In this section, the Rebels cement their position by making Egwene their figurehead.
Egwene makes a failed attempt to board the Sea Folk ship. Her bruised ego leads her to antagonize the Sea Folk until she realizes what she has done is foolish. That event gives her an opportunity to consider how keenly she understands ji’e’toh now. She worries, and then accepts that she will now have to pay the consequences for her past actions. She promises the Aes Sedai to come to Salidar quickly, and despite regrets about leaving the Aiel, she does not hesitate. The corporal punishment she endures is symbolic of the cost to be paid for deceit. The bigger the lie and the longer it is told, the greater the cost. There is incentive to keep your misdeeds small. Egwene had to make this mistake and pay the price so that her later feats in the White Tower as a novice will seem believable. Already small references begin to creep in about her refusal to surrender.
In a simple and partly coincidental plot twist, Rand learns the location of Salidar from that meeting. Eavesdropping is a frequent and useful mechanism to give your characters new knowledge that advances the plot. This time, eavesdropping as a plot device does not feel blatant and out of place, as it did in The Dragon Reborn when Mat overheard Gaebril in Caemlyn’s Royal Palace. Oddly, it is the fact that the location in question is difficult to access combined with Rand’s unique abilities to get there that makes it feel plausible. Two improbabilities combine to make a plausibility. It also helps that a precedent was set when Demandred observed Elayne in Tel’aran’rhiod in Chapter 7.
Mat observes a truth about dealing with the Snakes and Foxes, taken from a board game: you can’t win if you follow the rules. This will turn out to be true both in regards to the rhyme, and also with the rules governing time and space themselves.
Mat is asked to fetch Elayne back to Andor, since Rand hopes to lessen his burdens by passing a couple of nations off to her. It doesn’t work since Elayne contrives to be sent off to Ebou Dar to look for a stash of ter’angreal including one that can correct the weather.
Egwene’s method of travel, in the flesh through Tel’aran’rhiod, was used for evil, is evil, and will cause her to lose part of herself according to the Wise Ones. As inferred by the theory posted yesterday, there has to be some way that this action meets those criteria, even if it hasn’t been made obvious by Rand’s use of it or by Egwene’s use of it this time.
Egwene weaves flows of spirit to create a place where the interior of her tent is so similar to its reflection in Tel’aran’rhiod that there was no difference right there. One was the other. This should be place that is both Tel’aran’rhiod and waking world, a place both malleable and permanent.
Despite being there in the flesh, changes made to herself do not stay when she re-enters the waking world. Changing things in the waking world by altering their reflection in Tel’aran’rhiod should not be impossible when they are one and the same.
Siuan’s plan has come to fruition, she has a new Amyrlin to control, a group of rebels who believes the lies told by Logain and wants to pull Elaida down, and a spot near the center of the action as she runs the eyes and ears. Egwene quickly crushes Siuan’s ideas of manipulation, and sensing a kindred spirit, Siuan pledges to help her become Amyrlin in truth as well as name. Egwene had already started by making small decisions on her own which are questioned by her three factions of advisors. Promoting Elayne and Nynaeve to full sisters places them near the top ranks of Aes Sedai, though it is mitigated by them never having held the Oath Rod or being tested.
Egwene promises to be harsher than Moghedien’s previous captors. She very quickly establishes the rules Moghedien must follow with severe penalties for lying. Again, Egwene’s hardness would seem out of character had we not just seen her embrace the harsher side of Aiel life. Now it simply feels like she is being a Wise One to the Aes Sedai around her, and through sheer force of will and the help of her handful of allies, she is getting the results she expects.
The discovery of Traveling by Egwene opens up many story and plot advancing possibilities, but also introduces the complications of overreliance on it. Rand has only been using it himself in this book, and it is about to get him in big trouble.
Make improbable coincidences more believable by setting up the linkages between them before revealing the coincidence.