Spoilers for Eye of The World and The Great Hunt, and The Dragon Reborn up to Ch 16 | More info and previous posts | Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 3, The Dragon Reborn. This post covers chapter 1-16.
Prologue : Whitecloak Politics
The book opens in the chambers of Pedron Niall’s audience chamber. Niall’s the big boss of the Whitecloaks, and is currently being briefed by Byar, the super stuck up, anti-Perrin Whitecloak. The whole land has broken into battles in civil strife. Rand’s being considered by them as yet another false Dragon. Doesn’t Niall know that Rand fought Ba’alzamon in the fucking sky?! Byar spews some poison against Perrin, convinced as usual that everything wrong is Perrin’s fault.
Next up is Carridin, of the Questioners. Pretty sure he’s a Darkfriend. He tries to bullshit Niall, but Niall is way ahead of him. Niall threatens Carridin, but it’s clear this is only talk. Niall actually wants Carridin to make sure that Rand doesn’t die. What the hell? He’s got big plans, and is also seriously underestimating Tarmon Gai’don. Whatever happened to walking in the light?
Padan Fain, that’s what! Fain, a.k.a Ordeith, is clearly manipulating Niall from behind the scenes, which the poor old guy won’t realise until it’s too late. Clearly, Fain is now no longer a Darkfriend, but is doing his own thing. Which raises the question of what does Fain want with Rand? Why does he want Rand to survive?
Carridin, the Darkfriend, gets some tough love from a Fade who orders him to kill Rand ASAP. Caught between a rock and a hard place. Serve you right for being a Darkfriend.
The Wheel of Time turns, and yadda yadda yadda. Perrin is waiting for someone in the Mountains of Mist. And we are waiting for the plot to start. EoTW was the LoTR rip off, tGH was about the seanchan, horn and Rand’s declaration of his Dragon-ness. What is in store this time, I wonder?
Apparently Moiraine has Rand, Perrin, Min and the Shienarans hiding in the mountains for the Winter, while war rages outside. News is brought by Leya of the Tinkers, whose arrival was predicted by Moiraine. Um, what? Is Moiraine a part-time spymaster? Or is it something more mystical? Perrin continues his bitching about his Wolf connection. Rant time.
Damnit Perrin, why are you so bothered by it? Rand’s bitching is at least understandable given that he’s prophesied to break the world and stuff. So you can talk to Wolves. Or, actually, it is more like telepathy. Are wolves magical too? Anyway, it hasn’t done you any harm, and has come in handy plenty of time. Plus enhanced nose and night vision. Your dreams are safer too. What are you complaining about all the time?!
Moving on, the Shienarans are almost fanatically loyal to Rand. I mean, loyalty is good, but this blind devotion is making me uncomfortable. Min, who is apparently there as well as Loial, foretells of Leya’s death.Rand is in a rather bad mood. Well, so would I, if Moiraine had kept me cooped up for the whole winter. He proceeds to show his bad mood by causing a bloody earthquake and a landslide. Woah. Rand really needs to get his magic in control, or it will be really bad, both for him and those around him.
Attack of The Trollocs
Perrin dreams – first about some mystery man, then someone pretty (Selene?), and then about a sword that is clearly Callandor, the sword that cannot be touched. But that’s interrupted by a warning from the Wolves. Perrin wakes up to an all out attack on the valley. He’s really worried for Leya. Perrin goes into badass mode, slaughtering Trollocs and Fades. Alas, it is all for naught, and Leya is killed. Poor girl. I think Jordan killed her to make a point – Min really can see the future, and what she sees will happen. That’s little solace to Perrin though.
Wolves comes in though, and save the others – at great cost to themselves. See Perrin, the Wolves are good! Rand is feeling really messed up. Moiraine does her healing magic on the wounded, and passes out tired. Perrin goes back to sleep.
Everyone wakes up to find Rand gone. Uh oh. This feels like it is shaping up to be another chase. This time with Perrin and co. chasing Rand, who has clearly cracked. Moiraine tells us that Perrin’s dreams were apparently caused by Rand. Makes sense, why would Perrin dream of Selene, or Callandor? Perrin also gets pissed at Moiraine. I wish people would stop losing their temper with her all the time – she’s only trying to do good. Min is ordered to Tar Valon as messenger, Shienarans are disqualified from the chase because of their fitness issues, so Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial are off after Rand.
