So…Book Five. The Fires of Heaven. Before I jump in I just wanted to give the spoiler warning for those yet to read the series or are earlier on than this book. Below will have spoilers for this book. Read at your own risk. Also a reiteration, for those who have read the series, feel free to comment on what I have to say, but please do not spoil anything, yet, that takes place after this book as I will be starting it shortly. I know it’s a lot to ask since the series has been out for nearly 30 years, but I’m sure if you love the series you’ll not want to spoil it for anyone on their first read-through.
As usual, many things to talk about so I’m going to go in order of length of appearances, and I’m starting with a few characters that don’t actually show up in this book. Perrin and Loial are not to been seen and I miss them. They are still some of my favorites. I’m sure I’ll see them soon since they have been absent for this one.
I thought Morgase was going to join Perrin after she (finally) gets out of Gaebril/Rahvin’s grip. It is mentioned that there is a gathering of forces in the Two Rivers which made me think this. I’m not entirely sure where she is headed but it sounded like she is going toward Amadicia. Maybe she will meet up with Galad. We will see. I’m just glad she is no longer a puppet and somewhat back to her queenly self. I expect to see more of her.
Next, Padan Fain. I’ve discussed him since book one when he comes in toward the end as a Darkfriend. Then I talked about how I thought he was with the Seanchan after book two but he was really with the Whitecloaks, as we see in book three where he turns a Myrddraal away from the Dark One to serve him. Crazy. Now we find him in the Tower in Tar Valon after the coup. We get a little more about him but really only one scene (maybe two) but we do a big one when he sneaks into the vault to retrieve the dagger that Mat had taken from Aridhol/Shadar Logoth. We discover that Padan Fain is actually Mordeth. To some extent at least. He gets the dagger, but leaves the Horn of Valere because he is discovered. He kills an Accepted while Alviarin watches because she is actually a Darkfriend/Black Ajah who is slowly taking over the Tower while Elaida is Amyrlin Seat. I’m inclined to believe Elaida is not a Darkfriend at this point but I’m still not absolutely sure because of what she did to Siuan. The Tower does seem to be splitting further though now that there are Aes Sedai not returning and those in Salidar setting up an opposition. More on this later though. As for Padan Fain, I have no idea where this guy is going or what his final form will be, but I have a few predictions. He will have to be taken out at some point before the final showdown (or perhaps during). For some reason, I think Mat might be the one to do it since he has a history with the dagger and is becoming the best tactician ever. History is important and Mat basically has all the knowledge of a famous general who won many battles and lost several from overwhelming forces. Rand might have to be the one to face Padan/Mordeth though if the One Power is needed to kill him. Perhaps balefire? Unless Logain or Mazrim Taim will do it. Logain is supposed to have glory before this is all over according to Min, and Mazrim is possibly getting recruited now that Rand revealed he wants men who can channel to join him in preparation for Tarmon Gai’don. A lot of cool things are coming I’m sure, but I don’t want to stray to far from what I want to discuss from this book.
Siuan, Leanne, and Min are next. Logain is also in this group but he hasn’t had much mention yet. They escape Tar Valon, go on the run, accidentally burn down a barn which puts them at the mercy of Gareth Brynne (who has been exiled from Caemlyn), swear an oath to Gareth but run off causing him to track them down now that he has nothing better to do, then they finally find the gathering of Aes Sedai in Salidar who are opposing the usurpers of the Tower. Siuan and Leanne are stilled but continue to manipulate things. Min is just as she always was really. Able to see things about people but going along with whoever can boss her around or may get her back with Rand. She does confess to Elayne later in this book that she also loves Rand and is one of three women she viewed with Rand. She doesn’t know who Aviendha is so she can’t tell Elayne who the third person is that they have to share him with. Talk about a complicated love tetrahedron. Gareth tracks this group to Salidar and is recruited by the Aes Sedai there to become general of their forces, which I assume will be used to take back the Tower or just aid Rand. I’m not sure what is happening there since Sheriam and five others are basically the interim Amyrlin Seat for this “rogue” group.
