Best Scenes of The Wheel of Time, Part 9: Nynaeve Can Channel?

This article contains spoilers through The Great Hunt.


All quotes, unless otherwise noted, are taken from The Eye of the World, Chapter 21, “Listen to the Wind”.

 

 

Background

When our initial band of heroes left the Two Rivers, they left in the middle of the night, without much in the way of explanation as to where they were going. The party consisted of Moiraine and Lan, Thom, Egwene, Rand, Mat, and Perrin. They rested briefly in Baerlon where Nynaeve caught up to them.

Nynaeve al’Meara by Tawny Fritz

Nynaeve sipped the wine before answering the Aes Sedai. “There was nowhere for you to go except Baerlon. To be safe, though, I followed your trail. You certainly cut back and forth enough. But then, I suppose you would not care to risk meeting decent people.”

“You . . . followed our trail?” Lan said, truly surprised for the first time that Rand could remember. “I must be getting careless.”

“You left very little trace, but I can track as well as any man in the Two Rivers, except perhaps Tam al’Thor.” She hesitated, then added, “Until my father died, he took me hunting with him, and taught me what he would have taught the sons he never had. She looked at Lan challengingly, but he only nodded with approval.

“If you can follow a trail I have tried to hide, he taught you well. Few can do that, even in the Borderlands.”

The Eye of the World, Chapter 16, The Wisdom )

 

She came to persuade them to return to Emond’s Field with her, but when that failed, and Shadowspawn discovered them, she decided to accompany them so she could see them all safely home at the end of it all. And to try and convince them to return sooner.

Continuing on their way, they were pursued by Shadowspawn until they took refuge in Shadar Logoth. The Shadowspawn followed them in and they fled the city, with Mashadar splitting up their party.

 

The Scene

Nynaeve ended up on her own in the chaos of leaving Shadar Logoth. In the morning, she began searching the area for tracks and eventually found some. The tracks were muddled enough that she couldn’t tell if they were left by friends or foes, so she followed them very cautiously, concealing her own tracks in the process.

She smelled a fire in the distance and hid her horse, then followed the scent until she came upon Moiraine and Lan. The Warder was just returning after a scouting mission and Nynaeve was able to listen in on their unguarded discussion without being noticed.

 

Lan stopped his pacing, “You think the Halfmen heading south have them?”

“Perhaps,” Moiraine poured herself a cup of tea before going on. “But I will not admit the possibility of them being dead. I cannot. I dare not. You know how much is at stake. I must have those young men.”

 

At this point in time, Nynaeve did not trust Moiraine at all, and Moiraine had been pretty careful to always link her interest in the boys with getting them safely away from the Shadowspawn hunting them. With that statement, though, her specific interest in the boys for who they were became apparent, and I doubt very much that Nynaeve missed that distinction.

 

“That Shayol Ghul will hunt them, I expect. Opposition from within the White Tower, even from the Amyrlin Seat, I accept. There are always Aes Sedai who will accept only one solution. But. . . .” Suddenly she put her cup down and sat up straight, grimacing. “If you watch the wolf too hard,” she muttered, “a mouse will bite you on the ankle.” And she looked right at the tree behind which Nynaeve was hiding. “Mistress al’Meara, you may come out now, if you wish.”

Nynaeve scrambled to her feet, hastily dusting dead leaves from her dress. Lan had spun to face the tree as soon as Moiraine’s eyes moved; his sword was in his hand before she finished speaking Nynaeve’s name. Now he sheathed it again with more force than was strictly necessary. His face was almost as expressionless as ever, but Nynaeve thought there was a touch of chagrin about the set of his mouth. She felt a stab of satisfaction; the Warder had not known she was there, at least.

 

Yes, Nynaeve, stumping the Warder was definitely the important thing to be thinking just then. </sarcasm>

With her usual graciousness, Nynaeve reunited with Moiraine and Lan with comments, such as:

 

“What have you meshed Egwene and the boys in? What filthy Aes Sedai plots are you planning to use them in?”

