Friday, August 14, 2009

The Fires of Heaven Read-Through #3: Inns

Inns and Outs

by Linda

As has been pointed out here on the blog before, the inn names often refer to what the characters are experiencing. The Fires of Heaven inns are no exception. In fact, Jordan had a lot of fun here.

At the Good Queen’s Justice in Kore Springs, Siuan, Leane and Min were treated justly by Bryne's court, thereby escaping the summary justice of the villagers. Bryne himself was back on his estates after having been treated unjustly by Queen Morgase. Siuan stretched justice to breaking point, swearing an oath to Bryne that she immediately intended to violate the spirit of. Leane was prepared to go along with her, much to Min's horror. Having dispensed justice, Bryne is determined to see it enacted.

Which brings us to their arrival in Lugard, and the infamous Nine Horse Hitch and all the other Lugarder inns with sexually suggestive or explicit names. These do mirror the characters’ experiences. Leane is trying out her sexual powers for the first time, so it's not surprising that one of the inns - the least sexually explicit name, reflecting Leane's flirty, but not sexually promiscuous, behaviour - is called the Domani Wench’s Kiss. She is using her seduction skills on Logain to keep him from falling into deep depression. Min has her head full of Rand and for the first time in her life wants to be overtly feminine. She studies Leane’s techniques and will soon change the style of her hair and clothes. Siuan is about to fall in love, perhaps for the first time. (All these 'first times' makes this post sound like a Madonna song!) Bryne has collected a band of veterans to pursue the three women, purely out of attraction to Siuan.

Jordan said that there is no prostitution in his world, so these inn names do not advertise brothels or demean women.

The Lugard inn names are not just about sex though. Some are named to attract merchants or craftsmen or offer entertainment. However, it should be noted the women stayed away from those. This underlines the changes they are undergoing.

While she was in power, Siuan was accused of sending people out to hunt bears and of having people dance to her tune. The inn name The Dancing Bear alludes to both. Siuan passed it by; no longer Amyrlin, she will soon have to lead from behind. Egwene will rein her in even further. So will Gareth Bryne. She will dance to their tune.

Even the Nine Horse Hitch has a second meaning. As well as a sexual connotation, horses often symbolise saidin in the series (although male channellers can’t be linked together in this way) and soon male channellers will band together and be a force to be reckoned with, especially for Aes Sedai.

Meanwhile, Elayne and Nynaeve encounter their fair share of inns. The Upriver Run in Tar Valon was referred to by Ronde Macura as where she sends her reports to the Yellow Ajah. When Nynaeve and Elayne travel by water, it will be down river, away from Tar Valon.

The King’s Lancer in Amadicia smashed by a Seanchan elephant foreshadows the Amadician army being smashed by the Seanchan and Ailron himself being killed.

The Light of Truth is an appropriate name for the inn where Nynaeve and Elayne discover Galad had joined the Whitecloaks, and where Galad discovers that sometimes there is no one right action, but two equally right but contradictory actions.

The Blue Bull and the Dancing Goose were glimpsed as Galad, Birgitte and the Shienarans fought a way for Nynaeve and Elayne to the docks. It symbolises the bull-headedness and foolishness of Galad and the Prophet being on the side of Light, but commanding forces which use dubious means, and even fighting each other. Elayne thought Nynaeve as reckless as a charging bull and foolish as a goose for informing others of their predicament and getting not just the Prophet to find them a boat, but Galad as well. The destruction Nynaeve unleashed nearly prevented them from getting a boat at all. It nearly got them killed.

To accompany this Read-through post, we are publishing the The Fires of Heaven entry of Dew Drop Inn: Wheel of Time Accommodation, where you'll find a complete listing of the Inns from the book, plus a discussion of the symbolism of their names.

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