In this entry of my first read of The Wheel of Time, I start a whole new book, A Crown of Swords. I'm planning to do a lot of my entries on the weekend from here on out, but I intend to post at least one or two during the week as well. But today, we only have the Prologue, which is huge enough to warrant an entry all to itself.
A Crown of Swords
Welcome back to my first read through The Wheel of Time, starting with a brand new book, A Crown of Swords. As I mentioned in my conclusion to Lord of Chaos, I’m slightly tentative of the slowdown in pace that supposedly starts around here, but I hear most fans still get a lot out of this book, even if it isn’t as thrilling as some of the predecessors. I do enjoy politicking and intrigue, so hopefully I will enjoy those elements of the novel. Anyway, some big events happen in ACoS, or so I believe, and I hope Rand’s showdown with Sammael, which I’ve been waiting eagerly for since TFoH, doesn’t disappoint. Before starting, let’s look at the cover art. In comparison to how ridiculously bad LoC’s cover was, this is actually pretty good. Rand looks rather silly, but I love the artwork of Shadar Logoth, and the whole book is a nice bluish color, which I like. Anyway, let’s get started!
Alviarin visits Elaida in her new quarters high in the White Tower, overlooking the construction of a palace she intends to loom over even the Tower. Alviarin reports many things, including a Grey noting the presence of Elayne, Nynaeve, Aviendha, and Birgitte in Ebou Dar. Elaida decides to have Elayne and Nynaeve captured with the forkroot Ronde Macura discovered. She also intends to control leaders like Tenobia and Stepaneos, and orders fifty Aes Sedai to dismantle the Black Tower. Alviarin additionally reports that Egwene, as the new Amyrlin Seat, is spurring the Salidar rebels into movement, alongside Gareth Bryne’s growing army.
Alviarin advises her to increase the Tower guard, but Elaida is not concerned. She has her own plans to dissolve the rebel Aes Sedai. She is secretly infuriated with Alviarin’s increasing insolence. Elaida has a sudden Foretelling, that the White Tower will be whole, the Black Tower destroyed, and Rand forced into submission.
Sevanna prepares for the attack at Dumai’s Wells. She has 200 Wise Ones, as well as 40,000 Shaido troops. She uses Desaine’s murder to spur the Wise Ones into action. Battle starts, but the arrival of wolves, Asha’man, and Rand’s escape turns the tides, and the Shaido begin to flee. Despite this, Sevanna still has her call box.
Alviarin returns to her own quarters, fearful that Elaida’s Foretelling might reveal her position. Mesaana appears, disguising her channeling. Alviarin silently ruminates that Mesaana must be disguised as an Aes Sedai in the Tower, and that it was Ishamael that crowned her head of the Black Ajah. She was also approached by Lanfear, Graendal, and Be’lal. Elaida wanted the king of Illian and queen of Saldaea kidnapped, and Darlin crowned king of Tear. Mesaana warns Alviarin to never serve Semirhage, Demandred, or Graendal, and Alviarin finds this information useful. She is taught how to Travel.
Pedron Niall plays a game of stones with Morgase in Amador, hoping to see her Queen despite Asunawa’s desire to hang her. He refuses to let her see Galad, however. Balwer has sighted Elayne in Ebou Dar, and Gawyn in Tar Valon. Niall has orders for Carridin concerning this. Omerna delivers a message conforming the Seanchan invasion, the reason Niall hasn’t pressed Andor. However, Omerna then assassinates Niall for not moving against Salidar. Eamon Valda enters and kills Omerna for this ‘treason’, and the message from Tarabon is ruined. Asunawa enters as well, demanding Morgase, but Valda refuses to relinquish her until they have Andor, and the Prophet dead.
Gawyn and his soldiers march north of Dumai’s Wells. He wishes to have killed Rand, but refuses to disrespect his promise to Egwene. He sees an Aes Sedai stranded on the road, but a battle with nearby Aiel distracts him from her concurrent capture. Gawyn decides to then proceed back to Tar Valon.
As far as prologues go, this one was pretty interesting, although you can’t really beat LoC’s opening, with Shaidar Haran, Demandred, and Shayol Ghul. Still, Whitecloaks and Aes Sedai developments abound. Let’s start with resident narcissist Elaida and her not-so-innocent Keeper, shall we? Building a palace with a tower even bigger than the White Tower? That’s certainly not a waste of money or a testament to her complete self-absorption. And she has no architectural sense either, a huge-ass tower right in front of a slightly smaller tower will look horrible. Meh, hopefully she won’t live to see it completed.
