Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time #13) ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Towers of Midnight
Series: The Wheel of Time #13
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 909
Words: 334K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net

Fain corrupts an army of Trollocs and heads south with them.

Elaida’s sul’dam has her demonstrate Traveling. Fortuona decides to use this to attack the White Tower in force.

Aviendha meets a strange Aiel on the way to Rhuidean, who makes her think of the toh the Aiel must pay, their sin and what they will do once it is paid. After going through the glass columns, she wonders if she can sense their purpose like she did with the other ter’angreal and manages to activate them so that they show her descendants rather than her ancestors. They show that the Aiel will be defeated by the Seanchan and reduced to pitiful honorless wretches.

Rand comes from Dragonmount and talks to Almen Bunt. As he talks, apple trees that had previously given shrivelled fruit re-bloom and give a genuine crop. He leaves to talk to Egwene and tell her he means to break the Seals. She decides this is the wrong thing to do and begins to organize resistance to him. He tells her he will meet her at the Field of Merrilor.

Perrin encounters the Whitecloaks, under the command of Galad. Bornhald and Byar tell Galad that Perrin killed Children, including Geofram Bornhald, so in order to avoid a battle, Perrin agrees to a trial, with Morgase as the judge, who Galad has identified. She pronounces him guilty, but declares it a fight between mercenary companies and says Galad should set the punishment. Perrin encounters Slayer in the Dreamworld and finds a ter’angreal that can prevent the opening of gateways. He follows Slayer to the White Tower where he walks into a battle between Aes Sedai and the Black Ajah under the command of Mesaana. Egwene tries to hold him, with rope and chains, but his abilities in Tel’aran’rhiod are too strong and he just shrugs them off. Slayer escapes, but Perrin destroys the ter’angreal, allowing gateways to be formed once more. He realises there is a trap ahead of them and arranges his men to fight Shadowspawn, who arrive through a Portal Stone, with one lone male passing them through. He is able to save the Whitecloaks. Bornhald accepts he is no Darkfriend but Byar does not and tries to kill him, but is killed by Dain. Perrin persuades Galad to give him his allegiance until the last Battle is over. Galad tells Perrin that his punishment will be to pay reparations.

In the Tower, the Bloodknives murder Aes Sedai, but Egwene believes it to be Mesaana. She arranges a meeting with Windfinders and Wise Ones and suggests an alliance, and a new bargain with the Windfinders to replace the one that Elayne made. They decide to think on it. Mesaana and members of the Black Ajah attack and they are forced to battle. Several Black Ajah are killed before Mesaana captures Egwene with an a’dam. Egwene refuses to accept it and it falls away. She then crushes Mesaana’s mind.

Mat discovers the gholam has tracked him. He sends an urgent letter to Elayne and is granted a meeting. He persuades her to make the Dragons, but she insists that Andor will own most of them. He agrees the Band will work for Andor until Rand needs them, but that they can refuse any commission. He tells her about the gholam. He offers her his ter’angreal to study as an encouragement and gets a deal out of her. She is able to make imperfect copies that deflect weak weaves, but not strong ones and do not allow the holder to channel. She decides to tie the Kin to her and arranges for them to be permanently based in Caemlyn, hoping that Egwene will agree. While Mat and Birgitte are out, she visits the Black Ajah, disguised as one of the Forsaken to trick Chesmal into revealing secret information. She gets some, but Temaile, Eldrith and Mellar are freed by Jaq Lounalt and attack her. After a struggle, Mellar escapes with a copy of the foxhead medallion, but the three Black Ajah sisters are killed.

After meeting Elayne, Mat arranges to kill the gholam. He entices it into attacking him, wounding it with his ter’angreal and copies Elayne made. He is able to force it back and through a skimming gateway that Sumeko had opened, where it would fall forever.

Nynaeve Heals Naeff’s madness. She Travels to Tar Valon and takes the test for Aes Sedai, which she passes after some discussion. She then Travels to the Black Tower and takes Lan’s bond. Rand sends Naeff to the Black Tower, to find men loyal to him and tell him he was wrong about Taim.

In the Black Tower, Androl leads the men loyal to Logain. They discover they are unable to open gateways. They note that Kurin seems no longer to be himself, indeed seems to be empty. Pevara also discovers she cannot form a gateway, but when she tries to talk to Tarna, finds that Tarna is behaving oddly and seems unconcerned about the restrictions Taim has placed. Androl comes to her to try and arrange an escape.

Rodel fights a massive Trolloc force, keeping them free of Maradon against all odds. As they are about to be overwhelmed, Bashere arrives and saves them. Rand joins them and obliterates the Trolloc army. Rodel is taken away by Rand, who has found Alsalam.

Mat meets up with Perrin and they tell each other their news. Perrin leaves to meet with Elayne and they arrange a treaty, Perrin is to be High Lord over the Two Rivers which is to be given to the Dragon Reborn and will not pay taxes. Perrin and Faile’s children will be encouraged to marry into Andoran nobility. Perrin heads to the Field of Mellitor, where he aligns with Rand. Elayne strips Arymilla, Elenia and Naean of their titles and offers their estates to powerful Cairhienen lords, promising the Andorans estates in Cairhien. She enters Cairhien to take the throne, though Birgitte has to prevent an assassination attempt.

Mat takes Noal and Thom to the Tower of Ghenjei. They enter and use Mat’s luck to navigate, soon arriving at a room with Moiraine. They tell the Aelfinn they want her and that Mat is willing to pay the price, the loss of his eye. As part of the bargain, he insists the Aelfinn allow them to leave, but forgets to insist on the same with the Eelfinn and they are attacked. Noal admits to being Jain Fairstrider and stays back to fight them off. He is defeated and the Eelfinn approach Mat, Thom and Moiraine. Mat thinks on the last bargain he made and realises that as he didn’t ask for a weapon, the weapon must be something he did ask for – a way out and uses it to slash the sides of the room and they escape. Moiraine tells them her strength in the Power is greatly reduced and that she will marry Thom. She bonds him.

The armies of the Westlands gather at the Field of Merrilor, to oppose the Dragon Reborn.

My Thoughts:

This. This was everything that a Wheel of Time book was supposed to be, every time. Massive in size, in scope and in story yet racing right along with intricate action scenes and politics galore. Sanderson brings the magic back into the storytelling and reminds us of why we stuck it out for over 20 years to see where Jordan was going to take us.

All 3 of the ta’averen, Rand, Matt and Perrin grow up. While it felt rather abrupt, it really fit in with everything that had happened to them before. This was the tipping point where they chose whether to become good men or to stay boys.

This also had one of the saddest parts of the entire series, where Aviendha sees the future instead of the past when going through the Aiel ter’angreal (a magical item). It is sad because you see the descent of the Aiel from feared warriors to scavenging animals and Sanderson really sells it. I could feel the descent, if that makes sense. It is sad also because you see the land and kingdoms we’ve spent the last 13 books reading about eventually being conquered by the Seanchan. I found it amazing how Sanderson managed to describe the next couple hundreds of years and convey the wealth of information that he did in only one chapter. On a third front, it also perfectly expressed how the Wheel of Time kept on rolling after the events chronicled here. This was NOT the Last Battle. Just A Battle.

