The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) ★★★★☆

dragonreborn (Custom)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 Dragon Reborn
Series: The Wheel of Time #3
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 986
Words: 268K

 

Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Byar returns from Falme and tells Niall his beliefs regarding what occurred there, and of his hatred of Perrin. Niall tells Jaichim Carridin not to try and stop Rand, as he hopes to make the people turn to Children of the Light to protect them. Fain tells Niall stories similar to Byar’s. He persuades Niall that the Two Rivers is full of Darkfriends, and that he should send men there. Carridin is given new orders, from an unusual Myrddraal, to kill Rand.

Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve head back to Tar Valon with a severely ill Mat, who, it seems, has mere hours to live. They are also joined by Hurin. Nynaeve tries Healing Mat, but accomplishes nothing. On the way, they are confronted by Whitecloaks, led by Dain Bornhald. The girls disperse them using the Power, something which incurs Verin’s anger.

Once in the Tower, the three are severely reprimanded by Siuan, who sets punishments for them all for running away, to keep the link between them and the Black Ajah secret. She tells Elayne and Egwene that they are to be raised to the ranks of the Accepted. She also sets Nynaeve and Egwene Black Ajah hunting, knowing that she won’t be blamed when Elayne is brought in on it. They are given a note from the Amyrlin, granting them permission to do almost anything. Verin tells Siuan about Mat blowing the Horn, and Siuan tells her the two false Dragons were defeated at the moment Rand proclaimed himself.

Nynaeve brings Elayne in on the hunt at the first opportunity. Egwene and Nynaeve are attacked by a Gray Man, who fires an arrow at them. Nynaeve captures the man using the Power, but finds him dead. Sheriam tells them to keep quiet about it; she is later revealed to have found a second Gray Man in her bed. Elaida comes to question the girls about Rand.

Mat is healed of his link to the dagger by a circle of thirteen Aes Sedai using a sa’angreal. During the Healing, he speaks in the Old Tongue and gives battle orders after experiencing a sort of flashback to a battle in the Trolloc Wars. He is visited by Lanfear, who tells him he is destined for glory, and Siuan, who he tries to avoid making any commitments to. He tries to leave, but is not allowed to do so. He also sees Lanfear, masquerading as Else. She is abrupt with him. He defeats both Gawyn and Galad in a friendly duel, using only his quarterstaff.

Verin gives Egwene a ter’angreal that is linked to the World of Dreams, and does not require channeling, to help her discover if she is a Dreamer. Egwene is raised; her test for the Accepted involves abandoning Rand under various circumstances. She learns that anyone who can channel can be turned to the Dark One by a circle of thirteen Myrddraal and thirteen Aes Sedai. The ter’angreal she goes through acts very unusually, and almost burns down, prompting Alanna to see Sheriam to ask for punishment, as she noticed something but kept quiet. Elayne’s test was similarly hard for her.

The girls are given clues to the whereabouts of members of the Black Ajah who fled the Tower by Lanfear, who is posing as a novice. They realize it is probably a trap, but tell Siuan they are going to head for Tear to try and spring it.

Egwene uses the dream ter’angreal. She first sees Rand, who attacks her. She then sees a woman calling herself Silvie, in the Stone of Tear. The woman seems to think she knows Egwene and tells her to say Ba’alzamon is a fool. The woman sends her out of Tel’aran’rhiod to prevent Be’lal from discovering her.

The girls ask Mat if he will deliver a letter to Queen Morgase. Mat tauntingly tells them he will do so, under the condition that they get him off the island, which he considers impossible, as the Amyrlin has told all the guards he is not to leave. They give him one of the notes the Amyrlin gave them, allowing the bearer to do whatever they wish.

The girls travel downstream on a boat, which runs aground. They go ahead on foot and encounter a group of Aiel, including Bain, Chiad and Aviendha, who reveal one of their number is severely injured. Nynaeve Heals her, and they set off again. They are then captured by Darkfriends, who wish to hand them over to a Myrddraal. They are freed by the Aiel, though they would have escaped on their own. Nynaeve uses balefire against the Myrddraal. The leader of the Aiel, Rhuarc, says they are going to Tear. The girls make their own way to Tear where they stay with a local healer, Mother Guenna. She enlists Juilin Sandar, a thief catcher, to help them find the Black Ajah, though of course he isn’t told they are Black Ajah. He is not careful enough and Liandrin makes him reveal their location. The girls are captured, and are severely beaten for refusing to give in.

Mat leaves the Tower and wanders around Tar Valon gambling, winning every throw of the dice. He is attacked by Darkfriends posing as thieves, but gets away from them. He meets Thom, who is drunk, and persuades him to go to Caemlyn with him. Thom agrees, since Caemlyn is dangerous for him and he is looking for danger after his lover’s death. They are attacked by Darkfriends on the ship they board. After getting off, they spend a night in a stable, where Mat rescues Aludra, an Illuminator. Out of gratitude, she gives him some fireworks. He messes with one to try to find out how it works, and throws it in the fire. They are attacked by Darkfriends again on the way to Caemlyn. Thom kills a woman, which displeases Mat.

