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Chapter 14: The Stag and Lion



- After noting how unremarkably similar things were to the Two Rivers on the journey to Baerlon, the similarity stops as the inside of the Stag and Lion is a bustling crowd that the Winespring Inn never saw.

- Thom strikes an interesting chord here. Even though he is a traveling Gleeman, and traveling anything are usually attentive to rumour and events, his muttering about finding out the news as he headed into the common room struck me as odd. I think this was when I really began to take notice of Thom as something more than a simple entertainer. Old habits die hard I guess, as his time as Court Bard in Caemlyn saw him manipulating Morgase to the throne(even though we don't find that out until much later in the series).

- An odd note here as well. Thom is noted as heading into the common room for "news", but when the men are led to the bath chamber moments later, he is with them? Could this be a mistake in which Lan was the one who went after 'news".

- We get another glimpse of Ta'averen work as the nearly mute bath attendant suddenly becomes chatty asking about troubles downcountry, the war in Ghealdan, and Trollocs in Saldea. He seems surprised to have talked so much...lol. Mat nearly blows it all with his attempt at braggin, but the others forestall him until Lan enters and ushers the attendant out. Lan again warns them about not drawing attention to themselves and shows an unnatural loss of cool when they slip again, going so far as to name Moiraine by her real name.

- Rand contemplates on the gravity of thier situation throughout the rest of the bath and into the private dining hall. He is curious about the woman dressed in breeches that Moiraine talks to, but is distratced by the little spat between him and Egwene. He is sobered by Lan's statements of mistrust, even in Tar Valon. There is a hint here that Lan might know Logain, but as far as I remember nothing is ever noted of it later. As they are shown to thier rooms, Rand decides to stay and sleep as Thom and Lan go downstairs.

- Rand begins to dream an odd dream with endless hallways and bizarre rooms. The view from the room is most likely a reflection of the skies over Shayol Ghul, again info that will be revealed later in the story. The blur of his reflection in the mirror here is important. I'm not sure I caught it the first time through, but it shows that the forces of the Dark do not know which of the three boys it is looking for, nor does it know what they look like. With his thoughts sliding away like butter, he is confronted by a man with a face of fire. The man identifies himself as Ba'alzamon(Who we later learn is Ishmael) and waxes poetic on the interactions of Rand and himself in "the dream".

- You have to wonder if the wine would have revealed Rand to Ishmael, had he drunk it. Ishmael continues challenging Rand on who he is. He revelas much as he monologues about his acts against Lews Therin Telamon, and his involvement in the Trolloc wars, as well as his deceit of Artur Hawkwing. He tells Rand that the Tower will use him as they used many Flase Dragons of the past(although we don't learn what the names mean until later). Ishmael breaks a rat's back, then begins to bend Rand the same way, waking him from the dream.

- Rand is now even more torn than before about trusting Moiraine and the White Tower as he lays huddled in chills and a headache that I attributed to the frantic dream this first time through. But, later I recognized this as the beginnings of his illness following his first touch of the One Power(remember this is one week after the flight in the night).

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I liked this chapter. We get more information on how the current situation stands, and Rand's dark dream goes a long way to reveal the nature of the enemy, on a very personal level. I found the dream really interesting, and very well written. I think it was the first direct confrontation between Ba'alzamon and Rand? If so, it's a great beginning to their series-long connection.


I must admit, I didn't make the connection regarding Rand's headaches and chills here. It was only on subsequent readthroughs that I put it together that this was his reaction to channelling.

Edited by Amethea

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Chapter 15: Strangers and Friends


- As Rand awakes from a restless sleep filled with dreams, he is quickly reminded of the physical weariness caused by long travel. Noticing that Thom and Lan are gone, he quickly dresses and descends to the kitchen where he witnesses an amusing banter between the innkeeper and the cook. At first glance this is another of those intricate, yet seemingly needless, bits of reading that seem to be more backstory and filler than necessity, but this is RJ, and the man was nothing if not thorough. In a few moments the importance of this conversation will become apparent in two ways. The first being the fact that a large number of rats were in the inn to begin with, given Moiraines presence and second, that the complaints were about all of the rats dead from broken backs. Neither the innkeeper nor the cook find this odd, but, it will stand out to the boys as well as to us the reader.