That brings me to the one thing I am not ok with in the entire Wheel of Time series. The whole Creator and the Dark One entities. The Creator appears to have abandoned the universe after imprisoning the Dark One while the Dark One seems to have been given free reign to escape if he can. Jordan, and thus Sanderson, don’t really go into the theological details of this and that gaping hole bothers me just as much as the apparent Dualism theology presented. Obviously, as a Christian I have a VERY different outlook. I don’t expect my fantasy to align with my beliefs but neither do I simply ignore it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time #12) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Gathering Storm
Series: The Wheel of Time #12
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 829
Words: 304.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Aviendha is sent to Rhuidean to go through the Glass columns and become a Wise One. Faile kills Masema. Perrin rides north with the refugees, with Grady and Neald too tired to make gateways for those that would want to go home. He meets up with Galad and learns that Maighdin is actually Morgase.

Mat and the Band try and head to Caemlyn before going to rescue Moiraine. In the shadow of the Damona Mountains, they come across a village where everyone goes crazy at night and tries to kill each other, only for everything to reset back to normal the next morning. They learn a woman in a nearby village is handing out pictures of Mat, so he goes to see who it is, learning it is Verin. She explains that she had intended to go to Tar Valon, but was drawn there by his ta’veren nature. She tells him she can make a gateway for the Band to go quickly to Camelyn, but if so he must either wait ten days, then obey the instructions in a letter she gives him; or wait thirty days, then do as he wishes. He agrees.

Rodel meets with Turan after the Seanchan army has been destroyed outside Darulna. He explains he used their overconfidence and reliance on raken against them. Turan tells Ituralde that this will not be the end of it, that the Seanchan will send a larger army and will not make the same mistakes again. Rodel executes him. The Seanchan amass a fresh army of 300000 men with around 200 damane, traping Rodel and his men in a stedding. He knows they cannot win, but hopes to be an inspiration to future generations. Rand arrives and offers an alternative. Rodel and his men go to the Borderlands to protect the Blight border, and Rand will make a truce with the Seanchan, with the Aiel and Saldaeans enforcing order in Arad Doman.

Tuon meets with Beslan as Daughter of the Nine Moons. He swears fealty to her. Tylee tells Tuon how her force was attacked by Trollocs outside Ebou Dar and her opinion that they need to ally with the Dragon Reborn and others. Tuon decides to meet with Rand, waiting until after that before becoming Empress, as once Empress, she will be of higher status than Rand. She believes that would make the meeting difficult. They meet and Rand demands a truce. She feels herself being forced to agree to it, but manages to refuse, largely because of her belief that he must kneel before her according to prophecy. He leaves and she steps up to take the mantle of Empress. She orders a raid on the White Tower.

Rand visits Moridin in a dream and learns he is Ishamael re-incarnated and that balefire is the only thing that can prevent the Dark One giving one of the Forsaken a new body. Rand meets with Harine and tells her the Sea Folk must do better with supplies. In exchange for a promise to answer any question of hers, he learns that Sea Folk men who can channel are either drowned or abandoned on a deserted island. He tells her the practice must stop. Rand orders the Aiel to pacify Arad Doman and to find members of the Council of Merchants so they can name a new king. He uses one of them to try and track Graendal, via one of the messengers she had used, but that messenger had already died. Nynaeve investigates the torturer involved and finds an apprentice, heavily under Compulsion, from whom they are able to find Graendal’s location. Rand Travels there and balefires the whole palace.

Cadsuane makes no progress with Semirhage, until she realizes that they are showing her too much respect and spanks her like a child. Shaidar Haran arrives to free Semirhage and with the help of Elza, from whom she removes Verin’s compulsion, She puts Rand in the male a’dam. Via his link to Moridin, Rand is able to access the True Power and uses balefire on both Semirhage and Elza. Cadsuane tries to tell him not to use balefire, but he tells her he understands it better than she does and that it is the only way to prevent the Forsaken from being re-incarnated into fresh bodies. He exiles her from his sight for her failure in not keeping the male a’dam safely hidden and says that he will kill her if he sees her face again. He Travels to Far Madding to meet with the Borderland leaders, but they refuse to meet outside the city, so he tells Hurin, their messenger, to tell them to either return to the Borderlands and do their duty, or to stay away from him.

Cadsuane has Tam brought to Rand and they talk. Tam asks him why he is fighting. Rand goes crazy when Tam mentions Cadsuane, attacking Tam and fleeing to Ebou Dar before he can kill him. There, he decides to use the Choedan Kal to destroy the Seanchan in the Tarasin Palace. However, he falls sick when he seizes saidin and collapses. The concern of the passersby disturbs him and he flees, skimming first, then Travelling to Dragonmount. With Lews Therin, he realizes that the chance to love is what makes it so important to save the world. The two merge and then begin to laugh, before destroying the Choedan Kal. Above Rand, the clouds part and and he is bathed in light.

In the Tower, Egwene encounters Meidani while serving Elaida and tells her to summon her. Egwene continues to meet with Aes Sedai, who grow more receptive to her. Bennae and Nagora both summon her to ask for advice, and both are impressed. She meets Suana, who tells her she would do well in Yellow. Egwene suggests to her that Sitters of different Ajahs should begin visibly taking dinner together. When Meidani does summon her, she is unable to say why she didn’t flee the Tower when Eliada learned she was a spy, but she is able to show Egwene, taking her to a meeting of Saerin, Doesine, Yukiri and Seaine. She refuses to back down and tells them that they need to start reaching out to other Ajahs to heal the rifts in the Tower and also that they must take the fourth oath off Meidani. Meidani agrees to continue spying on Elaida as that is what Egwene wants from her. Egwene points out that as it was a bare minimum of Sitters that deposed Siuan and that at least one was Black, it was not legally valid.

Katerine tells her that she is no longer to meet with Aes Sedai but is to just do chores. In the kitchen, Laras tries to help her escape, but she refuses. Elaida has her as a serving girl a second time, this time in front of a group of Sitters. Egwene stands up to her, bringing up all her failures, using arguments specifically designed to impress various different Sitters. When Elaida sees Doesine murmuring agreement, she loses control. Egwene calls her a coward and a tyrant and she attacks, calling Egwene a Darkfriend and ordering her imprisoned. Silviana comes before the Hall to stand up for Egwene, saying Elaida should be deposed. Elaida orders her imprisoned and Stilled, with Katerine to replace her as Mistress of Novices.

Verin visits Egwene in her cell and tells her she herself is Black Ajah and that she only got around their oaths by taking poison that will kill her within the hour. Verin has been researching the Black Ajah from the inside and has compiled a list of around two hundred members that she has identified. After Verin dies, Egwene has Meidani remove the body and meets Siuan in Tel’aran’rhiod, telling her Sheriam and Moria are Black Ajah and should be watched. She is pulled out of the dream by Nicola when the Seanchan attack. She finds the novices and teaches them to link, forming a circle with Nicola, before Travelling to the storeroom where the objects of the power are kept, to fetch the sa’angreal she knows, Vora’s sa’angreal. She returns and, along with the novices, begins to fight the Seanchan. She encounters Adelorna who is feeling despondent at the poor showing of the Greens. She forces Adelorna to accept her leadership and together they engage the Seanchan.

