Spoilers for books 1-10 and Knife of Dreams to ch.30| 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 23-30.
Call to a Sitting
A POV from Romanda. She’s reading what seems like their version of Fifty Shades of Grey when Nisao comes in and so she hides the book by sitting on it. Between mental grumblings about how the thing is digging into her butt, she and Nisao discuss the latter’s murder investigations. Long story short, Nisao is to continue her investigation and report to Romanda now. Just then Theodrin comes in with news that Lelaine has called a sitting of the Hall, and the awkward scene comes to an end. I guess RJ was trying to go for the “Aes Sedai are human” vibe, but really. Let’s just move on.
On the way Romanda stops to talk with other people, and the general impression of her I get is that she’s not actively malicious but just too full of herself, and way too resistant to changes. The meeting begins, and a green sister, Merise, shows up with her warders, one of whom is an Asha’man – Jahar, actually. Before he can get to the point, he detects an attempt at eavesdropping – by a man. Ha! I called it. Halima’s days of running free are soon going to be over. Indeed, Delana rushes out, presumably to warn Halima.
Jahar is interrupted once again, this time by Nacelle, who’s figured out a weave to detect saidin being used, and wants to test it, and it works. Damnit, that was the biggest advantage Rand and co. had. Oh well. That done, he finally gets to the point. Rand has agreed for Aes Sedai to bond Asha’man, but only Soldiers and Dedicated, and forty-seven of them. The Sitters are reluctant, but confirmation that saidin has been cleansed sways them and the offer is accepted. More importantly, in telling of the cleansing, Jahar mentions Halima (though not by name) and it is enough for Romanda to put two and two together and order Delana and Halima arrested. Too late – they’ve already scarpered, but still, at least they’re out of the camp now. Good riddance. Good job, Romanda.
Honey in the Tea
We get to see Egwene’s one woman war against the Tower in action. Egwene’s approach reminds me a lot of Gandhi, in that she doesn’t physically struggle – she just says what she believes, and when the result is a beating, she accepts that calmly. And she uses her Aiel days for dealing with the pain. Or rather, accepting it.
After breakfast and forkroot, it’s time for the Amyrlin’s first class. The teacher, an Accepted, asks Egwene to make a ball of fire, presumably to embarrass her. And it seems to work – Egwene can only channel a trickle because of the forkroot, and so her ball of fire is a pitiful pale little thing. But what she can do is still make complex and layered weaves, and she does exactly that, enhancing the thing with more balls and rings and whatnot until she has quite a spectacular display going. The Accepted tries to beat her to stop it when words don’t work, but after what she got from Silviana, Egwene just shrugs off these blows. This of course earns her another visit to the Mistress of Novices. But still, badass display of badassery by Egwene. Respect.
And that’s basically how it goes. They try to beat her down, to humiliate her, but Egwene just accepts it all with real Aes Sedai dignity and calm, and continues to slowly but surely undermine Elaida, planting seeds of doubt in the minds of everyone she comes into contact with. And it does seem to be working. At least, the novices and Accepted realise that she’s no simple novice. And even some of the Aes Sedai seem to be getting convinced that they might be supporting the wrong Amyrlin.
I gotta say, I was skeptical of Egwene’s decision to stick around instead of escaping/accepting rescue, but it does seem to be working. Let’s just hope that the rebels don’t end up doing something stupid without her present there.
A POV from Tarna, Elaida’s new keeper. She goes to meet with the “Amyrlin” and it’s just sad to see the sort of person Elaida’s become. The woman is plain not suitable to being in power right now. Honestly, even without the rebels and stuff, I’m pretty sure she’d end up destroying herself eventually.
Back With the Band
Mat and co. have left Luca and co. behind, and are now riding towards Murandy. They’re just taking a break for now, having lunch and stuff, and out of the blue, Tuon wants Mat to kiss her. Tuon and Mat, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g! Mat holds back a bit, seeing as this is their first kiss, but when Tuon is displeased, he turns on the charm and (presumably) the tongue, and leaves Tuon breathless. Way to go my man!
Just then, Vanin returns, and he’s got Talmanes with him. Turns out he’s done with his Murandian job, and has brought a part of the Band with him, although we never get a proper reason why. Bloody plot-explaining ta’veren shenanigans. But there’s bad news too. The pass Mat and co. were planning to use is blocked, and there are no alternatives. Mat’s got to figure out something new now.
