Review: In Crossroads of Twilight, the tenth book in The Wheel of Time, the male half of the One Power, Saidin, has been cleansed, which means men who can channel should no longer be doomed to go insane. Rand knows he has done it, but most of the Aes Sedai who hear about the cleansing are skeptical.
Review: Winter’s Heart, the ninth book in The Wheel of Time covers much of the world in snow. The Bowl of Winds used in the previous book has ended the blazing hot summer, but now snow and rain and cold are slowing down traditional forms of travel.
Faile, Alliandre, and Morgase (still in disguise), as well as Bain and Chiad, are captured and made gai’shan by the Shaido while Perrin was meeting with Masema, the self-anointed Prophet of the Dragon. Perrin’s reputation takes a hit when Berelain has his freezing, exhausted body brought back to her tent to recover. Although nothing untoward happens and Perrin claims nothing happened, most of the various groups following him have their doubts. He begins trying to track down the Shaido and Faile, moving the large mass of his “people” with him.
Rand is attacked in Cairhein by some Asha’man who Mazrim Taim later claims were deserters and had gone rogue. Rand tells him to find them before he next visits the Black Tower, but makes his own plans to hunt them down, which leads him Far Madding, a city that has ter’angreal that replicate a steddings ability to block access to the One Power. Banking on his fighting ability, Rand has left a very faint trail for these Asha’man to follow, which they do, partly because they believe they can take him, and partly because they fear to fail those who ordered them to kill him.
Elayne and Aviendha become “sisters” through a Wise One ritual not too long before Rand shows up in Caemlyn to discuss an important matter with Nynaeve. As he’s finishing up that discussion, he’s set upon by Elayne, Aviendha, and Min. They take him back to Elayne’s chambers where they all bond him. Min and Aviendha then give Elayne and Rand some time alone. In the morning, Elayne finds Rand and Nynaeve have gone from the castle. Elayne learns that four borderlander rulers have moved their armies south in search of Rand. She pays them a surprise visit and gets them to agree to help her secure her throne with a bit of military smoke and mirrors. Upon returning from this trip, Elayne is informed that some of her rivals for the Lion Throne have rallied their troops and are intent on taking Caemlyn.
Mat has been stuck in Ebou Dar as the plaything of the Queen, Tylin, who’s been raised to the Blood. He’s been gnashing his teeth trying to figure out how to get out of the city without a fight, when suddenly, in grand Mat fashion, everything lines up perfectly for him to flee while rescuing a number of captive Aes Sedai and a few Seanchan who’ve begun to run afoul of their fellows. In the escape, Mat finds his “Daughter of the Nine Moons”…and kidnaps her.
Using key to access the strongest Sangreal ever made, Rand, with the aid of Nynaeve’s power, attempts to cleanse the male half of the one power, while roving bands of Asha’man and Aes Sedai fight off a number of the Chosen who are drawn to the amount of power being channeled by Rand and Nynaeve.
Does Rand cleanse the taint? Read the book.
Bottom Line: There is action in this book, but not much of it. In the heart of winter, the action bogged down along with the wagons. That doesn’t make this a bad book. It’s still got plenty of important interactions and machinations, revelations and hope for the future. We learn more about some characters, how far they’re willing to go for some of the others.
Review: The Path of Daggers, the eighth book in The Wheel of Time finds Elayne, Nynaeve, and Aviendha leading the Sea Folk, The Kin, and Aes Sedai from Ebou Dar to the farm run by The Kin where they use their newly found Bowl of the Winds to stop the endless summer just before the Seanchan show up. Fleeing through a gateway, they abandon Mat in Ebou Dar.
Perrin ends up with two queens as part of his entourage before losing both of them and Faile to a Shaido raid while he, Elyas, and a couple of Aes Sedai are having a meeting with Masema, the self-declared Prophet of the Dragon Reborn.
Two of the rebel Aes Sedai Sitters inadvertantly hand Egwene the control she’d been waiting to seize as the Amyrlin Seat which she deftly does by getting the Hall to agree that they should declare war on Elaida and then reminding them that Tower law gives the Amyrlin Seat total power in times of war. Egwene, with the rebel Aes Sedai and the army led by Gareth Bryne, head through a gateway to begin their seige of Tar Valon.
