Spoilers for books 1-6 and A Crown of Swords 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 7, A Crown of Swords. This post covers chapter 1-7.
The first POV of the book is Elaida. At the moment she’s admiring the huge palace she’s having built, which on completion, will be taller even than the White Tower. This with the Salidar crowd on the march with not one but two armies. Madness. We do find out soon enough why she’s so pleased though – a letter from Galina, telling her that Rand has been taken. And now I am enjoying this, knowing full well that Rand has already escaped, and her hopes of leashing him like a dog will come to nothing.
Alviarin of the Black and White Ajahs arrives soon enough, and pretty much destroy Elaida’s good mood. I would enjoy this too if I did not know that Alviarin is even worse than Elaida. She tells Elaida that Elayne and Nynaeve are in Ebou Dar, and Elaida dismisses that as rumor, until Alviarin gives solid proof, at which point she orders Nynaeve and especially Elayne captured. She also wants to take on the Black Tower, with fifty sisters and a few hundred solders. Ha! She thinks there’s only a rabble there with only three-four men who can channel. She’s in for an unpleasant surprise. I expected Elaida to be a rough Amyrlin, but not such a stupid one. She’s basically refusing to accept reality, seeing only what she wants to see.
And then the Foretelling has her, and she predicts:
“The White Tower will be whole again, except for remnants cast out and scorned, whole and stronger than ever. Rand al’Thor will face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger. The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds. This I Foretell.”
Typical misinterpretation there. She – and Alviarin – thinks this means she will triumph. But I’m pretty sure the first part refers to Egwene and co. winning. Though the last two bits are pretty worrisome.
Next a POV from Sevanna, and weirdly it is of the climax of Lord of Chaos. It’s fun to read again for sure, but not much new happens. Sevanna and the Shaido are rekt by the Black Tower, and she runs off. I must admit it is quite admirable the way she has managed to gain so much power as a woman who can’t even channel and gotten even the Wise Ones to basically be her bitches. Doesn’t make me hate her any less though.
Back to the Tower, this time with Alviarin’s POV. The woman is pretty shaken by the Foretelling she just witnessed. Suddenly Mesaana appears to her. So, Alviarin =/= Mesaana confirmed. She gives Mesaana her report, and after a bunch of grandstanding, Mesaana shows Alviarin how to make a gateway.
Niall gets some shocking news from his agents in Tarabon – something about a destroyed appearing there, more dangerous that Tar Valon, and while he’s distracted by that, Omerna the not-spymaster knifes him, and Valda knifes Omerna in turn. What follows makes it pretty clear that this was a conspiracy by Valda and Asunawa. Niall dead, the one to kill him taken care of, and Valda’s way to becoming top dog is clear. Poor Niall. Worst part is, he saw the meeting where this conspiracy started. Also, poor Morgase. Niall was bad, but Valda is going to be so much worse. I was so hopeful for her when she escaped from Rahvin’s influence, but it seems her life has been going steadily downhill since that one good event.
A final POV from Gawyn concludes another long prologue. Not much happens in it, just Gawyn worrying about the Aiel and all the Younglings that are dead/missing in action. A minor skirmish with the Aiel – probably Shaido. You know, the Aiel are supposed to be these badass warriors, but that impression is severely dented when most of our protagonists – Rand, Mat, Perrin, Gawyn etc. can easily take one in a 1v1 fight.
Wheel turns, wind blows etc. The Lord Dragon has been rescued, the Aes Sedai humbled and the Shaido dogs scattered. But the mood is far from celebratory. There’s the memory of the slaughter everyone witnessed. There’s the rising tension between all the various factions – Wise Ones/Aes Sedai/Asha’amn, Aiel/Mayeners/Cairhienin, there’s the bad weather. All in all, Perrin is not having fun. Rand of course is super sad over the dead Maidens, and who cares for all the rest who gave his life for him. Seriously, this attitude of his is getting on my nerves.
