Spoilers for books 1-6 and A Crown of Swords to ch.41| 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 37-41.
Now that the Bowl of the Winds is finally found, all that remains is to go retrieve it. But we first spend an entire chapter just watching the party leave the palace. The major points of note are that Mat’s spear is called an ashandarei, and that Lan tells Mat about Moghedien being in town and killing two of his men. I never even noticed two of Mat’s soldiers got killed; I was too busy worrying over Nynaeve I guess. Oh, and Tylin still won’t leave Mat in peace. She sends him a basket of food and a scandalous letter. Plus Elayne notices red flowers on the basket and apparently they siginify some sort of relationship between Mat and Tylin, and she scolds Mat for “forcing” his attentions on the Queen. Mat tells her the reality, and the bloody Daughter-Heir finds this funny. Good guy Mat responds by offering them his medallion to protect them from Moghedien while they’re in Ebou Dar. Elayne says no though, saying she can’t wear it until Nynaeve and Aviendha have one too.
After much of this chit-chat they reach the Rahad. It’s a pretty seedy and unsafe place, but the presence of the Wise Women keeps them safe. They reach the building where the Bowl is, and while Elayne goes upstairs, Mat’s way is blocked by Nynaeve who is (not!)angry at Lan for telling Mat about Moghedien.
“I would have told him when I was ready, Lan Mandragoran!” Her mouth clamped shut, but her lips writhed as though she were talking to herself. “I will not be angry with you,” she went on in a much milder tone, and that sounded addressed to herself as well. Very deliberately she tossed her braid back over her shoulder, jerked that blue-plumed hat straight, and clasped her hands at her waist.
“If you say so,” Lan said mildly.
Nynaeve quivered. “Don’t you take that tone with me!” she shouted. “I tell you, I’m not angry! Do you hear me?”
“Blood and ashes, Nynaeve,” Mat growled. “He doesn’t think you’re angry. I don’t think you’re angry.” A good thing women had taught him to lie with a straight face. “Now could we go upstairs and fetch this bloody Bowl of the Winds?”
I guess this is Nynaeve’s way of being romantic.
Unfortunately, just then two Black Ajah barge in with a bunch of thugs. Of course. I was waiting for something like this to happen. I’m pretty sure that Nynaeve and Elayne and the other women can handle two of the Black Ajah with ease. Or not, because there’s only Nynaeve here and they’ve shielded her! Lan saves the day though, he knocks down the two Blacks which frees Nynaeve, and while she battles with the blacks, Mat and the men fight the thugs. Nynaeve asks the Wise Women for help, but just then a scream comes from upstairs.
Mat rushes up to find devastation. The women are all lying wounded, and even as Mat arrives, a man snaps one of their necks. A man? Or maybe not precisely a man. The fellow moves faster than a bloody Myrddraal. Nalesean comes to help, and has his throat ripped out. Mat stabs him, but no use. There is not effect at all of the stabs.
What the hell is this thing? Mat’s losing, and pretty badly, when the medallion touches the thing’s face and it screams. If I had to guess, I think it’s because it somehow functions with the Power and the medallion is like a wrench in it’s gears. Whatever the case, Mat now has some sort of offensive capability. Honestly, a tiny medallion isn’t that effective a weapon even so, but more than that, it has scared the creature. It’s clearly used to winning uneven fights and hasn’t encountered something like the medallion before.
The thing backs off, and shuts itself in a room. Mat rushes behind, but finds the room deserted and the only door was the one he just used. Invis? Teleport? Anyway, they’re safe for now. Elayne is conscious too, and tells him that the thing could not be affected by the power, which is why they all couldn’t do anything to it. But then, why was it bothered by the medallion? At least Elayne is properly grateful this time. Nynaeve comes up too, having taken care of the Blacks. She gets to healing the women, though it’s too late for some. Still, that could have gone much worse.
And at long last, after all this time and effort and bloodshed, the Bowl of the Winds has been found. Mission Bowl accomplished.
Promises to Keep
Back in the palace, Mat is telling the women that they need to leave Ebou Dar ASAP. Turns out the thing Mat fought was a gholam, last seen tearing Fel to pieces. They’re custom built to take out Aes Sedai – they are immune to the Power, but can sense it to home in on their targets. Plus they are apparently boneless (which explains the man disappearing from the locked room) and super strong to boot. Six were ever made – three male and three female. All this info courtesy Birgitte. I believe the gholam is working for Sammael. I remember Carridin telling him about the Aes Sedai, and Sammel telling him that he’ll send someone to take care of that. So in fact three different parties arrived at the cache simultaneously – Mat, Black Ajah and the gholam.
Anyway, all Mat’s dire warnings have no effect on the women, especially the Windfinders who don’t want to go away from their precious sea. Mat finally gets angry out of frustration and that or his ta’veren manage to make the Windfinders agree to him. In short order it is decided that everyone will go to the Kin’s farm outside Ebou Dar, where the Bowl will be used.
While making preparations to leave, Mat finds Olver gone from his rooms with a promise to Risella to return by sundown. Mat’s worried though, and immediately organises a search party. I would normally call this an overreaction, but this is the end of the book and so I’m a bit worried too. Which only becomes worse as time passes and Mat finds no trace of the boy.
And then the Seanchan attack. Bloody hell! Hopefully the women have hauled ass by now, which leaves the men and Olver. The Ebou Dari try to resist, but how can they stand against damane? Mat glimpses someone in the crowd who might be Olver, and rushes after him, but he gets caught in the crossfire between the two sides. The chapter ends with Mat on his back, with a wall falling on him and the dice’s rattling stopped in his head.
