Spoilers for books 1-10 and Knife of Dreams 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 11, Knife of Dreams. This post covers chapter 1-4.
With New Spring out of the way, we’re back to the standard opening with an excerpt:
The sweetness of victory and the bitterness of defeat are alike a knife of dreams.
But this one just doesn’t work, IMO.
Anyway, the first POV is from Galad. It seems the Whitecloaks have ended up making some sort of deal with the Seanchan, and Galad is going to meet Eamon Valda, presumably to protest the same.
Or not. Turns out he’s there to accuse Valda of abusing and killing his mom. Well, we know the latter is untrue, but the former is very true so go for it Galad. The matter is to be decided by good old fashioned trial by combat. It seems stupid at first glance, but if you actually believe in a benevolent god this is actually a pretty sensible way to decide the matter.
The duel begins in short order. Galad’s friends are worried about Valda, but I’m completely confident that he’ll win. And he does, though he does take a few scratches himself. That’s Valda dead, and good riddance. And, this makes Galad the new Lord Captain Commander. Yay! Hopefully with a decent guy at the head, the Whitecloaks will do some actual good instead of being a pain in everyone’s ass. His first decision is to cancel the alliance with the Seanchan, and find allies to fight against them. Including Aes Sedai. I approve.
Next, Rodel Ituralde returns for his second consecutive prologue appearance. His scheme, whatever it is, is progressing smoothly so far. He raids a Seanchan camp and successfully manages to capture a bunch of supplies and stores. I love the way he sent in a bunch of his Taraboners disguised as Seanchan Taraboners (you know what I mean) earlier so the Seanchan got crushed from two sides. This is one of many simultaneous attacks he’s organised across the country. Next in the plan is having the Seanchan follow him in retaliation, where he has some sort of trap waiting for them. It has been brought to my attention that he’s one of the four Great Captains, so I’m hoping it’s something spectacular.
And from the Suroth POV that follows, Ituralde’s plan does seem to be working. Suroth, who’s already having a pretty bad time what with Tuon vanished and two of her sul’dam with her, goes nuts when she hears of the raids. She wants Ituralde’s head, at any price. He and his bands are to be chased and brought down at any cost. Precisely what the man wanted.
Returning to her rooms, she encounters Semirhage. I’d totally forgotten that Suroth is a Darkfriend and that she was the one who captured Egwene and Min. The Forsaken has killed the Empress, and all of her children and the Seanchan Empire has collapsed into civil war. Which makes me wonder why the Forsaken haven’t done the same to all of the nations. I mean, if you want chaos, you kill the leaders. With no leaders, there is no one to make alliances, no one to organise resistance. Sure, Rahvin and Sammael came to a sticky end, but that’s only because they pissed off Rand, otherwise their scheme was working nicely.
Anyway, Semirhage wants Suroth to become the Empress. Suroth is a bit reluctant, but then she wouldn’t be a Darkfriend if she wasn’t a power hungry no morals piece of filth, so she soon agrees. But first, they must find and kill the real Empress – Tuon, who automatically became Empress on her mother’s death. Fortunately, they have no idea where she is. Yet.
After all these back to back blows to the Seanchan (*fistpumps*) a glimpse of the White Tower. Pevara has gone to the new Red Ajah leader, Tsutama, regarding their nuts scheme of bonding the Asha’man. Tsutama tells them to go ahead. I still think it’s going to fail. Yukiri meets her to talk about their continuing Black Ajah hunt. It seems that they’ve hit a sort of roadblock, owing to the way information is highly compartmentalized in the Black Ajah. Talene has been summoned by the Supreme Council. Pevara is all for it, seeing as it represents a chance to get at their leaders in one go, but they realise it’s too risky and decide to let this one go. Seaine comes to meet them, and tells them how Elaida was asking about the hunt. The hunt for proof that Alviarin was mixed up with Rand. Which means they can’t even think that since Elaida started the hunt, she can’t be Black Ajah. Scary thought, if you don’t know that it’s Alviarin who’s the real culprit.
