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Book 13 Chapters 44-51




Note: Apologies for the late update, been quite busy recently. I'm hoping to finish the book within a week, though.


In this entry of Towers of Midnight, Morgase finally receives closure in her relationship with Tallanvor, dissent brews in the Black Tower, Mat prepares to rescue Moiraine, Elayne schemes to claim the throne of Cairhien, Tuon learns a startling secret, Rand confronts the Borderlanders at last, and Aviendha glimpses into a terrifying future.


Chapter 44: A Backhanded Request




Morgase decides to support Elayne in Caemlyn. She prepares to leave when Tallanvor returns from Whitebridge. They converse tensely before Lini finally decides to drag them to Perrin to be wedded. Tallanvor finally properly asks to marry Morgase.


Perrin has requested audience with Elayne. He recognizes the attraction between Berelain and Galad. Morgase and Tallanvor request a marriage, and Perrin performs the ceremony brusquely. As he surveys his army, he is tapped by Mat, who warns him about the possibility of assassins. He requests a meeting at an inn, and to borrow an Asha’man for a gateway.




Another slow Perrin chapter, to be honest. I honestly feel as if this rather colossal book could’ve been shorter if all the Perrin chapters were condensed a little. I don’t think Morgase’s marriage (especially considering the marriage itself only occurred over a page or two) required a whole chapter. Nonetheless, it’s more closure over Morgase’s protracted arc, so I suppose it’s important. I don’t know, her whole subplot was rather problematic. Interesting, yes, but this poor woman was subject to so much misery throughout the series, and for what? And her romance with Tallanvor, like many in this series, wasn’t particularly interesting.


But Mat’s reunited with Perrin! It’s only been nine books! Meh, the whole rock-throwing or whatever didn’t seem particularly characteristic of Mat at this point. He’s changed a lot since the immature kid he was in the very first books. But it’s a relief to see our protagonists start coming together.


Chapter 45: A Reunion




Elayne awakens frustrated, unable to channel enough to enter Tel’aran’rhiod and support Egwene. Melfane confirms that she has twins. Talmanes informs Elayne in a letter that he has consented to moving companies of the Band to Cairhien. Dyelin discusses with her on how to claim the Sun Throne without fermenting animosity. Elayne dwells on the invasion of Andor that Chesmal mentioned. Birgitte enters with Galad and Morgase. Elayne realizes that her mother renounced the throne, preventing a potential successional crisis. Galad reveals he is the new leader of the Whitecloaks, and is sent to his quarters with a dinner invitation to converse further. Elayne contemplates on how to publically handle Morgase’s return.


Aviendha surveys the city of Rhuidean, and ruminates on its newfound irrelevance. She ponders why Aiel leaders should learn of their now-obvious past and their toh if that toh is finally being fulfilled?




So Morgase and Elayne’s reunion feels…sort of underwhelming. These reunions (Mat and Perrin, Rand and Tam, etc., etc.) aren’t as important to me as they are to some, which is why I didn’t really criticize Sanderson on writing certain scenes of character interaction more hastily than Jordan would’ve. But it was jarringly noticeable here, even though there was an explanation for why Elayne and Morgase were containing their emotions. I don’t know, such a monumental reunion should’ve had more emphasis. It’s not as if they were just separated; Elayne (and most of Randland) thought Morgase was dead.


Not much to say about Aviendha, this is all build-up for her hopefully satisfactory journey into Rhuidean.


Chapter 46: Working Leather




Androl crafts a leather armguard. He is feeble with the One Power, but Logain promoted him to Dedicated against Taim’s volition. He wanders through the Black Tower village. Logain’s absence has been noticed by his supporters. Androl notices shadows creeping upon him whenever he clutches the saidin, a still-present affect of the madness. He finds practicing Dedicated divided between allegiance to Logain and Taim. A feud erupts between the two, but Androl prevents it, although he’s suspicious of the startling progress made by those personally training with Taim. Logain’s supporters intend to gather information against Taim, and look to Androl as their leader.




I’m conflicted on this chapter. On the one hand, I’m relieved to finally see the Black Tower back in focus again. The mysterious politics of that place has been ignored for so many books, a subplot clearly in the works by Jordan but never really brought into the clear. I’m hoping this chapter leads into some actual progress regarding just what the hell Taim has been up to in the several books Rand has ignored him for. I mean, this subplot has to move forward, there’s only a few hundred pages left and then it’s AMoL. Well, it was intriguing as always to glimpse the sinister developments in the Black Tower, especially after so long an absence since Jordan finished KoD with a very tantalizing cliffhanger, but I’m also somewhat disappointed by how much of this chapter was…filler. There was a lot of pointless description, banter between the Asha’man, etc. It’s important to give some development to new characters like Androl and to detail the atmosphere of the Black Tower, but considering how lacking this subplot is in development, I would’ve hoped Sanderson would use it for more than just further establishing the feud between Logain and Taim’s supporters.