Gawyn learns Egwene is a prisoner in the Tower and that the Aes Sedai are willing and able to relieve him of command at any time. He leaves them for the rebel camp. When they hear of the Seanchan attack, Siuan and Gawyn decide to rescue Egwene. She persuades Gareth to go with him. He insists that she bond him first. They fight their way in and Gareth kills a Seanchan assassin. She recalls Min’s vision that both would die if they didn’t stay close and Heals him of a minor wound he took that would otherwise have been fatal because of poison. They and Gawyn reach an exhausted Egwene and take her out of the Tower through a gateway. Elaida and around two dozen others are captured.

The next day, Egwene visits Saerin, to retrieve the Oath Rod, before holding a meeting of the Hall. She tells them that the Black Ajah is real and swears the Three Oaths, announcing that she is not a Darkfriend and that everyone else is to do the same. Sheriam embraces the Source, but Egwene shields her and tricks her into lying. Moria tries to flee and they apprehend her as well. Once the other Sitters have all been cleared, they go through the other Aes Sedai, starting with those in Verin’s list. All the Black Ajah are quickly executed.

In the Tower, the Ajah heads try to plan what to do to replace Elaida. The hall has been unable to make any progress, the divisions between the Ajahs still too strong for any to support a woman not of their own. Adelorna suggests Egwene and is immediately supported by Ferane, with the others soon agreeing. Once the decision has been made, a group of Sitters goes to summon Egwene to be raised Amyrlin. She is raised unanimously, with no second round of voting needed by the eleven remaining Sitters, there being no Red, and the Black Ajah Sitters having fled with around sixty others. She names Silviana as Keeper, as Silviana did her duty. She then goes to the rebels, forgiving them for rebelling and readmitting them to the White Tower.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this. This how the series should have been the whole time. While this was another monstrous book (the hardcover is over 800 and the ebook clocks in around 1100) I did not find it draggy, slow, ponderous or padded. Sanderson really makes an effort to push the story forward. It was fun and refreshing and I enjoyed reading a WoT book again.

I also felt like Sanderson did an excellent job of starting the characters down a path that would bring them from the wildly flung places Jordan has scattered them to. And I felt like he did the same thing for all the various shit pies that Jordan shoved down our throats. If I sound bitter, I am. Jordan could have gotten his readers to this place without wasting our time with at least 3 books that he made us wade through and wait for years for. I realize I am making a hash of this review as I really did enjoy the book but it is hard to sit back and realize what Jordan did to me, as a reader. While not nearly what GRR Martin has done to his readers, this was bad enough.

I guess I’m going to have to make a concerted effort to judge the next Wheel of Time book on its own instead of dragging in my baggage with Jordan. Sigh, sometimes reviewing books seems like it’s more of a hassle than anything.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time #11) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Knife of Dreams
Series: The Wheel of Time #11
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 823
Words: 323.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Galad believes that Eamon Valda has murdered Morgase and, supported by Trom, Byar and Dain Bornhald, challenges him to Trial by Combat . Although Valda is a blademaster and fights well, Galad dupes him into becoming too confident and kills him. Galad is told that this makes him the new Lord Captain Commander and he decides to take the Whitecloaks out of Altara to ally with anyone who will fight the Seanchan and the Last Battle. Even Aes Sedai or Asha’man if need be. Rodel Ituralde attacks camps in Tarabon, as part of his plan to beat the Seanchan out of Arad Doman. Suroth learns of this and sends the majority of the raken in Altara and Amadicia after him. She learns that Semirhage has killed the Imperial family and plots to kill Tuon so that she can be Empress. Moridin calls a meeting of the Forsaken and instructs them to find the Seals on the Dark One’s prison and to kill Mat and Perrin if they can be found. Harine attends a meeting of Wavemistresses, with the new Mistress of the Ships, Zaida. They learn that the Amayar have committed mass suicide because of their belief that the Time of Illusion is coming to an end. Logain arrives to tell them they are required to use all of their ships to take food to Arad Doman as part of the Bargain.

Perrin meets with the Seanchan and learns that the Prophecies of the Dragon mention the Wolf King carrying a hammer. He tells them he wants to feed the Shaido forkroot tea to stop the women channeling. They agree to his plan and requisition some forkroot, using a letter from Suroth, stolen from Masema. Tam arrives with more men from the Two Rivers. Once the forkroot has been added to the water supply, he attacks with Two Rivers archers and they break the Shaido with the help of the Aes Sedai and other Seanchan he has being dealing with.

Faile learns that one of the other gai’shain has stolen the Shaido Oath Rod and is given it. Rolan tells her that the Mera’din are considering returning to the Waste and will free her if they do. He warns her to be careful and she hides the Oath Rod in town. She takes Galina to a burned out house. Galina takes the rod out with her and is able to cause the house to collapse, trapping Faile and her companions. Rolan rescues Faile and is taking her to safety when Perrin arrives and kills him. Aram is killed attacking Perrin, having been corrupted by Masema, who escapes with a small number of his followers. Sevanna is captured by the Seanchan, as are over two hundred Wise Ones. Galina is caught again by Therava and told never to try and escape again. Therava leads a group of Shaido back to the Aiel Waste to rebuild the Shaido clan.

Rand sees an image of Moridin in his head and concludes that he is aware of him. He talks with Logain and is told that more than half of the Black Tower is in Arad Doman and Illian. Rhuarc is trying to bring order to Bandar Eban. Loial gets married to Erith and learns that the Ogier are discussing opening the Book of Translation so they can leave the world, ready to return when the Wheel turns again. Trollocs attack and are killed, but it is close, with Logain and his Aes Sedai perhaps making the difference. Rand tells Loial that he needs him to find the Waygates that were in cities in order to seal them, but Haman volunteers instead. Verin leaves. Nynaeve sends Lan to Saldaea, from where he rides to Shienar with anyone who will join him. Nynaeve persuades some Malkieri to do so and has pigeons sent ahead to encourage others. Rand goes to Tear and learns that the rebels have agreed to terms as long as Darlin is named king. Rand reluctantly agrees. They go to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons and discover it is Semirhage in disguise when her illusion flickers. She attacks and Rand loses a hand but she is captured. She reveals that Rand is hearing Lews Therin’s voice and claims it is a madness, even more so for being real and that even Graendal could rarely save someone who heard a real voice.