Speaking of Alviarin, she’s having a pretty bad time. She might’ve been saved from Mesaana, but no one is there to save her from switchings and all the ridicule her Ajah is heaping on her. But I have no sympathy to spare for her. Anyway, she receives news that Talene has run off. Unfortunately, she’s noticed that there was something going on between her and Yukiri and Doesine, and orders a close watch on the two. This could get dangerous for our hunters.
Meanwhile, Perrin’s people looking for Shaido to kidnap run into Galina who’s out on a ride and promptly kidnap her, and bring her to Perrin. Unfortunately, he can see that she’s Aes Sedai, but not that she’s Black Ajah, so he listens when she tells him that Faile is under her “protection” and that she’ll free her eventually, once her “business” there is done. Fortunately though, he’s also crazy in love with Faile so all Galina’s lies won’t stop him from trying to rescue her himself. After lying to him that she will tell Faile that he’s coming for her, Galina is returned to the Shaido camp. I didn’t think about this too much, but of course she has no intention of helping Faile even if she gives her the rod. She’s gonna kill her instead. Goddamn her and the Shaido. Like, how many times must they be defeated before they stop pestering people!
Egwene wakes up from her forkroot sleep. Whew, I was afraid she’s be MIA for two books like Mat. As I expected, she’s been captured and is being taken to the Tower. On the ride, Egwene notices the animosity between her captors – all Alviarin’s work, and is understandably surprised by it. On reaching the Tower, she runs into Nicola. The woman ran off and came here hoping they’d let her go faster. I hate her.
I was expecting there will be a meeting with a smug Elaida, but instead Egwene is sent to the mistress of novices. Leana was captured too, in her attempt to convert the chain guarding Southharbor. Unlike Egwene, she only got halfway, but she was smart enough to invert her weaves. If only Egwene had thought to do that, she could’ve probably gotten away with it. Her captors, of course, are disbelieving that she’s actually Leane – they aren’t up to the latest developments in healing magic. Egwene is taken to Silviana, the current Mistress of Novices. Turns out that instead of being stilled or killed, she is going to be made into a novice. Elaida’s reasoning is that Egwene was just being manipulated and is not to blame. Whew, that’s a relief. She’ll still be kept under watch, but that’s it. I bet Elaida regrets this decision later. Egwene tries to warn her about the Seanchan attack she dreamt of, but Silviana is pretty skeptical.
And of course, since Egwene can enter Tel’aran’rhiod at will, she can just run the rebellion from afar. All in all, her capture might not turn out to be nearly as big a setback as I feared.
When Last Sounds
Siuan wakes up after a talk with Egwene. All is not lost, but things are dire, and she needs to get the news out that Egwene is still alive. After an amusingly uncomfortable ride she gets to the Aes Sedai camp and meets with others of the Egwene corps. Sheriam wants to free them via Travelling, which is an excellent idea, but Egwene has forbid any attempts to rescue her. WTF! I mean, sure, being made a novice is better than being stilled, but being free would be even better. Again there’s the desire to avoid Sister v. Sister fights. Sheriam expresses my sentiments nicely:
“Peacefully,” […] “Was there ever any chance of that, from the beginning? Elaida has abolished the Blue Ajah! What chance of peace is there?”
Lelaine comes to the tent and asks Siuan for a talk. The woman wants Siuan and friends to support her against Romanda if Egwene is stilled or dies. OMG woman will you give up already! You’re not going to become the Amyrlin, just accept it and move on instead of jeopardising the whole cause with your ambition.
The next day, Beonin with her warder secretly Travels to Tar Valon, and goes to meet Elaida.