The hunt for the Black Ajah in the White Tower heats up as a group of sisters begin using the Oath Rod.
Elayne finally makes it to Caemlyn and takes possession of the castle, claiming her rule as the heir to the late queen. Once there, she learns how many others have also made a claim for the crown and which houses support them and which support her.
Rand comes to an uneasy agreement with Cadsuane Sedai for her advice before he leads a combined force of Illianer, Tairen, and Cairhen troops to attack Seanchan as they begin to move eastward from Ebou Dar toward Illian. With the Asha’man, the battles are mostly one-sided as Rand pushes them back out of Illian. In the last of these skirmishes, a major flaw is discovered in Callandor.
Bottom Line: Another great book in the series. Some major plot threads are started, while some are seemingly resolved. The taint is getting worse and the endless heat of summer has been rapidly changed to harsh winter.
Review: A Crown of Swords, the seventh book in The Wheel of Time spans only eleven days, but quite a bit takes place in that short period of time.
In the aftermath of the battle of Dumai’s Well, Rand hands the Aes Sedai who swore fealty over to the Aiel Wise Ones for oversight. Elaida, having received the last message from Galina that Rand is in hand on on his way to the White Tower, believes things are still in hand and going smoothly. Galina, who managed to survive the battle, finds herself a prisoner of the Shaido.
Perrin and Rand have a fight about how Rand’s harsh, uncaring treatment of the Aes Sedai, which ends with Perrin leaving Cairhein with his contingent.
Elayne, Nynaeve, Aviendha, and Birgitte visit the Sea Folk where they strike a bargain for help using the Bowl of Winds. They also stumble upon The Kin, a large group of women who can channel, who are able to lead them to the Bowl of Winds.
While out making peace with Cairhein’s rebels, a strange fog appears and fighting ensues. Mordeth, formerly known as Padin Fain, who has been hiding out with the rebels, uses the fog to strike Rand with his cursed dagger. Aes sedai are able to slow Rand’s descent toward death, but it takes the discovery that Asha’man can also heal with the power to save him.
While trying to watch over Elayne and Nynaeve in Ebou Dar, Matt finds himself the plaything of queen Tylin, discovers Whitecloaks are hosting dark friends, and witnesses the Seanchan begin invading the city.
Having just recovered from the attack from Fain, Rand leads the invasion of Illian, drawing out Sammael. Rather than destroying the city he thinks of as his, Sammael draws Rand to Shadar Logoth, where Rand is able to defeat him, sealing his capture of Illian.
Bottom Line: While not quite action-packed, this book is packed with some critical hooks in the story, some large, some small. We see Rand’s and Min’s first kiss…and more…right before Rand meets Cadsuane Sedai for the first time. We see a number of Forsaken involved in plotting ans scheming on their own plans and with their own grudges. We see two instances of the influence of Ta’varen on negotiations with the Sea Folk. We learn of The Kin. We see the rebirth of the male use of the One Power to heal…and Rand dispatches another of the Forsaken. All in eleven story days. So, while not chock full of fight and chase scenes, this book has plenty of forward motion with critical changes to the overall story.
Review: Towers of Midnight, the thirteenth book in The Wheel of Time, sets the stage for the final book, positioning our main characters to provide support at Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, where Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, and Shai’tan (the Dark One) will battle for the fate of the world.
A newly enlightened Rand, begins to bounce around the world, visiting leaders of countries after first stopping in Tar Valon to address the Amyrlin Seat, telling them Tarmon Gai’don is fast approaching and that he plans to break the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison in order to properly re-seal him away. Rand also begins making peace with a number of people with whom he’d had falling outs, apologizing for his past behavior, including his ‘father’, Tam al’Thor, and Cadsuane Sedai, whom he allows back into his presence.