 

and

 

“No, I don’t want any tea. I would not drink your tea if I was dying of thirst. You won’t use any Emond’s Field folk in your dirty Aes Sedai schemes.”

 

The conversation between Nynaeve and Moiraine in this scene was possibly the most difficult conversation for Nynaeve in the entire series. It was here that she was confronted with the reality of herself, and she had very little time to process it before she had to decide what to do with it.

 

“You have very little room to talk, Wisdom.” Moiraine showed more interest in her hot tea than in anything she was saying. “You can wield the One Power yourself, after a fashion.”

Nynaeve pushed at Lan’s arm again; it still did not move, and she decided to ignore it. “Why don’t you try claiming I am a Trolloc?”

Moiraine’s smile was so knowing that Nynaeve wanted to hit her. “Do you think I can stand face-to-face with a woman who can touch the Truce Source and channel the One Power, even only now and then, without knowing what she is? Just as you sensed the potential in Egwene. How do you think I knew you were behind that tree? If I had not been distracted, I would have known the moment you came close. You certainly are not a Trolloc, for me to feel the evil of the Dark One. So what did I sense, Nynaeve al’Meara, Wisdom of Emond’s Field and unknowing wielder of the One Power?”

Lan was looking down at Nynaeve in a way she did not like; surprised and speculative, it seemed to her, though nothing had changed about his face but his eyes. Egwene was special; she had always known that. Egwene would make a fine Wisdom. They’re working together, she thought, trying to put me off balance. “I won’t listen to any more of this. You—”

Moiraine Damodred by Terese Nielsen

“You must listen,” Moiraine said firmly. “I had my suspicions in Emond’s Field even before I met you. People told me how upset the Wisdom was that she had not predicted the hard winter and the lateness of spring. They told me how good she was at foretelling weather, at telling the crops. They told me how wonderful her cures were, how she sometimes healed injuries, that should have been crippling, so well there was barely a scar, and not a limp or a twinge. The only ill word I heard about you was from a few who thought you too young for the responsibility, and that only strengthened my suspicions. So mush skill so young.”

“Mistress Barran taught me well.” She tried looking at Lan, but his eyes still made her uncomfortable, so she settled for staring over the Aes Sedai’s head at the river. How dare the village gossip in front of an outlander! “Who said I was too young? she demanded.

Moiraine smiled, refusing to be diverted. “Unlike most women who claim to listen to the wind, you actually can, sometimes. Oh, it has nothing to do with the wind, of course. It is of Air and Water. It is not something you needed to be taught; it was born into you, just as it was born into Egwene. But you have learned to handle it, which she still has to learn. Two minutes after I came face-to-face with you, I knew. Do you remember how I suddenly asked you if you were the Wisdom? Why, do you think? There was nothing to distinguish you from any other pretty young woman getting ready for Festival. Even looking for a young Wisdom I expected someone half again your age.”

Nynaeve remembered that meeting all too well; this woman, more self-possessed than anyone in the Women’s Circle, in a dress more beautiful than any she had ever seen, addressing her as a child. Then Moiraine had suddenly blinked as if surprised and out of a clear sky asked….

She liked lips abruptly gone dry. They were both looking at her, the Warder’s face as unreadable as stone, the Aes Sedai’s sympathetic yet intent. Nynaeve shook her head. “No! No, it’s impossible. I would know. You are just trying to trick me, and it will not work.”

“Of course you do not know,” Moiraine said soothingly. “Why you should even suspect? All of your life you have heard about listening to the wind. In any case, you would as soon announce to all of Emond’s Field that you were a Darkfriend as admit to yourself, even in the deepest recesses of your mind, that you have anything to do with the One Power, or the dreaded Aes Sedai.” Amusement flitted across Moiraine’s face. “But I can tell you how it started.”

“I don’t want to hear any more of your lies,” she said, but the Aes Sedai went right on.

“Perhaps as much as eight or ten years ago—the age varies, but always comes young—there was something you wanted more than anything else in the world, something you needed. And you got it. A branch suddenly falling where you could pull yourself out of a pond instead of drowning. A friend, or a pet, getting well when everyone thought they would die.