So I at first thought Elaida didn’t get the message about Galina’s master plan not exactly working, but the next segment with Sevanna proves that at this point, Rand is still captured. Yikes, it really would not have been good if Perrin and pals hadn’t succeeded. Although I’m almost sort of interested to see what would’ve happened if the Aes Sedai actually got Rand into Elaida’s clutches. Could they really force him to submit? This dynamic between Elaida and Alviarin is intriguing, too. I mean, we learn quite a bit about the latter this chapter, so it’s an interesting clash. Elaida’s just a destructive Red who is way too full of it, but Alviarin is the freaking leader of the Black Ajah, working on Mesaana’s orders. Damn, that would’ve made Rand’s visit to the White Tower even worse, with a Forsaken and her Ajah at work. Well, hopefully Elaida and Alviarin will just kill each other in this little power struggle.
Well, both the Black Tower and Ebou Dar can expect some trouble from Elaida’s goons, though. Agents seeking to capture Nynaeve and Elayne with that nasty forkroot, a huge force attempting to destroy the Black Tower… Sounds like plenty is going to happen in Ebou Dar this book, which makes the whole thing a little more interesting. Invading Seanchan, Elaida’s agents, Moghedien’s crony, and, of course, the hunt for the Bowl itself…
There was plenty to write about Elaida’s little conversation, but not much to say on Sevanna. It’s interesting to see Dumai’s Wells from the perspective of the other side, and clarifies what Sevanna’s deal was for me a little, but on the whole, it wasn’t an entirely necessary segment. Nothing exactly significant occurred, just a different outlook for a familiar battle.
But Alviarin…and Mesaana. Interesting. I guess that makes sense, I mean, we do know Mesaana’s in the Tower (although I can’t puzzle out who she’s masquerading as), and with Alviarin leading the Black Ajah, it would make sense she would be carrying out her orders. Still, am I just being forgetful, or was this the first time we heard of Alviarin leading the Black Ajah? I suspected something was up, with her opposition to Elaida and some of her earlier POVs, but I don’t remember anything about her actually leading the Ajah.
In any case, I really do hope Rand stops believing this woman is his friend. Even before this Prologue, I knew she was in no way supporting Rand in her TFoH letter, and found it naïve of him to think otherwise. She’s working for a Forsaken, who was pretty much orchestrating the whole kidnapping thing! Anyway, Alviarin is an interesting character to read about, as she seems very…intelligent. Even dealing with a Forsaken, she’s still manipulating and scheming and observing. Elaida doesn’t have a chance, standing up against her.
Poor Pedron! We hardly knew ye! It’s not as if I didn’t see this coming, what with Eamon and Asunawa’s little scheming in LoC. Pedron isn’t the nicest guy in the world, but he was sort of sympathetic, and I definitely do not like the idea of Eamon and the Questioners ruling Amadicia. I mean, precisely because of Pedron’s passivity, we haven’t been dealing with Whitecloaks for a while, not since TSR. But Eamon is gonna unleash them on Altara and Andor, I presume. Good thing Egwene is leaving Salidar… And what does this mean for poor Morgase? As much as I’m apathetic to her character, her storyline in Amador has been very interesting so far. She better get the hell out, as Asunawa is going to get her killed here. And what about the Seanchan? Pedron, the only person who was planning to act on their return, is now dead, and Eamon doesn’t have a clue there’s a psycho army ravaging Tarabon. Ugh, trouble.
And we finish things off with Gawyn. I was actually expecting him to really mess things up for Rand last book, after his POV in LoC’s Prologue. But I guess his love for Egwene overpowers his hate for Rand. Still, I wouldn’t rule out any future asshattery from him, entirely. Anyway, who was the disappearing Aes Sedai? Galina? I know she escaped Dumai’s Wells, one of the only important characters to do so. This mystery Aes Sedai wouldn’t have a cameo if she was just some random nobody, would she?
Anyway, that finishes off a rather exciting Prologue, in terms of new developments. Let’s see what’s happening to our main characters, now that we’ve had our usual dose of sideplot intrigue.