The Path of Daggers

A Path of Daggers

The Path of Daggers is book eight of The Wheel of Time series and is the shortest of the fourteen. I think I mentioned around book four that I felt our main characters had come into their own and grown or matured greatly over the course of the first three books. As we get into book eight, I can’t help but feel like our characters have matured even more. So much that they are beyond just adults but taking on commanding roles within the world. I’m continuing this series discussion as before, with spoilers, so be warned if you have not yet read this far. If you have not read the series at all, I still advise against reading these spoilers, but we may be so far into it that the spoilers might not make sense without knowledge of previous events. Despite being the shortest book, there is still a lot to talk about. Let’s get into it.

Beginning with something brief, I noticed that Mat is not in this book at all, whatsoever, and I’m a bit disappointed. I’m disappointed because I was excited to see what happens to him after the ending of the previous book, but we don’t even get a glimpse, which means we last saw Mat getting buried in a pile of rubble in Ebou Dar during the invasion by the Seanchan. We do get information that the Seanchan have settled into Ebou Dar so surely the next time we see Mat he will have been through a few things we will probably just get a brief summary about before jumping back into his story. Also, I think Thom and Juilin had stayed behind with Mat so we don’t know what is happening with them either. We just know they are not with Elayne.

Elayne has only a few chapters in this book but they are important. We open up with her, Nynaeve, Lan, Aviendha, and Birgitte, along with the Kin from Ebou Dar, the Atha’an Miere, and the Aes Sedai who were in Ebou Dar all going out to the Kin’s farm/retreat. They Travel there via a Gateway made by Aviendha. She gets everyone through but then quickly undoes the Gateway by tearing the weaves, or “unweaving,” so no one can follow them. The Aes Sedai are appalled. They forbid that practice because it is high risk, but she does it for a purpose. They were being watched by what could have been the gholam that attacked them in the last book. She was right, but they were also being watched by Moridin (more on him later).

They travel out to the farm and end up using the Bowl of the Winds using a circle. Strangely enough though, the Bowl uses saidin alongside saidar when it spreads across the sky to return the weather to normal patterns and reverse the Dark Lord’s touch on the world. They are successful and their success ends up having consequences later on. After they use the Bowl, they see that Ebou Dar is under attack by Seanchan so they prepare to leave. The Seanchan begin to scout into the area when they are finishing their Travel into Andor near Caemlyn. Getting everyone through took time and some of the Seanchan started coming through as Elayne, who made the Gateway this time, is still unweaving the threads so the Seanchan can’t follow with a damane who might be able to trace the weave. Some Seanchan come through and start attacking Elayne and Birgitte, and Aviendha, and Elayne isn’t able to fully remove the weave successfully. The result is a major explosion that wipes out most of the area around the weave on both sides of the Gateway. The explosion takes out the Seanchan on both sides and hurts Elayne, Birgitte, and Aviendha as well. Nynaeve is able to heal them once she comes back to help them. I have a feeling this “unweaving” will come into play later on since it can effectively wipe out an entire army if used as a weapon.

So Elayne & Co are in Andor and begin to make their way toward Caemlyn so she can claim the Lion Throne. The weather turning back to normal, effectively turning abruptly to winter, impedes their progress and they take much longer to get to Caemlyn. Along the way, they discover a Darkfriend is among their party after Adeleas is found dead and the Black Ajah, Ispan, is killed as well. The main goal seemingly was to silence Ispan from revealing too much. Either way, they can’t trust anyone until they find out who did it. They all make it into Caemlyn and everyone is housed in the palace after Elayne announces her claim to the throne. She does meet with Dyelin who asks what her intentions are and then supports her. I can’t help but hope that Dyelin will be a good friend to her.

Morgase and her little group had run from the Seanchan invasion of Amadicia and we find them being hounded by some of the Prophet’s people. Perrin comes in to save them and sends a warning to the Prophet/Masema who he has come to meet with. Morgase is going by the name Maighdin and is picked up by Faile to become a servant. She apparently is slowly coming to terms with her new path in life since she is no longer queen, and Lini even tries to make Perrin marry her to Talanvor (he doesn’t, yet).

