Spoilers for books 1-4 and The Fires of Heaven to ch.7| 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 5, The Fires of Heaven. This post covers chapter 1-7.
The last book tied up its own plot quite neatly, but it has opened quite the can of worms with all the Forsaken out in the open and Elaida on the Amyrlin Seat, not to mention all the big revelations. Be quite interesting to see where the story goes now. Presumably Rand will return from the Waste, though what he’ll do next, I don’t know. Maybe hunt down the Forsaken? He’s certainly strong enough for it, what with the sa’angreals – both Callandor and the other one.
The first scene is Elaida, enjoying power and as many before her, finding it not as much fun as she’d hoped. It’s a look at all the behind the scenes machinations that people often complain about. The other Aes Sedai don’t seem to be taking Elaida quite as seriously as she wants, especially her co-conspirator Alviarin. She responds quite childishly, dishing out random punishments and threats to her subordinates. I was reminded of a quote from Game of Thrones – “Any man who must say ‘I am king’ is no true king at all”. More disturbingly, with her typical Red attitude towards men, she wants Rand pretty much imprisoned in the Tower until the Last Battle, shielded and everything. Moiraine was only trying to nudge Rand, but this woman wants him leashed! As if Rand already doesn’t have his hands full with actual evil, now he has to worry about Elaida (and Tar Valon with her).
The meeting is dismissed, and Fain walks in. This is going from bad to worse! Whatever her flaws, I did not expect Elaida to fall for Fain’s brand of treachery and lies. God help Rand now.
Then, Rahvin, a.k.a Gaebril is visited by Lanfear and other Forsaken. A glimpse into their dynamics – mostly mistrust and hate. Lanfear wants her, Sammael, Rahvin and Graendal to band together against Rand. The rest fall in with her plans, lured by Lanfear’s promises of power. What is the woman up to? Is she just hedging her bets, acting cosy with Rand while plotting against him with the Forsaken? Or does she intend to betray them somehow? I think it’s the latter, because however power hungry she is, I think there is some twisted form of love in her for Rand/Lew Therin. Which might be even worse. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…
How the Mighty Have Fallen
Siuan Sanche, once the Amyrlin Seat and leader of the Aes Sedai, is on trial in a village for burning down a barn. It’s no fun for her of course, but I find it rather funny. Leane has re-discovered her Domani streak, and has gone into full diva mode, and intends to try and get out of trouble with her feminine charms. Except that their judge is Gareth Bryne, exile from Caemlyn. Oh man, this just keeps getting better. And though Leane’s antics set his pulse racing, he delivers a pretty fair judgement – no jail or beating, the women will just have to work off the cost of the barn. To which they graciously agree.
Except not really. Having taken a solemn oath, Siuan now plans to abscond and pursue whatever schemes she has in mind. It’s an indicator of how driven she is about revenge. Of course, she may not be Aes Sedai, but she still has their way of bending the truth. She’s totally going to fulfill her promise, except not right now. Tricksy Sedaises…
But they’re saved the trouble by their knight in shining armor, Logain. The wagon driver is knocked down, and they’re on their way.
The big surprise though, is that when Gareth Bryne finds out about their escape, he wants to set off himself with a bunch of his old army mates. There is of course an element of escape for Bryne as well. It must suck to find yourself from one the Queen’s top advisers to administrating a little village in the middle of nowhere. I’m really looking forward to him catching up to Siuan. I have a feeling they may end up teaming together. Just a hunch.
In Caemlyn, Alteima, who we last saw in Tear, has come to Caemlyn, hoping no doubt to cut some sort of deal with Morgase. Except with Gaebril there, she may well be getting into more that she bargained for. She gets into a meeting with the Queen, and is busy convincing her that Rand is basically nuts and dangerous, when Gaebril walks in. It’s really sad to see Morgase in this situation – once so proud and fierce, but now almost a slave to Rahvin.
It’s clear her subconscious is struggling against it all, but it’s also clear that without external intervention, she’s pretty much screwed. And probably Andor with her.
Rand is gazing upon the city of Rhuidean. This goes on for a few pages. I do wonder though, why wasn’t Rhuidean ever finished? The Jenn did reach the waste, where they’re safe, and start construction, so why is it still unfinished? Why did they die out? Where are the Jenn Aiel? What happened to them?
For now though, Rand has to deal with the Aiel. Most of the clans it seems will heed his call, and accept his authority as car’a’carn. Except the bloody Shaido. And the people who have run away when faced with the truth about their past. But I agree with Rand – they had a right to know. Actually, it’s rather impressive that the Aiel have kept the secret for so long, what with every chief knowing it. The runaway Aiel are also joining them. Still, the Shaido can hardly stand against eleven clans.
