A Crown of Swords

A Crown of Swords is book seven of the Wheel of Time series. I have made myself the goal of finishing this series by the end of the year. I started the first book in February and book seven marks the halfway point. That said, I think I am making good progress and I should be able to meet that goal. So far, this book is now the quickest I have read in the series since I finished all 850+ pages in 7-8 days. Below are my thoughts on this installment. 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.

Starting at the beginning of the book is actually the best area to open the discussion this time. We begin with the final battle from the previous book, but we get to see the events through the eyes of Sevanna. Oh man do I hate Sevanna. She is actually worse than a Darkfriend at this point. Worse than a Forsaken as far as behavior and childishness. She is power-hungry and delusional and I am just waiting for her to meet her demise. We get the tail-end of the battle from her perspective and her running away with those who have survived. We get to see her talk with a man and a woman who end up being Sammael and Graendal. Sammael says he can give her the item to bind Rand to her but only after she has captured the Dragon Reborn. She is obviously being manipulated by him, but of course she thinks she is manipulating him and can even turn Graendal over to her side. She thinks she can conquer the world she is so delusional. I can’t help but wonder why any of the Wise Ones follow her or even enable her with the title of Wise One herself. Some of them even killed a fellow Wise One just to convince the rest of their tribes to attack the Aes Sedai to capture Rand. Anyone directly involved with her has no honor among Aiel. I think her “army” would abandon her if they knew half of what she did.

Towards the end of the book, we get another glimpse of Sevanna. Galina, the Red Ajah Aes Sedai who captured Rand initially, is discovered to have been captured by Sevanna’s tribe. She is brought back and turned into a “despised one.” Sevanna does this because she wants to control her like a damane. All so she can use the One Power second-hand since she can’t use it directly herself. Again, she is a power-hungry idiot. What I did like was the fact Sammael used some temporary Gateway thing to scatter her forces halfway across the map. He simply gave them the device and they used it willingly. I thought it was sad in a way though because we see this happen through the eyes of a would-be clan chief who still follows the Aiel ways and customs. He even says he would only be clan chief after he goes to Rhuidean. He goes through the Gateway and is surrounded by Rand’s forces somewhere outside of Illian if I remember correctly. His concerned more about clan and family than anything else.

After Sammael watches Sevanna’s forces use the Gateways without a second thought, which was dumb on their part, he and Graendal part ways and we get a scene of Shaidar Haran watching them leave. He was spying on them and mentions the need to break himself away from the need to return to Shayal Ghul because he was away for too long. He seemingly wants to break free from the Dark One’s influence. This is strange because he is a Myrdraal but something more than just a Myrdraal. We still don’t know what he is really, but he seems to be scheming on his own.

Since I mentioned the Red Ajah, let’s jump to events in the White Tower. Elaida is becoming a bit paranoid and shut herself in the highest part of the Tower. She is having a palace built for herself too. She is ruling through fear and turning on anyone for any small thing just to maintain control. She does have a Foretelling though that lets her believe she will “win” overall but the Foretelling only mentions the Amyrlin so obviously I believe that reference is to Egwene. Later on, Elaida is put in her place by Alviarin (who is still under the Forsaken Mesaana) , and basically becomes a puppet of the Black Ajah. This confirms my original belief that Elaida wasn’t Black Ajah but was simply hungry for power and was manipulated by the Black Ajah. However, Elaida did do something interesting here. She went to Seaine, a White Ajah in the Tower, and instructed her to conduct a secret, internal investigation. Seaine recruits Pevara to assist her because she can trust her from their long history despite Pevara being in the Red Ajah. This could become quite important later on depending on what they discover and what can be done about it. I think it might just be able to break up those in the White Tower enough that Egwene and her group can easily take them over. This should be easy either way since Elayne recruits the Kin to Egwene, but we will get to that a little later.

The Black Ajah are led, apparently, by Mesaana. We still don’t know how many exist, but we do discover that Galina and Alviarin are two of the top three under Mesaana. Or were, at least. Mesaana takes Alviarin directly under her wing and teaches her how to use a Gateway.

