In this section, Nynaeve becomes Accepted, while Thom declines to join the Hunt.
The viewpoint characters are getting ever more numerous. Some of the viewpoints, such as Min’s and Thom’s, are kept necessarily short to maintain the pace, even as they expand the scope of the story. One purpose of these viewpoints is to remind the reader that as ta’veren, Rand affects every character he encounters, Else, Gawyn, Elayne, random farmers, Min, and more, prompting them to move where the Pattern needs them. Verin and Moiraine have made this observation, just as Gawyn does right before Rand has an incredibly fortuitous meeting with Thom. The power of ta’veren is an incredibly useful plot device that satisfactorily explains away any number of improbable encounters and events. The more people Rand meets, the more this plot device can be used. The broad array of people from every walk of life that Rand meets also serves to illustrate that he is destined to save all humanity. Saving the World means more if you see more of the world you’re saving.
Through ta’veren, the Pattern uses people as pawns to allow Rand to fulfill his destiny, burn their freedom. The human equivalent is Daes Dae’mar, the Game of Houses. Every action of the Cairhienin nobility is aimed at gaining advantage, burn the wishes of the pawns. Perhaps the intensity of the game in Cairhien is due to the fact that the political structure is less rigid than other hierarchies, so scheming for advantage is worthwhile to anyone who plays. In a short time, Caldevwin has already demonstrated inordinate political acumen for an officer supervising an earth-moving project. Loial has heard King Galldrian is a disgrace, trying to buy prestige and stability with bread and entertainers. No sooner has Rand unpacked than letters to bring him into the game begin arriving. Rand’s determination to not be used by Ba’alzamon, Aes Sedai or the Cairhienin nobles will soon include his unwillingness to be used by the Pattern. Despite being a master at Daes Dae’mar, Thom cannot win the game the Pattern is playing with him.
Nynaeve also has little choice but to follow the path put before her. Her revenge, her pursuit of Lan, her desire to protect Rand, all depend on following the rules of the White Tower. She has already begun to bend those rules, taking satisfaction in passing the test for Accepted by cheating with her use of the One Power to make the exit arch reappear. The world inside the ter’angreal has properties of the World of Dreams, in which Nynaeve can create thorns to pierce her palms, in which force of will can alter the reality before her to bring the vanished archway back into existence. Were the thorns crafted of the Power, of dreamstuff, or were they real? Nynaeve’s test involved a number of never before seen oddities. Did these oddities happen because Nynaeve is a woman of extraordinary willpower and strong sense of identity, or is there some other force at work? The holes in Nynaeve’s palms are reminiscent of another saviour figure. As male/female parallels begin to show up more and more often, why shouldn’t the saviour of humanity have a female equivalent? Her testing involved a trinity of trials, threatening her body, her ‘family’, and her love; her past, present and future. I’ll keep an eye out for other subtle hints that Nynaeve is the female equivalent to Rand, the saidar to his saidin.
Egwene’s low key romance with Rand hits several bumps as Else, Min, and Elayne are reintroduced. Min knows she will fall in love with Rand and has dropped hints that Elayne might be in the same boat. Galad serves as the male equivalent in beauty to Lanfear, tempting Egwene just as Rand was tempted. After so much expectation built up that Egwene would be furious at Rand for his flirtations, Egwene’s encounter with Galad is a rich humourous payoff.
The threat of gentling is front and center again with two examples, Logain and Owyn, reminding readers that the only way to prevent the madness may be worse than the madness itself. Elaida’s interest in Rand reinforces the feeling of danger.
Repetition of a plot element reinforces it, especially when revealed in a different way or coming from a different source.