Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
Spoilers for those who are unfamiliar with the series. Note that this summary is designed to help people who have already read the books get back up to speed before the release of the final volume in January. First-timers are advised to read the books directly, as in some cases these summaries may spoil things that are not revealed in the books until much later.
Rand al'Thor takes his destiny into his own hands.
Follow the break for the summary:
The Dragon Reborn
A cold and bitter winter has descended on the westlands, slowing all travel to an absolute crawl. Riding hell for leather and almost killing his horse in the process, Jaret Byar reaches Amador and the Fortress of the Light just before the worst of the weather arrives. He gains an audience with the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light, Pedron Niall, and reports on the Battle of Falme that he witnessed. Niall discounts the idea that the true Dragon Reborn has appeared, dismissing him as yet another false Dragon propped up by the White Tower. He commands Byar to journey to Tar Valon and bring news of his father’s death to Captain Dain Bornhald, serving under Lord Captain Eamon Valda outside the city. After Byar departs Niall gives an audience to a shifty man who calls himself Ordeith (in reality Padan Fain), who urges him to send a Whitecloak force to occupy the Two Rivers, home of the evil Darkfriends Cauthon, Aybara and al’Thor. Niall agrees to consider the matter. He also gives an audience to Jaichim Carridin, charged with taking possession of Almoth Plain. Niall is outraged by Carridin’s failure to evict the Darkfriend Seanchan from Toman Head and the resulting loss of half a legion of the Children of the Light, a sizeable fraction of their entire strength. He informs Carridin that this failure will be revealed to the High Inquisitor himself and also before the entire Council of the Anointed unless Carridin performs a special task for him: he will keep the new false Dragon alive long enough to unite Arad Doman and Tarabon against him. Then the Children of the Light will take control of those nations. Carridin agrees, but is then given conflicting orders by none other than a Myrddraal who appears in his quarters. The Myrddraal – who uncharacteristically exhibits a sense of humour – orders Carridin to find and kill al’Thor as soon as possible. Carridin is the senior Darkfriend amongst the Children, but far from the only one.
Jaichim Carridin is confronted by a somewhat unusual Myddraal.
A heavy and cold winter passes and several months drag by. Rand’s party, which has slowly been making its way across Almoth Plain whilst trying to avoid contact with the Dragonsworn, the Children of the Light and the armies of Tarabon and Arad Doman, reaches the Mountains of Mist and decides to wait out the cold in a remote mountain pass. As the days and weeks pass more news comes of war on Almoth Plain between Tarabon and Arad Doman, as well as civil war in both nations between the government and the Dragonsworn. Also, the Whitecloaks have increased their strength to 5,000 men and sworn to bring down the new false Dragon, but bizarrely have not attacked any group of Dragonsworn larger than fifty, sometimes going out of their way to avoid contact. Rand suggests they send messengers to round up the Dragonsworn and make them rendezvous in the mountains, but Moiraine deflects such suggestions, fearing they might bring down the army of one or both nations on their head. Instead she insists they sit and wait, receiving information from the various sources she has scouting the land.
That night Perrin has a strange dream in which he sees three men and a woman discussing something of great importance. They regard him as important, since he is ta’veren, but there is something - someone - of greater importance preying on their minds. The three men start arguing and fire consumes them. A wolf then appears and Perrin begins to realise this is more than just a dream. Before he awakens he catches a glimpse of a large chamber containing a crystal sword suspended in mid-air, and a warning of danger...
