Spoilers for books 1-5 and Lord of Chaos to ch.55| 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 40-55.
Having completely failed to convince the supergirls to come with him, Mat is trying a different tactic – asking Thom for help. But he and Juilin have well and truly accepted that there’s no controlling or guiding these women, you can only go along with their plans and try to keep them safe, which is the advice he also gives Mat.
Meanwhile, Elayne and Aviendha discuss their shared love of Rand. This is actually much less of an issue with the latter, because of the Aiel’s sister-wives concept. Honestly, I’m not too worried over this – it seems Elayne, Min and Aviendha can share Rand without getting into catfights over it. The question is, will we ever see them “sharing” Rand? (Hint: I mean a foursome) Pretty uneventful chapter.
The Second Embassy
The embassy from Salidar has finally reached Caemlyn. Min is going to meet Rand (IIRC this is the first time they’re meeting since Falme), and is torn between her desire to be pretty for him and her desire to be true to tomboy self and have Rand accept her as she is. I’m actually surprised at how easily she gets an audience with Rand – sure, she’s Min, but the Aiel guards don’t know that. But meet him she does. There’s mention of two things she sees around him – lights being swallowed by the Darkness, which is pretty obvious, and an aura that makes her uneasy which I’m guessing is the taint. She gives him a letter from Elayne, which is rather confusing. Elayne tells Rand that her feelings to him are unchanged, leaving the earlier confusion with her two letters unresolved and that she loves Min “as a sister” and hopes that Rand loves her the same. What, like a sister? Women.
Min and Rand have a bit of fun, when Rand says he doesn’t think of her as a woman, and Min responds by deploying all the stuff she’s learnt from Leane. Rand still somehow doesn’t realise that he loves her, and seems to view her flirtation as teasing. There’s also nine Aes Sedai in Caemlyn, and they’ve sent Min to smooth their way. Little do they know that her love for Rand has basically made her a double agent. Min believes the Aes Sedai mean Rand no harm, but he and Melaine (who comes to visit) are less trusting. Melaine especially. And rightly so. They may not want to kill him or anything, but they sure as hell would love to have him dancing to their tune. Anyway, Rand agrees to see them – three at a time. But there’s actually eleven of them in the city – adding Alanna and Verin. Well, at least it’s not thirteen.
The Black Tower
With all that done, Rand heads to the farm. He invites Min too, but Rand is one thing and a bunch of men channelers quite another, so Min is not at all eager to go. Turns out Taim has turned this into a pretty big operation. I wonder where he’s finding so many men. I mean, even regular Aes Sedai have only like forty novices I think, and women channelers aren’t even hunted down. So where are all these men coming from? Also, the place is apparently known now as the Black Tower. That’s a pretty creepy name, even though it makes sense, seeing as the Aes Sedai symbol consists of black and white, so naturally the male counterpart to the White Tower is the Black Tower.
Rand gives a pretty pompous speech if I say so, where he spouts standard stuff about how they’ll win etc. He also gives his channelers a name – Asha’man, which means dedicated/guardians, and a hierarchy to mirror Aes Sedai – Soldier/Dedicated/Asha’man, complete with pins to mark them. Pompous, but well intentioned. Worryingly though, there is zero response from the men – no cheering or booing or clapping or anything. They just stand and listen, and disperse when Taim tells them. Taim has indeed made an army, a disciplined and obedient army. The problem is that their loyalty and obedience seems to be more for him and not at all to Rand. Taim wants to also kill off a few of the Aes Sedai, but Rand strictly prohibits it, of course.
The Crown of Roses
The Aes Sedai are returning to their inn. They’re well aware of Min’s crush on Rand now, and though they aren’t sure she’s told Rand everything, they sure are suspicious. They arrive at the inn, and while Min makes her excuses to run away to Rand’s lap again, the others meet Alanna and Verin. They discuss their recent meeting with Rand, which was pretty uneventful. I like that the Aes Sedai disapprove of what Alanna has done, but I don’t like that their response is little more than a slap on the wrist. They proceed with their schemes, which also involve approaching the Andoran nobles, much like what Elaida’s people are doing in Cairhien. One good thing is that the Aes Sedai don’t know that Rand will most certainly go with them – he can hardly align himself with Elaida, and so they think the two factions are competing for him. Competition is always good.