Having cleansed the White Tower of the Black Ajah, Egwene al’Vere begins to hunt Mesaana, the Forsaken who’s taken up residence in the tower, who she also believes is responsible for the murders of sisters. During this time, she also has to deal with Gawyn Trakand –her feelings for him vs. his inability to respect her authority as Amyrlin. Eventually, they each save each other, he becomes her warder, and they agree to marry.
Perrin Aybarra and Faile manage to overcome the uncomfortableness between them that came about due to Faile’s captivity by the Shaido. After a pivotal fight with “Slayer” in the wolf dream, Perrin comes to a balance with his inner wolf which also leads to realization that, like it or not, he’s Lord Perrin. The latest addition to his sizable army is the Children of the Light, led by Galad Damodred. Before arriving in Caemlyn, Perrin marries Morgase Trakand and Martyn Tallanvor.
Matrim Cathoun leads his Band to Caemlyn, where he and Thom are reunited with the new Queen, Elayne Trakand. Mat deals with Elayne to work for Andor in exchange for the use of the “Dragons” Aludra has designed. Mat manages to defeat the gholam with the help of a couple copies (created by Elayne) of his foxhead medallion. Mat, Thom, and Noal head off to the Tower of Ghenjei, where they rescue a severely drained Moraine for a price: the life of Noal and ‘half the light of the world’ from Mat. Once rescued, Moiraine and Thom agree to marry.
The Wise Ones finally allow Aviendha to journey to Rhuidean for the final test to become a Wise One. During her test, she sees a troubling future. Although it indicates the Dragon Reborn has triumphed over the Dark One, it shows a very bleak end for the Aiel.
Something is going on in the Black Tower, as well. No one has seen Logain in a while and the rift between those loyal to him and those loyal to Taim is growing. Gateways out of the Black Tower have stopped working and, combined with the Asha’man-manned guard towers on the gate, those inside are effectively trapped.
As one part of the end of this book, al’Lan Mandragoran sounds the charge of his twelve thousand-troop army through Tarwin’s Gap into the Dark One’s hundred and fifty thousand strong horde…and one other who’d disappeared shows back up in Rand’s dream the night before his address to the gathered nations.
Bottom Line: Another great job by Brandon Sanderson filling in for Robert Jordan. All of the plot lines are converging nicely, the battle scenes are tight and gripping, and, while we know what’s coming, we still can’t be sure who’s going to be on who’s side, where the Forsaken are going to show up, whether the Light or the Shadow will prevail, and, perhaps most importantly, which of our favorite characters will survive.
I just finished my re-read of this book in my prep for the release of the final book, A Memory of Light. While I’ve been putting a bit more detail in the reviews of this series than are in this review, this one serves well enough.
Time to put this one back on the bookshelf and move on to Towers of Midnight.
The Gathering Storm
by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
In one word: Fantastic!
This book, number 12 in The Wheel of Time series, is the first book written since the untimely death of Robert Jordan, the creator of the series and sole writer of the first 11 books. Luckily, for fans of the series, Jordan had a chance to write a lot of notes and pass along orally to friends and family his plans for the end of the series. After his death, his wife, who was also his editor, hired Brandon Sanderson to complete the series. Based on the amount of notes, they decided this would happen over three books. This book, The Gathering Storm, is his first book in the series and is a masterful work. I’ve not read any of his other work, but he did a grand job of keeping with the style of…
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***Note: Lord of Chaos was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1995
Review: Lord of Chaos, the sixth book in The Wheel of Time doesn’t have as much action as The Fires of Heaven. The majority of the conflict in this book is internal, with a number of our protagonists struggling with their place, or still trying to find it, in the Pattern and different rules being imposed on them. Many of our antagonists are struggling, as well.
Elaida, the Amyrlin Seat in Tar Valon, still struggles to get the Aes Sedai in the White Tower to follow her. She has to manipulate and threaten to get her plans working. She plots to get Rand Al’Thor to Tar Valon where she can keep him under control until the time of the Last Battle. She tries sending invitations for him to come and sends an envoy to him in Cairhein to “escort” him back.
