Spoilers for books 1-3, and The Shadow Rising ch. 1-23 | 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 4, The Shadow Rising. This post covers chapter 11-23.
Enter the Dream
Egwene has decided to let go of the training wheels, and enter tel’aran’rhiod without the help of her ter’angreal. She is also jealous of Rand.
It isn’t fair he can do something like that and I can’t even see the flows.
Um, Egwene, you do realise that he’s the bloody Dragon Reborn and has to contend with *madness* and *Forsaken* at every step?
Egwene plans to go to Tanchico on a reconnaissance mission in her dreams, and she manages to do just that. First revelation, without the ter’angreal, it seems the world is more… flexible. Egwene can change things just by thinking about them, even accidentally. She seems to be in a museum of some sort, and we play spot the animal for a while, as Egwene describes exotic skeletons that remind me strongly of elephants, saber tooths and giraffes. She has typical weird experiences, including accidental teleportation into the Aiel Waste. There’s not much intelligence to be gathered here it seems, and I’m not surprised given that she has no idea what to look for and basically just runs/flies around barging into random buildings. But an Aiel Dreamer soon appears to further the plot, telling her that yes, there is something wrong with Tanchico and that Egwene must come to the waste to learn. Um, guys, can’t you do your learning right here, in tel’aran’rhiod? It would certainly be more convenient than Egwene having to travel all the way across to the Waste, and then back.
Egwene wakes up, and long story short, it is decided that she’ll go to the Waste, and Elayne and Nynaeve will go to Tanchico. Enter Moiraine, with the (not) shocking news that the captive Black Ajah were killed in the attack, and orders from the Aiel wise ones that Aviendha must go to them, at Rhuidean.
More interesting is that the letter given to Moiraine which contained these orders was written over a month ago. Presumably this was the Aiel wise one’s way of showing off their predictive skills. Aviendha is not at all happy about it, I guess because she doesn’t want to leave her Maidens of the Spear society and upgrade to a Wise One.
Okay so maybe now we’ll find out what Rand intends.
Nope. The POV switches to Mat, brooding over the attack’s events. Man, all this POV characters hanging out together is no fun, it’s like seeing the same movie over and over with different camera angles. Which while sometimes interesting, also feels repetitive at times.
So, Mat’s brooding is interrupted when he hears someone mention the Two Rivers. It seems the news about the Whitecloaks has finally made its way to Tear. Which is good, but also bad. Good, because some of the characters can go help the Two Rivers folk, and bad because who knows what the hell Fain has been up to in the time the news travelled across the land.
Mat rushes to tell Perrin, who has already heard and is preparing to leave. Mat seems unable to leave, unable to even say that he will go. Spooky. I mean, accidental stuff is all good and well, but if ta’veren or super-luck or whatever, prevents him from actually making decisions he wants to, that has to feel really weird. Not to mention that it raises all sorts of questions about free will. I know there’s the Pattern, but an abstract idea of fate is one thing, and feeling it act, feeling it control you, is something else. Rand though, will not be returning to the Two Rivers. I guess because he realises that he has much bigger responsibilities.
Berelain arrives to meet Perrin (can we get to Rand already!) and tells him to tell Rand that she’s leaving. Good riddance. But before she goes, the first of Mayene has further mischief to do, openly flirting with Perrin, even in front of Faile. Faile is understandably not too happy about it. And Perrin makes everything 10x worse by acting as though he likes Berelain, in the misguided hope that this will cause Faile to not risk her life by coming with him.
This reminds me of Rand acting all high and mighty in front of Perrin and Mat, back at the beginning of The Great Hunt. And just as then, such behavior has me groaning. Predictably, it doesn’t work, though Perrin does manage to cause quite the catfight between Faile and Berelain. And then Faile has a lightbulb moment, something to do with Ogier oaths. Probably have Loial promise to take her along in the Ways.
Questions and Answers
Meanwhile, Mat’s had enough of all this spooky business and wants answers. Answers that he’s going to get from the door ter’angreal. He enters the door and finds himself in some sort of twisted world with weird physics and snakelike people. What are all these portal type ter’angreals doing? Do they simulate these worlds, or are they literal portals? And if yes, then to where? The latter seems likelier, given that the people there keep talking about some old agreement, which for some reason also prohibits iron and instruments of music. I wonder if all this will ever be explained, or is all this just decoration?
Mat asks his first question – whether he should go home to help his people, and is promptly told to go to Rhuidean. So, the party it seems will be split three ways – Rhuidean, Two Rivers, Tanchico.
For some reason, this answer makes Mat angry. Dude, you asked a straightforward question and got a straightforward answer, count yourself lucky. But noooo, he has to be all “No! I won’t! Why should I?!”, thereby wasting his questions. Also, if I remember correctly, there are supposed to be three questions – one each for past, present and future, and Mat is just brazenly breaking that rule. Luckily, nothing too bad happens, the people give him standard cryptic hints (that are gibberish to me, but no doubt are foretelling the plot. I guess that’s why prophecy is often so roundabout in books – hard to surprise the reader if you give away stuff in the beginning) and throw him out of the door.