Chapter 47: A Teaching Chamber




Accompanied by Alliandre, Arganda and his guards, some Two Rivers soldciers, and more, Perrin’s party enters Caemlyn through gateway. Grady cannot Travel to the Black Tower for some reason. Perrin proceeds into the Royal Palace, where Elayne waits in the throne room. She thanks them for returning Morgase, and Faile requests privacy to discuss further matters. Elayne is infuriated with Perrin’s supposed treason of raising the wolf banner. Morgase speaks in Perrin’s favor, however, and it is ultimately agreed that the Two Rivers will be granted to the Dragon Reborn, with Perrin as its steward, which will create a bond with Ghealdan. Elayne discusses Rand’s plan to break the seals, and Perrin offers his aid.


Tuon enters the chamber in which damane are trained. A defiant damane named Suffa is brought before her, who is forced to demonstrate Traveling. Tuon understands the magnitude of this discovery. She intends to utilize this newfound skill to successfully claim the marath’damane of the White Tower, and then recapture Seanchan. She is still intent on having the Dragon Reborn serve the Crystal Throne.


Perrin, Mat, and Thom converse in an inn’s private chamber, having exchanged stories. Mat still is reluctant to open Verin’s letter. He requires a gateway to the Tower of Ghenjei to rescue Moiraine, something Perrin is apprehensive about. Mat declines his aid, as only three may come. He decides to explain everything.




The Seanchan have finally returned to the narrative! Considering how the majority of TGS concerned them, there was definitely a notable absence in ToM. As much as I generally abhor the Seanchan (and this chapter only reinforced that), they’re simultaneously one of my favorite parts of the entire series because of how interesting the whole subplot is. Especially after the monumental events in TGS, I was eager to see the backlash amongst the Seanchan, and just when I thought ToM would be devoid of them, we have a glimpse of the aftermath of the failed Tower raid. And that aftermath seems to entail another attempt to enslave all the Aes Sedai…because of Elaida. Wonderful. Even in captivity, she still manages to screw over the Tower. I suppose this justifies why yet another female antagonist was sold into perpetual slavery rather than meet a clean demise, something I griped about in TGS. So now the Seanchan know Traveling. And now the delightful-as-ever Tuon intends to raid the Tower again and then bring the Dragon to his knees. What happened to the Tuon I loved in KoD? Well, she wasn’t perfect then, but TGS has showed her true colors, and her imperial tendencies don’t seem to have diminished.


Well, there were some other notable developments in this chapter, including Elayne’s infuriating contemplation of executing her friend over nothing. Okay, she never really considered decapitating Perrin, but seriously. I’m glad this petty conflict was finally resolved, and relatively cleanly. Still, it continues to perplex me that Andor only cares about this little region of their kingdom that the monarchy was eager to ignore when it was besieged by Trollocs but all of a sudden wants to assert its dominance when Perrin’s followers started waving a banner around. Sigh. And then there’s still this nonsense about an intervention with Rand. I seriously hope Perrin doesn’t really support Egwene in whatever she’s planning.


Nothing much to say about Perrin and Mat’s conversation, it’s more build-up to the infiltration of the Tower of Ghenjei.


Chapter 48: Near Avendesora




Aviendha completes her journey into Rhuidean’s glass columns, unsurprised, having already known what to expect. On a whim, she decides to utilize her talent and read the ter’angreal. It appears too complicated to analyze, but when Aviendha steps away…


She is Malidra, scavenging for food in a Lightmaker camp. She is discovered and killed by something from a metal rod.


Aviendha is baffled by the vision and its placement in time. She decides to step back into the columns.


She is Norlesh, whose husband Metalan desperately tries to trade with outlanders for food, but is refused because of the Raven Empress’ orders. The pair hide for the night, but their baby dies.


Aviendha cannot comprehend that such a feeble wretched people were her ancestors. She continues.


She is Tava, whose hold is assailed by flying beasts. Her father manages to help drive the assault back, but the entire village is burned to the ground. The clan disbands, as the Raven Empire is planning assaults from the east as well.


Aviendha realizes that the soldiers were Seanchan, and that the vision represents the future of the Aiel, not the past. She fearfully continues.




Note: See the next chapter for commentary.