“You felt nothing special at the time, but a week or ten days later you had your first reaction to touching the True Source. Perhaps fever or chills that came on suddenly and put you to bed, then disappeared after only a few hours. None of the reactions, and they vary, last more than a few hours. Headaches and numbness and exhilaration all mixed together, and you taking foolish chances or acting giddy. A spell of dizziness, when you tripped and stumbled whenever you tried to move, when you could not say a sentence without your tongue mangling half the words. There are others. Do you remember?

Nynaeve sat down hard on the ground; her legs would not hold her up. She remembered, but she shook her head anyway. It had to be a coincidence. Or else Moiraine had asked more questions in Emond’s Field than she had thought. The Aes Sedai had asked a great many questions. It had to be that. Lan offered a hand, but she did not even see it.

“I will go further,” Moiraine said when Nynaeve kept silent. “You used the Power to Heal either Perrin or Egwene at some time. An affinity develops. You can sense the presence of someone you have Healed. In Baerlon you came straight to the Stag and Lion, though it was not the nearest inn to any gate by which you could have entered. Of all the people in Emond’s Field, only Perrin and Egwene were at the inn when you arrived. Was it Perrin, or Egwene? Or both?”

“Egwene,” Nynaeve mumbled. She had always taken it for granted that she could sometimes tell who was approaching her even when she could not see them; not until now had she realized that it was always someone on whom her cures had worked almost miraculously well. And she had always known when the medicine would work beyond expectations, always felt the certainty when she said the crops would be especially good, or that the rains would come early or late. That was the way she thought it was supposed to be. Not all Wisdoms could listen to the wind, but the best could. That was what Mistress Barran always said, just as she said Nynaeve would be one of the best.

“She had breakbone fever.” She kept her head down and spoke to the ground. “I was still apprentice to Mistress Barran, and she set me to watch Egwene. I was young, and I didn’t know that the Wisdom had everything well in hand. It’s terrible to watch, breakbone fever. The child is soaked with sweat, groaning and twisting until I could not understand why I didn’t hear her bones snapping. Mistress Barran had told me the fever would break in another day, two at the most, but I thought she was doing me a kindness. I thought Egwene was dying. I used to look after her sometimes when she was a toddler—when her mother was busy—and I started crying because I was going to have to watch her die. When Mistress Barran came back an hour later, the fever had broken. She was surprised, but she made over me more than Egwene. I always thought she believed I had given the child something and was too frightened to admit it. I always thought she was trying to comfort me, to make sure I knew I hadn’t hurt Egwene. A week later I fell on the floor in her sitting room, shaking and burning up by turns. She bundled me into bed, but by suppertime it was gone.”

 

They discussed Nynaeve’s experience further, then Moiraine shared that most women who encounter the Power on their own without being taught do not survive it, and that Egwene would most likely not survive it should she return to Emond’s Field with Nynaeve. As stubborn as Nynaeve is, she couldn’t justify exposing Egwene to that risk so she finally gave up that point. After that, Moiraine was fully in her element and managed to get Nynaeve to go along with them using a bit of reverse psychology.

The scene came to a close with Nynaeve facing one finally difficult truth. They had no idea where Egwene was, and the Shadowspawn were hunting the boys. They were going to leave Egwene alone and follow the trail Moiraine had for one of the boys. Egwene was young, inexperienced, and a woman, and they had no idea where she was. Searching for her would take a long time, and it would leave the one they were able to track similarly undefended.

 

Why I Love It

This scene was a great one for foreshadowing. We saw the beginning of Nynaeve’s future relationships with Moiraine and, more importantly, with Lan. We saw how the resentment was formed – by Moiraine being the one to hold the mirror on some truths about herself which Nynaeve was not interested in seeing, and by Moiraine mercilessly driving home the fact that, as Wisdom, Nynaeve was helpless to protect the boys and Egwene from the dangers before them. Helpless was not a state that worked for Nynaeve, and in this scene she had to make some pretty big decisions about herself, her life, and where her duty would take her. It also laid the groundwork for the connection she forms with Lan, which, at least in my opinion, is possibly the most natural relationship in the series.