When Perrin awakens the camp is under attack by Trollocs and Myrddraal. Using his abilities as a Wolfbrother, he summons a pack of wolves to help fight them off. With their help, the Shienarans, Lan, Moiraine, Perrin, Min and Loial defeat the Shadowspawn, but Rand is nowhere to be seen. There are fatalities and one of Moiraine’s messengers, a Tinker named Leya, is killed. Rand reappears, ashamed to confess that he couldn’t do anything to help; he still does not have enough control of the One Power, even after months of practice at Moiraine’s direction. But saidin and saidar are different, and all Moiraine can do is point him in the general direction he needs to go, no more. The next morning Perrin awakens to find the camp in chaos: Rand fled during the night, taking his things and vanishing into the east. Moiraine is annoyed at his impudence: the time to move is not yet. Moiraine orders Min to take a message to the Amyrlin Seat at Tar Valon and update her on recent events. She then instructs the Shienarans to head down into Ghealdan and hole up there until she sends for them. In the meantime, she, Lan, Perrin and Loial will pursue Rand and find out what he is up to. Perrin confesses his dreams about the sword and the arguing men, and Moiraine identifies the sword as Callandor, the Sword That is Not a Sword, an immense sa’angreal that resides in the Heart of the Stone of Tear. The seizure of the Sword and the Stone by the Dragon Reborn will be the first piece of irrefutable evidence that the Last Battle is coming. When Moiraine questions the others, she finds that they have all had dreams about swords in recent nights, indicating that Rand might have dreamt of it too, and seen it as a sign. Just before the pursuit begins Min warns Perrin that she has had a Viewing about him. The images include an Aielman in a cage, a Tuatha’an with a sword, and a falcon and hawk perching on Perrin’s shoulders. Min also confesses that she is in love with Rand and, according to a Viewing, she must share him with two others, to her disquiet.
Perrin’s group sets out and they soon descend from the mountains into the Kingdom of Ghealdan. As they head east through various villages and towns they discover the trail of chaos left by the passage of a ta’veren: spontaneous weddings and deaths, miracles and curses, and more.
Meanwhile, more than a thousand miles away Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne, Verin, Mat and Hurin finally reach Tar Valon weeks behind schedule, having been delayed by heavy snows and forced to crawl along the blocked roads all through Andor and north to the city-state. As they approach the island they are waylaid by a group of Whitecloaks led by Captain Dain Bornhald. Bornhald warns them that the time is coming when the world will have no more tolerance for Aes Sedai witches, and takes great delight in telling Elayne that Andor’s millennium-long alliance with Tar Valon is on the verge of total collapse. Egwene, rendered almost paranoid by fear that she will be imprisoned again as she was by the Seanchan, uses the One Power to scare the Whitecloaks off, much to Verin’s fury. She also lets it slip that they were at Falme. Jaret Byar reached Bornhald days earlier and told him of his father’s death. Enraged, Bornhald tells them that he will have vengeance.
Reaching the city, Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene are stunned to learn that they have been denounced to all Aes Sedai as runaways and are to be punished severely. Sensing trouble that is out of his league, Hurin takes his leave of the group, promising to return to Fal Dara and inform Lord Agelmar of the Dragon’s Rebirth. Once in the Tower, Mat is carried away to be finally Healed of his link to the dagger from Shadar Logoth.
The Amyrlin Seat grants Verin an audience and updates her on recent events. War continues to ravage Cairhien, though now lack of food has begun to sap some of the fighting spirit from the people. Rumour has come of war on Almoth Plain and the emergence of a new ‘false’ Dragon, but more importantly the two other false Dragons troubling the world have been neutralised. The one in Tear was defeated in battle in Haddon Mirk and killed instantly, whilst Mazrim Taim was taken in battle in Saldaea. He is even now being brought to Tar Valon for trial and gentling, though the progress of his procession has been delayed by bad weather in the Borderlands. Verin alerts Siuan to the danger posed by the Seanchan, but Siuan decides that until they return - and surely it would take years to recover from the Battle of Falme - they can be safely ignored.
Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne are brought before Siuan and learn that Liandrin and twelve other sisters fled the White Tower some months ago, taking a cache of ter’angreal with them. Several Aes Sedai and Warders died that night, naming Liandrin and her cohorts as Black Ajah. Almost as bad, upon learning of her daughter’s disappearance Queen Morgase of Andor has broken off formal relations with Tar Valon and refused to let Elaida return to Caemlyn as her advisor. Now that Elayne has returned, she must send a letter to her mother telling her of her safe return. Because any hint of a connection between the Black Ajah and the three ‘runaways’ might lead the Red Ajah to Rand, the three girls cannot let it slip that Liandrin led them into a trap. As it is, Elayne and Egwene are both to be raised to the Accepted because of their remarkably rapid growth in the use and application of the Power. Whilst Elayne is taken away to be punished by Sheriam, Siuan orders Nynaeve and Egwene to act as her spies, watching for any sign of the Black Ajah. Thirteen fled the White Tower, but perhaps more remain. Siuan is reluctant to involve Elayne because of her existing difficulties with Andor.