The POV switches to Tuon, and it makes for an interesting perspective. She’s pretty cold and calculating, it’s a bit scary. On the other hand, her time in Seanchan politics seems to have made her a bit too prone to suspicion, IMO. And there’re the cultural differences. I quote:
“Thank you,” she told him politely. “I think I’ve heard enough.” Ta’veren. Ridiculous. These people and their endless superstitions! A small brown bird, surely a finch, flew out of a tall oak and circled widdershins three times above Toy’s head before flying on. She had found her omen. Stay close to Toy.
Right. These people are the ones who have stupid superstitions. But really, I love seeing these POVs from cultures outside the wetlands. Like Aviendha, or now Tuon. The way we get to see familiar stuff through the eyes of outsiders is just so interesting.
They get to the Band’s camp, and Tuon is impressed by the way the soldiers treat Mat. Of course. She met him first when he was Tylin’s plaything, and totally battered by that wall falling on him. Hardly his finest moment. But now she’s starting to realise that this goofball is also a total badass.
Tuon looked at him, squatting there by the map, moving his fingers over its surface, and suddenly she saw him in a new light. A buffoon? No. A lion stuffed into a horse-stall might look like a peculiar joke, but a lion on the high plains was something very different. Toy was loose on the high plains, now. She felt a chill. What sort of man had she entangled herself with? After all this time, she realized, she had hardly a clue.
Oh Tuon, you’re going to find out. Because Mat seems to be planning to go on the offensive. As they say, a good offense is the best defense.
A switch to Perrin. We see him start putting his rescue operation into action. Finally. First they put a bunch of forkroot into the Shaido’s water supply – I’m assuming the taste will be weak enough not to be noticed, yet enough that the Wise Ones won’t be able to operate at full capacity. That, or they’re really screwed. Perrin also sends in a bunch of people through the aqueduct into the town, to rescue Faile, because he’s assuming that Galina will actually tell her about his rescue attempt. Which she won’t. Damn woman.
Meanwhile, Galina comes to Faile for the rod – Therava’s big hunt means she knows Faile stole it. And unfortunately but unavoidably, Faile tells her that she’ll give it to her. And so they decide to meet the next day secretly in the town proper. Man I’m so tense right now. Faile doesn’t have the sort of plot immunity that, say, Rand has. And she’s in a very risky situation. She’s walking into a trap that she cannot know about, because she doesn’t know that Galina is not bound by the three oaths. But at least she will be in the town when Perrin strikes, so there’s some hope there.
A Plain Wooden Box
The time for meeting the Seanchan has arrived, and Rand is dressed to impress. Damn, that came so close to rhyming. Lews Therin warns him that it could be a trap, but Rand is ready to spring it. More than that, he really wants this truce. Min is going to go with him, because apparently she’s capable of being in any way useful in the middle of a Asha’man v. damane fight. No, actually she’s just stupidly stubborn. I get that she’s a badass with knives, but in this sort of situation she’s just going to be a liability if things go bad. But she’s way too full of herself to see that. I like Min generally, but right now I’m so annoyed at her.
They get to the appointed meeting place, and Tuon steps out. Wait, not Tuon, we know she’s with Mat. Maybe a lookalike? Cadsuane detects channeling thanks to one of her ter’angreal, and then (not)Tuon flickers and her real form shows for a moment. Semirhage.
Fuck! How stupid am I? Of course it’s a trap, and of course it’s Semirhage. We saw her controlling Suroth. I should have seen this coming. But I didn’t. And of course, neither did Rand. He tries to reach for the source, as does Lews Therin, and while they are both struggling and blocking the other, Semirhage fires. Rand can’t jump aside, because Min is behind him (see! stupid woman! stupid stubborn woman!) and he goes down.
By the time Rand comes around, it’s already over. Fortunately the Asha’man and the Aes Sedai together were enough to overpower Semirhage – Nynaeve is the strongest Aes Sedai in quite a while, after all, and Alivia is even stronger. Unfortunately, Rand is severely wounded. That would not be a big deal with Nynaeve around, but this is something even she can’t repair. He’s lost his left hand. Oh Rand! Poor guy is not even going to survive till the Last Battle at this rate. How much can a man take before he breaks? There’s also something wrong with his eyes, but presumably that’s just from having a fireball flung at you and will heal. Hopefully. And his reaction is just a bit scary. In that there is none. He just shrugs it off.
“Wool-headed fool,” Nynaeve muttered. Her hand, still smeared with Sandomere’s blood, drifted toward the thick braid hanging over her shoulder, but she yanked it back down. “You’ve been hurt badly. It’s all right to grieve. It’s all right to feel stunned. It’s normal!”
“I don’t have time,” he told her. Min’s sadness threatened to overflow the bond. Light, he was all right! Why did she feel so sad?