The rebel Aes Sedai, holding up in Salidar, are also decide to send an envoy to Rand. Other than that, though, they are stagnating, accomplishing nothing as a whole, but learning the “discoveries” Nynaeve and Elayne are making. For the most part, these discoveries are what they manage to force Moghedien to tell them. Using the original angreal ring, as well as a number of copies Elayne has managed to create, Elayne and Nynaeve begin teaching some of the sisters how to DreamWalk, in addition to helping them have periodic meetings with the Wise Ones in Tel’aran’rhoid. The majority of the sisters aren’t very good at DreamWalking because they have a difficult time accepting that a strong will and mind is more important to accomplishing things in Tel’aran’rhoid than the One Power. During one outing in Tel’aran’rhoid, after the other sisters have departed, Elayne and Nynaeve locate what they believe to be a ter’angreal that will allow them to fix the weather that has been plaguing the world. Unfortunately, it would require traveling to Ebou Dar.
Egwene, who begins this book still studying with the Aiel Wise Ones, is recalled by the Aes Sedai in Salidar. The Wise Ones refuse to teach her how to use Tel’aran’rhoid to travel, but she figures it out and arrives much sooner than the Aes Sedai expected. She is raised from Accepted straight to Amyrlin Seat of the rebels, an attempt to put a figurehead in place that the new “Hall” think they can control. She, in turn, raises Nynaeve and Elayne to full Aes Sedai status, as well as a couple other sisters, and begins to allow herself to be guided in most things while also laying the groundwork to make use of her new position to eventually teach the new “Hall” that she truly is the Amyrlin Seat, and that they chose poorly in trying to emplace a puppet.
Min becomes much more involved in this book. While not in every scene with Rand, she begins to hint to him that she wants to be more than just a friends and source of “viewings.” She teases him, sitting in his lap and wiggling around on it, invading his personal space, and generally leaving him scratching his head, trying to figure out if she’s just playing with him since she knows about Elayne. She, on the other hand, already knows that she’s in love with him and couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She is also one of the few people who are allowed by the Maidens to pass through the door to his chambers without being summoned.
Rand finds himself practically besieged by Aes Sedai. In Caemlyn, there’s a contingent of them from Salidar who pester him, while in Cairhein he’s approached by those of the White Tower. Eventually, in a moment of overconfidence and inattention, Rand allows himself to be shielded from the One Power, captured, and carried away, bound in a chest. By the time his friends and allies realize he hasn’t just “traveled” somewhere without notifying anyone, they have to mount a chase, led by Perrin, to try to catch the White Tower Aes Sedai before they can smuggle him back to Tar Valon.
They finally catch up and the battle at Dumai’s Wells takes place. It is a bloody affair, and serves as a great climax to another great book.
Bottom Line: Lord of Chaos slows the pace a bit. There’s more development on Rand’s relationships…with Min, with the nobles and others in Cairhein, with the two groups of Aes Sedai, with the Aiel, and with the man in his head. We hear his plans for Andor and Cairhein, his plans for an army of men who can channel, and his machinations for bringing down another of the Forsaken. We also see the plans of others, including how some plan to use Rand. Finally, we have a huge battle involving opposing factions of Aes Sedai, Wise Ones and Aiel, and we get to see how effective the Asha’man can be in battle. And just how effective and Rand and the Asha’man? Their use of the power brings us to the last three lines of the book, which I discussed briefly in “…the world was changed forever.”
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.
Review: As the fourth book in The Wheel of Time series opens right after Rand Al’Thor has drawn Calandor and taken the Stone of Tear along with Aiel. Each of the three ta’veren are attacked by animated inanimate objects…Rand, while Berelain, the First of Mayene, is coming on to him, Perrin while he and Faile are having a chat, and Mat, while he’s playing cards with some young nobles. All three survive their encounters without significant damage and without killing anyone else, but it does shake them up a bit.
News of Whitecloaks in Two Rivers looking for them makes Perrin decide he has to go back to help. He’s convinced that if he turns himself in, they’ll leave Emond’s Field and the rest of Two Rivers alone. He, Faile, Loial, and a few Aiel take The Ways back to a waygate near the Two Rivers. They find the villagers trapped between the Whitecloaks and trollocs…one group just more overt about the suffering and despicable acts they perpetrate on people wherever they go. Perrin turns out to be a natural leader, although he constantly doubts himself.