- Rand discovers that Perrin is still in his room and goes to check on him. They discover that both of them, and probably Mat as well, had the same dream. They are uncertain who to talk to about the dream as their trust is still misguided. After Rand leaves Perrin to rest, we are again reminded that Rand is not feeling well as his recent headache has worsened.

- As Rand heads out into the street his shock is apparent. He stares at a street crammed full of people, and he notes that they are all strangers....to each ther as much as to himself. This is enough to deter Rand from traveling beyond the stableyard. There is a suspicion raised here on Mutch the stablehand, but I do not recall it bearing any truth. We'll find out as we read, I guess. It is at this time that Min surprises Rand. She confronts him on the stubborness of Two Rivers folk, and causes him to baulk when she calls Moiraine by name. She then reveals her ability to him. I thought this a bit strange, given her usual preference to hide this ability from others. Is this due to Ta'averen pull, or is it because of the viewing that she will love him? Also of note....during thier conversation Rand notes that his headache is going numb, and his brain feels wool-packed, continuing the effects of channeling for the first time.

- Min reveals some viewings on several members of the party, and some of them hold much info. I'm not sure what the man juggling fire is, but the White Tower around Thom has to associate either his involvement in Owen's troubles, or his future ties to Moiraine. Perrin has a wolf and a broken crown. The wolf is obvious, and the crown is that of Saldean nobility. The final part about trees flowering all around, I am not sure about. Mat's are pretty obvious now as well. The red eagle of Manetheren, the eye on a balance scale being the eye he loses in Towers of Midnight, the ruby hilted dagger from Shadar Logoth, and the Horn of Valere. The laughing face is unexplained, unless it has to do with the Aelfinn calling him the trickster? Finally for Rand she sees, Callandor, the Crown of Illian, and the beggars staff, which seems to represent his trip to Ebou Dar in the Gathering Storm. She also sees premonitions of the Lake he creates at Rhuidean, as well as the bloody hand and white hot iron. The hand is probably the one he loses to Semhirage, but the Iron is a mystery to me. Finally a couple of viewings that indicate his death, and the ever present battle of light and shadow.

- She finally runs him off when she begins hinting at her viewing involving herself. She is cryptic as she speaks to him, but it becomes fairly obvious that there is an entangled future for them. She taunts him as he flees into the crowded street. I'll be honest, one of the few areas of RJ's works that I have difficulty with is tracking subplot info. I can't tell you how many times, early on, that I would mix up people like Sheriam and Shemerin, especially small characters from towns and villages who suddenly pop back up later on. Because of this I paid little real attention to these viewings on the first read through and did not look back when I thought any of them were fulfilled. It was only in rereads that I saw thier tie-ins.

- Immediately after fleeing from Min, we are again reminded that Rand is ill as his head feels like a balloon at this point. It is interesting just how blatant that RJ makes his illness and how trivial it seems on first reading. As Rand stares in awe at the open marketplace, we are given an economic size-up as he notes the expense paid for sub-par vegetables and fruit, and the eagerness at which said food was purchased. It is in his observation of the similarities of people to those back home that he spots Padan Fain.

- In the exchange with Padan Fain, who has apparently run the entire distance from Emond's Field to Baerlon, we see a frantic madness forming in him. This is the life that Fain led, cowering scent dog for the Dark One. That all changes soon in the dark of Shadar Logoth, but for now he is scared and paranoid. In Rand's naive trust he reveals the inn where they are staying, being the likely cause of the Myrdraal finding him later. While Rand offers help, Fain darts off into the crowd, and Rand runs into Mat. Rand confirms that Mat had the same rat dream, and again notes that he may be getting sick. In thier conversation, Rand reveals Min's viewings and Mat notes the Ruby dagger. Could this have led to Mat's interest in it later on? They do say that destiny strikes hardest at those who try to avoid it.

