In this entry of Knife of Dreams, Egwene fights a very peculiar war in the Tower, Mat is back in action, Perrin finally rescues Faile, and Rand could use a hand.
Chapter 23: Call to a Sitting
Romanda is in her tent with Magla and Salita. Magla insists that Salita become the new Sitter of the Yellow for reasons Romanda doesn’t understand. Lelaine ordered Nisao to stop investigating the murders. All she has learned thus far is both victims knew Cabriana Mecandes. After Nisao departs, Theodrin announces that Lelaine has called a Sitting of the Hall. Romanda proceeds reluctantly and comes across Sharina leaving a conversation with Tiana. Sharina has essentially reorganized the novice structure. Once the Hall gathers, Merise appears with Narishma and two Warders. Narishma announces any sister under Egwene may bond an Asha’man soldier or Dedicated, to a total of 47. Merise confirms that the taint has vanished. All but Faiselle and Saroiya vote to accept the offer. As Narishma explains the rationale for the offer and the death of Eben Hopwil in defending Aes Sedai, Romanda connects Cabriana and the murders to Delana and Halima. Before they can be arrested, however, it is announced they have already vanished.
One of the few parts of CoT that interested me, somewhat, was the developments with the Aes Sedai concerning the Asha’man. I was interested to see how both the rebels and the White Tower reached out to the Asha’man. Although there hasn’t been too much headway from the Tower, this chapter depicted the Asha’man actually approaching the rebels to be bonded, which was interesting. I suppose this alliance makes sense, but I would’ve preferred more of an allegiance between equals, not more Asha’man submitting to Aes Sedai authority. I always considered the Aes Sedai bonded attacking the Black Tower prisoners of wars more than anything.
More important still, in this chapter, was Aran’gar’s disappearance! Is she gone for good? Because that’s almost…anticlimactic. She’s accomplished practically nothing so far. Aran’gar murdered a few people connected to Cabriana and gave Egwene some headaches. That has to be the worst record of any Forsaken save perhaps Be’lal. I mean, she’s still alive and could still certainly return to cause trouble for the rebels, but as of now, she’s clearly failed in whatever her purpose was. Nonetheless, it’s satisfying to see her outed after so many books of being ignored. Egwene’s ignorance of Halima’s blindingly obvious behavior was getting grating, and I obviously don’t want any further Aes Sedai murders, so it’s all for the best, I only wish Aran’gar was seen…doing more before being revealed so suddenly.
Chapter 24: Honey in the Tea
Egwene struggles to endure her repeated sessions with Silviana, and attempts to embrace pain as the Aiel do. The novices initially ridicule Egwene for her situation. After a disastrous lesson with the other novices, she starts having private lessons with Aes Sedai. In one of these lessons, Egwene explains to her teacher the truth about Shein Chunla and the Thirteenth Depository. Egwene’s sessions with Silviana become so frequent, she requires Healing twice a day.
Egwene starts visiting Leane, who has had many visitors. The tensions amidst the Ajah are alarmingly clear. Ghosts have been sighted in the Tower. The novices start to respect and even emulate Egwene as her defiance continues. Alviarin offers to help her escape, but she declines. Egwene encounters Mattin Stepaneos and convinces him about Elaida’s lies concerning Rand’s treatment of monarchs. She later confronts Beonin over her treachery and orders her to warn the ousted moles in the Tower. Egwene has not had her customary headaches since her capture. With the support of the novices and the spread of dissension, Egwene believes she is winning her secret war.
Well…this was an interesting chapter. Huge, also. I did some statistics, and this is the largest non-prologue chapter in the history of the series, although it was far more interesting than the runner-up (that agonizing Egwene chapter from ACoS). I was never an Egwene hater, but I must say, her skill at manipulating people and undermining the authority of another establishment is far more likeable and impressive when one considers the new position Egwene has found herself in. She was in a position of authority prior to KoD, so her manipulations of the Hall and various armies wasn’t nearly as impressive as how Egwene is causing dissension within the White Tower while being forced into the position of a submissive humiliated novice. I can certainly respect Egwene for what she’s accomplished in this ‘war’ of hers, even if there’s certainly a long way to go before Elaida’s dethroned.
