Spoilers for books 1-3, and The Shadow Rising ch. 1-50| 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 38-50.
Schemes in Tanchico
Finally we see Tanchico, but through the eyes of Egeanin (name sounds familiar but I can’t place her right now). The place seems full of intrigue and plotting; and full of poverty and shortage. Egeanin is for some reason buying a’dam from a shady character. And she’s also looking for some women. Bayle Domon is in Tanchico too, he seems to have survived Falme and is doing quite well for himself. Egeanin is working for Lady Suroth of the Seanchan. Ah, now I remember, she’s the one who captured Domon’s ship, back in The Great Hunt. No doubt spying for the inevitable return of the Seanchan invasion.
Next is Jaichim Carridim, an officer of the Questioners and Darkfriend. The threat of his family being killed unless he kills Rand is being carried out, and he’s scared shitless. There’s a three way going on in Tanchico – between the Kings, the rebels and the Dragonsworn. What are the Dragonsworn even fighting for? Like, “Yay, the Dragon is here, let’s wreck stuff and kill in his name”. Anyway, the Whitcloaks clearly plan to gain power over the King by helping him win the war. Next step : forcefully install a Panarch, and secure the Panarch’s palace.
Carridim is returns from the meeting, when he finds a woman with a rosebud mouth – Liandrin! (I don’t know what a rosebud mouth is supposed to look like, but I remember her being described as having one) – waiting for him. She instructs him to gain and keep control of the Panarch’s palace, for some reason. Carridim is unwilling but is forced to accept when Liandrin tortures and threatens him. Carridin, you are screwed.
Liandrin returns to her hiding place – all the Black Ajah are in Tanchico. They plan to control Rand via something, likely a ter’angreal, that’s in the Panarch’s palace. Ah, that explains her orders to Carridim.
Egeanin returns to her house, and has a surprise inspection by a Seeker for Truth, who seem like the Seanchan version of a secret police. He tells her that she is to kill any sul’dam who return to her.
Except that Egeaning already has a sul’dam, collared, in her basement. The Seanchan seem not to know the two levels of channelers – those who have the ability inborn, and those who can learn. So I guess their tests end up making the first kind damane, and the second kind sul’dam.
And that’s Tanchico. Full of intrigues and unrest and danger. And the dynamic duo of Nynaeve and Elayne walk into this mess. Straight off the boat they bump into Bayle Domon, who is remarkably eager to help them in return for abandoning them in Falme. Personally, I don’t think the guy owes them anything, but whatever.
Domon leads them to an inn, whose innkeeper is remarkably similar to Liandrin (related, perhaps?), and they bring Domon up to speed about their quest. Then the party disperses – Sandar and Domon off to search, Thom to perform, Nynaeve to bed. Elayne enjoys the simple life – just hanging around, getting drunk. I guess being a princess must be luxurious and all, but all the formality and etiquette must make one feel rather constrained. The alcohol opens her mind, and she remembers Thom from her childhood – as Morgase’s lover. She’s kinda upset that her mom has had so many lovers – Gareth Bryne, Thom and now Gaebril.
Two points – three is not too much!, and why the hell is Gaebril still around? Hasn’t Mat told Elayne that the guy planned to assassinate her? Hasn’t Morgase been informed of this fact? I mean, it made sense not to bring it up when Mat was a random guy in front of the queen, back in Caemlyn, but surely now something can be done.
Sigh. So, Thom sends Elyane back to her room, where Nynaeve proceeds to almost drown the poor girl to sober her up. And with drunk Elayne on guard, Nynaeve is off to tel’aran’rhiod.
Nynaeve firsts visits the Heart of the Stone, then accidentally transports herself to Rhuidean, where she sees a mysterious man who a mysterious woman tells her is dangerous. The mysterious woman is recognised as Birgitte, a legendary hero.
Um, what? BTW, what did happen to all those heroes that Mat summoned with the horn? I had assumed it was a permanent thing, like they would be brought back to life and hang around to fight the shadow. Except we haven’t heard anything about them since the end of The Great Hunt. So what is Birgitte doing in Nynaeve’s dreams? Nynaeve flees to Emond’s field, where she sees another mysterious man who shoots at her, and Nynaeve wakes up. Wow, that was one mysterious dream.