To Ebou Dar
In Salidar, Matrim Cauthon, commander of the Red Band, ta’veren, friend and envoy of the Dragon Reborn, is staying in a stable loft. And in typical Mat style, he has Rand’s banners proudly displayed there. He tries to enjoy himself in the dance and festivities over the new Amyrlin, but ends up choosing some pretty bad dance partners. To start off, there’s Halima, who’s a bloody Dark-something, resurrected(?) by the Dark One, and here to do god knows what. Of course, Mat doesn’t know all that, but the woman still unnerves him. She even tries to channel at him, but, of course, the foxhead protects him. God knows from what.
Then Myrelle of the Green Ajah corners him and asks him to be her warder, which he refuses, at least politely. I can’t think of anyone Myrelle could have asked who would be likelier to refuse, unless it’s Rand himself. Then he asks Siuan for a dance, and then ends up dancing with Leane. Spooked by all these deadly dames, Mat decides to give up on the party. The next day, Egwene “summons” him, and gives him the choice of going to Ebou Dar (on Mission Bowl), or go away with his band. To nobody’s surprise, Mat chooses the former. And so while he and some of his soldiers accompany Elayne and co. to Ebou Dar via a gateway, the rest of the Salidar camp also breaks, heading presumably to Tar Valon.
Vilnar, one of the Saldaean.. Oh screw it – Perrin’s here! And he’s brought Faile and a whole bunch of people from the Two Rivers with him. Finally. Of course, the guards don’t know who he is, so he has to order the majority of the Two River’s people back to camp, while he and Faile and a few other go to meet Rand. There is much rejoicing and hugging and laughing. Loial is still not here though – I guess his longing was too much, so Perrin sent him to the abandoned stedding we saw in EoTW. He’s safe and sound though, and should be here soon. Poor Haman and Erith. Now they will have to make the entire journey in reverse, back to Caemlyn. It’s kind of funny – most human protagonists are in this because destiny and prophecy and ta’veren and whatnot, while Loial is in the story because he’s an impetuous young fellow who wants to have adventures before settling down, and write a book. It’s even funnier because Ogier are supposed to be the calm, slow, thoughtful ones.
Sadly though, they are no longer the friendly boys they once were, and the conversation soon turns to more serious topics. Rand wants Perrin to go to Tear, I think to take Mat’s place, but Perrin refuses. I hate that the plot and circumstances are forcing them apart – or rather, forcing everyone away from Rand.
Leaving Rand, Perrin is faced with a Lord Bashere. Whose runaway daughter he’s married without his blessing or permission or knowledge. He’s grilled pretty hard by Bashere, and even harder by Bashere’s wife, but eventually it seems they’re satisfied by his obvious love for Faile that he’ll take good care of her. Good thing he’s “Lord” Perrin now, who knows what their response would have been to a simple blacksmith.
Meanwhile Rand chats with Min about the future. For one thing, she says that when he and Perrin are together , the “fireflies hold their own”. More indication that he needs to stick with Perrin, or vice versa. Also, two times if Perrin is not around, something bad will happen to Rand. You know, for all that everyone is so keen to hear Min’s prophecies, I don’t think anyone has ever directly benefited from one.
One of the embassy, Demira Sedai, is ambushed by Aiel, though she survives. The Aiel also told her to stay away from the Dragon Reborn. Obviously this is someone else’s doing, and I’m reasonably certain it’s the same person who sent Aiel to kill Mat. And it’s working – the Aes Sedai clearly believe that Rand is responsible, and are going to get all aggressive as a result. Though to be honest, their reaction seems very underwhelming. I’m not complaining, but seriously, a guy almost has you killed, and your response is not to go meet him for a few days?