But it’s a very interesting challenge Egwene’s facing. Not to belittle what she’s enduring, but Silviana is definitely a different enemy from Sevanna or the Seanchan or Arymilla or the Forsaken or any other enemy our heroes are facing! While at first I was confused by how outright defiant Egwene was acting over the little things (I thought she could easily have undermined the Tower’s authority without provoking all of the Aes Sedai into sending her to Silviana so many times a day) but the chapter quickly proved how integral Egwene’s dissension was to building the image necessary to undermine the Tower. Egwene couldn’t have submitted to acting like any other novice, even temporarily. I assume the reverence and support the novices are displaying will be very important later. Considering Egwene’s political aptitude, I wonder what other pieces of information she has both learned and imparted will prove key in the final struggle against Elaida. Will she find an alliance with Mattin Stepaneos, perhaps? What about Alviarin? It’s very surprising to see she would deign to almost begging for an allegiance with Egwene. Will Beonin even try to redeem herself? She didn’t seem completely against helping Egwene again. Needless to say, I’m very interested to see how this plays out, and I only wish this storyline played a larger role in the novel, and I’m rarely one to demand more Egwene in a given WoT novel!
Chapter 25: Attending Elaida
Tarna approaches Elaida’s quarters. She questions which Red sisters can be trusted to bond Asha’man. Elaida has been approached by Meidani to renew their friendship. She orders penances to any who do not deliver the labor to remove the damaging chains on the harbors. Elaida wants Egwene tamed, but not broken, and decides to meet with her.
Mat leaves Maderin and proceeds into the forest. He believes the gholam will follow Luca’s circus, which is still heading for Murandy. Mat kisses Tuon for the first time. Talmanes approaches, and explains why he didn’t follow Egwene to Tar Valon. He brought three banners of horse and four thousand mounted crossbowmen. The Band has finished its service to King Roedran and has been paid. Vanin reveals the pass he knew of was blocked by a landslide. As they ride, Mat plans to contend with the scattered nearby Seanchan camps and to escape Altara somehow.
What a bizarre pair of POVs, Tarna and Mat. What compelled Jordan to have them share a chapter? Anyway, not much to comment on either one. Elaida’s behavior in this chapter was unnerving. She’s never been exactly the most levelheaded person, yet she was acting more erratic than ever here. Elaida’s a highly unpredictable person in general, and Egwene’s still in her clutches…
On a more positive note, Mat has finally left the circus. Finally. I really hope this is the last of Valan Luca and his damn circus. My god, were they irritatingly pointless. And Talmanes returned! That was unexpected. So their business in Murandy was wrapped up that quickly? Well, I suppose it’s been three books, but still. I like the idea of Mat waging a campaign against the nearby Seanchan. With the mountain pass blocked, it’s his only shot. The situation doesn’t look particularly good, but now that he has support from the Band, Mat might make it out of Altara (finally!) and return to the main storyline again! It has been, what, six books since we’ve seen his military-minded might? After so many books mired in Ebou Dar and then on the run in Altara, it’s so relieving to see this arc come to a close, and have Mat in his element again.
Chapter 26: As If the World Were Fog
Tuon and Selucia listen to Mat’s conversation with Talmanes. Estean is in charge in Murandy. Thom, whom Tuon is suspicious of, explains the concept of ta’veren. They reach the encampment of the Band. As Mat studies the detailed maps to plan an offensive against the nearby Seanchan, Tuon gains a newfound respect for him.
Perrin approaches the windmills and aqueduct near Malden. The forkroot is dumped into the aqueduct once it is confirmed no Shaido are present. Seonid and some others enter the aqueduct to infiltrate the fortress and wait for Faile. Elyas, Tallanvor, many of Cha Faile and the Two Rivers soldiers, follow. Gaul joins at the last moment to find Chiad. Grady Travels with Perrin back to the encampment. Perrin hopes to conserve Grady and Neald’s strength with limited Traveling. Seven thousand Whitecloaks are heading north after Galad killed Valda and deserted the Seanchan. It is also revealed two additional bands of Shaido approach Malden from southeast and southwest. Reality suddenly ripples as if the world were fog. Perrin decides to ignore it.
Twenty additional gaishain swore fealty to Faile earlier in the morning. Rolan agreed to help, although he continues to make advances. Galina approaches demanding the binder, intending to depart the following day. She has Faile deliver it then, to a building marked with a red scarf.
