Here's two planned entries in one. We're finishing off A Crown of Swords today! The last fourth of ACoS is definitely action-packed, for the folk in Ebou Dar, and for Rand especially.
Chapter 28: Bread and Cheese
Mat moves into the Tarasin Palace reluctantly. As soon as he settles in, Tylin starts to harass him discreetly, leaving Thom and Juilin oblivious. He ensures that Elayne and Nynaeve have bodyguards and is dispatched to a tavern opposite the Kin house, assigned to survey it because of his ta’veren nature.
He receives another note from Tylin upon returning. He is forced to barricade himself inside of his quarters without dinner. Mat scouts the Kin house for two more days, and when Birgitte joins him, is surprised to find he thinks of her as he would a male friend.
So we’re back in Ebou Dar. Not much happening here yet, except that Mat’s predictably not enjoying his stay in the Palace because of Tylin. What an…enthusiastic woman, I guess? Sort of funny to see the tables turned on Mat, but the last thing he needs is more harassment from women right now. He’s got a Bowl to find, after all.
I definitely like his friendship with Birgitte, which penetrates Mat’s usual perception of women as playthings and pursuits instead of actual friends. So I suppose the Supergirls’ plan is to have something random and miraculous occur at the Kin house because of Mat’s ta’veren presence? I guess crazier things have worked before.
Chapter 29: The Festival of Birds
Mat prepares to leave for The Festival of Birds with Olver, but is confronted by Tylin. A maid offers to accompany Olver instead. Tylin forces Mat to have sex with her at knifepoint. He is less affronted by the rape and more by the sheer impossibility of the tables being turned on him.
Afterwards, Mat encounters Beslan, Nalesean, and Birgitte in the courtyard. Some ‘beggars’ assail them in the streets, at least one working for Old Cully. Battle breaks out in the street and they proceed to the tavern. Beslan thinks Mat and Tylin make a good couple. Mat irritably walks off by himself. He decides to follow a woman leaving the Kin house.
Reanne watches this from the window and is not concerned about Mat. The woman, Solain, was dispatched because of Mat’s ta’veren influence.
Okay, did Tylin just rape Mat? Yeah, I think she did. So this was the scene. Now Tylin’s gone from harassing Mat to assaulting him, wonderful. I see the complaint with this whole subplot now. It seems that Jordan had the opportunity to comment on the tendency for society to disregard a man being assaulted by a woman in comparison to vice versa, but instead he falls victim to the exact same double standard. If Mat was a girl and Tylin a man, both Mat and everyone else in the story would be outraged, not amused.
Jordan was obviously trying to play this for laughs, and I think if it was toned down a little more, it would’ve been funny. Obviously the humor stops when rape enters the scenario. Mat being chased around by a lecherous queen after all of his years of womanizing definitely had the potential for comedy, and I did like some of the earlier scenes, but this, of course, is too far. I think the big argument amongst the fandom is whether it actually was rape, and I think it most definitely was. Again, flip the genders around and ask the same question. The fact that Mat just seems irritated and a little amused by it all is just evidence that Jordan never intended to comment on this double standard, and was actually just adhering to it.
Well, other stuff happened in this chapter too, including a cool little fight in the streets. Beslan is as annoying as his mother, predictably. And the whole Kin dealie is still kinda confusing, but there seems to be confirmation that Mat’s presence is indeed affecting the Kin house.
Chapter 30: The First Cup
Nalesean thinks Mat has discovered the Bowl and returns to the Palace to alert Elayne. Elayne confronts the Aes Sedai, who are appalled that she endangered an ancient secret. They threaten to chastise her, and Merilille’s maid enters with a message from Carridin that Morgase is alive with Niall, which she thinks a lie.
Elayne asserts herself over the Aes Sedai, who actually submit. Adeleas explains the truth about the Kin, that women who were dismissed from the Tower migrated to the location of the Rahad during the Trolloc Wars. The Aes Sedai have been secretly aware of the Kin and their protection of runaways. The Aes Sedai follow Elayne from the palace.
Moghedien is carried through the streets of Ebou Dar, but spots Nynaeve boarding a boat. She leaves her carriage and climbs to the roof of an inn. She is fearful of getting distracted from Moridin’s instructions, but decides to balefire Nynaeve’s boat, which is split in half and sinks into the river. She hastily returns to Falion and Ispan.
After the awkwardness of last chapter, this was refreshing. Elayne’s confrontation of the Aes Sedai was very awesome indeed. Way to show them whose boss. Damn, can these Aes Sedai get any more irritating? They’ve done literally nothing to contribute in the whole mission in Ebou Dar, and then threaten to slipper Elayne for revealing big secret she never knew about. And, of course, the ageism is at play. I know how you feel, Elayne, being disrespected and underestimated because of your age indeed sucks.