I love how this scene showcased Nynaeve’s stubbornness without making her seem ridiculous. She was determined aned sure of herself, but she did eventually give the necessary ground once she was certain it was the only way. Once there was no way to deny it, she confirmed Moiraine’s assertions, and accepted the conclusions, but that didn’t mean she was a member of the Moiraine Fan Club™!

I also love how much we get to know about Nynaeve’s backstory, as well as her outlook on life. We also had the pleasure of seeing Moiraine in all her unflappable Blue glory, pursuing her cause, bringing the necessary elements in line, and handling every question thrown at her as if it were scripted. We even got to see Lan in a new light. To this point, he had generally been fairly abrupt, direct, and unyielding. In this scene, though, he showed surprise, courtesy, and a hint of compassion.

All in all, this scene was a great one, which taught us a lot about our characters’ histories, their personalities, the magic system, and a very natural progression towards the end goal of the entire story.

 

 

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WoT Monday #1: Season 1, Episode 1 Title!

 

Okay, y’all, this is it. The title of season 1, episode 1 of The Wheel of Time television series is “Leavetaking”. In the above image, you can see the following:

 

 

THE WHEEL OF TIME

EPISODE 101: “LEAVETAKING”

written by

Rafe Lee Judkins

Based on Robert Jordan’s series The Wheel of Time

 

“Leavetaking” is the title of four chapters in The Wheel of Time Series, but we can assume that this one refers to the tenth chapter of The Eye of the World. If we assume that they’re going to follow The Eye of the World page for page (which they most likely aren’t), that would mean that a lot would be happening in the first episode of the series. We would be meeting all of our Emond’s Field cast, Moiraine and Lan, Padan Fain, and Thom. Rand and Tam would get attacked by trollocs at their home, they would run through The Westwood back to Emond’s Field to find it partially in ruins and discover that Moiraine is an Aes Sedai and saved the town, Moiraine would heal Tam and tell the boys that they have to leave the town, and then the episode would end with all of them, plus Thom and Egwene, fleeing Emond’s Field with a draghkar behind them. I’d like to hope that the telling of Manetheren will make its way in there as well, because it’s one of my personal favorite scenes that really showcases how compelling Moiraine and the Aes Sedai are.

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Best Scenes of The Wheel of Time, Part 8: Moghedien’s Comeuppance

This article contains spoilers through A Crown of Swords.

 

 

This month we’ll be taking a slightly darker turn into chapter 25 Mindtrap in A Crown of Swords. We’ll be catching up with the delightful Moghedien as she faces some hard consequences.

Background

Recall in The Shadow Rising that Nynaeve ran into Moghedien in Tanchico. After an exciting kerfuffle, Nynaeve won but Moghedien escaped. Later, in The Fires of Heaven, Nynaeve came across Moghedien in tel’aran’rhiod and managed to capture her by creating an a’dam and then feeding her forkroot tea. They ouind her in the waking world and placed her in a real a’dam. While in captivity they compelled her to share knowledge of weaves from the Age of Legends.

The Scene

The scene opened with Moghedien, trapped in a memory.

Tears leaked from Moghedien’s eyes, down cheeks that already glistened. She twitched on her hard pallet, arms and legs jerking as she fought desperately, futilely, to wake. She was no longer aware that she dreamed – all seemed real – but deep memories remained, and in those depths, instinct shrieked and clawed for escape.
from A Crown of Swords, 526

She was being held in a bubble of sorts, forced to relive the chosen events endlessly until finally released. Time did not work the same within the vacuole so she could be held there for hours or centuries. She was fortunate that she was only there for a couple of days to the outside world, but there’s no telling just how many times she had to relive her punishment.

Halima (also known as Aran’gar, and formerly known as Balthamel) released her from the a’dam and gave her the summons to the Pit of Doom. Moghedien obeyed the summons and met Shadar Haran at the entrance. We then see her worry grow as the entrance to the Pit display quite clearly how the Dark One feels about each particular visitor.

