Lord of Chaos is book six of fourteen in the Wheel of Time series and is the greatest in length of the fourteen. I am loving the series overall as I near the half-way mark, but I have many gripes about this particular installment. I’ll try to swirl my thoughts together to mix the good and the bad. As with the previous discussions of this series, there will be spoilers ahead, so be wary if you have not read the series or are not yet to this book in the series.
Let’s start with where book five left off. Nynaeve captured Moghedien in Tel’aran’rhiod using an a’dam. When this book opens, we find out that Nyaneve has Moghedien captured in the physical world as well. I was not sure how this happened as it is not specifically explained outside of Moghedien letting a few things slip that hinted she had traveled with Nynaeve and Elayne from Samara to Salidar. Did she just give herself up in the real world since she was surrounded by Aes Sedai? Either way, Moghedien is captured and is helping Elayne and Nynaeve, against her will of course, make “discoveries” that help them seem like they are progressing exponentially as Accepted. One thing that also didn’t make much sense to me was how the a’dam they have on Moghedien works since it isn’t actually linked like the previous a’dam we’ve seen. It is simply a collar and bracelet without the connecting cord. Elayne is now able to make ter’angreal now, or at least copy those she can study to a degree. She makes more of the dreamwalking ter’angreal rings for the Aes Sedai to use. I believe she is the one who made the a’dam as well since the original one they got from the Seanchan was turned into Sheriam and the other Aes Sedai.
Elayne and Nynaeve are back to Accepted status and are stuck training and slaving away in Salidar. One trend that really irked me throughout this book was the arrogance of pretty much every single Aes Sedai. We saw some of this when at the White Tower in previous books, and maybe it’s just because there are a lot more Aes Sedai characters in this book, but they are annoying as all hell. Maybe it’s because Moiraine is “dead” and she was the first Aes Sedai we are introduced to that has me irked because she essentially sets the standard for the reader of what an Aes Sedai is like, but she is quite different than almost every other Aes Sedai. It could also be that, with the White Tower split, everything they do seems to just be a grasp for power and they all think they are all-powerful or know everything. That attitude is annoying from anyone. Good character or not. Honestly, some Aes Sedai behavior is on par with that of the Forsaken.
I was hoping that Nynaeve would be able to break her “block” and wield saidar without her anger as a condition to be met first. The fact she was working on breaking the block in Salidar makes me think that it will happen soon since it didn’t happen in this book. It will be great to see her get past that. I doubt she will stop tugging the braid though, but seeing her come into her true potential will be awesome. Since Elayne makes leaps in her training and can create/replicate ter’angreal, it makes sense that Nynaeve also progresses in her healing to the point where she heals Logain, Siuan, and Leanne, from being cut off from the One Power. They aren’t as strong as they were prior, but they can wield the Power again. This didn’t come as much of a shock with Min’s viewings that Logain was still supposed to find glory in some way, but it does open some potential twists later on.
Logain stays hidden away most of this book except when he gets to talk to nobles about how the Red Ajah helped him become a False Dragon, a fact that will lead to many problems moving forward including the eventual removal of Elaida from the White Tower. Speaking of which, we don’t really see Elaida at all in this book. We know Alviarin is the Keeper and a Black Ajah, but even she isn’t seen much in this book if at all. I don’t think Elaida is a Darkfriend or even knows that she is being played. Either way, she will get what’s coming to her when the Salidar group reaches Tar Valon, which is where they are headed at the end of this book. Padan Fain/Mordeth is still somewhere. Possibly still in the White Tower. I’m trying to keep tabs on him but he has been sparsely mentioned the past few books.
The Salidar group is on the move toward Tar Valon after Elayne, Nynaeve, two other Aes Sedai, Thom and Juilin, and Mat and a few of his soldiers all head to Ebou Dar. So much to talk about. Mat gets diverted from taking over the forces amassing outside of Tear, facing toward Illian in an apparent feint to distract Sammael, and is tossed toward the Salidar group to deliver Elayne to Caemlyn. He gets, of course, dragged along on their search for a ter’angreal located in Ebou Dar that can “fix” the weather. This group is in Ebou Dar at the end of this book. Also at the end of the book, Lan finally shows back up. He has been transferred to Myrelle who is part of the Salidar group. He was transferred against his will, but many things that were forbidden or unheard of are happening. This means that Lan is within Egwene’s party though or should be at the start of book seven. Of course, Nynaeve just left the group, but Egwene will most likely know about Lan soon.