It’s still frustrating that nobody knows Morgase is alive, but I don’t blame Elayne for not believing Carridin. I mean, who would trust that guy, especially with something sounding as preposterous and disingenuous as that letter did?
So we’ve got some more information on the Kin. The big secret is apparently that the Kin aren’t a secret, and I guess have ironically been inadvertently helping Aes Sedai find runaways quicker. And those Kin were so full of it... Not so mighty and prestigious now, are you?
And Moghedien has returned! That was an awesome scene. Yep, Nynaeve’s in some trouble. I wonder what Moghedien’s actual mission was, if Moridin never directed her to deal with Nynaeve. I know there’s those Darkfriends we’ve been seeing little of, but does Moridin also want the angreal that Sammael’s been hunting for, or what?
Chapter 31: Mashiara
Nynaeve approaches the Windrunner to speak with the Sea Folk, forced into the unwieldy task by Elayne, as Aviendha was occupied spying on Carridin. Suddenly, the boat is balefired and submerged. The cabin starts to flood. She attempts to escape but eventually submits to her fate, which destroys her block.
She escapes from the cabin, but cannot swim any further until Lan rescues her. They emerge onto another boat, and Lan explains he received directions from the Tarasin Palace. Nynaeve attempts to resist obsessing over Lan. He explains about Myrelle’s bond, but Nynaeve intends to marry him regardless. She realizes that Moghedien attacked her, and that her block has disappeared. She insists on seeing the Sea Folk and getting immediately married.
Elayne, the Aes Sedai, and Birgitte arrive at the Kin house. She interrupts a meeting between Reanne and 12 Elders, who are affronted that she has returned. However, the Aes Sedai confirm that Elayne is one of them, and the Kinswomen are immediately quelled. Elayne permits the Kin to join the White Tower, and Reanne reveals that there are nearly 2000 in the Kin. Reanne agrees to show them the Bowl. Mat arrives at the same time, having discovered the six story building. Reanne admits to being over 400 years old.
Another awesome chapter. Hell yeah for Lan’s return! I’ve been missing the action in this novel, so Nynaeve nearly drowning was definitely refreshing and exciting. And her block’s been removed, which is cool. So she could only channel when defiantly pissed, but only remove her block when surrendering submissively, that’s interesting.
The Lan drama in Egwene’s chapters wasn’t all that riveting, but I do like Lan and am glad to have him finally united with Nynaeve. All the romances are falling into place, Mat just needs to find his Daughter of the Nine Moons and Elayne just needs to get her ass to Caemlyn, and then everybody’s together! And a marriage on the Sea Folk ship, Nynaeve definitely isn’t wasting any time.
Elayne confronting the Kin was awesome, too. I was cheering when the Aes Sedai proved Reanne wrong about Elayne. I can sympathize a little with these Kinswomen, we can see they’re desperate for acceptance from Aes Sedai, but damn have they been abrasive to our heroes. And while I didn’t understand the age confusion, I can tell Reanne being 400 years old is an obvious abnormality. That’s why she’s called the Eldest, of course. And if I remember correctly, there are twice as many Kin as Aes Sedai, which was something the Aes Sedai didn’t count on. And it looks like I might get proven wrong on whether or not the Kin actually do know where the Bowl is.
Chapter 32: Sealed to the Flame
Elaida dreams of Rand kneeling before her as she punishes Sheriam, Lelaine, Romanda, and Egwene, who are all pleading for mercy. Alviarin rudely awakens her. Covarla has returned from Cairhien along with twelve out of the 39 Aes Sedai, and Gawyn’s Younglings. Elaida is frustrated that Galina didn’t have him killed.
Elaida confronts Covarla, who reveals that Rand escaped and explains the debacle at Dumai’s Wells. Elaida orders the twelve returning Aes Sedai to leave public sight in one of the villages near Tar Valon. When learning that there are hundreds of Asha’man, Elaida realizes the sisters she dispatched to attack the Black Tower will be outnumbered. She fears Rand and his Asha’man coming for revenge.
Alviarin explains that she will be deposed and stilled for this debacle if she doesn’t comply. Elaida is horrified at being manipulated by Alviarin, but has no choice but to submit. Alviarin orders Elaida to abandon the missing sisters, to increase the Tower Guard, and to falsely punish two Green sisters for stashing angreal while praising various sisters with gifts. Elaida consents, but immediately schemes to remove Alviarin.
Alviarin fears that Elaida will learn she has known about Dumai’s Wells for days, because of Mesaana and various informants. She is pleased that Elaida will suffer Siuan’s fate unless Egwene arrives with her rebels.
The White Sitter Seaine Heirmon is approached by Elaida, whom she supported out of loyalty to the White Tower, not to her. Elaida nervously orders Seaine to investigate the traitor who helped Siuan escape, but discreetly.
