Knife of Dreams



Knife of Dreams


Knife of Dreams is book eleven in the Wheel of Time series. This book was originally published in 2005 and, unfortunately, was the last book in the series to be written entirely by Robert Jordan. He passed away in 2007. The remainder of the Wheel of Time was completed by Brandon Sanderson. I do recall reading somewhere that Jordan had intended to finish the series with book twelve. He had so much written though that they decided to turn that twelfth book into three books resulting in the total of fourteen in the series. “They” being, I assume, the publishers, etc.

Because the remaining books were finished by someone else, I do hold some reservations about how the series will end. However, I’ve heard from many fans that Brandon Sanderson does an excellent job writing these final books so readers hardly notice it was not Jordan himself who finished them. I’ll just have to dive in and see how I feel about them. I will say that Knife of Dreams is my favorite of the series so far.

And now we come to the obligatory Spoiler Warning for the remainder of the post. If you haven’t read the series, you likely won’t know what I’m talking about at this point, but I’d had to ruin something for you should you do decide to read it (you should because it is great). The same goes for anyone who is currently reading the series but isn’t this far yet. If you fall in this category, go check out my thoughts on the previous books.

Okay, here we go. Another long prologue but it opens up with an amazing confrontation between Galad and Valda. Valda is still leading the Whitecloaks but has aligned with the Seanchan. Galad accuses Valda of forcing himself on Morgase, who is technically his step-mom. This accusation results in him fighting a duel with Valda where he eventually is able to win and kill Valda. We don’t see Galad the rest of the book unfortunately, but I think he may now be the leader of the Whitecloaks, especially since Asunawa runs away during the fight presumably to join the Seanchan.

Many of the Whitecloaks seem glad that Valda dies. Including Dain Bornhald and Byar who are with Galad at this point and seem to be loyal to him. This will be interesting considering Galad’s always does what he thinks is right no matter the cost to himself or others. If I have the lineage correct, Galad is technically Rand’s half-brother since they have the same mother. I wonder if this will come into play later. It would be nice to see Galad bring the Whitecloaks out of fanaticism and actually a force for good. I will consider it a major achievement since I’ve hated the Whitecloaks since day one.

Also in the prologue is a small update on Liandrin. I don’t think we have seen her since Moghedien shielded her and tied off the weave a long time ago. We do get a small update on the other Black Ajah who fled the White Tower later in this book and I’ll talk about them when I get to that. Liandrin is now a servant of Suroth. We learn that Suroth is actually a Darkfriend, and that the Seanchan have their own name, and punishments, for Darkfriends. Suroth gets a visit from Semirhage who tells her that the Empress and the entire imperial family, except Tuon, have been killed back in Seandar. She suggests that Suroth try to become Empress. In order for her to achieve this, she will need to kill Tuon. The Seanchan as a people are apparently in a chaotic civil war with many people trying to claim the throne. This means that no more Seanchan are coming from across the sea and that their forces will be weakened.

We learn two other things in the prologue. The first is Beslan has become king in Ebou Dar after his mother Tylin was killed. The second being Alviarin was originally ordered to shatter the White Tower from within. That wraps up most of what was in the prologue.

Next, I’ll discuss the events around Egwene. She is still in the Tower as a “captive” only in the sense that she is continually fed small amounts of forkroot to keep her from being able to channel her full strength. Elaida claimed she was used and won’t be punished for claiming to be Amyrlin. She instead demotes Egwene to Novice status. Egwene continues to claim she is Amyrlin which gets her continuous visits to the Mistress of Novices for beatings, but her resolve is admirable. She tells the Mistress of Novices that she is a Dreamer and she had a dream foretelling the Seanchan were going to attack the White Tower. She isn’t believed at first, but she slowly begins to convince those around her that her intentions are for the White Tower and that she has the qualities to be the Amyrlin as she claims.

Leane was also captured after turning only half of the south harbor chain into cuendillar. Egwene was able to turn the north chain completely. Their plan didn’t work 100%, but it was enough to hinder supplied getting into the city to a point where it will cause major problems.

We learn that Beonin is the one who betrayed Egwene. She apparently took advantage of Siuan’s removal as well in some way. She Travels into the White Tower and gets herself to Elaida by disguising herself. Supposedly she has been a spy for Elaida the whole time (bitch) with the task of sowing dissent among the rebels until the eventually quit and return to the Tower. For some reason, Elaida has Beonin only teach her the weaves for Traveling. She goes as far as having Beonin swear not to teach others without her permission.

Merise and Jahar show up with a few others to the rebel camp. They make the offer from Rand that the Aes Sedai can bond 47 Asha’man. Only 47 because that would then equal the number of Aes Sedai who were bonded by Asha’man, since the few Asha’man who were in Cairhein were bonded. That mean 51 Aes Sedai were bonded when going to the Black Tower. We know Logain bonded two of them.

At the very end of this book, in the epilogue, we see Pevara and five other Red sisters go to the Black Tower to meet with Mazrim. We get a look into what he has been doing. Mainly building a fortress for himself and recruiting Asha’man for his own purposes. He effectively has an army of saidin users. When he meets with the Red sisters, he does agree to letting them bond up to 47 Asha’man, but they must agree to be bonded and cannot be bonded against their will. He then basically reveals himself as one of the Forsaken, at least to the reader, by saying “let the lord of chaos rule” which we know is in relation to the Dark One. I talked about the possibility of Mazrim being Forsaken in a previous book and how I thought it wasn’t likely unless that Forsaken member, I assume is Damandred, had killed the original Mazrim. I could be wrong, but then I could be right with that guess.

