Spoilers for books 1-5 and Lord of Chaos to ch.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 6, Lord of Chaos. This post covers chapter 16-23.
The Wheel of A Life
Rand is getting his head bored off by an accountant of sorts, but he’s rescued by Bashere – a bunch of Andoran nobles have come to meet with him. For a change, these are not the trash that Rahvin gathered around him, but people who are actually loyal to Andor and House Trakand. I like how Rand is using Moiraine’s advice to deal with the politics, and doing a pretty good job of it. The meeting is mostly Rand trying to convince them that he intends for Elayne to have the Lion throne, and them being rather skeptical. I don’t get why Rand is getting antsy over their skepticism though – firstly, it is only natural, and secondly, since he will give up the throne to Morgase/Elayne, so what they think shouldn’t matter.
But then in a private conversation with Dyelin (which I have to say felt really forced. Rand basically asks why everyone is “looking at him strangely”), it turns out he looks a lot like Tigraine, who was the Daughter Heir until she vanished, leaving her husband and son behind. Okay, so Rand is secretly Andoran royalty. This was already spoiled to me, but even if it wasn’t, it’s less surprising and more.. disappointing that Jordan went the “farmboy but he’s secretly something more” yet again. Like, he’s Aiel. Okay. Turns out he’s the Dragon Reborn. Well, I guess it was prophesied and everything. Now you’re telling me his mother was a princess too? Seriously? Also, this means that Galad and Rand are step-brothers.
There’s more background information, and I can sense this is important stuff, though I don’t understand everything yet. Luc was Tigraine’s brother (Lord Luc? The one Perrin met in The Shadow Rising, who turned out to be Slayer?), and that soemehow this all led to the cutting of Avendoraldera. This latter I don’t get at all. It’s not like Laman know Tigraine went to the Waste.
There’s also a messenger from Sammael, asking for a truce, but obviously Rand doesn’t agree to the offer. And then it’s time to visit Cairhien. It’s nice that Rand can Travel, saves us all a lot of tedious travelling. What he seeks though – peace and quiet – isn’t to be found in Cairhien either. There’s another set of problems that he must take care of.
Also, turns out that Berelain rules in Cairhien now. This is rather startling – I never considered her when I was thinking people Rand might chooose – but in retrospect Rand’s reasoning for choosing her makes sense to me. First there’s the tricky issue of the Cairhienin taking up the Aiel honor system, or ji’e’toh. This would be fine, except that they don’t follow it exactly, but rather their own interpretation of it, and this offends the Aiel. Rand decides in the Cairhienin’s favor though, and I agree. I mean, ji’e’toh is already pretty crazy and it’s mostly self-perpetuating in the Aiel – they do it because that’s how it’s done. There’s rebellion in Cairhien too, and Rand’s response is the same as for the one in Tear – eh, I’ve got bigger fish to catch. The next issue is of an Aiel having killed some poor man because he had a Dragon tattoo. Rand doesn’t like it, but he orders the murderer hung. I never for a moment doubted that he wouldn’t – all the way back in Fires of Heaven when he gave the warning, I knew he’d follow through. And here’s proof.
To wrap up, Rand visits his school which is developing all sorts of science-y stuff – remarkable for them, but it’s mostly stuff that we consider trivial now. There’s a scholarly discussion about the nature of Tarmon Gai’don itself – which basically boils down to that if the Wheel is indeed periodic, then the cycle of the prison – bore hole, repair, forget – will repeat over and over. Wow, what a smart scholar. (That was sarcasm.)
Egwene wants Rand to help her convince the Wise Ones to allow her back in Tel’aran’rhiod, and Rand wants her to tell Elayne’s location. There’s basically a stalemate, and so neither gets what they want. It’s kinda sad to see these two people, who ought to be each other’s support in the big bad world, growing so far apart. Maybe it’s just because it was Rand’s POV, but I think Egwene is wrong to hide Elayne’s location from him. But I guess she sees herself more an Aes Sedai and less Rand’s village-mate with each passing day.
All in all, a pretty stressful day for poor Rand.
The Next Day
So, it seems we’re sticking with Rand for now. He wakes up to find a veritable army of supplicants – Cairhienin, Aiel, Wise Ones, Tairen and whatnot. Faced with that, it’s no surprise that Rand decides to make himself scarce – back to Caemlyn. Which I guess is fine in the short term, but it’s kinda beginning to feel that Rand is just running from one place to the other. Finds out about his family history, nope, I’m out of Caemlyn. Find a bunch of issues in Cairhien and a hanging to watch, and it’s back to Caemlyn. He needs to start to take his responsibilities a bit more seriously. Teleporting is cool, but it doesn’t solve anything.
