Spoilers for Eye of The World and The Great Hunt, and The Dragon Reborn | 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 48-56.
Tear at Last
So, the story’s been converging on the city of Tear for a while now, and finally the players are starting to arrive on set for the climax. FIrst through are Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne. Egwene’s dreams are still on, and this time I finally think one of them is a clear indication of future events – “Nightmares of a White-cloak putting Master Luhhan in the middle of a huge, toothed trap for bait”. I’d guess the whitecloak is Byar, and they’re doing this to catch Perrin. Does that mean the Whitecloaks will be coming to the Two Rivers? Could be, because IIRC Perrin told them that he was from the Two Rivers. Uh oh.
That’s a worry for later though. The girls disembark and are suitable awed by the Stone of Tear. Which it turns out was made by the One Power. And now the people of Tear are totally anti-magic. Such is irony. Also, they’ve finally started going under assumed names. Which I will ignore, of course – I have enough names to remember in this series without bothering with aliases!
The plan is to hire a sort of detective to look for the Black Ajah. I don’t think this will work. Nynaeve has the pretty smart idea of going to the local wisdom instead of staying at an inn – the reasoning is that Liandrin would be watching the inns. This would be good idea, except that if I were Liandrin, and had enough resources to be watching all the inns in this huge city, you know what else I would also be watching? The docks! And any other entrances to the city. Way easier.
Still, they find a wisdom, and after Nynaeves proves her street cred as a wisdom with a quizzing session, they get to stay there. The wisdom (Guenna) also helpfully fetches a (according to her) reliable thief catcher. Egwene is upset at Nynaeve because she wasn’t 100% honest with Guenna. Um, what the hell? Do you not realise the need for discretion? I don’t remember Egwene being quite so grumbly – is it the ter’angreal? Anyway, Sandar the thief catcher is given descriptions of the Black Ajah, and told to be super careful. I maintain, this will not work.
Next up is the arrival of Mat and Thom. Thom says to chill out for a few hours, but Mat is all hurry. He’s right too – when you’re desperately hurrying after an assassin sent to kill someone, your first action is not to go in an inn and chill out! They begin by blindly searching through the city, which predictably doesn’t get them anywhere. It’s night, they’re tired, and now Thom’s plan to get some sleep sounds way more enticing, but Mat wants to try one last inn.
And success! Comar is right in the common room, chilling out, playing dice – and cheating at that. Instead of quietly waiting until they can catch the guy unawares and alone, Mat proceeds to sit and chat with him, and beat the guy with Comar’s own dice. He makes another impossible throw – seriously, Mat’s luck is going overboard – and then up and tells him he’s here to save Elayne and friends. Dude! A fight ensues, that ends in Comar being dead, though his dying words are that there are other after the girls. Taunt? Or did he actually bring others? Or is he talking about the Black Ajah?
Mat returns, and continues to look for Elyane over the next few days, but no luck, meanwhile Thom seems to be coming down with a bad cough. He also has dreams about what is obviously the Forsaken in Tear.
The final party, Perrin’s, arrives. Which presumably means Rand is here as well, given that he was ahead of them all along. Also, I take back my comments about their route to Tear. If they had walked from Illian to Tear, it would indeed have been wasteful, but apparently they took a boat after getting out of Illian, and the extra speed and convenience of a boat I guess outweighs the longer distance.
Moiraine makes a trademark cryptic comment that “the Pattern can be torn here” – burn me if I know what that’s supposed to mean. And then Moiraine and Lan are off gathering information, intructing the rest to stay home. Perrin wanders into a nearby smithy, and proceeds to relax by doing hard manual labor for the rest of the day. Which I guess makes sense for him – it’s a sense of normality in all this ta’veren and prophecy and saving the world shenanigans. Perrin receives a hammer in return for his services. And by the way the hammer is given so much emphasis, and compared with the axe, it seems it is going to become important later on.