I’m almost certain that this is not it for Mat. RJ can’t be cruel enough to have one more Mat chapter which goes “And then the wall fell on him and he went splat.”
Galina is a captive of the Aiel, the Shaido to be specific. They’re treating her better than she deserves after what she did to Rand. She’s taken to Sevanna, and declared dat’sang, which I guess is sort of one level below gai’shain. Sevanna means to break the Aes Sedai captives and use them as basically Power batteries. Caddar and Maisia arrive just then, and give Sevanna an oath rod to help control the Aes Sedai. He tells them of Rand’s Aiel coming to hunt the Shaido, and conveniently gives her the means to escape – a bunch of traveling boxes, that only men can use.
Well the men use the boxes to open gateways to Sammel’s promised land. Turns out, it was a trap. Ha! The Fosaken has scattered the Shaido in treacherous locations, small groups of them near larger enemy forces. It’s a pretty lame trap IMO, Rand was going to kill them all anyway, why bother with all this nonsense? Maybe he’s trying to ensure his own involvement secret.
PS : Shaidar Haran is somehow tied to Shayol Ghul.
A Crown of Swords
Rand wakes up at last. He’s weak and dizzy, but he’s alive. Yay! But after gettin up after two days of life and death struggle, instead of resting and chilling out, the man is all raring to go to Illian. Yeah, I’ve been waiting for this for a while now Rand, but I think it can wait while you recover your strength. But no, the Dragon Reborn does what he wants, and screw common sense.
So, he receives reports from Dashiva. The battle has already started – stupid Weiramon rushed ahead of the foot soldiers, and would have gotten everyone killed trying to take the hillforts, if not for the Aiel and the Asha’man. As it is they are still getting dashed to pieces against Sammael. Rand wants this done with now. He Travels to Bashere, and opens a gateway right in Illian. A shout that he’s the Dragon Reborn and shooting hundred feet high flames out of his hands serves to frighten the civilians so they hide and don’t get caught in the crossfire.
Rand prepares himself to fight Sammael who must be rushing back.. and an awkwardly long wait follows. It would be so disappointing if Rand went to so much trouble to take out the Forsaken and he just chickened out and left Rand hanging. But no, Sammael does come at last (I wonder why he took so long?) and the battle is on. It immediately starts going badly for Rand. His teleport saves him from an explosion, but the effects still knock him down through the open gateway. Then there’s some sort of trap that he triggers that wounds his foot. Rand prepares to counter with Balefire, but he decides it’s too dangerous, and he modifies the attack mid-attack, but he’s run off already. Sammael tells him he won’t let Rand destroy Illian, and dares Rand to follow him.
Well, tired and wounded or no, Rand is not one to back off now. he’s going to see this to the end. He’s the “Dragon Reborn” after all. Rand analyses the gateway Sammel used, and makes a similar one himself. Into Shadar Logoth. He’s looking for the Forsaken when he runs into Trollocs. Clearly this is a trap that Sammael has prepared carefully. All his forces and helpers are behind, Rand is now alone and wounded and faces god knows what. If I were him, I’d go home and return some other day. But then I guess I’m not hero material, because Rand decides to press on.
And surprise – finds Liah. Rand is pleased, but I’m very suspicious. No way she could’ve survived here so long without being affected by the taint in some way. He tries to talk to her, but when she recognizes Rand, she runs away screaming. More nd trollocs, Rand dispatches them but his firesword gives away his position to Sammael. Lighting crashes down, and Rand barely escapes with his life. But he rushes into a building, and the floor gives way beneath him. Hanging for dear life, this would be a non issue with the Power, but that will only draw Sammael’s attention again. And then someone appears to help him up. A man. Someone who refuses to give his name. Rand has more pressing worries. Mashadar starts appearing (I guess Sammael was waiting for night so he could draw Rand into the night version of Shadar Logoth). This time Rand has no compunctions about using Balefire. So does the other man, their bars of fire strike and the Void shatters.
They run ahead of the inevitable lightnings. Giving Rand a hint to Sammael’s location, the man walks off into the darkness. Oh, and we’re told the man didn’t use saidin for his Balefire. So either a man channeling saidar, or likelier, the True Power. Which points directly to Moridin. It also explains him helping Rand, given that the Dark One doesn’t want him dead yet.
(Sidenote : The Dark One better have a very good reason for this, because I hate villains who dick about while the hero gets trained and strong enough to kick their ass instead of killing him ASAP)
Rand climbs a tower near the where Sammael is. He prepares Balefire, but just then Liah is touched by Mashadar, and he uses the Balefire on her (presumably to save her from the pain), and in that moment where Sammael stood is covered with Mashadar. Deciding that Sammael must be dead, Rand returns to Illian.
I love it that the lords there offer him the crown. I love it that it’s partly because of the food he sent them when he was in Tear. And so Rand puts on the crown of Illian, the Crown of Swords.
Well, that’s book seven finished. I like that finally I know what this one’s title refers to.
So this was a good ending, though it did leave poor Mat hanging, and I am not at all sure that we’ve seen the last of Sammael. If nothing else, we know the Dark One can bring people back unless they are Balefired. But already there’s a new-old threat on the horizon – the Seanchan. Not to mention the approaching Salidar v. Tower fight.
I enjoyed this book a lot though. IIRC it’s supposed to be a part of the infamous “slump”, but IMO the plot moved well enough, there was some fluff in there but plenty of action too. The best part was undoubtedly Ebou Dar, though of course Rand’s climax was intense as hell.
Now, The Path of Daggerrs is next, but I think I’ll take a break to check out The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. There won’t be any posts for that though. I might also read some non-WoT stuff. Or maybe I won’t. I don’t know. All I’m saying is that it’s possible the next post might be sometime towards the end of the next week.