Next morning, Sandar confirms the presence of Black Ajah in Tanchico. But I don’t see how Nynaeve and Elayne can do anything to them – they maybe have the element of surprise, but it’s still a 2 v 11 fight.
Hunter of Trollocs
Back in the Two Rivers, Perrin is in full hunter mode. The prisoners are safe in Emond’s field, and he and his band of newbie warriors have had a couple of very successful skirmishes with Trollocs. Gaul brings news of another band of the creatures approaching, and Perrin sets up an ambush. This is not going to go well, I can feel it. Because if it was going to go as well as the last two times, it would be flashbacked like the last two, not described in such detail. And the odds – only 30-ish trollocs vs. Perrin’s 70, feel almost too good.
Still, Perrin can hardly know all that, and sets up an ambush. They wait for a while, but it’s a no show – until the ambushers are ambushed from behind, by a much larger force than they anticipated. Perrin takes an arrow to the side, but still fights valiantly. But the rest of the party is rapidly overwhelmed, and casualties run high. Perrin is about to be killed by a Myrddraal when Ihvon, Alanna’s warder, saves him.
That certainly did not go well. It’s a lesson to me too – the Aiel are good, but they are only human, and can make mistakes. The now broken and battered group makes it’s way back, luckily they aren’t attacked again, and come across a Tuatha’an encampment – and not any Tuatha’an, Mahdi and co., last seen when Perrin was with Elyas Machera.
The Tinkers are welcoming as always. Perrin warns them about the Trollocs, but is paid no heed. The arrow in his side is barbed, so Perrin will have to wait to reach the Aes Sedai to be healed. Perrin is full of guilt at all the deaths, but Faile gives him some tough love, who tells him to take care of the living, not weep for the dead. Solid advice, but Perrin can hardly shrug of the deaths of these people – his own people, friends and acquaintances. Also, Faile is the cousin of the Queen of Saldaea, and her father a lord and general. Perrin is surprised, but I’m not. Mostly because with all these huge events, the fact that Faile’s dad is a nobleman feels really minor. Perrin reciprocates by telling her that he can talk to wolves. As I expected, Faile isn’t fazed at all by this news.
And then Perrin is sedated and drifts to sleep, to the wolf dream.
Roaming around, Perrin comes to the Waygate, and finds that it has been unblocked – and now, more Trollocs are coming in again. Damn, I was afraid of this. Perrin is then ambushed by Slayer. This time Perrin gets a good look at him, and he looks like Lan’s brother. I’m afraid I don’t remember all of Lan’s backstory, but I do remember some member of his family being a Darkfriend. This is no doubt the same fellow. And then Perrin wakes up – or at least tries to, in any case he gets away from Slayer.
Waking up the next day, Perrin finds everyone in much better spirits, thanks to a night of fun and frolic with the Tuatha’an, and they make their way to Emond’s Field. Perrin is in rather bad shape though, which is no surprise given he still has a bloody arrow stuck in him.
They return to the village to find it fortified, armed and chock full of people, who give them a hero’s welcome, and are in awe of Perrin “Goldeneyes”. Verin is there, but she doesn’t want to heal Perrin, as she isn’t too good with it, and wants to wait for Alanna. Um, where is Alanna? Seriously, the Aes Sedai might be looking for girls who can channel, but I and Perrin both believe that’s not the whole of it. Also not present is Lord Luc. Perrin is almost convinced that he’s a Darkfriend, though I haven’t seen anything to suggest that. The guy is a pompous ass however.
Lot’s of chatter, and finally Alanna arrives, and heals Perrin, who passes out in the process. He wakes up the next morning, healed but very weak still. Loial, racked by guilt at not closing the gate properly, is off with Gaul to fix things. Perrin’s all raring to go, but he’s no match for Faile and Mrs. al’Vere. They’re interrupted by an alarm – Trollocs!
Or, Trolloc. Just the one. Well, that was anticlimactic.
But wait, the Aiel bring news of five hundred of the creatures about to attack. Perrin finds himself directing the defenses. When the attack comes, the villagers give a surprising good account for themselves – every last one is shot down before it can reach close enough for melee combat. Including some Fades. Old Blood indeed. For all their protests about being “simple farmers” these people are pretty badass.
