Spoilers for books 1-7 and The Path of Daggers to ch.6| 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 8, The Path of Daggers. This post covers chapter 1-6
Someone called Ethenielle is up to something. She meets with a bunch of Borderlands rulers, including those from Arafel, Shienar, Saldaea and as is revealed, she herself is of Kandor. These people make some sort of agreement to do something about Rand. What they intend, we don’t know yet. But if anyone should know the importance of focusing on fighting the Shadow instead of petty squabbling, it is the people of the Borderlands, so I’m hoping they aren’t up to anything too sinister.
Meanwhile, Verin is furthering whatever mysterious agenda she has amongst the Aiel. She’s managed to get on the good side of the Wise Ones by cooperating, and, as a result, is in charge of interrogating the Aes Sedai prisoners. She wants to interrogate Katerine next, but the woman has managed to escape. I’m honestly really surprised, what with how the Aiel are supposed to be super-sharp and alert 24×7. Maybe she had some help – Katerine is Black Ajah if I remember correctly. So for now she gets to interrogate Beldeine. Long story short, Verin plays good cop and Beldeine agrees to be Healed. But, Verin follows that up with some sort of weave that seems rather similar to compulsion. Perhaps even worse than compulsion, because this weave will end up killing Beldeine over time.
Verin was among the ones who took the oath of fealty to Rand. So if we assume that she is not Black Ajah and is still bound by the Three Oaths, she can hardly work against Rand, unless she’s managed some very twisted interpretation of her oath. I don’t think she’s just running after power, like say, Elaida. No, Verin seems to be working towards something substantial. But what?
Moridin is playing WoT-chess. The game basically horribly complex, and I’m more worried about the two mindtraps that he has. One is Moghedien’s of course, but whose is the other? Also, he believes Rand is acting according to his plan, which makes me more sure that he was the mysterious man Rand met in the climax of A Crown of Swords.
Another Aviendha POV. Yay!
The girls are still in Ebou Dar – the scene seems to be right after Mat (please not RIP) left to look for Olver. Preparations to go to the farm are afoot. The girls run into the Tower envoys and warn them about Black Ajah and gholam and all the murderous stuff in Ebou Dar, only to be ridiculed by their efforts. Nynaeve of course is all but bursting from outrage at this.
“That woman has the nerve to . . . !” Nynaeve spluttered, glaring after the retreating woman and strangling her braid with both hands. “After I made myself . . . !” She almost choked on her spleen. “Well, I tried.”
Though to be fair it’s hard to accept all this stuff unless you’ve seen it firsthand. Especially from (what they see) as law-breaking rebels.
Aviendha though is more concerned by the fact that she seems to be turning soft, enjoying talk of lace and embroidery and stuff. Typical. After a lot of talking and navel-gazing and amidst rising tensions, the group is finally ready to depart. Aviendha creates a gateway to the farm, and the exodus begins. Aviendha gets spooked by seeing a man at the top of the palace, but nothing untoward happens.
Sidenote – Aviendha sends a warning to Elayne via a Windfinder, which seems to be 100% useless. I get that she wanted to avoid panic, but how is this useful at all:
“Tell Elayne and Nynaeve to be wary. Tell them enemies always come when you least want them.”
The POV switches to Elayne, and she watches the whole lot of women pass through the gateway. A number of names are mentioned, none of which I even try to remember. While the women are glaring around at each other – the tension caused mostly by the Windfinders not bowing and scraping to the Aes Sedai, which of course the Kin don’t like – Elayne pokes around in the various artifacts she gathered together with the Bowl. There’s a lot of mysterious ter’angreal, but only a couple of angreal. Maybe we’ll find out what some of the former ones do.
Just then everyone (myself included) is panicked by Merilille shouting. Turns out it was just Aviendha. Everyone having passed through, she was unraveling the weave, which is apparently very dangerous and can cause all sorts of problems if it goes wrong, and is something you never do. Aviendha manages to pull it off without trouble, so it can’t be that bad. Maybe it’s a strength thing – you need to be strong to properly unravel a weave. The reason for all this fuss is that spotting that guy spooked Aviendha, so she wanted to leave no magical trail behind. Makes sense. Rand did manage to follow Sammael by doing exactly what she fears – analysing the leftover weaves and creating a similar gateway.
Eventually all the fuss dies down, and they ride on towards the farm. I would be so annoyed at having to take a five-hour ride despite having the ability to teleport.
The watcher is revealed to be Moridin. He’s just as ignorant about the possibility of unraveling a weave as I am. Just as I am breathing a sigh of relief at his lack of interest in the departing group, a pesky Darkfriend comes to him and tells him about the Bowl of the Winds. And now of course he wants to stop them, because changing the weather back to normal most certainly does not align with his and the Dark One’s plans. At least the Darkfriend is killed and later eaten by the gholam who wandered over seeking Aes Sedai. Serve him right.
We then spend an entire chapter on the short ride to the farm, and I’m just going to go ahead and skip the whole thing, because there’s zero things of interest that happen. The party reaches the farm, and it’s a pretty big affair. I should have known, especially after we found out there’s more Kinswomen than Aes Sedai, but I just had this picture of a quaint cottage or two with some vegetables growing in the back in my mind. But there’re a lot of people there, and it’s almost a hamlet in itself. They’re just making introductions, when the people there realise that Aes Sedai are here. Pandemonium ensues.