Moiraine and Egwene come to meet Rand, who is continuing to be a bit rude towards them. Independence and free will are well and good, but it’s not right for it to cross the line into stubbornness and rude manners. Moiraine has a shocking piece of news though. She has found one of the Seals in the plaza, and – gasp – the cuendillar is not as strong as it is supposed to be. In fact, it is positively fragile. The seals are indeed weakening. What is doing this though? For that matter, what broke the other seals, given that cuendillar is supposed to be unbreakable? Or maybe it’s just that nothing people have tried has broken cuendillar, but it cannot stand against the Dark One. Moiraine again asks Rand to take her advice, to take her into his confidence. Asks. One of them really needs to loosen up a little and compromise a bit, or it will be really bad for them, and the world.
Tempers flare, and an angry Rand reveals his plan. Maybe that’s what Moiraine intended – you never know with Aes Sedai. And though Rand has a good idea, I think the implementation could be better. Essentially, he wants to put a stop to all the fighting and wars, and unite everyone against the shadow. So far so good. But, he intends to do this by marching in with an Aiel army and forcing unity on everyone. This is like having two people hug at gunpoint. The people probably will unite, except against him. And even if he manages to do it, there will certainly be a lot of bloodshed and killing before peace is achieved.
When Moiraine departs, Egwene proceeds to give Rand a well deserved verbal lashing for his behaviour. Also, Rand seems to be remembering bits and pieces, things which I think are Lews Therin’s memories.
Egwene departs, and Rand chats with Asmodean, his teacher, and also one of the Forsaken. It’s kind of amazing and weird when you think about it, and yet completely inevitable, given that the only people who can teach Rand are the male Forsaken. They talk about some sort of magical linking, which apparently only women can do. I used to think that saidin and saidar were just basically the same things with different names, but now the differences are manifesting. Also, unlike women, Rand can’t see the glow of power when a guy channels. But I don’t know whether it is a characteristic of saidin itself, or something to do with Rand, like how Nynaeve can channel only when angry.
Asmodean is acting all despairing and hopeless, saying that without the ter’angreal figurines, Rand has no chance against the Dark One. Except that Rand does have them – both of them. But somehow I doubt defeating the Dark One will be as simple as he and Lanfear/one of the Aes Sedai channeling together through the big sa’angreal. No, that would be too easy.
And while Rand is dealing with runaway Aiel and the fate of the World and stuff, Mat is busy chilling out, gambling and playing and flirting. He tells Rand that he intends to leave with Kadere’s wagons (who are hauling artifacts to Tar Valon). Rand’s response is basically to shrug.
Under the Roof of the Maidens
Rand is apparently staying with Far Dareis Mai, or rather, they’re staying with him. They seem to be taking their duty of protecting him and his honor really seriously. Which I really like, because Rand can totally do with a society of fierce Aiel Warriors loyal to him. Rand is pondering the irony that he is more worried about keeping stuff from Moiraine than from Asmodean. BTW, why is Rand trying to keep Asmodean secret? Not the normal populace, but from people like Moiraine. Surely, she would understand. I guess he really doesn’t trust her at all.
Aviendha comes to meet him. I’m really enjoying the progress of their relationship. It’s really fun to see them tiptoe around the obvious attraction they feel for each other. Case in point – Aviendha returns Rand’s gift (the one he gave her back in Cold Rocks Hold), except she claims there’s nothing romantic about it, she’s just settling a debt. Yeah, right. Debt. Ha!
They’re settling in for another argument – this time about the fact that Elayne told Aviendha to look after Rand for her, when Isendre walks in – naked. What the what? And the both of them don’t comment on this once, she’s all “I brought you some wine”, and Rand’s all “Cool, put it here”. Not even Aviendha, though she is pissed, and repeats her Elayne stuff. And then Rand drifts off to sleep, dreaming sweet dreams of Elayne, Min and Aviendha.
Egwene meanwhile, goes into a sauna-slash-conference with Moiraine and the Wise Ones. Moiraine is trying to convince them against Rand’s plan. See, this is the kind of stuff Moiraine – scheming and going behind people’s backs – that has made Rand distrust you so. The Wise Ones though, will not budge. They may not like what Rand is doing, but they are determined to follow him. I guess the Aiel who did stay, are nevertheless ashamed about having failed the Aes Sedai, and are determined to do better this time, in their service to Rand. Moiraine leaves – rather, is asked to leave – and the Wise Ones turn to Aviendha, saying they want her to sleep in Rand’s chambers, with no reason given. Aviendha is more or less terrified/horrified by the idea, but I think she’ll have to do as she’s told. I’ll look forward to this.