- At this point Rand's condition is deteriorating rapidly. He is left watching as Mat pulls a prank on three Whitecloaks passing by. When his laughter draws thier attention he finds himself alone in the street with them. With his judgement clouded, he is uncaring, non-chalant, and confrontational with the three. He feels as though he is on fire and ready to burst with energy. I wonder if this is merely a reaction, or if part of the reaction is that he embraced the Source again? The conversation is cut short when the town watch shows up and follows the Whitecloaks away.

- Rand is shaken when the energy he feels bursts like a popped bubble. He and Mat try to return to the inn, finding Thoom on the way. They relay the dream to Thom, who advises silence for the time being. Again we see the mistrust of the White Tower, even as he denies the concept of the Tower being involved with the false Dragons Ishmael mentioned. When they arrive at the inn, Perrin is rushing out to inform them that Nynaeve has arrived at the inn and is in conference with Moiraine.

Again we see TONS of info that has little or no meaning at this time, but becomes important later on.

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Chapter 16: The Wisdom


- So now the boys, and Thom, are making thier way down to face Nynaeve. Along the way Rand is pulled aside by Min, much to the annoyance of the others. She reveals to him that Nynaeve is involved with the group. Rand denies this possibility and also denies Min's comment that they are in greater danger with her arrival. Here is one of the many times throughout the series that RJ writes in behavior that doesn't quite fit. Min shaking her fist and stamping her foot has an overdone feel to it. It reminds me of stage-play. To many, character actors on live stage, are considered over-dramatic, but the truth is, you have to be. In movies and TV, you can use facial expressions much as you would in real life, but on stage your face is hard to see, so you must use your body for expression. This act of frustration by Min screams of over dramamtacism to me.

- As Rand rejoins his friends he lets slip that Nynaeve is involved before quickly trying to explain the comment away. Thom obviously doesn't buy it, but he doesn't press either.

- When they enter the room RJ gives a good feel of the tension in the room. I can imagine feeling the chill while standing to the side of that staring contest. Rand makes the first move to sit, and again you begin to see a difference between him and the others. I would almost expect Mat to be the first to sit, probably with some ill-timed quip that leaves him slunk down after the stares turn on him.

- The next little bit left confusion in me the first time I read it. The banter between Lan and Nynaeve, the shock and then respect shown by Lan, and the challenge and embarassment by Nynaeve, make for a pretty obvious "Ah-Ha!" moment later on. The WoT is a story heavily based on Fate and the inability to avoid it, and this is one of many points in the series where you can look back and say "Oh that's when it started."

- As the discussion rolls on we seean abundance of seemingly unimportant clues to the people in the room. Thom's knowledge of things beyond a normal Gleeman, Nynaeve's scorn of Aes Sedai(Moiraine in-particular), Rand's emerging leadership behavior, and Egwene's drive for greater things. As we are left wondering what would become of the private talk between Aes Sedai and Wisdom, Rand finds himself alone in the hallway. When Nynaeve exits, she comments to him on his growth, as a person, over the last week. She then discusses further what happened in the village after they left, leading to her being the one to come after them. We then learn that Moiraine was still trying to learn which of the boys was the one she sought. Nynaeve hid the fact that Rand was born outside the Two Rivers, but in the same breath confirmed to Rand that his fears about Tam's ramblings, were plausible. The chapter closes with a much calmer feel than it started with, even as we are again shown that Rand stands out more than the other two.

- Reading through this the first time, many of these facts don't hold the same importance that they do upon rereading. The first time through this was just a chapter with a big confrontation. In hindsight it lays the groundwork for much that occurs later.

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Sam, you are so right about most of this not making sense during my first read! The more we read RJ the more we are impressed, no? Makes his loss all the more poignant.




You probably want to tweak the email notification settings to just give us a link to the forum. Right now I can read this entire thread in my email. I confess it makes me lazy about actually visiting the forum!