Moiraine and Lan are back. Yep, there’s indeed a Forsaken, a fellow called Be’lal. If anyone could tell me what I am supposed to do with all these apostrophes, I’d be grateful. How is it supposed to affect my mental pronunciation? What the hell sound does a ‘ represent? As far as I’m concerned, Be’lal = Belal. Enough ranting, back to the story.
Moiraine tells us that the Forsaken is super powerful, and can snuff them out like so many candles, but she’s got a secret superweapon – Balefire. Well, that’s a pretty handy trick to have. Also, Be’lal plans to have Rand take up Callandor, and then take Callandor from Rand. There are also Aiel in Tear. Well, given that Perrin and Egwene both gave the Aiel they met pointers to the place, I’m not surprised. It is decided that Moiraine and Lan will try to break into the Stone, while the rest stay back.
Ah, I must revise my mental image of the “fall” of the Stone. I thought it would fall in the sense that forts fall to siege by huge armies. It seems it will be less of that, and more people sneaking in.
The Trap Springs
Nynaeve is out shopping, and the whole city is drowning in gloom and apathy. That’s what you get with having a Forsaken rule you, folks. Nynaeve is grumbling about Moiraine again. You know girl, I admire you, but you gotta let go of this irrational and pointless anger towards Moiraine!
Sandar meets Nynaeve and tells her that the Black Ajah are actually guests of a High Lord. So, it seems Be’lal is working with the Black Ajah. They return to Guenna’s house, and.. it’s a trap!
Well, there! I hope you’re happy Nynaeve. “The best way to catch whoever set a trap is to spring it and wait for them.” Well there you go, the trap is well and truly sprung now, and you’re well and truly trapped. How’s that working out for you now? I always knew this was a colossal mistake. Of course, Mat is out to save them, so they’ll probably get out of this with their lives, but the fact remains, this was never a good idea, and I hope Nynaeve that you learn some lessons from the experience.
So, the Black Ajah cut off the girls from the True Source, and bundle them up and take them off, to be bait – presumably for Rand.
Mat to The Rescue
So turns out Thom’s cough was only a plot device to get Mat to meet Guenna the wisdom. Phew! It would really suck that he gleeman who assassinated kings and tangled with Fades finally got killed by a cough.
Well, Guenna gives Thom some bitter medicine, and Mat gets told that the girls are being held in the Stone. Well, Mat is off for this seemingly impossible task.
He isn’t going to bloody die. That woman will keep him alive if she has to drag him kicking and screaming out of his grave by his mustaches. Yes, but who is going to keep me alive?
See, this is the sort of stuff that is making me like Mat more and more. He knows there’s danger, but he’s willing to brave it to help his friends. And he has a sense of humor. So much better than Perrin and Rand’s 24×7 “Oh, woe is me!” monologue.
Back at the Star, Perrin is having conflicting thoughts about Zarine. Hmm, this relationship seems to be taking they-hate-each-other-except-they-love-each-other route. Yes, I realise that was an awkward use of hyphens. No, I’m not changing it.
Moiraine confirms that Rand is indeed in Tear – people are having dreams about him holding Callandor, and there’s murders and weddings all over the place. And suddenly Perrin finds Zarine lying unconscious, seemingly not even breathing. Apparently the room was booby trapped – with a ter’angreal shaped, of all things, like a hedgehog. And Moiraine was supposed to trigger it, but Zarine got there first. She’s trapped in the dream world now, and if she stays there too long, she’ll die. This is the moment Perrin was waiting for, it seems, to go ahead and fall in love with her.
While Moiraine and Lan rush off to the Stone, Perrin dives into the room and wakes up in tel’aran’rhiod as well. Hang on, why couldn’t you just fashion a rope or something and pull Zarine out with it instead of entering the trap yourself? I guess that wouldn’t be dramatic enough. Or maybe if she’s taken away from the hedgehog without freeing her spirit, she’ll just die. Either way, Perrin meets up with Hopper, and they’re off to look for the falcon.