The bad news is that this was nothing more than a testing of the waters. Tomas warns there will be a bigger, more organised attack.
A surprise second attack turns out to be nothing more than Tinker refugees. The people are at first mighty scornful – the same scorn I guess, that the Jenn Aiel faced – but a few sharp words from Perrin bring them to their senses. The Tuatha’an did end up getting attacked, and honestly, I’m surprised even this many survived the Trolloc attack. I mean, these are people who have no idea how to defend themselves. But that all changes, when Perrin, after a hard day of telling people to do what they know better than him how to do, comes in for a bite, and Aram the Tinker picks up a sword, as was foreseen by Min.
His grandmother freaks the hell out, but Perrin supports Aram. Honestly, their way makes for a nice dream, but Perrin is right to point out that faced with evil, a man has to defend himself. All this because of the Aes Sedai telling the Aiel to follow the path of non-violence, all those centuries ago. Why though? What’s so important that they should die rather than pick up weapons to defend themselves?
The final arrivals are the Whitecloaks. Byar and Bornhald are all for arresting Perrin, but the villagers won’t let them touch their leader and hero. Perrin defuses the situation with the proposal that the Whitecloaks stay with them until the Trolloc threat has gone, and till then he won’t leave either. Um, BAD idea. I hope Bornhald comes to his senses before something bad happens.
A Chance Meeting
Egeanin is shadowing her employee/informant. The man has been kidnapping random women that look sort of like the ones Egeanin is looking for (who though? escaped sul’dam or damane, or someone else?), and instead of just telling him to quit it, she intends to catch him in the act.
Those women happen to be Nynaeve and Elayne. A fight ensues, in which the three of them manage to beat down twice as many thugs. Another point for staves as weapons. Elayne does channel a bit, and Egeanin notices. They retire to the inn, and have a friendly chat. Except that Egeanin is basically going crazy inside. All her life she’s been taught that women who channel must be leashed – literally – as they’re little better than wild animals. But then she sees these women, who are Aes Sedai (well, technically Accepted, but she doesn’t know that), who are all nice and friendly and don’t have horns and stuff. Egeanin asks some questions about Aes Sedai and the tower, and leaves.
I wonder how the Seanchan as a whole will react when this news breaks – that sul’dam can be leashed by the a’dam, that the Aes Sedai roam free and haven’t wrecked the world yet.
And then another woman comes, and this one I’m pretty sure is a Forsaken, by how easily she bends Elayne and even Nynaeve’s minds, has them answer all her questions, eager as kids. The only good thing is that they answer like robots – no information given apart from exactly what is asked from them. And then the woman leaves, ordering them to forget her.
Also, there is someone following Egeanin – one of those Seekers, perhaps?
Siuan Sanche is busy doing paperwork, when Elaida and a bunch of Aes Sedai barge in, and coldly inform her that in a surprise meeting of the Hall, she was voted out of the Amyrlin Seat. Shit. Shit, shit, shit! This is not good. Quite apart from what Siuan will face, this is bad because who knows what Elaida will do to Rand, now that she is the Amyrlin Seat. I mean, Siuan was pretty controlling, but she was working with Moiraine and trying to help Rand. Elaida, on the other hand, is Red Ajah, and has nothing but dislike for men who can Channel.
Min is bustling about, thinking of Rand and pretty dresses when fighting breaks out, and she sees Gawyn and the rest rushing off. Oh, oh my god, this is what Min foresaw. Not an attack by Black Ajah or Whitecloaks or Seanchan, but an attack from within the Tower.
Siuan and Leanne are languishing in prison cells. Siuan did break down under torture – as was inevitable. Also, they’ve been stilled. Damn. I was still kinda hopeful in a desperate way that somehow this will all work out for her, but now… Now there’s no going back for them. Stilling is irreversible. Whatever happened to trials and proper procedure?
