Spoilers for books 1-4 of the Wheel of Time| 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 51-58
Revelations in Tanchico
Elayne, Egeanin and Nynaeve are struggling with chopsticks. I kinda like these little moments – these women are super powerful Aes Seda (except Egeanin), and can call down lightning like that. And yet, struggling with chopsticks, like we all do.
Tanchico is turning more and more dangerous – there have even been riots. And a friendship is budding between the three women. At least, Elayne thinks so, but who knows what Egeanin is up to. Seanchan.
But her gig is soon up, as Bayle Domon enters and recognises her for the captain who captured his ship. Surprisingly, Domon manages to beat Egeanin in a fistfight. Nynaeve of course if immediately indignant and angry, but that doesn’t mean her anger is without cause. She has seen what the Seanchan do to channelers, what they did to Egwene.
Elayne though, is discovering the fact that hating the enemy is not the same as hating the person in front of you, the person you’ve been becoming friends with, the person who helped you in a city where no one would. Egeanin claims that she has grown to like them too, that she wasn’t planning anything nefarious and only want to learn more, and has even let the collared sul’dam go. How much of it is true, and how much lies? That’s one trouble with books, and fiction in general – unless the author gives us indications, how are we to gauge for ourselves who is lying and who is not?
For now, I’m mildly optimistic about Egeanin. Mildly. So, Domon informs the girls that the Black Ajah are in the Panarch’s palace, no doubt searching for the ter’angreal which will let them control Rand. Could it be the one Egwene touched during her visit to the museum, the one that hurt her? They’re skeptical, but Juilin and Thom soon arrive in rapid succession and confirm the fact.
The question now is whether the Panarch is working with the Black Ajah or not. The three men try their best to find out, but hours of efforts don’t turn up any leads. I think they are wasting valuable time – they should just plan for the worst, assume the Panarch is up to no good. While they are sitting around waiting for info, the Black Ajah may already find what they are looking for.
They finally give up, and go to be. Nynaeve is off to Tel’aran’rhiod, for a meeting with Egwene.
Nynaeve is hanging around in the Heart of the Stone, fuming, hating Egeanin for making her like her(!), when Egwene appears, together with Amys and Bair. Sparks fly when Nynaeve’s stubbornness clashes with the Wise One’s hardness. It’s incredibly satisfying to see someone stare down Nynaeve.
Not that they intimidated her, but she could see the point of being reasonable.
Yeah, right. Eventually though, the Aiel women do help Nynaeve out – apparently in Tel’aran’rhiod she can go close to whatever she needs, just be really focusing hard on that need. There’s of course risk – what if she finds one of the Black Ajah there too? But then Nynaeve has never been one to shirk danger – whatever her flaws, the woman is no coward. One blind teleport, and she finds herself in the Panarch’s bedroom. The Black Ajah have Amathera the Panarch captive, and, weirdly enough, are teaching her bawdy songs. The hell? It seems one of Thom’s informants was right on that count! Nynaeve scarpers before she can be spotted, and her next teleport brings her to the museum.
And there she sees the mysterious woman who had her and answering dancing like puppies, eager to answer her. Seeing her triggers Nynaeve’s memory, and she remembers, and she is pissed. Birgitte appears again though, and in that time the woman disappears. Lucky too, because as Birgitte tells us, she is another one of the Forsaken – Moghedien. Also, the mysterious man Nynaeve saw in Rhuidean was also Forsaken – Asmodean. Birgitte also answers some of my questions about the heroes and the Horn of Valere – they can’t die, because they are somehow connected to the Wheel, so they hang out in tel’aran’rhiod until the Horn calls them, or the time for their rebirth comes again. (Sidenote : I think she was the one who also warned Perrin not to enter the Tower of Ghenjei).
And then Nynaeve finds two quest items in the museum – a cuendillar disk, one of the Seals on Shayol Ghul, and the ter’angreal, which is not whatever Egwene saw, but a jewelry set – a necklace and two bracelets. And then it’s wake up time.
Well, not exactly a siege, but Emond’s Field is in bad shape – there have been several Trolloc attacks, and resources as well are morale are running low. Perrin is dealing with logistics, when news comes of a dying man, brought in by the Whitecloaks, who wants to speak to him. Perrin rushes out, and in typical dying man fashion, the fellow dies after an enigmatic message – “We are coming”. Who are coming? Is it help or is it more danger? But if it’s more danger, why would the fellow say “we”, and not “they”? But if help, then from where?