They go to Caemlyn, again staying at Basel Gill’s inn. The guard on the palace gate refuses to let Mat in, even threatening to have him arrested as a Darkfriend when he reveals he has come from the Tower, so he goes over the wall like Rand had done previously. He overhears two men discussing a plan to kill Elayne. He is later taken before Morgase and her lover, Gaebril, who was one of the men Mat overheard. He meets Tallanvor, another member of the palace guard, who takes him to the Queen. He gives her the letter, then sets off for Tear, to help Elayne and Egwene.

Mat arrives in Tear and comes across Lord Comar, who he had heard ordered to kill Elayne by Rahvin. They fight and Comar is killed before Mat can learn anything. He meets Mother Guenna, who tells him of the girls’ capture. Leaving a sick Thom behind, he heads off to try and break into the Stone. He is accosted by Aiel, including Gaul and Rhuarc, on the rooftops, but once he makes it clear he has no plans to interfere with them, they agree to leave him alone. He meets Juilin, who had been having second thoughts about what he did. They agree to work together. Mat accidentally blows a hole in the wall with fireworks while trying to create a diversion. He enters, fighting Defenders of the Stone and nobles. On his way he and Juilin fight High Lord Darlin, who says he intends to watch as the skin is stripped from their bodies.

At the camp of the Dragon Reborn, Rand has spent the winter arguing with Moiraine. He accidentally damages the camp when he draws too much of saidin and has to release it randomly. A Tuatha’an comes with news for Moiraine. Perrin sees Lanfear and Ba’alzamon in the World of Dreams. They both talk to him. He also witnesses an argument between three of the Forsaken. Whilst he is asleep, he is warned by wolves that Trollocs and Myrddraal are attacking. Rand is powerless to help, but they defeat the Darkspawn anyway. Masema takes the aid of wolves as a sign that he should go to proclaim the Dragon Reborn and recruit for him. The Tuatha’an messenger is killed.

Rand sets off on his own to Tear, without telling anyone. On the way, he kills a group of people who come to join him at the camp fire. These include a woman and a Gray Man. He also continues to be plagued by dreams, and almost kills Egwene in one, when he mistakes her for a dream creation.

Moiraine realizes that Rand has gone to Tear to try and seize Callandor when many of the people with them reveal having dreamed of glowing swords and red stone columns. Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial follow, the Shienarans being injured. Chasing after Rand, they encounter villages where strange things have been happening – mass weddings, insanity and others – a sign of Rand’s being ta’veren. Meanwhile, Min goes to Tar Valon.

Perrin comes across a man who could talk to wolves, but who has lost his human side. He again enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where he meets Hopper, a dead wolf. They learn of Masema stirring up trouble in Ghealdan. He also meets two Hunters of the Horn, and a captured Aiel, Gaul. There are children throwing stones at the caged man, who he later frees. He tells Gaul he is off to Tear, and Gaul announces that is his destination as well, though he will not go with them. They kill some Whitecloaks, and are then forced to flee the village, along with a young woman who decides to call herself Faile, who keeps staring at Perrin. She is also a Hunter and believes they make a strange trail, which Hunters should follow. Perrin again sees Ba’alzamon and Lanfear in Tel’aran’rhiod, and tells Moiraine they are free. Rand sees him and attacks him.

They travel through Illian, where they discover Sammael is in control of the country. They are attacked by Gray Men in an inn before Sammael sends Darkhounds after them; Moiraine kills the hounds with balefire. They then head on to Tear, where they learn Berelain has given in to Tear’s demands. Perrin finds himself growing uncomfortable around Faile. She springs a trap meant for Moiraine, and is caught in Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Perrin’s wolf abilities allow him to enter this world, and he does so, in order to free her. Moiraine and Lan head for the Stone to help Rand.

Egwene enters Tel’aran’rhiod, where she meets two of the Black Ajah. She stills one and shields the other, leaving them trapped in Tel’aran’rhiod. Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve, however, remain shielded in the real world. Mat opens the cell and frees them. They knock out the Black Ajah sister and the shield disappears.

Rand enters the Heart of the Stone, where Be’lal tells him to take Callandor. They fight, with Be’lal forcing him toward it. Moiraine enters and kills Be’lal, again using balefire. Rand is attacked by Ba’alzamon, who almost kills him before he takes Callandor, chasing Ba’alzamon and killing him. This time, he leaves a body, which many people take for the Dark One until Moiraine points out how absurd that idea is. The Defenders of the Stone, who had been fighting Aiel, fall to their feet to proclaim Rand the Dragon Reborn. Berelain brings Rand a message from Lanfear.

My Thoughts:

The final 25% of this book was pure gold. Stuff was happening at a breakneck pace, it felt like everyone was running for their lives and the story was awesome. The problem was it meant you had to go through the first 75% and man, it was tough.

Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne are all together and my goodness, with “friends” like that, who needs enemies? They spend as much time and energy catfighting with each other as they do actually anything else it seems.Nynaeve is still stuck on getting revenge on Moraine for “something” (this is at least my 4th time reading this book and I still don’t understand completely why Nynaeve hates Moraine so much) and while her feelings for Lan are supposed to be a part of that, well, she shows more emotion and thinks more about Moraine than she does Lan. Egwene and Elayne, while not quite as bad, aren’t much better and I just felt exhausted every time I finished reading one of their sections.

