Spoilers for books 1-8 and Winter’s Heart to ch.4| 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 9, Winter’s Heart. This post covers chapter 1-4.
Another nice quote from the Karaethon Cycle.
The seals that hold back night shall weaken,
and in the heart of winter shall winter’s heart be born
amid the wailing of lamentations and the gnashing of teeth,
for winter’s heart shall ride a black horse,
and the name of it is Death.
I wonder if it refers to Moridin – his name does mean death in the Old Tongue.
Seaine and co. are still on the hunt. They’re torturing the one Black Ajah they’ve found, using some sort of virtual reality torture device, and they eventually break her down. The woman uses the Oath Rod to remove all her previous oaths, retakes the Three Oaths and swears to obey them. And confesses. Well, that was not surprising, we already knew it. But she also claims that Elaida is Black Ajah, as evidenced by the Black Ajah council knowing all Elaida’s decisions and secrets. Pevara shrewdly notes that even under Oath it is possible to tell a lie if you believe it to be true. Of course they don’t know that it’s Alviarin who’s Black Ajah. Still, they decide to keep their little discoveries to themselves until they can be totally sure of Elaida one way or another.
Elayne is hanging out in her palace, doing queen stuff and basically trying to ensure that she does become the Queen. And complaining about the weather. At this point, I’m totally fed up with these people. First they were in an unnatural super hot summer, and they complained about that. Which was justified, so then we had this huge subplot to fix that and it was success, and now they’re complaining about how cold it is. There’s only so many weather-related complaints I can handle. And anyway, she’s freaking Aes Sedai, shouldn’t be able to do something about it? Maybe some sort of super-insulating weave? Sorry for the rant.
Turns out she’s removed the Aiel and Saldeans from the city, and as a result there’s no proper police force, so crime and unrest are increasing. Elayne decides to hire mercenaries while soldiers from her estates arrive. I want to say that it was a bad move to remove the Aiel etc. with having a proper replacement, but I guess she also needed to assert her dominance, so to speak. More discussion on the matter of succession, I honestly couldn’t bring myself to pay much attention, the gist I got is that the road to the throne is going to be bumpy.
The Sea Folk women come in then, asking for Elayne to fulfill her part of their bargain. They were promised twenty instructors, but so far have gotten only Merilille. Elayne tries to make excuses and blow them off, but the Sea Folk are having none of it. These people play hardball. Finally she appeases them by promising that the Aes Sedai in the palace will start teaching them. Next up is Mazrim Taim. Understandably, Elayne has a problem with the Black Tower being on Andoran land without her permission, but there’s not much she can do against hundreds of Asha’man. She knows and Taim knows it. But he does allow her Guards to visit and inspect the place.
Then a Wise One comes to summon Elayne. It seems it’s time for Elayne and Aviendha to officially become first sisters. The first step is for Elayne to strip down, because of course it is. She has to do it in front of all the above-mentioned people too, apparently toe ensure her sincerity. They go to a room where a bunch of Wise Ones are waiting, as well as Aviendha, who is, of course, naked. Turns it out it’s going to be more than a simple “I do” “I do” “I pronounce you sisters” affair. There’s going to be magic. The ceremony itself is pretty interesting, involving mostly the two women telling what they think of the other, slapping each other a bit, and then a weird sort of birth experience. Freaky stuff. Anyway, at the end, Elayne and Aviendha become bonded in some way that’s kinda like the Warder bond. I really liked the whole scene, though I do believe these books go overboard with rituals involving naked ladies.
A view of life as the warderess(?) of an Asha’man in the Black Tower, courtesy Toveine Ghazal. She seems to be treated pretty decently, all things considered. Pretty unremarkable chapters. To nobody’s surprise, the Aes Sedai is already scheming how to unite the captive sisters and somehow take advantage of the rivalry of sorts between Logain and Taim to bring down the Black Tower, and Toveine is already dreaming of taking down Elaida. I bet Egwene beats her to it.
