WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
Elayne is in tantrum mode, peeved at not being allowed to have wine and to injunctions to rest, envying those who are slim, and being angry at her shaky hold on the throne and at Dyelin pressing her to make reasoned judgements (eg on Ellorien and on the captive nobles). Her slowness in releasing the nobles gave Ellorien the opportunity to plead for them, to earn their gratitude and look merciful in Andor’s eyes. Elayne will have to find a different solution to the captives now. She decides to take the Cairhien throne, accepting it as Rand’s gift.
Norry took the initiative to watch Duhara. After rejecting Duhara, and the administration she represents, Elayne over-looked her. Duhara met with Ellorien and may have collaborated with her on ways to show Elayne up, the first one being the letter. Duhara wanted Elayne to see her manipulating nobles to cause political problems so that Elayne would be intimidated into accepting her. Elayne knows Duhara won’t return to the Tower while Elayne is antagonised. The timing is in Elayne’s favour since Egwene has just taken the Tower. However, Egwene doesn’t know Duhara is there and therefore hasn’t told Elayne she is Black.
Elayne has held onto most of the mercenaries. She can’t afford to pay them, but may be providing some food to them. Whether she is or not, they have stayed because food is scarcer and more rotten in most other places. Mat assumed that if Norry knew the Band was camped outside Caemlyn, Elayne would too. He underestimates how much responsibility Elayne’s chief officials have.
Mat’s letter is over the top in its poor spelling compared to his previous letter in A Crown of Swords. Birgitte’s preference for a pretty backside rather than a pretty face on a man made me smile. Her comment that “Mat could dice with the Dark One and win” could be Foreshadowing.
Elayne immediately begins to think of how she can use Mat and his army before she has even set eyes on them. She plans to take the Cairhienin section of the Band to Cairhien with her. They will Travel there, once Elayne obtains the services of the Kin. Really, she assumes a lot here, because she seeing Mat’s letter as supplicatory. His justifiable attempts to make her feel in debt to him in his letter failed.
Elayne (and the reader!) is suffering an overload of emotions currently, but she must also be pragmatic for her nation’s sake:
Elayne loved him. But she didn't intend to see Andor become merely another part of the Dragon's empire. Besides, if Rand were to die at Shayol Ghul, who would rule that empire? It could break up, but she worried that someone—Darlin, perhaps—would be strong enough to hold it together. If so, Andor would stand alone between an aggressive Seanchan empire to the southwest, Rand's successor to the northwest and the southeast and the Borderlanders united together in the north and northeast.Note that Elayne plans her own alliances or political bloc, whereas Aviendha’s grandchild will play false with other nations, including Andor, and try to break alliances.
She could not let that happen. The woman in her cringed to think of planning for
Rand's death, but the Queen could not be so squeamish.
Towers of Midnight, An Unexpected Letter
Elayne had two unexpected letters in this chapter and was insulted by both of them, although Mat’s also amused and pleased her.