And they finally turn to Egwene. Apparently Amys has been teaching her to enter other people’s dream. Wait a minute. Egwene can enter tel’aran’rhiod, the world of dreams, but how does that translate into her entering other people’s normal dreams? Somehow, it does. Whatever. So anyway, they tell her to practice doing it.Aviendha raises the topic of sister-wives. No doubt she’s thinking about herself and Elayne. Egwene’s pretty clueless though. And then the Wise Ones set her and Aviendha to running around the camp as punishment. Naked. Seriously, what is up with Aiel and naked women? They gave their test in Rhuidean naked. Isendre is walking around naked as punishment for theft. Now Egwene and Aviendha have to run around the camp naked.
Attacks in the Night
Rand is awakened from his nice little dreams by the a sense of evil. It’s three Darkhounds. Rand conjures his fire sword and beheads the lot. Ah ha, but they reform, Terminator 2 style. Rand ups his game, and counters with Balefire. That does the trick.
Moiraine arrives soon after. She tells us that the Darkhounds are super deadly – their bite, or even their saliva, can be deadly. Damn, that could have turned out nastily. Rand though, leaves her behind as he rushes to rescue Mat, and just in time too. Mat’s response is spot-on:
I can’t say it isn’t always something new around you. A man wouldn’t get bored; not until the day he died.
Moiraine arrives seconds later (again), and on learning that Mat’s got a few drops of deadly saliva on his arm, tries to Heal him. And it doesn’t work! The foxhead medallion grows cold, and that’s it. So, the medallion somehow shields Mat from the Power. Of course, he asked for it! He said to the people in the door ter’angreal in the plaza in Rhuidean (such an awkward sentence!) that he wanted to be free of the One Power. And they gave him the medallion. But then, what’s the Spear for? Looking back at the segment, Mat asked for his memory back (which he seems to be getting), to be free of the Power (hence the medallion) and to get back to Rhuidean (which they did, by leaving him literally hanging). So why the Spear?
Anyway, Moiraine once again tries to talk to Rand, who is as usual dismissive and rude. And then it happens – Moiraine bends. “Please, Rand”. Phew, about time. I don’t know who it should have been, but one of them had to bend, and I guess it is Moiraine. Rand dials back the rudeness, and frankly tells her that given her history, its hard for Rand to trust her. And them Moiraine swears to obey Rand, to not manipulate him anymore. Wow, she’s serious. This finally gets through to Rand, and he apologizes too.
Moiraine tells him that Balefire is a very weird type of destructive. It doesn’t destroy, it erases. It destroys objects as well as their past, so that whatever they did is nullified, and the stronger the Balefire, the further back in the past they destroy things. Oooohhh… But this is huge. All sorts of experiments are springing to my mind. For example, what if we destroy a knife that was just used to kill someone. Will they come back to life then? Or what if someone destroys something with Balefire, and then we destroy them with Balefire, does that recover the thing they just destroyed? Moving on…
Moiraine warns him about the danger of using Balefire willy-nilly, and Rand instructs her to not take the medallion from Mat. Wow, but it feels so weird to see Rand ordering Moiraine. A quick detour to check on Asmodean – yes, he was attacked too, but Rand’s wards to protect him held – and he returns to his bedroom.
Rand is looking over the two figurines, when Lanfear appears. Damn, so now she knows that Rand has them. Luckily, she seems to think it means that Rand is leaning towards her plan. Still, I’m surprised she doesn’t grab the female ter’angreal on the spot. Rand puts her off balance, by spontaneously channeling his inner Lew Therin, telling her that he’s disgusted by her ambition and lust for power.
She tells Rand that Rahvin sent the Darkhounds. What she doesn’t tell him is that she’s working with him. Or at least acting like she is. And then she goes, repeating her spiel about love and ruling together.
Man, this whole Lanfear thing is totally messed up. She’s helping him, but she’s also 100% evil. She says she loves Rand, but Rand sees only a dangerous Forsaken. What will she do when she realises her supposed love is strictly one sided?
One final surprise, Couladin and the Shaido are moving towards Cairhien. Oh boy, what is that damn false car’a’carn up to now? Rand doesn’t intend to wait, and orders everyone to move out in pursuit.
The next chapter is basically a description of the departure, from Egwene’s and Moiraine’s POV.
And that’s it for today. I know this post is somewhat late. Partly it is the book itself. There is a lot of repetition. Paragraphs upon paragraphs of people thinking about stuff I already know. I mean, this seems a small post, but it actually covers the first 20% of the book! I guess Jordan did this for the benefit of people who had to wait years between books, but for me, who read the previous book last week, it all feels just a bit tedious. The same sort of thing happened in book four too. Hopefully like in that one, the story will become more engrossing from now on. For the rest, you can blame Dota 2.