Egwene is told that she will not be punished, just placed back in novice white. Beonin returns to the Tower and teaches Elaida and Tarna Traveling but is forbidden from teaching anyone else. Elaida is displeased with her for not holding the rebels back as much as she was instructed to. Egwene is defiant in the Tower, maintaining that she is the Amyrlin Seat. At first she is taught by Accepted, but after embarrassing too many of them, her lessons are switched to private lessons with Aes Sedai. She is sent for punishment several times a day for not using their titles and for trying to put ideas in their heads. The other novices and Accepted come to believe her and she begins to influence the Aes Sedai into seeing what a disaster Elaida is. She speaks with Mattin Stepaneos and makes him realize that Elaida has hid the truth about Rand from him. She encounters Beonin and instructs her to warn all the rebel spies that they were betrayed. After nine days, Elaida decides to have Egwene wait on her.

Elayne defends the wall in Caemlyn against sorties from Arymilla. She learns that many of the men thrown out of the White Lions by Gaebril because of loyalty to Morgase are supporting her. Reanne tells her that one of the sul’dam has admitted being able to channel and is now asking to be made damane. They learn that Aviendha has a Talent for identifying what ter’angreal do, but she is taken away by Wise Ones to continue her apprenticeship before she can finish aiding Elayne. Elayne has Mellar tracked and discovers that he visits two Black Aes Sedai. They learn that Reanne and several other Kinswomen have been murdered by saidar. She takes the Aes Sedai with her to arrest Falion and Marillin, but they are outnumbered as four other Black sisters are there. Asne uses a ter’angreal to disable her. They decide to capture Elayne and kill the Aes Sedai apart from Careane as she is one of them. Vandene kills Careane for killing Adeleas and she and Sareitha are killed. They flee, taking Elayne with them. Birgitte persuades the Windfinders to weave a gateway to outside the city walls. They rescue Elayne outside of Caemlyn, capturing five of the Black Aes Sedai and killing Asne. They are able to take men to hit the back of Arymilla’s attacking army, compressing them in the city streets and forcing them to yield. Those who can transfer allegiance to Elayne, do. The other six nobles (Abelle, Aemlyn, Arathelle, Ellorien, Luan and Pelivar) visit and, after talking, Luan and Abelle pledge to Elayne, giving her the support of enough Houses to be Queen of Andor. After this, the rest apart from Ellorien do so also.

Mat buys Tuon a horse and tries to find a way to escape. He asks Noal about Jain Farstrider and is told unconvincingly that he was a cousin. He encounters Joline slapping Bethamin and can feel the Power being used and so stops her; she slaps him, so he puts her over his lap and spanks her. He learns that Bethamin has channeled on her own. Joline and Edesina agree to teach her. Later, Seta also channels and they reluctantly agree to teach her as well. The Aes Sedai realize that he has a ter’angreal that stops channeling. Setalle shows great interest in it and he realizes that she used to be an Aes Sedai, something that she confirms. He talks with Aludra and they discuss canon-making. Leilwin/Egeanin and Domon marry. Tuon tells him that she suspects the Horn of Valere has been blown, putting him off his game plan. They meet a band of Tuatha’an heading for Seanchan lands in the belief that there is safety. Teslyn and Joline start pestering Tuon, telling her that she should stop the invasion. She places an a’dam around their necks, but Mat frees them again and instructs them to leave her alone. He learns from Moiraine’s letter to Thom that she is alive and captured and can be rescued through the Tower of Ghenjei, though it must be Mat, Thom and one more who try or the attempt will fail and even then it is not certain. He agrees to try, as does Noal. Olver is able to tell them how to get in, as Birgitte had told him. He takes Tuon to a hell and gambles until one of the other gamblers becomes suspicious, and so loses the next toss. On leaving, he is attacked by a group of swordsmen and kills them with his knives. He meets up with Talmanes, who has brought part of the Band, leaving Estean in control of the rest. Tuon is surprised at the affection his men have for him and that the discipline is not lax, and begins to see him in a new light, realizing that she doesn’t know him as well as she thought. He plans a series of attacks to divert the Seanchan and allow them to escape through passes in the mountains. The plan is going reasonably well, with the Seanchan commander believing Mat to have many more men than he has in truth, when Furyk Karede finds him. Mat tells him that he can have Tuon if he can get her safely back to Ebou Dar as he has realized that the Seanchan are trying to kill her. She says that she trusts Karede, so Mat agrees and she completes the marriage ceremony, as one part of the Foretelling she received from Lidya was that the man she would marry would carry her away and set her free. Karede leaves some of his own men as a diversion and they are attacked by ten thousand soldiers led by Elbar, all trying to kill Tuon, but the men are defeated by Mat, using a new model of crossbow, the Power, and fireworks. Tuon returns to Ebou Dar and strips Suroth of rank, naming her da’covale.

The rebel camp agrees not to free Egwene, on her orders. Romanda believes that there must be a way to put out all the older novices but is forced to reconsider when she learns of Sharina’s talent for the new Healing. Merise and Jahar arrive to offer to let the rebel Aes Sedai bond forty-seven Asha’man, explaining the significance of the number (fifty-one Aes Sedai bonded by Logain’s men, minus four Asha’man that have been bonded by Aes Sedai, equaling the number forty-seven to balance the two) and that saidin is clean. He tells them the story of a woman channeling saidin at Shadar Logoth and Romanda realizes it is probably Halima as she has remembered the connection between Anaiya, Kairen and Cabriana; she orders the arrest of Halima and Delana, but they have already fled.

Tsutama, the new head of the Red Ajah, tells Pevara to go ahead with the plan for Reds to bond Asha’man. Javindhra seems to be pleased at the chance to defy Elaida. Pevara meets with the other Sitters in the Black Ajah hunt and learns that news of Elaida’s disasters are filtering back, but are being kept to Sitters and Heads. The Black Ajah trail has gone cold as all known members have either been controlled or are out of the Tower. Tarna and Pevara, along with four other Reds, go to the Black Tower to ask to be allowed to bond Asha’man. Taim agrees with the words “let the lord of chaos rule”.

Throughout the world, ghosts and bubbles of evil become more common, food continues to spoil and buildings change, with corridors and rooms appearing, disappearing and moving as the Pattern weakens.

My Thoughts:

I don’t have much to say overall. This was an exciting addition to the series and if Jordan had been able to keep this tempo for the previous books, it would have done a lot to allay the cries of “nothing’s happening”. Sadly, it does prove that Jordan CHOSE to write the previous books as stultifyingly boring as he did, which just makes me as a reader feel bad.

This was the last book that Jordan wrote. It was published in 2005 and he died in 2007. I remember getting the news from (the as yet to be Mrs B) Miss Library and how devastated I was about it. I had been waiting for the next book to be published so had not read this one yet. When I heard that he’d died, I didn’t get around to reading this until 2012 when Brandon Sanderson wrapped things up with his trilogy.