She was well familiar with the sloping tunnel ceilinged in stone daggers like fangs, the walls glowing with pale light. Many times she had made this downward journey since the day so long ago when she first came to make obeisance to the Great Lord and pledge her soul, but never as now, never with her failure known in all its magnitude… Things could be done here that could be done nowhere else. Things could happen here that could happen nowhere else.

She gave a start as one of the stone fangs brushed her hair, then gathered herself as best she could. Those spikes and blades still cleared the strange, too-tall Myrddraal easily… she was forced to move her head around their points now. Reality was clay to the Great Lord here, and he often made his displeasure known so. A stone tooth struck her shoulder, and she ducked to go under another… She bent lower, scurrying crouched in the Myrddraal’s wake, trying to get closer. Its stride never changed, but no matter how quickly she scuttled, the interval between them did not lessen. The ceiling descending, the Great Lord’s fangs to rend traitors and fools, and Moghedien dropped to hands an knees, crawling, then flattened to elbows and knees… Moghedien slithered on her belly, pulled herself along with her hands, pushed with her feet. Stone points dug at her flesh, caught at her dress. Panting, she wriggled the last distance to the sound of ripping wool.
(A Crown of Swords, 526-527)

The trip into the Pit of Doom was distressing enough, with the Dark One nearly crushing her in his displeasure. Unfortunately for her, she survived the descent.

The Dark One spoke of her failure – being captured and then teaching his enemies – and Moghedien, tried to downplay it. She tried to convince him it was just a ploy. She was working from the shadows, just as she always had. She had taught the Dark One’s enemies some true weaves, but she had also taught them weaves which made them ill when they tried to use them. She hadn’t truly failed, she was just using an unorthodox technique!

He was not impressed.

MY CHOSEN ARE ALWAYS THE STRONGEST. MY HAND MOVES…

No. She knew she was going to die, but this Myrddraal would not eat one shred of her! She reached to embrace saidar, and her eyes bulged. There was nothing there. Nothing!…

In those stunned moments, the Myrddraal forced her mouth open, scraped the blade along her tongue, then nicked her ear. And as it straightened with her blood and saliva, she knew, even before it produced what appeared to be a tiny, fragile cage of gold wire and crystal. Some things could only be done here, some only to those who could channel, and she had brought a number of men and women for this very purpose.

“No,” she breathed. Her eyes could not leave the cour’souvra. “No, not me. NOT ME!”

Ignoring her, Saidar Haran scraped the fluids from the knife onto the cour’souvra… With a flick of tis wrist, it tossed the mindtrap out over the lake of molten stone…

Moghedien forgot the Myrddraal. She flung out her hands toward the Bore. “Mercy, Great Lord!… I beg mercy, I beg! MERCYYYYYYY!”

YOU MAY SERVE ME STILL.

The voice flung her into ecstasy beyond knowing, but at the same instant the sparkling mindtrap suddenly glowed like the sun, and in the midst of rapture, she knew pain as if she had been immersed in the fiery lake. They blended, and she howled, thrashing like a mad thing, thrashing in endless pain, endless, until after Ages… the tiny mercy of darkness overwhelmed her.
(A Crown of Swords, 529-530)

She wasn’t given any time in the vacuole to embrace the darkness, instead the memory immediately began again. We do not know how many times she had to relive the memory of her fall from grace, and the agony that accompanied the Dark One’s “mercy,” but we can easily infer that it was more than a few.

Why I Love It

Before this chapter, we knew that the Dark One does not abide failure, but we also knew that the Forsaken were held to a different standard than were your run of the mill Darkfriends. Out of everyone who had served the Dark One’s cause, these were the elect and they had been granted significant access as well as significant power because of that status. Common Darkfriends failed all the time and were punished, but the Forsaken never seemed to face the same quick punishment.

Until now. Here we saw how the Dark One handles true failure from his Chosen, and it wasn’t pretty.

