Review: The Fires of Heaven, the fifth book in The Wheel of Time gives us a group of Forsaken, led by Lanfear, conspiring to defeat or control Rand Al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn after tallying up the number of Forsaken who have already fallen at his hands.
Early on, we also see Elaida, the newly raised Amyrlin Seat, struggling to maintain control over The Hall and keep the White Tower strong…to not reveal that Siuan Sanche, the former Amyrlin Seat, was deposed and stilled and managed to escape the dungeons, while also trying to figure out how to gain control of Rand.
In Tanchico, Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom, and Julian infiltrate the Black Ajah conclave and obtain the Angreal that the Black Ajah had been seeking that could allow them to try to control Rand. Guessing the Black Ajah would look for them to have fled by ship, the group flees by road, pretending to be merchants heading east to sell dyes. Along their journey, they discover the effects of forkroot tea, learn that Galad has become a Whitecloak, and join a traveling circus.
After beginning the rebuilding and re-population of Rhuidean, Rand leads the Aiel out of the waste, in pursuit of the Shaido, led by their not-quite-a-clan-chief, Couladin. He chases them all the way across to Cairhien where the Aeil who follow him as well as the forces he sent north from Tear and those from Cairhien battle the Shaido in a grand battle where Rand, Egwene, and Aviendha get to test their use of the One Power as a weapon and Mat discovers another of the “gifts” he received in Rhuidean.
Min helps Siuan, Leane, and Logain escape from the tower after chaos breaks out with sisters battling sisters, warders vs warders. During their escape, they meet Gareth Bryne, and eventually make it to Salidar, where a lot of the sisters who fled the tower have congregated.
One night, while part of the circus, Nynaeve has an encounter in Tel’aran’rhoid that ends with Birgitte ripped out of the World of Dreams to join them in the real world. Nynaeve runs into Uno during a performance and he leads her to see Masema, who has become The Prophet of the Dragon since parting ways with Rand. As the town erupts into chaos with Masema’s followers fighting Whitecloaks, Nynaeve, Elayne, Julian, Thom and Birgitte escape downriver and find their way to Salidar.
Rumors of Morgase’s death drive Rand into a fury and he plans an assault on Rahvin in Caemlyn. The morning in which he’s to lead the assault, Moraine leads him to the port in Cairhien where Rand finds he can’t bring himself to kill a woman, even a Forsaken. Later that day, Rand transports a relatively large group of Aiel into the garden of the palace in Caemlyn where the battle begins right away.
Bottom Line: The Fires of Heaven has plenty of action. Our various protagonists battle through multiple encounters with a number of Forsaken and a large scale battle with a rogue Aiel clan. They continue to increase their power, as well as expand their use of it. Many strands of the weave cross. New strands are spun or changed. Some are burned completely from the pattern. Another great book.