Spoilers for books 1-12 and Towers of Midnight to ch.9| 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 13, Towers of Midnight. This post covers chapter 1-9.
Surprisingly, the customary pre-book extract thingy is from Loial this time, in the moments right before he begins to address the Great Stump. (which, by the way, sounds like something that would be in a parody/comedy book, not WoT).
The first scene of the prologue is from Lan, who’s still riding to reach Tarvin’s Gap. One of the remaining Malkieri approaches him, no doubt roused by Nynaeve. And Lan is all gruff and no-thanks at first, but the fellow convinces him with an emotional speech, and the one become two.
Perrin is having a dream where he finds himself working in a forge. He’s supposed to be making something important, but each time he ends up with just a useless lump of metal. I guess that represents his struggle to find answers and stuff. Hopper is there too and gives him some pretty solid advice – if you’re not happy leading all these people, then just go and leave someone else to take charge. Perrin replies that if he does that, he’ll go full wolf, which doesn’t make sense to me – how are the two things even related?
Other elements enter the dream, representing Aram, the fighting in Malden etc. Perrin begins to hear a laugh coming closer, and then Hopper slams him out of the dream.
Graendal is chatting with Aran’gar. Wait, what? Didn’t we kill her already? Oh, it’s just a POV from before that. So, Graendal is alerted by the arrival of the fellow Rand sent ahead. He comes and spouts the crap about looking for an alliance, but Graendal sees right through that, as expected. Spooked, Graendal is about to flee when she remember Moridin’s instruction to be a pain in Rand’s ass.
So she has Delana and Aran’gar put compulsion on the guy, and sends a bird out to scout. Uh oh, I don’t like where this is going. The bird follows Rand’s messenger back to Rand, and Graendal sees him making the balefire weave. Realising Rand’s plan, she shields Aran’gar and Delana, leaving them to die, and escapes via a gateway. Damnit! So now we have one of the Forsaken running loose, who is presumed dead by Rand and co. Sneaky, sneaky Graendal. Although Aran’gar and Delana were killed, so that’s some consolation.
Galad and the Whitecloaks are tramping through a swamp. I’m getting uncomfortable just reading the descriptions – all muddy and sweaty and sticky and humid and smelly. Things get so bad Galad has to give a speech to keep up morale. Eventually, they emerge from the swamp – only to find a large force led by Asunawa awaiting them. It’s a trap! Asunawa accuses Galad of being a Darkfriend – no surprises there. Faced with a choice between a fight amongst the Whitecloaks and surrendering, Galad chooses the latter. Damnit, just as I though the Whitecloaks would go some good with a decent leader!
Padan Fain is somewhere in the Blight. He seems to have become even viler and unhinged since the last time we saw him. He uses a mist that is reminiscent of the one in Shadar Logoth to kill and kind of zombify a group of Trollocs. And of course, he’s still after Rand.
A POV from the commander of a Kandori guard tower in the Blight, that is about to be attacked by Trollocs.
So basically the prologue tells us that things are going to hell all over the place.
The wind blows to an apple orchard. Things are not well, as everywhere else. Their crop of apples is destroyed by an unnaturally early shedding of apples. All the apples. So now they got nothing to look forward to, and they’re already at the end of their resources what with the food spoiling.
The old guy of the place gives the boys some courage and encouragement and sends them off, but he himself realises the dire situation they’re in. But then, the trees start blossoming again. All of them at once. And he sees a guy come up from nearby Dragonmount. Rand. The new and improved version. He turns around to find the apple trees laden with a huge amount of ripe apples.
Well this was a great chapter. I loved Rand v2.0, and it’s interesting to see that the farmer notices a halo of light instead of one of darkness around him. And the way Rand seemed to be able to repel the Dark One’s touch from around him. What is that? It’s not ta’veren – no amount of ta’veren is going to make trees bloom twice, and that rapidly. Maybe Rand used the Power, but I doubt it. It’s great thematically – the transformed hero, able to stave off the Dark One’s effects around him, but I’d like to know exactly how.
Questions of Leadership
Perrin and co. are still on the road, travelling to Jehannah. And by travelling I mean the old school step by step style, because the Asha’man are too tired to make gateways for a group so large. They find a man left behind by Gill’s party. They’ve turned toward Lugard because of the bad roads.
Perrin and Faile talk about stuff. Perrin is still hung up on how shitty a leader he is, despite Faile trying to convince him to the contrary.
Galad is in the captivity of the Questioners, except no more because the other Whitecloaks rebelled after seeing his exemplary conduct and realising that the Questioners are anyways lying scum. So he’s once again their leader now. Wow, the political situation with the Whitecloaks is changing damn fast nowadays.
