The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm is book twelve in the Wheel of Time series. This book was published in 2009, four years after book eleven was published and two years after Robert Jordan passed away. Brandon Sanderson, who was brought in to finish this series after Jordan’s passing, provides an endearing forward to this book in the form of a letter. This letter briefly explains how he was asked to take on the project and how he approached the work. I will admit that I had some concern about how Sanderson was going to finish the story. Jordan had much of it planned out so the story is very much Jordan’s to the end. He even requested the story be finished so the fans would not be left wanting.

My concerns about another author finishing the series have been alleviated. I think I could pick out a few chapters that were written solely by Sanderson, but this may be because I have a keener eye for the writing as I am a writer myself and often pick up on structure, word choice, format, etc. I think most readers will simply be able to enjoy it as any other Wheel of Time book without any concerns about the writing.

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 hate 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 hasn’t yet made it to this book. If you fall in this category, go check out my thoughts on the previous books.

First, of course, we will cover the prologue. There are four main events here. The first is Moridin telling the other Forsaken that they are not allowed to save Semirhage. Demandred and Mesaana had requested they rescue her from Rand, but Moridin forbids it. Next, we get a scene of Rand releasing the Seanchan he captured alongside Semirhage. He does this so they can go tell Tuon that he still wants to meet with her despite Semirhage’s attack. Then we get a scene with Ituralde. He is still fighting the Seanchan in Arad Doman and he proves to be an extremely skilled tactician.

The last part of the prologue is the scene of Masema’s death. He is running through a forest after the battle with the Aiel. Faile is the one who catches up to him and kills him. She claims that she had to do what her husband couldn’t. She intends to keep Masema’s death a secret from Perrin. I thought Perrin had no qualms about killing Masema and actually hoped that he would be able to kill Masema during the attack on the Shaido. My questions are: Why did Faile do it? Why did Masema die in the prologue instead of during or shortly after the battle with the Shaido in book eleven? It seems strange that he dies in a short scene during the prologue of this book since he had been traveling with Perrin this whole time and was a character from early on in book two. I guess I felt like his character was going to have a bigger impact or at least a bigger confrontation. Perhaps I only feel this way because the same thing happened with Aram. A character from way back in the beginning dying quickly and without much closure. Not that I need it (for Masema especially), but I think it would be easier to have an easy death such as this for more of a minor character or one who wasn’t in the story as long. For example, I felt like Rolan’s death was not abrupt. I mean, it was literally, but he was a recent character who was only in the last few books. I was okay with him going out in that way (though I did like him). Masema’s death in this book seemed a little too quick and easy.

Regardless, Masema is no longer a concern. We get very little of Perrin in this book. He remains one of my favorites though I do have a new favorite which I will reveal a little later. We don’t see any of Elayne, or Loial (my favorite character), or several others. We get a little of Aviendha and absolutely nothing from Padan Fain. Where has he been? He has to come back eventually for a confrontation with Rand. I think we last saw him in book nine(?) when he attacked Rand in Far Madding. Anyway, we get a little of Mat, but most of this book is about Rand and Egwene.

I already covered most of what happens with Perrin actually, so let’s talk about Mat. He is having concerns about being a newlywed, which is absolutely understandable considering his situation. He just got married, unceremoniously, to the person who is about to become the leader of people he considers his enemy. Mat is traveling north. Away from the Seanchan. Two interesting things happen to Mat in this book. The first is that he comes across a town that is caught in a violent loop. The town goes insane and they all kill each other at night, but then they wake up the next day as if nothing happened. No memories. No wounds. Anyone who dies is alive again. Any travelers who die in the town during the mad period wake up in the town the next day and are caught up in the loop. This scene best describes one of the big themes of this book. The Pattern is coming undone. The Dark One’s touch on the world is not only making the food spoil and the dead walk again, but it is causing the fabric of reality to become altered or at risk of falling apart.

The second event with Mat is shortly after his visit to this town. Someone had been distributing drawings of Mat and Perrin and offering good money for information. This turns out to be Verin. She agrees to Travel Mat and his forces directly to Caemlyn, saving them a twenty day march and eliminating their risk of low supplies, but only if he agrees to one of two things. He either opens a letter Verin gives him after ten days in Caemlyn or he waits in Caemlyn a full twenty (or was it thirty?) days after they get to Caemlyn. The letter would have instructions for him and he would only need to open it if Verin did not return to him. Mat will either have to open the letter or wait the full time agreed upon because Verin has a major scene later in the book which we will get to toward the end of this post.