Back to the rebel camp. Jahar is given time to speak to the Hall in the rebel camp where he explains that saidin has been cleansed. He also reveals how and that they fought the Forsaken, which leads to his disclosure of one of the Forsaken being a woman who can channel saidin. Romanda immediately calls for Delana and Halima to be taken into custody, but they have already fled. The camp finally figures out that who has been behind the murders, which I can’t help but wonder about since Sheriam has been losing her composure and has likely been manipulated in some way by Halima. What is happening with Sheriam? Has she turned Darkfriend? Is she going to regain her composure and become good again? Is she just going to fall into the background and we never see her again? All are possible and the answer is waiting in the remaining books.

Last few things about Egwene. She is making strides in the White Tower by planting seeds among the Aes Sedai and Novices. Seeds that will grow and eventually bring about Elaida’s removal. Egwene is appalled at how divided and unkempt the Tower has become. Sisters don’t roam the halls as they normally had. They keep only to their own Ajahs. They are suspicious of each other. Egwene sees this and it only increases her resolve. I believe it was the chapter “Honey in the Tea” that shows Egwene’s progress in the Tower. Going from “prisoner” to a respected woman who shows the qualities of Amyrlin. Many of the Novices go from shunning her to viewing her as a full Aes Sedai if not Amyrlin. Egwene still calls herself Amyrlin too. Not only the Novices see this. Many Aes Sedai actually begin to respect her and see her quality. It was a longer chapter, but it shows much character growth and progress. More than I think we have seen about Egwene in a long time if ever. She has become the definition of what an Amyrlin should be, and with what she is doing in her current situation, she will easily be able to mend the Tower once Elaida is removed.

Short aside on Elaida. She has been studying Tarmon Gai’don. Apparently the ghosts we have seen in the past few books are a sign of the Dark One touching the world and is a reference to the Last Battle approaching. I’m not sure if her information in this area will keep her as a viable character after she is removed as Amyrlin or not. I’d just as likely see her removed and gone for good. We will see.

This book is filled with great scenes. I couldn’t help but notice that most of this book seemed to be gearing up for Tarmon Gai’don. We knew this was coming, and since we are nearing the end of the series, this makes a lot of sense. A few other things that hint that the Last Battle is approaching is now many of the larger cities/palaces are changing unexpectedly. The palace in Caemlyn and even the White Tower randomly have hallways and rooms move or change. Of course the unnatural spoiling of food is also a sign. I’m curious how bad things will get before Rand faces down the Dark One. We are in the endgame now.

Next up is the Forsaken. For being such major characters, especially in the beginning, they have been in the background for a long time while our characters have faced off against the Seachan and Shaido. We do get a few tidbits in this book however. One already mentioned is that Mazrim might be Demandred. We get a seen of the Forsaken meeting. Aran’gar is Halima, which I can’t remember if we knew that already or not. Either way, Aran’gar and Mesaana apparently had been planning both sides of the Aes Sedai rift. Influencing both sides to bring down the White Tower prior to Tarmon Gai’don. Had they succeeded, it would have been a huge blow to Rand’s chances of winning. They reveal that only three seals on the Dark One’s prison are remaining and Rand apparently has all of them. The Forsaken are tasked with finding the seals. Moridin claims Rand as his alone and that no other Forsaken can fight him. He then orders the others to find and kill Perrin and Mat.

Speaking of Perrin and Mat, we will talk about them next. Perrin (still one of my favorites) is now carrying the hammer and has given up the ax. When he meets with the Seanchan to form a temporary alliance to fight the Shaido, a Seanchan prophecy is revealed alluding to Perrin and Mat. Part of the prophecy states that Perrin carrying the hammer is a hint that the Last Battle is near. Anyway, the main reason Perrin gets into communication with the Seanchan is because of Tallanvor, whom we have not seen since just after Morgase was captured by the Shaido at the end of book eight. Tallanvor brings Perrin and a Seanchan commander together. They make an elaborate plan, which involved putting forkroot into the Shaido water supply to prevent the Wise Ones from using the One Power as weapon when they attack. Perrin finally attacks the Shaido 54 days after Faile was taken.

Faile has been in the camp and has had many of the gai’shain swear loyalty to her. They all see her as a leader and want to help her escape so she can come back to rescue them. She eventually gets the Oath Rod from Therava because of one of these followers. This puts her plan into motion with Galina as a pivotal piece in their escape. Faile has a secondary escape plan as well, but it includes leaving with one of the mera’din, or Brotherless, Aiel who are not Shaido. His name is Rolan and he hopes to convince Faile to be with him. He mentions he and the other mera’din have discussed going back to the Three-Fold Land. He is the one who took Faile originally and made her gai’shain. A lot goes on with Faile and Rolan but she never crosses any lines and only flirts with Rolan at times in response to his affections. Though she does consider crossing a line toward the end if it was her only way of escape. It luckily doesn’t come to that.

We do learn that the Shaido Wise Ones have sent someone to Rhuidean to become the new clan chief, thus removing Sevanna from her role as leader. Therava had been asking questions to find out which Wise Ones let Couladin go to Rhuidean, but she can’t find any. She likely suspects that Couladin never went and therefore would never have been legitimately the clan chief.