Poor Mat. He’s having a pretty rough time on this journey to Ebou Dar. For one thing, Elayne has turned her royal-mode to maximum, and even his own men are falling for it, bowing and scraping and lapping up her praise. Plus, after refusing Elayne’s demand to let her study his ter’angreal, they’ve started to experiment on him, channeling at him randomly. And it gets even worse when Mat finds out the flaw in his protection – namely, it protects him from channeling, but it doesn’t protect him from indirect effects – like someone moving air and then that air interacting with him. This latter causes him to get wasted on drink, and of course the hangover makes his life even worse. Eventually, he’s had enough, and when they reach Ebou Dar proper, Mat declines the offer of staying in the palace with the women, and finds an inn for himself and his men.
Meanwhile, in the palace, Nynaeve and Elayne aren’t too happy either. They might have become Aes Sedai in name, but they are still being treated like Accepted by the other two Aes Sedai with them (who I think are the ones Moiraine met back in The Great Hunt, the super old scholars). There is some talk of looking for runaways, but I doubt that’s what Vandene and Adeleas are actually going to do. It seems the reason Nynaeve has been avoiding Mat like the plague is because of what happened when he first met her in Salidar – the kick, and what followed. And then Elayne and Nynaeve are summoned by the Queen, so they go, while Aviendha and Birgitte go to scout out the city.
Things start to go south immediately in the meeting, when Queen Tylin says they look too young to be Aes Sedai, and Nynaeve gets all angry and affronted. Elayne turns on her charms though, and manages to get things back under control. The Queen gives a speech about how she’s afraid and how she wants her surviving son to succeed her etc., and Elayne reciprocates by telling her all about the bowl. Well, at least the Queen seems to be supporting their quest.
Loial is back! All happy and full of life – even his brief stay in the stedding seems to have done him good. And then he learns about the search party – Haman and co. – and gets all panicky. Though there’s definitely an undercurrent of liking for Erith. Hmm, we’ll get you married yet, Loial! But then Rand asks Loial’s help with securing the waygates, and this makes Perrin pretty angry – that Rand is using all his friends. Which in turn makes Rand angry – because he’s not in the wrong either, he must do what he can to save the world and everything. The mood gets really heated, but fortunately Loial at least tries to calm them down, by telling them exactly what I want to shout at them:
“Rand, Perrin,” Loial murmured worriedly. “Be still, be calm. Don’t fight. Not you.”
Min rushes in, all in a huff, because the embassy is coming for a visit – seven of them. And this is after a few days’ gap. Well, at least Rand won’t be taken by surprise. The Aes Sedai come, and try to intimidate Rand with illusions and loud voices and menacing tones, but this is doubly useless because Rand is not an impressable child anymore, and he proceeds to cut away their flows and remove all the smoke and mirrors. But the damage is done – the two parties are now at loggerhead, and chances of happy treaties are slim.
Min tries to find out why the Aes Sedai are in such a mood from one of the warders, but gets no straight reply. What she does find out is that there are two more of them in town – apparently, the greens who were sent to the waste to find Rand, long ago in Fires of Heaven. Min does the math – 11 + 2 = 13 – and rushes to inform Rand. Rand of course gets very uneasy, and decides to scarper. He, Perrin, Faile etc. Travel to Cairhien, leaving a letter to the embassy, basically telling them that thirteen is too much, and they can come to Cairhien, but only five of them. The one good thing we do learn is that Alanna cannot control Rand – she tried, but it just didn’t work. Maybe it was because he can channel, maybe something else, but whatever the reason, this is a huge weight off my mind.
Okay, this chapter was pretty groan-worthy. In the beginning, something like this would have been acceptable, but now, after bringing the pace and tension up, this slowdown feels rather frustrating. Basically nothing happens – Rand deals with ruling issues, declines the Tower embassy’s requests to see him, and has fun with Min.
