Monday 20 August 2012

The Wheel of Time So Far: Part 9 - The Fires of Heaven

Previous instalments of the series:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

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.

 The Aiel, Rand al'Thor's latest allies.

Follow the break for the summary:


The Fires of Heaven

A month has passed since Rand al’Thor was acclaimed the Car’a’carn of the Aiel, but the westlands remains in turmoil. In Tar Valon, in the White Tower, the new Amyrlin Seat, Elaida do Avriny a’Roihan, receives reports of events going on in the world from the new Hall of the Tower. Apparently one faction of Shienarans is fighting another, though the reason is unknown. Since the Borderlanders never fight each other, this is unusual indeed. The Blight has also fallen quiet, with virtually no raids into the Borderlands at all. This has also encouraged Davram Bashere, the Marshal-General of Saldaea, to take a 9,000-strong army south and eastwards, apparently in pursuit of the false Dragon Mazrim Taim, who escaped from Aes Sedai custody some weeks ago. It seems that Queen Tenobia does not trust the Aes Sedai to deal with him properly this time. Elaida dispatches Aes Sedai ‘advisors’ to both Maradon and Fal Moran, intending to take Queen Tenobia Kazadi and King Easar Togita back under Aes Sedai influence.

Meanwhile, chaos seems to have consumed the west coast completely, from Arad Doman to Tarabon. The Children of the Light are continuing their efforts to seize the whole area, but the recent driving of the Whitecloaks from Tanchico by King Andric’s forces seems to have hampered their plans. It seems that Amadicia is closing its border with Tarabon, concerned by the thousands of refugees displaced eastwards by the civil war in Tarabon and Arad Doman between the governments and the Dragonsworn. Almoth Plain, unoccupied by any nation, is where the fighting is heaviest. There are also vague rumours that the new Panarch Amathera of Tarabon has vanished, and that Aes Sedai were involved. Amadicia is also concerned by news of fighting in Ghealdan between government troops and the self-proclaimed Prophet of the Dragon Reborn. Closer to home, there is concern over the fates of Elayne Trakand and Galadedrid Damodred. Elayne was allegedly exiled to a farm along with Nynaeve al’Meara and Egwene al’Vere to serve penance for running away from the Tower about ten months ago now, but Siuan failed to reveal which farm before she escaped from the Tower. Galad disappeared during the fighting surrounding Siuan’s stilling. The only good news is that Gawyn Trakand remains in the city and is apparently loyal to Elaida, having forged a new fighting force called the Younglings, though many Aes Sedai do not believe they are needed to defend the city. The Tower Guard has been increased already. Luckily, Queen Morgase of Andor is busy putting forward her claim to the Sun Throne of Cairhien at the behest of her lover, Lord Gaebril, and has not yet discovered the disappearance of her daughter and stepson. More worrying, from an Aes Sedai point of view, is that Pedron Niall, Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light, seems to be gaining influence as a mediator between the troubled southern nations. Illian is mustering its armies for war against Tear it seems, but both Altara and Murandy fear a sudden strike against them. Niall is apparently suggesting they cede land to Illian to placate King Mattin Stepaneos and the powerful Lord Brend of the Council of Nine, who it seems now rules Illian in all but name. This may give the Whitecloaks far too much influence in southern affairs. Elaida suddenly becomes annoyed at their dancing around the real issue: Rand al’Thor. He has vanished from Tear and no-one knows where he is anymore. Tairen armies are now in Cairhien, distributing grain to the hungry but also not too slow in fighting both Cairhienin troops from the various Houses battling for the throne and also Andoran troops sent in to monitor the situation. Rand al’Thor is tearing the world apart even when he is not present, when he should be safely shielded and locked up in the White Tower to await Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle against the Shadow. Elaida commands the Aes Sedai to put forward various plans for dealing with al’Thor before dismissing them from her presence.

Padan Fain then arrives, having made his way from the Two Rivers. At Elaida’s command he begins telling her everything he knows of Rand al’Thor, a power-hungry wretch deeply tainted by the Shadow...

In a palace, somewhere, the Forsaken Rahvin toys with his minions, including an Aes Sedai he has Compelled into doing his bidding. He dismisses them from his presence when several of the other Forsaken arrive: Lanfear, Graendal and Sammael. Four of the Forsaken - Ishamael, Aginor, Balthamel and Be’lal - have already died trying to destroy Rand al’Thor and Lanfear proposes an alliance so they don’t suffer the same fate. Someone else, probably Demandred or Moghedien, is trying to control or kill al’Thor. They sent Trollocs against him in the Stone of Tear and in the Aiel Waste, testing him. Lanfear knows it wasn’t the other three, for they all work in different ways. Graendal prefers subtlety and hedonism; she would not face the Dragon Reborn at all, instead trying to influence him from afar; Sammael will not move until the army he is assembling in Illian outnumbers Rand’s by such a degree that victory is the only possible outcome; and Rahvin would wait until the other Forsaken had all tried and failed to take al’Thor before moving himself. Lanfear has a new plan, involving using Sammael and Illian as bait for al’Thor’s newly-swollen armies. Sammael disapproves, but since Rand will confront him anyway, sooner or later, he agrees to try out the plan.

