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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Book 8 Chapters 20-24


Hazeel

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In this portion of TPoD, Elayne does absolutely nothing, and everything goes wrong when Rand fights the Seanchan.

 

Chapter 20: Into Andor

 

Summary

 

Nothing happens. Okay, the Sea Folk demand the Bowl and receive Merilille. The girls travel through Andor. Nynaeve and Elayne argue. Egwene isn’t happy about the bargain. She warns them about Caemlyn.

 

Comments

 

My god, literally nothing happened in this chapter. NOTHING. This is the terrible side of TPoD. It feels like the novel is going to pick up later, but chapters like this are horrendous. This was literally Elayne and Nynaeve walking through Andor and arguing. It was a completely unnecessary chapter. JUST GET ELAYNE TO CAEMLYN ALREADY, THAT THRONE ISN’T GONNA BE SAFE FOREVER.

 

Chapter 21: Answering the Summons

 

Summary

 

Gedwyn and Rochaid arrive with Asha’man, led by the former (the Storm Leader), with Rochaid second in command (the Attack Leader). Rand sees both Lews Therin and another indistinguishable but familiar face in his dreams. Rand opens a gateway (resulting in more dizziness) to north of Illian, traveling with the armies of several nobles in addition to all the Asha’man. The Illianers who he pressured into joining after Sammael’s fall accompany him too.

 

The army makes camp outside of the city, where Rand waits in contemplation. He wishes to treat with the Sea Folk back in Cairhien, is curious about the fates of Caraline and Darlin, believes Mat and Elayne are accompanying Egwene in Murandy, and wishes to discuss cleansing saidin with Nynaeve. Narishma appears with a bundle, and is angry that Rand did not reveal enough information about his task, which Rand denies.

 

A thousand men of the Legion appear the following morning. They proceed to the Silver Road east of the nearby mountains. More nobles appear, including Colavaere’s cousin and Toram Riatin’s sister. After eight days, Davram Bashere appears. Rand is using these traitorous nobles because their deaths would be less inopportune in battle.

 

Comments

 

So this chapter felt like the calm before the storm. The big battle with the Seanchan is starting soon, and thus we need all the intricate preparation, rallying, and description. It’s nothing particularly interesting, but I’m excited to get to the battle. And it’s always nice to be back with Rand after the tedium of an Elayne chapter.

 

Gedwyn and Rochaid look like bad news. As if Dashiva wasn’t enough, we need more suspicious Asha’man for Rand to worry about. Why does Rand want to confide in Nynaeve about cleansing saidin? Is it because of her strength, or would she know something special about cleansing it? I’m curious to see how he does it. It’s obviously gonna happen at one point, which should make all of the recent saidin weirdness less problematic. What’s in Narishma’s bundle?

 

Chapter 22: Gathering Clouds

 

Summary

 

Rand and his six thousand soldiers prepare to Travel. Weiramon continues to complain about the strategy, and Ailil and Anaiyelle do not wish to participate in the battle. Rand worries about becoming too paranoid, but must remain hard.

 

Gateways are opened into the mountains of Altara. The Asha’man proceed to Travel in short distances to search for Seanchan forces. The army passes the statue of a queen of Shiota. An archer attempts to assassinate Rand, and narrowly misses. Rand is physically sick because of saidin’s unnatural behavior. Gedwyn and Rochaid, who are acting suspiciously, kill the archer, who is Eagan Padros, the traitorous former supporter of Sammael.

 

The Seanchan soldier, Assid Bakuun, surveys the camp. The damane have been recovering from an illness. A raken reports the approach of enemy forces. Bakuun orders a retreat into the hills.

 

Comments

 

The battle’s starting! The extensive description of all the various nobles and their connections and their armies gets gratuitous, but I’m glad to get into the fighting. Jordan’s always been good in depicting these chaotic battlefronts and all the strategy that goes into planning a battle, so these segments are enjoyable.

 

Rand losing control over saidin, getting constantly sick and forced to conceal the fact from his judgmental Asha’man, is pretty unnerving. The whole archer scene was pretty tense too. That’s how far you can trust Sammael’s old soldiers… No surprises there.

 

And I love that they passed the statue from the cover! That’s awesome.