Seaine is suspicious because of Elaida’s frightened behavior. She concludes that Elaida actually means for her to investigate the Black Ajah. She realizes she cannot accomplish this by herself, and approaches the chambers of a Red Sitter named Pevara, witnessing the tensions between Ajahs along the way. Seaine reveals Elaida’s ‘orders’ to her friend Pevara, whom she trusts because her family was killed by Darkfriends. Pevara mentions the ‘vileness’ after the Aiel War.
Whoa, lots happening here. Sometimes Aes Sedai and their politics irritate me, but I’ve always enjoyed these White Tower chapters, as Elaida and Alviarin are entertaining villains. Elaida’s a complete zealot, and Alviarin’s a cold and calculating manipulator, as evidenced in her sudden control over Elaida. Elaida’s not stupid, as she knew what was happening immediately, but I highly doubt she’s going to get rid of Alviarin any time soon, especially with the entire Black Ajah backing her, not to mention Mesaana.
It seems Elaida’s orders to Seaine ended up in a mishap, as Elaida never mentioned purging the Black Ajah. That sounds like something she would continue denying to her deathbed. But nonetheless, Seaine and Pevara, who actually seem pretty cool for Tower Aes Sedai, are hunting Black sisters in the Tower, and that might put even Mesaana and Alviarin in trouble. There’s another mention of this vileness that I still can’t make heads or tails of.
I’ve been waiting eagerly for Elaida to learn what a debacle Dumai’s Wells was, and it didn’t disappoint. Not much luck for the missing sisters (including Galina), is there? I wonder why Alviarin wants to humiliate and frame those Green sisters, though. Controlling the Amyrlin Seat, it’s a peculiar first request of Alviarin’s.
Chapter 33: A Bath
Rand has been isolated in his room since Perrin departed. He is tempted to use the control statue ter’angreal from Rhuidean. He continues to have nightmares, focusing on Colavaere and other women who have died for him, his fight with Perrin, his imprisonment and torture, and various Aes Sedai betraying him. Lews Therin has vanished since the confrontation with Cadsuane.
Min approaches Rand on Alanna’s request. He wishes to send her away like Elayne and Aviendha, and contemplates on his several relationships. He has avoided the Sea Folk, hoping to spare them. He eventually promises to visit them. Min admits that there was a viewing she hadn’t disclosed, about he and another man merging. Rand interprets the other man as Lews Therin and is relieved that he isn’t completely insane. He is bathed to prepare for his meeting with the Sea Folk.
Damn it, Rand can be stupid sometimes. It’s taken him this long to really understand that he’s in love with Min and she with him, and that trying to send her away for her own good is completely impossible. Min’s still a very likeable character, and I definitely prefer these interactions to Perrin-Faile madness, and the like. I wonder what happened to Lews Therin, though? And that viewing of Min’s sounds a bit too obvious to be true. But if the other dude isn’t Lews Therin, who is it? Well, off to meet the Sea Folk. I most definitely wouldn’t mind if Rand did abandon them, just to spare us from the tediousness of their storyline.
Chapter 34: Ta’veren
Rand’s followers congregate before the Palace. Verin couldn’t attend, as she was occupied questioning the prisoners. Alanna has an embarrassing conversation with Min. Rand surprisingly has Merana in charge, and they proceed to the Sea Folk ship.
He and Min, as well as the Asha’man and the Aes Sedai, ascend onto the ship, where they are confronted by the Wavemistress Harine. Rand, Min, Dashiva, Merana, and, interestingly, a non-Green sister named Rafela, negotiate with the Sea Folk in the cabin.
Harine is skeptical about supporting even the Coramoor, but Rand’s ta’veren nature convinces her. Min has a viewing in which Harine is punished but eventually becomes Mistress of the Ships. Rand suspects the Seanchan when Harine mentions ships vanishing in the Aryth Ocean. Rand becomes claustrophobic and leaves the Aes Sedai to finish the bargaining. He wonders why the Forsaken haven’t attacked the Sun Palace yet. Feeling arrogant, he decides to confront the rebels.
Rand, first you’re a reclusive mess and now you’re an arrogant maniac? I’m beginning to think you were more sane with Lews Therin babbling in your head. Seriously, confronting an army of rebels with just himself and Min isn’t going to end well. But at least the Sea Folk are on his side! Yay? I’d like to believe this is the end to this drama, but that would be naïve of me, wouldn’t it?
It’s endlessly irritating that, just like in their conversation with the Supergirls, the Sea Folk are still ridiculously selfish. They’re being approached by the Coramoor, their savior, and they want to haggle? Really? These Sea Folk better have something useful to bring to the table, because it all seems more trouble than it’s worth. Hopefully the bargain actually works out. Damn, the Aiel at least were loyal enough when Rand proved he was legit.
