Spoilers for books 1-10 and Knife of Dreams to ch.22| 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 13-22.
Elayne is still dealing with the succession. And by dealing I mean trying to fend off an army that’s way bigger than what she has got. The siege has advanced into actual fighting, and Elayne is right there at the walls because she’s made of adamantium. That, or she’s stupid. I mean, really, what can she even achieve? There’s the argument for rallying the morale of her troops, but still. Turns out part of the reason is that Min has foreseen she is going to have Rand’s babies, so she must be safe until then. Stupid reason. Totally possible that she gets kidnapped and spends months being held by the Black Ajah before getting rescued. Or maybe even giving birth in captivity.
Anyway, they manage to repel this particular assault – thanks to gateways allowing them to move troops rapidly wherever there’s an assault. Suddenly there’s a huge cloud formation on top of the Inner City. Elayne and Aviendha are surprisingly unfazed about this, and Elayne just tells Aviendha to deal with it. No wondering about who made that. I guess they just attributed it to end of the world crazy stuff.
Getting back to the palace, Elayne finds a bunch of soldiers have arrived – about ten thousand of them. Nice. Now, if I remember correctly, Arymilla has about twenty thousand, so I’m pretty relaxed about the outcome of this siege. They’re outnumbered, but not nearly so badly, and there’re the gateways.
Wet and cold, Elayne rushes in to get dry. And by rushes I mean roams through the palace, talking with seemingly every single person in there, and getting increasingly irritated all the while, and getting lost to boot. After what seems like an eternity she manages to get to her rooms and she and Aviendha get changed. In the conversation, it emerges that Aviendha has a Talent for figuring out what ter’angreal do, and so Elayne has her check out a bunch of them. There’s all sorts of stuff, including magic versions of stuff like remotes and music players and ebooks.
Some Wise Ones turn up and tell Aviendha that fun and games are over and it’s time to continue her apprenticeship, so she has to return to the tents. The Aiel are also leaving and going somewhere on Rand’s orders, but they don’t tell where. What is Rand up to now? And soon enough Aviendha departs, leaving Elayne all sad and lonely, but still resolute to carry on.
And carry on she does. First is a meeting with the mercenary captains, who want more gold for their services, citing casualties and stuff. Elayne is having none of it and shoos them off. Presumably some of them will end up betraying her. I just hope that the new soldiers that just arrived will be enough that it’s not catastrophic.
Turns out the man we saw Hanlon/Mellar kill in the last(?) book, was sent by Elayne. And he’s killed more of her spies since. So at least Elayne knows he’s up to something. The new candidate is a cutpurse, and since we actually get to see him and everything, I’m assuming he’ll be good enough to follow Mellar successfully, which should lead Elayne straight to Shiane. Mellar can’t be caught soon enough for me. Birgitte wants the man questioned, but Elayne is unwilling to do so without proof, because that’s against the law. I can’t make up my mind on which one to agree with.
Next up is a meeting with Dyelin. On the way, Birgitte tells Elayne that her getting lost was not her fault. Things are changing in the palace, and presumably elsewhere, as a result of the Dark One touching the pattern. Spooky. Man, at this rate, the Dark One doesn’t even need to break free to wreck everything. He can just chill out in Shayol Ghul while everyone dies from bad weather and food poisoning and famine and stuff.
All this makes Elayne politics feel rather petty by comparison, but then there’s nothing she can do about the Dark One anyway, so might as well work on making Andor whole. Dyelin talks a lot but basically the news is no news – none of the remaining houses have given their support to Elayne or to Arymilla. Elayne’s strategy of scaring them with the Borderland armies doesn’t seem to be working.
Vandene arrives with more dire news. Reanne Corly has been murdered, and the Power was used. More investigation has turned up clues that the Kinswomen that were assumed to have run off might also have been murdered. The culprit wants to scare the Kin into abandoning Elayne. I respect that Elayne doesn’t try to keep this secret, and has the Kinswomen warned.
A POV from Arymilla. The mercenaries have agreed to switch sides. Eh, no surprise there.