We will circle back to Siuan since Nynaeve, Elayne, and company ultimately end up in Salidar at the end of this book. So Nynaeve and Elayne are still with Thom and Juilin at the start. Elayne is flirting with Thom in the beginning and it is a bit weird with the whole age gap and the fact Thom had hooked up with Elayne’s mom aka Morgase the queen. Luckily that doesn’t last too long but it was strange. The group ends up joining a menagerie/circus after running into Galad who has in fact joined the Whitecloaks. They join Luca’s troupe and head to Samara where, surprise, they end up running into Galad. Though they do so after Nynaeve gets an audience with the Prophet aka Masema from Shienar who has become a zealot for Rand and is beyond fanatical. Between the Prophet and the Whitecloaks, two groups who believe only their way of living/service is correct and that all others should either join them or die/be condemned (only a Sith deals in absolutes), a war breaks out Samara after Nynaeve gets both Galad and Masema to find them a ship. Galad can’t go with them but Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom, and Juilin add to their company Uno and the other Shienarans who helped Rand track down the Horn of Valere to Falme.
During their time with the troupe, Nynaeve and Elayne work with Birgitte in Tel’aran’rhiod to track down Moghedien. This particular Forsaken has taken the original Black Ajah as her underlings and, as of this book, has put a permanent shield on Liandrin so she can’t access the One Power. I hope Liandrin doesn’t get a turnaround character arc where she becomes good because she had done too much evil to make the much progress legitimate. With Birgitte’s help, Nynaeve finds Moghedien in the dreamworld but Moghedien actually takes advantage and attacks them both. Nynaeve is proven wrong in her thinking that she can take on Moghedien. Moghedien toys with her but is shot by Birgitte, which lets Nynaeve escape the encounter. However, Moghedien’s attack on Birgitte somehow “knocks” her out of the dreamworld and into the real world(?). Healing doesn’t help her and the only way they are able to keep her alive is because Elayne bonds Birgitte as her Warder. I’m not sure how the whole dreamworld-to-real-world transition works but we get a possible explanation toward the end of the book which I’ll get to shortly. I do like Birgitte though she has some faults. I think she will be a fun character moving forward. Especially since she still has memories of her past lives.
So Nynaeve, Elayne, and company make it to Salidar where they hand over all their items from Tanchico and after, then return to their roles as Accepted. Nynaeve is to start her research into stilling and how to possibly reverse it. I think this is going to come into play big time later on in the series. Nynaeve and Elayne are tasked with training the Aes Sedai in Salidar about Tel’aran’rhiod though since only the Aiel Wise Ones and the Forsaken really know much about it. This brings us back around to Siuan. She convinces Nynaeve to train her about the dreamworld as well since the ring that Verin gave Egwene doesn’t require the One Power to get someone into the dreamworld. While training Siuan, Moghedien finds them and round two ends up a bit different between the Forsaken, Nynaeve, and Birgitte. Nynaeve, who lost her confidence after losing to Moghedien, gets a little back after she gets an a’dem on the Forsaken and uses her within the dreamworld to assist Rand in his showdown at the end of the book.
Before we get there though, let’s backtrack to Rand. This is a big book and he starts in Rhuidean. Couladin has claimed himself Car’a’carn and is making his way across the Dragonwall and Rand gives chase but only catches up to this false dragon in Cairhein (I guess we can call Couladin just another false dragon since it kind of fits despite not being able to channel). Mat tries to get away from Rand before the battle but gets swept up in it and becomes basically a general and a hero after killing Couladin and keeping most of a large force of Cairheinen and Tearan soldiers alive through the battle. Rand, Egwene, and Aviendha use the One Power in this battle and they are all attacked, at a great distance I believe, by Sammael at one point. Rand is slowly learning how to use the One Power successfully and it is awesome. Asmodean is useful it seems though still not trustworthy.
Rand and Aviendha hook up. This was expected in some way with Min’s viewing and all, but the way it happened was crazy. Aviendha opens a portal? To a mountain in Seanchan? What? Rand saves her from the snowstorm and they get hot and heavy in a little igloo as they wait out the blizzard. From what I can tell, this is where Rand loses his virginity. He does feel obligated to get married afterward, which was a bit awkward. Aviendha isn’t shy after their winter retreat but doesn’t even cuddle from then on. She is still all about Elayne “owning” Rand. Her and Elayne will probably have a strange reunion after that. Mat is still with his Aiel lady friend, Melindhra, who is not the Mistress of the Nine Moons, which is who Mat is prophesied to marry. Did Min tell him this? I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure that is the title is of the Seanchan Empress though. That will be an interesting story arc to get from here to there. Good for Mat since he HAD TO KILL MELINDHRA. How crazy was that? She was a darkfriend? I did not see it coming. I thought her attacking him was just her being forceful at first but it was actually her attacking him. Crazy. I can’t help but question how and how many other Aiel could be darkfriends.