I’ll quickly cover the story of Morgase that is still simmering on the back burner. Pedron Niall is assassinated and the Whitecloaks are taken over by Valda, who blackmails Morgase to sleep with him which is absolutely horrendous. This blackmail effectively shatters her confidence. While Valda goes north to deal with the Prophet Mesema, the Seanchan invade and take over Amadicia, or at least the Fortress of Light. Morgase relinquishes her rights to the throne of Andor, in secret, and nearly attempts suicide before being shown a way to escape the Seanchan. We last see her heading east toward Andor.

Which brings me to the Seanchan. I still hate these people, but they were bound to return eventually. It seems they have been working “off-screen” with their invasion of Tanchico and taking over Tarabon. They are making their way eastward in conquest. Amathera, the Panarch of Tanchico, is shown as a captive named simply Thera and is used to try and convince Morgase to play along with the Seanchan. The last time we really saw the Seanchan was in Falme at the end of the second book. I expect there will be much more of the Seanchan in the next book, especially with what happens with Mat, which I’ll cover shortly.

This book could have been called The Bowl of the Winds if it weren’t for the last chapter, the title chapter, because most of this book centers on Ebou Dar with Elayne and Nynaeve looking for the Bowl of the Winds. They showed up in Ebou Dar at the end of the last book with Mat as escort since he was tasked with bringing Elayne to Caemlyn and got dragged along to help her find the ter’angreal that would return the weather to normal.

The Bowl of the Winds is what the ter’angreal is called by the Atha’an Miere whom Elayne and Nynaeve visit and apparently strike a terrible bargain with, which Mat ends up leveling out when he speaks to the Atha’an Miere. Nynaeve gets herself and Elayne mixed up with the group of women called the Kin. They take in women who were cast out of the White Tower or had left the tower. They run a little group to help these women and their ability to use saidar. Their leader, Reanne, is apparently almost 500 years old. Elayne and Nynaeve get poorly treated at first by the Kin who believe they are runaways from the Tower or pretending to be Aes Sedai. Elayne confronts Merilille and the other Aes Sedai in the palace about being treated poorly and calls them out about their behavior and thinking her and Nynaeve are not full Aes Sedai despite Egwene’s, the Amyrlin’s, statement that they are. During her confidence boost, we are reminded that Elayne is only 18 years old. After the confrontation, Elayne basically takes full control of all matters in Ebou Dar, including showing the Kin who she is, truthfully, despite them not believing her at first. She effectively recruits the Kin to Egwene’s group. The Kin make up almost 2,000 women. Practically twice the number in the White Tower before it was split. So technically, with that amount of Sisters, they should be able to retake the White Tower easily.

Quick-side update on Moghedien. She was set free from Egwene at the end of the last book. We still don’t know who helped her escape but the woman-who-can-wield-saidin is apparently still in the Aes Sedai camp. We next see Moghedien in Shayal Ghul and is pretty much tethered again but this time instead of an a’dam, she is linked by a Mindtrap which makes me think of a mix between an a’dam and a Warder’s bond. The Mindtrap is in the hands of Moridin, who I don’t think we have met before. Moghedien is practically a slave again but for a Forsaken or whatever Moridin is. I would feel bad for her if she wasn’t a Forsaken herself and an evil person.

Egwene discovers Lan in the Aes Sedai camp but hidden off to the side by Myrelle and Nisao. She sends Lan to protect Nynaeve. It seems Moraine originally transferred Lan’s bond to Myrelle because Myrelle has saved several Warders in the past who lost their Aes Sedai. Myrelle was then supposed to transfer Lan’s bond to Nynaeve once he was “healed” so he wouldn’t run off to die fighting somewhere. This gives Lan his reason-to-live since he love Nynaeve. Myrelle and Nisao swear fealty to Egwene as Amyrlin to avoid harsher punishment from their keeping Lan a secret. I don’t think this is a great move for Egwene though because Aes Sedai are about the Tower and not a specific Amyrlin, but now we have Aes Sedai who have sworn fealty to Rand and some who have to Egwene. Last update on Egwene: She is apparently in fact a Dreamer. Her dreams can potentially predict things, so she spends most nights in a half-sleep cataloging her dreams. This prevents her from getting fully rested and may be the reason behind her headaches, but her headaches have been present since she was tortured by Lanfear before Moraine intervened. I’m sure this is all foreshadowing something.