This was a great example of how well Jordan could write, both in terms of complex plot and exciting battles and confrontations. It’s too bad his editor didn’t have enough guts to hold him to a higher standard for the previous books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Sapphire Rose (The Elenium #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Sapphire Rose
Series: The Elenium #3
Author: David Eddings
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 479
Words: 181.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

Sparhawk now has possession of the Bhelliom, so he returns to Cimmura and uses it to cure Queen Ehlana. Unfortunately, when returning the symbolic ring of the monarchy to her, she, perhaps deliberately, mistakes his action for a marriage proposal. The engagement has been publicly announced before he has had time to clarify this – although it seems unlikely that Ehlana would have been willing to break the engagement anyway. After curing the Queen of her illness, the knights ride for Chyrellos to prevent the Primate of Cimmura from ascending the throne of Archprelate. An enormous army lays siege to the Holy City.

Meanwhile, the evil God Azash and his servant, Otha, have been massing their forces along the eastern border of Eosia in preparation for an invasion of the west. Sparhawk decides, after consultation with his superiors in the Church, to take Bhelliom and travel to Zemoch with several others, with the intention of destroying Azash.

They reach the city of Zemoch, and find the temple which contains the mud idol to which Azash is confined. By a slightly odd mixture of subtlety and brute force, they gain access to the inner room – but not without the loss of Kurik, Sparhawk’s squire and friend. Sparhawk duels with Martel, another of Azash’s accomplices, and kills him; he then goes on to destroy Azash himself, who takes Otha and Annias with him.

The end of the series comes to a close with the birth of Sparhawk’s daughter Danae, who reveals herself to be Aphrael. Aphrael reveals that Sparhawk is the Man without a Fate and helps him lose Bhelliom so it won’t fall into the wrong hands.

My Thoughts:

This was a good ending to the trilogy. I had forgotten that so much happens. It was like Eddings realized he had dragged things out too long in the previous books and so had to cram everything in here. This was also quite a bit longer in terms of pages too.

In the previous book it felt like Eddings did everything he could to slow down our protagonists whereas in this book it was full steam ahead, damn the torpedoes and the jolly roger on the high seas. Sparhawk heals Ehlana, marries her, races across a continent to face down a god, defeats him, deliberately loses Bhelliom, has a kid who is actually a goddess and then helps heal the world. It was just a bit much.

Oh, the biggest reason for keeping it below a 4star was that Ehlana wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant after being poisoned and it’s a whole plot point between Danae/Aphrael and Sparhawk. The thing is, Bhelliom healed Ehlana from the poison, so why didn’t it heal her from that particular side affect? It just made no sense.

Overall, I was happy to re-read this trilogy but I think this is it. Eddings has a big place in my history of reading but not a future.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Grumpy Monkey ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Grumpy Monkey
Author: Suzanne & Max Lang
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children
Pages: 32
Words: 0.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? In the end Jim admits he’s grumpy and chooses to ride it out, as he’ll be happy tomorrow.

My Thoughts:

This was a cute little childrens book about a chimpanzee who was grumpy. Definitely for the pre-readers who like to look at the pictures or those who are just learning to read. I won’t comment on how the content is supposed to teach children, as we don’t have any and I’m not sure that I’d use this to teach anyone anything anyway. (Notice the anyanyany? I feel rather clever).

Mrs B bought me this for my birthday the other month as I have a collection of Grumpy Cat books and this fit in perfectly with that theme. She also got me a stuff monkey. He’s no Mr Zip, but he’ll do as a cousin who I wouldn’t mind handing off to a niece or something so she could slobber all over it and make baby noises and chew on it without me worrying about her destroying a priceless, prized family heirloom. (well, that IS how Mr Zip thinks of himself. Jimbo on the other hand realizes he’s destined for slobber and chewings and has resigned himself to such a fate. Look at those eyes, you can see the stoic resignation even in the picture!)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Crossroads of Twilight (The Wheel of Time #10) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Crossroads of Twilight
Series: The Wheel of Time #10
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 651
Words: 273.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

In Arad Doman, Rodel Ituralde hatches a plot to defeat Seanchan invaders. This plan involves using Taraboners to draw them out. Rhadam Asunawa realizes the Whitecloaks are united with the Seanchan by their hatred of Aes Sedai. He is willing to sacrifice the Whitecloaks if it will lead to the destruction of the Tower. He tries to convince Valda to support this course of action, even going as far as to suggest the use of damane to bring it about.

Deira Bashere and Dobraine are both attacked, presumably by men looking for the remaining seals. Dobraine is almost killed. Loial and Karldin arrive, looking for Rand. Samitsu is surprised that Karldin doesn’t submit to her. Logain decides to do something about Taim and takes men and Aes Sedai to the Sun Palace to try and find Rand. From there he Travels with Samitsu, who feels discontent at having her authority usurped by Sashalle, to meet Rand, who isn’t pleased by Logain’s bonding Aes Sedai and says it must stop. Logain tells Rand that Taim is a traitor and has named several of those loyal to Rand as traitors, but Rand decides that Taim must wait. He sends Logain with Bashere and Loial to arrange a truce with the Seanchan. Min sees Logain’s aura of glory more strongly than ever. Bashere returns to say the Seanchan are willing, but only if Rand is there in person to meet Suroth and the Daughter of the Nine Moons.

The Black Ajah hunters in the White Tower are forced to go slowly, until they can get the only known Black sister on her own. They are puzzled by the premature raising of many of the replacement Sitters and the fact that it seems the Ajah heads conspired in it. Katerine arrives outside Tar Valon at the same time as Tarna and both demand passage into the city. Gawyn no longer feels obligated to the Tower as they tried to have him and the Younglings killed and then abandoned them. However, not all the Younglings share his views. He learns from Tarna that Elayne supports the rebels. Alviarin returns from Tremalking and sees rats about the Tower, a sign of wards failing. She learns that Elaida has survived the knowledge of the debacle at Dumai’s Wells, as well as the loss of sisters sent to destroy the Black Tower, going public. Alviarin is told she is no longer Keeper. She notices Talene look to Yukiri and Doesine before keeping silent when the Green is asked a question. Elaida tells her how much she looks forward to her execution when sufficient proof has been found of her treachery. Alviarin uses a device to contact Mesaana to tell her this. Mesaana is unimpressed and decides to punish her before Shaidar Haran arrives and puts a stop to all channeling, showing Mesaana’s true face. She announces she will kill Alviarin for this, but Shaidar Haran forbids it, announcing he is the Dark One and briefly casting off his Myrddraal form. He puts a mark of protection on Alviarin and tells her to find those who threaten the Black Ajah. She decides to start with Talene.

Tarna visits Pevara and, after mentioning Pevara’s unusual views, suggests that the only way to control Asha’man is to bond them and that the Reds will be the only ones willing to do it. Pevara reveals to her that Asha’man have already bonded those sent to destroy them, saying this will change the world

Perrin learns that Masuri and Annoura have being meeting with Masema, though he doesn’t know why. Berelain stops hunting Perrin, but is content to let everyone else believe that she still is. She tells him of a letter Masema had from Suroth and that her thief-takers, who obtained it, are missing. They discover the Shaido camp. However, it is too large to attack and might have as many as five hundred Wise Ones in it. Masema suggests they restock in a town where the dead are walking and corruption and decay are rife. Perrin discovers a large pack of Darkhounds, though they are not hunting him. He stops the futile torture of a captured Shaido and instead chops off his hand, then threatens to do the same to his other limbs and leave him behind to beg on the streets, in order to get him to talk, but learns little. Tallanvor informs Perrin that the Seanchan are also hunting the Shaido and he decides to align with them to get Faile back.