On to Rand. We learn early in this book that it was one of Cadsuane’s ter’angreal that disrupted Semirhage’s disguise when she tried to meet Rand as Tuon. This was one of the main reasons they were able to capture her. We also learn that only the saidar statue was destroyed when Rand and Nynaeve cleansed saidin. That means the male statue is still intact, but Cadsuane has taken the Choedan Kal key into her safekeeping along with the male a’dam Semirhage tried to use to capture Rand. Cadsuane also has Callandor, but she is having a few retired Aes Sedai studying it. So it is out of play at the moment.

Rand is planning to secure Arad Doman. He approaches Rodel Ituralde alone and convinces the general to join him. He plans to have Ituralde defend the Borderlands since the Borderland armies are still in the south looking for Rand. I’m not sure why he hasn’t approached the Borderland armies at this point and just Travels them all back to where they came from, but it does come up a bit later.

Min has been reading a lot trying to find information that can help Rand. She discovers that the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison must be broken before he can seal the prison a second time or attempt to kill the Dark One for good, which is what I think will be the ultimate outcome. We will see. It could be kind of interesting to have the ending “turn the wheel” and lead us as readers to re-read the series, but I think that would not be a satisfactory ending for most fans.

Rand enters the dreamworld, or some version of it, and meets Moridin. He realizes that it was Moridin who saved him at Shadar Logoth when he was fighting Sammael. Moridin was formerly Ishamael/Ba’alzamon, who was in the very beginning of the series when Lews Therin kills himself after finding out what he did. Moridin’s true name is Elam. This short scene shows a connection between Rand/Lews Therin and Moridin. Moridin seems tired and asks Rand to leave since Rand somehow entered Moridin’s dream unknowingly. Rand had been seeing Moridin’s face from time to time in the same way he sees Perrin’s and Mat’s. I’m curious to see how this connection plays out in the remaining two books.

The big scene with Rand is when Shaidar Haran, whom we haven’t seen for a bit and still don’t know who/what he really is, shows up and frees Semirhage. Semirhage then is able to take the male a’dam, apparently called a Domination Band, and is able to capture Rand with it. She gets a little help from Elza, the Black Ajah who has been with Rand. Semirhage then makes Rand torture Min before ordering him to kill her. He is squeezing the life from her when he suddenly gets access to the True Power. With the True Power, he is able to destroy the Domination Band and kill Semirhage and Elza with balefire.

Rand had forbidden Cadsuane and the other Aes Sedai from torturing Semirhage while they questioned her. He held onto his resolve not to kill women. He dismisses all that when he kills Semirhage and he will no longer hesitate to kill anyone. He is slowly becoming a cold, deadly, heartless shell of a person. Cadsuane sees this but doesn’t know what to do. Rand exiles Cadsuane from his sight after the incident with Semirhage. Mainly because the Domination Band was in her safekeeping and Semirhage was able to take it.

Rand has pretty much lost it by this point. He keeps trying to harden himself so he can do what he thinks needs to be done for the Last Battle. He thinks he must become a mythical figure and is bound by the prophecies and has no free will. He hones himself to be unemotional and after he gains access to the True Power alongside access to saidin or the One Power, he has a dark aura about him. Cadsuane and a few others are able to notice it but only out of the corner of their eye and they can’t actually pinpoint what it is or if it is really there. Rand becomes so hardened that many people back down simply when he looks them in the eye.

When Rand actually meets with Tuon, she feels an overwhelming sense to agree to his demands. But she is able to refuse him. He leaves once she denies the alliance. Apparently there is a Seanchan prophecy that states the Dragon Reborn will go blind and Tuon, as Empress, will be the one to guide Rand to attack the Dark One. Another Seanchan prophecy states that Rand will kneel before the Empress. This leads me to ask the question of whether all “prophecies” will be fulfilled. Will they? Or will only some of them come to pass? Since there are several from different societies and lands, are the prophecies guiding the characters’ actions or are they foreshadowing only to us readers of what is going to happen? Tidbits to keep us enticed? I’m not sure, but most “prophecies” seem to fall in that final category. Tuon does two things after her meeting with Rand. She claims herself as Empress and then declares an assault on the White Tower.