Chapter 49: Court of the Sun




She is Ladalin, who converses with the three remaining clan chiefs. It is revealed that the White Tower has crumbled. The Seanchan have claimed Rhuidean, Illian, and Cairhien, and are utilizing Andoran war machines. Only five clans have survived the brutal war, and the chiefs decide to retreat to the Three-fold Land. Peace with the Seanchan, as intended by the Dragon, is impossible.


Aviendha is horrified by the honorless state of the Aiel. She continues.


She is Oncala, who carries the blood of the Dragon Reborn. The Aiel have been fighting the aggressive Seanchan alone for forty years. They convince Queen Talana in Caemlyn to join the fight as well, using plans stolen from Ebou Dar that outline an attack on the city. The Aiel omit that the plan wasn’t preemptive.


Aviendha is disgusted by the power-hungry nature of her own granddaughter. She continues.


She is Padra, daughter of the Dragon Reborn. She and her three siblings have channeled constantly since childhood. Seventeen years have passed since the Last Battle. Padra intends a meeting of the clan chiefs. The Aiel intend to attack any Seanchan who trespass upon their camp, as the Dragon’s Peace doesn’t apply to them. They decide to retaliate against the Seanchan collaring Wise Ones.


Aviendha is desperate to change the dismal future of the Aiel, but the glass columns have nothing further to reveal. She intends to save her people, and decides to think.




I thought I’d comment on these two chapters as a whole, considering how they flowed into each other. I wasn’t sure what to expect when Aviendha walked into the pillars. Like she mentioned, the truth about the Aiel has already been revealed. Why reiterate it? I was nonetheless surprised when the chapter opened with Aviendha emerging from the test. What then? Turned out there was more. I was confused as Aviendha was, especially considering I have a very faint recollection of Rand’s personal wander into the pillars (a scene most fans cite as one of their favorites; I seriously need to reread the first four books). Why were the Aiel so wretched? Why were they being assaulted by…the Seanchan? The answer hit me as hard as it did Aviendha. Being slaughtered and hunted to a depraved extinction is the future of the Aiel, and it’s because of unchecked Seanchan expansion.


Seriously, I’m done with the Seanchan. If the readers are supposed to accept cooperation and peace with these genocidal imperialist slavers after Tarmon Gai’don…just no. I didn’t think the Seanchan could look less likeable after the whole damane system was detailed in the earlier books, but their little war in Randland (which isn’t going to stop with Tarmon Gai’don, as it turns out) only makes matters worse. What they’re going to do to the Aiel is horrific. Of course, the Aiel aren’t completely without blame either. As Aviendha observed, they were acting rather duplicitous and war-hungry in the first generation or so after the Last Battle. Still, that was partially her perspective.


I have to commend Sanderson (or Jordan, depending on how much of this writing and plotting was in his notes) for this scene. Definitely one of the highlights of the book so far, it was brilliantly written, shocking, visceral, and clever. I completely didn’t expect the visions to be detailing the future of the Aiel back to the present. And it appears as if this future is inevitable. Well, not completely inevitable. I could believe such an ending for the Aiel from George R.R. Martin, but not from an author like Robert Jordan. There has to be a happy ending for the Aiel, right? Right? Well, Aviendha will be the one to secure it, I imafgine, I just don’t know how. It was also very interesting to glimpse the aftermath of the Last Battle. It was very ambiguous as to the survival of the main characters, but it did reveal Rand’s children, something I didn’t expect at this point. I’m not sure how much I’m into how special and over-powered his kids are, but I’ll wait and see.


Chapter 50: Choosing Enemies




Elayne sits before a formal audience, listening to the distant booms of the dragons. Birgitte and visiting Cairhienin nobles eventually enter after the demonstration concludes. Elayne has Arymilla, Elenia, and Naean escorted inside. She strips them of their titles and estates, a fate considered worse than death by some. The two most notable Cairhienin are Bertome Saighan and Lorstrum Aesnan. Elayne hints at securing stability with Cairhien by offering the lands that were just forfeited. Bertome and Lorstrum jump at the opportunity to seize territory in Andor. Elayne then allows Elenia a chance to start anew, as new land would be made available in Andor and Cairhien’s unification.


After the display, Birgitte expresses confusion. Morgase and Dyelin explain that Elayne gained the favor of the Cairhienin nobles, who now intend to take both thrones. Elayne now has her potential enemies close to her.




