic dreams: Gawyn approaching her barefoot over broken glass, Gawyn selecting between a road leading to violet death and one to prosperity, Egwene attempting to tear down a wall of black and white disks, Mat watching Illuminator’s fireworks, Egwene being beheaded by a headsman as somebody attempts to intervene, Logain stepping over something resembling Rand’s body, a golden hawk touching and attaching to her, a man dying on a bed with his funeral pyre prepared, and a dark young man holding a shining object.
So, Egwene’s storyline for ACoS hasn’t really been going anywhere, unfortunately. I do wonder who the woman was. Can’t be Moghedien, she’s off to Shadar Logoth. Enemy Aes Sedai? Forsaken (can’t imagine who? I don’t know, knowing Jordan we probably won’t be told for another six books.
I’m super frustrated Egwene didn’t learn about Dumai’s Wells in her little meeting with the Wise Ones, was groaning from all the secrecy. I guess some of it makes sense, but still, very, very irritating. And then dreams, cool. The stuff with Gawyn is pretty ambiguous. I don’t really understand the Mat part either. I feel like Illuminators and fireworks were referenced in his storyline before, but I can’t remember whatsoever. The Illuminators always seemed pretty irrelevant to the plot, and while I sort of remember Mat doing something with them a long, long time ago, I have no idea what their importance here is.
Egwene losing her head, that’s not difficult to interpret. Of course, being WoT, she’s not going to actually get executed, so I’m not particularly concerned. I wonder what the wall of seals means, or the deal with Logain. I suppose he’s heading Rand’s way, which should definitely mix things up with the Asha’man, but I can’t predict anything in his storyline beyond that. Can’t make much sense of the others either… I suppose we’ll find out about at least some of this later. I’m not all too fascinated, though. Too much dreams, too little progression going on here.
Chapter 11: An Oath
Egwene is confronted by Theodrin and Faolain in her tent, the latter revealing her strong dislike of Egwene, but agrees to swear total fealty to her. After she and Theodrin proclaim their oath, they are sent away with tasks.
Siuan approaches, still having trouble adjusting to her lack of influence and strength, and Egwene decides to have Myrelle accompany her when Siuan mentions something. Finally, Gareth Bryne approaches, informing her of a patrol’s discovery she should see. Egwene, Myrelle, and Siuan prepare to follow Gareth, but Romanda and Lelaine, and their respective sycophants, harry her.
She finally manages to escape with the other three and they ride through the Murandian countryside. Gareth believes the march will only become difficult upon entering Andor. He intends to besiege Tar Valon, and Egwene for the first time thinks of the consequences this will have on the innocent civilians. They plan to blockade the two harbors. The White Tower has indeed been breached before, although Aes Sedai have attempted to keep that secret.
This was a rather confusing chapter. Maybe I’m starting to slow up in the convolutions of Aes Sedai politics, as I’m really not understanding much of Egwene’s storyline this book. I feel like there’s more than meets the eye to everything that’s happening here, but I can’t say what. What did Siuan discover? What did Gareth discover? What’s Myrelle’s deal? Well, she has Lan, I almost forgot about that. Hmm.
Not much to say on Theodrin and Faolain, at least Egwene can better trust them now. I wonder what tasks they’ve been set to. And I suppose it’s realistic that the horrors of a siege hadn’t occurred to Egwene, as she can be rather naïve. Of course, I’m sure the actual siege won’t be happening for a few books, so she doesn’t have that to worry about for the time being.
Chapter 12: A Morning of Victory
Egwene, Gareth, Siuan, and Myrelle continue their slow ride. Myrelle is outraged that Bryne has been speaking with Talmanes, whose soldiers have been foraging closely behind the marching armies. They arrive at a caravan from Caemlyn, and Bryne fears the rumors that Rand had bowed to Elaida spreading into the camps from the merchants. Egwene is certain the rumor is false, and that the Aes Sedai will assure the soldiers of this the following day.
After Bryne leaves and Myrelle is pressured, the Aes Sedai loses her composure, thinking Egwene had discovered her secrets, and starts revealing them. Myrelle’s pity of Warders dying after their Aes Sedai perished encouraged her to accept Moiraine transferring Lan’s bond.
They arrive at a camp where Nisao and their collective Warders wait alongside Nicola and Areina. Nisao is intrigued by the mental implications of anguished Warders. Myrelle promises to pass Lan to Nynaeve, but that neither of them are prepared. Areina and Nicola have been blackmailing them.
Egwene chastises all of them, and Skims Lan to a location near Ebou Dar, where he promises to find and protect Nynaeve in Tarasin Palace. Upon returning, she forces Nisao and Myrelle to pledge fealty, and intends to have the remainder of Sheriam’s cronies swear as well. Egwene refuses to kill Nicola and Areina, as Siuan suggests.
Egwene returns to her tent to examine notes (Romanda suggesting questioning Aes Sedai about the Black Ajah, and Lelaine demanding all mention of said Ajah forbidden) and the headache that has been persisting since Logain vanished and Halima approached her worsens. Halima herself arrives with a note from Delana, who is trying to declare Elaida Black based on Halima’s discoveries from Cabriana. Halima eases her headache.
Wow, this was an insanely long chapter. And a damn tedious one. Okay, some important things happened here, but in comparison to the Prologue, it was a bitch to get through. So the Lan drama is making some progress, after being ignored since TFoH, save the little cameo in LoC. Good to see he’s off to unite with Nynaeve, hopefully resolving at least that romance. God knows we still have many ongoing. Rand and Min, Rand and Elayne, Mat and the Daughter of the Nine Moons, I guess you could say Egwene and Gawyn and Perrin and Faile as well. Damn.
At least Myrelle has submitted. I mean, she and Nisao were forced into pledging fealty, in comparison to Theodrin and Faolain, so in addition to the ethical implications (I can’t say I agree with what they were doing with Lan, so I’m not distraught over it), I’m not sure they can be entirely trusted. Nicola and Areina have been completely irritating, as usual. Enough with the blackmailing. I almost agree with Siuan, ha-ha. But no, killing is bad.
Of course, entirely wrong news is coming to the armies concerning Rand, which just sucks. They all need to know the Aes Sedai submitted to Rand, not vice versa. No matter what Egwene does, those rumors are gonna do some harm. Good to see Egwene can trust Gareth, though.
Halima! Something redeeming for this chapter! I am very eagerly waiting for when she strikes. There is some nefarious shit going down here. Halima’s up to more than just freeing Moghedien, that I’m certain of. Yeah, those headaches Egwene started having are obviously not connected to her, or her creepy massages, no way.