“Aes Sedai!” a woman howled in tones suitable for announcing the end of the world. Perhaps she was, for her world. Shrieks spread like dust blown on the wind, and that quickly, the farm became a kicked anthill. Here and there a woman simply fainted dead away, but most ran wildly, screaming, dropping what they carried, bumping into one another, falling down and scrambling up to run on.
I spend a few amusing moments visualising the scene.
With the women behaving like panicked sheep, Nynaeve treats them similarly, and sends the warders to herd them back and prevent runaways. Eventually they get everyone a bit settled down. Elayne tries to interrogate Ispan, but finds that she doesn’t really have the stomach for it, and hands her over to Adeleas and Vandene. She then moves to sorting through the rest of the artifacts – more mysteriously mysterious ter’angreal, and then finally Nynaeve tells her it’s time to go bowling. Ha! (Screw you, that’s funny!)
A Storm Is Coming
An amalgamation of women make their way to the top of a nearby hill, to provide a better view for manipulating the weather. Aviendha takes Elayne aside and talks about her fears that she’s becoming soft and shaming Elayne. The latter very sensibly tells her that she’s being stupid. Well, Aiel are nuts. More shocking is when Nynaeve walks up and admits that she’s being foolish around Lan. Nynaeve! And she shocks me further by apologising to Elayne. Hmm, maybe Lan is good for her in more ways than one. I wonder if trying to not get angry at Lan will make Nynaeve better able to control her temper in general.
Then the Windfinders enter battle-mode or ship-mode or whatever. Anyways they start shouting about like drill sergeants. Complete with shouts to keep discipline.
“Silence!” Caire roared. Tattooed fists on her hips and bare feet apart, she belonged on the deck of a ship going into battle. “There will be no talking on station without my permission. Talaan, report yourself immediately on returning to your ship.”
There’s a grand speech, and then they get down to it. First order of business is making a circle. The girls demonstrate the basics to the Sea Folk women (and to us). It seems pretty straightforward. One thing I like about the magic in WoT, there’s no pesky incantations and rituals. You just figure out how to do stuff, and then you do it. And after a long wait, the bowl is used at last. It’s a pretty well written scene, and everything goes off without a hitch. Hopefully now people will stop moaning about the weather. Or maybe now just yet, apparently the process changed course of the weather, but the actually changes will take time to manifest.
And then they notice what is obviously the Seanchan attack on Ebou Dar – all the damane channeling can be sensed all the way to the farm. Unfortunately, that means the Seanchan must have noticed them as well. Indeed, soon enough their dragon-thingies (aka raken) appear in the sky. It’s time to make another hasty departure.
They rapidly prepare to depart. Typically, Nynaeve seems to be affronted at how Alise is handling things so well that there’s no room for criticism. I like you Nynaeve, but you can be so ridiculous at times. This time Elayne forms the gateway. It’s a bit of a struggle – she’s quite exhausted having just modified the world’s weather, but it works, so all’s well. Once everyone is through, Elayne prepares to unravel the weave. Which is very dangerous, given that she’s tired and has literally never done this before, but she’s scared of the Seanchan figuring out Traveling, and with good reason. She stops Nynaeve’s attempts to convince her otherwise by plucking out a thread from the weave, which means she must finish unraveling the rest. So the rest get away while she waits with Birgitte and Aviendha. Smart move, in case something goes kaboom. Though I hope it doesn’t.
Eventually the three are alone, and Elayne begins the unraveling. It’s quite tough, and as if the fear of a random explosion wasn’t enough, the Seanchan arrive. I guess they flew. Three women, two channelers, versus god knows how many Seanchan and Damane. Fortunately the gateway acts as a chokepoint so they aren’t immediately surrounded. Still, things soon turn desperate. Birgitte is a great archer, but however skilled she might be, she can’t handle dozens of crossbowmen. Aviendha is tired too, and Elayne can’t spare any strength to help.
Things are turning desperate when Birgitte saves the day. While Aviendha blocks the gateway with firewalls and Elayne holds on to the weave, she puts them on horses and they ride off to a hill. They’re almost at the crest when Aviendha becomes too tired to keep up. Damane come through, and shield Elayne. And thus seal their doom. The weave collapses, and there is a huge explosion. Actually, I guess there must have been two explosions – one here, one at the farm. The women are battered and bruised and bleeding, but alive. The hill sheltered them from the worst of the blast. They get to the top, and there’s no sign of anyone – it’s just a charred crater.
Turns out they actually lucked out, because an explosion is not guaranteed. If the weave had just collapsed with a bit of light or something, they would be in quite the pickle now, with a bunch of damane right behind them. As it is, they’re safe for now, and so they sit and wait for Lan and Nynaeve who are rushing back. Elayne and Aviendha officially decide to become first-sisters.
A small POV from a raken rider, or marat’raken, rounds up the chapter. Yep, there was a blast in the farm too, and with no survivors. The rider thinks it is some sort of secret weapon. Eh, it won’t hurt to have the Seanchan be a little more afraid.
Well, that’s one quarter of the book done. It’s a pretty small post for one fourth of a book. But then this one’s shorter than earlier ones. It was an okay sequence, but since we already knew of the arrival of the Seanchan, not many surprises. Though I must say the last scene with the explosion was quite nail biting.
If you’re wondering what I thought of The World of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, it turned out to be rather elusive and so I couldn’t read it. I instead (re)read Mistborn. Yep, still excellent. If you haven’t, go read it now.