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Chapter 17: Watchers and Hunters


- Left with dire thoughts, Rand decides to surround himself with a crowd. Heading to the Common Room, he finds a strangely awed audience listening to Thom. RJ gives us as much as he can here without sight or sound. It is very plausible to imagine a speaker so thoroughly motivating, that people listen rather than eat the food/drink right in front of them. In the RL Thom would make a good televangelist. This scene also brings up a recurring gripe for me in the series. It is nearly impossible to put an effective tune to the songs throughout Randland. Many are written as either a four line stanza, or a two line repetative stanza, but I never feel like the timing I put in my head is adequate for the songs as I read them. Very frustrating.

- Rand decides a dance would do him good. Rand joins into what seems best described as a sort of "barn dance" or "Contra Dance." He seems sure footed until a series of events distract him. The first is the dour, scar-faced man glaring at Rand. We discover that he is a Whitecloak spy, which would explain the scowl, but he seems a little too interested in Rand here. Nothing really seems to come of this fellow, except ,maybe the later encounter at the gates. The question is wether he just happens to be here, or if he followed the boys after the scene in the street. The second and third are Nynaeve and Moiraine. I remember amusing myself at the stumbling he goes through. I think it fits his character values very well, and reminds us that he is a simple shepard/farmer.

- As the dancing scene goes on, Scar-face glares, Rand regains his sure-footedness, and we are given a reminder of the strain on Rand and Egwene's relationship. Upon first reading, it plays out exactly as it reads...their relationship is crumbling due to varied reactions to a life changing event. Rand tries desperately to remain the same, and Egwene now strives to change everything about herself. Later re-reads though also reveal a second portrayal...one in which we see the beginning of the rift between them that will possibly be the major factor in the negotiations to take place in aMoL.

- As the party winds down, Lan hustles everyone off to bed. With a warning he allows Rand to go to the kitchen for some milk. Here we get a hint at the "senses" that Moiraine talked about in the previous chapter. I have to say that having the Warder say that something felt wrong, would be a huge warning flag for me. However, it can also be understood how the boys would miss this sign. They are still just too young and too soon removed from their simple lives. This of course come to a head when Rand is confronted in the hall by a fade. I must say that the descriptions here show one of the creepiest creatures I have ever read about. RJ is pretty descriptive about how paralyzing the sight of the fade is to Rand, it makes me want to throw salt on the fade and see if he bubbles up.

- The fade seems to be both interrogating and taunting at the same time. This is also the fist time one has been close to any character in the series. In my first reading I still hadn't formed a formal image of fades as a whole, but later rereads pretty much embalzoned one fact in my mind....this fade smiles. A seemingly innocuous move, it is a blatant slap in the face to those who are a few books deepas fades show no emotions. Is this the first appearance of Shaidar Haran? We know that SH is a little larger than the average Myrddraal, but it's relative size is not described here.

- The fades questions are cut short by the Warder's approach. After it flees, Rand finds his voice and muscles again, better late than never, and learns they will be leaving post-haste. Moiraine does her best to prepare Master Fitch for the coming darkfriends. The group makes their way in fear-filled silence to the Caemlyn Gate where some political wordplay by Moiraine gets the gate opened for them. Before they can leave however Bornhald has returned with some of the Whitecloaks. Rand recognizes Bornhold's voice and hides at the mention of the Draghkar. We witness first-hand the one-sided thought process that drives the CoL. Bornhald soon sees Rand and immediately calls them for darkfriends. Unable to waste anymore time, Moiraine uses the One Power to frighten and befuddle the White dloaks, making herself appear giant. The party rushes out of the city as the Whitecloaks are locked inside and again we are off in a hurry, but not before they see smoke indicating a large fire.....probably the Stag & Lion.

- After another challenge by Nynaeve on the Aes Sedai's choices, they resume their flight, stopping for an hours rest. In a glimpse into Mat's character, he suddenly remembers the badger they were going to use to scare the girls and wonders what ever became of it.

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