Rand is combining his forces from Cairhein and Tear, settling things to get them to cooperate without pulling power moves, but he gets a little distraction in the form of news that Morgase was killed. He goes rage-mode and decides to avenge her by killing Rahvin.
But first…the docks.
Lanfear shows up to get info from Kadere. She literally skins him after he tells her Rand hooked up with Aviendha. Talk about a jealous psycho. She goes nuts and Rand tries to minimize damage but ultimately cannot bring himself to kill a woman. He is just not about the equality thing I guess. I mean, he almost loses the Far Dareis Mai, the female Aiel warriors, because he has been trying to protect them and not letting them fight thus damaging their honor. Lanfear is going crazy and he can’t kill her so we get another shocker in this installment. Moraine tackles Lanfear into the doorway ter’angreal that Moraine had Kadere transport supposedly to go to Tar Valon with the other items from Rhuidean. But no, Moraine had some information from her own trip to Rhuidean that showed her facing Lanfear. They go into the doorway and are both immediately presumed dead, which I thought was strange since we have some idea about this not being immediate death (I mean it’s not like when Sirius Black from Harry Potter goes through that doorway). Mat went through the same doorway and was almost killed in his Norse mythology Odin reference, but is death the certain outcome from that doorway? The snake people exact their price, but is it always death? I don’t think so and I think Moraine will come back at some point. Possibly even Lanfear will come back too since she seems to be a bigger character. But for all other purposes, they are presumed dead. Lan is obligated to go find another Aes Sedai because of Moraine’s planning so he immediately leaves and convinces Rand to spurn Elayne which he decides to do with Nynaeve. Like this would ever work for either of these women. Moraine’s subservience to Rand makes a lot of sense though after we learn she was waiting for her confrontation with Lanfear.
Lastly, we get Rand going after Rahvin. He takes a lot of Aiel with him to Caemlyn to fight and is immediately attacked because of Rahvin’s wards. Rand is not expected though but the wards kill Aviendha, Mat, and Asmodean as soon as they arrive. I wasn’t sure that I read this correctly at first and I thought they were simply hurt pretty bad, but then we get the rewind. I’m not sure what plot importance the balefire rewind will have in the remainder of the series, but if it was simply for this one moment, I think it was a bit wasted/not necessary. Balefire eliminates all recent actions from the person who is killed by it. The length of time the person is effectively erased is determined by the power of balefire used at the moment of death. Rand disintegrates Rahvin instantaneously with a large amount thus reversing Rahvin’s actions from the last several hours at least if not a bit longer. Therefore reversing the deaths of Aviendha, Mat, and Asmodean. Rand is only able to absolutely destroy Rahvin because he had chased the Forsaken into Tel’aran’rhiod. They are both in the dreamworld but in the flesh. Therefore I assume it is possible for the reverse to be true thus half-explaining what happened to Birgitte. I’m sure/hoping more will be explained about this later on. Guess who is in the dreamworld and has Moghedien on a leash? That’s right, we have circled back to Nynaeve. She uses Moghedien to help her assist Rand in his fight against Rahvin. Moghedien is a coward when she doesn’t have the upper-hand and she is a complete B when she does. I think it is a bit funny Nynaeve sees herself as at least a little similar after she gets shaken up after losing to Moghedien earlier. Unfortunately, I think Moghedien’s behavior here is absolutely real. I’ve seen people who act similarly. With any shred of authority, they lord it over others, but then grovel when faced by someone who has authority over them. Some people just aren’t cut out for certain responsibilities. I have two quotes for this. One ties back to my Harry Potter reference.
If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals – J.K. Rowling
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln
Back to The Wheel of Time. This book ends with the mentioned Davram Bashere. The Marshal-General from Saldaea and Faile’s father. I think we will be seeing much more of Davram and hopefully Faile and Perrin and Loial in the next book. Book six, Lord of Chaos, is the longest in the series so it may be a bit before I get around to discussing it. I still hope to finish the series by the end of the year, and I will be tracking my progress and reactions here. I think it will be fun to look back at some of my initial reactions to characters and events once I get through the entire series. I hope you can enjoy the them as well.