The weather. Oh, the weather in this book. It is probably overstated throughout this book that the weather is abnormally hot. A sign that the Dark One is touching the world. The ter’angreal Elayne and Nynaeve are after will supposedly fix this, but for now, we get every character sweating in every scene except for those who know the trick to maintaining their composure against extreme temperatures. This is mainly those who can channel but not all. I suppose at least part of the next book will have everyone sweating until they find the ter’angreal and get the weather back to normal. Maybe it will go from summer to winter. Skipping seasons. I’m actually used to it myself because the weather is very fickle where I live, but not to the extreme that is happening in this book.
Speaking of the Dark One though, we find out in this book that Ba’alzamon was not actually a manifestation of the Dark One to any degree but was one of the Forsaken. Ishmael, I believe. This means that technically this book includes the first appearance of the Dark One. By appearance, I mean we get direct dialogue within Shayol Ghul as a few Forsaken visit there. Mainly Demandred. We get a freakishly unique Myrddraal introduced here too called Shaidar Haran who I believe will become an important character. Then again, every small character gets a name in this series to I could be wrong. I think Shaidar Haran will be more than a small character though. We will see.
Demandred appears at the start and end of this book. At the end, it is hinted he has done a lot, but I can’t recall reading anything he actually had a hand in, at least overtly, but that may be revealed at a later point in the series. The Forsaken have a fairly small role in this installment with the focus being mainly on the Aes Sedai. I think it was a good break from repetition as the previous books mainly ended with a confrontation with one of the Forsaken. We do see a little of Sammael in this book as well as other Forsaken such as Semirhage and Mesaana and Graendal. Mesaana we learn is actually in the White Tower, so she could be masquerading as an Aes Sedai. Maybe. There are Black Ajah in the White Tower of course but we learn there are some in Salidar as well. I am not sure who Aran’gar is when she arrives in Salidar. I thought maybe she was Mesaana, but after the epilogue where Aran’gar frees Moghedien (who is captive the entire 1000 pages of this book), we learn that she (he?) uses saidin instead of saidar. Maybe Aran’gar was Demandred in disguise, or maybe this is a new character. I’m sure I’ll find out in the next book. I do remember a scene where it seemed two Forsaken were “reborn” with new names. Maybe Aran’gar is one of them. I forgot their names. I guess this means that any Forsaken can be brought back in some way unless killed by balefire. Since we do see Moghedien a bit in this book, I couldn’t help but wonder where Liandrin and the other Black Ajah are since they were subservient to Moghedien before she got captured. I suspect they will pop back up eventually.
Also, Asmodean just simply disappears? I think it was briefly mentioned at the start of this book, but he apparently escapes or vanishes when Rand was fighting Rahvin. We don’t see him or hear from him in this book. He is just no longer with Rand. Didn’t he fight with Rand against Rahvin? I can’t remember exactly when we last saw him. I’m sure he will pop back up though in some way.
Still going on about Ajah and Aes Sedai, we get one of the big shockers from this book being the ascension of Egwene. After getting called back to the Aes Sedai in Salidar, by which she fast-travels through Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh and gets there within a few hours, she gets raised as the Salidar Amyrlin Seat that very night. Egwene becomes the Amyrlin! Possibly the youngest in history at the age of eighteen. I forgot how young most of our characters actually are. Nynaeve is twenty-six. I think Rand, Mat, and Perrin are about twenty. Anyway, Egwene is Amyrlin and is already becoming a strong one. She is on her way to confront Elaida too. I suspect the next book will see Egwene reuniting the White Tower. Maybe. We will see. One of the last things we see from Egwene is that she discovers Moghedien escaped from the a’dam with help from someone who can use saidin. And this is shortly after she helps Logain escape, but she doesn’t believe Logain knew about Moghedien. I think the surprise of Egwene becoming Amyrlin was the fact that she didn’t spend much time in the Tower and has spent almost all her time with the Aiel Wise Ones learning from them. I guess to me it seemed strange that they would pick her despite being absent for so long. It wasn’t simply because she is powerful. I understand they think they can use her since she is young, but she will take anything on and become a good Amyrlin. As long as she doesn’t swoon over Gawyn again. Yeah, he will be her Warder at some point I’m sure, but their little affair seemed to make her a little absent-minded of other matters.