Chapter 35: Into the Woods
Min has a viewing she hasn’t revealed in which Rand perishes without a woman: Moiraine. Min thinks the viewing is merely an inaccurate one. Rand hunts for his coat in the cabinet, relinquishes, and Travels several miles from Cairhien with only Min accompanying.
Caraline Damodred, who resembles Moiraine, approaches and recognizes Rand. Caraline is distrustful because of his ta’veren impact on Cairhien, but Min points out this does as much positive as negative, as learned from Herid Fel’s tomes. High Lord Darlin approaches with several other men, and Caraline creates an alibi for the two. Darlin intends to marry Caraline.
Min views that the two indeed will marry after a time. Darlin is also crowned king, but of what, she cannot say. They return to camp to find Lord Toram Riatin. There are also several Aes Sedai, and some of Gaebril’s White Lions, one of which Min views as very dangerous. His name is Daved Hanlon and Min warns Caraline about him.
Toram Riatin is accompanied by Padan Fain, who already has a destructive influence on him. Fain introduces himself as Jeraal Mordeth. Toram has attempted to coerce Darlin and Caraline into ambushing and killing Rand. Rand intends to deal with Fain, but Cadsuane appears, encouraging him to leave. Toram claims to marry Caraline, and challenges Rand to a duel, which he brashly agrees to.
And the Rand stupidity only increases. This was a cool chapter, bringing us back to the rebels I’ve almost forgotten about. But what’s with this second viewing of Min’s? Rand is hopeless without Moiraine? Well, I never suspected that she was actually dead, so I suppose it’s just a matter of when and how, as I’m sure this viewing isn’t a fluke. Moiraine’s sister, or cousin, or whatever the relation (I forgot), Caralin, seems cool enough, though, for a rebel.
Darlin also doesn’t seem too bad, in comparison to asshats like Toram, but I wonder what exactly he will be crowned king of. And Gaebril’s former cronies are still causing trouble. I wonder what the significance of this Daved Hanlon dude is.
Padan Fain! He is back! You gotta love Mordeth, he’s so delightfully unpleasant. I’ve been missing him in this book, and I’m curious about what his actual plan is. But yeah, Rand challenging this Toram dude to a duel isn’t going to end well whatsoever.
Chapter 36: Blades
Caraline advises against the fight, particularly because of Toram’s aggressive nature, but Rand ignores this and holds his own against Toram. However, a sudden thick fog coalesces, destroying the tent and devouring a Red Aes Sedai. The fog starts to slaughter people, and the campsite erupts into chaos, everyone fleeing. Rand balefires a fog-being, which has Toram fleeing, and Cadsuane admonishes him.
Fain leads from the fog and assaults Rand. Min misses with her knife, and the ruby dagger cuts Rand. Fain then vanishes. Cadsuane attempts to Heal Rand, but to no avail. The Yellow sister Samitsu steps in and tries her best, noticing g that the new wound overlaps the old scar, both filled with different evils. Darlin carries Rand and they all escape through the fog.
They eventually reach the road, and receive a ride from a reluctant farmer. Cadsuane offers to bring them to Arlyn’s palace, but Min refuses, instead heading to the Sun Palace because of Rand’s possible reaction. Cadsuane forces the nature of Rand’s kidnapping out of Min. Caraline and Darlin disappear as they return to the palace.
The three Asha’man appear before Rand’s sickbed, Dashiva desperate for Rand’s survival. He orders Flinn to heal Rand, who manages to seal the two wounds, hoping the evils within will kill each other off. Samitsu is impressed and asks for tutelage.
So that ended up as expected. Actually worse, in fact. Damn, Fain did a lot of damage with just one little attack. Rand’s gonna be in trouble when Fain confronts him for real, as I assume this wasn’t his scheme. But on the plus side, doesn’t seem we have to worry about rebels, as this random fog phenomenon (is it Fain’s work or something else?) is taking care of things nicely. Thankfully, Caraline and Darlin survive. Hopefully, Toram doesn’t.
Cadsuane’s useful for something, though. She can think quick on her feet, even while never ceasing to stay as rude as possible. From what I remember of that ruby dagger, though, that new scar of Rand’s isn’t gonna go away quickly. He had a close call there. Don’t do suicidal arrogant things in the future, okay? Dashiva is still weird, but at least there’s a competent Healer amongst the Asha’man.
So yeah, action chapter for the win.
Chapter 37: A Note from the Palace
On the morning after the Festival of Birds, Mat and the girls prepare to retrieve the Bowl of the Winds. Mat meets with Elayne, who has brought Reanne and seven Wise Women Elders. Several Aes Sedai still disbelieve their preposterous ages. Some of Mat’s soldiers accompany as well. Mat had been dragged to Tylin’s room the previous night. He still intends to bring the four girls to Rand as soon as possible.