Rand, with some help from Nynaeve, discovers where Graendal is likely to be hiding. A fortress in the mountains. He takes Min and Nynaeve with him. He uses one of the nobles from Bandar Eban as a pawn and sends him to meet with Graendal. Once he returns and Nynaeve confirms the noble has Graendal’s Compulsion in him, Rand uses the statue (Choedan Kal) to summon enough balefire to eliminate the entire fortification. Every person inside is wiped from the Pattern. Rand confirms Graendal is killed by having Nynaeve check that the Compulsion is no longer on the noble he used. This act, a mass killing, frightens Min and Nynaeve enough to go assist Cadsuane and the Wise Ones with their plans to help Rand. Cadsuane has Nynaeve find out where Perrin is. Someone in Perrin’s camp is essential to her plan.

Rand abandons Arad Doman after he fails to create an alliance with the Seanchan. I think this is going to backfire because he promised Ituralde that Arad Doman would be secured and safe if he fought in the Borderlands. Ituralde only agreed to help Rand because he believed Rand would defend his homeland. Rand goes to Tear where he has had Darlin recruiting an army. While here, he agrees to meet the Borderland leaders. He goes to meet them but only meets Hurin, whom we have not seen since book two (or early on in book three). Hurin was with Rand when they tracked down Padan Fain to recover the dagger for Mat and the Horn of Valere. He was the thief-taker in Sheinar who could smell evil. Hurin is meant to meet with Rand to schedule a meeting with the Borderland leaders. Rand gets pissed and Travels outside of Far Madding where the Borderlanders are. They intended to meet him within the area where he wouldn’t be able to channel. This riles him up so he sends Hurin to give them a message. Either they can agree to join Rand and he will Travel them back to the Borderlands immediately, or they can sit down in the south while the Last Battle takes place in their homelands and they can live with their shame.

Before that though, Hurin notices something strange about Rand but he can’t quite place what it is. Obviously, it is related to the dark aura Rand inherits after he gains access to the True Source. But what does Hurin notice? He doesn’t seem put off by it entirely like he would if he came across a murder. He still holds Rand in high regard from their previous travels. His questioning does make Rand consider a few things later on.

He is considering those things when he decides to go attack the Seanchan directly. He is getting ready to leave when he finds Tam in his room. Tam was the important person from Perrin’s camp. This is the first time Tam has seen Rand since he left with Moiraine back in book one. They have an uneasy but good interaction up until Tam mentions Cadsuane. Rand loses it after hearing her name and almost kills Tam with balefire. He is able to stop himself but he Travels to Ebou Dar, alone, seconds afterward. Tam is pissed and confronts Cadsuane about what she has been doing to Rand and how much Rand has changed. He is obviously concerned and angry at how she has mishandled her station as Rand’s adviser. He is absolutely correct in his accusations. Cadsuane has not only bungled her job of trying to assist Rand, but she has become tiresome as a character. She treats everyone like a child and has a superiority complex. It was okay for a while when she was actually being smart and handling some situations well, but she has lost her edge and is unwilling to change. That unwillingness is why I think she is failing. She needs to be humbled and shown that she must change before she is able to succeed. I hope this happens or else she needs to pull off something incredibly clever for it to have merit.

Rand is in Ebou Dar and is going to destroy the palace with balefire, but when he takes hold of saidin, he is so sickened that he draws a crowd who wants to help him. He Travels before a Seanchan patrol gets to him and he finds himself on the peak of Dragonmount. He remains there for a long time contemplating himself and his recent actions. He recalls prophecies and asks why he is doing everything that he does. This is a reference to his conversation with Tam. In the end, Rand decides to destroy the access key ter’angreal that links to the Choedan Kal. Now both statues are destroyed.

The second half of this book centers on Egwene. Egwene has become one of my favorite characters in this series. Almost out of nowhere. Her handling of the division within the White Tower, and her resolve to see it mended, are nothing short of admirable. I wish we could make Egwene President. Honestly, we need people like her to make a better world.

Anyway, a lot happens with Egwene, including the big surprise in this book. We will get to that in a brief moment. First, Leane almost dies in her cell when the room starts to melt. Another bubble of evil/unraveling of the Pattern is the cause. Then Egwene discovers the group of Aes Sedai who are hunting the Black Ajah in the Tower, which is the only good thing Elaida has done. Egwene is able to gain them as allies. She makes huge progress with other Sitters and many influential people in the Tower. She even confronts Elaida in front of five Sitters. She destroys Elaida’s arguments and calls her out until Elaida loses her shit and starts beating Egwene with the One Power. Elaida yells “I am Tower Law” during her rampage, which reminded me so much of a scene is Star Wars Episode III when Palpatine declares himself the senate thus claiming himself the emperor (pic for funsies). I am the senateElaida shows her true madness here. She believes her word is law and that everyone should obey her. This is ridiculous, but it is up to the Sitters and other Aes Sedai to decide if they will let it continue (eerily relevant to the political climate right now). Elaida is a tyrant. She locks Egwene up after this but Egwene tells Siuan not to rescue her. We learn that Sheriam is Black Ajah when she is visited by someone, possibly Mesaana, who gives her the task of stealing all the dream ter’angreal. I thought Sheriam was simply being used by Halima/Aran’gar and that she may eventually regain her composure once Halima was gone. Nope, she is actually Black Ajah. My only question to this is: How long has she been Black Ajah?