In the Shaido camp, Faile plots her escape and continues to spy on Sevanna. Galina informs Sevanna that Faile has kept a weapon. Lacile and Arrela, two members of Cha Faile, who escaped with the help of Bain and Chiad, are retaken. Aravine pledges fealty to Faile. Rolan takes a liking to Faile. She believes he may help her escape.

Elayne Travels to several locations in Andor, gathering support from minor Houses. Dyelin brings the High Seats of four of the larger Houses, whose pledges of allegiance Elayne needs to take the throne. Careane and Merilille talk of their disapproval of Hanlon, whereas Sareitha talks of how wonderful he is. Elayne makes a bargain with Zaida, giving her a square mile of Andor in return for fourteen Windfinders to open gateways and keep Caemlyn supplied while the siege goes on. Merilille is to go with the Sea Folk, but she flees first, taking one of the Windfinder apprentices with her.

Arymilla keeps Elenia, Naean and Nasin hostage to force their support, though Elenia plans her escape and revenge. Hanlon plots the murder of everyone.

Mat and Tuon get to know each other. She asks if he remembers Artur Hawkwing’s face and he denies it. He learns the Windfinder he freed had freed others and many people died for it, and also that Tylin is dead. He struggles with Egeanin for control until Tuon strips her of her nobility. Tuon then promises Mat that she will not try and escape. Rendra is keen to use the a’dam again on the Aes Sedai travelling with them, but Bethamin is resigned to the fact that they will not. Mat forbids it. Rendra tries to kill Egeanin before fleeing, in order to keep the secret that she can be made damane, a fact that Egeanin is forced to reveal. Rendra is killed to prevent her from contacting a Seanchan patrol. Tuon forbids Mat from mourning. Mat learns that by claiming that Tuon is his wife three times, he has completed his half of the Seanchan marriage ceremony. Mat and Tuon play a game where he buys her gifts but doesn’t give them to her. Setalle takes a liking to Tuon, who herself takes a liking to Olver. Tuon gives Luca a guarantee of safety and a list offering protection to most of the people she has been with, except Mat.

Back with the rebel Aes Sedai besieging the Tower, Egwene has people turning iron into cuendillar, both for practice and to provide funds. She is exerting more authority over the Hall. Delana is trying to cause trouble and insisting Elaida should be named Black. Keepings have been failing and food has been rotting. The sisters sworn to Egwene have become her official council. Most of the Sitters who were Sitters when they fled are pressing to negotiate. Egwene allows this, on the condition they insist on Elaida’s resignation and exile. Elaida meanwhile is insisting that the Blue is disbanded and all the rebels are no longer members of any Ajah. Sitters return from where the taint was cleansed and report that Shadar Logoth is no longer there and that saidin was used, which leads them to assume it was the Forsaken. An alliance with the Asha’man is approved, much to the disgust of the original Sitters. Lelaine later suggests bonding the Asha’man, modifying the bond to allow them to be compelled. Egwene believes Rand is doing similar but still refuses. She tells Romanda of her plans for the Kin, but Romanda is not interested, insisting she will die as Aes Sedai. Sharina takes on much of the responsibility of ensuring the novices do as they should, to the bemusement and annoyance of various Aes Sedai. Nicola disappears and Anaiya and Kairen are murdered by Aran’gar, who is continuing to give Egwene headaches with the Power. Egwene converts the harbor chain to cuendillar before being betrayed and caught by Tower Aes Sedai.

My Thoughts:

I felt like this was really a 3.51 rating and so I rounded up to 4. This was my first time re-reading this and it has been 10 years since I originally read it so beyond the whole Perrin/Faile thing, this felt very brand new. It also made me realize how much detail Jordan shoves into these books, important details that are easy to overlook because of the all the other crap he sticks in. This was the book where Jordan reveals just what the super Myrddraal, Shaidar Haran, actually is. I’d completely skipped over that in my previous read.

I don’t see how one can take this series in without at least one re-read. That being said, I’m never going to be reading this series again once I finish it up. I was talking with Mrs B about it and I was able to finally articulate why. There are no positive relationships anywhere in this book or series. None. Even the good guys think nothing but criticisms or cattiness about each other. Every single character is trying to control things to their satisfaction and will do what ever they need to to accomplish that and we get to hear their inner thoughts throughout it all. Characters might “say” they are friends but their actions, words and thoughts say otherwise. It was a very unpleasant realization for me.

I realized this near the beginning of the book and it simply overshadowed everything. It’s not that this type of thing hasn’t been present before, as that is how Jordan has been writing for the whole series, it’s just that I truly noticed it for what it was and I couldn’t un-see it.

It also made me question just what it was that made Rand, Matt and Perrin the “good guys”. My answer? They aren’t. They are simply less worse than having the Dark One rule the world. That was the point where I decided that once I’m done this read through I’ll be getting rid of my hardcover copies and never reading this again.

My mind kept turning to Corinthians I, chapter 13, which is known as the Love chapter of the Bible. In it, Love is described both by positive and negative things.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I just kept waiting for some of these characteristics to show up and I never saw them.

I realize I’ve done nothing but complain about this book and yet I gave it 4 stars. The thing is, the story itself is still awesome. While the plot has ground to a halt, Jordan is using this time to setup his playing pieces just where he wants them to be. I like what is happening, where things are going and what the characters are doing. I just don’t like anybody.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Ruby Knight (The Elenium #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Ruby Knight
Series: The Elenium #2
Author: David Eddings
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 338
Words: 122K



Synopsis:

From Fandom.com

Sir Sparhawk and his companions seek the Bhelliom, a powerful magical artifact in the form of a sapphire carved in the shape of a rose, the only object with enough power to cure the rare poison administered to Queen Ehlana. The Bhelliom was last known to have been mounted on the Crown of the Thalasian King Sarak.The characters travel to the house of Count Ghasek whose sister is ill, as her soul was stolen by Azash, an Elder God of Styricum, whose spirit was confined in a clay idol.

Sephrenia and the others manage to cure Lady Belina, though she has been rendered hopelessly mad by destroying the idol which was controlling her power. The Count then tells them about the giant’s mound where King Sarak was buried.After finding King Sarak’s grave they learn that the crown had not been buried with him. They encounter a serf who tells them about the great battle which killed the King and how the Earl of Heid retrieved the fallen King’s crown and cast it into the dark murky waters of Lake Randera.

The search for Bhelliom suffers a set back when Ghwerig, the deformed dwarf troll who originally carved the gem into the shape of a rose, retrieves the Bhelliom first after his own centuries-long search to reclaim his beloved gem.Sparhawk and his companions follow Ghwerig to his secret cave hidden in the mountains of Thalasia. The book ends with Sparhawk and his squire Kurik killing Ghwerig by throwing him into a bottomless chasm, Bhelliom still clutched in his hand. The girl Flute dives into the chasm only to rise out again with the Bhelliom and depositing it into Sparhawk’s hands, thereby revealing her true identity as Aphrael, Child-Goddess of Styricum.