Beslan arrives, as does a note from Tylin for Mat. A dozen Sea Folk women accompanied Nynaeve to the palace the previous night. Mat is baffled when Nynaeve appears with Lan at her side. The two were married by the Mistress of the Ships on the Sea Folk vessel. Lan mentions peculiar marriage customs, and informs Mat that Moghedien targeted Nynaeve. As they begin the journey through the streets, Mat reads an embarrassing note from Tylin about the Daughter of the Nine Moons. The girls (and several others) are fully aware of his crisis.
So very little happened in this chapter, mainly a packing-up-and-leaving kind of chapter. But at least it seems that this Ebou Dar arc is closing. I’ve actually enjoyed quite a bit of it, but I’m glad to see the Bowl’s in reach. And things haven’t been looking up for Mat, though, have they? Again, I’d find it all pretty funny if it wasn’t for the rape thing. I wonder how Lan and Nynaeve’s marriage went, I would’ve sort of liked to see that, as much as I hate the Sea Folk. I’m curious what those customs Lan mentioned are.
Chapter 38: Six Stories
A cold wind stirs through the city. Elayne is irritated with Mat for pursuing Tylin, and he explains it was the other way around, which she finds hilarious. Mat offers the foxhead medallion, but she declines, overwhelmed. They cross the River and reach the six-story building in the Rahad, Elayne being accurate about the number of floors.
Mat sends some of his soldiers to guard the back entrance, while Elayne, Vanin, and several of the Kinswomen proceed upstairs to locate the Bowl. Nynaeve, Beslan, and the others remain downstairs with Mat. However, Falion and Ispan barge in with several men, and they shield Nynaeve.
Battle breaks out in the hallway, and the shield is removed. Mat hurries upstairs when he hears a scream. He finds Elayne and the others knocked out, and a gholam confronts Mat while the Darkfriend goons loot the angreal storage. Nalesean hurries to Mat’s side, but the gholam rips out his throat. Mat finds the gholam impervious to harm, save from the foxhead medallion. The gholam flees because of it.
Mat approaches Elayne, who thanks him for rescuing her. She cannot Heal Reanne, and so Nynaeve and the others appear to Heal the injured. Ispan is captured and shielded. Several soldiers were killed in the battle. Elayne finds the Bowl of the Winds amongst the remnants of the storage.
Wow, awesome chapter. Damn, I love me some battle. And while Rand’s magical duels with the Forsaken and all that are exhilarating, I also love some of the more visceral close-combat physical fights like the one we have here. Mat fighting the gholam was really exciting. Seeing what the last gholam did to poor Herid Fel, there was plenty of tension here. Lucky for Mat that he had that fancy medallion, but now there’s a gholam rampant through Ebou Dar. Very well-written battle, overall.
But Nalesean! No! I did not expect him to die, considering this was Wheel of Time, in which practically nobody dies. I mean, it’s not like Nalesean was a major character, but I suppose I got used to even the reoccurring characters to survive. Poor guy.
But on the plus side, hurray for the Bowl! And hurray for Elayne realizing what a bad-ass Mat can be. Not so foolish when he’s saving your ass, huh? Anyway, even with those goons (all sent by Sammael, I presume) hauling away the majority of the angreal, it’s fortunate the Bowl was still there. Now they just need to use it. Is that going to take another book too?
Chapter 39: Promises to Keep
Mat is surrounded by Tylin, Elayne, Nynaeve, the Aes Sedai, the Kin, and several channeling Sea Folk women. The majority of the Kin are flustered by the Aes Sedai. Mat presses that they leave Ebou Dar immediately because of the Darkfriends, but they all refuse. He explains what he learned about the gholam from Birgitte: that there were six manufactured in the War of Power to assassinate Aes Sedai. Mat speculates this gholam survived in a stasis box.
Nynaeve and Elayne offer him no support, and he, outraged, confronts Renaile and her Sea Folk women. He loses his temper and, because of being ta’veren, Renaile agrees to leave the city with the two girls. They discuss where to flee. While Elayne suggests Caemlyn, they agree on the nearby farm for Kinswomen. Nynaeve and Elayne admit to manipulating him to get the others to agree.
Mat returns to his quarters and finds his ring, but cannot locate Olver, who disappeared into the city. Mat has his soldiers spread out and search for him. He tells Lan and the girls to proceed without him. Nynaeve warns him about the oncoming storm. Mat searches throughout the city and witnesses the invasion of the Seanchan in the bay. He flees into the chaotic street, but already Seanchan soldiers ride through and do battle. An explosion has a building collapse on top of him.