This was a colossal chapter! I found that Tuon’s perspective made an otherwise mundane segment rather interesting. Have we ever been in her head, save that introductory chapter in WH? The Seanchan are such a radically different culture, I admit it was very intriguing to see this whole storyline from the other side for once. I’m so used to Mat struggling with a mystifying Tuon, it was entertaining to witness Tuon’s experience in a different culture. Better still is her growing respect for him! Again, I love the fact that Mat is returning to his field of work: leading men into battle. I suppose I can forgive Tuon for having a less-than-positive view on Mat, considering what he had to contend with in Ebou Dar (I still can’t forget the Tylin debacle), and I’m ecstatic to see her respect his aptitude in military strategy. Her description of him as a lion was very apt. After being caged so long, I can’t wait to see Mat back in action.
Not too much to explain about Perrin’s segment. This book is starting to accelerate in pace, with all the set-up out of the way. I must admit, Perrin has a mind for battle himself. I suppose that was displayed back in TSR, but since he’s just been wandering around Ghealdan and Altara for the last few books, it surprised me that he’s managing to concoct this rather clever scheme to liberate Faile so successfully.
Galina’s totally about to murder Faile and her companions in that meeting spot. How the hell are they gonna get out of this?
Chapter 27: A Plain Wooden Box
Rand rides with Min, Alivia, Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Bashere and his soldiers, and Nandera and some Maidens, in northern Altara. Rand, Logain, Narishma, Sandomere, Cadsuane, Nynaeve, and Min ride to the arranged location at a manor. Six sul’dam and six damane emerge from the manor followed by a short dark woman. Nynaeve detects one channeling. As they approach, the woman flickers into Semirhage, who throws a fireball at Rand. He protects Min and holds up the Dragon Scepter. The fireball blows it, and Rand’s left hand, to pieces. Battle breaks out while Rand regains his senses. When he recovers, he finds Semirhage and the Seanchan captured as the other Asha’man and Aes Sedai appear. Nynaeve Heals Rand’s hand to a stump, and there’s something wrong with his eyes. Semirhage explains about Lews Therin in Rand’s head. A box from the manor is revealed to contain six a’damand five duplicates of the sad bracelets. Rand has the sul’dam and damane returned to Ebou Dar with the message that he is still open to negotiate with the Daughter of the Nine Moons.
Mat and the Band prepare a trap for a nearby force of Seanchan. He intends to wreak havoc among the scattered forces in northeast Altara to draw the armies away from Molvaine Gap. The crossbowmen are arranged on each side of the Lugard Road. Vanin reports the Seanchan approach. Mat has Teslyn channel a signal and the crossbowmen kill the passing forces. Mat has his forces leave quickly to strike again before sunrise.
So…this was probably the most anticipated moment in the book for me, and I have a multitude of feelings about it. I was excited to witness the quite obvious trap presented in CoT’s Epilogue, and Rand’s chapters in KoD only made me more eager to see this all go down. Tuon being Semirhage wasn’t much of a surprise. Neither was it a surprise that this negotiation proceeded so disastrously. However, it was surprising how damn quickly everything occurred.
It’s something I’ve noticed about Jordan, a rather ironic element to his writing that has been present since the beginning. He has the tendency to be ludicrously descriptive when writing about the uneventful, but when action scenes come around, he writes very, very quickly, almost lacking sufficient description at times. This scene sort of felt like that. After several pages of tense build-up, the trap unfolded in about two pages. It wasn’t necessarily anti-climactic, it was just so damn fast, and I honestly would’ve preferred a little more action before everything was resolved. But this has been prevalent in the series for some time, so I’m not really gonna complain about it.
I sort of expected Suroth to be present, however, considering the Prologue. With Semirhage officially contacting her, though, it does make sense that she would take control of the sad bracelets and orchestrate the trap by herself. I’m not entirely sure why I always felt Suroth was organizing this entire thing. But even if it was just Semirhage, she was more than capable enough to cause damage! Rand lost his goddamn hand. That’s horrific by itself, but it was really Rand’s reaction that shocked me. It is testament to how much his character has changed, has steeled, in past books. He has lost his hand, and he just gets up, and keeps moving. His character really is quite tragic at this point. He doesn’t have a moment to rest, to grieve, to suffer, to hurt. He has no choice but to keep fighting. Damn.