Matt’s sections, while giving huge amounts of setup, also come across as him being nothing but a jerk and a pigheaded jackass. Meanwhile Perrin is so obsessed with ignoring his wolf powers that all of his energy is spent on that. If he had spent half the energy on even trying to learn about it as he did in fighting it, he would have been WAY ahead of the game. Plus, the whole golden eyes thing. Everyone who looks at Perrin is shocked at his golden eyes. I can see women paying that much attention, but the men? I couldn’t tell you the color of eyes for almost everyone I meet. I can’t tell you the eye color of my pastor, much less some stranger I met once on the streets. It’s just ludicrous that this gets as much page time as it does.

These characters are just plain unlikeable! I have to be honest, I’m not sure that I’ll be reading this series ever again once I’m done with this read through. The bad guys are more likeable for goodness sake!!!! I don’t understand why Jordan wrote them this way. It doesn’t advance, or impede, the story really. It just frustrates me as a reader.

Now, with all of that, this was still a great story. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this was an excellent story. So many cool things happen. Plus, the switching between characters was well done. At each chapter I felt like Jordan had given me enough for that group so I was satisfied to read some about another character group. That is a real balancing act and certain authors (like a jackass whose name rhymes with Gohn Jwynne) would have done well to learn something from this.

Reading back over what I’ve just written makes me realize how negative I’m being. While I was reading the book I enjoyed it, even while being frustrated by the characters, but as soon as I stopped to think about it, the negative really came to the forefront. I’m not sure if says more about me or about the story. Either way, I’m still recommending this series, just not as enthusiastically as in the previous 2 books.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time #2) ★★★★★

greathunt (Custom)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 Great Hunt
Series: Wheel of Time #2
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1072
Words: 276K

 

Synopsis:

From TarValon.net and authored by Toral Delvar

The book begins a few weeks after the end of The Eye of the World. Rand has remained in Fal Dara, practicing the sword with Lan, even though he had said he would get as far away as possible. Any plans he had to leave are shelved when a contingent of Aes Sedai visit, the Amyrlin Seat among them. Rand is questioned by one of them, Liandrin of the Red Ajah, who uses the Power on him to try and get answers to her questions. Moiraine convinces the Amyrlin, Siuan, that Rand must be allowed to go his own way, and that she will be there when he needs her.

Trollocs attack the town, freeing Fain from the dungeons and taking with them the Horn of Valere and the dagger, which are within the same chest. They leave Dark Prophecies on the wall, linking Luc with Isam, Lan’s cousin.

Rand is brought before the Amyrlin, Moiraine and another Aes Sedai, Verin, who has realized that Rand must be the Dragon Reborn. They tell Rand that he was born on Dragonmount at the end of the Aiel War, where Tam, his father, found him. They also tell him he is the Dragon Reborn, which he refuses to accept.

Moiraine convinces Rand to follow after the Horn, telling him it is important that Mat gets the dagger back. As the Aes Sedai are leaving, an arrow is shot from one of the towers, which only just misses the Amyrlin, though it might have been meant for Rand.

They set off after the Horn, using a man called Hurin, who can smell violence, to locate it. Perrin and Mat see Rand with the Dragon Banner Moiraine gave him, and Perrin reasons that Rand can channel. Fain, meanwhile, is beginning to show increasing abilities, which enable him to take control of the Darkfriends and stake a Myrddraal to a door.

Lord Ingtar, the leader of the Shienarans, tells Rand that Moiraine has made him second in command. Rand enters a room in a deserted village and experiences strange flashbacks. During one night, Rand, Loial and Hurin are transported to an alternate world via a Portal Stone. Rand wakes to find a heron branded into his hand. Hurin is able to use his abilities to keep on the trail, so they set off after the Horn. On the way, they meet Lanfear, calling herself Selene. She spends much of her time imploring Rand to seize greatness. They see a memorial of the victory of Trollocs over Artur Hawkwing and realize that in this world, all animal life has been destroyed. Eventually they find another Portal Stone, which Rand uses when they are under attack by creatures known as grolm to transfer them back to the real world. They find they are ahead of the Darkfriends, as Hurin had been smelling where the Darkfriends were going to be, not where they have been. Rand and Loial sneak up on them, and take the Horn and dagger back.

The head on to Cairhien, outside of which they see a sa’angreal in the form of a giant great statue which Rand feels calling to him. Rand is taken for a Lord, and gets mixed up in Daes Dae’mar; the noble houses begin sending him invitations, which he just burns, leading to invitations from greater and greater Houses, eventually leading to invitations from the King and Lord Barthanes, the King’s main rival.

Rand sees Trollocs in the city, and ends up in the Illuminators chapter house when he tries to flee them. His actions lead to the chapter house burning down. He meets Thom, who survived the Myrddraal in Whitebridge. While Rand visits him, the Darkfriends steal the Horn back.

Ingtar and the rest of the Shienarans are joined by Verin, who claims that Moiraine had sent her. They meet an Aiel claiming to be seeking He Who Comes With the Dawn, but Verin says they have seen no signs of him. They then catch up with Rand and the others.

Hurin traces the Horn to the manor of Lord Barthanes. The group uses an invitation to attend a party Barthanes is throwing. Here, they discover that Fain has taken the Horn through the Ways to Toman Head, on the Aryth Ocean, where Barthanes, a Darkfriend, says he will wait for Rand. The Waygate in Barthanes’ manor is blocked by Machin Shin, which tries to come out when they open it, although Verin insists it can’t be controlled. The following day Barthanes is found dead, his body completely ripped apart, presumably by a gholam. Thom’s girlfriend is killed by men working for the king who was suspicious of his involvement with Rand and his presence at Barthanes party. Thom kills the king.

