Welcome back to another edition of "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. Sorry for the long delay, but we are getting back to the story now, reading chapters 19 - 21 of The Eye of the World.
Chapter 19, "Shadow's Waiting"
The group enters Shadar Logoth, a city full of ruins. They pick out a building and make a place to rest inside, with the horses being stabled in a back room. Thom, Rand, Mat, and Perrin take the horses and brush and feed them. Thom goes to smoke his pipe, and Mat convinces Rand and Perrin to go exploring.
In their wanderings, a man calls out to them from the shadows of a building. He says his name is Mordeth and he asks the boys to help him carry treasure. Mat rushes after the man, and Perrin and Rand reluctantly follow. Inside the building is a big pile of gold. They mention that the others could come help and Mordeth questions them. When Mat answers that they are going to Tar Valon, Mordeth grows angry. Rand suddenly realizes that Mordeth doesn't have a shadow. Mordeth inflates, cutting off half the room. Mordeth shrieks and curses the boys, then stretching out like smoke, he disappears into a hole in the wall.
The boys run from the room, out of the building, and into the fading sunlight. From the shadows around them, they feel watching eyes. They rush back to Moiraine and the others. Nynaeve scolds them, but Moiraine asks them what happened. They explain about Mordeth. Moiraine hisses and makes sure that Mordeth didn't touch them, and that they didn't take anything from him. Rand says they didn't. Moiraine explains that Mordeth was an advisor to the king of Aridhol during the Trolloc Wars. Mordeth corrupted the king with his words, and soon the whole city was using means as evil as the Shadow to hunt the Shadow. Everyone in Aridhol was consumed and Mashadar—the evil power born of their hate and suspicion—was born. Mashadar still lurks in the city, and Mordeth too.
They all try to sleep. Sometime later, Lan returns from scouting and tells Moiraine that Trollocs and Myrddraal are in the city. He wonders what could have forced the Myrddraal in. The group decides to leave and make for the river—hoping for a boat to give them passage.
Chapter 20, "Dust on the Wind"
The group heads out on their horses. Rand notices he and the others are falling behind the Warder and Aes Sedai. He quickens his step, but Moiraine tells him to stop. A think tendril of Mashadar has blocked the path. Moiraine tells them to follow the red star east and meet up at the river. Rand is the first to move, so everyone follows him.
Rand and company run into a group of Trollocs and everyone scatters. Rand runs through the streets alone, pursued by Trollocs and a Fade. The Shadowspawn get caught by Mashadar, and Rand continues on. He runs into Mat and they leave through a city gate. Outside the walls, Thom rides by and yells them to run. Rand does, but worries about Egwene.
Perrin sits by a city gate, weighing his options. Egwene appears on the other end of the square and they leave together. Outside, a Trolloc horn sounds behind them, and they race ahead. Bela is slowing down, and Perrin yells at her to hurry. Suddenly, he and his horse fall off a cliff into the river. He takes off his cloak to keep from being pulled under, but won't take off his axe. He finally makes it to the opposite shore.
Rand, Mat, and Thom are trying to find the red star to lead them to the river. When they finally spot it, they head off in that direction. Trollocs appears behind them and Mat kills some with arrows. Thom kills some with his throwing knives. As they approach the river, they see a lantern on a boat. With more Trollocs behind them, they board the boat quickly.
As they do so, Rand accidently steps on Floran Gelb, the night watchman on the ship. A Trolloc manages to knock Rand down and get aboard the ship. As Rand thinks his luck is up, a boom comes loose and throws the Trolloc overboard.
The captain of the ship, Bayle Domon, appears and demands to know what happened. Gelb says that Rand attacked him, and that Rand was in league with the Shadowspawn. Domon disagrees, saying that the Trollocs have followed him. The captain takes Rand, Mat, and Thom below and wants to know how they came to be in Shadar Logoth. Thom tells a fanciful story, which Domon seems to believe. They arrange a price for their passage—Rand and Mat giving away the coins Moiraine gave them. Thom asks Domon about the Trollocs following him, and Domon says they've chased the boat since Saldaea.
After leaving the captain's cabin, Thom berates the boys for giving away so much money. He says he could have given them songs and entertainment as their fee. Mat doesn't think so, and Rand is only worried about Egwene.
Chapter 21, "Listen to the Wind"
Nynaeve wakes up alone. She and her horse head down river, trying to read the tracks, but she is unable to read them clearly. She remembers that the night before Trollocs had chased her, but when they caught her scent, they stopped. They knew the smells of those they want.
She smells fire, and tying her horse up, sneaks close to the camp. It's Lan and Moiraine. She listens to their conversation. Lan wonders how so many Trollocs came there so quickly, and where they all went to—only a small group heads towards Whitebridge. Moiraine tells him that one boy is alive across the river, and the other two had given away their coins. Lan wonders if the Shadowspawn heading towards Whitebridge had them, and Moiriane refuses to accept that. She will expect opposition from other Aes Sedai, and the Amyrlin, but—she realizes Nynaeve is hiding in the bushes and calls her out.