Turns out, the door was quite popular this evening, and Rand and Moiraine also went seeking answers. It also turns out that the people in the door were actually speaking the Old Tongue, which Mat somehow effortlessly understands (dude, see, you could’ve asked that!). Moiraine of course wants to know what they heard, but Rand is keeping his cards close to the chest. Can’t blame the fellow, all this being dragged about by fate and factions is liable to make a fellow guard his independence. And Moiraine can hardly blame him, what with her chronic secret keeping, knowledge withholding habits.
The next day (what? It’s only been one day since Lanfear crashed the party? Man, this whole overlapping POVs thing is really slowing the story down), Perrin goes to meet Loial and asks him to guide him yet again through the ways.
Unluckily for him, Faile has already tricked Loial into promising that he will take her into the ways before anyone else. A very, very childish argument ensues, in which both Perrin and Faile act like total stuck-up, stubborn fools. Still, I’m on Perrin’s side. Why? I don’t rightly know myself. I guess because Perrin is driven by a desire to protect his family and Faile, and Faile is driven by jealousy. They reached a stalemate, with Loial ostensibly only guiding Faile, but Perrin will basically follow close behind.
Perrin intends to give himself up to the Whitecloaks. Oh Perrin, that won’t do any good, because more than you, it’s Rand that Fain wants. Hopefully he’ll come to his senses before long. Also, Rand has asked some Aiel to accompany them. Good guy Rand. I bet these badass warriors will come in handy.
Meanwhile, the girls are upset because Rand didn’t try and stop Elayne. This when Elayne herself wanted to go, and had already decided she wouldn’t stay even if Rand asked. What the hell? Is it just me, or are they totally nuts?
Lan crashes their party, all huffy and puffy, angry that Nynaeve is endangering herself by going to Tanchico, and wants to accompany her. But Nynaeve is having none of it, and pulls out the Amyrlin’s orders, which shuts Lan up, though he manages to kiss her before leaving.
Also, maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I don’t like the girls’ attitude towards men at all. Like, they consider all men to be dumbasses by default. Perhaps this is supposed to mirror sexism, in a society where Women are more powerful, instead of people being sexist towards women in our society. Doesn’t mean I have to like it though.
Next to be outmaneuvered is Thom – Moiraine manages to convince him to accompany Elayne and Nynaeve to Tanchico, in return for telling him the names of the Red Ajah responsible for his nephew’s death.
Interlude : The Tower
Oh, come on! Are we going to get to Rand’s surprise decision at the end of the bloody book or what? It’s been seven chapters.
Sigh. So, back in Tar Valon, Min is under deep cover as a stereotypical damsel, doing embroidery and stuff. Galad and Gawyn meet her, and apparently Galad is getting close to the Whitecloaks. Ordinarily, this would be a good fit, given Galad’s dedication to righteousness, but seeing as the Whitecloaks have been infiltrated by Darkfriends and worse, I wish he’d stay away.
Also, about my rant regarding people’s perception of Galad in the last post – quite a few people had stuff to say about it, and most of them seemed to be along the lines of saying that law =/= the right thing, and that it makes some sense for Elayne to resent him, because Galad’s insistence on following the rules must have clashed with her childhood shenanigans. Hmm, I guess you guys have a point.
Anyway, back to the story. Min sees glory in the future of Logain, the ex-False Dragon, now gentled. What? How? Isn’t gentling irreversible, and leaves the person listless and without a will to live?
Min rushes to tell Siuan of her latest vision, who is all, “Chill, girl.”, with this gem of a saying –
Do not trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.
More serious is the breaking news brought by pigeon post – Mazrim Taim, the ex-False Dragon, (but still able to channel), has escaped. Wow. So Joiya wasn’t lying? Does that mean Tanchico is a false trail? Or that the Black Ajah has multiple plans in motion? This makes sense, and makes me even more skeptical about Logain’s glory – the Black Ajah already have a perfectly serviceable False Dragon. Moiraine has also written, telling of the fall of the Stone. This gives Siuan more room to maneuver, and she promptly convenes a meeting of the assembly.
A novice working on a farm as punishment is approached by an Aes Sedai, interrogated and gasp killed. Most probably Black Ajah work, though I wouldn’t put it past Elaida. Is she the girl Min saw getting with child? It certainly seems so. But then that means that Min’s foretellings aren’t inevitable…
Not much here. Perrin departs for the ways, together with Faile, Loial and a bunch of Aiel whose names I promptly forgot. It seems the series is reaching the point where I can’t remember all the characters simultaneously, and must keep remembering and forgetting and recalling as POVs come and go. There are tantalising hints of what Rand is up to in his big meeting with the nobles – in the form of an earthquake that sends Perrin and co. galloping out of the city.
