In this section, Mat escapes with a wife in tow, and Rand promises to accept an advisor.
Mat and his allies lack insight that other characters already have, notably that sul’dam are women who can learn how to channel. Watching him experiment with the a’dam is necessary to maintain belief in his ingenuity and allows a chance to prove earlier information or add detail to it with concrete examples. Once he’s done experimenting however, the author throws a lifeline, providing sul’dam, a High Blood, and everything else Mat needs. Giving these things to Mat too early would have reduced the credibility of the situation.
A potential rift between the uneasy allies will appear if Mat’s side learns about Egeanin turning the male a’dam over to Suroth.
Mat makes some changes to his plan, but this is revealed only at the last second. First, the author builds up concern about the things that can go wrong. Mat analyzes it, and concludes his plan has as few flaws as can be expected. Because of this analysis and Mat’s dread, the reader is primed to think something will go wrong. Mat reminds everyone of their tasks, and of the cost of making a mistake or exposing them. He makes plans for what to do if something goes awry. It all seems to be going well. The first sign of trouble comes when Mat worries about Teslyn cracking. Night falls, and riders approach. Egeanin has adapted the plan to keep the warders and others close by her rather than lose them in the rain. Mat initially expresses anger, but lets it drop because, surprise, surprise, he has made changes to the plan as well! After all that worry, Mat himself turns out to be the source of the threat he was worried about! With a tense set-up like that, this down-to-the-last-word surprise revelation adds humour and excitement: After all, lying on that bed in Tylin’s apartments, he had decided to risk a change or two himself.
Mat reluctantly kidnaps Tuon after learning that she is the Daughter of the Nine Moons he is foretold to marry. She is physically opposite to everything he likes in a woman, and so culturally different from him they could be called opposites, yet he must marry her. This is similar to Rand’s situation, in which he has an ideal path in mind, but destiny requires him to embrace something strange and alien to him.
Far Madding symbolizes a life without the True Source, without the Light. Lews Therin rails against the city, calling it madness to live in such a place. In this place both physically and spiritually, Rand casually intends to murder his opponents. His feelings are non-existent; he might as well be a stone for all Min can feel through the bond. He is losing touch with his humanity, the very thing Cadsuane seeks to prevent.
Cadsuane represents the Light. She has strict rules that must be adhered to, like Commandments, or she will not offer help. She is never wrong, she is demanding, but those who travel with her are happy, enlightened and empowered.
Rand has the idea that he has to be harder than his opponents. He knows his opponents will exploit weakness, so he has cut ties with friends and family, excising feeling sand emotion from his life. Rand is despondent as he walks the cold, rainy streets of Far Madding. Then he bumps into Verin, fresh from the previous evening’s heart-to-heart with Cadsuane.
Verin tells him that Cadsuane did not send her; she is out riding with Nynaeve. Verin brings news that his war on the Seanchan has been for naught. They have refortified their positions and are marching into Illian as though he never drove them back. Verin dismisses battles as irrelevant in the long run, recognizing there are stronger forces that shape history. Realizing his efforts have been wasted, Rand asks whether Cadsuane might help him.
Verin says he can apologize, stop being a fool, and she should listen to him. Rand asks Verin to carry his apology and promise to Cadsuane. He is leaving Far Madding, having realized that the world won’t wait for him to do dawdle while important things await him, such as cleansing saidin. Rand’s allies agree that Cadsuane can give him what he wants, and even have sacrificed to make their meeting possible.
Nynaeve takes pride in Cadsuane’s fallibility since she didn’t know everything about her ter’angreal. Rand starts to have doubts, uncomfortable knowing Cadsuane will be able to channel when they meet. Then a letter is delivered. Padan Fain’s letter presents a path away from Cadsuane. He represents war against the Shadow, with no moral questions bogging him down. He has pledged to destroy Rand, and the choice presented in the letter will destroy him if he takes it. Cadsuane still represents the Light, morality trumping all other considerations, uniquely powerful in a city where no one else can sense the True Source.
Hours of daylight remained before he had to meet Cadsuane. One last chance to act outside of her rules. A possibility of deferring the actions he must take in favour of the ones he wants to take.
A choice to be made is a powerful means of establishing identity, creating tension and excitement, and clarifying the theme.