Anyway, Moghedien shows up in Ebou Dar randomly. She is apparently on an errand for Moridin but all we see is she tries to kill Nynaeve on sight using balefire. This whole scene almost seems like Moghedien showing up was just an excuse to have Lan save Nynaeve. The balefire kills Mat’s men who were guarding Nynaeve and sends her to the bottom of the river. She gets saved by Lan and apparently also gets her “block” removed so she can use saidar without getting angry first. Near-death experiences can cause real changes in people, but with the build-up from the last book, this seemed like an underwhelming way to have the block removed. Also, Nynaeve and Lan get married that night. Good for them.

We don’t see Moghedien again, but we do see two of the original Black Ajah who were with Liandrin way back when. They show up to get the Bowl of the Winds or another object out of the supposed house-full of angreal at the exact same, convenient time that our heroes do. They fight. Several loads of items are taken off by the Black Ajah’s men. Nynaeve takes on the two Black Ajah and Mat rushes up to help Elayne and fights what we find out is an gholam, a man who is crazy strong and doesn’t bleed when stabbed, but is burned by Mat’s fox head medallion. We later learn, from Mat via Birgitte, that there are six gholam that were made before the Breaking. Three men and three women (in appearance at least) who are unaffected by the One Power and are assassins of the highest talents. They apparently were held in stasis boxes so who knows how many are freely roaming around or under a Forsaken’s command. This one was apparently under Sammael’s command who had the Whitecloak Carridan in Ebou Dar doing something. Our heroes were keeping an eye on Carridan but nothing happened once they started keeping tabs. At least in this book. In the end, our heroes capture one of the Black Ajah but the other one gets away. They also do find the Bowl of the Winds. Mission accomplished.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Birgitte, and Aviendha leave with Lan to the Kin’s farm outside Ebou Dar, but Mat stays behind to find Olver. Mat was eager to leave but of course he is obligated to look after the boy. He is eager to leave because Tylin was playing him like a fiddle and took advantage of him multiple times. He wasn’t fond of being chased instead of doing the chasing, but it was fun to read. While he is searching the city for Olver, the Seanchan arrive in Ebou Dar and their invasion begins. We last see Mat get buried in a pile of rubble. Now, this sets up Mat’s prophesied encounter/eventually marriage to the Daughter of the Nine Moons who was hinted at as being the Empress of the Seanchan. I expect this is the next story arc for Mat. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

We, again, don’t get to see much of Perrin or Loial in the book. Hopefully they get more attention in the next book. All we really get is Perrin fake fighting with Rand and then taking a band of soldiers, and Berelain for added stress (not his choice), to Ghealdean to take care of Masema the Prophet. This was all after Perrin refused to take over things in Tear. The fake argument ended up being a little real since Rand flung Perrin across the room, but it was all a public display.

Lastly, let’s discuss the Dragon Reborn himself. Rand returns to Cairhein after the events of the last book and has to recapture it from Colaveare, which he does easily. The Aes Sedai who swore fealty are holding their oaths so far. They even help, along with much ta’veran luck with Rand’s discussion with the Atha’an Miere, to secure the Atha’an Miere to Rand. Rand tells Min about Fel’s death and they both “comfort” each other. Min gets mad at Rand later for trying to claim that he took advantage of her when she of course was overly eager herself. This brings Rand’s lovers to two of three. He has been with Aviendha and Min. Next, I bet, he will be with Elayne and the love tetrahedron will be complete [insert ironic laughter here].

Back to the matters at hand. Cadsuane shows up out of nowhere and becomes a prominent character. An Aes Sedai nearly 300 years old and a legend among them and the White Tower apparently. Min sees a viewing that Cadsuane will teach Rand and all the asha’man a lesson they will not like, but it will be important for them to learn. This is after Rand gets back from his visit in the forest.