Okay, enough grandstanding. Moving on with the story, the Wise Ones seem to have had some dreams about Rand. There are no big revelations, just standard issue vague foretellings. The exception is a rather obvious warning about a Gray Man, and both me and Rand pick up on it. There’s more though – about rain from a bowl, and this one no doubt connects to the ter’angreal Elayne and Nynaeve found.
There’s a POV switch to Aviendha, who’s just worrying herself sick about toh. It’s all routine stuff until the last line :
KIlling Rand al’Thor would meet one toh, killing herself the second, but each toh blocked the solution to the other.
What the hell? Why would you want to kill anyone Aviendha? I can’t even tell if she’s serious or it’s supposed to be some sort of Aiel humor. I hope it’s the latter.
Meanwhile, there’s three Ogier come to meet Rand. There’s the usual brief reminder about Ogier – about how they build cities etc. I wonder why they built them though. Ogier themselves have no interest in them – neither to stay, nor as works of art, since we’re reminded multiple times that they’re all about the trees. I don’t think they even got any payment or something in return. Maybe just something to pass the time while they searched for the stedding.
Needless to say, Rand promptly meets with them, and turns out they’re the Elder Haman Loial keeps talking about, Covril, who is Loial’s mother, and also Loial’s kind-of girlfriend, Erith. I thought it would be a diplomatic mission of sorts, but turns out they’re here because they’re worried about Loial. And of course, Rand promised to take care of Loial, so they have seeked him out. Actually, now that I think of it, it’s been a long time since we say Loial – last time was in The Shadow Rising. I hope he’s just chilling in Emond’s Field. The Elders are doubly concerned because of the Longing – which can apparently kill Ogier if they stay out of stedding for too long. Rand directs them to the Two Rivers though, and they’re all raring to leave ASAP, but Rand asks for their help for a bit – to locate all the Waygates. Finally. It’s about time soemeone did something about this huge security flaw.
Maps are brought in, and Elder Haman proceeds to mark the location of all the stedding that they know of, or even groves – since even groves had Waygates. There’s one even in Shadar Logoth, and Rand is all haste to go ther right this moment, so he teleports himself and a bunch of Aiel there, as well as the Ogier, who come along because they can sense Waygates, plus it’ll shorten their journey.
I don’t see why Rand is so eager to take care of the gate in Shadar Logoth first. I mean, Trollocs and co. are actually less likely to use it, seeing as how it’s extra dangerous even to creatures of the Shadow. Plus, it’s super dangerous to people as well. But the Jordan writes as the Jordan wills.
Well, Shadar Logoth is still just as creepy as ever. A strict warning to the Aiel to not touch/take anything and stay out of buildings, and they’re off to seek the Waygate. Much more interesting is what’s going on in Rand’s head – it looks more and more that Rand has not only Lews Therin’s memories, but some version of Lews Therin’s consciousness rattling around in his head. He even talks to Rand. Wow, that has to be unsettling for the man.
They find the Waygate without incident though, and while Haman offers to seal it, Rand instead chooses to lay a trap with saidin. There’s mention of some sort of unstable resonance with whatever is in Shadar Logoth – though I don’t know how relevant it will be in the future. Perhaps if Rand channels at Padan Fain.
That done, Rand prepares to return but one of the Aiel has gone missing in the meanwhile. A Maiden, Liah. This of course causes Rand to go extra angry, since it’s a woman. I wonder if this is part of Rand’s own character, or something he has “inherited” from Lews Therin. Well, a search is conducted, but despite hours of looking, they find no sign of her. I kind of feel that this is not a simple case of Liah not obeying Rand’s initial instructions. Either it was something that took her, or she has gone away of her own volition. Either way, I very much doubt this is the last we’ll see of her.
Rand opens up a gateway to the Two Rivers as thanks to the Ogier, and having seen them off, he returns to Caemlyn. It’s telling that he comes so close to his father and friends, but decided not to visit them still. Or even Perrin and Faile. Of course, earlier he couldn’t return to Emond’s Field because of one thing or another, but now that he can Travel… It seems Rand really has left his village behind. I wonder if there’ll be a LoTR-esque scene at the end of the series, when Rand returns post Tarmon Gai’don (assuming he survives, that is).