Well, Jordan certainly finished off the Ebou Dar storyline with a bang. Actually, it’s not even over, as we haven’t seen the Supergirls escaped the city, and the Bowl hasn’t been used yet. It’s more of a cliffhanger ending than a legitimate resolution, but very awesome nonetheless. The opening scene with Mat confronted by a horde of all those pleasant women was great too, even if I don’t exactly understand what Nynaeve and Elayne were getting at. Nice to see those pointlessly defiant Sea Folk submit, though.
These gholam indeed sound nasty. I was sort of confused with the appearance in LoC, and Mat’s recent duel was also unprecedented (although awesome). I do remember mention of Aginor inventing them, though. Now, was the gholam that killed Herid the same that attacked Mat? If not, then there’s at least two gholam out there, and they seem very tough to kill, without that medallion. Mat had a defense in his little fight, what will happen if Rand or one of the Supergirls encounters a gholam? Yikes. I still don’t exactly understand why one of these precious gholam were dispatched to assassinate a historian like Herid, though. Hopefully there’s closure on that later on.
And the Seanchan are here! First Tarabon, then Amadicia, and now Altara. They certainly know how to get things done, don’t they? And there’s more of those dragon things. Reflecting on the taking of Amador, I presume the Seanchan will merely conquer Ebou Dar and force Tylin into submission – or just kill her. I’m not particularly shook up on that.
But Mat and Olver! In the big cliffhanger, I almost forgot that Olver’s out there, with Seanchan terrorizing the streets and wild crowds running around. Hope the kid’s okay… Of course, Mat’s the real concern. Medallion or not, a building falling on top of you isn’t something you walk away unscathed from. And I imagine it’s not gonna be pleasant when he wakes up, to find the city conquered by Seanchan.
Okay, I understand that Mat takes a vacation for the next book, like Perrin did in Book 5. While I was eager to see Perrin gone back then, I’ve always loved Mat and ACoS didn’t change that. So it’s gonna suck to not see him for a whole book! Still, it seems the Supergirls are still in The Path of Daggers, so we’ll at least see some continuation to the Ebou Dar storyline. Anyway, good-bye, Mat. See you in Winter’s Heart.
Chapter 40: Spears
Galina is an abused captive of Therava and several Shaido Wise Ones. She is weakly shielded, but has been punished severely for trying to escape. Bound and beaten, Galina is dragged to Sevanna’s encampment. Sevanna accuses her of murder, but is oblivious to Galina’s Black status. They name her da’tsang, robe her in black, and set her to useless labor.
Sevanna watches Galina toil, and Therava remarks that she wanted Galina as gai’shain. Caddar and Maisia suddenly appear, and the former gives Sevanna a binder. He explains that it only functions for channeling women and still refuses to relinquish the weapon that can control Rand until later. Caddar distributes fake ‘traveling boxes’ and encourages the Shaido to utilize them because of a supposed oncoming invasion of Rand’s soldiers. Sevanna believes Caddar only seeks gold and decides to take precautions regardless.
A Shaido named Maeric gazes through a gateway supposedly created by a ‘traveling box’. Sevanna, Caddar, Maisia, and several wise Ones proceed through another gateway. He and six thousand of his sept proceed through their own. However, the gateway closes before everyone can get through. An Aiel reports several nearby hosts, and Maeric realizes he was led into a trap. He prepares to die.
Graendal and Sammael watch as the remaining Shaido disappear through gateways. The ‘traveling boxes’ were fake, Sammael creating the actual gateways. He purposively scattered them between Illian and Ghealdan. Graendal contemplates abandoning Sammael, but he remarks that she is tied to his ascent or fall. Graendal refuses to fall with Sammael, however. Sammael acknowledges that Rand is bedridden.
Shaidar Haran examines the residues of the gateways. He examines Sammael’s bag and remarks on the deviations from his plan. He believes that so long as Sammael serves chaos, his plan will succeed. He feels weakened due to his distance from Shayol Ghul, and wishes to sever that tie.
Another Shaido chapter! These are always interesting, although a little confusing. We’ve finally returned to Galina Casban, and damn, I’m almost feeling sorry for her. Getting dragged miles and miles while all tied up and getting beaten every step of the way, them Shaido are cruel. And then I remember Galina essentially treating Rand the same way, and my sympathy ends there. Still, being second to only Alviarin in the Black Ajah, I can imagine Galina won’t submit as easily as Sevanna would hope.
So I definitely understood that Sammael completely played Sevanna for a fool. Well, he’s been doing that for the last two books, but he’s particularly screwing with the Shaido concerning those ‘traveling boxes’, which are all complete bullshit. So I assume his plan is to disperse the Shaido to distract Rand with the ensuing chaos? And he knows that Rand was attacked, which’ll make him confident. This all works out well for Sammael, but considering what’s sure to happen in the next chapter, Sevanna won’t be getting that Rand-controlling-weapon-thing. Was Sammael bullshitting about that, too?