The girls are also making their way (except Egwene, of course) – to the docks. Nynaeve takes a moment to berate the poor driver for the bad roads. See, this is the sort of thing that makes people dislike you Nynaeve. You really need to loosen up, learn to relax and chill out. They talk their way onto a seafolk ship. Thom and Sandar join them – we already know Moiraine sent Thom, and apparently Lan decided to send Sandar.
Turns out the sea folk also have prophecies about the Dragon Reborn, and intend to serve him. They too are rocked by the quake, and then they’re off. So this is the other Exotic People™. They aren’t too fond of clothes, and the secret of their speed is magic-powered-wind-powered ships.
Rand at Last
Finally we get around to Rand’s big announcement, though with Moiraine’s POV. It’s nice to see into her mind for a change, see what’s going on behind that smooth face and calm demeanor. So, the Aes Sedai that Moiraine talked about having Lan transfer to in case of her death is Nynaeve. Very considerate of you, Moiraine. On the negative side though, are thoughts like these :
[Rand] had to depend on her counsel. Hers, and hers alone
I like Moiraine in general, but I don’t like her controlling attitude towards Rand, even if it is for the greater good. She needs to learn to stop treating Rand like a cog in her plans, and more like a legendary figure with his own mind.
Rand’s plans are revealed at last. He intends to have Tear march – but not to war with Illian, but to help war-torn Cairhien. There’s a bunch of smart moves that he makes, neatly taking care of the pesky nobles. That’s my man!
The shockers are yet to come though. Rand himself intends to leave Tear, and leave Callandor behind as well. He thrusts the sword into the Stone – this is the quake everyone felt. How quaint, reminds me of Excalibur. Seems he intends to go to Rhuidean as well – good, the plot can take only so many different threads before it starts to get too tangled.
So, this is what I’ve been eagerly waiting for, for all these pages? Kinda meh.
Interestingly, Rand’s decision was based straight off a prophecy. Textbook case of self-fulfilling prophecy. Rand did what he did because he read the prophecy, and in doing so made it come true. Rand also gives Moiraine some of her own medicine about trust.
I like this new and improved Rand much more. He’s accepted being the Dragon Reborn, and is way more proactive and confident.
Now You’re Thinking With Portal(stone)s
Rand finally leaves the Stone of Tear, followed by all the Aiel and Egwene, Moiraine, Lan and Mat. He leads them to – a portal stone. Instead of walking all the way to Rhuidean, he intends to teleport there. He knows there’s a stone there – he discovered it during his research. See, reading books is totally not a waste of time and super helpful. Now if only I could find ancient prophecies telling me what to do…
Rand’s even managed to smuggle out an angreal to help him in this feat. Moiraine has a point – if you wanted power, why’d you leave bloody Callandor behind? So all is set, except Rand doesn’t know the correct symbol for Rhuidean, and takes Mat’s help – of rather, the help of Mat’s freakish luck. Whatever, I hope this journey doesn’t go like last time Rand did it – complete with terrible flashbacks of alternate lives, and arriving months later.
The Aiel Waste
Everything seems to work without a hitch, except that Rand comes close to killing himself! But the guy has plot armour, so no worries.
Finally, the Aiel Waste. It is, as the book reminds us multiple times, pretty hot. About time we got some answers about the Aiel.
There’s some tension though, because the Aiel don’t allow outlanders into their land. But Rand is the Dragon Reborn, and the Wise Ones wisely decide to make an exception for his friends. Rand and Mat leave for Rhuidean – which is literally a city in clouds – for some sort of dangerous and mysterious trial. Aviendha follow them as well, except 100% naked. No idea what Rand and Mat will face, but the women’s trial is remarkably similar to the test to become Accepted – complete with a ter’angreal.
Egwene and Moiraine conference with the Wise Ones, where they are given a crash course to the Aiel concept of honor. Of course the exotic people have a super rigid and rule bound society, and everyone is totally serious about honour. Reminds me of Zuko.
They also accidentally let it slip that Moiraine is supposed to go give the same test as Aviendha. Except that the dream said that Moiraine would be the one to ask first. And that’s why the dreamers keep their knowledge to themselves. What’s done is done though, and with zero hesitation, Moiraine strips and heads to Rhuidean.
That leaves us with Egwene, super eager to get started with Dreamland101. Amys starts to tell her all the juicy details of how tel’aran’rhiod works, and just then the POV switches. Damnit, that was interesting stuff, I want to know more!
I have to say, this part really dragged for me. Mostly because I was super eager for Rand’s big surprise decision, so all the intervening chapters felt like filler – even though they aren’t that bad. Worst part is, by the time we got to the reveal, I had built up the anticipation so much, I was rather letdown by Rand’s plan.