 

Chapter 23: Fog of War, Storm of Battle

 

Summary

 

Rand rides amongst dead Seanchan, having won the first skirmish, but suffering some casualties. Weiramon remains untouched in the battle. Aracome was killed, fulfilling another of Min’s viewings. Gedwyn and Rochaid have been conspiring. The sul’dam Nerith is captured, her damane killed in the battle. Rand promises to hand her into the hands of Aes Sedai, which causes her to panic and flee. She is eventually recovered. At the same time, an Asha’man soldier appears, reporting Seanchan presence in the west.

 

Furyk Karede, of the Deathwatch Guard, leads his force of two thousand men and numerous sul’dam. Raken patrol the area. His inferiors believe the enemy force amounts to forty thousand. The ground explodes and the officer Jadranka orders a counterattack. Karede casually slits his throat and orders the men to fall back.

 

The battle has been persisting for five days. He surveys the distant combat on a ridge with Dashiva, Flinn, Ailil, and Anaiyella. There have been many casualties. The sul’dam are continuously being captured. Asha’man consistently mention the strangeness of saidin. Rand dispatches Flinn and Dashiva to urge Gedwyn to push harder.

 

Rand is shot in the arm with a crossbow bolt. The Seanchan attack the ridge. Rand, gravely injured, is surrounded by Ailil and Anaiyella, and Rand fears they intend to murder him. Bashere and Gregorin arrive, however, and Morr Heals Rand. Weiramon claims to have seen Seanchan advancing, and thus he abandoned his post. Gedwyn reports that the Seanchan have fallen back. Bashere recommends stopping, but Rand decides to press to Ebou Dar.

 

Comments

 

I love me some battle chapters! So this Rand arc is helping me establish my general assessment of TPoD. I do believe that important things happen in it, it’s just that the pace has now officially become too slow. Jordan always wrote elaborately and in a little bit gratuitous detail in the previous novels, but I would argue that TPoD is where it officially becomes detrimental to the enjoyability of the book itself. I don’t think TPoD is a bad book at all, and I think some of the hatred has been overstated, but the pace and extravagant detail is definitely too much in this novel.

 

That being said, these Rand chapters are some of the more exciting moments in the book thus far, and evidence that the plot is moving forward, just not at the rate I’d like it to. I’m curious where this holds true for the other notorious book in the series, Crossroads of Twilight, and if it’s really true that nothing happens in that novel. Anyway, Rand clashing with the Seanchan is very important indeed, and while there has, of course, been gratuitous detail in these chapters, they’re probably the most exciting in the book (so far), because, of course, it’s a battle scene!

 

It’s a pretty elaborate and detailed battle sequence, so the build-up in the last two chapters paid off, to an extent. Rand’s close call was definitely the highlight, though. Very intense writing. Rand’s suddenly-developing weakness is very intriguing, not to mention concerning. He’s been involved in so many power struggles with the Asha’man, now that they’re witnessing his episodes (whatever they are and wherever they come from), their respect for Rand is going to plummet even further.

 

Just what is happening in the Black Tower that makes so many of the Asha’man subversive? Taim, no doubt. Rand really shouldn’t need to worry about his Asha’man regarding him as weak, but that’s precisely what’s happening. It definitely coincides with the pattern of Rand’s supporters rarely being completely loyal. I mean, the Illianers so far haven’t been too bad, and the Aiel have been loyal enough (except for the Shaido, of course), but nearly every other faction has an ulterior motive in supporting Rand, or just openly disobey him.

 

Something interesting about Nerith and the relationship with her damane. I almost felt sympathetic in her despair over losing the damane. The sorrow appeared legitimate. Yet I have to remind myself these damane are slaves that have been tortured into becoming pets. Really, the fact that the sul’dam treat them as pets affectionately and they respond with pleasure make the whole concept more disgusting.

 

Remember in ACoS when Rand got really arrogant all of a sudden and decided to confront the rebels east of Cairhien? And it ended in total disaster? Yeah, that’s the exact feeling I’m getting here with his desire to take Ebou Dar. This will not end well!

 

Chapter 24: A Time for Iron

 

Summary

 

Captain General Kennar Miraj and his soldiers are camped outside of Ebou Dar. He believes there are ninety thousand of Rand’s soldiers. Suroth arrives from Ebou Dar with Alwhin and two da’covale, one of which is Liandrin. Suroth assures him there are a few thousand troops, but with fifty Asha’man. She orders their defeat. Miraj is curious about her sources.