My Thoughts:

Man, I had forgotten that this was a Quest story and so Eddings throws everything but the kitchen sink at the characters to slow the story down. In the first book the cure for the Queen isn’t discovered until the end of the book and here it isn’t actually recovered until the end. Makes me wonder if actually saving the queen is going to happen at the end of book 3? /snark I could really feels Sparhawk’s frustration as one situation after another came up to delay or sidetrack the group.

Unfortunately, Eddings two biggest weaknesses were on full display here. His shallow one line banter between characters and his lazy use of “religion” as a plot crutch. The Elenium religion has as much impact on the lives of the knights as a caffeine free diet cola does on me. It is used so loosely that I can almost feel Eddings skidding around plot corners with it “just because”. The banter is still fun but they’re not genuinely clever like how I remembered.

As much as I seem to be bashing this trilogy, I still enjoyed my time. However, I don’t think I’d be having the same reaction if this was my first time reading this. Teen memories and nostalgia are definitely playing a part in my enjoyment on this read through.

I probably wouldn’t recommend this to 9/10th’s of you, but if you happen to know a teen boy who you’re trying to get into reading, this just might be the hook that catches him.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Winter’s Heart (The Wheel of Time #9) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Winter’s Heart
Series: The Wheel of Time #9
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 598
Words: 244.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

After being subjected to the Chair of Remorse, Talene forswears her Black Ajah oaths and re-swears the Three Oaths, as well as one to obey Seaine, Pevara, Yukiri, Doesine and Saerin. She insists Elaida must be Black as the Black always knows what Elaida plans. Although they all doubt it, no one realizes Alviarin is Black. Taim arrives to meet with Elayne. He tells her he has damane and sul’dam for her. He grants her permission to inspect the Black Tower. She is instructed to strip for the first-sister ceremony while Taim is there. The ceremony involves the creation of a bond, in some ways similar to the Warder bond, between her and Aviendha. In the Black Tower, Toveine considers the various factions present and how she might be able to use them to escape. Logain is trying to find men interested in Healing severing. It is announced that Damer, Jahar and Eben are rebels. Rand lays false trails and tells Min he plans to cleanse saidin.

Perrin returns from meeting Masema, who is keen to go to Rand, but not by using the One Power. Perrin learns Faile has been taken by the Shaido. Alliandre tells the Aiel who she is. Galina Heals the prisoners. Alliandre, Faile and Morgase are set to work as Sevanna’s maids and told to spy on her by Therava. Galina enlists them to fetch an Oath Rod in return for aiding their escape. Perrin learns Masema has been meeting with the Seanchan. Masema agrees to help Perrin look for Faile, even accepting the use of Travelling.

Hanlon organizes and foils an attack on Elayne and is named Captain of her bodyguard. Rand Travels to Caemlyn to meet Nynaeve and to arrange the cleansing saidin. Nynaeve teaches the Windfinders and Talaan asks to be a novice. Alivia and two of the damane decide they no longer wish to be damane. The sul’dam refuse to admit they can channel. Min forces Rand to meet with Elayne and Aviendha. He tells all three he loves them and they tell him the same, much to Nynaeve’s disgust. All three of them bond him as their Warder and all are concerned about the pain he feels and that the only emotion they can sense is his love for them. He sleeps with Elayne, much to Birgitte’s displeasure, getting her pregnant according to one of Min’s viewings. Min, Lan and Nynaeve leave with Rand, taking Alivia, angreal and ter’angreal. Merilille returns from meeting the Borderland army and Elayne goes to meet them. She decides to use their presence in Andor to try and unite the factions behind her. On her return, she learns from Norry that there are four small armies approaching from the east.

Harine argues with Cadsuane. Sorilea announces that the last of the captive Aes Sedai, all Red, have sworn fealty to Rand. Corele announces that Damer has Healed Irgain. He is allowed to Heal the other two Aes Sedai stilled by Rand. Alanna collapses and will not wake. Dobraine impresses Cadsuane by telling her that he has sent Darlin and Caraline to Tear, where Darlin is to be Steward.

The Forsaken learn of the decision to cleanse saidin and are told by Moridin to kill Rand to stop him. Tuon arrives in Ebou Dar, regretful over having a damane beaten for a telling of the future she did not like. Mat tries to persuade Aludra to help him make weapons, and to persuade Beslan to be sensible. Mat sees that the Mistress of the Ships has been executed for rebellion. He arranges passage out of Ebou Dar with the circus. He is attacked by the gholam and saved by Noal, who distracts it. He meets Tuon, stopping the dice in his head. She offers to buy him from Tylin and takes a general interest in him, later offering to buy his ashandarei.

Mistress Anan shows him Joline. Mat agrees to help them escape, along with Teslyn, who, he learns, warned Elayne and Nynaeve, just to spite Elaida. Teslyn insists he also free Edesina. Mat sees Domon and Egeanin together. Bethamin is told by a Seeker to befriend Egeanin, in order to spy on her, but Bethamin warns her instead. Domon decides to enlist Mat’s help as he remembers him escaping Trollocs. Tylin tells Mat that she is going with Suroth to see which lands will be hers. He talks Juilin into stealing an a’dam and a damane dress. Setalle tries to hold Joline with it, but both fall to the floor whimpering. Domon accosts him and Mat persuades Egeanin to leave quickly with him, and also to procure for him three sul’dam. He releases Nestelle, a Windfinder who promises to wait before trying to free the others. Mat is forced to tie up Tylin, who has returned unexpectedly. Tuon tries to stop him leaving, but Mat and Noal tie her up. Juilin brings Amathera. Egeanin reveals that Tuon is the Daughter of the Nine Moons when she sees her. Mat says that she is his wife. Selucia arrives and relaxes when Mat promises not to hurt her but to take her with them, which causes Tuon to smile.

In Far Madding, Rand fights Kisman and Rochaid, killing Rochaid. Kisman escapes but is killed by Fain, who wants Rand for himself. Min worries that Rand felt nothing. Isam/Luc is killing people for one of the Forsaken, who hides his own identity. Cadsuane takes Harine, Shalon, various Aes Sedai and the Asha’man Warders to Far Madding. Shalon notices tensions between the groups. It is revealed that within Far Madding is a ter’angreal that mimics a stedding, in that no one can sense the One Power or channel within its bounds. Cadsuane talks to the First Council and Verin mentions the dangers of upsetting anyone with an army as large as the Dragon Reborn’s. Alanna goes to see Rand. He sends her to Haddon Mirk to deal with the Tairen rebels. Verin decides not to poison Cadsuane after learning of her intent to remind Rand that he is human.