Perrin is still my favorite character along with Loial. Loial left to find a Stedding and we haven’t seen him in a long time, but Perrin is back in a somewhat major way. He has come to get Masema and bring him to Rand and he is supposed to be quiet about it. He is able to get Alliandre, the Queen of Ghealdean, to align with him. She even swears fealty to him. Elyas shows back up too. I think this may be the first appearance from him since book one. He joins Perrin and actually gives Perrin some marital advice, which ends up helping Perrin out quite a bit. Perrin ends up meeting with Masema at the end of the book and convinces him to come see Rand, but he refuses to go by Traveling and Perrin agrees to take him to Rand by horse/foot. I doubt they will make it all the way to Cairhein considering the last bit of info we get with Faile. She is out hawking with Alliandre and gets info that Masema has been meeting with the Seanchan. She tries desperately to get the info to Perrin, but they are attacked by the Shaido Aiel. Faile, Maighdin/Morgase, Alliandre, and a few others including Bain and Chiad are taken prisoner as gai’shain. Supposedly, Berelain escapes and can inform Perrin of what has happened. Perrin will go crazy to get Faile back so I bet he takes out the Shaido for Rand now. Faile was more worried about getting Perrin the info about Masema than she was about being prisoner, but that may be because she knows Perrin will come get her soon.

We get a short chapter about the Shaido and Sevanna. She is losing influence with the Wise Ones after the Shaido were scattered by Sammael’s Travel boxes. She tries to make Galina swear an oath to her using something similar to the Oath Rod that Sammael had given her, but the oath Galina takes is to obey the Wise Ones and not just Sevanna.

One of the opening events in the prologue shows the leaders of the four border nations, including Agelmar from Shienar who we last saw in book one, meeting and deciding to band together, via an old pact not used in two thousand years, and move south to settle the unstable countries.

I’ve noticed that many of the events in the prologue of each book don’t often, if at all, get mentioned further in the book they prelude. The plot lines are simply mentioned to plant the seed and then come into play in either the next book or even a few books later on. This prologue includes the four border nations making the pact, Moridin who gets a little more mention in this book, and Verin who is apparently questioning the captured Aes Sedai from Dumai’s Wells. Within the prologue, she is doing something that apparently is forbidden. It seems to be some kind of mind control to make the Aes Sedai do what she thinks needs to be done. She even, at least it is hinted at, helps some of them escape. Presumably so they can carry out her “orders.” I like Verin, but this is kind of a red flag.

Moving on to Moridin. He seems like he will become a major villain, especially since the Forsaken have been absent of late. All we see in this installment though is that he has Moghedien and another woman go to summon Graendal. They name Moridin as Nae’blis, the top person named by the Dark Lord, but Graendal is skeptical until Shaidar Haran, the altered Myrddraal, shows up and convinces her. She is supposed to go meet Moridin and become his minion. There are still several Forsaken out there who we haven’t heard from. Only six remain from my count. We see a little of Mesaana who is still in the White Tower. We don’t see Demandred, Semirhage, or Asmodean (where has he been?).

We get one line during a scene with the Seanchan that tells us that Liandrin, the original Black Ajah troublemaker, is now a servant/slave to the Seanchan since she is still blocked from the One Power by Moghedien’s weave from a few books ago. Another Black Ajah, the one who was with Ispan but got away in Ebou Dar, has been captured and is now a damane. The Seanchan have captured Ebou Dar and are expanding further west. Many of the nations now know about them but have not yet done anything to move against them. Little is known if they are even preparing to defend against an invasion by them either.