I assume the Maeric POV was only to display that the boxes were a sham and that Sammael was leading several of the Shaido to their doom? Because he looks dead, and I don’t remember him from before this chapter.
Interesting to see some dissent from Graendal. I was always surprised by how easily she submitted to Sammael, considering she was always the crafty manipulator and Sammael a bit of a fool. Sammael’s scheming has worked out well so far, but Rand has a plan of his own, and we all know how that’ll end up. But Graendal’s determination not to fall with him leads me to naturally assume she won’t be with Sammael during the final battle. She’s much too smart to die with him.
And there’s our pal Shaidar Haran! Not sure what his deal was, but we’ve learned that Sammael’s acting out of his boundaries. Shaidar being the master manipulator Myrddraal, it’s interesting that Sammael was never manipulated by him. But it sounds like Sammael’s scheming might only help Shaidar’s plans, so it’s all good for our Superfade! We should hope he doesn’t remove that tie to Shayol Ghul, as Shaidar allowed to walk untouched through Randland wouldn’t be good at all.
Chapter 41: A Crown of Swords
Rand has erratic dreams and wakes to the voices of Cadsuane and Min, who do not want him disturbed. Amys, Bera, and Kiruna are on one side, Cadsuane and her supporters on the other, all confronting the Asha’man, which include newcomer Adley. Rand and the men want him active, while the women think he needs rest. Rand dresses regardless, and sends all save the Asha’man and Min away.
Min has a viewing of Cadsuane, in which she teaches Rand and the Asha’man something crucial but unpleasant. Merana isn’t finished bargaining with the wily Sea Folk. Adley reports that the army has reached the Illian forts ahead of time. Weiramon has been pressing forward with the horsemen and confronted Shaido earlier. Sammael defended the forts when Adley and the soldiers attacked.
Rand’s plan was to lure Sammael from Illian by convincing him he was not with the army, but his injury from the ruby dagger has rendered it useless. Sammael surely knows he is bedridden. Rand decides to attack Sammael immediately, and Min reluctantly agrees to divert the Maidens. Dashiva eyes Min as she leaves.
The five Travel to the Saldaean encampment near Caemlyn. Taim has purposefully been uninformed about the plan. Rand has Bashere rally the soldiers, but refuses to have any women participate. They all Travel to the Square of Tammaz in Illian, and Rand announces himself to disperse the civilians. The Saldaeans start attacking. Rand Travels to the highest point in Illian. He and his Asha’man purposefully trigger all of Sammael’s channeling wards.
Eventually, Rand senses Sammael opening a gateway, and follows him through to Shadar Logoth at sunset. Sammael and his small army of trollocs attack. Liah, the Maiden who disappeared in the city earlier, appears and kills some trollocs threatening Rand. He follows her and kills more trollocs, but is driven away by Sammael’s lightning into a stadium. The floor collapses, and he is only rescued by a mysterious man.
The two balefire encroaching Mashadar, and the beams connect, which wracks both of them. Rand realizes Sammael must be at the Waygate. The mysterious Wanderer vanishes without Rand detecting any channeling. Rand avoids Sammael’s traps and surveys the square with the Waygate from a tower. Sammael waits for him in front of a palace, ignorant of Mashadar looming behind him. Rand prepares to balefire him, but is diverted when Mashadar also starts to claim Liah. Rand balefires her instead, and Mashadar devours Sammael in the process.
He decides that Sammael is most definitely dead, and he Skims to Illian. Bashere and the Asha’man await him, and Rand announces Sammael’s death. Lord Gregorin speaks for the Council of Nine and offers the crown and all of Illian to Rand because of the grain he sent from Tear, which saved them from starvation. Rand dons the Crown of Swords, and the word spreads.
And thus finishes A Crown of Swords. This was…an interesting finale. This event has been anticipated by me since the end of TFoH, and expected since we first introduced Sammael in Illian, back in TDR. So in that respect, his death is a little…disappointing? Not to say I didn’t like this finale. I mean, Dumai’s Wells and the battle with Rahvin were certainly better, but this last chapter had its moments.
Anyway, let’s start from the beginning. It’s incredible that Rand’s up on his feet and ready to challenge a Forsaken after spending days in bed from a nearly fatal ruby dagger wound. The guy’s got balls. But I suppose his plan could only succeed if he acted immediately, if I understood the big scheme correctly. He wanted Sammael to think Rand was nowhere near the armies in Illian, to lure him out. But with Rand’s stupid little accident, all the soldier movement was unnecessary, as Sammael won’t be expecting him regardless.
