In this entry, I officially start Knife of Dreams, and (gasp) things happen, from Whitecloaks to Seanchan to the White Tower!
Galad rides to the manor house the Seanchan granted Valda, planning to kill him after being told by Bornhald and Byar that Valda assaulted and murdered Morgase. Galad challenges Valda, who accepts, and he successfully kills Valda in heated battle. Asunawa and his Questioners vanish as the other Whitecloaks applaud, who support Galad as the new Lord Captain Commander.
Rodel Ituralde leads a hundred Domani and three hundred Taraboners to surround a village in Tarabon. The Seanchan assume a defense, seemingly trampling villagers in their path. The foolish Lanasiet leads the charge and pursues the Seanchan when they take flight after the archers remove the sul’dam and damane. Ituralde notices the trampled bodies have vanished. He has twenty thousand soldiers all over Tarabon engaging in similar raids. Ituralde intends to lead the Seanchan north into a trap in Almoth Plain.
Suroth broods over the disappearance of Tuon. She pledges to kill herself before apologizing to the Empress. Liandrin enters, proudly proclaiming to have murdered Alwhin. She brings a message from Captain-General Galgan summoning Suroth. Galgan informs her of the raids in Tarabon. Suroth orders Galgan to bring back Ituralde’s head and have all the raken on the hunt. Returning to her room, Suroth is greeted by Semirhage, who offers to make her Empress. Semirhage claims to have murdered the Empress and the imperial family, leaving Seandar in chaos. She orders Suroth to kill Tuon immediately.
Pevara and Javindhra meet with Tsutama, leader of the Red Ajah, who discusses rumors from Dumai’s Wells. Tsutama’s letter from Sashalle confirms what Toveine’s claimed: that Logain has been Healed and that Asha’man have bonded Toveine and her companions. Tsutama agrees to bonding Asha’man, ordering the two to arrange it. Pevara meets with Yukiri, who reports that Marris Thornhill is broken, but the hunt for Black sisters has reached a dead end. Seaine arrives reporting that Elaida’s mission sought to discredit Alviarin, not purge the Black Ajah, removing certainty that Elaida herself is not Black.
Alviarin retrieves a message and returns to her quarters, receiving hostility from the White Ajah. Her penances are taking their toll. Alviarin learns from the messages that Talene left the Tower, and writes orders to have her located, and Yukiri and Doesine surveyed.
Galina rides outside the Shaido encampment, intending to retrieve the Oath Rod. She is kidnapped by Gaul and Neald, who Travel with her to Perrin’s camp. Galina overhears Perrin arranging a meeting. She claims to be on Aes Sedai business with Sevanna, with Faile and Alliandre under her protection. Galina implores that Perrin hold off his attack for a week. Perrin asks about the Wise Ones drinking water. Galina promises to have Faile hide in the fortress when the time comes, but as she returns to Malden to be punished by Therava, she pledges to retrieve the Oath Rod, murder Faile and her friends, and escape.
Egwene awakens in a carriage riding through Tar Valon. The sisters, including Katerine, are in constant conflict. Once at the White Tower, Egwene finds Nicola a novice, having fled to the Aes Sedai. She informs Katerine that Egwene is to be sent to Silviana immediately. As they enter the Tower, Melare appears, revealing the capture of Leane. Egwene is delivered to Silviana, who announces that Elaida has reduced her to novice but has decided to blame everything on the rebel leaders. Silviana makes it clear that she is a far stricter Mistress of Novices than Sheriam. Egwene reluctantly warns them of the impending Seanchan attack, but they are skeptical. Once asleep, she attempts to warn Siuan of what occurred.
Just reading this prologue makes me understand why the fanbase, generally, considers KoD such a return to form. Coming off CoT, seeing something actually occur in these 100 pages is so relieving, and I can imagine it was the same for the majority of readers. I’ve noticed the general consensus on this book is somewhat divisive, some claiming it one of their favorite in the series, others that it was merely a hasty clean-up job, and others still that it was yet another disaster from a greedy Jordan who had long since stopped trying. But this certainly bodes better than an almost universely reviled book like CoT, and this prologue itself has me quite hopeful.
First, Galad’s returned. What has it been, six novels since we’ve seen him? It really is amazing that, at this point in WoT, the series feels so utterly flooded with different characters and subplots that they consume novels, yet still being forced to ignore entire other characters and plotlines. It’s not just major characters who have to sit out a novel, as Mat, Egwene, and Rand in the last three books, entire subplots have not been present in ages. The Whitecloaks haven’t had more than an extremely minor role in the series since ACoS, simply because Jordan’s had his hands full with so many other different storylines. Galad himself hasn’t appeared since TFoH! So you can imagine, as someone who has always enjoyed the Whitecloaks as villains, that this development excites me considerably.
I mean, Galad just killed Valda. On one hand, this is somewhat disappointing, because the tremendous change in the Whitecloak regime that occurred in ACoS amounted to nothing. Valda’s reign has been completely uneventful. He’s done literally nothing, because Jordan had to essentially ignore the Whitecloaks for so long. Especially considering Valda’s such a despicable person, I would’ve loved to see him in the spotlight, as peculiar as that sounds, considering I’ve always enjoyed Padan Fain’s appearances as well (when he’s gonna show up, by the way?). So in this instance, I can almost understand the complaints that this novel was a checklist, a clean-up job on Jordan’s part when he realized there was a ridiculous amount of plotlines he had to resolve, and merely executed characters like Valda instead of letting their stories naturally conclude. But on the other hand, Galad just killed Valda. The Whitecloaks are officially in the hands of a person who isn’t completely insane. Sure, Galad isn’t the most pleasant person in the world, but I highly doubt he’s going to use the Whitecloaks to murder all the channeler ‘heretics’ in Randland.