The Wheel of Time handles some pretty meaty topics, but it leaves a lot to the interpretation of the reader. We know of bad things happening, but we rarely see the nitty gritty of the bad things happen. In this chapter though, we are left with no doubt about just how terrible Moghedien’s fate is. We walked with her as she learned that her status had been changed from One Step Away From the Great Lord, to Worm, and we saw her writhing in agony after being granted leniency. We also saw that she was made to relive the humiliation, terror, and then torment over and over with no time to catch her breath. Time moves differently both in the vacuole and near the Bore, so she could very well have been in physical pain for years, every time she relived the memory.

This scene puts a lot into perspective. Egwene faced some pretty trying punishments during her time with the Aiel, and in her time as a captive of the Seanchan. Rand’s confinement leading up to Dumai’s Well, Mat’s experience with the dagger from Shadar Logoth, each of our characters have gone through some extremely difficult experiences, but none of them quite measuree up to what the Dark One meted out in this chapter. It was almost enough to make me feel sorry for Moghedien.

I love this scene because it illustrated just how important it was that the Dark One not win the war. It is one thing to hear that the Dark One is evil, we should defeat him, but it is something entirely different to see what the consequences of losing that battle will be for all those who opposed him. Here, in this chapter, we got to see the severity of those consequences, and we came away from it with a rekindled sense of desperation to win this war.

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Best Scenes of The Wheel of Time, Part 7: Birgitte & Mat

This article contains spoilers for through A Crown of Swords.

 

 

This month our journey takes us to A Crown of Swords, Chapter 21 “Swovan Night” where we meet up with Matrim Cauthon and Birgitte Silverbow, starting with confrontation and uncertainty, and ending with the forming of a delightful friendship.

Background

In The Eye of the World, our merry band of travelers took shelter in Shadar Logoth. While there, our ta’veren trio met with one Mordeth who asked them for help. Mat was particularly brilliant and took a dagger from Shadar Logoth. This dagger carried the taint of the city, making him intensely distrustful of everyone around him, as well as physically ill. Moiraine did what she could to contain the taint, but it was too ingrained by that point for her to do more on her own.

At the end of The Great Hunt, we saw Mat blow the Horn of Valere, calling the Heroes of the Horn back from their slumber to help drive back the Seanchan. Temporarily at least.

Unfortunately, when Mat was finally permanently separated from the dagger he took from Shadar Logoth, he lost many of his memories, including those of blowing the Horn. This made it so when he met Elayne’s Warder – Birgitte Silverbow – he didn’t recognize her. He assumed she was simple another Hunter for the Horn, looking for adventure.

Until Swovan Night, a festival celebrated in the southern portion of the main continent in Randland, most notably, for this scene at least, Ebou Dar.

The Scene

Mat returned to his room, having been informed that there was a woman waiting for him. When he entered his room, he saw Birgitte, and a memory rolled in.

There was no hope, with Seanchan to the west and Whitecloaks to the east, no hope and only one chance, so he raised the curled Horn and blew, not really knowing what to expect. The sound came golden as the Horn, so sweet he did not know whether to laugh or cry. It echoed, and the earth and heavens seemed to sing.While that one pure note hung in the air, a fog began to rise, appearing from nowhere, thin wisps, thickening, billowing higher, until all was obscured as if clouds covered the land. And down the clouds they rode, as though down a mountainside, the dead heroes of legend, bound to be called back by the Horne of Valere. Artur Hawkwing himself led, tall and hook-nosed, and behind him came the rest, little more than a hundred… Mikel of the Pure Heart, and Shivan the Hunter… and his sister Calian, call the Chooser… Amaresu, with the Sword of the Sun… and Paedrig, the golden-tongued peacemaker, and there, carrying the silver bow with which she never missed…

He pushed the door shut, trying to lean against it. He felt dizzy, dazed. “you are she. Birgitte, for true. Burn my bones to ash, it’s impossible. How? How?”
(A Crown of Swords, 459-460)

Birgitte saw right away that he remembered and she was not happy. She did not want anyone knowing she had been a Hero of the Horn. For ages she had known her fate. Gaidal Cain would be born, then she would be born. They would find each other, and fulfill their duty together. Then they would die and wait together in tel aran’rhiod. When Moghedien tore her from the pattern, all that certainty vanished. She couldn’t be certain she would ever see Gaidal again, in fact it seemed fairly certain that she would not. She couldn’t be sure that she was truly Birgitte Silverbow anymore rather than just a woman out of her time who was quite good with a bow. The more people who knew who she had been, the more pressure there would be on her to be that Hero. In the end, Mat knowing who she was ended up being a relief, an outlet for her, but at this point in time, it felt more like an added weight. One more person with mile-high expectations.