They try a Waygate outside a nearby stedding. In here they meet more Aiel, which is unusual, as Aiel never leave the Waste. Mat tells Rand they are searching for him, as he is the only Aiel they know. Rand is not amused. Loial is nervous, since he doesn’t have permission to be outside his own stedding. He meets a female Ogier, Erith, who he is attracted to. The Waygate outside is also blocked by Machin Shin. They try using a Portal Stone. Something goes wrong when traveling through the Stone, enabling them all to experience many lives they could have led if circumstances had been different. In each of them, Rand is defeated, hearing the words “I have won again Lews Therin” as he dies. They arrive in Toman Head in autumn, having actually lost time due to their use of the Portal Stone.

In Falme, Fain meets with the Seanchan High Lord, Turak, claiming to be a descendant of men who kept their oaths to Artur Hawkwing. Fain gives him the chest with the Horn and dagger in it, though he is only interested in the dagger. The High Lord opens it and intends to present it to the Empress. Bayle Domon is also taken to see Turak, as one of the Seanchan, Egeanin, believes that his interest in the Age of Legends may prove interesting.

The girls head for Tar Valon, beginning lessons in the use of the Power on the journey. It becomes apparent that Nynaeve cannot channel unless she is angry, but when she does, she is very strong. Egwene starts having dreams of Rand, and one of the Aes Sedai, Anaiya, suspects she may be a Dreamer. In Tar Valon, Egwene befriends Elayne and Min, and meets Elayne’s brother, Gawyn, and their half brother, Galad, who Egwene is immediately attracted to. She also sees Logain, who looks utterly forlorn. Both Gawyn and Galad fall for Egwene. Nynaeve is raised immediately to Accepted. Passing three times through a ter’angreal that is perhaps connected to Tel’aran’rhiod, she first fights Aginor. She is then forced to abandon the Two Rivers, then Lan, in order to prove her desire to be Aes Sedai.

Liandrin comes to tell Egwene and Nynaeve that their friends are in danger and that they are both needed to help them. They agree to go with her through the Ways, bringing Elayne and Min with them. When they come out of the Ways, they are met by a group of Seanchan and it becomes apparent that Liandrin belongs to the Black Ajah. Nynaeve and Elayne escape but Egwene and Min are captured. Egwene has a collar fastened to her neck, which gives another woman total control over her. She is told she is a damane and the woman her sul’dam.

Nynaeve and Elayne stay around to try and figure a way to rescue Egwene. Nynaeve eventually discovers a way to use the Power to remove the collars; these make her angry enough to channel just by looking at them. Nynaeve arranges with Bayle Domon to take them away from the area. They release one damane and capture her sul’dam by using the collar, much to the sul’dam’s surprise. They then go to rescue Egwene.

Moiraine visits with two old Aes Sedai, Vandene and Adeleas, who she believes to know more about Dark Prophecy than anyone else. Whilst there, they are attacked by a Draghkar that is warded in some way so that Aes Sedai cannot detect it. They believe this means it was sent by one of the Black Ajah.

Mat, Rand, Perrin, Ingtar and Hurin enter Falme, to try and retrieve the dagger and the Horn, after Verin warns them that the Seanchan may sense a man channeling. They go to the house of the ruling Seanchan lord. Rand kills him, and they escape with the dagger and the Horn. Rand sees Egwene and decides he cannot leave her behind. Ingtar reveals that he is a Darkfriend, but wishes to return to the Light, and stays behind to prevent them being caught. They end up between two large armed groups: Whitecloaks, led by Geofram Bornhald and Seanchan. Mat blows the Horn to enable them to escape safely. The Heroes, led by Artur Hawkwing, appear, claiming to know Rand and telling him they need the Dragon Banner to be able to fight. Perrin raises it and the Seanchan are driven back. Rand is involved in a fight of his own, against Ba’alzamon. This duel is visible in the sky, with the pattern of their fight influencing the battle below. Eventually, Rand decides to let Ba’alzamon strike him, so that he can strike Ba’alzamon, who disappears.

Rand is severely wounded, and Min, Elayne and Egwene are drawn to him. Min keeps him warm, and is greeted by Lanfear, who tells her that Rand is hers.

 

My Thoughts:

Ok, this shows Jordan’s writing in top form! In the first book the characters really annoyed me on several occasions but in this book, I don’t think it happened once. Yes, they were still them, but the fingernails on chalkboard aspect wasn’t there. A big part of it is that they’re going their separate ways and aren’t in one big group, where everything gets ratcheted up annoyance-wise. I don’t think I’m going to have as much to say about this book as the previous, but here I go.

As I mentioned, the characters were much more palatable. It helps that Matt is pretty much sick and out of commission for the entire book because of not having the dagger. His obsession with getting it back makes him more focused, less mischievous and not a dick. Nynaeve isn’t a witch the entire time because she’s getting a solid dose of humility with starting her training as an Aes Sedai. I in no way advocate violence against women, but my goodness, Nynaeve makes me want to stuff a sock in her mouth and spank her til she cries. But she’s not nearly so insufferable this time around. We also get to see just how smart she is when the rescue for Egwene happens. I needed to see another side of her and thankfully Jordan provides that. I think Rand is the one who changes the most though and as the main Main Character, he needed to. He’s maturing and growing up and beginning to take on some of the responsibility that the Dragon Reborn is going to have to shoulder.