So Rand goes to the forest outside of Cairhein to sneak among the Cairheinan and Tairen rebels. He is pressing his ta’veran luck here since it was right after meeting the Atha’an Miere. He infiltrates the camp easily with the help of Moraine’s cousin Caraline. During this covert mission, Rand sees several Red Ajah Aes Sedai in the camp and another group consisting of Cadsuane and two others. Padan Fain is also in the camp but under the name Mordeth. He somehow calls in a fog full monsters or at least tendrils similar to those seen in Shadar Logoth. The camp is effectively destroyed. As Rand, Min, Cadsuane, Caraline, and others make their way out of the fog, Fain jumps out and slices Rand with his dagger from Shadar Logoth. Eventually everyone gets back to Cairhein. Rand gets healing from two Aes Sedai and one of his asha’man, Flinn. One of the Aes Sedai makes a very generous offer to Flinn to teach her exactly what he did to assist Rand’s healing. The cut from the dagger sliced right over Rand’s wound from Falme. We learn that both wounds are filled with evil but they each are a different kind of evil. The two evils may actually combat each other. Rand survives because of the three who healed him as best they could.

Then we get to the final chapter. When Rand wakes up from a coma two days after getting cut, he makes another dumbass decision. He disappears with this asha’man to Caemlyn to pick up Bashere and Co. then travels to Illian to take over the city. He chases Sammael to Shadar Logoth to fight it out. While there, he finds Liah, the Maiden he lost when he traveled there to put a trap on the Waygate with the help of Loial’s mom, future wife, and the Stedding Eldar in the last book. This means she has survived for who knows how long there, which seems improbable. Rand fights some Trollics and a Fade then almost falls into a dark pit, but he is saved by a mysterious figure. A man who can channel but supposedly not saidin. I think it may be saidar since we have the opposite going on inside Egwene’s camp. This man helps Rand but says he won’t help him kill Sammael. He only helps because “many plans will be impacted” should Rand die. I guess he is a Forsaken or at least on that level. This guy channels balefire at a tendril of Mashadar, who is seeping through Shadar Logoth as before, at the same time as Rand, and their balefire attacks intersect. I don’t know if the attacks canceled each other out or if they just touched for a second, but it effectively shakes Rand and mystery guy out of the Power and put them on their knees to recover. After the brief encounter, this guy disappears without a word.

Rand goes on to find Sammael. He is about to take him out with balefire when he sees Liah getting picked up by one of Mashadar’s tendrils. He redirects his balefire to kill her so she wouldn’t die a horrible death since she was already touched by the evil. He turns back to find the area Sammael was in covered in the fog of Mashadar. He presumes Sammael is dead, killed by Mashadar, due to the lack of time he could have had to make a Gateway. I of course don’t believe Sammael is dead for three reasons. We didn’t see it, or a body, so it cannot be confirmed, Sammael is the only Forsaken still alive that we have gotten to know to some degree (besides Moghedien), and he has a huge grudge against Lews Therin that will likely play a role later on. He is still an interesting enemy. All the other current enemies are still shrouded in mystery if not simply names we’ve recently seen.

Rand ultimately is given the crown, the crown of swords, in Illian, which he accepts. So he is king in Illian. He still plans to have Elayne rule in Andor and Cairhein. The high lords technically still rule in Tear. I’m not sure where he plans to take over next, but I bet it is westward and will involve fighting the Seanchan. We will see.