News For The Dragon
Rand is chilling out with Loial and Min and Nynaeve. Poor fellow rarely gets the opportunity to chill out nowadays. Or rather, the ability to chill out seems to be lost to him. Anyway, Loial is quizzing Rand for more info about his book, when Rand suddenly sees yet another face in his head. This time it’s the fellow who Rand met in Shadar Logoth right before killing Sammael. And he feels that the other fellow is aware of him too. That’s weird. At the time, I was pretty sure it was Moridin, but now… I don’t know. Although as far as we know, only the Forsaken are allowed to access the special Dark One magic stuff, and Rand would’ve recognised the others thanks to Lews Therin in his head. So maybe it was Moridin. This is getting us nowhere. Moving on.
Logain arrives with the latest news. It seems Rand has turned his eyes towards Arad Doman now, and that’s where the Aiel and also Asha’man are gathering. Logain warns Rand about Taim, but as usual, Rand ignores that because he’s got bigger stuff to worry about. I dunno man, maybe you should take the time to do something about it. It won’t do you any good if the Last Battle comes and half your precious Asha’man end up on the other side.
Rand gives a bit more explanation for his attempt at making peace with the Seanchan. The Eelfinn(Aelfinn?) in Tear told him that to win the Last Battle:
‘The north and the east must be as one. The west and the south must be as one. The two must be as one.’
He’d interpreted it as him having to unite all the nations, but now he thinks it just means that he needs to ally with the Seanchan. I’m assuming the last line there means he and Lews Therin will have to “merge” in some way. Actually, it’s already sort of happening. What he doesn’t reveal is that he also asked them how to survive the Last Battle, and the answer was that to live he must die. Typical cryptic nonsense that will only make sense after the fact. Argh! Although, it makes in-world sense, because those creatures are not the most cooperative of folk.
Just then, three Ogier arrive, and we switch to Loial’s POV (the first from an Ogier) as he meets his mom and the other two. Man these people have had such a long chase, traipsing all over the place after Loial. And it seems that now they have their hands on him, they aren’t going to take any chances, and he gets married to Erith on the spot. Wow. Pretty damn hasty for Ogier, I must say.
Then they move on to more serious topics. Turns out the reason for the big Ogier gathering is to decide whether to open The Book of Translation.
“We must leave this world eventually, so we can come to it when the Wheel turns,” his mother said, striding to the nearest fireplace to spread her skirts again. “That is written. Now is exactly the right time, and the sooner the better.”
What the heck! Leave the world? Are the Ogier aliens? That would be soo coool. Or do they like, move to different worlds via the Portal stones? I know the answer. RAFO. Everything is RAFO. I can’t wait for all the answers.
(By the way, I just realised – why does everyone wear skirts? Not skirt, but plural. Like, are all women walking around with half a dozen skirts? Or is it like pants, in that even one of it is still called pants?)
But Loial does not agree. He believes that the Ogier should stick around and help in the Last Battle. Before they can finish the conversation, Loial spots Trollocs coming towards the manor. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Oh boy.
Fortunately, there’s a bunch of Asha’man and Aes Sedai in the house, and they all immediately begin raining death on the charging Trollocs. Rand seizes saidin too, but in the moments of dizziness that still accompany it, Lews Therin takes the control from him. Which is actually fortunate, because Lews Therin brings out magics of mass destruction, killing thousands of Trollocs with each weave. And of course the other Asha’man copy his weaves, and so fortunately the Trollocs are all killed by the time they reach the house. Wow. Tens of thousands of them, killed in moments by a bunch of channelers. Makes me wonder what kind of numbers were there in the War of the Shadow.
But hang on. If I remember correctly, the Trollocs were made by one of the Forsaken. So what did the Dark One’s forces consist of before that? Darkfriends? Seems rather improbable. Maybe he was way more persuasive when the Dark One’s prison was actually cracked, and not sealed like now.
Well, anyway, the Trollocs are all dead, but Lews Therin still doesn’t release the Power, instead drawing more and more, reaching very close to the limit. He wants to die, and the only thing that stops him is Rand’s promise that they can die in the Last Battle. Crazy bastard.
In the aftermath, Rand is walking amongst the dead Trollocs for some reason. He gets a letter from Verin, who has gone off to do more sneaky stuff, and advising him to listen to Cadsuane. Bashere arrives, with news that the Seanchan are willing to parley, and Rand is to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons in three days. The hell? Isn’t Tuon still with Mat? Or maybe Suroth will try to pass off herself as the princess? I don’t know. Still, peace would be good.