Darkfriends and the Black Ajah and the Seanchan and the Forsaken. The book starts off with a gathering of darkfriends, with hints that some extremely powerful people are part of the dark cabal. Jordan moves Darkfriends from a group of hick villagers who lust after power (like we saw in the first book) to a real Cabal of the powerful. The Black Ajah goes from being something that nobody really believes to having it shoved in our faces with the selling of the girls to the Seanchan by one of the Black Ajah. They haven’t really amped up their threat level in terms of power but have definitely made their move into the larger storyline. The Forsaken, namely Lanfear and Balzaman, show just how divided the Forsaken are, with each having their own goals alongside trying to return the Dark Lord from his prison. Finally, the Seanchan and their chained, trained and battle ready slave women who can channel. I found it almost heartbreaking to know that the descendants of this worlds version of King Arthur had turned into a stratified slave society.

The world continues to grow at a very organic pace. As our various groups of villagers go out into the greater world, they learn about the world they inhabit and we as readers are along for the ride. I think Jordan made the right choice with starting out with ignorant characters, as it doesn’t feel like we’re having information shoved down our throat. What the characters learn, we learn. It is also becoming apparent that this world does nothing but cycle through Ages. Thankfully we readers aren’t running for our lives so we have time to think about what “X” could mean AND we have several viewpoints all feeding us input. It is no wonder this series spawned a rabid fandom that thrived on speculation.

To do the whole Wheel thing, I’ll end where I began with this review. Jordan’s writing is as good as I could ask for. Not once during these 1000 pages was I bored, or confused or overwhelmed. I might not have understood everything but I was never flailing. It takes consummate skill as an author to guide your readers like that and Jordan showed a deft and masterful hand that way. I ended up giving this the Best Book of the Year tag as I enjoyed every part. I suspect several of these WoT books will get that tag this year 🙂

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1) ★★★★☆

eyeoftheworld (Custom)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 Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1154
Words: 314K

 

Synopsis:

From TarValon.net and authored by Toral Delvar (thanks ol’ chum!)

The book begins in the region of the Two Rivers, which has been virtually cut off from most of the rest of the world for over a thousand years. It is spring festival, Bel Tine. On the way from his father’s isolated farm, Rand notices a strange man watching him. The man, whose cloak doesn’t move in the wind, frightens him. He tells Tam, his father and a widower, but the man is gone when Tam looks.

They arrive in the village of Emond’s Field, where Rand meets his friends Mat, who is fond of foolish pranks, and Perrin, an apprentice blacksmith. They also reveal having seen the man. They learn of strangers in the village, Moiraine and Lan, something that is almost unheard of. There is also a gleeman, Thom and a peddler, Padan Fain. Moiraine gives each of the three a coin, a token; she claims it is for any work she might ask them to do for her. Fain tells of a false Dragon in Ghealdan, which sets the village worrying, as Ghealdan is not far from Emond’s Field, though it is all but unreachable. The Village Council orders patrols, mostly to calm the nerves of the villagers.

Rand and his father return to their house. When Trollocs attack Rand’s farm, his father Tam brings out a sword to fight them. Rand briefly speaks with Trolloc which wants Rand to wait for someone, before Rand kills it. His father takes a wound which quickly incapacitates him. In a delirious moment, Tam reveals he found Rand on a mountain, during the Aiel War. Rand takes him back to Emond’s Field where Moiraine, who has been revealed as an Aes Sedai, Heals him of the wound he took. When the people blame Moiraine for the attack, she tells them of the time in the Trolloc Wars when Manetheren was destroyed and that she is disappointed at what its blood has come to. This shames the villagers who leave her alone.

Moiraine convinces the boys that the Trollocs were after them personally as it was only their houses and farms that were directly attacked, and the man looking at them was a Myrddraal and they must leave the village. They are accompanied by Rand’s girlfriend, Egwene, who wishes to become Aes Sedai, and Thom.

Fleeing Emond’s Field, they pass through Taren Ferry, where Moiraine misdirects the following Myrddraal and sinks the boat they crossed the river on. They see a Draghkar above. They head for the town of Baerlon, which amazes them because of its perceived immense size. On the way, Rand channels for the first time, to help Egwene’s horse stay ahead of the Trollocs, though he is not aware of it at the time. In Baerlon, Rand meets Min, a young woman who claims to see strange auras around him and his companions.

Rand, Mat and Perrin start having dreams of a man clad in black, calling himself Ba’alzamon who tells them they will serve him. He breaks a rat’s back, and in the morning, all the rats in the inn are dead. The village Wisdom, Nynaeve catches up with them. Min tells Rand that this means the trouble they are in is worse. Though Nynaeve wishes to take them home she agrees to go on with them. Mat plays a trick on some Whitecloaks, including Dain Bornhald, getting Rand, who is suffering the ill effects of channeling for the first time, into trouble for laughing. They leave Baerlon at night, Moiraine using a trick of the One Power to scare the Whitecloaks who are intent on stopping them. Behind them, they see the inn they stayed in on fire. They set off on the road to Tar Valon. They are chased by Trollocs, prompting Mat to unknowingly chant the ancient battle cry of Manetheren in the Old Tongue.