And then there’s another mysterious arrival – this one is happy news though. Loial is back! Yay. Man, it would totally suck if he were to die. Okay, so there’s bad news too – the Waygate has been closed, but there are thousands of Trollocs already in the Two Rivers. Oh boy. Luc’s dismissive though. The eternal question – is the guy evil, or just stupid? The scales are swinging towards evil though.
And finally it really is time for Perrin to sleep, who instead pops into the wolf dream for scouting. After some trailers – Nynaeve and others kneeling to Egwene, Mat naked and bound, Rand bandaged and in rags. Perrin does some scouting, and the situation is indeed dire. There are thousands of Trollocs, and they are focused on Emond’s Field – Deven Ride, a nearby village, is only lightly surrounded. Further on, and he is intrigued to find the ferry still undestroyed. Indeed, why would the Shadowspawn leave a way out? They are her to kill – either Fain or Perrin, but either way, why leave a way out?
Once again, he’s attacked by Slayer, but this time the wolf outwits the hunter. Slayer is shot with an arrow, and disappears. Dead? Nope, Perrin wakes up to find that Lord Luc has been spotted, acting as if wounded. Ah ha, so it was Luc! Um, but I thought Slayer was that Malkieri guy… Maybe Luc is just a disguise?
Perrin tries to send Faile away on the pretext of bringing help from Caemlyn. Ha! As if Faile would ever fall for that.
And she does. Wait, what? Oh come on, that was so clearly a ploy, and Faile would never abandon Perrin! But she does agree, on the condition that Perrin marry her. Which he is happy to do. And so, a super rushed wedding, and they are married. Seriously though, this going away stuff doesn’t fit with Faile’s character at all!
Mission Impossible: Tanchico
Elayne, Nynaeve and surprisingly, Egeanin, are going off to sneak into the Panarch’s palace, disguised as poor commoners. Also, Egeanin is growing on me too. I mean, yes, the Seanchan can be a proper pain, but that doesn’t mean every single one of them is a bad guy. I think.
They manage to enter pretty easily, masquerading as delivery girls for ice peppers (which the Panarch is quite fond of), while the men start a rumor of the Panarch’s death, leading to rioting in front of the palace to keep the guards busy. A quick change to servant clothes, and the party splits – Egeanin and Elayne to rescue the Panarch, Nynaeve to retrieve the seal and the ter’angreal. Personally, I think Egeanin should be with Nynaeve – in the larger scheme of things, her mission is way more important.
Elayne and Egeanin make their uneventful way through the palace to the Panarch’s rooms, and find her reciting bawdy songs for a Black Sister. The situation is rather darkly funny. The Super Sedai that Elayne is, she rapidly captures the captor and frees the captive. The Panarch is rather sulky and wilful, but a few strong words from Elayne put her in her place soon enough. Part one accomplished.
In the exhibition hall, Nynaeve works herself up to anger and embraces saidar. She really needs to get rid of anger as a crutch, some day that is going to cause her trouble. Also, why the hell would she make herself more noticeable to the Black Ajah by glowing with the power? It’s not like there’s any need right now.
And then a servant walks in, who turns out to be Moghedien! This time Nynaeve’s ready though, and counters Moghedien’s mind control magic. And then the fight is on – both women trying to block/still each other. Yeah, apparently stilling is basically an advanced version of shielding. It’s really surprising to me that Nynaeve can go toe to toe with one of the legendary Forsaken, and that too in terms of raw power. I mean, we knew she was extra powerful, but is one thing to be more powerful than a regular Aes Sedai, and another to make a Forsaken sweat. Actually, seeing as Nynaeve is just accepted and not a full Aes Sedai yet, who knows what she’ll be capable of when she is trained.
Moghedien tries to distract Nynaeve by talking, and tells some pretty interesting info – the ter’angreal is nigh indestructible, and its control can flow both ways. Nynaeve’s on to her though, and realises that the Forsaken is also giving her 100% (um, that should have been clear from the start, girl. Why would an opponent hold back in a powerfight where the stakes are so high?) and applies the age old tactic of throwing stuff at your opponent. It works though, and Nynaeve has shielded (ah, if only she had managed to still) one of the Forsaken. Hell yeah, you go girl! She quickly gathers up the quest items, but is attacked by a Black Sister wielding freaking Balefire. Poor Nynaeve cannot catch a break. Luckily, the Black Ajah can’t really handle the balefire, and Nynaeve survives by dodging and hiding. Moghedien has vanished in the chaos.