Perrin has a pretty bad time, and my heart goes out to him. Berelain resumes her flirt campaign that she started in Tear, no matter that Perrin tells her repeatedly that he’s married and loves his wife. Faile’s jealousy is understandable if rather petty, but what is not understandable is that instead of kicking Berelain’s ass or something, she makes Perrin’s life hell – being angry with him all the time, not even talking to him etc. Poor Perrin is at his wits’ end thinking what he’s done wrong and how to fix it, but gets nowhere. If someone could tell me what the hell is going on in Faile’s mind, I’d be grateful, because I’m this close to start hating her. I wish Perrin would just pick Faile and Berelain both up by the scruff of their necks and shake some sense into them.
Finally Rand decides to move the plot forward, and accepts the Tower embassy’s request for a meeting.
Rand gets ready for the meeting. Sulin is still in servant mode. Though for her sake I wish she’d get out of it already, it’s actually rather fun watching this super proud Aiel warrior try to be servile and courteous. Anyway, the meeting begins, and HOLY SHIT THEY’VE SHIELDED RAND! Fuck! Oh crap, oh crap. Bloody Aes Sedai! I should have known this was coming. We knew they were sneaking in more Aes Sedai, and of course this is what they wanted to do. But oh man, I was so not prepared for this. And in hindsight, it’s madness that Rand was alone with them. There’re guards outside, but you just leave your Car’a’carn alone with outsiders, Maidens? To make matters so much worse, the kidnappers tell Bain that Rand has gone (implication is that he’s Travelled), and so now there will be no huge search for him, at least for a few more days. And by then… Oh my god why do I always want more action. Why can’t I just enjoy the relaxed peaceful chapters. And they’ve taken Min too. Why Min?
Okay, so now that I’m a bit over the shock, I must say that I’m reasonably certain that Rand will make it out of this mess, somehow, because prophecy. I’m actually more worried about Min. The Aes Sedai are also impressively prepared for this – complete with an empty chest to carry Rand (ouch), and having channeled at the palace all this time, so now nobody will comment on them channeling to mAaintain the shield on Rand. Also, the way Jordan almost lulls you and then basically punches you in the face reminds of Breaking Bad (sidenote – if you haven’t watched it, please do). It too follows the sorta-pattern where you start off slow and end with a BANG(s).
Weaves of the Power
In Ebou Dar, Mat is trying to have a good time – chilling in an inn, dicing, drinking. Trying to, but failing, because somehow Elayne and Nynaeve are sneaking out of the palace without them finding out (presumably through Traveling), and this means he can’t do the very thing he came here to do – protect them.
Turns out the reason is that they’re using disguises – magical disguises – to fool Thom and the people in the palace, and also to scout around Ebou Dar (relatively) safely. This is needed because we are often reminded that the Ebou Dari are really eager to pick fights. You know, this is somewhat of an issue. Not the fighting thing, but that cultures so often feel so homogenous. I mean, on a large scale, the WoT world is large and varied, but if you look closer, doesn’t it feel rather weird that the various peoples are so homogenous? All Two Rivers folk are great archers, simple and hardworking folk. All Aiel are crazy fit and crazy honor-bound and crazy good fighters and generally just crazy. All Tairens hate Illianers, and vice versa. All Aes Sedai are stately and proud. Everyone in Ebou Dar is nuts about fighting.
Anyway, the search for the bowl is not going well at all. It’s been eleven days, and so far the girls haven’t had any luck.
In Salidar – or rather, wherever the Salidar women have camped for the night – Egwene is chatting with Logain of all people. She wants to know what he thinks of Rand amnesty. Well, what he thinks is that he’s sick of the Aes Sedai – he’s done all they wanted, and now they have him basically imprisoned. Egwene promises that she won’t let anyone harm him (though I doubt her authority is strong enough if the Hall decides otherwise). Egwene goes to sleep, and has a meeting with Elayne and Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod. Nothing much important, just a general exchange of news. One relevant thing is that apparently the need trick is one time only – which is why the girls haven’t been able to use it to relocate the bowl.