The woman of legend gave a resigned sigh and propped his bow back in the corner next to his spear. “I was ripped out untimely, Hornsounder, cast out by Moghedien to die and saved by Elayne’s bonding.” She spoke slowly, studying him as if to be sure he understood. “I feared you might remember who I used to be…”

Who she used to be, indeed. Fists on hips, she confronted him challengingly, no whit different form the Birgitte he had seen ride out of the sky. Even her clothes were the same, though this short coat was red ad the white trousers yellow. “Elayne and Nynaeve know and kept it from me, true? I weary of secrets, Birgitte, and they harbor secrets as a grain barn harbors rats….”

“You have your own secrets.” The way she looked at him, you would have thought he was a tavern puzzle. “For one, you’ve not told them you blew the Horn of Valere. The smallest of your secrets from them, I think…”

“What secrets do I have? Those women know my toenails and dreams…”

“… I am no hero now, only another woman to make my way. And as for your secrets. What language do we speak, hornsounder?”

He opened his mouth… and stopped, really hearing what she had just asked. Nosane iro gavane domorakoshi, Diynen’d’ma’purvene? Speak we what language, Sounder of the Horn? He hair on his neck tried to stand. “The old blood he said carefully. Not in the Old Tongue. “An Aes Sedai once told me the old blood runs strong in – What are you bloody well laughing at now?”

“You, Mat,” she managed while trying not to double over… She knuckled a tear from the corner of her eye. “Some people speak a few words, a phrase or two, because of the old blood. Usually without understanding what they say, or not quite. But you…. One sentence you’re an Eharoni High Prince and the next a First Lord of Manetheren, accent and idiom perfect. No, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.” She hesitated. “Is mine with you?”

He waved a hand, still too flabbergasted to be offended. “Do I look like my tongue flaps?” he muttered. Birgitte! In the flesh! “Burn me I could use a drink.” Before that was out of his mouth he knew it was the wrong thing to say. Women never –

“That sounds the right notion to me,” she said. “I could use a pitcher of wine, myself. Blood and ashes, when I saw you’d recognized me, I nearly swallowed my tongue.”
(A Crown of Swords, 460-462)

Why I Love This Scene

The Birgitte-Mat friendship was always one of my favorite friendships in the entire series. They each held a secret the other desperately wanted to keep hidden, but one didn’t trust the other because they had the power of the other’s secret. Rather, their friendship was strengthened because they knew the other held their secret and would keep it safe. They could let down their hair, to some extent, around each other because they didn’t need to hide.

Besides, it was always fun to see someone shock Elayne and her manners, and Mat and Birgitte together did that admirably! Birgitte also wouldn’t put up with Elayne’s petty, juvenile treatment of Mat. When she learned that Mat had rescued her in the Stone of Tear from the Black Ajah as well as a Forsaken, and in return they had gotten upset with him and belittled him, Birgitte didn’t pull any punches.

“The Black Ajah.” Birgitte’s voice was flatter than the floor tiles. “And one of the Forsake. Mat never mentioned them. You owe him thanks on your knees, Elayne. Both of you do. The man deserves it. And Juilin as well.”
(A Crown of Swords, 471)

No one in this series ever really treated anyone else very well, but I was always particularly upset by how Elayne and Nynaeve treated Mat. It made them seem arrogant and juvenile. Yes, he had been young and brash, playing ridiculous pranks and not always being responsible, but he was still growing up. If you never give someone a chance to grow up, how are they ever supposed to finally be grown up?

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