Spoilers for books 1-11 and The Gathering Storm to ch.7| 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 12, The Gathering Storm. This post covers chapter 1-7.
The first POV is from a farmer in the Borderlands, watching a weird storm of black and silver clouds, jumping around randomly. Spooky stuff. His blacksmith friend comes to meet him. He and his family are packed up and leaving, to be a part of the coming Battle. But the way he talks is just a little bit scary:
I don’t know what that storm is. But I know what it means. I’ve never held a sword, but my father fought in the Aiel War. I’m a Borderlander. And that storm means the end is coming, Renald. We need to be there when it arrives.
Renald and his wife decide that they too, must go. And so they begin preparing to leave, to go north.
A small POV from one of the sul’dam in the aftermath of Semirhage’s attack. Rand sends them off as promised with instructions to tell Tuon that he’s still eager to make peace, although the woman is more concerned about presenting the report so that she looks good. Which is understandable, but not something I’d expect from the Seanchan who are generally pretty loyal towards their nobles.
A bunch of Trollocs attack Tylee’s camp, who I remember is the Seachan that Perrin worked with. Poor people don’t stand much of a chance, seeing as they’ve never fought Trollocs before. I hope Tylee survives though.
Graendal is summoned by Moridin, and though it chafes her, she must obey the Nae’blis. The topic of the Forsaken meeting is Semirhage’s capture. Mesaana wants to attempt a rescue, but Moridin is pissed that she failed to capture Rand and so forbids anyone from helping her as punishment. Whew. There’s another sign of a connection of sorts between him and Rand:
Moridin looked down, flexing his left hand, as if it were stiff. Graendal caught a hint of pain in his expression.
So, Rand losing his hand affects him as well. Maybe that’s why he forbid everyone from killing Rand? Because that would destroy him as well? Moridin dismisses them with orders to make sure that Rand’s attempt at restoring peace in Arad Doman fails.
Rodel Ituralde continues his desperate battle against the Seanchan, this time by tricking them into trying to capture a relatively undefended city that’s actually full of his soldiers.
Finally, a POV from the Prophet. He people killed by the Shaido, but he’s managed to slip away with some of his followers. Or not. Faile is there with her people, and they take down the rest of Masema’s people. And stab Masema through the heart. And that’s the end of that problem. But I’m not happy. It’s just so sad to see Masema come to this.
Tears from Steel
Rand has relocated to Arad Doman with his retinue. Cadsuane comes to report the progress on Semirhage’s questioning – namely, that there has been no progress. Not surprising at all, especially considering that Rand has forbidden the use of torture.
But it’s understandable. After what he went through during his kidnapping, he just doesn’t want to do the same to anyone, even a Forsaken. I can’t help but contrast this with Perrin, who chopped off a guy’s hand with barely any hesitation. I guess we should be grateful that the Dark One is not a she.
Rand even realises that he’s getting worse and worse. Trouble is, his response is not to take a break, but to push on even faster.
Light! I can’t keep this up. My eyes see as if in a fog, my hand is burned away, and the old wounds in my side rip open if I do anything more strenuous than breathe. I’m dry, like an overused well. I need to finish my work here and get to Shayol Ghul. Otherwise, there won’t be anything left of me for the Dark One to kill.
The Nature of Pain
Egwene is still going strong in her quest. In fact, instead of wearing her down, the punishments are making her even more resilient. Even Silviana, the Mistress of Novices, seems to be getting tired of beating her day in and day out.
Next order of business is to serve Elaida’s dinner. On the way she talks to her Red bodyguards, trying to make them understand that even though Elaida is of their Ajah, she’s also nuts and doing a horrible job. It earns her more punishments, but Egwene is basically over that now. Plus, she seems to get through to one of the Reds.
Egwene considers how to treat Elaida – on the one hand, the woman doesn’t deserve any respect because of what she’s done, but if Egwene is too disrespectful Elaida can easily have her stilled and executed, and that won’t accomplish anything. In the end she decides to just stay silent.
Meidani is having dinner with Elaida too. And the poor woman is having a horrible time. Elaida is quite clearly toying with her, and taking a sadistic pleasure in it. This, combined with just general anger at Elaida, continues to make Elayne more and more angry through the evening, and when Elaida mentions modifying the Three Oaths she totally loses her cool, and… drops the soup. Um, what? But somehow this lets her keep her temper in check, so whatever. While Meidani is helping her clean the mess, Egwene orders her to send for her so they can talk, and then Egwene is dismissed for the day.
I must say though, Egwene’s anger feels just a bit hypocritical. Sure, Elaida’s suggestion of altering the Oaths is bad, but she’s done something pretty similar. Many of her sworn followers did so only from blackmail. Like Nisao. Or Sheriam. There are more, but I forget their names. The point is, whatever her reasons, Egwene has already done the thing she’s pissed at Elaida for suggesting.
After dinner, Egwene returns to Silviana for more punishments. And this time she realises that the pain she feels at seeing the Tower getting ruined is way more than the spankings she is undergoing, and she begins to laugh.
The Ways of Honor
Another Aviendha POV. Yay! I just love these. Partly because of the “lol crazy wetlanders living in cities and riding horses” thoughts Aviendha has, and partly because I like her as a character, and I think she needs more POV chapters.