Most of the main action of this book centers around Rand rooting out the Seanchan in Altara. He Travels from Illian with a small force of nobles who have issues with him or caused him trouble in the past. They come with a few soldiers each making up about four thousand. He also brings about 50 Asha’man who are meant to do most of the killing. They Travel and scout through the mountains and drive the Seanchan out and back toward Ebou Dar. He then faces off against them in large numbers in the forests north of Ebou Dar. Both Rand and the Asha’man with him are uneasy about using saidin in this area because there is something off about it. I’m curious if this is another side-effect of using the Bowl of the Winds since it was used in Ebou Dar, but either way it is making things difficult for them. Unstable perhaps. Rand continues onward though despite this. He first meant to just get the Seanchan out of the mountains to lessen their hold on the area, but he decides later to take them out of Ebou Dar. To drive them back to the sea like in Falme. He gets so focused on this that he has Narishma go get Callandor from Tear. He then uses the ter’angreal to finish off the Seanchan but he loses control and ends up killing some of his own people, including one of the Asha’man he first recruited to the Black Tower. He only stops because Bashere tackles him and makes him stop. Bashere is great. Rand believes this is his first defeat in battle since becoming the Dragon Reborn. We as readers get to see that the Seanchan also consider the battle a defeat.

Rand later learns from Cadsuane that Callandor is flawed and can only be used safely when one man, the wielder, is linked with two women and one of the women controls the flows of power. This info seems a bit too convenient for Cadsuane’s purposes and I’m not sure I believe it, but Cadsuane is bound by the three oaths and cannot lie (but we do see how believing something is true lets an Aes Sedai claim it as truth, but more on that later). This also sets up many possible combinations of Rand using Callandor with a few Aes Sedai. The most likely combination either him with Elayne and Egwene, or him with Elayne and Aviendha.

Rand almost dies, twice, while fighting the Seanchan. The first is right after Traveling to the area and was an attempt on his life by one of the men in his party who was paid supposedly by Aes Sedai but Davrim Bashere pretty much shows that it couldn’t be assumed it was Aes Sedai. We don’t get to know who paid the man, yet, but it does seem like it was planned to look a certain way. The second time is when Weiramon gets too eager and leaves a side undefended, thus letting some Seanchan through who almost kill Rand.

Lews Therin’s voice also returns in Rand’s head and the issue with saidin is persisting with Rand. He pretty much is incapacitated temporarily when seizing the source and when letting it go. The fact the Asha’man state they feel the disturbance within saidin too soothes Rand at first but he still pushes himself and his soldiers too far. This leads to the final confrontation of the book, which I will save for last.

Next, let’s move back to Cadsuane. She was introduced a while back and was made out to be a prominent character. She is slowly getting there. She and Sorilea have a scene where they make a pact to bring Rand out of his downward spiral and remind him what it means to be human. This will be a great thing considering Rand has been too enveloped in his “purpose” and being the Dragon Reborn that he is pushing himself non-stop and is losing sight of why he has to do what he is doing. Min has seen an image of Cadsuane teaching Rand and all the Asha’man something important that they won’t enjoy learning, but it will be essential. Because of the viewing and Min’s insistence that he needs her, Rand asks Cadsuane to become his advisor. They discuss the possibility of this but never come to an agreement. They test the waters and it seems like they will eventually will become official allies once they find terms acceptable to each of them.

Sorilea brings the remaining five Aes Sedai prisoners before Rand to make a final decision regarding what to do with them. They are all now willing to serve him and have learned their mistake. They all swear the same oath of fealty to him that the other Aes Sedai did at Dumai’s Wells. If I can remember correctly, none of these five Aes Sedai were Black Ajah, or even Red Ajah, so they are still bound by the three oaths. They are then given back to Sorilea to be made apprentices to the Wise Ones like the other Aes Sedai who swore fealty.

A few more areas to discuss before the finale. Elaida is still Amyrlin in the White Tower but she is basically a puppet for Alviarin right now. She is hoping Seaine will get the dirt she needs to have Alviarin dealt with. This brings me back to the Aes Sedai needing to believe something to be true in order to speak it. Seaine and Pevara are using the Oath Rod to try and find the Black Ajah members in the White Tower. They inadvertently discover the Salidar spies, or the spies the “rebel” Aes Sedai sent to the Tower. Pevara tells the spy they uncover to stop telling the “lie” that the Red Ajah set up False Dragons including Logain. She tells her to renounce the lie, but the spy believes it to be true so she can’t say it is false. She starts choking since Pevara told her to say it is false and she had just sworn an oath to follow Pevara and Seaine’s commands, but she is still bound by the oath to tell the truth, so she is stuck between each oath of obeying Pevara and telling the truth as she believes it, which are contradicting each other. Pevara ultimately has to remove her command so the girl doesn’t die. Right after this event, other sisters, Sitters of the Hall, pop into the basement room Seaine and Pevara are using for their questioning. They hoping to dig up some dirt about what is going on in each Ajah since the Tower is basically split by Ajah now and the Aes Sedai are not trusting each other as before. They think Pevara and Seaine are sneaking to this room to discuss information related to their Ajahs. Anyway, these Sitters come in and find the Oath Rod and they all retake the Three Oaths and claim they are not Black Ajah. The scene cuts short before the final sister takes the Oath Rod, who we know is actually Black Ajah, so I’m sure we will get to see the repercussions of this later on.