One last comment before we end this. I have noticed that these books are becoming, or have always been and I am just now fully realizing it after several books, a little formulaic. I mean this in the way they are written. We get similar events at similar times in each book. In the beginning it was the repetition of facing a Forsaken at the end of the first three books. We didn’t get a huge surprise moment in this book like we have others, but we did get a few lesser ones. Don’t get me wrong, I am still enjoying myself with the story and this “formula” may just be Robert Jordan’s way of handing the massive amount of story-lines going on at once. Like in previous books, we get little glimpses of some stories in this book. Mainly small updates on Sevanna’s and Morgase’s stories, while the main focus is on a few of our main characters. Mainly Rand of course but I would say Elayne, Nyneave, and Mat were the biggest characters of this book. We also got a few sprinklings of new story-lines and introductions of new characters. Some of which will become important and others will probably never be seen again. This could just be me analyzing the series from a writer’s perspective, but I think any reader could pick this up after the first few books. It may turn some readers who do see it away from completing the series. I doesn’t change any of my opinions. I’m of course going to finish the series regardless, but I thought it interesting that the practices have continued in each book. I wonder if they will persist throughout.

On to book eight. The Path of Daggers.

Lord of Chaos

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 Moraine 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, Suian, 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 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 let 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 Myrdraal 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 than 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 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 escapes from the a’dam by 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 though 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, there 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, 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 summations 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 Cairhein with Rand where Faile falls into extreme jealousy for no reason and gets upset with Perrin for reasons of her own or 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 going off to Cairhein. 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 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 Cairhein after getting upset about the Salidar Aes Sedai envoy trying to bully him, then 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 them along with now split 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 from the first reunion. She hasn’t outright told him she loves him yet, but she 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 awhile. 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 heroes memories. This is just speculation though. Anything can happen.

On to the next book.

On Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman. What can I say about Neil? Well, a lot, so hold onto your butts because I’ll likely be zigzagging across topics as I talk about how Neil has influenced my life. First, let’s give a brief description of the man himself, or neilhimself as his Twitter handle is aptly named. Neil Gaiman was a largely successful writer by the time I discovered who he was. He began as a journalist. Then he worked in comics and then in fiction and then television and film and pretty much any creative field you could imagine that involves putting words on paper at any stage. This is a slight exaggeration of course and his career did not simply go in that order or that easily. To put it simply, Neil has never been limited by one genre, subject, or medium. His stories vary greatly from kids books to mythology to religious satire to nonfiction. He has been immensely successful and rightfully so. He can be considered a celebrity author. Someone whose name is larger than their works. Someone whose careers have exploded and grown to a size where a large portion of the human population would recognize them or at least one of their works.

I discovered Neil’s work long before I discovered who he was. I was a fan before I knew where to direct my appreciation. I honestly can’t remember when or where I first discovered who Neil was as a person, but I think the first work of his that I ever came across was the movie adaptation of his book Stardust. I did not see the movie in theaters. I think my family had rented it (which is somewhat an already dated subject since everything is streamed nowadays, but to my credit it was a dvd we rented and not a vhs at least). Anyway, I absolutely enjoyed the film for various reasons. It has a great cast, possibly my favorite role by Robert De Niro, and it is infinitely creative and quirky and just downright fun. I never knew the movie was based on a book.

The first book I read by Neil was, if I remember correctly, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It came in out in 2013 but I think I picked it up around 2015. I picked this book up because I was looking for a shorter book to read it seemed interesting. It was at this time that I first discovered Neil as the person behind the books, and also when I realized that he wrote Stardust. I enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane and was definitely ready to read more of Neil’s work but I did not dive in, as I have done with other authors I like. There was something different about this author. I strange draw that pulled me in but didn’t make me want to dive down the rabbit hole.

I once talked about Neil on this blog about two years ago when I was first getting started and trying to figure out exactly what this blog would become. I’m really happy with how it has turned out with the book recommendations and my own stories that I share and now this section where I discuss those who influence me. Even back then, after I had read his recently published Norse Mythology book, I couldn’t help but maintain that feeling of reserved admiration. I began becoming more interested in the man instead of his works. In my defense, if such a thing is needed, Neil is an extremely interesting person and an absolute joy to listen to. And this is where I veer off on a few tangential stories. Please indulge me.