Cadsuane remains refreshingly rude. Sucks that Rand and the Asha’man apparently need her. Speaking of Asha’man, have we seen Adley before? I can’t recall what his story is. And I’m still curious what Dashiva’s deal is. Acting like a lunatic all the time, and eyeing Min, and all that. Smart of Rand not to trust Taim, and to bring Bashere and his soldiers along. Davram is awesome, as usual.
So I liked the invasion of Illian, and Rand attempting to lure Sammael out. And I liked that the scene changed to Shadar Logoth, which I expected, considering the front cover of the book. I’ve always been fascinated with that place, and with Mashadar, even if I initially forgot a lot of the lore. I think this finale would’ve been awesome, as it started with a lot of promise. Rand’s pursuit through the streets, his encounter with Liah (I didn’t expect her to return!) and then his meeting with the Wanderer.
I’m almost certain the Wanderer is Moridin, considering Moridin has stylized himself before as the Watcher. The Wanderer was also described similarly to Rand. And what’s with the balefire collision? Is that gonna be important? I believe Moridin wanted Rand spared, and that’s why he saved him here. Anyway, I could be wrong about a lot of this, so I’ll just have to read on to figure out what his deal is.
So, all of this was great. Excellent writing, excellent atmosphere. But when Sammael…died, I was very much confused. I was almost certain he was going to appear again for the big duel the whole novel was building up to. But then Rand admitted he was dead, and just went home. While I would’ve loved to see a duel, I think it could’ve still worked with Mashadar consuming Sammael, but I just don’t understand why Jordan wrote it so anticlimactically and ambiguously. I mean, is Sammael even officially dead? Seems like there’s no escaping Mashadar, but still. We didn’t even see him die, because Rand was focused on Liah. So that part was disappointing, I’ll admit, especially since I always liked Sammael as a villain.
But the very end was awesome. It’s refreshing to find Rand take control over a kingdom that actually wants him and doesn’t immediately start politicking and scheming to depose him. At least Illianers know how to express gratitude! I do vaguely remember that grain from TSR. Rand putting on the Crown of Swords was a very awesome scene. But even with Illian seeming to actually want Rand as a leader, I have a feeling there’ll be a political aspect to all of this that we’ll have to contend with in TPoD. In every kingdom Rand has conquered, there’s been a significant aftermath we’ve had to read about. So now Rand’s juggling Tear, Cairhien, Caemlyn, and Illian. Wonderful. Better stop smiling, Rand, that Crown is most definitely a burden.
So we finish Book 7 in The Wheel of Time, A Crown of Swords. I finished this even quicker than Lord of Chaos, which was expected, considering it’s a 100 pages shorter. I’m halfway through the series now! Damn, that’s a weird feeling. Felt like just yesterday that I was still submerged in TSR and completely overwhelmed by how far I had to go.
So what did I think of A Crown of Swords? I liked it. It had its flaws, the pace was markedly slower (particularly in the beginning, with the recap chapters with Perrin and the rather tedious Egwene chapters), but I enjoyed a lot of the Ebou Dar storyline (even if it was a bit overlong and mired with Tylin awkwardness) and I definitely liked the Rand chapters and some of the side-chapters (with the Shaido, the Forsaken, Morgase, Elaida, etcetera). It’s not as good as LoC and TFoH, that’s definite. It might even be the weakest book in the series so far, but I enjoyed it. The last 200 pages had some satisfying and long-missed action, even with the disappointments of the finale.
However, while I could bear the pace and intricate politics of ACoS, will I endure TPoD? The Path of Daggers is considered the worst book in the series except for Crossroads of Twilight, from what I hear. Thankfully, it’s the shortest, so I’ll get through it quickly, but still, I’m not sure what to expect. Mat being completely absent doesn’t bode well, but it seems there’s plenty of Rand to counter the Perrin (I hear Perrin’s storyline gets very tedious, which means disaster for somebody who disliked him from the start, like me).
Well, this has been a fun portion of the read-through, but I’ve actually been considering taking a break before TPoD, and then pacing the blog a little more slowly when I start the book up. I’ve wanted to read some other novels simultaneously (which should help me endure TPoD’s slower pace better), and I also intend to start some new fantasy blog projects. This blog hasn’t been exactly popular, and I’d be posting these new blogs on my blog site, so there might be little point to it, but still. With Season 3 of Game of Thrones coming up, I’ve been meaning to rewatch the series and provide my commentary. I reread Harry Potter (the series that got me into fantasy) every year, and I’ve also considered blogging this year’s reread. I know, it’s Harry Potter, most fantasy buffs have graduated from that, but I’m not quite ready to reread A Song of Ice and Fire yet, and I know HP inside out, so I’ll be able to offer some analysis there. Anyway, with all these blog projects and different books to read, I’ll probably slow down with TPoD, and maybe take the time to offer more in-depth summary and commentary for this bog. We’ll see.
Well, I’ll be back for The Path of Daggers!