Elaida also has sent about fifty Aes Sedai and two thousand guards to take out the Black Tower since they think only a handful of men are there who can use the One Power. They are of course terribly wrong since Mazrim Taim has been recruiting like crazy. One of the Aes Sedai groups, one of ten that would regroup in Andor before attacking the Black Tower, gets intercepted by a group of Asha’man which includes Logain who we last saw escape the “rebel” Aes Sedai camp with Egwene’s help. Logain does…something…to get one of the Aes Sedai to calm down. It seems like he bonded her similar to a Warder, but we will have to wait and see. Min’s viewings did show an Aes Sedai bonding an Asha’man as a Warder, so we may be getting some cool Aes Sedai/Asha’man team-ups in the future.

Last section before the climax of this book. Egwene. She finally takes control of the Aes Sedai group by having them declare war on Elaida. An older law in the White Tower claims that if war is declared, as done with a majority vote by the Tower, then the Amyrlin must have full support in all decisions regarding the war. Few seem to remember the law but it does bind them to her. Siuan is tutoring Egwene and has aligned with her, as has Gareth Bryne, whom Egwene realizes Siuan is in love with. Egwene threatens to tell Bryne in order to get Siuan to behave herself. There was a weird scene where Sheriam was attacked/forced into submission by someone we don’t get to see. It is hinted that she is being subservient to a Darkfriend, but not in a way that would claim Sheriam is a Darkfriend herself. The person I think may have done this is Halima. We know Halima is a Darkfriend to say the least. We find out in this book that Halima is actually a (former?) Forsaken who apparently was reborn by the Dark Lord, who we know can bring people back from death somehow. However, this reborn Forsaken was a man prior to being reborn so he is now technically a woman who can weave saidar, which means that he/she/they is the one who freed Moghedien from the a’dam and from Egwene. Halima is indirectly shown killing the two maids given to Egwene from Romanda and Lelaine. She remains with Egwene as well and is too close for comfort considering what we know. Egwene spends a month on the border of Andor resting her troops, who are making poor time traveling with the new weather, for one month. Then, at the end of the book, she Travels her entire camp to Tar Valon to lay siege to the White Tower and depose Elaida. I hope we get to see this battle and resolution in the next book. Or at least the start of this conflict. I would hate to have to wait an entire book before getting back to that Egwene’s story. Similar to how we didn’t see Mat in this book.

Okay, on to the climax of this book. As with previous books, we get an unexpected fight at the end. Usually it has been with a member of the Forsaken. We are first lead to believe it is either Demandred or Asmodean, but we ultimately see that it is a few members of the Asha’man who attempt to kill Rand. They are all members who had gone with Rand to root out the Seanchan, including Dashiva. I was skeptical of Dashiva since the beginning, or since Rand chose him to follow him after Dumai’s Wells, and never understood why Rand chose him since he mutters all the time and seems to be on the brink of insanity. I thought for a moment that Dashiva’s muttering was him talking to a past hero as well, or someone from the past who could wield saidin. Maybe this will turn out to be true. It could be an interesting development. Perhaps some of these Asha’man will join the Forsaken. The Black Tower was made to assist Rand but may turn out to be detrimental to his cause. I doubt this since Logain is now an Asha’man and he is supposed to attain some sort of glory according to Min’s viewing.

So a handful of Asha’man attempt to kill Rand in the Sun Palace in Cairhien. They were all insubordinate or questioning Rand’s orders during their fight with the Seanchan and seemingly held a grudge. I think maybe they are just ambitious as well. Below are two quotes I included when talking about book five, The Fires of Heaven, that I think apply once again.

