Rand wakes up on the other side of the wall, and realizes he fell into the palace garden. The girl was Elayne, and Gawyn is also there. We learn about Elayneís character more than Gawyn; sheís very pushy and expects everyone to obey her, but she also competently sees to Randís injuries just like Gawyn says she does for people and animals all the time.
Their half-brother Galad shows up, with an amusing sort of Even the Guys Want Him
reaction from Rand, and seems like a reasonable guy; heís suspicious of Rand, but thatís perfectly natural under the circumstances. Still, Elayne hates him for some reason. He calls the guards on Rand, and Elayne has a little power struggle with Lieutenant Tallanvor which is clearly a regular thing for them. It ends with them all being taken to Morgase, though Elayne manages to let Rand keep his sword.
So we meet Morgase, plus Gareth and Elaida. And I canít help but hear all her lines in Kate Mulgrewís voice for some reason. Thereís a bunch of stuff about how theyíre about to leave for Tar Valon, and Elayneís always been a rebellious child, before things turn to Rand. Elaida proves herself to be much more of the Bene Gesserit type I was expecting from the Aes Sedai, implying that they should kill Rand out of hand rather than let whatever heíll do in the future happen. She also freaks everyone out by pointing out the heron mark on his sword, though thereís still nothing on what that actually means.
Morgase quickly endears herself to me by telling Elaida to speak clearly for once, and proceeds to a Crowning Moment of Awesome
as she makes a big speech about how they canít go around killing people just because of something they may do in the future, plus the bits of Randís story that heís told are so hard to believe that no one who was actually lying would try to pass them off. As heís escorted out of the palace, Gawyn confirms that he looks like an Aielman, making me think that the battle Tam found him at was part of the same war against the Aiel that the king died in.
A big chapter, with several character introductions. Elayne is definitely the most striking one, with intriguing contradictions of character that leave it vague which side sheíll be on (and the way itís all in one chapter makes it seem less likely to just be a writing inconsistency). Morgase is also promising, and Elaida offers yet another future complication, who I can only hope will have as awesome a comeuppance as the similar character Gaius Helen Mohiam.