This brings me to one of my major gripes about this book. There is a substantial amount of nudity in this book that has nothing to do with the weather, and it is all female nudity. I have absolutely no problem with nudity in stories, but in this book it seemed excessive and without many logical reasons for it. Some of it can be attributed to the Aiel culture, and that is fine because it is an explained cultural habit, but there were other areas where it seems simply unnecessary. Like the Amyrlin ceremony where they all practically undress to prove they are female and then many of them don’t get fully dressed again until the very end. It seemed a bit odd.
One story-line on the back burner throughout this book is Morgase in Amadicia with Pedron Niall. We don’t get a lot about Morgase except she ultimately agrees to have Pedron and the Whitecloaks help her regain Amador. Almost everyone else still thinks Morgase is dead. The Whitecloaks seem a bit divided themselves but they are fickle and terrible people so hopefully they turn on each other eventually. Good riddance I say. Galad is strong enough to get out alive should that happen unless he does something stupid.
There are several story-lines simmering on back burners at this time, but with so much left to go in the series, it’s not terribly surprising. I think some of it could have been saved for a later time instead of introducing it this early. This brings me to a second major gripe. The pacing of this book was substantially slower than any of the previous books, including book four, The Shadow Rising. Even with Rand fast-Traveling all over the place, it doesn’t seem like a lot happens. That seems a bit contradictory considering everything I have mentioned so far and what I still have yet to discuss, but there did seem to be a lot of standing around and talking. I think that if the mentions of unnaturally warm weather and summations of characters backstories were removed, this book could have been two hundred pages shorter at least. I understand giving brief descriptions of what happened to characters we haven’t seen in awhile, but this also seemed excessive. I also understand that I am binge-reading this series and didn’t have to wait for each book to come out, but this book came out only four years after The Eye of the World. That means there were six books released in four years. That is extremely fast for a series to be published. Especially books of this size. I personally felt the summaries were not essential in most cases.
Perrin, my favorite character, finally returns near page 800 of this book. He hasn’t been seen since book four, so he has essentially been gone for two books. He, strangely enough, did not get much of a summary when reintroduced. He does get a few paragraphs earlier in this book explaining that he feels the pull toward Rand, but he doesn’t actually come back to the story until we get near the end. The first thing we get from him is his confrontation with Davrim Bashere and subsequent discussion with Bashere’s wife after she is done arguing with Faile. Meeting the in-laws can be nerve wracking if you meet them after getting married and need their acceptance for the marriage to be considered legitimate. He handles it pretty well and they like him for the most part.
After meeting the parents, Perrin and Faile are swept off to Cairhien with Rand where Faile falls into extreme jealousy for no reason and gets upset with Perrin for reasons of her own or that are out of his control. Supposedly it is because of Berelain hanging around Perrin. Poor guy can’t catch a break. Marriage troubles so early on. Perrin is involved in the real nitty-gritty of the book, but we will get to that in a moment. Loial shows back up in the story shortly after Perrin. He is with Perrin of course, and catches up to them in Caemlyn before they all go to Cairhien. He is caught between Perrin and Faile yet again. Poor guy. He is practically their unspoken mediator/marriage counselor at times. We got a brief mention of Loial when his mom and his Stedding Eldar come looking for him in Caemlyn. Rand at the time convinces the Eldar to show him the Waygate in Shadar Logoth where Rand ultimately sets a trap for any shadowspawn that come out of that gate to make them die within days for unknown reasons so they never suspect it was the gate that causes their deaths. Rand takes the Eldar, Loial’s mom, and the Ogier she picked out to marry Loial, to the Two Rivers. We find out later that Perrin and Loial had left the Two Rivers some time before Loial’s mom got there. I bet they meet up in the next book, but Loial better continue to be a steady character. He is one of my favorites. I think he will be. His wife-to-be, Erith, seems like she may very well tag along for a few adventures before settling down in a stedding. Again, we shall see.
Finally, we have Rand. Our main character. The Dragon Reborn. So much happens to Rand in this book. He starts by planning with Bashere and Mat on how to take down Sammael in Illian. Then he diverts Mat to pick up Elayne once he learns where she is. He sets the trap in Shadar Logoth. He establishes an amnesty for any men who can channel and recruits Mazrim Taim to lead the school/camp he establishes to train the men who can channel. This is later called the Black Tower. Not the best name honestly for those supposedly fighting the good fight, but I’m totally okay breaking the trope here (if it is indeed a break for they are ruthless). Rand also established a school in Cairhien and some scholar named Fel comes into play. Fel supposedly figures out the secret behind the seals holding back the Dark One, but in the epilogue of course Fel gets…dismembered…I think. It wasn’t entirely clear but he is dead before he can tell Rand or anyone about the secret of the seals. The Atha’an Miere have been trying to meet with Rand this whole time but it never happens. This is another thread of story on the back burner.