The Amyrlin’s Anger
Egwene is dreaming. She enters Nynaeve’s dreams and asks her for a meeting. Then she goes into autopilot, dreaming bits of the future. She dreams of thirteen towers, which I think are the Forsaken, of Mesaana still hiding in the Tower, and of Rand (presumably) breaking the seals on the Dark One’s prison. When she wakes, she finds Silviana waiting for her. Rand has come to meet her. Oh boy, I am so looking forward to this.
The POV switches to Siuan. Everyone is pretty nervous, despite Rand having come alone. Before Rand goes to meet Egwene, Tiana comes and gives him a letter that she was told to deliver? By whom? What is in it? Who is Tiana even? We’ll see.
The meeting begins, and Rand’s new super chill behaviour kinda trips Egwene up. I’m liking new Rand more and more. He’s here to ask for their help. The last time he – and it’s pretty significant that Rand says I instead of Lews Therin here – tried to seal the Dark One up, he did it only with men, and it did not work, so this time around he wants to try with both men and women. And for that, he’s going to break the remaining seals.
This does not sit well with Egwene at all. But Rand is not fazed by her displeasure. He simply tells her to meet him in a month, right before he’ll go to Shayol Ghul, and then leaves. Egwene wants to stop him, but she feels that Rand can break through their shield, and so lets him go. Well that was fun to watch.
But it’s clear that Egwene has no intention whatsoever of going along with his plan, and she begins planning how to stop him from doing it.
The Pattern Groans
Perrin finds a patch of ground covered with sickness like that in the Blight. Just a freak occurrence or is the Blight starting to go global? At the centre of it they find a normal looking coastal-ish village, but empty. That’s almost more creepy than the patch itself. Perrin decides to burn it all down.
Later, in the wolf dream (what is the relation of that place to Tel’aran’rhiod, by the way? Two names for the same thing? Or separate but similar?) Hopper and other wolves ask Perrin to hunt with them. Perrin is reluctant at first, but Hopper tells him this is part of learning to master the wolf in him, so he agrees. At first Perrin sticks to his human form, but as the wolves begin to leave him behind, he is forced to switch to wolf mode. There are also some visions, showing him and Mat in trouble. Not unexpected, seeing who they are and the sort of people hunting them.
In the excitement of the chase, Perrin does begin to lose himself to the wolf within, until he’s throttling a poor stag with his teeth, but then Hopper knocks him to his senses. How all that was supposed to help I don’t know.
Galad and the Whitecloaks are on the move still, near the Jehannah road. Oh boy, this is bad. They’re going to run into Perrin, aren’t they? Still, I’m happy to see Galad bring a dose of sense to the crazy cult that is the Whitecloaks:
We need allies. Look about you, Lord Harnesh. How many Children do we have? Even with recent recruits, we are under twenty thousand. Our fortress has been taken. We are without succor or allegiance, and the great nations of the world revile us. No, don’t deny it! You know that it is true.
“You speak like a Questioner,” Galad said. “Suspecting everyone who opposes us of being a Darkfriend. Many of them are influenced by the Shadow, but I doubt that it is conscious. That is where the Hand of the Light went wrong. The Questioners often could not tell the difference between a hardened Darkfriend, a person who was being influenced by Darkfriends, and a person who simply disagreed with the Children.”
I’m more and more convinced that Elayne’s dislike of Galad has nothing to do with how Galad actually is, and more to do with how he’s not stupidly foolhardy and stubborn like her and Gawyn. I mean, from what we’ve seen of him, he’s a pretty straightforward and level-headed fellow.
Just then Byar arrives with news that they’ve captured a group of “suspicious” travelers. Said travelers turn out to be Gill and co. Yep, Perrin and Galad’s forces are going to face off. And with stupid Byar and Bornhald Jr. around, it’ll likely get ugly.
Gawyn and Sleete arrive at the scene of a murder. The murder of an Aes Sedai. It seems there’s been a number of these recently. The common belief is that it’s the work of the Black Ajah, but close investigation reveals signs that it may not be the case. There is no evidence of gateways, the door was forced – physically, not with the Power, and the death was caused by a knife, not the One Power. Maybe they didn’t use the Power to avoid notice, as Galad points out, but it’s still pretty fishy.
Gawyn goes to talk to Egwene about it, and she ends up telling him about Mesaana, and her dream about Mesaana killing Aes Sedai while hiding amongst them. But the problem remains – why would Mesaana use knives instead of the Power, especially since she also knows how to invert weaves and stuff? Egwene also tells Gawyn to stop guarding her quarters because she wants to trap Mesaana, and anyway what can Gawyn do to stop her if she comes?
Graendal is hiding somewhere remote and isolated. But somehow Moridin is still able to locate her and call her for a meeting. He reprimands her for the death of Aran’gar, but Graendal is able to basically talk her way out of it, making it seem that she planned it all to cause Rand anguish over the death of all those people. He gives her something called a dreamspike – something really evil by the glee Graendal shows on receiving it, and tells her to go after Perrin, with the help of Isam/Luc. Before sending her off, he also shows her prophecies – prophecies of the Shadow, that say that Perrin will die by their hand. Damnit! We get all these convoluted riddles, and the Shadow gets a straightforward assurance of their success in this? I just hope it turns out to be a misinterpretation or something.