The first is the most recent. I only just began my journey into audiobooks. I don’t know why I hesitated but I just enjoy having a physical book in my hands and reading the words. The first audiobook I ever tried, which convinced me I could enjoy this medium, was Neil’s The View from the Cheap Seats. Again, it greatly helped that it was read by Neil and he has a lovely British accent that you can just listen to all day. The View from the Cheap Seats is a collection of nonfiction that covers many different topics. Ironically enough, I had bought a physical copy of this book when it was first published in 2016. I remember the day specifically. Early in the week it was to be released, I had seen on Twitter that Neil posted a list of independent bookstores in America that would have signed copies of this book. I checked the list and found that only one store in my state would have such copies. To my very exciting surprise, that particular bookstore was just down the road from the university where I worked. So, when the day came for the book to go on sale, I took an early lunch and went down to hopefully pick up a copy. I remember finding out they were only to receive ten signed copies and I was lucky enough to get one. Ironically again, I did not read the book in its entirety until I listened to the audio version. Life can be funny sometimes.

I’ve heard the story of how Neil met Diana Wynne Jones a few times. I think once was in the audio book and another may have been in an interview I watched online. It was such a chance meeting and one that grew into a great friendship and I often imagine myself becoming friends with Neil, and other authors, in a similar way. He is at a hotel bar sitting alone probably working on something and I find the courage to introduce myself and tell him I enjoy his books and we become great writing friends. A fledgling writer can dream of such influential encounters. Though this may never happen (nothing is impossible), I did get a chance to go see him in person. I never got to speak to him directly or even get within 100 feet, but I was able to sit in the same room as the man and listen to him talk about a great many things and read a few things from his published works.

There is a story about this encounter too because it was not easy getting into that room to see him. The event was first publicly announced perhaps six months to a year before it was to happen. I discovered it on Twitter (a really handy platform). It was to take place at Kansas University. I kept checking every few months to see if tickets were available and wasn’t entirely sure it was going to take place because it wasn’t officially posted on the site. Eventually it was and they announced the event was going to be free. Even better, right? It was free and anyone could pick up free tickets, limit of two per person, if they picked them up from the Lied Center of Kansas. The problem was, though this was the closest he was to come to my home town, at least to my knowledge, it was still nearly 4 hours away. Tickets were to be released on a weekday. I thought of taking off work to drive up there and grabbing a few tickets then driving all the way back to make it to work for the next day. Eight hours of driving for a few tickets. I almost did it. But first I talked to every one of my friends who lived in Kansas City, which was about 45 minutes to an hour away from the center. None of them could get the tickets due to work obligations and that they couldn’t make it up there in time even after they got off work because the center would be closed or the tickets would be gone. I think the tickets did “sell out” that morning. Well, to my luck again, I also have family who live in that area and my aunt knew some people who lived near the center. Her friends were able to snag a few tickets for myself and even a few extra so I could bring some friends. So I had the tickets. But of course the event itself was an evening event. On a weekday.

An Evening with Neil Gaiman to call it exactly as it was publicized. I took a half day off work, hopped on the highway with my mom accompanying me and letting me get some sleep for the long day ahead, picked up my father-in-law halfway there, stopped at my aunts to pick up the tickets and drop my mom off to hang out with her brothers, then drove the rest of the way to the center where I would meet my other friends before going in (they ended up arriving a bit late but I got them their tickets and all was well). Anyway, the event starts at 7pm, or 7:30pm, I can’t remember exactly, and we sit and listen and have fun until around 9pm or 9:30pm. Again I can’t remember because it was some time ago. Afterwards, I had intended on hitting the road to get back home so I could work the next day. I found my friends after the event and we hung out and caught up since we hadn’t seen each other in awhile. While we chatted, the line to buy books dwindled and we hopped in line to make a few purchases. I hadn’t planned on buying anything since I had brought a large bag of his books I already owned in the small chance he would have done any signing. But there were pre-signed copies for sale. I really hoped to snag his new book Art Matters, illustrated by Chris Riddell, which was set to release the very next day. This was November 2018. A signed copy would have been great, but I had pre-ordered the book so I was already getting a copy. When we arrived at the register, only a few copies remained and I picked up signed copies of a few books I already owned. These were Norse Mythology (I did like the paperback version anyway, my first copy was hardback) and American Gods in paperback which I also had originally in hardback. This copy had the television cover on it though. My friends and I paid for our books and my ever patient father-in-law was hanging about having discussions with strangers and waiting on me. I said goodbye to my friends and set out on the ride home. First to pick up my mom, then to drop off my father-in-law, then finish the drive that ended with me getting into bed close to 4am and having to be at work the next day at 8am. Needless to say, I was very tired that next day, but it was worth the experience to see someone you admire.