Before we get to the battle, a few things to discuss. Tam al’thor arrives to command the Two Rivers men for Perrin during the battle. We haven’t seen Tam in a long time and it was nice to see him back and showing off his battle skills. Then comes Aram and Masema. Masema is still traveling with Perrin and was Perrin’s main reason for leaving Rand in Cairhein so long ago. Faile being taken prevents him from taking Masema to Rand so Rand can figure out what to do with him. Anyway, Aram has been slipping. He has been meeting with Masema and spending too much time with his fanatical people. Masema still is not seen much in the book, but his influence leads to a confrontation between Aram and Perrin. This confrontation happens during the fight against the Shaido where Aram tries to kill Perrin! I knew Aram was losing it, but I wasn’t sure it was that bad until this happens. Aram and Perrin have known each other since book one when Aram was a Tinker. They have a long history and Aram became extremely loyal to Perrin after he picks up the sword, so I’m surprised he was able to be corrupted by Masema to the point where he betrays Perrin. He attacks Perrin inside the Shaido camp and Perrin defends himself. The encounter is brief and Aram is killed by Shaido arrows. I thought this was a poor conclusion to Aram’s character since he has been around for so long. I thought the betrayal and fight with Perrin could have been so much more heartbreaking, but I guess that was just a missed opportunity. Aram somehow believed Masema when he said Perrin was a Darkfriend and uses his yellow eyes as the only proof. Aram should have known better. Maybe we could have gotten a scene with Masema and Aram to show how he was corrupted to make Aram’s doubt of Perrin more believable. Honestly, I didn’t care much for Aram to begin with, but I still was left wanting a bit more in this instance.

Perrin fights his way through the Shaido and finally gets to Faile, who was just rescued by Rolan and his friends. Galina had trapped Faile and the others who were originally captured with her after Faile gives her the Oath Rod. Faile figures out that Galina is Black Ajah because of this. Anyway, Perrin shows up right after Rolan frees Faile and they go to fight each other not knowing who they are or that they likely could have quickly bartered a truce. Rolan goes to meet Perrin and hesitates when Faile calls out Perrin’s name. That hesitation is what caused Perrin to easily kill Rolan in one hit. I feel bad about Rolan because he was a good man who was doing what he thought was right. I was hoping he could have survived and maybe joined Perrin’s party like Gaul or maybe even just had an amicable parting of ways. It’s weird feeling worse about such a minor character than I did about Aram, but sometimes that happens.

After this battle, Sevanna is captured by the Seanchan. The Seanchan also capture nearly all the Wise Ones and collar them with a’dam. Part of Perrin’s agreement with the Seanchan was that they would also kill Masema and his men. They succeed in destroying most of Masema’s forces, but Masema gets away with about 100 men, so he is still going to be an issue later. Galina is trying to escape when Therava finds her with a large group of surviving Shaido. Therava recaptures her and Galina knows that she will be Therava’s pet for the rest of her life. Therava claims she is taking the remaining Shaido back to the Three-fold Land to rebuild their clan even though it will take generations.

That wraps up Perrin’s progress in this book. Now let’s move on to Mat. Mat purchases a rare horse that he eventually gives to Tuon. He also buys a piece of good wood that he turns into a good Two Rivers bow. We learn that Noal claims to be a cousin of Jain Farstrider, but he seems to know a bit more about Jain as if he could be Jain himself. I have a feeling Noal will become a much bigger character. Especially after Mat reads the letter Thom keeps rereading. The letter he gets from Moraine right after she dies. The letter reveals that she is not dead and can be saved, but only by Mat, Thom, and one other person she did not know. This person turns out to be Noal. Mat agrees to go with Thom and some of the dice in his head stop upon agreeing to go. I’m sure we still have a lot to learn about Thom still too. I knew Moraine was not gone for good. She “dies” back in book five, and we learn she is possibly alive in book eleven. If she is going to come back, it won’t be for too long since we are nearing the end.

We also learn that Mistress Anan, the innkeeper from Ebou Dar, used to be Aes Sedai. Presumably stilled, she is following Mat for her own reasons which she says are to aid him. Who could she really be? What are her reasons? Maybe she will turn out to be a bigger character too.

We get a chapter from Tuon’s perspective, which is very interesting because she is still very much all about the Seanchan and doing what is best for the Empire. This makes Mat and her relationship much more problematic because they are on completely opposite sides of a larger conflict. But this doesn’t stop them from having their relationship either. Tuon states that Mat his her husband three times and by doing so makes that a fact by Seanchan custom since Mat already stated she was his wife three times. She “marries” him shortly after Furyk shows up. Furyk is the Deathwatch guard who went looking for Tuon back in the prologue of book ten. He was able to catch up and see through Mat’s plans before Mat could escape beyond Seanchan controlled territory. He was extremely outmatched and believed he would likely die, but when he meets with Mat, Mat tells him he could take Tuon back only if Tuon trusted him and he could be sure she was safe. Tuon trusts him because Furyk had served her in the past.

We then get a battle between Mat and the Seanchan soldiers who were following Furyk. They were following him to find out where Tuon was so they could kill her. The battle is meant to give Tuon time to escape, but the soldiers he fights were promised a large reward and they never surrender or retreat so they all end up dying in the field with very few losses on Mat’s side. The soldiers were all from local countries and led by one Seanchan commander. Furyk’s men, who stayed to fight with Mat before catching up to guard Tuon, recognize the Seanchan man and take his head to show Tuon. In the epilogue, we see Tuon returning to Ebou Dar and confronting Suroth. She shows Suroth the head because it was one of her loyal people which reveals Suroth was behind the attempt on Tuon’s life. Tuon makes Suroth da’covale and will be sold. News of the Empress’s death reached Ebou Dar by this time so Tuon knows she will be Empress.

A lot happens in this book and we are nearing the end. Thanks for hanging in this far. Next, I’m going to talk about Elayne’s story. She is still in Caemlyn trying to secure the Lion Throne. Aviendha leaves with the Aiel Wise Ones. The Wise Ones leave apparently from an order by Rand. Elayne is having Mellar followed because she doesn’t trust him. There are hints that some of the mercenary companies under Elayne may turn on her once Arymilla pays them upfront.

