Chapter 29: Seanchan
Bornhald has reached a village that’s been completely destroyed. But it’s not the work of the Whitecloaks, with Byar having an Even Evil Has Standards
reaction to the children having been killed. Instead, it’s a group called the Seanchan, quite the Hilarious in Hindsight
name with 4chan. But however giggle inducing their name is, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and have been forcing people to swear oaths that make no sense and kidnapping women. And they claim to be the descendants of the people Artur Hawkwing sent out, which means they probably are.
Also notable in this segment: we meet a Questioner named Muadh who was tortured by Darkfriends a while ago and is now horribly scarred, so he might actually have room to become an Anti-Villain
himself. And Bornhald is starting to suspect that the Questioners are here to artificially escalate the war between Tarabon and Almoth Plain by launching raids while wearing one side or the other’s uniform.
But enough of that, Domon’s back too! He’s captured by a Seanchan ship, demonstrating their powerful magic abilities, thanks to enslaved Aes Sedai who they call damane, and they will mess you up if you use the other name. The captain Egeanin orders him to go to Falme, the one city they’ve left alone, and swear the oaths. And here’s where I really start seeing how this series is accused of sexism, as there’s quite a lot about how shocking and wrong it is to see a woman dressed like a man, commanding men. Though since we’re in the viewpoint of old salt sea captain Domon, I’ll wait to see how some other people think of them before passing judgement.
The Seanchan have set up camp in Falme, and let the people continue to live their lives, including keeping their weapons, because they know how screwed they’d be if they tried to fight. And there’s a Kick the Dog
where they put one Watcher at a time in a cage until they die, because they were watching for the wrong thing, whatever the hell that means. And they brought back three-eyed monsters from the place they came from.
Egeanin finds the seal and takes Domon to their leader, High Lord Turak. He’s far more Affably Evil
and wants to keep Domon around just to have someone he can have interesting conversations with, and Domon prepares to lie his ass off to get back to his ship. I hope we get to see that; it sounds pretty neat.
Adding such a major new player to the world at this point is risky, but it’s pulled off very well here. It helps that the Seanchan were properly set up in book one, and they’re well established here as a powerful new force who could be on anyone’s side or no one’s. There’s a tremendous sense of unease throughout their scenes, as they’re perfectly willing to accommodate people who don’t know about them up to a point, but it’s never clear what that point is. Turak is definitely the most promising of them, coming off as a guy who always plays the Good Cop to whatever other Seanchan he’s with, building up genuine devotion over time. Definitely Magnificent Bastard
material if he keeps developing well. And I’m now definitely sure that Nynaeve’s test at Emond’s Field was real, and Morena is a Seanchan. Hopefully we’ll get a Scouring of the Shire equivalent eventually.