In Cairhien, Rand is hiding at the Academy, and watching the very humble beginnings of the steam engine. Idrien, the headmistress of the Academy, thinks it is just idle waste, but Rand orders her to let this and any other projects go forward. Rand also meets with Dobraine, basically telling him to handle things while he’s gone. The dizziness is getting worse, now hitting him at apparently random times. This time Rand even sees a face. He’s seeing things now? That is so worrisome. He and Min teleport away to some far off place. They discuss his plans. Rand plans to – gasp – cleanse saidin. Holy guacamole. There was mention of this earlier, but I had no idea it was actually going to happen. We still don’t know how Rand plans to go about it, but he does seem to have some rough idea. But he’s worried that once he starts the process, his enemies, such as Dashiva, will know where he is, so he apparently means to take care of them first. Me, I’d just go really far away and do it. Rand mentions that everyone within a thousand miles of him will know something is up once he starts. Well, the earth is much larger. He can surely go a few thousand miles away, like in the middle of an ocean or at the south pole (north seems to be taken up by the Blight).
So, this is shaping up to be an exciting book. Cleansing the source, the siege of Tar Valon, hunting Black Ajah, Seanchan. And of course here’s hoping for Mat to return.
The wind does its blowing thing, and we get to Perrin leaving Abila. And that’s the chapter, more or less.
Perrin’s party gets to the camp, and they find about the kidnappings. As I expected, Perrin is devastated. A small search party is dispatched, while Perrin is left to try and balance the sheer panic and concern he feels for his wife with the responsibility he has as leader of the whole group. He does an okay job, and my heart goes out for the poor guy. There’s tension in the camp, the Ghealdanin seem to want to take out their anger on the Aiel with Perrin, but he calms them down, a bit. The Asha’man offer to help as well (very nice of them) but he tells them to stick around.
But there’s really nothing for him to do. So he and Tallanvor (Morgase was kidnapped too, after all) stand together gazing into the night. I think it’s a pretty powerful image. Oh, and Masema ends up not coming after all. I’m more and more of the opinion that he should be just killed off.
Meanwhile, Faile and the rest are being marched somewhere. Barefoot. Naked. Through the snow. Ouch. It’s pretty brutal, what with her feet starting to bleed and all. Eventually the Aiel seem to decide that the gai’shain can’t take it any more, so they lug the women on their backs and march on. Maighdin and Alliandre struggle, but all it does is earn them a beating. It’s good for Faile’s feet, but by being carried she begins to feel the cold even more strongly, since her body is no longer working and generating heat. Eventually the cold is too much for her, and she drifts off into delirious dreams.
Faile eventually comes to with a gai’shain giving her tea. Apparently they’ve arrived at the main Shaido camp. No way she’s escaping this on her own, and no way Perrin’s forces can catch up to them, let alone rescue Faile from the Aiel. Maybe Rand could help out?
A couple of Wise Ones walk in. While Faile tries to blend in and look meek, Alliandre goes “You have no idea who I am! I’m super important! I’m the Queen!” Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not only does she bring herself to their attention, she screws Faile too. What will they do if they learn she’s not a random woman but the wife of Rand’s close friend? Fortunately though, they don’t enquire too deeply into who Faile is. And of course they are not at all fazed by Alliandre’s outburst.
Sevanna has Galina heal the three women. Faile notices that the woman is Aes Sedai. Meanwhile, Sevanna and Therava are doing their own talking. Apparently Sevanna is working on gathering all the Shaido scattered all over the place, and so far has managed to gather five septs, while seventy eight are still missing. Wow, that is one large clan. They leave, and Faile and the others are given food and clothes. Turns out they will be Sevanna’s personal servants.
The marching resumes, and while their discussing escaping, Therava walks up to them. She orders them to spy on Sevanna for her, and of course they have no option but to agree. Then Galina approaches them. She asks who Faile is, and in her anger she tells, and now Galina knows she’s Perrin’s wife. Damnit woman, you’d almost avoided people finding out about it. Faile and her stupid temper. For now though, Galina agrees to keep the info from Sevanna and Therava, if in return they will take the Oath Rod from Therava’s tent and give it to her. And they again have no choice but to accept. Clearly Galina intends to use it to free herself. I’m surprised Therava didn’t order her to not do that. I mean, that’s a pretty obvious loophole. Actually, I’m surprised that the Black Ajah’s oaths didn’t include that too – an instruction to not free themselves from their Oaths.
Anyway, Faile is caught between these three women with their own schemes. On the one hand, risky as hell, but on the other hand, I’m hoping it will give them some sort of opportunity to escape.
So, book nine. Off to a decent start, I think the prologue especially had some pretty interesting parts. As usual, it’s the beginning so not much going on in the initial chapters though, so not much to say here.