Elayne learns that Mellar has been visiting a few of the Black Ajah in the city. The same Black Ajah she left the White Tower to pursue with Egwene and Nynaeve way back in book two or three (or four?). Elayne goes to capture the Black Ajah with the other Aes Sedai with her. The three Aes Sedai are all killed when the rest of the Black Ajah show up. It was not only two, but all remaining (I think eight?) of them. We find out which one of the Aes Sedai with Elayne killed Vandene’s sister. Vandene gets her revenge just before dying. Elayne gets captured and is being taken out of the city. Birgitte hastily forms a rescue party that includes the Windfinders still in the palace due to Elayne’s agreement with Zaida. They Travel outside the city and attack the Black Sisters. One of which has the rod that shoots balefire. Birgitte convinces the Windfinders to use the One Power as a weapon. They kill the one using the balefire and capture the others, thus rescuing Elayne. Of course, Elayne then goes straight to the fighting with Arymilla where she is able to surround them and make them surrender. The other Houses show up in Caemlyn and most of them claim for her so she gains the throne. Now she knows she has to prepare for Tarmon Gai’don. She does all of this while being pregnant with twins. I’m curious how far along she is though. I’m assuming only a few months since it hasn’t been long since Rand was in the palace. She did take Min’s viewing, that she would be perfectly okay until the children were born, a little to far in assuming nothing bad would happen to her.

And now we finally get to the last topic for this book. Rand. And Loial since he is one of my favorite characters and he has finally come back into the story.  Loial is with Rand when his mother shows up with Eldar Haran and Erith. He gets married to Erith. Hurray! And what better way to celebrate a marriage than to be attacked by 100,000 Trollocs led by several Myrddraal? Yep. A large force attacks the manor Rand is hiding out in. Luckily, it was right after Logain returns with some Asha’man because without them they would have all died. Rand goes to reach for saidin and Lew Therin actually gains control and starts weaving crazy things like Death Gates and Blossoms of Fire and Arrows of Fire. The other Asha’man quickly learn the weaves and use them. This allows them to win against such a large force. Only a group of Saldaeans die in the battle. Rand has to fight Lews Therin and convince him not to die until after the Last Battle. Lews Therin reluctantly agrees.

Quick return to Loial. We learn that the Great Stump, or gathering of Ogier, is meeting to decide whether or not the Ogier are going to leave the world and return when “The Wheel Turns.” I guess they have done this before. They go to an alternate world or dimension and return when a conflict is over. Loial’s mother is for leaving. Loial is not because the conflict happening is the Last Battle. Loial is going to go speak at the Great Stump to try and convince the Ogier to remain and help in the last fight.

Quick return to Logain. He goes to the Atha’an Miere and tells them they need to ferry supplies to Bandar Ebon for over one million people in preparation for Tarmon Gai’don. It is in this scene we learn that the people of Tremalking have abandoned their island and any who couldn’t leave took poison. They had a prophecy that signaled when it was their time to “wake from the illusion.” This signal was the sa’angreal on the island melting, which was caused by Rand and Nynaeve when they used it to cleanse saidin.

Nynaeve convinces Lan to go to Shienar to prepare for the Last Battle. He has been feeling a pull back to the Blight. She agrees to take him there only after he swears an oath to let anyone who wanted to join him do so on his march to Tarwin’s gap. She Travels with him to the coast of the Borderlands and leaves him there so he has to travel across the continent to get to Shienar (such a Nynaeve thing to do). She then visits several villages along that route telling them that Lan is marching toward Tarmon Gai’don so they will rally to him. She does all this before returning to Rand.

And finally we get to the end. Or my last point I think important. Rand goes to meet with who believes it Tuon to strike a truce with the Seanchan before going to the Last Battle. We as readers know that it isn’t Tuon since she is with Mat, but I was surprised to find out who it actually is. The person who comes out of the manor house that is the meeting location looks like Tuon but her disguise falters and we learn it is Semirhage. She had brought along several damane and they have a brief battle. The very start of the battle has Rand reaching for saidin and fighting over it with Lew Therin. The result being that he gets hit by an attack from Semirhage and loses his left hand. Semirhage and the Seanchan damane and sul’dam are captured. They were all fooled by Semirhage and believed they were being honored by Tuon. Inside the manor house is a box containing several male a’dam they had planned to use to capture Rand. Nynaeve sees these and realizes Egeanin broke her promise to drop the a’dam they found in Tanchico into the ocean. Instead, the Seanchan have the male a’dam and have made more of them. Semirhage was masquerading as Suroth’s Truthspeaker this whole time apparently, but now she is captured by Rand. We will see what information he gets from her. I assume the remaining Forsaken will be coming out to play soon as we start to wrap things up, which leads me to wonder where Asmodean has been this whole time. We haven’t seen Padan Fain either and he is still on the loose after Rand fought him in Far Madding back in book nine.

Here is to hoping Brandon Sanderson does indeed to a great job in wrapping up the amazing story Robert Jordan has given us. Next is The Gathering Storm. I’m still planning to finish the series by the end of the year so you can expect my thoughts on the remaining books by December.

Crossroads of Twilight

Crossroads of Twilight


Crossroads of Twilight is book ten in the Wheel of Time series and was published in 2003. Thirteen years after the first book. I was lucky to jump into this series after the final book was written and I have been flying through them. It has been less than eight months since I began the series and I just finished book ten. I took a short break between book nine and ten to read another book, that I had received and advanced copy of, and the prequel to this series New Spring.

I am unsure, but I think that short break threw off my rhythm of the series. I was really into things and reading the advanced copy book and then the prequel was like taking a step back. That being said, I still read this book fairly quickly, but I did come to it at a slightly different angle. Like returning to television series after waiting for the next season.

Anyway, I am writing my thoughts about this installment. There will be spoilers so read at your own risk if you have not read the series or are not yet to this book in the series.