I was initially disappointed that the sad bracelets didn’t come into play. I expected more from Semirhage than a strategic fireball, such as her trademark brand of torture and, of course, those damn bracelets that I’ve been thinking about since TSR. But, of course, the fireball was certainly effective and I think the fact that Semirhage was captured so easily doesn’t bode well for the future. The sad bracelets are still intact. Semirhage is still intact. I think my prediction that someone is going to successfully snare Rand with them hasn’t been ruled out yet. And it’ll be a disaster when it happens.
To be honest, the Rand portion of this chapter was so exhilarating, I almost skimmed through the rest, although Mat’s was important nonetheless, if only to see his brilliant strategic mind in action after 6 BOOKS. Finally. Here’s the Mat I loved from TFoH. Not to say his storyline since hasn’t had its moments, far from it, but like I said, it’s so great to see this arc finally closing. Of course, Mat has to win this war he’s declared on the nearby Seanchan forces first.
Chapter 28: In Malden
Dairaine enters Faile’s quarters suspiciously. Afraid of being outed to Sevanna, Faile, Maighdin, and Alliandre tie Dairaine up. Outside, Bain and Chiad wait with thirty or forty gai’shain. Faile sends them away promising to liberate them with an army. Bain and Chiad agree to handle Dairaine. Faile and her companions depart and retrieve the binder, heading to Galina’s arranged meeting place. They meet Galina in the cellar of a collapsing building. Once she has the binder, Galina departs and the building collapses over them. They attempt to dig their way out, but to no avail. Faile convinces Maighdin to attempt channeling the red flag Galina tied to the door to signal for help.
Galina departs Malden, hearing wolves howl and fog amount, recognizing Perrin’s attack. She is ecstatic to be free.
After three books, this simultaneous rescue mission/escape attempt is finally going down. I knew it was gonna happen, of course, but I was always curious to see specifically how. And as much as I understand why this particularly storyline receives so much hate from the fanbase, I’m still really excited to see this all happen. It’s pretty exciting, even if all the tedious Perrin chapters before it weren’t. Again, I still hope Faile will at least have some success in escaping by herself, so that she’s not essentially just a damsel in distress when Perrin comes along, but the end of this chapter calls that into question. I’m so damn conflicted over Galina. It’s not like I didn’t expect her to betray Faile and gang. It was obvious going into that cellar was a complete trap. Yet getting trapped in a basement and essentially waiting there to starve to death after weeks (months?) of elaborate escape planning…
That’s a helluva downer. It’s good to see Faile can keep her head in a crisis, but from what I know of Morgase’s channeling ability, I’m not sure if that meager avenue of escape will be successful. How the hell are they gonna get out of there? What complicates this further is that I almost sympathize with Galina’s despair and her desire to escape. The Shaido, or at least Sevanna and Therava, are really bad people. I’d say my distaste of them outmatches my distaste of Galina. What a conundrum.
Chapter 29: The Last Knot
Perrin studies Malden and the surrounding camp from atop the ridge. Neald conjured the fog. Masema is nearby, despite his twenty thousand soldiers being beyond the eastern ridge. Perrin sends Basel Gill with all of the servants and provisions, to the north. Tylee considers Perrin’s plan sound. Masema intends to survey Perrin. The wolves howl and the attack begins.
Maighdin is exhausted attempting to channel the flag. Suddenly, Aravine appears at the gap, Theril having followed them and seeing Galina collapse the building. Rolan and two other Mera’din start clearing the rubble.
Grady Travels with Tam al’Thor and several new Two Rivers soldiers. Tam will command the campaign over Arganda and Gallenne. Grady joins Mishima. Tam learned that Rand is the Dragon Reborn when Tam visited the Two Rivers to recruit for the Black Tower. The Shaido warriors ride from the encampment. Tam signals the bowmen to mow them down when in range. Only a few Wise Ones in the encampment are capable of channeling. The sul’dam and damane to the north and south eliminate the flanking Shaido. Perrin’s Wise Ones begin their assault. Perrin heads towards the town gates with Aram, fighting through the attackers.
This battle is officially beginning. There’s not all that much to say. It’s all forward momentum from here. Masema is totally going to pull something, any time now. What the hell is that dude’s agenda? Lini’s belief that Perrin cheated on Faile remains very much irritating. But things are working out for Faile. The plan with the red rag actually worked! I didn’t expect that out of Morgase. But what else could they have tried? Thank god for the other gai’shain, huh? Faile’s altruistic pledge to liberate the gai’shain after her own escape has been repaid in kind, it seems. And Rolan’s helping too. I have my problems with him and his attitude to Faile, but I’m glad his presence isn’t complicating matters.