Min comes to the rescue. It’s not much – she can hardly put things right now, no one can – but at least they’ll be free. Big surprise – Laras the cook is with her too. Siuan has been denounced as a Darkfriend in all but name, charged with letting aiding Mazrim Taim’s escape. I guess because what Siuan actually did wasn’t bad enough for Elaida’s liking – she needed something worse. It’s not like she did what she did for justice. No, the Red just wants power. One day, I hope, Siuan will have her revenge. But for now, there’s nothing to do but escape.
Gawyn tries to stop them, but Min and Siuan convince him to not stop her. Also, Gawyn fought against the people trying to free Siuan. What? Why?
On the way out of Tar Valon, they also meet Logain, and Siuan takes him along with the promise of revenge.
Min sees two alternate futures for Gawyn, and one of them has him breaking Egwene’s neck. Ooh boy.
Also, I just realised – no way will this book have a climax like the earlier ones, what with all these plotlines being so far away and separated. I mean, Siuan’s story has barely started.
Cold Rocks Hold
Rand and party have been travelling for days. Rand reminisces about them – chatting and learning about Aiel customs and wildlife from Aviendha, Kadere trying to sell information in return for Rand’s protection, the gleeman Natael quizzing Rand ostensibly because he wanted to write an epic about the whole story, Mat uneasy and staying away from him and flirting with Isendre and yadda yadda yadda. Pretty dull chapter. Finally they arrive at Cold Rocks Hold.
Let me just state again that I think something feels very wrong about the peddlers – especially Isendre, but I can’t guess what exactly.
Cold Rocks Hold, by the way, turns out to be a huge hollow mountain thingy. Full marks for creativity to Jordan, but I already saw that in Eragon, so no marks for surprising me. The place is described as having terraced walls which are actually houses, and gardens and paths in between them, but I’m having a hard time visualising the scene, so I’ll go with a staircase made of houses as my mental model.
More descriptions – this time of Rhuarc’s home, their meal etc. etc. It’s all actually fun to read, but I’ll be skipping it because it’s very unlikely to be plot relevant what sort of carpets the Aiel use and stuff like that.
The clans have started to assemble at Alcair Dal, but a full assembly will still take a month. A month! If Rand has to hang out here a month, he and I both will go nuts from boredom. After a meal, Rand goes off to look for a gift to placate Aviendha. Is Aviendha the third one? I remember reading somewhere – don’t even know if it was in the book or the internet – that Rand will have three women vying for his love. One is clearly Elayne, and the other is likely Min. I used to think Egwene would be the third, but maybe it’ll be Aviendha.
Rand gets a nice ivory bracelet from the Maidens of the Spear, but when he gives it to Aviendha, she’s all upset because it apparently signifies that Rand is interested in her. At least she apologises to Rand. I like Aviendha, and it’d be pretty great if she and Rand got along.
Rand takes a bath, screw the water shortage, and is having a nice little dream about Min and Elayne and Aviendha, when Lanfear crashes the party, and proceeds to do what feels uncomfortably like forcing herself onto Rand. The appearance of what I assume is another of the Forsaken saves neck’s Rand. Lanfear and the other guy argue, and then disappear.
Rand wakes up, and finds someone in his room, freaks out and produces his firesword. It’s only Aviendha, phew. She lets it slip that the Dreamwalkers have been spying on his dreams, and Rand is pissed, as he should be. He’s ranting pretty hard, when he again senses evil. It’s a Draghkar, but the hypnotic song that held Moiraine, is no match for Rand, who promptly kills the foul thing. More Draghkar, and Trollocs attack the place. The battle is a short one – turns out the Trollocs were only a diversion, and the Draghkar were the main threat.
Moiraine really wants Rand to confide in her, but is unwilling to meet Rand’s condition that she not try to interfere with her plans.
I don’t know how I feel about Rand and Moiraine’s stand-off, except that I would really like for them to be working together. I can’t blame Rand for wanting to be independent and slow to trust given all his experiences, and I can hardly blame Moiraine for not agreeing to Rand’s rather harsh preconditions.
The attack does make things more urgent, and Rand decides to leave for Alcair Dal, and with every warrior in the hold, custom be screwed.
Yes, this post was a bit rushed. I’m sorry people, but honestly, this was all mostly buildup, and also, I’m in a hurry to finish this and go to the final chapters. I’ll try to make up for it in the finale of The Shadow Rising.