Nynaeve rushes to the rendezvous point and finds the others waiting for her there. They exit the palace to find a raging melee. Nynaeve is appalled at the destruction her distraction has caused. It’s a waste, but a necessary one. And so they make their way back to the inn, where Amathera is put to employ as a serving girl to teach her a lesson by Elayne. They try to destroy the ter’angreal but no luck. So Nynaeve orders Domon to dump it in the sea. I hope it’s the last we see of the thing. I’m afraid it won’t be.
Perrin is writing what is painfully like a suicide note to Faile. Perrin thinks he doesn’t have a way with words, but Jordan sure does.
Never think I have abandoned you. When the sun shines on you, it is my smile. When you hear the breeze stir through the apple blossoms, it is my whisper that I love you. My love is yours forever.
Poetic as hell. Damn, but the mood in the village is grim as hell. It’s clear they are at the end of their strength, and this next Trolloc attack will likely break them. The Whitecloaks are leaving. Bastards! For all their high and mighty talk, they’re just a bunch of pussies. Perrin tells them as much, hoping to keep them there – the village could certainly use a few hundred disciplined warriors. It’s really creepy how Bornhald and the other Whitecloaks can twist reality so that Perrin is a darkfriend whatever he does. Perrin finally gets them to stay by promising to hand himself over after the Trollocs are dealt with. One, I’m not sure they can do it even with the Whitecloaks, and two, quit it with the noble sacrificing already! But I guess Perrin doesn’t have much of a choice – they’re all dead anyway, if he can increase their chances by promising himself…
A bit more of buildup, and finally the attack comes. For some reason, the Trollocs are shouting “Isam”. A name or a word in their language? And it is on. The villagers fight remarkably well, but they are totally outnumbered, and the battle soon starts turning against them. Even the women jump into the battle, fighting like pros. The Whitecloaks on the other hand, are not fighting. Bloody cowards! The defensive line is almost to the breaking point, when at last help arrives. It’s the villagers from Deven Ride. And Faile. YEEAAAHHHH!!!! fistpumps
Caught between the two forces, the Trollocs are slaughtered in short order. It seems there’s people from Watch Hill as well in the battle. And Faile is back! Turns out the sly minx went, but only as far as Watch Hill, to get help. Oh man, I could hug her right now. So the poor dead guy was talking about help coming. There is much romantic talk and rejoicing.
And then the Whitecloaks show their ugly faces, intending to arrest Perrin. As if. With three villages’ worth of bows trained on them, and Perrin reminding them that they showed their true nature by staying out of the battle when even the women jumped in, they wisely choose to walk away. Bornhald is still full of anger and hatred though, and that one will cause trouble in the future.
For now though, it’s celebration time. Perrin’s still struggling against being Lord-ed, but it’s too late now. Three cheers for Lord Perrin!
Ordeith/Fain survived once again. The man seems to have a bloody cockroach’s knack for hiding and surviving. He’s off to Tar Valon now. What with Elaida as the new Amyrlin, this can be really disastrous.
Well, the last two climaxes have been escalating, and now it’s time for the final one. I am totally psyched.
Rand’s party is reaching Alcair. I’m rather confused by how the Aiel are organised – clans are like tribes, societies are like cross-tribe clubs, but then what are holds and septs? Anyway, the point is Rand has fifteen thousand bloody Aiel warriors with him. They finally reach the meeting point. The Shaido are there in force, but Rand’s got the advantage for a change – he has several times as many warriors behind him. Moiraine once again tries to convince him that the burden and fight are not his alone. Rand’s not listening though. He should, IMO.
The Taardad arrive and start singing. But this is not the “let’s party and be friends” singing, this is a warning of sorts – the Aiel sing only in battle or lament. Smart move, a warning to the Shaido without displaying any real aggression. Sevanna, who I think is the wife of the previous Shaido chief, is addressing the assembly, generally being a nuisance when Rand’s party walks in. And then Couladin raises his arms and displays two dragon tattoos. Shocking turn of events. How? Fake tats? Darkfriend? I got nothing. Rand does though, and he too displays his dragon markings.