Back on the Perrin front, Tam’s back. Just like that. For the first time since…TSR. That was unexpected and rather unexplained. I guess it makes sense for Perrin to gather as much support as possible, and that obviously includes the Two Rivers, but I didn’t expect Tam to return to the narrative like that, especially in so…casual a manner. Huh. I’m hoping we get a reunion with Rand before all this is over. I mean, it’s inevitable. And then the battle began, and Perrin was sort of a bad-ass, if very rash, walking into battle by himself.
Chapter 30: Outside the Gates
Rolan helps Faile and the others climb from the cellar one at a time. Maighdin collapses outside from exhaustion. Rolan agrees to hide Faile until nightfall and then bring her to the forest. They proceed through Malden.
As Perrin approaches the gates and duels two Shaido, Aram suddenly attacks him, convinced by Masema that Perrin and Elyas are Shadowspawn because of their eyes. A Shaido arrow kills Aram. Perrin turns a corner to find a group of people in white approach led by three Shaido. Faile is amongst them, dragged by a Shaido. Perrin kills him while Faile and Lacile stab the other two. Perrin has the group head north to safety. Theril is dispatched to the fortress to alert Ban, Seonid, and the others. Faile reveals Galina’s treachery. The battle concludes. Tylee rides over with a naked Sevanna tied over her horse. The majority of Masema’s supporters were killed. However, Masema and a hundred of his men managed to survive. Perrin has a mutual respect for Tylee.
Galina retrieves her stash and prepares to leave in the woods when Therava discovers her, retrieving the binder. The surviving Wise Ones have several hundred Shaido accompanying them, intending to return to the Three-fold Land permenantly. Galina is broken, resigned to remain Therava’s pet for the rest of her life.
And so this storyline has finally concluded. Whew. I always thought it could conclude in so many different ways, and thus seeing this end was entertaining. It was certainly an epic battle, and we haven’t had one of those in quite some time. CoT was essentially devoid of action, and KoD has brought back not only exciting duels and clashes, but full-scale warfare as well!
Aram. What the hell. I knew he was unstable, I knew his meetings with Masema would eventually lead to disaster, but that was all it took? His rationale was Perrin’s yellow eyes? How naïve is that kid? Aram’s storyline has been preparing for this one moment since TSR, and it occurred, like many in this novel, so…quickly and unexpectedly. Aram attacked Perrin out of the blue, and then died. Well, good riddance, I suppose, but damn, talk about a sudden turn of events. Masema needs to die. He’s been causing far too much trouble, and we haven’t even discovered his agenda yet.
Perrin killing Rolan was perhaps the most unexpected part of this chapter, though. That was shocking and rather sad. Again, Rolan’s behavior and very character could be disturbing at times, but in the end, he put his life on the line for Faile, and how grimly ironic that he died to Perrin. What a morbid turn of events! I mean, there was no way any of them could have known, but nonetheless, it’s rather tragic. But Perrin and Faile, reunited at last! Now Perrin can finally concentrate on something other than rescuing her. Finally. Although it’s rather disappointing Faile didn’t play a huge part in her own rescue, I suppose it was inevitable that Perrin would be doing most of the rescuing, considering how the last three books have played out. I’m just glad to see this arc over. I cannot express how happy I’ll be to move into TGS when, presumably, we start anew after KoD wraps up all the disparate overlong plotlines and arcs miring the series since TPoD.
So what happens to Sevanna? The chapter didn’t make it entirely clear. She was captured by Tylee… Then what? Will she be executed, imprisoned, enslaved? I’m hoping to see some closure on an antagonist I’ve come to despise so much. Honestly, I would’ve enjoyed Faile getting the chance to kill her somewhere in this arc! Another character that has seemingly escaped their demise is Galina, but in a much different way. Damn, Galina really should’ve died. After all the shit she’s pulled, all the terrible crimes she’s committed, I still feel sorry for her. Again, Faile should’ve gotten some sort of revenge, or Galina should’ve been killed in battle, or something, because it would be much preferable to her horrific current fate. Yes, it’s certainly poetic justice, certainly the most ironic, fitting end to her character. Too fitting. I’m certain Galina would’ve killed herself at this point, had she the chance. Because Therava and the rest of those Shaido… Disgusting, disgusting human beings. Argh.