  • 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

The Asha’man have definitely been given power, or at least trained to enhance and control the One Power. I think some of the Asha’man were bound to lose themselves to ambition or believing they were or could do better than Rand despite knowing Rand is the Dragon Reborn. They probably question that as well. At first, I thought that maybe these Asha’man were rebelling at the orders of Mazrim Taim (I never trusted him and still don’t) because I can see Mazrim taking the forces he trained and turning them against Rand. But Mazrim shows up later to report a few deserters, who end up being the ones who attacked Rand, and Rand tells him who else was included and demands that Mazrim hunt them down and kill them. Rand kills Fedwin Morr by feeding him a cup of something poisonous. Mazrim is impressed that Rand can be ruthless and he assumes Fedwin was part of the group that tried to kill Rand. I was confused at first as to why Rand kills Fedwin since he had asked him to protect Min, but after reading the section again, it sounds like Fedwin may have lost his mind. He was young, but it says he reverted to the mind of a young child and Min had to convince him to play like a child with wooden blocks instead of using the one power to tear stones from the palace walls to play with. So this makes me believe Rand kills Fedwin mercifully since Fedwin is no longer the man/boy that he was and is too dangerous to be left alive still able to use the One Power.

I really did like this book and I am continuing to love the series. I still have six books to go and I’ll be jumping right into book nine, Winter’s Heart.

On Philip K. Dick

Phil K Dick AuthorI’ve recommended a few books by Philip K. Dick (PKD) on this blog. In one of them, if I remember correctly, I mentioned how I first discovered his work. It was a very strange, roundabout way that I think is ironically fitting. Before I “discovered” who he was or what work he had done, I had already been exposed to several adaptations of his works. Many movies and shows have been based on his short stories and books. Perhaps you have seen some of them without realizing who first created the concept or idea. Many adaptations take many liberties that stray from the original story, and movies based on short stories obviously had additions, but at the core they are influenced by PKD’s work. Here are a few adaptations:


  1. Blade Runner (1982) & Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
    • Based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  2. Total Recall (1990 & 2012)
    • Based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966)
  3. Screamers (1995)
    • Based on the short story “Second Variety” (1953)
  4. Imposter (2002)
    • Based on the short story “Imposter” (1953)
  5. Minority Report (2002)
    • Based on the short story “The Minority Report” (1956)
  6. Paycheck (2003)
    • Based on the short story “Paycheck” (1953)
  7. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
    • Based on the novel A Scanner Darkly (1977)
  8. Next (2007)
    • Based on the short story “The Golden Man” (1954)
  9. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
    • Based on the short story “Adjustment Team” (1954)

TV Shows:

  1. The Man in the High Castle (2015-present [2019])
    • Based on the novel The Man in the High Castle (1962)
  2. Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (2017)
    • Episodes based on the following short stories:
      • The Hood Maker (1953)
      • The Commuter (1953)
      • The Hanging Stranger (1953)
      • Sales Pitch (1954)
      • Exhibit Piece (1954)
      • The Father Thing (1954)
      • The Impossible Planet (1955)
      • Human Is (1955)
      • Autofac (1955)
      • Foster, You’re Dead! (1955)

If you have seen any of these movies or TV shows then you have experienced PKD’s work. Perhaps, like me several years ago, you had no idea that this man was behind a piece of work you have seen before. So I guess you can say I first discovered/realized PKD the author around 2015 when one of his novels was mentioned by a character in a show I really enjoy. I discovered William Gibson from the same show. The show, an animated science fiction, dystopian future story, is called Psycho-Pass. The novel mentioned was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which subsequently became the first book of PKD’s that I read. I have read a few collections of short stories, the transcription of his final interview What if Our World is Their Heaven?, and I still have much of his work still to read. After all, he wrote 36 books and 121 short stories.