To escape, they are forced to seek refuge in the abandoned and tainted city of Shadar Logoth. Despite being warned that even the Trollocs and Myrddraal fear to enter the city, the boys go exploring, where they meet a man called Mordeth, who casts no shadow. When they notice this, he swells up to many times his normal size and tries to get them. They only just escape him, but Mat manages to get a dagger with a large ruby from his treasure. They return, telling Moiraine that Mordeth did not give them anything. Trollocs and Myrddraal enter the city which worries Moiraine and Lan, as normally no Myrddraal would do so, unless under great duress, due to the disappearance of a Trolloc army there in the Trolloc Wars. In order to avoid the Trollocs and the mindless danger of Mashadar, they split up.

Perrin and Egwene end up across a river which runs near the city. Trying to head for Tar Valon, they encounter a strange man, Elyas Machera, who was once a Warder and who is accompanied by wolves. He is able to speak to wolves and claims Perrin can do so as well. The three of them meet up with some Tuatha’an, with whom they spend a few days before heading off. One of them, Aram, takes an instant dislike to Perrin. Aram’s grandmother claims that this is because he has a hard time trying to follow the Way of the Leaf. They are told of an encounter with the Aiel some years previously, in which one claimed that the Dark One wished to turn the Eye of the World to his own purpose.

After leaving the Tuatha’an, the three are chased by a pack of ravens. Before they are caught, they enter a stedding, where creatures of the Dark One are reluctant to enter. Here, they encounter a group of Whitecloaks. Fearing for their lives, Perrin kills two of them before he and Egwene are captured. The Whitecloaks are convinced they are Darkfriends, as Perrin runs with wolves and their leader believes wolves are creatures of the Dark One. Egwene is told that unless she repents, she will be killed. Perrin is told by Geofram Bornhald that as he killed Whitecloaks, he will definitely be killed. Another Whitecloak, Jaret Byar, appears to develop a personal hatred of Perrin. He offers to let them escape, but Perrin realizes he will kill them both if they do.

Nynaeve, Lan and Moiraine also end up together. Moiraine makes Nynaeve accept that she can channel by pointing out that she can sense her presence, and also that Nynaeve can sense the presence of someone who she has Healed with the One Power. She also tells her of apprentice Wisdoms who have died, a common thing amongst those who try to learn to channel on their own. Nynaeve agrees to go to Tar Valon to become Aes Sedai, so that she can get revenge on Moiraine. She and Lan also begin to fall in love. The three of them then catch up with and rescue Perrin and Egwene, who Moiraine can trace because of the coin she gave Perrin.

Mat, Thom and Rand escape from Shadar Logoth onto a boat owned by a man called Bayle Domon. Domon is aware of the Trollocs, but believes they are after him, as he has been followed since Saldaea. He shows them ancient objects, including one of the seals on the Dark One’s prison, and an object that some men perceive as warm, possibly a male angreal. Domon takes them to Whitebridge where they leave for Caemlyn. They are caught by a Myrddraal, but Mat and Rand escape when Thom stays behind to fight. On the way to Caemlyn, Mat grows steadily more distrustful of everyone except Rand. Darkfriends assail them on the way, encouraging them to swear to the Dark One. One, a woman in silks, tries to kill them, but they escape. Rand has to talk Mat out of killing her. Rand is forced to unknowingly channel again, to escape from a Darkfriend at an inn they are trapped in. They encounter a third Darkfriend later. In Caemlyn, they head for Basel Gill’s inn as it was recommended by Thom. Gill refuses to believe Thom would have been killed. Here Rand meets and befriends Loial, an Ogier, who at first takes Rand for an Aiel, and tells him he must be ta’veren. Whilst trying to get a good view of the false Dragon Logain, who laughs as he sees Rand, Rand falls into the Palace Garden after being distracted by Elayne. She tends his injuries, while Gawyn watches and Galad fetches the palace guard, led by Tallanvor. Elayne believes Rand to be a loyal Queen’s man, as he has a ribbon on his sword that indicates this, but in reality, it is only meant to cover the Heron Mark, and was the cheaper colour. He is taken before Morgase, Bryne and Elaida, who has a Foretelling and announces that Rand stands at the center of all the suffering and destruction to come. Bryne states that the sword belongs with him. Morgase releases him though, as she has heard the accent of the region before, and though Rand does not look like those from the area, he must have grown up there. On the way out, Gawyn reveals that Rand looks like an Aiel.

The others arrive at the inn, and Moiraine temporarily Heals Mat, who had been behaving strangely because the dagger he was carrying had infected him with some of the taint from Shadar Logoth. She says if she hadn’t done so, the taint would have spread throughout the world. Moiraine learns of the plot by the Dark One to use the Eye of the World in the Blight, and they head there via the ways, which Loial knows how to navigate. They only just avoid Machin Shin. They are followed through by Padan Fain, but he stays out of view.

Once out of the ways, they stop in the town of Fal Dara in Shienar, where Padan Fain is captured and revealed to be a Darkfriend, responsible for bringing the Trollocs at Bel Tine. He had been hunting the Dragon Reborn for years. Moiraine reveals that Machin Shin caught up with him but for some reason did not consume him.