First, let’s talk about that prologue. Another long one at almost 12% of the actual book (RJ likes his prologues). Several things happen in the prologue. There is no mention of Black Ajah outside of the Sisters in the White Tower searching for them. Nor is there mention of the Forsaken. However, we do get a new character I am assuming will come into play later on. Rodel Ituralde, known as The Wolf, is uniting forces in Arad Doman to defend the country against the Seanchan. We also get a glimpse of Logain who goes out to recruit more Asha’man. And lastly, we get my boy Loial showing up in Cairhein. I have missed this Ogier. Dobraine is almost killed and Logain shows up in Cairhein at the end of the prologue.

We then open with Mat. He is hiding out in Luca’s menagerie just outside of Ebou Dar. He learns that Tylin was killed the night they escaped and only he really knows it was the gholam that killed her. He feels immense guilt because he tied her up and left her. Tuon is in fact the main successor of the Seanchan throne, so I am led to believe she will inevitably inherit that throne. Furyk, a Seanchan Deathwatch guard sets off to find Tuon early on in this book and we don’t hear from him again so I guess we may see him in book eleven. Mat gets Luca to start traveling toward Tar Valon. Mat does make headway with his relationship with Tuon during their travels. I think he is only courting her because he was told she would be his wife the day he was hanged in Rhuidean way back in book four(?). The last thing we get that’s interesting in Mat’s storyline is that he seemingly sees ghosts of people that no one else sees when he takes Tuon on a shopping trip. This seems like a foreshadowing since we get mentions of ghosts in Perrin’s storyline.

So speaking of Perrin, let’s jump to him. He is still one of my favorites. This entire post is going to contradict my next statement, but I felt like not a lot happened in this particular installment. Perrin is still chasing after the Shaido to recover Faile. She was captured at the end of book eight I believe. We get a quick glimpse of Faile in the Shaido camp/city. There are 70,000 Aiel in the camp/city. I think this number includes the gai’shain. Anyway, Faile is planning her own escape because she knows if Perrin attempts a rescue, he will be slaughtered.

Perrin does catch up to the Shaido though and he is scoping out the best way to get Faile back. Outside of his camp though, he finds tracks of Darkhounds (which for some reason I pictured as the gargoyle dogs from Ghostbusters in this book). The last time we saw Darkhounds were outside of Illian and then in Rhuidean. Both times they had to be killed with balefire. Both times they had belonged to Sammael, who was supposedly killed in Shadar Logoth in book seven. Perrin, and Elyas, review the tracks and determine the Darkhounds are searching for something/someone else or else they would have attacked them a while back. Perrin enters So Habor to get supplies for his camp. This town is not doing well and supposedly the people are seeing ghosts, like Mat did, and they are living much more poorly than they actually are. Perrin buys grain but has the townsfolk clean the grain for weevils before sending it to his camp. The weevil issue shows up in Egwene’s camp as well despite it being unusual for winter and the fact that her containers were preserved using the One Power so it should have been impossible for weevils to manifest. More on Egwene later.

Perrin returns from So Habor to find his scouts had captured five Shaido. He finds them being tortured by Masema’s men. Aram is with Masema at this time. Aram seems to be losing it a bit. He kind of turned fanatical after he picked up the sword initially, but he was following Perrin and things were going well. He has been slipping though since Faile was captured. I hope he doesn’t go crazy. Perrin cuts off the hand of one of the Shaido with his ax. Doing so convinces the other prisoners to tell all they know, which isn’t much. Afterwards, Perrin goes off and chucks the ax into a tree and leaves it there. I don’t think he is really abandoning the ax, but we will see.

Masema has been a bit of a background character since he joined up with Perrin in book nine. I’m sure something will happen soon with him since he is literally insane.

Not much happens with Elayne in this book. She is in Caemlyn working to secure the throne while everyone is worrying over her being pregnant with twins. There is a lot going on technically, but it is mostly political and I didn’t really care about the “lords” opposing her. At least right now. What did kind of catch my interest was that there is small mention of the Forsaken having plans afoot in Caemlyn and the throne, but again we have to wait to see what happens.

Book nine ended with Rand and Nynaeve cleansing saidin of the Dark One’s taint. We find out that this event takes place during the events of this book and we get a better glimpse of what the aftermath looks like. After they finished wielding an enormous amount of the One Power (supposedly it was mainly saidin with the comparison being that the amount of saidar used was like a foothill next to a mountain), all that was left of the former city known as Shadar Logoth was a giant hole roughly three miles in diameter and a mile in depth. I can’t help but wonder how this will impact Padan Fain. Will he be weaker? His source or origin of evil was from that place. Will the city being eradicated make him easier to defeat? Again, we have to wait and see, but he has been in the series since book one so I’m sure there will be a big fight or event that will mean the end of him.

Anyone who can wield the One Power is able to feel what Rand and Nynaeve did. It seemingly was like a beacon and everyone knew where it was taking place and how much power was being wielded, but no one knows what it was or what it was used for after it finally dissipates. This leads to several interesting developments we will get to in a minute.

First, let’s cover Rand short storyline in this book. He is hiding out somewhere in Tear recovering. He still gets dizzy when embracing saidin but it isn’t as bad. Lews Therin is still in his head. Loial, Bashere, and Logain arrive at the estate he is at and Min sees her viewings that Logain is still destined for glory, but she also sees something ominous about Bashere. That he may betray Rand or do something similarly dark or against Rand. I like Bashere, but of course now I am wary of him as well. Rand sends these three to strike a truce with the Seanchan. They return stating the Seanchan are amenable to a truce, but Rand must meet with Tuon personally. This will be interesting since the Seanchan don’t know where Tuon is right now.