Nynaeve demands to know what she is scheming. Instead of answering, Moiraine says that Nynaeve can learn to channel. Moiraine goes into detail about the experiences Nynaeve had when she first touched the Source, and that she must have Healed either Egwene or Perrin. Nynaeve tires to deny it, but the evidence is too strong. She asks Moiraine not to repeat any of this. Nynaeve still demands to know what Moiraine wants with the boys. Moiraine says that she will not let the Dark One have what he wants.
Nynaeve says she will come with, and Lan goes off to fetch her horse. Nynaeve questions Moiraine about which boys they are going after, and why they don't try to find Egwene. Moiraine says the boys are the most important at the moment. Nynaeve is filled with sorrow, thinking that she is forced to pick between which of the children to rescue. Lan comes back with her horse, and she gets angry at him for seeing her cry. They set off, and Nynaeve realizes that if she can channel, she can use the Power against Moiraine.
I think this will be a Nynaeve heavy post. I've made no attempt to hide my love for Nynaeve, though I know others don't find her nearly as enduring. Despite her annoying tendencies, she is a strong and capable woman, with a big heart and a desire to help and heal everyone. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll get into more about Nynaeve in just a bit.
First, I want to look at what Thom says about Mat's speaking of the Old Tongue. He tells the boys that the "dead can be reborn, or take a human body, and it is not something to speak of lightly." This is curious to me, because we know all people are reborn in the Pattern, but we don't yet know about the Dark One's abilities to put a dead person back into a human body. In fact, I don't think the Dark One has had the access to the world to do that in a very long time. How would Thom know about this dreadful power? Just through old stories passed down? Very curious.
I'm also a little fuzzy on the connection—at this point in time—between Mordeth and Mashadar. Mordeth was a corrupt man, who bewitched the King of Aridhol into using evil methods. For this corruption, Mashadar was formed. Yet the two are separate beings. Mordeth has some of the same abilities, like the tendrils of smoke, but Mashadar is a mindless parasite (almost like the Machin Shin). But Mordeth must have some unnatural powers from Mashadar, or else how could he still be alive to haunt the ruins of Shadar Logoth? So is there a connection at all?
Doing a search on Theoryland's wonderful interview database doesn't pull up a single question asking about the two of them together. There's Mashadar and Fain, and there's Mordeth and Fain, but not Mashadar and Mordeth. This is very odd to me. It seems they would logically be grouped together, both being the last citizens of a dead city. We'll find out more about the connection with Fain later, but I'm still left wondering about other two. Perhaps one rules the days and the other the nights?
And when Rand, Mat, and Perrin come back from their encounter with Mordeth, Nynaeve scolds them so fiercely, stating that, "Lan is out looking for you now, and you'll be luckier than you deserve if he does not pound some sense into the lot of you when he gets back." All I can hear when she says this is, "Wait until your father gets home!" They're not married yet, but Nynaeve sure acts like it. This makes me giggle each time I read it.
And so we move onto the Nynaeve bits. I think Moiraine confronting her about her channeling is one of the best-written scenes in the series. It seems so inconsequential at the time, at least to us. For Nynaeve, it's a life changer. She goes from being a respect woman, to having a terrible secret, one she never wants anyone to find out. This changes her drastically. We learn a lot of her personality here. When Moiraine is describing the first unconscious channeling, she says, that there was something that Nynaeve "wanted more than anything else in the world." And what was that? Healing Egwene. We see later that Moiraine's first channeling was to eavesdrop. Most Wilders in the Tower had similarly selfish desires. Nynaeve only wanted Egwene to get better.
And before you argue that Rand used his first channeling to save Egwene too, look at the details between them. Rand has believed for the past six or eight years that he's going to marry Egwene. Nynaeve just babysat her on occasion. Rand has a deep love for Egwene at this point. Nynaeve had no special connection, probably no more than to any of the other village children. That takes someone with a very pure and noble heart to have that be their top concern. She didn't want a pretty dress, or her father to buy her things, she only wanted people to get better.
This scene is also wonderful in the way it parallels Rand's own channeling experiences. This is the work of master storyteller Robert Jordan once again. We are so caught up in the experience as it relates to Nynaeve that we overlook the same things happening to Rand. It's so simple, and staring us straight in the face, but it's easy to overlook. It's clever and really gives a great reveal at the end when we are able to put all the pieces together.
It's interesting that we meet Bayle Domon so early in the series. He's so easy to dismiss, but he does wind up playing a more important role later. And it's not obvious now, but we do learn later that the Trollocs actually are following him because he has one of the Seals to the Dark One's prison. Too bad Rand didn't know more about his true self and his goals by this time. It might have saved him some trouble.
And there's one last thing I question about these three chapters, why does Moiraine expect opposition from the Amyrlin? She says, "Opposition from within the White Tower, even from the Amyrlin Seat, I accept. There are always Aes Sedai who will accept only one solution." The one solution is Gentling Rand, and I do believe many Aes Sedai insisted on that course—even Verin hints towards that in The Great Hunt. And other Aes Sedai do doubt her, and fight her. But why would Siuan? They've been plotting this for the past twenty years. There's no way Siuan would go against her in any fashion. The only answer I have is that she suspects that Siuan won't be Amyrlin for much longer.
That's all I've got for today. With this first switch in point-of-views, the story really picks up the pace! Join us next time for the next few chapters of The Eye of the World. Thanks for reading!