Egwene gets released from her cell and learns that Silviana, the current Mistress of Novices, defended her in front of Elaida shortly before requesting, in front of a full Hall, that Elaida be removed. Elaida plans to execute Silviana for this and Egwene’s first action is to prevent this. Upon getting to her room after being freed from her cell, Egwene discovers Verin is waiting for her. We learn that Verin can lie. She can lie!

This is the big event of this book in my opinion. This calls everything Verin has done or said, since the beginning of the series, into question. However, what happens next may be the greatest thing any Aes Sedai has done. Yes, Verin reveals herself to be Black Ajah, but confesses she chose to become Black because it was a join-or-die situation. She decided to join the Black Ajah so she could study them from the inside and learn more about the Dark One. She compiled all of her knowledge into one volume which is encrypted. She gives this volume, and the cipher, to Egwene and shows her how to make the books turn invisible by using the ter’angreal bookmarks. Verin explains that she is only able to betray the Black Ajah and the Dark One because of a small loophole in the oaths she had to take. She could not betray the Dark One until the hour of her death. She is able to betray her information to Egwene because she poisons herself and will die within the hour. The whole volume includes detailed information about the enemy, including a complete list of Black Ajah in the back, which Egwene quickly deciphers after Verin passes away.

Egwene is about to tell Siuan about Verin’s visit when the Seanchan attack the White Tower. Egwene is able to gather many Novices and a few Aes Sedai and leads a defense. She is able to take out several of the to’raken and practically fights herself to exhaustion. Siuan and Gawyn mount a rescue mission to get Egwene back, despite her orders not to, during this attack. Siuan convinces Gareth Bryne to help them. He agrees on two conditions. The first is that Siuan make him her Warder. The second is revealed later that she marry him if they are able to live somewhere peacefully after the world has been saved. She agrees to the first instantaneously and the second later on once it is revealed. It’s good to see them finally reveal their feelings to each other. They go in and fight some Seanchan and end up rescuing Egwene. She is unable to tell them not to because she is literally a rag doll from exhaustion when they find her. The raid ends with approximately 40 Aes Sedai or Novices/Accepted captured by the Seanchan. Elaida is one of those captured. I felt like that was inevitable once the attack began though I would have almost preferred seeing the Tower depose her.

After the attack, Egwene reveals to her rebel Hall that she has a list of over 200 Black Ajah members and there are 70 Black Ajah within their camp. This includes Sheriam and one of the Sitters, Moria. Egwene captures, stills, and executes more than 50 of them. The other 20 escape.

The cleansing was in the morning and in the afternoon Egwene marches on Tar Valon. She waits as long as she can, and right before she orders an attack, the White Tower Aes Sedai come out to request Egwene be raised as Amyrlin in the Tower. She accepts and goes through the ceremony. She releases Silviana from her cell and raises her as Keeper. She does this to help heal the tower and not exclude the Red Ajah. She also does it because Silviana is possibly the most capable Aes Sedai in the Tower.

Egwene reprimands pretty much every Aes Sedai, stating that they failed to prevent the Tower from being broken and divided by Elaida. Unfortunately, the Black Ajah within the Tower escape before they can be captured. However, Egwene has all Aes Sedai retake the Oaths to prove they are not Black Ajah. This effectively rids the Tower of the Black Ajah and unifies the Tower without any doubts among who might be a Darkfriend. Once she accepts the rebel Aes Sedai back into the Tower, the unification is complete and the Tower is full of initiates/Novices. They can now work toward strengthening the Tower and preparing for the Last Battle.

Even though there is so much more we need to see, and this book primarily followed Egwene and Rand, I really liked it and am excited for the next one. Towers of Midnight is a bit longer than this one and from the cover I believe Mat, Thom, and Noal are going to go find Moiraine, who has been gone since book five (but I knew she wasn’t gone for good). We haven’t seen anything from the Black Tower either so I’m hoping we get something about that in book thirteen. The end is nigh. I’ll likely speed through these last two books. I’ll post about them as I get through them.