Whilst returning to their quarters, Nynaeve and Egwene are almost killed by a crossbow bolt. Pursuing the assassin, Nynaeve uses the One Power to hold him motionless. However, upon reaching the assailant they find him already dead, killed by a dagger. Sheriam stumbles across the scene and is shocked: more than a man, the assassin is one of the Grey Men or Soulless, among the more feared of the Dark One’s minions. She tells the two young women she will cover up the matter as best as she is able; many Aes Sedai are already suspicious about their disappearance and return to the Tower, and the news that they are being hunted by Shadowspawn will cause a furore that even the Amyrlin will be unable to stop. Returning to their rooms, they find Elayne being questioned by Galad and Gawyn about her disappearance. Ejecting them from their quarters, the trio are then quizzed by Elaida before Sheriam intervenes. Mat is to be Healed of his link to the Shadar Logoth dagger and, because they brought him to the White Tower, they will be permitted to observe. During the Healing Mat suddenly starts speaking the Old Tongue and behaving as if he were in battle. After the Healing is completed the Amyrlin tells the three girls that Mat seemed to be reliving one of his past lives, in a battle during the Trolloc Wars two thousand years ago. The bond is broken, but there may be unforeseen side-effects.
Mat awakens later and receives a visit from a woman named Selene, who claims not to be Aes Sedai. She warns him not to trust the Aes Sedai at all before vanishing. Later, the Amyrlin and her Keeper of the Chronicles, Leane Sharif, visit and the Amyrlin warns Mat that because of the Healing he will be very hungry for the next week or so. She has left instructions for him not to be allowed to leave Tar Valon until further notice. Mat is mystified as to why she has placed these restrictions on him until he realises that the Aes Sedai want him close at hand so he can sound the Horn of Valere at the Last Battle. Until then the Horn is nothing more than a horn to anyone apart from him. Not relishing the thought of months or years cooped up in the White Tower, Mat starts making escape plans.
Egwene is summoned to Verin’s quarters and is given a ring, a ter’angreal used by Corianin Nedeal, the last Aes Sedai Dreamer who lived some 473 years ago. Verin reveals the existence of Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams, and suggests Egwene use it to help track down the Black Ajah. After Egwene departs Verin begins making her own plans, based on something interesting that Moiraine told her...
Egwene is given the Testing to see if she is worthy to become an Accepted. However, the ter’angreal Verin gave her causes some kind of reaction with the Testing ter’angreal and she almost doesn’t return. She does survive, however, and is raised to the Accepted. Alanna Mosvani of the Green Ajah, the Aes Sedai in charge of safety, feels shamed by Egwene’s life being endangered and takes voluntary discipline to make up for it. Returning to her quarters, Egwene finds that Elayne has also passed the Testing and been raised to the rank of Accepted. During the Testing Egwene learned from Sheriam that it is possible to turn a channeller of the One Power to the Shadow by having thirteen Dreadlords channel through thirteen Myrddraal. Egwene is horror-struck, remembering that the number of Black Ajah sisters who fled the Tower was also thirteen.
Mat explores the city and discovers that he is indeed confined to the island by the Amyrlin’s direct order. Returning to the Tower grounds he meets Galad and Gawyn and, in a moment of rashness, offers to practice with both of them at combat. Galad and Gawyn refuse, since they know that Mat has been sick, and are startled when Mat offers to bet on the fight. Hammar, chief instructor of the Warders, suggests they take the bet. Despite being armed only with a quarterstaff against their blades, Mat wins the fight and the bet.
Despite the Amyrlin’s instructions, Nynaeve and Egwene let Elayne join their search for the Black Ajah. Studying various documents they conclude that the Black Ajah sisters planned to go to Tear, where eventually Rand will have to go if he is to show the world that he is the true Dragon Reborn. Despite her scepticism that the Black Ajah would just leave evidence of their plans for anyone to find, the Amyrlin grants the three Accepted permission to go to Tear and learn more there. Fearing that her mother will become enraged if she vanishes again, Elayne writes a letter to her, but then becomes stumped for a reliable courier. At Egwene’s suggestion the letter is entrusted to Mat, as is a pass given to them by the Amyrlin, granting the bearer the right to leave the island and seize supplies in the name of Tar Valon. Mat quickly departs the Tower. Before he leaves the city he plans to visit the various taverns and gamble in order to gain enough money to fund his trip. Much to his own surprise, he finds himself winning almost constantly. In one tavern he encounters the gleeman Thom Merrilin, who has fled from the civil war in Cairhien to drown his sorrows here, in the most dangerous city in the land for him apart from Caemlyn. Mat persuades Thom to accompany him on his mission to Caemlyn and they depart by riverboat, the Grey Gull, for Aringill, Andor’s largest port on the River Erinin. As they travel downriver, the Tairen captain tells them that Tear is now undergoing a renaissance of political power under the wise leadership of High Lord Samon, newly raised to the council.