We do get a few insights into Cadsuane’s angreal that she wears as ornaments in her hair. One lets her know if a man is channeling nearby, and she doesn’t even know what some of the other ones do, which makes me wonder why she has them and how she came about acquiring them as she starting collecting them only in relatively recent years.

Last thing about Rand’s story is Elza. She is an Aes Sedai sworn to Rand, but she is still Black Ajah. She has grown unusually protective of Rand recently. She apparently wants to ensure Rand gets to the Last Battle only so the Dark One can defeat him. Her Warder is also a darkfriend and likes killing.

The rest of the events of this book center around Aes Sedai. Mainly Egwene and those in the White Tower. The last time we saw Egwene in earnest was at the end of book eight when she Travels to lay siege to Tar Valon. She is outside Tar Valon in this book and has only been there for about one week. The Hall with Egwene comes to a decision that they must form an alliance with the Black Tower. This stems from the fact that many Aes Sedai have forgotten. That circles are not limited to thirteen users when a man wielding saidin is included. They all believe they must form an alliance so they can form circles large enough to combat whatever it was that destroyed Shadar Logoth. They all think it was the Forsaken using a weapon. We know it was Rand cleansing saidin, but no one else really does. Not even the Asha’man. All they know is that the taint is no longer there when they embrace the One Power. However, none of the Aes Sedai know that saidin is cleansed accept those who have bonded with them, which means only those in Rand’s party.

We get an interesting dynamic here. The Hall in the White Tower came to the same conclusion as well about an alliance with the Black Tower, and for the same reason. One main difference being that Tarna, who recently replaced Alviarin as Keeper to Elaida (we will talk about that soon), suggests that the Red Ajah must be the ones to make the Asha’man their Warders since they have the experience of handling men who can channel. She suggests they make all the Asha’man Warders of the Red Ajah. A crazy concept considering the Red Ajah’s reputation of having no Warders and the realization they would all have to bond several Warders each in order to get all the Asha’man. I don’t think this will happen, but I do think that the Black Tower and White Tower will form an alliance no matter who is in the White Tower after Egwene and Elaida battle it out. I think the alliance will be mutual with Aes Sedai bonding Asha’man and vice versa since Logain already has bonded a few Aes Sedai. Perhaps it will be a new type of bond that is mutually exclusive.

During the Hall’s meeting with Egwene present, Sheriam basically breaks down. She seems to be losing it. She was a strong character when she was the Mistress of Novices in the White Tower, but she has lost that strength and I think it is partially because she is being manipulated/tortured by a darkfriend, possibly Halima, because we saw her get attacked in a previous book while in the camp. Two Aes Sedai are killed in the camp as well and they learn that they died by saidin. We know Halima is a former male Forsaken reborn as a woman and can wield saidin, but no one else does so a hunt begins to find this murderer.

Egwene is last seen attempting to cut the enormous chain that is blocking one harbor into Tar Valon. She is attacked and wakes up, presumably, by an Aes Sedai of the White Tower. So she has been captured. I think this may accelerate the actual attack on Tar Valon when Gareth Bryne finds out. Her being captured also hints that she was betrayed in some fashion because they knew there would be an attempt to cut the chain.

Elaida is open to meeting with Egwene’s group for negotiations but she states that her edicts, those stating the Blue Ajah no longer exists and all rebels in Egwene’s group would face punishments from Elaida herself before being allowed back into the Tower, must remain. Egwene let’s negotiations take place only to buy time. Her only requirement was that Elaida be removed as Amyrlin. Obviously the negotiations do not progress much at all, but they do take place.

Alviarin returns to the White Tower after a month of running errands for Mesaana. She returns from a visit to Tremalking. She also admits to having a quick glance at what happened at Shadar Logoth. She comes back to find Elaida has replaced her since she was nowhere to be found when the rebel group showed up outside of the city. Alviarin reports to Mesaana that she thinks Elaida knows of the Black Ajah and may be close to obtaining evidence. We learn that the Black Ajah has apparently been within the White Tower since its founding three thousand years ago. We also learn that Alviarin is the only one who knows every member of the Black Ajah. If Pevara, the one Elaida asked to hunt the Black Ajah, gets a hold of Alviarin, then they could get the whole lot of them.

During Alviarin’s report to Mesaana, Shaidar Haran arrives and binds Mesaana for not coming when called. He goes on to torture her after he marks Alviarin as one of his servants. Alviarin believes that Shadar Haran is the Dark Lord using a unique Myrddraal as a vessel.

That pretty much wraps up book ten. I’m on to book eleven, Knife of Dreams, which has another lengthy prologue. I’ve only just started but the opening scene is great. I’ll hopefully finish this next installment soon.

10 Quick Reads

Today I’m talking about some of my favorite books that are less than 200 pages long. I am not including short stories, collections, or series and will be focusing on full-length, standalone books that tell a story in its entirety. These are not in any specific order. I hope you find something you like and pick one up for a leisurely weekend read. 

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit-451

Coming in at 158 pages and first published in 1953, this dystopian novel has been a favorite of mine since I first read it in high school. I read it again recently and still love it. A world where books are considered contraband, “firemen” are dispatched to burn any books that are found. Everything is fireproof so the firemen in this book actually start fires instead of put them out. Bradbury was an excellent writer and this is a great introduction if you have yet to discover his work.

Stranger

2. The Stranger by Albert Camus

At 123 pages and published in 1942, The Stranger is the story of a man who seemingly commits murder for no reason whatsoever. The despondency of the main character, Meursault, is a mystery that pulls the reader in and his apathy is what makes the ending memorable.