I bought my father-in-law a copy of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I had not read the book yet at the time but knew the premise. He had bought me The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, which I had recently read and therefore thought he would enjoy Good Omens. I was right. I went on to read the book as well not long afterwards. The weekend the television adaptation of that book came out, he was in town visiting and we binge-watched all six episodes and loved it. I might even like the adaptation better than the original book, but they are each great and compliment each other in ways that make the experience of each version collectively greater.

When it was announced that Neil was doing a Masterclass, a program I had never heard of previously, I of course found out about it (probably from Twitter) and my amazing wife bought me an all-access pass for my birthday. I of course took his course first and liked it and I have started taking other writing courses on the platform and am learning great things and discovering other authors and areas to learn more. I’ve learned about and discovered many different authors and books from Neil. Many simply from him talking about them. Many books I have gone on to read while several remain in my to-read pile.

Neil Gaiman has been a large influence in my creative life. Especially for only being a part of it for a handful of years. I imagine he will remain an influence throughout my life. I have yet to get through his collective works. I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. Regardless, I am extremely grateful to him. He is a phenomenally nice, genuine person. Though I have never known him personally (I still hold onto the hopes of meeting him one day), I know enough about him from stories by other people, and through interviews and his Masterclass and stories of his interactions with fans, to know that I would probably admire him even more for having met him. It is strange to be influenced more by the man than by his works, especially in this field and when not knowing him personally, but nonetheless this is the case with this particular author. I have deep respect for him and always wish him well. I hope you can discover him and come to enjoy him in your own way if you have not done so already.

The Fires of Heaven

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.

Let’s begin.

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.

On Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss is the author of The Kingkiller Chronicles series, which I would say, in my honest opinion, is the best epic fantasy story written in the past 20 years. I know there is a lot out there and maybe a few can refute that claim, but I have not read or heard about any of them. And I can always go back to the “well-written” aspect of my claim. These books are extremely well-written and I found myself impressed with the wordplay and structure as much as the story itself. Before I start fawning over the work, let me tell you about the man behind them.

I first discovered Pat (as many of his fans call him) about two and half years ago when I happened across a video on Twitter. I had just started a Twitter account and was kind of looking around and learning the ropes and discovering the amazing writing community on there. Ironically, I let those on Twitter pick my next post for my On Authors section and they chose Patrick Rothfuss. The video was actually promoting another book by another author who I hate to say I had forgotten until I began thinking about writing this post about Pat. I actually saw a book by this author on display and it helped me remember. Her name is Sabaa Tahir and her books are now, as they should have been, on my TBR list. Anyway, the video was Sabaa and Pat simply sitting down and having a chat and answering some questions in what is probably the most laid back and fun “interview” that I have seen by a writer (or pair of authors). I remembered hearing the name Patrick Rothfuss coming up here and there, mostly on Twitter. I watched this video and thought: Wow, this guy seems super cool. I’ll look into what he has written and check him out. 

So about six or eight months go by and I get more reminders about these books (I did follow him on Twitter after all), so I pick up the first one. It is not a small volume. I start reading it and am unsure for the first few chapters but it is setting up the world the story inhabits so I stick it out and fall right in. I literally fell hard into this book. I devoured it, and the sequel, in less than a month. All while I was working on my MFA and working full time. The first book, The Name of the Wind, was released in 2007 and clocks in at just over 250,000 words. The second, The Wise Man’s Fear, came out in 2011 and was just under 400,000. A third book is still in the works as of now but there are a few supplemental works that go along with the main story. These include A Slow Regard of Silent Things which is a novella about the beloved, innocent, and mysterious character Auri, and “The Lightning Tree” which is a short story about Bast, a scoundrel character that you like but are a bit wary about. I quickly read these two additions as well. There is nothing quite like A Slow Regard of Silent Things either. It is of course dependent upon the knowledge of at least the first book of the series, but it could possibly be read on its own. It may be a bit confusing that way though. Either way, it is endearing and…well…quite unique.