After a bunch of travelling, where nothing much happens except Moiraine surprises Perrin by catching fish. Dude, she’s an Aes Sedai. She can call up pillars of fire, cover miles of earth with fog, heal people from the brink of death, and you’re surprised that she can catch fish! So, after a bunch of travel, the party arrives in the first village, Jarra.
Moiraine tries to be all low-key and discreet, but Perrin spoils it by straight up asking people whether Rand’s been spotted. Turns out indeed he passed through, and also there’s been some weird shit going down at the village. A string of marriages, followed by Whitecloaks going nuts, trying to burn down the inn and stuff. Moiraine handwaves it all away with ta’veren. I’m getting really tired of that word.
Some villager asks Moiraine to try and heal his brother, and Moiraine decides to take Perrin along, because why? Aaand it seems the brother is a wolf-talker gone wild. Good call Moiraine, though how’d you know to bring Perrin in advance? Moiraine tries, but unfortunately the guy is totally lost to his animal instincts.
Huh. Well, Perrin’s bitching feels much more reasonable now. It’d suck to lose your mind and turn into a wolf in a man’s body. On the other hand, now that he’s got a legit reason to complain, I’m afraid his grumbling will escalate even more. Perrin asks Moiraine for help, who basically shrugs and says “sucks to be you dude”.
Perrin tries his best to keep Wolves out of his mind, but that doesn’t work, and especially not in his dreams. This one is rather creepy. Given that Wolves exist half in the dream world, does it mean what Perrin saw actually happened? That the man who died a gory death actually died? Who knows.
Finally, a glimpse of Rand, who is clearly not doing well. He is indeed heading to Tear, and his struggle with Power addiction is getting to him.
I like how the magic in this world is turning into a really two edged sword. Yes, you can do cool stuff, but it’s also really addicting, and the more you use it the more you want to use it. Plus there’s the risk of getting yourself killed if you use too much at once. On the other hand, you know what else is dangerous? Fire. Fire is useful, doesn’t mean it won’t burn people if care is not taken. Then why are people everywhere extra scared of the One Power? Is it because they fear what they don’t understand? Or a result of the breaking of the world? Enough musing, on with the plot.
Return to Tar Valon
Now we switch to the Aes Sedais. Aes Sedaii? What’s the plural? I’m going with Sedais.
So, Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve, Verrin, Hurin and Mat (who’s in really bad shape) are almost at Tar Valon. Egwene is still getting PTSD type issues from her chaining at Falme. Can’t blame her. That kind of mind control is not good for anyone. Suddenly, a bunch of Children of The Light show up. Man, these people just can’t keep their noses out of people’s business. Verrin tells Egwene and the rest to keep quiet, and that she’ll deal with them.
But Elayne goes and plays the princess card, much good it does her. The Whitecloak officer raises his hand, and Egwene loses her shit. She really should see a counselor or some such about her troubles. Wait, that raises the question, what did middle age folk do about their psychological issues? Just stew and go nuts? Apparently so, if Egwene is any indicator. Elayne and Nynaeve soon join in, and the Whitecloaks run away, leaving behind the stuck up officer. Verrin is furious, and rightly so.
Egwene isn’t done though, and tells the Whitecloak, who is apparently Bornhald’s son, that they’re coming from Falme. Way to keep secrets girl. Anyway, the party makes its way to Tar Valon.
Jordan waxes eloquent about the glory of the city. Yeah yeah, the mage headquarters are blingy as all hell, let’s get on with the plot.
Verrin again tells them to keep quiet, and again they proceed to ignore her. Eventually, Verrin goes to meet co-conspirator and Amyrlin, Siuan. Verrin reports about Rand and the Horn. She tries to tell Siuan about the Seanchan and their damanes, but kinda messes it up and gets dismissed by an impatient Amyrlin. I don’t really understand why what they’re doing is so terrible. I mean, yes, the Dragon is supposed to break the world, but that’s prophecy, not much they can do about it. Then what is this conspiracy all about? What rules are they breaking? Did I miss something, or what?