Meanwhile, Lan and Nynaeve are preparing to part ways. Lan wants to return to the Blight to continue his stupid personal vendetta, and Nynaeve surprisingly doesn’t make too much fuss about it. She even open a gateway for him. But it’s a trick! She sends him to the the Borderlands, yes, but right at the edge, far off from Shienar. And she’s already had him promise that he’ll ride to Fal Moran before going into the Blight. So he should be safe for a while yet. Meanwhile, Nynaeve goes around rousing survivors of Malkier into following Lan when he does get to the Blight. Trying to help, but doing so in her own way because she knows best! Typical Nynaeve.
Within The Stone
Rand and co. arrive at Tear, and take their sweet time walking through the city and into an inn, stopping on the way to check out a steam wagon, which has apparently progressed enough to be usable in daily life. That was fast, actually. It hasn’t been that long since Rand fled Cairhien. Hardly a couple of months. And in that time they managed to improve the steam engine quite a lot.
Anyway, they get to an inn, and once in a room, Rand makes a gateway into the Stone of Tear. Um, why exactly couldn’t you do it from the manor? Why get to Tear, then ride through the city to an inn, and then make the gateway? They encounter a couple of soldiers, who lead them to Darlin. On the way, Rand and Cadsuane have this conversation:
“They hop when you say toad,” Cadsuane said coolly, pushing the cowl of her cloak down her back, as they walked away from the Heart. “That can be bad for you, when too many people jump at your word.” She had the nerve to say that! Cadsuane bloody Melaidhrin!
“I’m fighting a war,” he told her harshly. The nausea had his temper on edge. That was part of the reason he was harsh. “The fewer people who obey, the more chance I’ll lose, and if I lose, everybody loses. If I could make everyone obey, I would.” There were far too many who did not obey as it was, or obeyed in their own way. Why in the Light would Min feel pity?
Cadsuane nodded. “As I thought,” she murmured, half to herself. And what was that supposed to mean?
Seriously, what the hell was that supposed to mean? I have to side with Rand here. How can people obeying be a bad thing?
After very detailed descriptions of the palace’s decorations (methinks all this gemstones and glitter and gold would look less impressive and more over-the-top tasteless) they reach Darlin and Caraline. There is much chatter, the end result is the siege is over and Darlin is to be crowned king of Tear. Rand leaves, ordering Darlin to gather forces and be ready to move to Arad Doman. This is getting a bit too much. Like, how many soldiers does he need to restore peace in Arad Doman? The man does not know the meaning of moderation. It’s either too much, like this time, or too little, like when he went to fight the entire Seanchan force in Ebou Dar with like five thousand people.
To Make an Anchor Weep
Harine goes to a meeting of the Wavemistresses. Zaida has become the new Queen, and all poor Harine got was a literal beating for making an unfavorable bargain. An Aes Sedai is there too, one of the teachers promised in the bargain, and she is miserable. I gotta say man, these Sea Folk are turning out to be less exotic foreigners and more exquisite jerks. Their general rough and entitled attitudes are bad enough, but the way they treat this woman and poor Merilille is just plain sadistic.
Anyway, they turn out to be waiting for Loagin, who soon arrives with instructions from Rand. They are to supply food to Arad Doman with their fleets. Amylia is of course terrified of Logain the ex-false Dragon. I must quote:
“You’ve nothing to fear from me, Amylia Sedai,” he told her. “It’s been a long time since I ate anyone for breakfast.”
Full points for snark.
The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of a woman with sad news. Turns out the people on Tremalking, called the Amayar, took the melting of the sa’angreal there as a portent, and went about spreading the news to all the Amayar villages, and then all of them committed mass suicide.
And although Logain was rude in putting it, I agree with what he says. The Amayar are dead, and this is indeed sad, but they are dead. Nothing can be done, and he wants them to proceed with supplying Arad Doman instead of mourning.
“Mourn if you must,” he said, “but mourn on the march for Tarmon Gai’don.”
And that wraps up part three. Elayne’s chapters were rather boring – I can’t wait for this whole succession thing to be behind us. But Rand is getting shit done. And that Trolloc attack was so scary. Less for the Trollocs, more for what Lews Therin is capable of, and how close he came to killing Rand.
We’re over halfway through the book, and it’s nice to be back on the regular pace. There are still remarkably long sections where nothing happens – just thinking or grumbling or descriptions, but the plot is moving ahead.
And yes, this post is rather late, as a number of people have reminded me on reddit. I had exams guys, that’s why. But expect the next post tomorrow, and the next one the day after. That should make up for the delay, I hope.