Chapter 34: The Last Village
We’re still with Rand and Mat, for the third chapter in a row. At least plenty is happening to justify that time. In a great realistic touch, as they get closer to Caemlyn, the locals have completely had it with all these people pouring in to see Logain, most of them reacting with violence to any new faces. This means they have to keep to the road, with a quite evocative description of the toll the constant walking has on them. I can’t even get too upset at Mat for complaining and occasionally refusing to go further, though Rand being able to bear it in silence still doesn’t make him look good.
At the final town before Caemlyn, Rand spots a Fade ahead of them. I’m really sensing a pattern here. This one has a particularly insidious plan to get his hands on Rand and Mat, saying they stole his heron-sword, and will lie about anything. Luckily, they’re immediately able to hitch a ride with Cool Old Guy
Almen Bunt, who I hope we see a lot more of. This is despite what follows. On the road, Bunt takes it upon himself to inform Rand and Mat of all recent history of the Caemlyn ruling family, which he has assumed they already know. Up until now this kind of thing has been worked in pretty naturally, but this is a horribly artificial As You Know
So, infodump.Caemlyn royal heirs have been sent to study with the Aes Sedai or Warders, depending on their gender, for three thousand years. Except in the previous generation, the man died and the woman disappeared. She was named Tigrane, which I note because she’s now an obvious Chekhov's Gunman
. Her husband got married again to a woman named Morgase and then died in a war with the Aiel, leaving her in charge. And now their kids Elayne and Gawyn are going through the same thing. And Morgase has an Aes Sedai named Elaida advising her.
This is followed by another dream, which is a similar Mind Screw
to the last one and also hints that there are dragons in this world. Huh, maybe A Song of Ice and Fire
owes more to this series than I thought. And with that, we finally
arrive at Caemlyn.
There’s a lot of great information here, and Bunt is a very promising character, but it’s all harmed by the As You Know
nature of his whole monologue. I can just picture Jordan struggling to come up with a more natural way to give us all this backstory before getting to Caemlyn, and finally just giving up. Though the first half is pretty good too, with its hints that the Darkfriends have learned their lesson about a direct approach and are becoming more crafty.