They then head off into the Blight. They are attacked by creatures which they fight off, before being pursued by a type of Shadowspawn referred to as Worms, but escape these when they meet the Green Man at the Eye of the World, which is a pool of pure saidin. Whilst there, two of the Forsaken, Aginor and Balthamel, appear. They are very much decayed, as they were close to the top when sealed. They quickly deal with everyone, except the Green Man, who kills Balthamel, though he is killed himself. Rand flees and is pursued by Aginor, who is killed.

Rand finds himself in a strange room with Ba’alzamon, who tells him that he has his mother. Discovering he can channel, Rand cuts a black cord coming out of Ba’alzamon’s back, before returning to the real world. There, he discovers the Eye of the World to be empty of saidin. Several objects are found in it. These are the Horn of Valere, a banner with a Dragon on it and one of the Seals on the Dark One’s prison, broken. Loial sings at the place the Green Man fell, growing a strong tree, which he hopes will not fall to the Blight. They then return to Fal Dara, through an unusually quiet Blight.

 

My Thoughts:

First things first. I plan on using the Tar Valon Library synopses for each of these Wheel of Time books as they fully describe the plot (hence the multiple pages of them!) and I like them better than the wikipedia version. Tar Valon Library is a fansite as far as I can tell and it shows. So expect a super long synopsis every time I review a Wheel of Time book!

Second, even My Thoughts here are going to be chalk full of spoilers. It is simply unavoidable. This series is too big to talk about it in any form besides “I liked it” and not have spoilers. Of course, considering this book is almost 30 years old (it was first published in 1990), chances are you aren’t going to read it if you haven’t already! 😀

 

Characters.

  1. What struck me this time around was just how PETTY a lot of the characters were. Some of the characters (Matt for example) really annoyed me by their actions and “how they were” but I realized that Jordan wrote him that way for a reason. But the pettiness, I don’t understand. Nynaeve was the worst example. Almost everything she did was in reaction to the Aes Sedai Moraine. They barely escape with their lives from trollocs and fades and all Nynaeve can think of is how she’s glad that Moraine is rumpled looking. Petty! While I singled out Nynaeve here, that kind of thing is across the board. I had not noticed it, or remembered it, from my previous reads but it stood out strongly this time.
  2. I wanted to kill Matt Cauthon so many times! His “pranks” are dangerous and put everyone in danger time and time again. It seemed to me that if his dad had spanked him more as a kid that he wouldn’t have been so irresponsible now. Of course, that would mean he wouldn’t have taken some of the actions he did which in turn does X, Y and Z. So I just have to put up with it. But my goodness, what a jerk.
  3. Nobody explains ANYTHING to anyone else. People spend days riding horses together or walking together and yet they can’t find time to talk? Moraine tells everybody to not take anything from the cursed city and Matt (obviously) does anyway. But she never explains WHY or what could happen. If the group had known the consequences or the symptoms, what happened to Matt might have been averted or taken care off much sooner. Another example is Perrin and his wolf-brother ability. He finds out from Elyas that he can communicate with wolves and that it probably comes with other abilities. But during the days or weeks (?) that they are travelling together does either one try to figure anything out? Of course not! Perrin pretends it isn’t happening and Elyas is just as happy to let Perrin reinvent the wheel all over again. It really frustrated me.
  4. I’ve complained before, in Another Book Review, about how a large cast of characters is usually off-putting to me. But in this book, even with 7 MAIN characters and a plethora of main side characters, I had no problems. Nada. None. Zero. Zilch. It helped that even when Jordan split them up they were still clumped together in mini-groups but I think the biggest thing is that Jordan was skilled enough to write them in such a way as to not confuse his audience. He also didn’t included Named Characters “just because”. I never mixed anyone up.
  5. The world building was pretty explicit in that Jordan told us a lot about the world by introducing a lot of Groups of People. The Aes Sedai. The Warders. The Children of Light. Darkfriends. The Forsaken. Trollocs and Fades. Ogier. The Tuathan. And more. As each group is introduced, usually with a named character to keep me vested, Jordan reveals a little more about the current world and the past. It was just fantastically done and I never felt overwhelmed, confused or annoyed. It was like I was in a gondola and Jordan was the man using the one oar to gently guide me down the river of the story. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I never worried about going down a wrong channel or hitting the rocks, etc. As much as fans rag on Jordan (and rightly so) for doing stupid things like repeatedly talking about hair pulling or snorting or whatever, the man was skilled in the art of story telling.

 

Plot.