Into The Stone
Mat is out scouting the Stone, and intends to just climb up the wall. Okay, I’m getting flashbacks of the shitty security in Caemlyn’s palace, and in fact Fal Dara before that. Does no place in the world have actually strong security? Anyway, he’s ambushed by the Aiel who want to know why he’s been scoping the fortress, and Sandar steps in to ask the same of them. Mat tells them that he’s on a rescue mission, and they let him go.
Sandar wants to make up for his past crime, for which I’m honestly not blaming him, because dude, how’s one guy supposed to stand up to thirteen Black Ajah, doing all sorts of magic mind control? He can get Mat inside as his prison. Mat’s none too happy about this, but accepts. But first he rushes off to create a distraction, by jamming a bunch of fireworks in an arrowslit in the wall of the Stone. Dude, you’ve been carrying these things all this time for this? Eh, it works. Far too well – so well, it blows a hole in the wall, through which Mat and Sandar scramble in. Damn, these are some weak walls or some really powerful fireworks.
Meanwhile, Rand has managed to simply climb up the wall, and he’s inside as well.
Escape into Dreamland
Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are in a cell, still cut off from the One Power. They have the legitimately brilliant idea that the ter’angreal doesn’t need them to channel, so Egwene can use it to go to tel’aran’rhiod, and maybe she’ll be able to channel then. They carry out this plan, (and kudos to Egwene for managin to fall asleep under all this pressure), and it works spectacularly. She ends up in the dream version of the Heart of the Stone, and has some sweet payback on Joiya of the Black Ajah. I guess because Egwene has the ter’angreal and Joiya was just simply sleeping, she’s able to overpower her easily.
But wait, isn’t the ability to go into the dream world supposed to be super rare? Does Joiya just happen to have the ability? Or is it that Egwene can now walk into other people’s dreams? I’m not entirely sure how this whole thing is working. But working it is, and Egwene is off to find the cell, presumably to capture the Black Ajah outside their cell.
Perrin is also in dream world, looking for Zarine. He finds her chained, and tries to free her, only to see her disappear. What just happened?
Mat is facing off against a High Lord, staff vs. sword style, but this is a skilled opponent. But he dispatches the guy in short order, because of course he does. At this point, I’m forced to wonder why everyone doesn’t just use staves if they work so well against swords? And then more superluck, as Mat accidentally splits a fellow’s head who was sneaking in from behind. And he’s off again.
Finally, Rand gets into the Heart of The Stone, and is faced with Be’lal the Forsaken, who’s all “here bro, take this legendarily powerful artifact, cause we used to be pals”. And taunts him about Egwene. So, all this effort the Black Ajah put in, of laying the false trail, was for this single taunt? And now that I think about it, it was Selene who led the girls to this trap by telling them where to find the Black Ajah’s stuff, in the form of Else, way back in Tar Valon. So that implies that Selene must be working with Be’lal. And why would she do that? So that Be’lal would hand over Rand to her after he takes Callandor from him? Yeah, it’s probably that.
Rand’s having none of that though, and conjures a light saber to fight with instead. Smart. So he’s not as off-balance as I feared. There’s a duel, which is mostly “weirdly named move A” meets “weirdly named move B”. I understand nothing, except that Rand is outclassed, and islosing. The situation is turning desperate now. If Rand doesn’t use Callandor, he dies. If he does, then who knows what trick Be’lal has to take it from him, and if that happens, we’re in a lot more trouble.
Before Rand is forced to make the choice though, Moiraine arrives on the scene, and proceeds to wipe Be’lal from the face of the Earth with Balefire. Hell yeah! That’s my Sedai! 100% badass. And now is the time to complete the prophecy, and take up Callandor.