The mysterious young woman known as Faile.
Meanwhile, Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial continue their pursuit of Rand eastwards across Ghealdan and then across the border into northern Altara. In Remen, a port town on the River Manetherendrelle, the party are startled to find an Aiel imprisoned in a cage. Repairing to a nearby inn they learn that the Aiel was taken in battle by two Hunters of the Horn who have arrived in the town. They learn that the Hunters gathered in the Square of Tammaz in Illian and swore the Hunter’s Oath some weeks ago and since then they have been scattering to all corners of the land, seeking the lost Horn of Valere. Another piece of odd news has come from the west, namely that a man in Ghealdan has suddenly started preaching about the coming of the Dragon Reborn. From the descriptions, Moiraine and her companions recognise Masema Dagar, one of the Shienaran soldiers who, after Rand revealed himself as the Dragon Reborn at Falme, become almost fanatical in proclaiming his loyalty.
In the inn Perrin attracts the attention of a young woman, but avoiding her he sneaks out to talk to the Aiel at night. The Aiel, Gaul, a Stone Dog of the Imran sept of the Shaarad Aiel, reveals he is looking for He Who Comes With the Dawn, as Urien was in Kinslayer’s Dagger. Perrin reveals that He Who Comes With the Dawn is going to Tear. Just then a patrol of a dozen Whitecloaks stumbles across them and Perrin and Gaul kill all of them between them. Gaul takes the opportunity to flee, promising to round up the other Aiel searchers in this part of the world and head for Tear. Perrin also departs, but sees the girl from the inn watching him again. She runs off when he tries to catch her. Lan decides they should depart Remen before the bodies are discovered and they take ship downriver towards Illian. Perrin is startled to find the young woman on board. Her true name is Zarine Bashere, but her Hunter’s name is Mandarb. Perrin is amused, since this is also the name of Lan’s horse. Rather put out, the woman adopts the name Faile, which means ‘falcon’ in the Old Tongue. She is also a Hunter of the Horn and knows from legend that the Horn will be found at the end of an unusual trail. By attaching herself to an Aes Sedai, a Warder, an Ogier and a blacksmith who kills Whitecloaks and befriends Aiel, she hopes to find the Horn herself. Perrin tries to get rid of her, but is shocked when Moiraine permits her to join their party. That night Perrin has a dream in which Hopper - the wolf killed by the Whitecloaks when Geofram Bornhald captured Perrin on Caralain Grass - appears and guides him to a strange place where Ba’alzamon appears and punishes a group of Darkfriends, killing one of them for letting ‘the boy’ escape Tar Valon. After the Darkfriends vanish Lanfear herself appears and talks with Ba’alzamon, who warns Lanfear not to overreach herself.
Rand, meanwhile, is travelling across-country to Tear. He is now in Murandy, some dozen miles or so to the east of Remen. A group of travellers joins his campfire for the night, but then one of them tries to kill him. After killing the whole group, Rand resumes his weary trek.
Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne are by now in Cairhien, travelling downriver on the Blue Crane towards Tear. From the deck of the ship they can see fires burning in the distance, the result of Cairhien’s ongoing civil war. Neither House Damodred or House Riatin has as yet managed to gain the upper hand and, interestingly, have in fact weakened one another so much that other noble Houses (Saighan and Taborwin chief among them) are now positioning themselves to intervene. The Blue Crane runs aground on shallow rocks and the Accepted (who are posing as full Aes Sedai to increase their authority) elect to travel by foot to the next town, Jurene, where they can hopefully catch another boat. Whilst en route to Jurene they encounter a group of Aiel Maidens of the Spear, female warriors: Aviendha, of the Bitter Water sept of the Taardad Aiel; Bain, of the Black Rock sept of the Shaarad Aiel; and Chiad, of the Stones River sept of the Goshien Aiel. One of their comrades, Dailin, lies dying and they request Aes Sedai assistance in saving her. Nynaeve, who is the most skilled at Healing, agrees and they accompany the Aiel to where their friend lies, being tended by another Maiden, Jolien. Whilst Nynaeve Heals the woman, they learn something of Aiel custom. They learn that the Goshien and Shaarad clans are at war with one another - the Aiel call it the blood feud - but because members of the same warrior society cannot fight one another Bain and Chiad are peaceful to one another. They are in fact best friends and have adopted one another as first-sisters. Aiel customs bemuse Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve. The Maidens are also searching for He Who Comes With the Dawn, but the three Accepted decide not to tell them about Rand, though they let it slip they are going to Tear. After Healing Dailin, the three resume their southward journey.
Rhuarc, clan chief of the Taardad Aiel.
Before reaching the town of Jurene, Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene are waylaid by bandits who knock them out before they can use the One Power to defend themselves. They awaken in a barn, and are horrified to see the bandits in consultation with three Myrddraal. Before they can act, a large number of Aiel storm the barn and in a brief, furious fight slay the bandits. They prepare to fight the Myrddraal, but the three Accepted use the Power to destroy them before the battle erupts. Nynaeve is enraged to discover that Dailin was among one of the Aiel who perished. An older, skilled warrior named Rhuarc identifies himself as the clan chief of the Taardad Aiel and also commander of Aiel forces west of the Dragonwall. He gives thanks to the ‘Aes Sedai’; though normally he would prefer to fight an enemy one-on-one, he is not above admitting that he would prefer not to fight the Eyeless at all. Like Aviendha, he is intrigued by three Aes Sedai going through dangerous lands to reach Tear, and is even more intrigued that one of them wears the ring of the Malkieri kings (Lan gave it to Nynaeve back in Fal Dara when they discovered their love for one another). The three Accepted reach Jurene under Aiel escort. Whilst they take a ship, the Darter, to Tear, the Aiel proceed on foot and even faster, since the Darter is a fat cargo ship barely able to crawl down the river.
Meanwhile, the Grey Gull reaches Aringill and Mat and Thom depart the boat to find the town crowded with refugees. They are allowed to stay in an inn’s stables, but stumble across a woman named Aludra about to be murdered by a man called Tammuz and his cohorts. Thom and Mat knock out the attackers and learn that all are members of the Guild of Illuminators. After their chapter house in Cairhien blew up under mysterious circumstances some months ago (Rand destroyed it whilst escaping from Trollocs), Aludra fled the Guild, fed up with them restricting her attempts to create better fireworks. Anxious to protect their secrets, the Guild has ordered her death. Thanking Thom and Mat for their help, Aludra gives a bunch of fireworks to Mat as a reward. Not anxious to explain the incident to the Queen’s Guards, Mat and Thom head westwards, towards Caemlyn.
Perrin and his companions reach Illian and take rooms at an inn. All the way through the city they sense something is wrong, but not the details. The talk in common room is of the arrival of Lord Brend in the city from a minor noble family. Despite his anonymity, he has already risen to the ranks of the Council of Nine and is said to have the ear of King Mattin Stepaneos himself. Lord Brend and the Council have also begun mustering armies, and proscribed any ship from Tear from docking in the harbour. They have also banned all ships from Illian from calling at Tear, though the Sea Folk are ignoring it, irritating the government. There are no Sea Folk ships currently docked, however.
Suddenly the common room erupts in chaos as six Grey Men attack Perrin and his companions. Perrin notices them by smell and nothing else. When the battle is over Moiraine abruptly leaves the inn, ordering even Lan to remain behind. Whilst she vanishes into the night, Lan and Perrin scout around the inn and discover paw-prints burned into the cobbled streets outside: the mark of a Darkhound. Lan sets off to find and warn Moiraine, whilst Perrin and the others remain. Eventually Moiraine and Lan return with shocking news: ‘Lord Brend’ is in fact the Forsaken Sammael! Fearing he has already sensed her presence, Moiraine arranges for them to flee the city immediately. Outside the city an entire pack of Darkhounds attacks. Perrin kills one, but it takes three arrows to do so. Then Moiraine uses the One Power, creating a destructive blast so intense it atomises the Darkhounds where they stand. She refuses to reveal what exactly it is she has used, claiming that she might very well be stilled just for knowing it exists. They continue on towards Tear, Faile shocked by all that she has learned. She now knows the Dragon is Reborn and that the Horn of Valere has been found. This has tied her to Moiraine and her companions, perhaps forever.