But now the trouble is that there are two contenders, and one them is a pain in the ass, but still an Aiel, while Rand is still seen as an outsider. This is not good. Not good at all. Rand’s surprised as well. Rand tries to convince the assembly by reminding them of the prophecy, but Couladin is sly, twisting things to suit his claim, using the truth where convenient, lying through his teeth where not. This needs to be decided now. And then Rand plays a masterstroke – Rhuidean. For all his blathering, Couladin has not been to the city, has not seen the memories, does not know the secrets. Only Rand and the other clan chiefs do. And Rand tells everyone assembled of the truth. Finally, reluctantly, the chiefs accept him as Car’a’carn.
But Couladin is not done, and he attacks Rand, and chaos and fighting breaks out. To calm everyone down, Rand decides to demonstrate his power, and creates a thunderstorm and pouring rain. We don’t get to see how well this works though, because then Lanfear appears.
Return to Rhuidean
The Peddler wagon wasn’t merely fishy, it was hiding two bloody Forsaken. Damn. Apparently Lanfear was serious about having one of the male forsaken teach Rand. Rand counters, saying that he expected them, and the trap is his. Um, what trap?
Anyway, Lanfear tells Rand Asmodean is off looking for something in Rhuidean – no doubt some ancient artifact of great power – and Rand proceeds to create a portal and enter it. And a rather weird sequence follows.
Rand is walking through a staircase in some sort of interdimensional void, which I can swallow, when he comes across Asmodean going the same way, connected to wires leading off into infinity (reminds me of the climax of Eye of The World for some reason), which is harder to swallow. But let’s just go with it. A duel of sorts ensues, but neither can out-channel the other, and they exit, outside Rhuidean. Asmodean rushes in, and Rand follows.
More magic fighting, with pillars of lightning and balls of fire and whatnot. Exciting stuff.
They reach the great plaza with all the magic stuff, and almost simultaneously grab one of the artifacts. This one turns out to be somehow connected to the huge sa’angreal Rand saw being excavated in Cairhien (dude Asmodean, if you wanted that, why not go get the sa’angreal itself?), and they both draw huge amounts of the one power. Huge, but equal, and the battle continues, orders of magnitude more destructive now, as both use all this huge power to try and defeat the other. But the battle is too equal, and Rand is weakening, losing. And then he remembers the little angreal he had. And he draws from it. It’s not much of a difference, but it gives Rand the edge. And he strikes at the wires he saw around Asmodean.
Asmodean’s beaten – I think, it wasn’t entirely clear just what happened – but Rand isn’t in much better shape. The Avendesora is burning, and Rhuidean is in ruins. And then Lanfear appears. Oh shit, Rand is clearly at her mercy now. Ah, I remember now – Egwene saw and touched the female counterpart of this ter’angreal, back in Tanchico’s museum. So, Rand is Lanfear’s mercy, but she seems content to just hang around and chat. Turns out Rand has severed Asmodean’s connection to the Dark One. In one stroke, he has reduced the number of Forsaken (they will be led to believe by Lanfear that he himself severed himself from the Dark One), and gained someone to teach him, someone who isn’t connected to the Dark One. About time!
It’s interesting that when Rand channels to break off a fight between Lanfear and Asmodean, what he thinks will be a trickle, turns out to be a bar of ten feet tall fire and lightning. And then Lanfear departs after some creepy “you’re mine” talk, leaving Rand with the ter’angreal. For one of the Forsaken, she sure is pretty nice to Rand. No doubt hoping to have him join her on the Dark Side. Only trouble is, Asmodean could channel without going mad because of his connection to the Dark One. So Rand may learn, but he will still inevitably go mad. Oh boy.
Rand finds the twin of the ter’angreal he had, the female version of it lying around in the plaza. Poor Lanfear, missed such a huge opportunity. Haha just kidding, good thing it stayed out of her hands! And Rand travels, or should I say Travels, back to Alcair Dal. The dissenters – it seems the twin news of Rand being car’a’carn and their whole culture being a bunch of lies was too much for some – have left, but the rest accept him as their leader now.
Phew. That was one intense ending. Or rather, endings. Rand’s was pretty impressive in scope and had more fireworks and revelations, but I still liked Perrin’s best. I was told repeatedly that the first three were like the introduction, and the real story begins now, and it certainly delivered, what with the big reveals in Rhuidean and the general all around escalation of stakes. On the whole, this was probably my favorite book in the series so far. The full review will be out Sunday.