Elayne, Nynaeve, Egwene, and Moraine get the the captive Black sisters to admit that the Black Ajah has fled to Tanchico. Egwene is able to confirm this by dream walking. In that same visit to Tel’aran’rhoid, she also meets an Aiel Wise One who tells her to come to the waste and she will train her in dream walking. Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom, and Julian, the thief-catcher, head to Tanchico aboard a Sea Folk vessel where they befriend the Wavemistress and Windfinder of the vessel.
Mat and Rand, along with Moraine and Lan, Egwene, and Aviendha, as well as the rest of the Aiel who took the Stone, head to the Aiel waste beyond the Dragonwall via a portal stone. Once in the Aiel waste, Rand goes to Rhuidean, presumably because he read that he needs to in one or more of the many books on the prophecy he read while in Tear. Mat also goes because people in a ter’angreal told he must or he would die. In Rhuidean, Rand learns a lot of the history of the Aiel and Mat is almost killed, but returns with a fox head medallion and the broken head of a black spear carved with runes…and quite an extensive knowledge of the Old Tongue.
Rand shows his double golden dragons at Alcair Dal, declaring himself “He Who Comes With The Dawn”…the man prophesied to unite and to break the Aiel …which begins almost immediately after his declaration, followed by a confrontation with one of the Forsaken.
Bottom Line: While the pacing may have backed off a little and it may have the highest page count of this series, The Shadow Rising is full of important information and events, and isn’t too slow …even on a reread. To say it’s full of life changing events for many of the main characters would be an understatement. A bit of foreshadowing is also thrown in that can easily be missed as such without knowledge of the rest of the story. Very clever. It helps provide an “ah, ha” moment for those on a reread.
Review: As the third book in The Wheel of Time series opens, Rand Al’Thor, after days of arguing with Moraine Sedai, leaves during the night, forcing Moraine, Lan, Perrin, and Loial to try to track him…which leads them through many towns where his passing has caused extremely odd things to happen. In one town, Perrin frees an Aiel named Gaul from a cage and a Huntress of the Horn named Zarine decides to tag along as they flee the town by river after Perrin and Gaul slay/defeat twenty Whitecloaks. They are chased out of Illian by Darkhounds and Gray Men and arrive in Tear.
Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne bring Mat and the Horn back to Tar Valon. The girls are raised to Accepted and put on secret assignment by the Amyrlin Seat to search for members of the Black Ajah.
During this time, Egwene also starts to learn about Dreaming and Tel‘aran‘rhiod, the World of Dreams. Her first trip, using a ter’angreal given to her by Verin, gives her a glimpse of a number of things, including Rand’s dream, Perrin’s dream, and a glimpse of Callandor, confirming the ladies suspicion that they need to go to Tear to track down the members of the Black Ajah. On their way, they meet a number of Aiel, including Aviendha, Bain, and Chiad, and Rhuarc, who are quite a way from the Dragonwall, in search of “he who comes with the dawn.”
Mat is healed, his connection to the dagger from Shadar Logoth broken, and he is told that he is effectively a prisoner of the White Tower, until a scheme of Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve allows him to escape downriver with Thom Merrillin. Due to his unnatural good luck, he and Thom survive a couple of encounters on the way to Caemlyn, where Mat overhears a plan to kill Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve. He and Thom then make tracks for Tear.
All our parties converge on Tear and the Prophecies are fulfilled: Rand wields Callandor and proclaims himself The Dragon Reborn!
Bottom Line: Changing gears a bit, The Dragon Reborn spends more time building the characters and story of the girls, Mat, and Perrin. Most of Rand’s face time is through other characters’ points of view this time. It also provides quite a bit of foreshadowing and name recognition that has come with having read the entire series previously…some of those moments where a character is introduced, almost in passing, that I know has a much bigger part to play later…that when I read them in here now, I think “Oh, wow…I didn’t recall <insert name> being introduced here.” I love those moments during re-reads. Another great book.