The Kingkiller Chronicles jumped way up on my list of favorite reads. Pat’s books are the first I’ve bought specifically for the purpose of giving away just to introduce friends to his work. I joined a Facebook group of fans and they all love these books probably more than me. Some have read the series dozens of times. I’ve only read through them once but will be re-reading them when the third book is announced to come out. These people love Pat and some have even seen him at expos and events and they all share their love of the story and it is just a fantastic group to be a part of even though I don’t participate much. I just love seeing all the stuff they talk about and the group keeps everyone informed about related news.

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The first book recommendation I wrote was for The Name of the Wind and it was a grossly underwhelming recommendation. I updated it to slightly amend that negligence, but it will always fall short. It does have a bigger version of this picture (right) which I bought from Litographs. It is made from the entire text of the first book. All 250,000+ words. Yeah, that picture is made from the words of the book (see below). It goes pretty much floor to ceiling but it’s awesome. I had to build the frame specifically for the poster. I think I may have gotten a link to it from the Facebook group. Anyway, it is always great to find fellow fans.20180107_165630.jpg

 

Now, there are some people who have been criticizing Pat for how long it is taking for book three to come out. I wrote a post that will be up soon about “fan etiquette” that discusses the last season of Game of Thrones so I won’t go into my “be a good fan” speech here. Instead I will simply say that I understand their frustration but I also understand Pat’s situation. His first book became a bestseller, and rather quickly. He even talks about writing sequels in the video above with Sabaa. He is a thorough writer and I do not mind waiting for book three or anything he works on for that matter. He is incredibly talented and I have an inkling that book three will be even larger than book two. It will probably destroy its readers emotionally as well. As good stories do. Book three does have a supposed title which is The Doors of Stone. Pat says he will provide us the book when it is ready. I can’t wait but I will, patiently, as should everyone.

Pat does a lot outside of his writing as well. He streams videogames and interacts with fans and talks about the world he built. He has even done a video of pronunciations of words, names, and places in his books. These pronunciations are also included in the 10th anniversary edition of The Name of the Wind. The video is actually hosted on the Youtube page of the charity organization he is a part of called Worldbuilders. They have some awesome things that they sell to raise money for their charity (I think Pat’s streams also are often for this organization; I’m not sure since I’ve only seen tidbits). I bought a few mugs from Worldbuilders that were replicas from an important tavern in the books. It is called the Eolian. The mugs are well made. I encourage you to check this charity out since they have a lot of cool, nerdy stuff from a lot of other series, writers, and talented people. They do a lot of cool things to help make the world a better place too. Speaking of talented people, Lin-Manuel Miranda is actually working on an adaptation of The Kingkiller Chronicles for television. Rumors are that it will actually be a prequel (?) to the first book. I’m not sure about the story, but I’m sure it will be great to see this world created for the screen which is always a hard thing to do.

On to the reason I started this little series, or section, of my blog. What does Patrick Rothfuss mean to me? Well, he means quite a bit as I’m sure he means a lot to others who are fans of his work. He is not just an author who wrote a story I can lose myself in though. I don’t know him personally or know much about his personal life as I do other authors, but unlike several other authors I have been influenced or inspired by, he is alive and well and actively participating in the world. It is easier and less intrusive to learn about the life of someone after they are gone. However, I am okay not knowing personal details. Especially about people still rocking it. For me, Pat is an inspiration for my own aspirations. His mastery of storytelling is something I can aim toward. He does great things outside of his writing as I hope I can or am doing.  I hope one day I have a chance to meet him. Perhaps if I get off my butt and finish a few books I might get that chance. If not, I’ll always have his books.