 

The Asha’man hold gateways for the army to march through. Rand announces the presence of fifty thousand Seanchan nearby. The nobles and their respective armies disperse. Dashiva confronts Rand about saidin misbehaving. Rand notices his weave against eavesdropping is vibrating instead of holding steadily. Dashiva becomes angry when Rand treats the problem as trivial.

 

Kennar Miraj leads his soldiers east. His lieutenant Varek reports the enemy nearby. He prepares to attack.

 

The noble Bertome Saighan speaks with his old friend, Doressin, believing Rand sent him to die because of his association with Colavaere. Weiramon speaks angrily with Gedwyn about his orders. They prepare to fight against the encroaching Taraboners.

 

Varek has an urgent message for the Banner-General from Miraj, to pull back. He finds the Banner-General dead, accidentally killed by a damane losing control of her channeling. Varek rallies the survivors and flees to the south.

 

Davram Bashere’s forces have suffered massive casualties. Rochaid is concerned, and the Asha’man are attacking slowly.

 

Adley lost control of saidin and killed many of the noblewomen’s soldiers. Rand is supervising him. Bashere approaches, having sent orders to Semaradrid, Weiramon, and Gregorin to return to Rand. Rand contests this, but Bashere claims there are too many damae and soldiers. Rand is too arrogant, however. He draws Callandor from the bundle Narishma retrieved. Rand destroys the entire surrounding area with it, losing control and slaughtering many of his own men, including Adley. Bashere tackles him to stop the madness. Horrified, Rand orders a retreat.

 

Abaldar Yulan covers the body of Miraj and orders a retreat to Ebou Dar. He believes it another devastating defeat for the Seanchan, unaware Rand too is retreating.

 

Comments

 

Damn, this is a tremendous chapter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting, but I wouldn’t have minded if it were split up a little.

 

Well, I’ve heard the Rand chapters were one of the primary complaints about TPoD, that he was too much of an asshole and that these chapters were simply too disastrous to enjoy. But I must say, these four chapters saved the book for me. There were still a little slow in places, but I cannot really claim nothing happens in TPoD anymore, because this was a seriously happening battle.

 

I understand that this is hardly Rand’s finest moment, losing control of the situation, being rude and arrogant, nearly destroying his army with Callandor. But that’s what I like about this scene. This is perhaps Rand’s first legitimate defeat. As depressing as Dumai’s Wells, it was still a victory, if a rather pyrrhic one. But this is Rand defeated in the field, and because of his own arrogance. Well, I suppose he couldn’t foresee saidin and Callandor acting up, but he really didn’t have to pursue Ebou Dar, nor act so irrationally.

 

Rand’s certainly not likeable in these chapters, nor is the battle a happy one, but I like that the heroes lose for once and that Rand is naturally starting to change from the weight of leadership and responsibility. And there was plenty of action in these chapters, so I can’t complain.

 

Liandrin’s back! I totally forgot about her. She was getting tortured by Moghedien in TFoH last we saw her, right? She was one of the more irritating but effective villains from earlier in the series. I’m curious what’s gonna come of her becoming a Seanchan servant.

 

I’m going to officially assume saidin and saidar have been so screwed up because of the Bowl, considering it’s an entirely regional effect. R.I.P. Adley. It’s not often even smaller WoT characters die, and it especially sucks that it was pretty much Rand’s fault he’s dead. If only it were Weiramon… My god, that man is annoying. I’m not sure if he’s just stupid or a Darkfriend, as some suspect. So long as she stops messing things up for Rand… Finally, what was wrong with Callandor, exactly? I’ve noticed since its big discovery in TDR, the sword’s been completely ignored. And now when Rand finally uses it, it blows everything up? Wonderful.

 

I have to say, the final page of the chapter was really effective. It’s just depressing. Nobody won! I mean, I know it should be a good thing that the Seanchan lost, but since we spent plenty of the chapter reading from their perspective, I almost wished they wouldn’t have had to return home in depression and retreat too. It’s definitely a downer ending, and I guess I can understand why some are so critical of these chapters. I personally found them, this in particular, very well-written, exciting, and refreshing, but they’re definitely not pleasant.

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