Rand learns that the Stone is under siege and that the Seanchan are advancing into Illian. He gets Verin to ask Cadsuane to be his advisor. Nynaeve and Cadsuane are revealed to be carrying channeling wells, a type of ter’angreal that allows them to store a measure of the Power and use it, even in Far Madding. Rand, Nynaeve and Lan go to kill Torval and Gedwyn. They watch them enter their dwelling, and are then lifted in by Nynaeve, using the One Power. Min and Alivia fetch Cadsuane. Inside, Torval and Gedwyn are dead, having been killed by Fain. Fain attacks Rand, who is severely affected by the pain in his side. Toram attacks Lan, but is quickly dealt with. Fain flees. Rand and Lan are arrested by men who were sent to investigate Nynaeve’s use of the Power. Cadsuane intimidates the rulers into releasing Rand by showing them that she can use the Power within Far Madding.

They Travel to a spot outside Shadar Logoth. Rand and Nynaeve link and use the two great sa’angreal. He links the taint to the city using saidar. The others form into groups to try and protect him, taking angreal. Cadsuane maintains a shield around him and Nynaeve, while Elza, Merise and Jahar stay near him for added protection. Damer, Sarene and Corele fight Demandred; Shalon, Verin and Kumira fight Graendal; Eben, Daigian and Beldeine fight Aran’gar, who, they are surprised to discover, can use saidin. Alivia fights Cyndane and Elza kills Dashiva. Moghedien avoids fighting and sees a great black dome form, and when it collapses she is sucked towards it. The taint is shown to be gone, but Kumira and Eben are killed. Damer Heals everyone else.

My Thoughts:

This book was on a one way ticket to 3 stars for the first 85% of the book. Jordan just dicks around and overdescribes everything. When someone walks into a room we get a detailed description of everything they see, from the scenery to the people to the clothes they are wearing to the weather conditions, etc. It felt exactly like what Dickens did in his books, but Jordan is no Dickens and it bored me.

What was worse, Jordan would do this WHILE characters were having conversations. So Egwene would be talking to Elayne and ask a question and then we’d get a paragraph of what Elayne was wearing or what Egwene was feeling and in the freaking middle of all that blather Jordan would insert Elayne’s one sentence answer. I ended up just skimming and looking for quote marks when characters started talking to each other. And that 85% is either setup or nothing. I felt the bloat so bad that I wondered if I needed to take some pepto bismol™.

The last 15% were good enough though to make up for it. Rand is bonded by the 3 women (which was interesting as I had forgotten that Min wasn’t able to channel and so how they included her was interesting just from a “huh, so that’s how they do that” perspective) and the cleansing of Saidin. THAT was a big battle between a bunch of the Forsaken and allies of Rand. While not as intense as the Battle of Dumai Wells (where the Ashaman rescued Rand and beat the snot out of the Aiel), it was good enough to raise this up to 4 stars.

But it brought to mind, once again, just how weak the Forsaken actually are. That leads into how in the world did they do what they did in the last breaking of the world? Whatever, that question just never gets answered.

On a completely different note, I REALLY like this ebook cover. I tried to find a high-res cover but all I could find was this 450×680 version. I even tried using TinEye and came up empty. I just like how it shows Rand using the Key and it’s a good reminder that he’s Aeil. I keep forgetting he’s got red hair even though it is mentioned in almost every book 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Diamond Throne (The Elenium #1) ★★★✬☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Diamond Throne
Series: The Elenium #1
Author: David Eddings
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Words: 134K



Synopsis:

From Fandom.com & Me

Sparhawk, a Pandion Knight, has returned to his hometown Cimmura after ten years of exile in Rendor.

He finds his Queen and former pupil, Ehlana, has fallen ill, having been poisoned by Annias, the Primate (an ecclesiastical rank) of Cimmura. Queen Ehlana has been encased in diamond by magic performed by Sephrenia, the Styric tutor of magic to the Pandion Knights. The diamond will keep Queen Ehlana alive for up to 12 months while a cure is found.

To aid him on his quest, Sparhawk takes his childhood friend and fellow Pandion Knight Kalten, his squire Kurik, and Sephrenia. In a show of unity, the other three Church Knight Orders also send their champions to be his companions: Genidian Knight Ulath of Thalesia, Alcione Knight Tynian of Deira, and Cyrinic Knight Bevier of Arcium.

Sparhawk finds out that only Bhelliom, a magical jewel infused with the power of the Troll Gods, can cure Ehlana. With both rings at his command, Sparhawk can now begin to find Bhelliom, while his Pandion comrades drop one by one.

My Thoughts:

This was the first book by Eddings that I read back in the 90’s. As such, it has long held a cherished nostalgia part of my heart. Even this time around I enjoyed it immensely but had to admit, Eddings’ Belgariad is the better series.

Eddings deliberately wrote as tropey as possible. I think on the back of some of his books it claims that he is “experimenting with certain literary styles” or somesuch high faluting nonsense. What it means is that he is writing to see what people will accept. And they accept a lot, let me tell you!

Does that mean this was a bad book? Not a chance. You simply have to accept it for what it is, or if you can’t, pass it over. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this to anyone over 30 who hadn’t read any Eddings before though. Check out a certain Elderly Guy who reads Eddings for the first time. It’s not pretty, hahahaa.

After this Elenium trilogy I suspect that I’ll be leaving Eddings in my past. While we can learn from the past, it’s not good to live in the past and I think this book proved that to me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Magician’s Ward (Magic and Malice #2) ★★★★✬


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Title: Magician’s Ward
Series: Magic and Malice #2
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 185
Words: 77K



Synopsis:

Kim is swamped. Between studying magic and learning a whole new life as a monied lady, her life is full, maybe too full! When a particularly inept burglar tries to steal several books from Mairelon’s library, it’s up to Kim and Mairelon to figure out why.

At the same time, several magician’s from Kim’s street life have disappeared and a Russian Magician shows up. When on the track of the thief, Mairelon loses his magic, it’s all up to Kim to deal with the rogue magician, who isn’t a magician at all!

And if that all isn’t enough, Kim has to have her coming out ceremony as a Magician’s Ward, where she realizes she’s in love with Mairelon.

By the end of the book, Kim has stopped the rogue magician, completed her ceremony and gotten Mairelon to propose to her. Now her life as a magician is going to get really busy!

My Thoughts:

If you happen to remember That Book, where I told Romance to get the heck out of my Action Stories, you might have gotten the impression that Bookstooge is a stone cold, heartless killer with no time for the softer things in life. And you would be wrong, dead wrong! (because I’d stone you coldly!) I like romance, in small doses and in its proper place. Jane Austen is the example that made me realize I could like romances.

Anyway, this book is as much a young adult/middle grade romance as a fantasy story. The obstacles that Kim needs to overcome are simplified, the villain appropriately stupid and even Mairelon takes side stage as he loses his magic, thus giving Kim the spotlight from all directions. She shines well too.

I didn’t think the story was quite as “fun” as the first but it felt more satisfying, hence the half-star bump. While I read this way back in 2000 and I have no real review, I remember liking this then and it seems I liked it just as much this time around too. I’m going to call this a Complete Success then.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ps,
Can we all agree that is the worst cover ever and that it should be cast into the Stygian pits?