Mat is still on his way, apparently to Tear. He’s worried about Thom and Elayne and Nynaeve, and of course he’s still a bit disgruntled over the way they tried him post-rescue in Tear. The Dragonsworn continue to be a huge pain in everyone’s ass, they’ve apparently gone up to burning villages. I know Rand is busy, but it wouldn’t take him much time to teleport to Masema and tell the crazy Prophet to just quit it.. I mean, he’s getting all antsy over one dead Maiden, and yet there’s this band of fanatics killing innocent people in his name and he can’t be bothered. Grrrrr.
Mat’s introspection is interrupted by a scout who has seen something, and in time honored tradition, can’t just bloody tell what he saw but has to go “Oh no, you gotta see this”. Seriously, if anyone said that to me I might just tell them to bugger off. The guy leads Mat to a pretty grim sight – a Tinker caravan, everyone in it slaughtered, the wagons burned. It is of course doubly horrible because the Tinkers are non-violent to the point that they don’t even defend themselves. Mat tells the guy what I just said, but turns out he had a valid reason this time for bringing Mat – there’s a message, scrawled in blood – “Tell the Dragon Reborn”, written by a dead Tinker. What he wanted told is of course missing. Argh! Seriously, this guy was literally dying, and he couldn’t just use txt speak or something? Like, “Tell Dragon…” Oh no, he has to use the complete title, and thus die without giving any hint of his message.
Well, there’s nothing to be done, so Mat orders the bodies taken care of, and calls a halt for the day.
In the night, sleep is elusive, so Mat picks up his blanket and lays down beneath the stars. Good thing too, because soon enough his now empty tent is attacked by a band of Aiel. Luck! Mat manages to rouse the soldiers, and the Aiel are killed, though they do manage to kill and wound quite a few. Probably Shaido, or Darkfriends. There was a time when I thought the Aiel to be Darkfriend-proof, but that was before Melindhra.
Further investigation of the scene reveals that a gateway was opened here, which points the finger right at one of the Forsaken. Probably Sammael. Though why they would open a portal to let in a bunch of Aiel instead of just going in and killing Mat I don’t know. IIRC, even his Medallion only protects Mat from saidar.
Well, good thing they didn’t. The series would be significantly less fun without Mat.
Graendal is meeting Sammael. There’s more allusions to the post-apocalyptic nature of the world, with mention of things like lightbulbs. Sammael claims to have found some sort of cache of angreal. Did he really, or is it a bluff? I’m leaning towards the latter, because next Sammael claims that he and Rand are in a truce. Now, it is possible that Sammael honestly believes this and is simply mistaken, but it’s way likelier that it’s a strategy to intimidate Graendal. Which it definitely does, the woman is all but quivering with fear. The implication of the truce, as Sammael explains, is that Rand will now kill off the rest of the Forsaken, leaving him to be Nae’blis. The end result is that he establishes dominance over Graendal, at least for now.
There’s quite the contrast between how these two manipulate people – Graendal was all about subtle tweaks, so that Sammael himself wouldn’t know he’d been manipulated. Sammael on the other hand, prefers stomping on people and making them afraid. I know which one I’d prefer if I were an evil villain.
The big revelation that comes out of the information Graendal gives him is that Mesaana is in the White Tower. Holy shit. Is is Alviarin? But Alviarin has been around for a while I guess, since she’s a well known Aes Sedai, while the Forsaken have been loosed only recently. And of course, Mesaana would not have been intimidated by Fain. So who is it? No way to guess, since the only two Aes Sedai in the Tower whose names I know are Elaida and Alviarin.
And that’s it for this one. The plot is picking up a little pace here and there, which is good, since we’re almost halfway through the book. Also, I just realised that we’ve never seen Perrin since the prologue, which is totally not fair because I thought his presence in the prologue meant we’d have more Perrin chapters. Though the fact that it took me this long to realise he’s missing means there’s plenty of other stuff going on. The book seems to be heading to two resolutions – one of the war on Sammael/Illian, and the whole Rand/Tower/Salidar mess. This latter really needs to resolved soon, it seems it’s holding the entire series from moving forward. But what could be the forward direction? Rand seems to be mowing down the Forsaken at a steady pace, and unless there’s a major upset, we’ll soon be rid of all of them at this rate. What then? It still seems Rand is nowhere near powerful enough to take on the Dark One. Eh, we’ll find out.