That’s most of what happens with Rand in a very short summation, except for the real crazy stuff. The first of which is that Alanna, the Aes Sedai with Verin who helped Perrin in the Two Rivers, BONDS Rand against his will. That was crazy. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. I thought maybe he would be able to break the bond, but her bond effectively only put a tracer on him so she knows where he is at all times, and he knows where she is, and they can feel each other’s moods and pains to a degree. Still, it came out of nowhere and I’m sure it will come around again. I bet Elayne will lose her shit when she finds out. She might even kill Alanna just so she can bond Rand. I’m joking…mostly. Maybe Alanna will die in some way, or she will release the bond, or there will be a way to break it.
The second crazy thing that happens to Rand is that he gets CAPTURED. This dumbass jumps to Cairhien after getting upset about the Salidar Aes Sedai envoy trying to bully him then he meets with the White Tower Aes Sedai envoy without anyone else in the room. This seemed extremely out of character to be honest. The Salidar envoy had reason to bully him since one of them almost got killed just to send a message to the group to stay away from Rand. Some Aiel attacked the Aes Sedai. At first I thought they may be Shaido, but then I thought maybe they were Darkfriends since a non-Aes Sedai tipped off the rest of the envoy of the attack. It hasn’t been revealed yet who set that trap. Maybe it was Demandred. Anyway, Rand met with the seven Salidar Aes Sedai with a room full of Aiel. Then he Travels to Cairhien just after learning there were a total of 13 Aes Sedai in Caemlyn. He then decides to meet with the White Tower envoy, with no guards, and lets the three Aes Sedai roll into this hearing with a large group of female servants carrying more “offerings” for him. Why would he meet them alone? Why would he not be suspicious of all the servants being female? Why would he let so many females associated with Aes Sedai into his presence at once after just running from a group of thirteen? It all seemed a bit too wool-headed even for Rand.
So Rand is captured by the White Tower envoy. This envoy is also in an agreement with the Shaido. Sevanna has plans for Rand which included using some item to control him, but she decides to marry him instead? So she can control all the Aiel as the wife of the Car’a’carn? I don’t understand that. Or the fact that Sevanna was allowed to walk around as a Wise One with no consequences. Near the end she has one of her own Wise Ones ripped apart by the other Wise Ones in her group that can use the One Power. The whole Shaido thing is a disgusting mess. I hate Sevanna and hope she gets what she deserves soon. Her killing of her own Wise One was, I presume, an excuse to attack the White Tower envoy, a betrayal of their weak agreement, to get her hands on Rand.
The culmination of this book is a fight between the White Tower envoy, the Shaido, and Perrin with his groups of Cairhien troops with Aiel. His Two Rivers group catches up to the envoy bringing along the reduced Salidar envoy who were on their way to Cairhien to meet with Rand. They group up to take on the White Tower envoy and Shaido who are already fighting each other. Wise Ones get involved in this fight by using the One Power, including Sorilea and Amys. The fight is raging on and guess who decides to show up via Traveling? Mazrim Taim and his students/fighters in their black uniforms. They start hurling saidin around like it is nothing and they completely devastate the battlefield. They literally make the Shaido Aiel explode. Row after row. Everyone is appalled by this. They are effective death machines, but Rand praises them afterwards for their efforts and discipline. The entire battle with so much of the One Power going around makes me excited for some cool stuff later on in the series. No more one-to-one fights with the Power. We might get entire battles with all participants flinging it around.
One thing I hadn’t mentioned was that Min was with the original Salidar envoy to Caemlyn and latches onto Rand upon their reunion. She hasn’t outright told him she loves him yet, but she’s practically dating him. She got captured by the White Tower envoy before Rand did and Rand went rage mode when he figured that out.
Rand has also been on the edge of sanity for a while. Battling Lews Therin Telamon’s voice in his head. Lew Therin is actually there though and communicates with Rand and sometimes tries to embrace saidin before Rand and take over completely. I think this will eventually develop in one of two ways. Either Lews Therin will take over at some point and cause havoc, or Lews Therin and Rand will work together or merge in some way to become super strong. Maybe Rand will get his memories kind of like how Mat has past memories of past heroes. This is just speculation though. Anything can happen.
On to the next book. A Crown of Swords.