A stone doesn’t bend under pressure. It just looks fine – until suddenly it cracks and breaks. I hope that Rand doesn’t break.
They talk to Semirhage, and the woman is cool as ice. She reveals the existence of Lews Therin’s voice in Rand’s head – apparently it is not a one-off thing. They find the male a’dam in the house. I hope we don’t see those things ever again.
Mat begins his war against the Seanchan. He’s planning a raid. Tuon points out that it won’t do him much good, and Mat reveals his plan – to be a pain in their ass until the Seanchan send the army guarding the entrance to Murandy after him, which will give him a chance to slip out. The first battle goes swimmingly well, thanks to the new style crossbows Mat’s soldiers have, that allow them to reload way faster. It’s a slaughter, plain and simple.
The Great Rescue
The day is here at last. Faile and friends go to meet Galina, all packed and ready for their trip. I’m so nervous. Fingers crossed and everything. A few hiccups, but they reach the meeting point without any major problems. Galina is all but frothing at the mouth, she’s so eager for the damn rod. They give it to her, and she slips out pretending to have heard something, and suddenly the already unstable building begins to collapse. When the dust settles, the women are alive but trapped.
I now realise that my worry over Galina killing them outright was unfounded. As long as she’s bound by the rod, she can’t channel, and without that she can’t take on Faile and all of her friends at once. And she can free herself from the oaths, but not fast enough that Faile won’t catch on – I think. So a trap like this is her best option. Which means Faile is trapped for now, but I’m fairly confident she’ll make it. Perrin is coming, after all. The women try to dig themselves out, but only succeed in trapping themselves even more badly. Faile even hears wolves howl, announcing Perrin’s rescue attempt, but of course she has no idea what it signifies. They then begin trying to use Morgase’s meager channeling to try and draw attention. Morgase manages to make a scarf (that was tied outside by Galina to mark the meeting point) move, but only a bit and then it stops. She’s going to keep trying.
Meanwhile, Perrin has gathered all his troops, including bringing in more people from the Two Rivers as well as Tam, and the assault begins. The forkroot has worked. There’re some magic attacks from the Shaido, but only a few Wise Ones are capable of channeling. And Perrin has the Two Rivers™ longbows on his side, with an uphill advantage to boot. Not to mention the Seanchan and their damane. The fighting seems to be going well enough. Perrin begins rushing towards Malden.
Inside the town, Rolan and friends arrive to rescue Faile, accompanied by a bunch of gai’shain sworn to her. All thanks to a little boy who followed her in the morning despite her orders.
Perrin is fighting through the Shaido encampment, trying to reach the town proper, when out of the blue, Aram assaults him. Turns out Masema has him convinced that Perrin is Shadowspawn. It’s a close thing, but luckily a couple of Shaido help out by shooting the bastard dead with arrows. There were hints of this, of course, with Aram hanging out with Masema, but I had no idea it was this bad. And now he’s dead. I feel a bit sad, but not much because he made his choice and it was a stupid one. Plus me and Perrin both are more concerned about Faile.
He rushes in, and finds Faile, and Rolan and co. with her. Assuming they’re Shaido, Perrin attacks them and takes out Rolan with a hammer to the head, and Faile has to kill another one to stop him spearing Perrin. Oh man, Rolan did not deserve that. He made a bad choice, but still, he was a decent guy. He helped Faile so much. Stupid Perrin with his stupid eagerness.
They compare notes and figure out Galina is Black Ajah. But it’s over now. The fighting is done, the Shaido are defeated (yet again) and Faile is free. About. Damn. Time.
And just to cheer me up, we see Galina get (re)captured by Therava and some others who managed to escape. They’re going to return to the Waste, all of the Shaido, and Galina with them. Good riddance.
Whew, big progress this time. The long winded Saving Faile arc has finally concluded, and I’m just so relieved that it’s over now. Although, poor Rolan deserved better. RIP.
And of course, Rand. Poor guy lost a hand, as if he wasn’t having enough of a bad time already. Although, thinking about it some more, it’s not that bad. I mean, yeah, he can’t use the sword and the unihand life is no cakewalk, but he still has the Power and plenty of people to take care of the more mundane aspects of life. Plus Semirhage got captured. I honestly don’t know what I want them to do with her. When it was Moghedien I wanted Nynaeve to kill her ASAP, and she didn’t and she escaped. But then what is the point of killing Semirhage if the Dark One can just revive her? Tricky stuff. Maybe just still her and then keep her captive for interrogation.
Anyway, the book is almost done now. The final post will be tomorrow as promised.