  1. I believe this series was originally pitched as a trilogy. That is hearsay though, as I can’t find any substantive proof to back it up. However, I can believe it. A lot happens. Rand (the main MAIN character) goes from a farmboy to possibly being the Dragon Reborn (the savior or destroyer of the world, depending on what prophecies you read or how you interpret them) and along the way meets all the people he’ll eventually need. And not just to being the Dragon Reborn, but someone who battles several of the Forsaken (the generals of the Dark One), wins and then possibly kills the Dark One himself. So much happens!
  2. At the same time, there is also a lot of what Karlstar (from Librarything) called STTM, or, Slogging Through The Mud. The story is limited to the speed of horses. At least until right near the end of the book and Jordan happily keeps us at that pace.
  3. That leads into another possible issue, depending on how cynical and jaded you might be as a reader. Things Happening When Needed. Near the end of the book they suddenly find out about the Waygates, which allows them to travel great distances very quickly (not without danger mind you and something that they risk their lives doing every time). If you are cynical, you say that Jordan pulls them out of a hat. That was my first impression too. But upon reflection, things CAN’T happen until certain characters are either introduced or meet other characters. Moraine knows about the Waygates, as she is Aes Sedai, but not being an Ogier (the Waygates were a gift from the last of the male Aes Sedai to the Ogier) she wouldn’t have been able to navigate them. It isn’t until they meet Loial the Ogier that they can take advantage of the existence of the Waygates. This type of thing happens several times.
  4. This is a complex story that is made up of many strands being woven together. Considering that The Wheel of Time weaves the lives of men into the Pattern of Ages, it really isn’t a surprise that Jordan writes this way. He’s being very thematically true to the world.

 

General Thoughts.

I met Jordan at a book signing at my local bookstore back in 2005 when Knife of Dreams was released. He was a genial fellow and knew how to keep the patter going so no one got bored, almost a showman you might say. He stated then, in answer to a question, that he had envisioned the ending of the series right from the beginning. That was to reassure us that there was going to be an end, as we were all worried about it turning into something Never Ending. So imagine my surprise when I was reading this and B-A-M!!!, there is the end scene from the final book in one of the visions/dreams Rand has. It made me put my kindle down and laugh and clap my hands! So Jordan didn’t lie to us, he DID have the final scene, it just seems like he either didn’t know how to get there or he took a lot of detours to milk the cash cow. Of course, him dying the next year or so didn’t help fans feel any better at the time! Thank goodness Brandon Sanderson took over and finished it up.

I gave this 4 stars this time around instead of 5 like last time because Matt was a real jackass and Nynaeve was petty. Also the romance between Nynaeve and Lan really came out of no-where. I knew it was coming but even still, there was no indication besides a couple of glances or red cheeks. That really isn’t enough for 2 adults to have a midnight talk about marriage.

Overall, I enjoyed this but am not sure if I’m still the target audience any more.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

A Memory of Light

A Memory of LightA Memory of Light

Wheel of Time #14

Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like I was deluged by a tidal wave.

Then came the ending. It kind of made me feel “vanilla”.

Sanderson did an excellent job of wrapping this up. I was in awe.

I look forward to re-reading the whole series in 5-8 years.

Edit:

I realized this morning that my words were on the light side. Considering that I’ve been reading WoT since ’95 or ’96, and have experienced the travail of my soul [When I heard that Jordan had died, I practically swore vengeance upon his barely cold corpse “how could he do this to me!?”] and then was raised to the clouds when I heard Sanderson [probably my favorite fantasy author now] was going to complete the series.

I have run the whole gamut of emotions with this series. Excitement, boredom [tugging of hair anyone?], rage and despair, hope and finally, satisfaction.

How does one encapsulate 17’ish years in a couple of paragraphs? I’ve gone from a highschool teenager to a married 30something security guard. So I don’t write a review worthy of the NY Times, I write this little ditty to remind me that all things can be gotten through, that they end and that they can be good and bad.

This series will be something that sticks with me for the rest of my life. Nice to have something like that.

Knife of Dreams

8977503Knife of Dreams
Wheel of Time #11
by Robert Jordan
Fantasy
Ebook, 704 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

I really enjoyed this, but it didn’t get 5 stars because there just so much info not wrapping up that I couldn’t truly immerse myself completely in the book.

Once I was done, I realized, this was the last book Jordan wrote by himself. And I tell you, if I had read up to this book then heard that Jordan had died, I would have been REALLY angry.

I am so glad I still have several books ahead of me.

Crossroads of Twilight

8613108Crossroads of Twilight
The Wheel of Time #10
Robert Jordan
Ebook, 672 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Fantastic!

I have to admit, I am enjoying seeing Perrin pushed to the edge, and a little beyond. He really needs to “grow” but the only way is to force him along certain paths.

I find Matt’s acceptance of his fate, in regards to the daughter of the nine moons, very unlike him. He always seems to have fought being forced to do anything, and now he is just going along with it?

Winter’s Heart

8479487Winter’s Heart
The Wheel of Time #9
by Robert Jordan
Ebook, 560 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Read June 2001
Re-read November 2011.

What a difference 10 years makes. First off, I’ve got the final book in my hands in the next couple of months. Second, I’m reading a WoT book a month instead of a year[or 2 or 3] and I think that is just about the right amount of time.

Most of this was completely new to me because I think I stopped the first time when I realized the series wasn’t at its end. I enjoyed this. Same compliments, same complaints as the previous books.
And the cleansing of Saidin was pretty cool. It did make me wonder just how strong/weak the Forsaken actually are. And if they couldn’t deal with Rand and Co, why did the original Aes Sedai have such trouble?

The Path of Daggers


The Path of Daggers
Wheel of Time #8
by Robert Jordan
Ebook, 704 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My initial remembrance of Path of Daggers is nothing happens and everyone is a bitch.

My reread confirms that, but with some very serious upgrades in like-ability. This was a setup book. Not a good book to read when first released, but when you’ve got the books after, you don’t feel the pressure.

So many different storylines, lots of things happen but without resolving anything while introducing more questions. I had to make myself not immediately read the next book and wait until November.