So I’m glad that lesser but still important threads like this are given due attention (we can’t simply ignore that Elayne was promised the Sun Throne but has yet to claim Cairhien), but there are definitely more important things in the narrative I’m looking forward to, and thus I’m a little apathetic when it comes to further Elayne politicking. I suppose her protracted storyline has killed my enthusiasm for politics in Randland, but I do think the reason Egwene out-manipulating manipulators in her storyline worked better than in Elayne’s was because she had at least slightly worthy adversaries and worked from a position of disadvantage. Elayne’s never faced interesting opponents. She simply spent several books in the series slowly but surely out-politicking nobles to claim the throne, and I’m thankful we only have to suffer a little more of that before her character can finally move onto something more interesting. Egwene, in contrast, first operated as an underdog, with all the Aes Sedai supporting her secretly attempting to manipulate her. Secondly, she was forced to operate as a captive, which clearly provided some interesting roadblocks in her attempt to bring about unity in the Tower. There was conflict, the politics weren’t too overly convoluted (at least towards the end), and thus it was a rather interesting storyline. I can’t say the same about Elayne’s similar quest to claim her rightful position as leader of an institution, and so I’m just eager for her to claim Cairhien and be done with it.


Thankfully, while Jordan may have protracted this with numerous chapters of Elayne scheming with Dyelin and treating with various bland Cairhienin nobles, Sanderson (who at least maintains brevity when it comes to politics) seems to be accelerating this subplot. Her plan seems sound, so I’ll just wait for it to unfold.


Chapter 51: A Testing




Min has a viewing of Callandor gripped by a black hand. She is concerned about the deeper flaw in the sword, fearful it will be used against Rand. He decides to finally deal with the Borderlanders. Rand is perturbed by Traveling’s malfunction around the Black Tower. He chastises Cadsuane for all of her disrespect. They proceed through a gateway to Far Madding, where the Borderlander army awaits, headed by the four leaders. Each strike Rand in turn out of anger. Rand restrains himself, and King Paitar asks about the death of Tellindal Tirraso. Rand replies she was a clerk who accidentally died when he battled Demandred. This somehow proves to the monarchs that Rand is indeed the Dragon Reborn.


Thirteen Aes Sedai surround the tent where the rulers later converse with Rand. Paitar explains that his ancestor had a Foretelling from an Aes Sedai about Tellindal Tirraso and the importance of asking the supposed Dragon Reborn about her fate. Rand reveals how close the monarchs came to inciting apocalypse. If he had treated with them earlier and received such treatment, he likely would’ve attacked the whole army. Rand reveals he will break the remaining seals tomorrow, and that the Borderlanders may accompany him to the Last Battle if they pledge their allegiance. He sends for Hurin to apologize.




I’ll admit, I’m a little disappointed. Five books, Jordan seemed to have a very complex plan regarding the Borderlanders. I was always impressed by the complexity of his foreshadowing and his myriad subplots, and while many were protracted to only disappoint in the end, more still served a clever purpose and only suffered from length. I was hoping something as important as the Borderlanders abandoning their own nations to track Rand down would fall in the latter category. I didn’t have any idea what the Borderland leaders were scheming when this bizarre subplot was first introduced in TPoD, but I assumed it served some purpose. But did it? In the end, there was no intricate conspiracy against Rand, there was no grand task they requested of him, they didn’t even come to pledge fealty to him. They came to ask him a question about some woman and react accordingly.


That seems rather lackluster to me. I’m not sure if Jordan had any idea where he was going with this subplot, if he knew but just didn’t clarify it enough in his notes, or if Sanderson came up with something at the last minute. I’m not sure who to blame, but I would’ve hoped for something more than this, especially considering the level of suspense in TGS. I know we’re supposed to be pissed at the Borderlanders (Jordan probably intended this to display that the Borderlanders, depicted as warriors constantly defending the world from the Shadow, were prone to petty politics as much as any other nation), and I am. I mean, they have the bloody nerve to condemn Rand for what’s happening in their own nations? If the Borderlanders had supported Rand as any sensible nations in their position would’ve, if they hadn’t abandoned their people to the apocalypse, the bloodshed Rand attempted to revert in Maradon would’ve been prevented. Yeah, I’m definitely pissed at the Borderlanders, but I’m also irritated with the author(s) for not writing a more compelling reason for this protracted little subplot than a random prophecy. Well, at least they’re gonna finally support Rand and participate in this war against the Shadow they were supposed to be waging. Or so I hope…


I did enjoy Rand talking down to Cadsuane, although his own behavior in this chapter was a little alarming, just in the way he talked. It reminds me we still haven’t been inside Rand’s head since his epiphany. For all I know, there could still be trouble in there. Hopefully I’ll get a glimpse soon. I also enjoyed that he promised to apologize to poor Hurin. I hope he has a role in the Last Battle.


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I think many were disappointed by the borderlanders and it was a stupid move from their side. But they were the security mechanism of the pattern if rand had gone further into the darkness – thankfully there was his epiphany at dragonmount.

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