I’m hoping with Galad’s ascension to Lord Captain Commander, the Whitecloaks will become more prominent in the story, even if not necessarily as villains anymore. Asunawa is still alive, though, and he’s definitely craftier and less arrogant than the rather foolish Valda, so I’m expecting him to remain a problem before the Whitecloaks can officially stop being a concern. I’m hoping Galad removes the alliance with the Seanchan quickly, though.
As for Rodel Ituralde, I’m not sure what to say about him. Not to say his storyline and that of Arad Doman don’t interest me, considering they include Graendal and the Seanchan, but Ituralde was only really introduced last book, so I’m not sure what to think of him, beyond being an obviously skilled military commander. He could single-handedly overthrow the Seanchan regime!
The Seanchan portion was one of the most interesting sections of the prologue. I’ve been waiting to see Suroth for ages, ever since the Seanchan returned as major players in the plot, as we’ve seen relatively little of her and her obvious machinations. While I’ve enjoyed the POVs of Seanchan military commanders, I definitely prefer taking a look at the broader political status of the growing Seanchan empire, as well as the presence of the Shadow. CoT’s cliffhanger-after-a-cliffhanger ending, announcing Rand’s meeting with Tuon, has me quite apprehensive to return to Ebou Dar. Suroth has the sad bracelets! She’s a very notable Darkfriend! And now she’s working directly for Semirhage! Although her perspective did nothing to suggest she’s organizing this trap, it seems quite likely she’s implicit nonetheless. I’m hoping Liandrin has a larger part to play in this subplot too, considering she used to be one of the primary antagonists of the series before essentially vanishing after TSR.
It seems Rodel Ituralde can expect trouble coming his way, judging from the Seanchan attack plans. Of course, perhaps the most important part of this section was Semirhage. So Anath is Semirhage. And she’s definitely doing something. Considering we haven’t really seen her since LoC, Semirhage’s return is alarming indeed. I was stunned to read she not only killed the Empress, but the entire imperial family, and left the entire Seanchan empire in utter chaos and war! Seriously, no other Forsaken has accomplished anything close to this level of destruction. Mesaana’s pulled a few strings in the White Tower, and Forsaken like Sammael, Be’lal, and Rahvin managed to muddle things up in their respective kingdoms before being offed, but Semirhage just matter-of-factly destroyed an entire empire, and there’s nobody to stop her. How will the Seanchan in Randland react when they learn about this? And now Suroth is taking advantage of this, intending to kill Tuon and become the next Empress. Joy.
The White Tower sections were a little less eventful. I’m somewhat interested in the Black Ajah hunt storyline, even though it’s as politically complicated as WoT gets, but I’m just hoping it goes somewhere. We’ve received little tidbits of their purge since ACoS, but little progress has been made and I’m just hoping it amounts to something. I like Pevara, though, and I was surprised to receive clarification on the contents of that letter so quickly. So the Red Ajah bonding Asha’man scheme is officially a go, perfect. It was also surprising that the hunters learned they misinterpreted Elaida’s orders from the beginning. I didn’t expect them to learn about that, at least at this point. Now even Elaida’s suspect!
As for Alviarin, I can’t say I sympathize with her plight, but it certainly is surprising how quickly she fell from power, especially considering how close she seemed to carrying out her schemes successfully. Now she’s essentially nothing. This section was really short, so there’s not much to say about it.
Speaking of villainesses in torturous situations, we’ve returned to Galina. I’m not sure what to say about this section either, although it was rather interesting. Galina’s only going to complicate matters when Perrin finally attacks Malden and/or when Faile finally attempts to make her escape. And the last thing this plotline needs is complication. I don’t hate it with the vitriol that most fans of the series do, but it’s hardly captivating. I’m curious, what exactly is Perrin planning? Who is he negotiating with? How does he plan to free Faile? I suppose this is really just a ‘wait-and-see’ kind of deal.
I knew Elaida wasn’t going to execute Egwene, but it’s still rather surprising that she’s just been reduced to novice white. Certainly Elaida has some intentions in keeping Egwene merely a prisoner, and hardly even that? Surely she’s not so inane as to believe Egwene is just a figurehead of the rebels, and unworthy of attention? If that’s the case, Egwene might actually be capable of spreading discord against Elaida’s regime from within the Tower, as she apparently plans. Not surprised Nicola fled to the Tower. My god, she’s so irritating. Is she implicit in Egwene’s betrayal and kidnapping? Again, wouldn’t put it past her. Katerine isn’t exactly pleasant either. Neither is Silviana. Wow, Egwene’s got quite a challenge ahead of her, doesn’t she?
That concludes the colossal prologue, and I must say I’m rather excited. This prologue alone has me eager to see a Whitecloak reform, Rodel Ituralde’s defense of Arad Doman, Suroth’s hunt for Tuon, the Tower’s approach of the Asha’man, Perrin’s invasion of Malden, and Egwene enduring what seems to be prolonged ass torture as a novice prisoner. I better enjoy this book while it lasts, as it’s the last Jordan-written one in the series. Then it’s on to Sanderson.