The universe began as an enormous breath being held.


ExhalationExhalation by Ted Chiang is a collection of nine stories ranging from 4 pages in length to 111. Therefore, I would not consider this a short story collection. Simply a collection of stories. This is Chiang’s second collection with the first being The Story of Your Life and Others, where the title story was the basis for the film Arrival.

Several of these stories have been published previously but a few make their debut in this collection. The story I was most looking forward to reading was “The Lifecycle of Software Objects.” I remembered seeing it was published as a novella back when I looked into Chiang’s bibliography after reading his first collection. I can’t remember why I didn’t pick it up at the time, but it added to my desire to get my hands on this collection.

Though I will admit that my favorite story in this collection ended up being either the title story “Exhalation” or “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” with “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” and “Omphalos” as close seconds, all of the stories in this collection are worth a read.

I feel compelled to compare Chiang’s work to Philip K. Dick’s. Not because they both write science fiction, but because both of them write stories that linger. Stories that keep you thinking after you have read them. I think this is because they frame a story around a larger question. A story that provides glimpses of the question as you read. Their writing encourages me to ponder questions I haven’t considered. They often make me see something in a new way. And best of all, they inspire me to write stories of my own that may tackle bigger questions and hopefully keep the reader thinking after they finish the last page.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that “Exhalation” was partly inspired by Dick’s story “The Electric Ant,” which Chiang states he had read as a teenager. I am a big fan of Dick’s work and I have become a fan of Chiang’s. I very much look forward to following his career and reading everything he produces.

I couldn’t help but notice a theme to this collection though. One I can’t quite explain with accuracy. The best I can do is say that many of the stories include some form of fatalism. They either question free will or question the reasoning behind our choices. None of this is done directly, which may be the genius of Chiang’s writing, but these might hint at the larger questions I mentioned earlier. There are story notes in the back of this collection that give brief insights into what inspired each story. It’s fun to see where he got some of these ideas, especially since some of them came from unexpected sources.

I hope you read one or two of Chiang’s stories to see if they interest you. I was hooked after the first one.

Happy Reading.

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 hate to ruin something for you should you 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 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 become 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 that 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.

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 supplies 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 they 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 Cairhien 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 all 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 Demandred, 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 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 was who had 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 how 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 Seanchan and Shaido. We do get a few tidbits in this book however. One already mentioned is that Mazrim might be Demandred. We get a scene 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 a weapon when they attack. Perrin finally attacks the Shaido a total of 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 legitimately been 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 Cairhien 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 picked 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 the other person is 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 Moiraine 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 Moiraine 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 her relationship with Mat 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 is 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 while Mat’s side has very few losses. 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 they 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 who will be sold off. 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. Elayne goes to capture the Black Ajah with the other Aes Sedai who are 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 Elayne so she is able to officially gain 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 too 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 the last point I think is important. Rand goes to meet with who he 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 location for the meeting, 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 at 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 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 as well as to read 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 a 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 Cairhien. I have missed this Ogier. Dobraine is almost killed and Logain shows up in Cairhien at the end of the prologue.

We then open with Mat. He is hiding out in Luca’s menagerie just outside 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 (at her insistence). 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 in 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 story-line 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 story-line.

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, 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 they would have attacked them already. 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. 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 involving 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’s short story-line 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 a 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 knows this. 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 include 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 have 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, part of the group formed when Elaida asked Seaine 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 personal servants. Alviarin believes that Shadar Haran is the Dark Lord himself 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.

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 Moiraine and Lan with the main focus being on Moiraine. 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, Moiraine, and Siuan are the only ones who heard it. Moiraine 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 Moiraine 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 there are some new 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 certain decisions later on in the series. Siuan and Moiraine 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 Moiraine and Siuan during their training to become Aes Sedai. Hard to a point where it seems like torture but Moiraine 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 Moiraine 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 looks like when Nynaeve took it, and again when Egwene does, but this is the first time we see the test to become full Aes Sedai. We see it through Moiraine’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 Moiraine’s uncle, Laman, is killed. Moiraine 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. Moiraine leaves and begins her search for the Dragon Reborn. Her search takes her 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 Moiraine 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.

Moiraine 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. Moiraine 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 Moiraine 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 Moiraine meet and how they build a relationship up to the point he becomes her Warder. We learn, via Moiraine 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 Moiraine 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 Moiraine 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.