Next up Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are brought up. They are punished with more chores and stuff, but in time honored fantasy tradition, they also get promoted for their badass adventures. Egwene and Elayne are to become Accepted. The Amyrlin also tells Nynaeve and Egwene that Liandrin and the other Black Ajah (a dozen or so) have fled, killing some Sedai and stealing some ter’angreal in the process. Siuan then recruits the Emond’s field gals as her spies, reasoning that since Liandrin tried to off them, they’re trustworthy. Nynaeve rightly points out that as Accepted, they have very little authority. Amyrlin tells them to deal with it, and to make up for it, gives them what are basically blank checks – two papers with her seal telling the reader to do whatever the bearer says. I sure hope they don’t fall into the wrong hands, or there will be a lot of trouble.
Attack of The Soulless
Nynaeve and Egwene are almost sniped with a crossbow bolt on the way back. Wow. I mean, yes, hunting Black Ajah is supposed to be dangerous, but that was fast. And a bit too close for comfort. Clearly, the White Tower is not yet rid of Darkfriends. Nynaeve manages to capture the assassin in an airlock though. No use, they arrive to find the assassin stabbed with a dagger, dead. The plot thickens…
Sheriam, Mistress of Novices, appears, and informs us that the dead man was actually a Soulless. To be frank, I had expected them to be much more terrible and scary by the way they were talked about earlier – something like Dementors or something, instead of what’s basically a plain looking unremarkable man. Nynaeve is suspicious of Sheriam. Hmm, I can’t decide whether she’s being paranoid or just cautious. Either way, this is not the way to go about it – her attempts at interrogation are laughably transparent, and useless in the bargain. Egwene goes to hide the crossbow bolt, but finds it gone. So if Sheriam is indeed Black Ajah, there is at least one more Darkfriend in the tower. Nynaeve points out that for all Sheriam’s surprise, she doesn’t ask who killed the man. Hmm…
Nynaeve and Egwene return to Nynaeve’s room, to find it occupied by Elayne, Galad and Gawyn. Little of relevance is said – mostly the guys complaining about Elayne’s mysterious disappearance. Nynaeve shunts them out, and takes Elayne into her confidence about the hunt for the Black Ajah. Elayne is all for being a part. You’d think her experience at Falme would have damped her eagerness for this stuff. But apparently she has high standards to uphold as future Queen of Andor.
Next on the agenda is Mat. Nynaeve is afraid the Sedais intend to let him die. Maybe they want to blow the horn again and make someone else master of it? Or maybe Nynaeve is just being paranoid? She decides to take matters into her hands, and try and heal Mat herself. Elayne tells her it’s dangerous. Nynaeve’s response summarises what I love and hate about her.
Nynaeve shrugged. “They keep telling me I have the potential to be the most powerful Aes Sedai in a thousand years. Perhaps it is time to find out whether they are right.” She gave a tug to her braid.
On the plus side, she is really strong and driven, and always willing to take risks to help the kids. On the negative, BRAID TUGGING! I was warned. Indeed I was – about braid tugging, skirt smoothing etc. But I never realised how much braid tugging there was going to be. Counting back, braid tugging/jerking has been mentioned fourteen times in the last seven chapters. Not to mention braid gripping. This is getting out of hand. I wish someone would give Nynaeve a bloody haircut.
And even as I get irritated at Nynaeve, I realise that it’s not her fault. People often have nervous tics or habits. Doesn’t mean we hate them for it. No, the trouble is that Jordan mentions it over and over and over and over, till we get sick of it. And it’s a shame, Nynaeve getting hate for it, because otherwise she is a pretty stand up gal. A bit paranoid and temperamental, and irrationally pissed at Moiraine, and… Okay, so maybe braid tugging is not the only issue with Nynaeve. But still, this is too much, and unfair to Nynaeve.
Back to the story, the trio decide to try and join forces to heal Mat. I hope this doesn’t go wrong. Before they can leave though, there’s a knock and an Aes Sedai enters.
Wait, let me just peek ahead and see who this mystery entrant is…
It’s Elaida, of the Red Ajah. Okay…
Hmm. While The Great Hunt > The Eye of The World was immediately obvious to me, I’m not sure how I feel about the Dragon Reborn yet. Oh, it’s fun – I’m just wondering more in comparison with the previous two books. Plus side – we see more of Aes Sedai, and Rand gets almost no page time, so less complaining. On the down side, Perrin has taken up Rand’s position at grumbler-in-chief. And Mat’s dagger plot is really dragging. It always seems he’s at the cusp of getting healed. I wish the Sedais would just get to it already. Well, the book has only started. Let’s see where it leads…