Waking up, Egwene plans to free Logain. WTF! I mean, she promised and all, but I didn’t know she was this worried about him. Clearly, she wants that Logain rush off to Rand, but she can’t be sure. Siuan, who is basically her Amyrlin trainer, tells her that one can never be sure. So, Min’s seeing about Logain certainly seems to be on track. First he got out of Tar Valon, then he got healed, and now he’s escaped and – I’m assuming – will join the Black Tower. Which reminds me that Rand is still captive.
Oh, and Lan finally finishes the journey he began at the end of Fires of Heaven, and has reached Myrelle. I hope she passes the bond on to Nynaeve.
To The Rescue
In Cairhien, Perrin is not enjoying the Feast of Light, which is basically a huge city wide orgy of dancing and kissing and sounds something I would really like, especially the part about anyone being free to kiss anyone, but Perrin has other worries. Rand is missing (though they still don’t know the severity of the situation), and now Colavere is making her move. Two of her opponents have already been assassinated, and she’s clearly trying to claim the Sun Throne, no doubt with the backing if not help of the Tower embassy. Berelain comes in, and Perrin loses it. But more importantly, Berelain has found Rand’s sword and belt. My liking for her skyrockets immediately. Finally these people realise what’s happened. Yes! And this finally makes Sulin stop her foolishness and don cadin’sor again. They want to rush with the Aiel to Rand’s rescue, but unfortunately the Shaido are moving out of Kinslayer’s dagger, so the majority must stay in Cairhien to protect the city. So this was what the Aes Sedai and Sevanna were discussing in the prologue. Plus since it’s a fight against Aes Sedai, only maidens and siswai’aman can be relied upon.
Whatever, I’m just so relieved someone is doing something.
And they need to hurry, because Rand’s life is basically hell now. The witches are keeping him in a bloody box! And torturing and beating him. Oh poor Rand! Galina’s gotta be loving it, because she’s basically using the Tower to do the Dark One’s work. Lews Therin and he are actually talking now, driven to desperation, and he tells him that the shield can be undone if the Sedai tie it off, instead of standing around maintaining it as they are now.
Sevanna’s scheming isn’t finished yet though. After inspecting Rand, she has one of her own Wise Ones murdered, planning no doubt to lay the blame at the feet of the Aes Sedai, so as to justify the inevitable betrayal.
The rescue party finally sets off, and Perrin asks the wolves for help. They tell him where exactly the Aes Sedai are, and when they learn that they’ve captured Rand, the result is surprising – it’s clear that even the wolves believe Rand to be somehow important, and they will help Perrin rescue him. A journey of days, with Perrin and co. catching up to the Aes Sedai ever so slowly, with an in-depth description of all the things that happen. Now that I have some time to think, I realise that they are woefully unprepared – they think they’ll be facing six Aes Sedai and their guards, but in fact there are so many more. Fortunately, they meet the Salidar embassy (of course – Alanna is basically a human GPS) and the Two Rivers people on the way, so at least the fight won’t be quite as uneven. Or maybe even more uneven, because the wolves see many, many, many two-legs. The Shaido have arrived.
The Tar Valon party have stopped at Dumai’s Wells, which after hearing so much about, turn out to be just three little wells in the middle of nowhere. One of Gawyn’s scouts returns wounded and does the warning-just-before-dying thing. Gawyn warns the Aes Sedai, but they believe the Shaido are on their side. Gawyn’s not quite so trusting, and he convinces them to take up a somewhat defensive position. I guess it’s better for us – because the more evenly matched the two sides are, the more they’ll kill off each other, and the easier things will be for Perrin. Though with forty thousand Shaido, there’s little hope.
Rand meanwhile is in horribly bad shape, and I shudder to think of the combination of confinement and torture he’s been going through. There is hope though – once the battle start, the Aes Sedai will most likely tie off the shield, and that should give him a chance to escape, maybe make a gateway.
The battle has started. It seems that contrary to all custom and tradition, the Shaido Wise Ones are participating in the fight. Which I realise is not that big a deal, since we just saw them murder one of their own on Sevanna’s orders. But still. With the two sides completely focused on each other, it gives Perrin and the Maidens and the Mayeners and all that lot an opportunity to surprise them from the rear. It’s a pretty desperate fight still, and despite being caught in the middle of two forces, the sheer numbers of the Shaido dogs are too much.
