In this section, Nynaeve withdraws from the chaos she induced in Samara.
Nynaeve’s perception of others gets meaner and shriller, and her ability to overlook her own faults is pretty funny since she no longer needs to go more than a sentence beyond her own behaviour before digging at someone for exactly the same behaviour. Readers know Nynaeve is being unreasonable. It’s a character trait that risks irritating readers, and playing it for humour is about the only way to make the character tolerable. The humour is well executed throughout these chapters, largely because there is little time to get irritated, the punchlines are thrown so rapidly.
That sinking feeling Nynaeve gets in the pit of her stomach as she hears that Whitecloaks are fighting the prophet’s men is an echo of what Rand felt after the battle of Cairhien. The destruction and waste can be laid at her feet, since the riots started after the two people she set to finding a ship began fighting over it.
Galad shows just why Elayne insisted they flee him. His predictable unpredictability is a hazard to everyone around him, just as Masema’s is. Both of them make a point of finding consequences for their actions inconsequential. Nynaeve’s brief foray down this path has ended with her paying too high a price for her ship, all to escape some personal discomfort, rationalized by needing to escape Moghedien.
Nynaeve has been after Elayne for her flirtations, but the result of her own semi-unknowing romance with Valan Luca is a proposal to run away and join his circus. Unlike Rand, who twists over who he should choose, Nynaeve quickly puts an end to Valan’s pursuit. Lan is her man, and none of her interactions with Valan count, certainly not the one where he gave her flowers. It’s enough to send her into a fury, and once again the tension between the sexes has risen.
Keeping that tension high, the captain of the ship in question hates women. Nynaeve tries to make some small amends for her actions by bringing refugees with her on board Riverserpent. Somehow, Moghedien manages to get herself included in this group. I still see no possible clue that would let a reader figure out who she is. Was it coincidence that brought her to the docks, or Elayne’s channeling against the mobs?
The visit to Tel’aran’rhiod shows that Nynaeve is still afraid, and ashamed of that fear. Gradually she regains her confidence, and they make frequent use of Elaida’s study to learn about her plans. We learn about being less in the World of Dreams when using certain ter’angreal or when in a shallow sleep. The amount of self that is in Tel’aran’rhiod is related to strengths and weaknesses there.
Use humour to maintain sympathy for a character with irritating traits.