Spoilers for books 1-5 and Lord of Chaos to ch.8| 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 6, Lord of Chaos. This post covers the Prologue and chapter 5-8.
Dances and Escapades
Mat and his Red Band are hanging out in Maerone, basically trying to chill out, and failing to do so because of the oft-mentioned heat. In his usual fashion, Mat ends up flirting and dancing with one of the maids at his inn, The dance gets a bit too intense when Mat kind of switches into his old memories, but Betse seems to enjoy it. Then comes an inspection of his troops, where he ends up breaking a fight between an orphan boy and an upjumped Lordling. He even ends up assigning one of his men to take care of the boy.
More dancing, and then Mat pretends to be sneaking off with his soldiers in the night, while making sure he’s seen and word gets back to Sammael. Rand and Mat are certainly planning something, but what could it be? There’s no way huge bands of soldiers can be fast enough to surprise anyone, much less one of the Forsaken. The only way I can think of is a raid similar to the the one on Caemlyn – Rand mass teleporting a bunch of them right to Sammael’s location.
For that matter, I wonder why Rand is going to war with Illian (is he?). Why not just ambush Sammael? War is only going to lead to a lot of unnecessary death – it isn’t as if the Illianers are all Darkfriends, they just don’t know/believe they’re being controlled by a Forsaken, and when the fighting happens, they’ll just be dying and fighting to protect their country.
Threads Woven of Shadow
No, I couldn’t think of a suitable title, so we’ll just roll with the book one.
We witness a meeting between Sammael and Graendal. There is much verbal fencing between the two, trying to unsettle each other. Graendal seems to be getting the upper hand here, mostly because Sammael is kinda.. aftraid of Lews Therin, insisting that Rand is little more than a lucky upjumped farmboy. There’s a reference to what Ishamael told Rand in his dreams, back in The Eye of the World – about how this is fight that’s been fought again and again, with Lews Therin a champion of sorts of the Creator. The funny part to me is that he’s worried the Dark One might make Rand Nae’blis. That is one thing that I’m pretty sure is never going to happen.
Poor Sammael. All through the encounter, there’s been the undercurrent in his thoughts that he has Graendal all figured out, that he is smart enough not to be hoodwinked by her. Turns out, that’s exactly what’s happened – at least, that’s what she thinks. She’s managed to ensure that Sammael will try to kill Rand, apparently in contradiction to the Dark One’s wishes, and when Rand dies, Sammael will take the blame.
Stupid people, the lot of them. They already have immortality, as far as they claim, and that’s already the standard villain objective achieved. If I were in such a situation, I would basically find a nice calm place and find eternal chill, instead of mucking around with all these shady shenanigans. But then I guess if they weren’t the way they are, they would none of them be immortal Forsaken in the first place.
In a standard fantasy dungeon, Semirhage is torturing one of the Aes Sedai. It’s pretty sickening the way she’s taking pleasure in it. There’s flashbacks to her pre-Forsaken days. The impression I got is that she was a pretty good healer, but she mixed torture and the like with healing, and that led to the Hall taking some action against her. You know how sometimes when you hear the villain’s back story and feel kinda sympathetic to them? Yeah, this is not one of those times. This woman needs to go down.
Semirhage leaves the woman in pain, and meets the special Fade, Shaidar Haran. I used to think the Forsaken were the highest up in the hierarchy, but it seems Shaidar Haran is a step above even them. Semirhage goes and starts breaking down the Aes Sedai’s warder. Interestingly, she doesn’t understand the warder bond. This is quite the exception, since generally the abilities of Aes Sedai today are negligible compared to the Age of Legends. Lost in thoughts, she ends up killing the poor man, and rushes to check that the Aes Sedai is alive, which she is.
I think this is one of the Aes Sedai that were sent to seek Rand in the Waste. I wonder why Shaidar Haran is so eager to have her tortured for info. I mean, what could the poor woman know that the huge spynet of the Black Ajah and Darkfriends doesn’t?
Dreams and Nightmares
Nynaeve and Elayne are preparing to go to bed and rendezvous in Tel’aran’rhiod. There’s a bit of explanation for how Elayne’s been making ter’angreals – it seems the structure and shape of the object is relevant, and weirdly, Elayne herself doesn’t understand how the things work – she’s basically copy-pasting without actually understanding. This could backfire pretty hard if something goes wrong.
Drifting off to sleep, Elayne renews her promise to bond Rand. Okay Lady, love is one thing, but to do this to someone without their permission is simply not okay. I don’t care how well intentioned it might be. How is this any better than what the Seanchan do to their damanes?
Anyway, Nynaeve and Elayne meet Siuan, Leanne and a bunch of Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod. The Aes Sedai have apparently been very bad students – which is to be expected, seeing as they’re used to telling people what to do, and are too stuffed with pride and overconfidence that they just can’t handle the fact that a bunch of Accepted are so much more knowledgeable about some things than they are. Still, I dock a few respect points from them for this.
The group moves to Elaida’s office in Tar Valon. Leanne goes off to “see if my people have received my messages”. Um, how are you going to do that in Tel’aran’rhiod? You can’t exactly walk up to them and chat. Sheriam tells Nynaeve to go after her, and surprisingly, instead of telling them the stupidity of trying to follow someone who has teleported in Tel’aran’rhiod, Nynaeve just goes away. The rest proceed to rifle through Elaida’s papers as usual, interrupted once by Elaida herself appearing for a fleeting few moments. The search doesn’t reveal anything particularly surprising – mostly updates on the goings on in the various countries. Hilariously, the one rumor about her mother Elayne finds the least believable is the truth – that Morgase is in Amadicia. Elaida has sent the promised envoy to Rand, though to Cairhien.
The argument about how to respond to that is broken up by shouts from Alviarin’s office. They rush out, and find themselves in a large scale nightmare – hordes of Trollocs in a large cavern. Said Trollocs proceed to attack the women. Elayne tell them to think of the corridor as it should have been, but it doesn’t work – either because the women are too panicked, or the nightmare is too large – or, and this is just speculation – there is someone trying to maintain it. I mean, this huge scene just feels a bit too improbable. Eventually, they manage to undo it, but it’s a close thing, and leaves the Aes Sedai a crying, bleeding mess. Maybe this will encourage them to take the girls’ advice more seriously.
Before going back, Elayne makes a trip to Caemlyn’s Palace, and basically makes an oath to bond Rand.
And ah ha! It was Demandred.
The next day, Nynaeve is told about all the action she missed last night. She wanders around the village, and overhears Loagain telling his bullshit tale about the Red setting him up to a bunch of nobles. If the falsehood of this gets out, it will be a huge blow to the credibility of Aes Sedai in general, and the rebels in particular. More wanderings around town, chatting and roaming. Theodrin is on Nynaeve’s case for avoiding her, and I’m glad she’s determined to break Nynaeve’s block. The chapter ends with an emissary from Elaida arriving, and the girls wondering how Sheriam and co. will respond.
A teeny tiny four chapter update. I really liked that we got to see more of the Forsaken, making them more than just shadowy figures of evil. There’s a distinct shift that I’ve noticed – there seems to be quite a lot more of Game of Thrones-ey plans and intrigues, and quite a lot less of blowing stuff up. I would enjoy it, if not for the fact that we don’t know any of the plans in full – not the Dark One’s, not the Forsaken’s, not the Rebel’s, not Rand’s.