Anyway, Rand returns from memorising all the dead Maidens, and after a few harsh reminders of the oath they just took, hands over the Aes Sedai to the Wise Ones. He chooses a few of the male channelers to stay with him, and sends the rest, including Taim, off to the Black Tower, and has one of the remaining ones open a gateway to Cairhien. Once the party is through, one of the Wise Ones appears carrying news – unpleasant news, though not unexpected. Colavere has crowned herself, the rebel Lords are camped outside the city, the Aiel think that Rand has either abandoned them or been taken by the Tower, either way morale is low, and there are more Aes Sedai in the city. But I’m pretty sure that Rand need only show himself to take care of most of these issues. The Aes Sedai want to “guide” him, but Rand is having none of it, he just orders them to the Wise Ones’ tents. Perrin though is worried about Faile, which turns into outright panic when he learns that Bain and Chiad are not by her side. I like that he realises the hypocrisy:
What does that make me? Perrin thought. He had been scornful of those who scribbled and scrabbled for their own ends, ignoring the Last Battle and the Dark One’s shadow creeping over the world. How was he different from them?
So the party makes it’s way to Cairhien, through the city to the Palace itself. There are guards, but the Asha’man take care of them easy-peasy. They go to the Grand Hall, where Colavere’s coronation is going on and there’s a bunch of nobles present. Rand walks in, and starts off by announcing that the Aes Sedai are under his control, not vice versa. Colavere stupidly tries to still cling to her crown – telling Rand that what is done cannot be undone. Rand responds by taking the crown off her head, breaking it, and then making it whole again. Pretty impressive. At this point, it is very obvious that Colavere’s game is up, but she’s still trying to talk her way out of the mess. Berelain and Faile bring out proof of her murder and treason. The punishment is hanging, but Rand simply cannot order himself to order a woman killed, and so he strips her of her titles and has her exiled to a farm.
With that, Rand dismisses the nobles, who are only too eager to be gone from the hall. Perrin finally gets to talk with Faile, who continues to be a total pain in the ass. Though with the twofold knowledge I gained from the last post’s comments – that she doesn’t realise Perrin can smell her jealousy etc., and that in Saldaea apparently men are supposed to show their anger and thus Perrin desperately trying to remain calm and not be angry at his beloved Faile – I have a bit more sympathy for her as well. Eventually though Perrin’s patience is at end – his frustration over the whole Faile/Berelain mess, his worry about her safety on the way back to Cairhien, and his anger at the way she’s behaving now – so he literally picks up her and gives her a piece of his mind. That does the trick, and Faile is all lovey-dovey again. So, the way to make things better was to pick up his wife and growl at her. Women.
Their reunion is briefly interrupted by Rand barging in. He offers the command of the Illian campaign again, and Perrin again refuses. Perrin is also worried about the safety of the Aes Sedai, but Rand is less concerned. Things get heated, but Rand does promise to not harm any Aes Sedai who don’t deserve it. And then he’s gone, and Perrin forgets all his worries in Faile’s embrace.
Rand meanwhile is in full brood mode, worrying about the Aes Sedai, the Shaido, Annoura and whatnot. Eventually, he Travels to Caemlyin with his bodyguards, to meet Bashere and his wife, and Bael. There’s a lengthy discussion, about Elaida, the Rebels, the Salidar group. Basically, Rand means to focus on Illian, and worry about the rest later. There’s Aes Sedai Caemlyn as well – about ten or so. This can hardly be coincidence, yet I can’t fathom who is ordering them. I’m pretty sure it’s not Salidar, but why would Elaida, seeing as she believes Rand to be on his way to Tar Valon in a chest? There’s the attack on the Black Tower she’s planning, but that group was supposed to be much larger. We’ll find out in due time I hope.
Also, something similar to Colavere’s shenanigans almost happened in Caemlyn – some nobles declared for Dyelin, but she and Pelivar had them arrested. Though Dyeling did become Regent in Elayne’s name. Still, respect for Dyelin. The Andoran nobles in general seem to be a better lot than Tairen or Cairhienin.
And finally, after so much buildup, Rand also orders the attack on Illian to proceed.
I like the beginning of this book. I can’t put my finger on it, but it just seems things are happening. I just started the book, and then I looked up and it was hours later and I had read almost a quarter of the book. The post is of course rather short for so many pages, but that’s always the nature of the beginnings with WoT books. Also, I’m so glad that Perrin and Faile are back to normal. Plus there’s the upcoming attack on Sammael. Totally looking forward to Rand taking down another of the Forsaken.
PS : I must note that I really liked the prophecy-thingy at the start of this book. It doesn’t tell much, but the tone and wording is so striking.