Morgase is serving tea, and this is described in customary detail. Perrin and the rest are discussing their future plans. Perrin orders all the wolfhead banners burned. As if that means anything. If he’s going to keep leading these people, might as well keep the banners. Otherwise just step down and leave like Hopper suggested. Why this half measure? As for the rescued prisoners, they decide to send envoys to Rand for more Asha’man, and for general information gathering. The Wise Ones suggest circles to make bigger gateways. Excellent idea. I wonder why I didn’t think of it myself.
Once the meeting breaks up, Perrin calls in Tallanvor and tells the pair of them that they are to be married in an hour. This royally pisses of Morgase, and she gives Perrin a thorough tongue lashing. Which I feel is somewhat justified – Perrin has no business telling someone to marry. Plus it’s nice to see Morgase grow some backbone, get out of the slump she’s been in since Gaebril and Valda. She overhears Sulin report to Perrin that Galad’s Whitecloaks are ahead of them.
Byar comes to talk to Galad. He fills Galad’s head with all sort of anti-Perrin crap. And although Galad scoffs at some of his more outrageous claims, he does accept some. Well yeah, Perrin killed the Whitecloaks that time in EoTW, but what of the fact that it was in self-defense? And the claim that Perrin killed Bornhald’s father is just utter bullshit. But obviously Galad is going to trust one of his men to some extent. And so he decides to move against Perrin. Damn Byar and his stupid zealotry!
Meanwhile, Perrin also discusses what to do about the Whitecloaks. They have his people, and he must rescue them, but Perrin isn’t looking for a fight. He decides to try and parley with them first. Let’s hope he manages to make Galad see sense.
The Seven Striped Lass
Mat is doing Mat things – chilling in a tavern, flirting with barmaids. So far he’s resisting opening Verin’s letter. I like that he never even considers just opening the thing and reading it, and not doing what it says if it’s something too drastic. The guy has his own brand of honor that he follows pretty damn strictly. He goes to another place for some dicing, and wins as usual. He’s still leering at every pretty girl in sight, and acting as though he’s just looking out for girls to match up with Talmanes etc. This annoys me for multiple reasons. First is the frequency – it’s like every time there’s a girl, Mat notices how she looks, then pretends it’s only for others. And, I think Mat is self-aware enough not to be fooling himself like this.
Anyway, while dicing, he hears mention of a murder – a very particular type, the gholam type. He exits the place in haste, but not before throwing dice on their corners. Wow. What’s next? Floating dice?
He goes to Thom, and they make their way to the Band’s camp, outside Caemlyn’s walls. Turns out they tried to contact Elayne, but she hasn’t replied. Man, I though she was starting to get a little less stuck up after their time in Ebou Dar, but it seems she’s back to her stiff and haughty self now. Damn woman.
They get to the camp, and Teslyn comes to thank Mat for saving them back in Ebou Dar. It even throws off the unflappable Mat. He returns to his tent, and finds blood.
Mat raises the alarm, while trying to fight the gholam. This time he’s more prepared – tying the medallion to the ashandarei’s blade for extra reach. The gholam threatens to kill all of Mat’s friends, and Tuon, if he continues to evade it. Well, fortunately Mat is able to do just that for now – with help from Teslyn. Faced with her and the medallion, the gholam decides to make a run for it. Two soldiers try to stop it, and die for their efforts.
I can’t help but feel that the gholam is being a bit stupid. It knows that Mat has the medallion which can hurt him, and yet he tries to get Mat and is repelled by it again and again. It should maybe try to change tactics.
Mat returns to his tent to find Lopin and a bunch of Redarms dead. Poor guys never stood a chance. I’ll miss Lopin and his overblown caring for Mat’s clothes and food. Mat has a moment of panic when he thinks of Olver, but, fortunately, the lad is safe with Noal. Mat decides he doesn’t want to risk more lives by staying in the band, and decides to move to the city, as will Thom and Olver. Mat decides to try and contact Elayne again:
“I need to write a letter to Her Royal bloody Majesty Queen Elayne the prim.”
Ha! Don’t ever change Mat.
The end for this post. I’m dying to see more of the new Rand, but meanwhile we’ve got Mat and Perrin. Perrin’s internal conflict still feels a bit unnecessary to me, but the conflict with the Whitecloaks is something I’m looking forward to. Plus there’s more Mat to balance things out. One good thing about Towers of Midnight being basically part two of A Memory of Light is that there’s no noticeable early book slowness, which is great.
Also, turns out this is my 100th blog post. So, whooo!