Tales From the Mad Monk

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New Spring Ch. 6: Siuan Looks Ahead. Moiraine Looks to Run

Siuan Looks Ahead. Moiraine Looks to Run

I confess that in previous re-reads of New Spring, I’ve often skipped this chapter. For those of you who don’t know the contents of every chapter in the entire series off the top of your head, a) shame on you, and b) it’s the one where Siuan and Moiraine start copying over names of the women who gave birth.

The previous chapter ended with Merean informing Moiraine that her uncles—King Laman and his brothers—had been killed by the Aiel. This chapter begins with Merean telling Moiraine that she’s spoken with the Amyrlin and they agree that because Moiraine isn’t in a horrific depression, she must be in shock and thus should stay home from the name gathering.

There are a couple interesting things here.

Moiraine isn’t all that broken up over her uncles because she knows they were terrible people who weren’t kind to her father. The Aes Sedai—who are as famously un-emotional as Jedi—think her lack of emotion is reflective of shock instead of a perfectly natural reaction to some bad people dying.

That’s weird.

When Merean tells Moiraine to stay in and copy names, Siuan says that it’s a great idea, which is interesting for two reasons. One, she instantly sees how seeing all the names is much more likely to result in finding the Dragon Reborn than simply collecting some and two, she’s perfectly willing to throw her best friend under the bus to further a goal.

It may be the single most Aes-Sedai-ish thing done in the entire series.

Moiraine’s Nightmare

The other big thing that happens in this chapter is that Sitters from all the ajahs come to Moiraine to talk about who will be the next King or Queen in Cairhien. Moiraine groks that this is all about putting her on the throne even before anyone mentions the possibility and her reaction is somewhat fascinating.

The thought of being Queen of Cairhien is a nightmare for her; so much so that she explicitly compares it to the horror that is the coming of the Dragon Reborn and Tarmon Gai’don.

She grew up in a palace as nobility. She refers to the obligations of nobility often enough that it’s clear she’d be a good and decent ruler. She’s been trained her whole life to believe she’s unique, and that she should wield power, and yet she doesn’t want anything to do with the throne.

There are two little offshoots of this whole thing that intrigue me:

  • The Aes Sedai aren’t asking if Moiraine will take the throne, they plan on putting her there regardless of her feelings in the matter. They’re manipulating her to further their ends in precisely the way Siuan—the future Amyrlin—did earlier in the chapter.
  • In her internal musing about how much she doesn’t want to be Queen, Moiraine mentions that there hasn’t been an Aes Sedai take a throne in forever, and that it has never turned out well. She imagines sitting on the throne while a mob burns Cairhien to the ground. Years later, shortly after Elayne Trakand becomes Queen of Cairhien, Caemlyn is burned and lost to the Shadow.

Two More Tidbits

This is the chapter where they finally realize what a big job this is. There are a lot of names, many of which come with a remarkable lack of information, and many of which come with a passel of lies about where they were born. It sinks in with Moiraine that they’ve undertaken an utterly enormous task.

The first thing they do with the lists of names is separate all the ones that were already written in a neat hand, halving the stack of papers. If they do that consistently, they’re ignoring half the candidates for the Dragon Reborn, and I don’t think this is ever addressed again.

Not that it matters, of course, because Rand’s name isn’t on any of those pages.

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