Inside the chest, what I was hoping for happened – four of the Aes Sedai tie off their weaves, and Rand desperately goes to work on them, with Lews Therin’s help, and one, two, three knots down and though the Aes Sedai realise what’s happening, it’s too late now, three is not enough to hold Rand and he bursts free, and in a moment very reminiscent but somehow inverted with the exploding wagon in Fires of Heaven, the chest explodes, and Rand is freeeeeee!!
Then he goes to work on the remaining ones – since they’re focused outside, on the Shaido, and they can’t sense saidin, they don’t realise the reason why they’re sisters are dropping one by one. Gawyn decides that enough is enough, and he runs off with his Younglings. And then Taim is here. Now, I must admit I knew what was coming – one of the comments on Reddit ended up spoiling this part for me, but it is still awesome. Or maybe awful. There’s certainly awe. Rand orders Taim to attack the Shaido with his Asha’man. One order :
And what follows is less fighting, and more slaughter as the male channelers mow down the Shaido like so much grass, literally exploding them. One layer of Shaido dies, then another, and another and another, until the Shaido’s courage – the Aiel’s courage – breaks, and they run. What makes it so much more striking is how Taim orders the Asha’man like so many robots. I think Rand’s idea was a good one – gathering channelers and training them, I think he picked the wrong man to lead them. And I wonder how he knew precisely when and where to come to rescue Rand. Plus bloody Galina escaped. Still, for now, things are if not good then certainly improved. Rand and Min are free, with no major casualties among the rescuers.
The Salidar Sedai try to explain to Rand that though he escaped on his own, they did come to rescue him. But all of Rand’s fucks have been tortured and sweated and beaten out of him, so he has no fucks to him, and tells them to kneel. And then comes the line that was promised :
“Kneel and swear to the Lord Dragon,” [Taim] said softly, “or you will be knelt.”
10/10 got chills reading that.
Falion of the Black Ajah is in Ebou Dar looking for some cache of artifacts, and I’m almost certain that this is the one that contains the famed bowl as well.
Herid Fel, who I totally forgot in all this, and had something important to tell Rand, is murdered by something called a gholam.
A rider who I’m guessing is Seanchan is surveying Ebou Dar, which is apparently going to be attacked, and there is mention of the Daughter of the Nine Moons. The one Mat will supposedly marry.
Interesting and ominous stuff, but it all pales away when Halima/Aran’gar frees Moghedien. So obvious in retrospect. Of course that’s why she came to Salidar, at least partly. I knew Nynaeve was making a mistake, I knew this would not end well, and now here it is. Also, the woman Halima channels saidin. I would say impossible, but one, I just saw it happen, and two, who knows what the Dark One is capable of. Actually, now that I’m writing this, I realise the significance of something Mat noted when dancing with Halima – that she tries to lead. Is it possible that she’s a man in the disguise of a woman?
Yeah, I know there would be two more posts, but how the hell was I supposed to stop reading after Rand was kidnapped? Anyway, that’s six books down, nine more to go. There will be a review out some time later.
I really enjoyed this one. The climax was of course hair raisingly awesome. We saw Perrin return, and Loial. The Aes Sedai were put in their place, because I was really starting to dislike them and their stuck up holier-than-thou attitude. If only Sammael had also been taken care of. That will apparently have to wait, as will Elaida. And I’m increasingly concerned over Lew Therin – I don’t talk about it much, because it’s rarely relevant to what’s going on at the time, but the way he seems to be trying to take control of saidin from Rand is very worrying.
I still miss Moiraine though. RIP. And I still have no idea who this bloody Lord of Chaos is.
Finally, I would like to make a request of my readers – I would love to have some comments about what you like or dislike about these posts, and what I can do to improve.
And now to A Crown of Swords. (Well not right now, because I’ve just hammered out a 5000 word blog post, but soon. I’ll shut up now. Thanks for reading!)