3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The-Little-PrincePublished in 1943 and 96 pages of pure innocence, The Little Prince is one of those stories that remind you that life is actually simple and magical when you remove all of unnecessary responsibilities we place on ourselves. It does so by reminding us of what the universe looks like through the eyes of a child. This short read is accompanied by several illustrations so it is an even quicker read than you might expect. Perfect to read during a morning coffee or to read aloud to a child before bed.

4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the SeaPublished in 1952, this novel comes in at 127 pages. It was also the last major work of fiction published during Hemingway’s life. The story follows an old Cuban fisherman as he spends roughly an entire day attempting to haul in the largest catch of his life. Kind of like a mini Moby Dick, this book gets to the point much faster and tells a more personal, introspective account.

5. Anthem by Ayn Rand

AnthemAnother dystopian story, but published in 1938, this book imagines a world “after World War III,” or effectively after humanity blows itself back to a stone age. The resulting society has eliminated the use of the word “I” or any other possessive term. People are simply known by a combination of a word and numbers and everyone practices the belief that they must only act in the interest of everyone else. At 104 pages, it is a very quick but thought-provoking story.

6. Art Matters by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell

Art MattersLess of a book and more of a speech/credo, this 112 page book doesn’t feature actual page numbers and is filled mostly by beautiful illustrations by Chris Riddell. I greatly enjoy this little title because of its brevity and reminder that life is a beautiful thing much simpler than we like to make it out to be. It released just last year in 2018.

7. A Slow Regard for Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Slow RegardThis title comes with a caveat. At 159 pages and published in 2014, this book I consider as supplemental material to Pat’s popular series The Kingkiller Chronicles. I consider is supplemental because it is the week in the life of Auri, a minor but important and mysterious character from the series. You can definitely read this without reading the series first, but you may not fully appreciate Auri’s nature. It is not technically included in the series itself so I consider it standalone but with recommended a prerequisite.

Time Machine

8. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Published in 1895 and coming in at only 84 pages, this story contains and is itself a time traveling story. It reads like it was written recently save for a few dated word choices and a somewhat dated initial setting. I consider this an essential read for anyone interested in the history of science fiction.

9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Ocean2014 brought us this 178 page story about a man revisiting his childhood home after attending a funeral. He remembers the events that took place 40 years earlier, which include a young girl named Lettie Hempstock, an evil spirit, and the clash of supernatural forces. Another magical read by a master craftsman.

The Screwtape Letters10. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

Formatted as a series of letters from the demon Screwtape to another demon by the name of Wormwood. This story shows a one-sided tale of an uncle attempting to guide his nephew in his task of securing a man’s soul for the devil. At 160 pages, and published in 1942, this book was dedicated to Lewis’s good friend J.R.R. Tolkien and provides plenty of laughs.

 

Happy Reading.

New Spring

New Spring


New Spring is the prequel to the Wheel of Time series. I’ve looked online to what other readers think is the best time to read the prequel. The general consensus is to read the books in chronological order of publication, which would put New Spring in the reading order just after book ten. I read this prequel after book nine. I’m just getting into book ten and I am glad I read the prequel since the prologue of book ten references some characters from the prequel. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, I think it is safe to read the prequel between books eight and eleven. I may edit that statement once I finish the series, since I did play around with the idea of waiting until after book fourteen to read the prequel.

It’s hard to give a spoiler warning with a prequel since you already know a lot of what the story is about if you’ve read book one of the series. I’m not going to discuss the detailed events of the story in this post, but I am going to talk about what type of information we get from this book, so I’ll give a spoiler warning now if you prefer to wait and read it all yourself first.

Okay. The events of this book take place roughly twenty years prior to The Eye of the World. The two main characters we follow are Moraine and Lan with the main focus being on Moraine. She and Siuan are both Accepted at the beginning of the book and are with the then Amyrlin Seat, Tamra, when the then Keeper has a Foretelling of the Dragon Reborn. The Keeper promptly dies after her Foretelling so the Amyrlin Seat, Moraine, and Siuan are the only ones who heard it. Moraine and Siuan are sworn to secrecy regarding the content of the Foretelling, which was that the Dragon was born again on the slopes of Dragonmount. Tamra orders all Accepted to go out into the camps around the city to collect the names and information of all children born within a ten day period. The camps around Tar Valon are the armies that were defending the city during the Aiel War, which was ending as the Aiel turned back toward the the Spine of the World the day of the Foretelling. This endeavor is how Siuan and Moraine gain a list of all children born around that time which they use to search for the Dragon Reborn.

There are a lot of names we recognize in this book and some newer characters. One fun thing about reading the prequel was knowing characters and events that were still to come. Many of the Aes Sedai we see in the series are Accepted at this time and we see them in a different light. We get glimpses into what they were like before they became full Aes Sedai, and we get little insights into their lives that somewhat foreshadow why they make decisions later on in the series. Siuan and Moraine are thick as thieves and love pulling pranks on others. Myrelle is a close friend of theirs. Elaida was recently raised to Aes Sedai at this point and she is hard on Moraine and Siuan during their training to become Aes Sedai. Hard to a point where it seems like torture but Moraine is later told that Elaida nearly “helped them cheat” for the test to gain the shawl. After Elaida is told not to help them train, aka torture them during their training, she grows distant from both Moraine and Siuan. A little animosity remains between Siuan and Elaida, but not enough to warrant what Elaida does to Siuan later on. The relationship was strange in that Elaida was both a kind of mentor and tormentor to the young women.

We do learn what the test is like for an Accepted to become Aes Sedai. We already know what the test from Novice to Accepted when Nynaeve took the test, and again when Egwene does, but this is the first time we see the test to become full Aes Sedai. We see it through Moraine’s test. Siuan takes it moments after her and they both gain the shawl at the same time. They both choose Blue of course. Siuan is taken in right away to work with the then eyes and ears of the Blue Ajah.