What I like about PKD’s work, especially the short stories, is that after I finish reading the story, I am still thinking about something. Many of his stories are centered around an idea or a social commentary that get my synapses firing and sometimes prompts me to have ideas of my own that I could use for stories. I can’t tell you which ones, but I know that a few stories I wrote for this blog were influenced in this way. Some of his stories were about social issues back between the fifties and seventies, but most are still relevant today. I remember reading a story about abortion around the same time new abortion laws were being made in several states in the U.S.. Not every social commentary story is that prevalent. Some are and some touch on lesser topics that are still relevant.

Another thing I find fascinating about his work is that much of his work is already dated in some way. The events in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? happen in 2019. Obviously things turned out quite different (we still don’t have flying cars for f**k’s sake), but science fiction is never about “predicting” a future. It’s about talking about the current moment in a different perspective. This is why PKD’s stories are still fascinating and fun to read. I once referred to his work as “nostalgic science fiction” and I think that is still accurate. His stories are dated not only because they dated themselves by using futuristic dates that have come and passed, but because they cover topics that were prevalent at the time they were written. Topics that did not persist as the years passed. So even though the stories are futuristic they are also historical, and I think this adds to the magic of them.

There is no doubt that PKD writes an excellent story. Hollywood wouldn’t be using them if they didn’t think their adaptations would make a lot of money. I really enjoy reading them because I think the old adage “The book is better than the movie” rings true with probably every adaptation of his work. Granted, I haven’t read or seen them all, but the few I have lead me to hold strong to this assumption. I will be honest here though. I watched Blade Runner after I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and I was thoroughly disappointed with the movie. This statement I’m sure will open a can of worms with those who love the movie and will try to defend it. I think the book was way better. I did enjoy Blade Runner 2049 despite its slow pacing, but that’s enough about the adaptations.

I will say that some of his stories have not aged as well as others and some are simply odd or outright goofy, but most are thought-provoking and meaningful. I have come to hold PKD’s works as essential additions to my little, personal library. He was an interesting man as well from what little I have learned about him. Most of which I learned in What if Our World is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick, the transcription of his final interview. I randomly came across this book in a Half Price Books store and bought it along with a collection of PKD short stories. I had no idea the book had existed before then, but it caught my interest.

The interview was conducted three months before PKD died of a stroke in March of 1982 at the age of 53. He died before they finished filming Blade Runner, but he was able to see parts of the set and was really excited about the movie. It was the first film adaptation of any of his work. I also learned from this book/interview that PKD mainly read non-fiction. He taught himself Latin so he could read the bible in the original Latin because he wanted to see if anything had been lost as the book was translated throughout history. He read less and less fiction as he got older until he only read non-fiction. He also wrote books and stories extremely fast and sometimes at the cost of his health. He would shut himself away for days or weeks and pound out a full manuscript usually in about ten days. He often wouldn’t eat much during these projects and once mentioned mainly consuming only painkillers and alcohol for days at time. I was afraid this interview may prove to be one of those “never meet your heroes” kinds of thing because we often hold our heroes on a pedestal and can get a shock when finding out they are not anything like we believed, but I don’t build pedestals too high (I hope) and always remind myself that everyone is human. Anyway, I was glad to find out that this interview revealed a lot about the person I knew little about outside of his works and I was interested in almost everything that was said. 

What if Our World is Their Heaven? also includes the description of the book PKD was working on before he died. A book that was never finished, but the concept and outline he provides in this interview makes me wish he had finished it. Then I remind myself that I’m lucky to even have the description he provides. The book would have been called An Owl in Daylight if my memory serves me right. It was a conceptual novel that was quite fascinating and involved extraterrestrials and life-after-death and religion and mixed them all together into a simple yet complex and thought-provoking story.

I think his stories greatly influenced the progression and possibilities of science fiction as a genre. His stories continue to get adapted into film and I think his work will persist and continue to influence people for many years to come. I sometimes imagine how I would be today if I had discovered his works earlier in my life. Perhaps they would have simply been another log in the fire that is my aspiration to become a published writer myself. I definitely hope that I can write some stories that are as thought provoking as many of his are. I also hope to influence and inspire others as his stories have influence me, and obviously the many people in the film industry. He may have passed away much too early, but he left us a large collection of great stories with which to remember him. I’m just glad I discovered them. They will likely remain on my shelf, even after I am gone, to be enjoyed by those who come after.

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

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 AuthorNeil 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.