Meanwhile, Thom and Mat reach Caemlyn and take rooms at the Queen’s Blessing. Basel Gill updates them on what has happened since Mat was here last. The near-rioting that erupted over Andor’s alliance with Tar Valon died down after Elayne, Galad, Gawyn and Elaida departed along with the Whitecloaks under Eamon Valda, who had clearly been stirring things up in the city. Those opposed to the alliance were further placated when Queen Morgase suspended relations after Elayne vanished from the White Tower. Morgase has taken a new lover, Lord Gaebril (whom Thom has never heard of), and in a startling move has ‘requested’ that Captain-General Gareth Bryne take a leave of absence at his estates in Kore Springs to the north, in Braem Wood. Apparently Bryne disapproved of Gaebril’s presence. Gaebril has also brought in his own men, the White Lions, and with Morgase’s blessing has installed some of them in the palace guard and the army. Mat heads up to the Royal Palace, but is prevented by entering by some of the White Lions. Remembering Rand’s account of his earlier audience with Morgase, Mat goes over the tall wall into the palace grounds. Whilst trying to find a way into the palace he overhears a conversation between two men, with one ordering the other to find Elayne and kill her in Tear. Mat encounters Guardsman-Lieutenant Martyn Tallanvor and convinces him to let him have an audience with Morgase. Gaebril is present at the audience and Mat recognises his voice as that of the man ordering Elayne’s death. Morgase is satisfied with Elayne’s letter, but under Gaebril’s influence becomes distracted. As he leaves Mat overhears Gaebril suggesting that Morgase put in a claim to the Sun Throne of Cairhien, which she has a right to through her marriage to the now-deceased Taringail Damodred, nephew of King Laman. Back at the Queen’s Blessing Gill is shocked to learn that Gaebril is a Darkfriend, but promises to spread the rumour throughout the city. Then Mat and Thom depart for Aringill, this time planning on going to Tear to warn Elayne about the threat to her life.
A map of Tear, from the excellent 13th Depository website.
Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene arrive in Tear, but rather than take rooms at an inn, which might be watched, Nynaeve ingratiates them with the local equivalent of a Wisdom, a herbalist named Ailhuin Guenna. Guenna agrees to help them in their task and even employs a thief-taker, Juilin Sandar, to help track down the thirteen female Darkfriend ‘thieves’ who have wronged them. That night Egwene also tries looking for the Black Ajah sisters and finds them in Tel’aran’rhiod, in the Stone of Tear. Though Egwene flees immediately, they see her. The Black Ajah now knows they are in Tear chasing them.
Mat and Thom arrive in Tear barely three hours behind the Accepted, but assume they will be at an inn and walk right pass Guenna’s shop. Though they do not find the Accepted, they do find Comar, Gaebril’s assassin. Mat challenges him and in a brawl accidentally kills him. They get away to another inn, but long exposure to the elements has finally brought out Thom’s age and he comes down with a bad cold.
The next afternoon Perrin’s group reaches Tear and yet another inn. Moiraine’s scoutings reveal more bad news: the High Lord Samon is the Forsaken Be’lal. Moiraine guesses that Be’lal plans to let Rand seize Callandor, the Sword That is Not a Sword, and then take it from him to slay him with it. This time they cannot run: they must fight. She commands Lan to find a way for them into the Stone, but only she and Lan will go. The rest must remain. Before he departs, Lan tells Moiraine that he has seen Aiel on the rooftops of the city. Why they are here, he does not know.
Nynaeve returns from an exploration of the city to find Elayne and Egwene missing. It rapidly becomes clear that the Black Ajah have found them and set a trap. They capture Nynaeve as well. It appears they discovered Juilin Sandar’s attempts to track them down and captured him, forcing him to reveal their hiding place. The three Accepted are carted off to the Stone of Tear (where the thirteen Black Ajah are the guests of the High Lord Samon), where they are thrown into a dungeon cell to await the arrival of thirteen Myrddraal...