Right now she’s mired in the maze of ji’e’toh. She wants to marry Rand, but she can’t do that as an apprentice because that would shame her. She must first become a respected Wise One. The trouble is, she is not making any progress there. She seems to have offended the Wise Ones in some way, and now they are not teaching her anything, just giving her punishments. Oh, the shame! And of course she can’t just ask them what the hell is the problem because ji’e’toh. Poor Aviendha. So earnest, so determined, and still unable to make any progress in resolving this mess.
A small POV from Gawyn. Following Elaida’s orders, he’s been trying to be a pain in Bryne’s ass with his Younglings. But he’s realising what we all know – he’s kind of chosen to side with the wrong Amyrlin. About damn time
A Tale of Blood
Rand goes to meet Harine, who’s just arrived as his digs. He chastises her that the Sea Folk ships have still now arrived in Arad Doman, and she responds that their ships are swift, but they have to go through Seanchan controlled areas to reach Arad Doman, which is no easy task. Rand asks her what the Sea Folk do about male channelers, and in typical Sea Folk fashion, she refuses to answer until he agrees to a bargain – that he will answer one question from her too. Bloody Sea Folk and their bloody bargains.
The answer is hardly surprising – death. This time either by drowning or being left on a deserted island. Rand tells her that saidin is cleansed now, and so they should stop this, but Harine is skeptical to say the least.
She pursed her lips, regarding him. “Your . . . man spoke of this, Coramoor. Some find it difficult to accept.”
“It is true,” he said firmly.
“I do not doubt that you believe it to be so.”
As for her question, Harine says she’ll ask it later. No doubt she’ll come up with something big.
Rand is feeling pretty frustrated by the reaction of the world to his superb feat – or rather, the lack of it. Well, I guess it makes sense that it will take time for people to accept this.
Meanwhile, Cadsuane is overseeing Semirhage’s interrogation. Still not getting anywhere. Semirhage responds to their questions with descriptions of particularly gruesome tortures, with promises to show them some day. It’ll be interesting to see whether Cadsuane can figure out some way to break her without using torture. Probably not.
When Iron Melts
Ituralde’s battle is over. Heavy casualties on both sides, but he’s won, yet again. He goes to talk to the dying Seanchan general. Poor guy wants to know how Ituralde fooled him.
“Your scouts see from the air, and truth is easy to hide from a distance.”
“The army behind us?”
“Women and youths, mostly,” Ituralde said. “A fair number of farmers as well. Wearing uniforms taken from my troops here.”
Crafty. Very crafty.
The general points out that despite this, the war is one Ituralde cannot win. But he understands that, and seems ready to die fighting. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen, what with Rand taking care of his homeland and trying to make peace with the Seanchan.
Egwene goes to meet Leane in her prison. They chat about this and that, and just when she’s about to leave, Leane’s cell starts to melt, and she starts to sink into the ground. Fortunately she’s saved from that poor peddler’s fate by the two Aes Sedai guarding her. These damn horror pieces. Just when you’re over the last one the books throw out another one, as a reminder of what’s coming.
And just for good measure, Egwene returns to the novice quarters only to find they’ve swapped places with some of the Brown Ajah rooms.
If this is the kind of stuff the Dark One can do kinda subconsciously, what happens when he’s out there? I’m pretty sure they’ll stop him – because this is a book and you don’t just destroy the world in a book – but at what cost?
The Plan for Arad Doman
Nynaeve is taking lessons from Daigian. What could she teach Nynaeve? The weaves used in the test for the shawl. Nynaeve’s thoughts reveal that the male part of the pair Rand and Nynaeve used is still intact, and Cadsuane has not returned it to Rand. Nynaeve believes this is right, because no one should have access to that much power. Oh yeah, otherwise who knows what Rand might do? What if he uses it again, like the time he used to cleanse the Source? Phaw!
Nynaeve offers to help Daigian with the pain of losing her warded, but she refuses. I agree with her there. Nynaeve thinks that it’s not the same as Lan and her, and maybe it isn’t the same, but it’s similar enough that Daigian’s decision to endure the pain makes sense to me. Just then Nynaeve sees Cadsuane hurrying somewhere, and she cuts the lesson short to see what’s up.
What’s up is that Rhuarc and co. are here, and they’re meeting with Rand. It’s interesting to see that Rand almost scares her now, though of course she won’t admit it, even to herself. They discuss how to undo the mess that’s Arad Doman. The king is missing, the army is at war with the Seanchan, and there’s general chaos. Rand plans to have the Council of Merchants kidnapped, restore order in the cities they controlled and then spread that out to the whole country. As for Ituralde, Rand will talk to him. I don’t see the general presenting much of a problem once he realises Rand wants to help and not invade.
So begins the end. Nothing much to report plotwise, so let’s talk writing. This is Sanderson’s book – though from what I understand, parts of it were written by RJ. So far, I don’t notice that big a difference – either in the use of language or in the way characters behave, and that’s the best that could’ve happened. I will say though, that there are a lot more transitions – RJ generally switched plotlines every few chapters, but Sanderson’s doing it every chapter, sometimes multiple times in each chapter. This is something I’ve noticed he does a lot in his books too, especially when they get closer to the end. I don’t mind, though it does make these posts have way too many headings.