Meanwhile, Elaida is meeting with Mattin Stepaneos, who it turns out is alive. I though Sammael took him out but turns out he was “escorted” by Elaida’s people to Tar Valon. She’s planning on installing him on the throne of Illian again, this time as her puppet. She sends him off once he agrees, and meets with Tarna, her new Keeper. The city of Tar Valon is in a bad state, mostly because the people are scared shitless from seeing the dead walking. Beonin comes in then, disguised and with her ability to channel hidden. Turns out she was on Elaida’s side all along, and was working to stop the rebellion from within. And now she spills all of the rebels – Tel’aran’rhiod, Traveling, skimming, the new Healing, the sisters they sent to Tar Valon. Damn! Those new weaves were why I was so confident that Ewgene would succeed. Now the Rebel’s have lost most of their advantage. At least Elaida wants the weaves kept secret from the rest of the Tower, so that’s good.
At The Gardens
A Forsaken conference, from Aran’gar/Halima /Balthamel’s POV. He approaches Graendal about making an alliance with her, while obviously planning to dispose of her when she’s not useful anymore. Mesaana blames him/her for letting Egwene get captured by the Tower, since that might spell the end of the conflict which they of course want to prolong. Things get a bit heated between the two until Moridin arrives.
Also, turns out Moridin is Ishamael. Ok, seriously? I was so relieved to see all the Forsaken fall down, but now they seem to be popping up again. Balthamel, Aginor, Lanfear, Ishamael, Moghedien (she wasn’t dead but she was captured and everything). Bloody Dark One and his flaming revival tech. There’s even talk of Sammael being back. At least Be’lal won’t be coming back.
Moridin tells them to look for the seals. I’m assuming they’ll break eventually like the others did on their own, but I guess they want the process hastened. Also, Moridin tells them they are not to touch Rand, but can kill Perrin and Mat. At least Mat has the medallion now, so that should protect him some.
Perrin and friends are waiting for a meeting with the Seanchan. After some pages spent on this and that – mostly bickering about whether the Seanchan will actually come, or who should attend – the Seanchan envoys arrive, introductions are made, and the meeting begins.
Turns out Perrin is in the prophecies of the Dragon as well.
‘When the Wolf King carries the hammer, thus are the final days known. When the fox marries the raven, and the trumpets of battle are blown.’
Man, those prophecies should be required reading for all the characters.
First there’s a lot of posturing – both sides want the other to send their men away, but don’t want to be the first to do it. Perrin is prepared though. First is a demonstration of Two Rivers™ archery, and then a magic display from one of the Asha’man. Then to soften the blow and sweeten the deal, Perrin tells them he will stop trying to revive Manetheren if they help him. Perrin also tells them there will be no chaining of women and that the gai’shain are not to be harmed.
Then Perrin reveals his plan – forkroot. Turns out the Seanchan use it too, and that’s a clear solution to the Wise Ones that the Shaido have. Without them, the rest should be manageable with the combined power of Aes Sedai, Asha’man and damane. For the procurement of such large amounts of the stuff in secret, he produces the letter from Suroth stolen from Masema, which conveniently has no name on it. The Seanchan agree to the deal. So, I’m guessing from this and the questions he asked Galina that Perrin plans to attack from within the town using gateways, which gives him a much better chance to surprise and defeat the Shaido, using forkroot earlier to take out the Wise Ones. This should work. The risk is that we’re not after defeating the Shaido – only rescuing Faile. And things could go wrong in the chaos of battle.
So, that’s the big ass Prologue and four chapters down, about one fifth of the book. Turns out the Prologues were released earlier and separately, so now it makes more sense how colossal they are. I liked this one anyway – there was battles and dueling and plotting and assassination.
And even in the starting chapters, which are pretty slow traditionally, stuff is happening. Or at least I’m not feeling that they are noticeably slow. Which might also be because the last book I read was New Spring, and its opening chapters were about people riding out to camps and taking down names.
However, I just realised this. Egwene wants to avoid bloodshed because that will make reuniting the Tower hard. But isn’t that already the case – the Ajahs inside are basically at each other’s throats and it seems Egwene is going to make that worse; and they have two Forsaken hiding amongst the Aes Sedai, and the Black Ajah is going to come out into the open soon. I don’t think there can the sort of harmony and unity that there was earlier.