Barely hours later Mat and Thom arrive at Guenna’s shop, seeking treatment for Thom’s cold. Purely by accident, Mat learns that Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve were here, but captured by Aes Sedai loyal to the High Lord Samon. Leaving Thom, who is too ill to walk, Mat sets out to rescue them.
That evening Moiraine and Lan set out for the Stone, but Faile is suddenly struck down by an object in Moiraine’s room. Before leaving, Moiraine identifies it as a ter’angreal, left behind by Be’lal to entrap her. The ter’angreal draws whoever is nearby into Tel’aran’rhiod and prevents them from leaving. Asking Loial to guard them, Perrin enters Tel’aran’rhiod via his wolf dream, and sets out to rescue Faile.
Mat takes to the rooftops of the city and encounters Juilin Sandar. Juilin is angered by his unwilling betrayal of the three Accepted and is trying to make amends by mounting his own rescue effort. He and Mat join forces. As they approach the Stone they encounter Rhuarc and the Aiel under his authority, and are shocked to see hundreds of Aiel climbing the sheer face of the Stone and entering via high windows. After the Aiel are gone, Mat uses Aludra’s fireworks to blast open a hole in the side of the Stone. He and Juilin enter and find themselves fighting the Defenders of the Stone, the most elite military formation in Tear. Luckily the Defenders are mostly distracted by the Aiel.
The three Accepted recover in their cell and discover they are being shielded from the One Power by one of the Black Ajah sisters, Amico Nagoyin. Egwene discovers she still has the ter’angreal permitting entry to the World of Dreams and using it she enters Tel’aran’rhiod. She discovers she can channel here and uses the Power to shield Amico from the Power, affecting her in the real world as well. Awakening, Egwene discovers she and Amico are now shielding one another, maintaining a precarious status quo that is only broken when Mat and Juilin stumble across the cells and release them. Another Black sister, Joiya Byir, is shielded and taken prisoner by the Accepted when she discovers their escape.
The prophecy is fulfilled.
Rand at last enters the Heart of the Stone and approaches Callandor. Be’lal appears and demands he seizes the sword; when he refuses, Rand finds himself battling a true blademaster from the Age of Legends. Be’lal is on the verge of overwhelming Rand when Moiraine enters and uses the same destructive energy she used on the Darkhounds - balefire - to slay Be’lal where he stands. She also suggests Rand take the Sword, but then Ba’alzamon appears and swats her aside. Rand seizes Callandor and unleashes a horrific amount of the Power, slaughtering Ba’alzamon where he stands. This time, a body is left behind. Ba’alzamon is at last truly dead. In the meantime the Tairens surrender and acknowledged him the Dragon Reborn.
Perrin at last locates Faile in Tel’aran’rhiod after many false leads and rescues her, returning her to the real world. Here they at last realise they are in love with one another.
The next day dawns to a city and a nation declaring their devotion to the Dragon Reborn. The Black Ajah fled during the night but two of their number - Joiya Byir and Amico Nagoyin - have been taken prisoner. Worse, Amico was stilled during her capture, cut off from the One Power forever. Egwene realises that Ba’alzamon is not the Dark One, since the Dark One would not leave a human body behind, and suggests he might be the Forsaken Ishamael. Moiraine agrees. Rhuarc joins their discussion and reveals that all Aiel clan chiefs who go to Rhuidean to be chosen return marked with a dragon on their arms, and also that in the Age of Legends the Aiel were known as ‘The People of the Dragon’. Moiraine is shocked, since the Prophecies of the Dragon reveal that the Stone of Tear will fall to the People of the Dragon and the Dragon Reborn. She also reveals that, amongst the ter’angreal kept hidden in the Stone, she has found the Fourth Seal on the Dark One’s prison. Unlike the first three, this one remains intact and whole.
Berelain sur Paendrag, the First of Mayene, is in Tear as a ‘guest’ of the High Lords (more like a hostage) and swears fealty to the Dragon Reborn. She also delivers a message handed to her by a mysterious woman. The message is signed by ‘Lanfear’ and orders Moiraine to keep Rand safe until she comes for him...