The Aiel War ends when Moraine’s uncle, Laman, is killed. Moraine begins to think the Tower intends to have her sit on the Sun Throne, so she leaves Tar Valon even though it is against the new Amyrlin’s orders. I say new Amyrlin because Tamra is believed to have died in her sleep a few weeks prior. Moraine leaves and begins her search for the Dragon Reborn. Her search takes her to up north to Kandor. Siuan later catches up with her there to tell her the five Aes Sedai Tamra had designated as searchers for the Dragon Reborn had been killed. This leads Moraine and Siuan to believe the Black Ajah are real and they only trust each other from then on. They are possibly the only two who know about the Foretelling at this point.

Moraine disguises the fact she is Aes Sedai so she doesn’t get found out by other Aes Sedai and dragged back to Tar Valon for disobeying the Amyrlin. She is found out of course by a few Aes Sedai. Mainly Merean, who just vacated the position of Mistress of Novices when the new Amyrlin was chosen. Merean is with Cadsuane. Moraine believes Cadsuane is Black Ajah. We do later learn, via a scrap with actual Black Ajah, that the Black Sisters know about the Dragon Reborn, but they don’t know when he was born. Since they don’t know when, they are killing any boys who may possibly channel. This gives Siuan and Moraine an advantage in their search because they know when the child was born and thus the age to look for.

I did mention Lan is one of the main characters of this book. We only get a few chapters from his point of view, but it was great getting some more insight into his character. We do learn quite a bit about Malkieri custom and a little about the dead kingdom itself. We get to see how he and Moraine meet and how they build a relationship up to the point he becomes her Warder. We learn, via Moraine to Lan, that the White Tower did send Aes Sedai to help Malkier during the attack, but they did not make it in time and the White Tower kept this “failure” secret. Her confession, of this and her search for the Dragon Reborn, is what leads Lan to accept her proposal to become her Warder. Lan was very wary of Aes Sedai at the beginning of the book. He was actually outside of Tar Valon fighting the Aiel at the beginning, but Moraine and him don’t meet until they are in Kandor. Since much of the story takes place in Kandor, we do get to learn a little more about the borderlands as nearly the whole series (at least through book nine) takes place in the southern lands. The only exception is at the end of book one and the beginning of book two when they are briefly in Shienar.

At the end of this book, Siuan returns to the White Tower to continue being the eyes and ears of the Blue Ajah so she can get information that might help them find the Dragon Reborn while Moraine sets out with Lan to continue the search using the list of names she has in her book. I assume she gets through that list and has to use other methods during her search, but we all know where that search leads her.

On Tobias Wolff

Tobias Wolff AuthorTobias Wolff is one of my favorite writers. Specifically, he is one of my favorite short story writers. I consider him one of the greatest American short story writers of all time. I of course would be more than happy to hear who your favorite shorty story writers are since I love discovering new writers. If this post is the first time you’ve heard of Tobias Wolff, then I hope you read some of his work and come to enjoy it as I do.

I first discovered Tobias Wolff in a college course. If I remember correctly, the first story I read of his was “Bullet in the Brain.” I recently discovered that this story was made into a short film, and there is a recording online of it being read by Tobias himself. This story remains one of my favorites and it is a great introduction to his work. It may also be the best known of his short stories because it is often used in classrooms alongside several others he has written such as “Powder,” “Say Yes,” or “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.” There is something about Wolff’s stories that capture what I like to refer to as human moments. He is able to weave a story together that could seemingly be about nothing in particular, but then can also be read as a revelation about a core element of human nature. Enveloping an entire species and capturing it within a single moment. His stories often linger with you afterwards and prompt an introspection of our own lives. He often pinpoints moments that define, in a that single moment, the entirety of a character. It is this aspect that I admire to great degree, and I aspire to write stories that have similar moments the readers keep with them. I think any fellow writers can learn a lot about the craft from reading his work as well.

Wolff’s works include several collections of short stories, a novel (Old School), a novella (The Barracks Thief), and two memoirs. I’ve written book recommendations about several of these. His memoir, This Boy’s Life, reveals much about himself through the lens of his childhood. It was made into a movie not long after it was first published. His second memoir, In Pharaoh’s Army, provides a description of his time in Vietnam during his military service. I found the man himself as interesting as his writing. I even built up enough courage to write to him. It was my first and only time (as of this writing) that I’ve written to a writer who I admire. This was about three years ago now. I wasn’t sure what to say, so all I ended up saying was a general thank you for his work and an offer to buy him a drink if was ever in my area. To my surprise, he responded with equally kind words.

There are several interviews with Wolff that you can find online. I recently found one by The Creative Process that I found really interesting. They have interviews with other artists as well. I learned a few things on this site as well, like Tobias Wolff taught George Saunders and was rewarded the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama.

I don’t have any fun stories about gong to see him or things that have happened to me while reading his works. I haven’t really found many people who have read his works or at least have talked to me about them. I know short stories aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but every so often I can convince someone to try one and I usually recommend one by Tobias Wolff. I do remember one occasion where I did have a coworker/friend read “Bullet in the Brain.” The story itself is quite short but has incredible impact. He loved it and agreed with my initial comments I used to try and “sell” the story to him. Those comments being that Wolff’s stories have an unclear but substantial human moment. It’s hard to describe but easy to understand once you’ve read the story. If you want ever want to pick up a collection of his, I definitely recommend Our Story Begins. It has 31 short stories including several I have mentioned above.

I would love for the chance to meet Tobias Wolff one day. But if that never comes around, I know I can always pick up a collection of his stories, flip to any title, and be reminded once again what any amazing, intricate, and simple thing it is to be human.