But Ba’alzamon crashes the party, and finally decides that it is time to kill Rand. Dude, typical Dark Lord mistake. You should’ve done it ages ago, instead of waiting until Rand was standing right beside a super powerful artifact. Because Rand immediately jumps for Callandor, grabs it, and the tables are turned. THIS IS AWESOME!! Rand is now super powerful, blazing with power, and Ba’alzamon flees. Rand goes after him.
“I am the hunter now.”
Cue epic fistpump! Man, how the tables have turned.
Egwene is still wandering around in dream land, and reaches her cell to find Amico flickering in and out of existence – presumably the woman is kinda sleepy but not wholly asleep yet, just nodding off. The questions I had when Egwene beat Joiya a few pages back rear their head again, but anyways, Egwene manages to catch and bind the woman mid-flicker, and wakes up to find… that the block is weaker, but still there. Damn!
Mat’s on the case though. He finds Amico, awake but still trapped, crying and asking for help. Oh, you just wait lady, Nynaeve is going to be out to help you soon enough. Mat takes the key from her, and open the cell door. FREE!
Amico’s all “oh boy I am so sorry, I’m going to be super nice to you guys from now on”. Nynaeve responds with a falcon punch to the face. Hell yeah!
Um, by the way, I’m really happy for you girls that you’ve escaped, and really sympathetic for all you went through, but could you be just a little bloody grateful to Mat for running across half the land and risking his life multiple times and rescuing you?! Instead of being huge dicks, and hanging him in midair and stuff?
Perrin finally manages to find Zarine, this time for realsies, and is attacked by falcons. He’s a tough one though, and reaches Zarine and frees her. They wake up, back in the inn, the hedgehog is broken, and Zarine at least is properly thankful for her life being saved.
No words, this is just Epic
Rand has chased – chased – Ba’azamon into what seems is dream land. Wow, this place must be getting crowded, everyone’s hanging out here suddenly. There’s a long sequence where Ba’alzamon tries to slow down Rand with all sorts of attacks and tricks, but Rand is in god-mode now, and he handles everything like a boss.
Finally, Rand catches up to the fucker, and stabs him with Callandor.
And this time, there is a corpse. An actual, honest to god, dead body. I’m confused. The last two times ended similarly, but this time there’s a corpse. Is Shai’tan actually dead? No, one needs to look at the number of books that remain to know this isn’t it. Although, it would be kinda hilarious if it turns out Shai’tan is totally dead, and the rest of the books are them just dealing with Forsaken and Padan Fain (where is that guy by the way, never saw him after the prologue), with the big finale being straightening out the Coplins and Congars.
Rand meanwhile has his usual mistaken internal cheering that he’s finally killed the Dark One, and finally proclaims that he’s indeed the Dragon Reborn, and everyone stops fighting and starts cheering.
Moiraine has found another seal, this one unbroken. Rhuarc of the Aiel reveals a dragon tattoo on his arm, and tells us that the Aiel are the People of the Dragon. That actually makes sense. Why else would they be out looking for him, and thinking that He Who Comes With The Dawn will take them out of the Waste? So that means either the Aiel will now leave the waste, or Rand will go to them, or maybe a little of both.
And Moiraine proceeds to ruin everyone’s day by confirming that Shai’tan is indeed alive and well. Which raises the tricky question of who exactly did Rand kill then? There is an explanation of sorts, tied to the inscrutable text Verin read to Egwene way back, but honestly, I understood little, except maybe that Ba’alzamon was actually one of the Forsaken (maybe Ishamael) all along, and not the Dark One himself. Um, whatever. Hopefully this all will make more sense later on.
And that’s it for book three. Only 12 more to go, including New Spring. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the book in a comparative fashion – definitely better than book 1, but book 2 vs 3 is a tossup. I do know how I feel about the character : Mat>Perrin>Rand among the boys, Moiraine>Nynaeve>Elayne/Egwene>Min among the girls. For those interested in the review, it will be out on Sunday.
The adventures continue, and up next : The Shadow Rising.