In Kore Springs, a town in Braem Wood in northern Andor, the former Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche, and her travelling companions Leane Sharif (former Keeper of the Chronicles) and Min Farshaw find themselves in trouble. Taking shelter for the night in a barn, they were discovered and ordered out by the farmer. Logain and the farmer fought, and in the struggle a lantern was knocked over and the barn burned down. Logain fled in the night but the three women were imprisoned. All are startled to find that Gareth Bryne is to try them. The Captain-General of Andor’s armies, it seems that Bryne had a ‘disagreement’ with Lord Gaebril, Morgase’s lover, and has taken an indefinite leave of absence here at his country estate. Though they blame Logain for the accident, Bryne is unmoved and sentences them to work his estates. Siuan swears the strongest oath of loyalty there is under the Light, much to her companions’ disbelief. Siuan later tells Leane and Min that they must keep that oath, but she never promised when to fulfil it. Logain rescues them whilst they are being transported to Bryne’s manor house by cart and they flee south and westwards. Bryne is stunned at this betrayal and reasons there must be a reason for it. Bored by life at home and with little chance of a reconciliation with Morgase, he decides to follow the three women wherever they go.

The High Lady Alteima of Tear arrives in Caemlyn. Alteima was one of the Tairen nobles plotting against Rand, but was forced to flee Tear after Rand discovered she had poisoned her husband (before he left for the Aiel Waste). Alteima plans to find a wealthy Andoran nobleman to protect her until she can rebuild her political ambitions. She tells Morgase and Gaebril of Rand and what he has done in Tear, but after Morgase leaves she finds herself telling Gaebril everything, including her own vicious plans. Gaebril is amused, but decides he might be able to use her. Morgase, meanwhile, finds herself troubled by headaches and odd thoughts concerning her new lover...

The city of Rhuidean in the shadow of the mountain Chaendaer, in the Aiel Waste.

Almost two thousand miles to the east, in the Aiel Waste, Rand al’Thor is consolidating his control of the Aiel at Rhuidean. The five clans who have sworn to support Rand as the Car’a’carn - the Taardad, Tomanelle, Goshien, Shaarad and Chareen - have been joined by the Nakai, long-time allies of the Taardad, led by Bruan. Of the remaining clans the Shaido have made it clear they want nothing to do with Rand, but the rest are moving towards Rhuidean. The other clan chiefs are confident that Dhearic of the Reyn and Janwin of the Shiande Aiel will also support Rand with no problems, but are less sure of the Miagoma clan. The Miagoma leader, Timolan, once tried to unite the clans but failed. He may resent Rand, though eventually he will probably come around. The Daryne and the Codarra, under Mandelain and Indirian, will also come around, though reluctantly.

The clan chiefs are worried by Rand’s revelations about the true history of the Aiel. Thousands from all clans have thrown down the spear and simply wandered off into the Waste, taken by something the Aiel call ‘the bleakness’, the loss of faith for their very way of life. Hundreds more have put on caidin’sor white and sworn never to fight again, whilst, more disturbingly, others have fled to join the Shaido in supporting Couladin as Car’a’carn. Though the Aiel have been weakened slightly by these defections, they have been heartened by Rand’s plans to rebuild Rhuidean as the Aiel capital, even sending to the Ogier stedding in the Spine of the World for Ogier stonemasons to finish the work begun over three thousand years ago.

The Forsaken Asmodean, an unwilling ally of Rand al'Thor.
Moiraine and Egwene come to talk with Rand and Moiraine reveals something horrifying. Down in the city square, amongst the ter’angreal brought here from Paaran Disen during the Breaking of the World, she found the Sixth Seal on the Dark One’s prison. However, both the Sixth Seal from Rhuidean and the Fourth Seal from Tear are no longer invulnerable; she is able to cut a piece off with her knife. If the other seals are like this, then a few swift blows could unleash Tarmon Gai’don immediately. Moiraine demands to know what Rand’s plans are and is disturbed by his plan to take eleven of the Aiel clans across the Spine of the World to unite the westlands by force of arms. Though it is unlikely the remaining nations will be able to face him and win against such odds, the death toll will be enormous. But Rand has made his mind up. This is the fastest way of doing what must be done of unifying the world to face the Dark One at the Last Battle. Moiraine goes to the Aiel Wise Ones to try and convince them of the dangers, but they have little sympathy for the wetlanders, concerned only with the salvation of the Aiel.

That night Rhuidean is raided by Darkhounds. Rand kills several and then finds another busy attacking Mat. He kills it with a tremendous blast of the One Power, something similar to what Moiraine used to kill Be’lal in the Stone of Tear (The Dragon Reborn). Though Mat was seriously wounded before, he is now unharmed and the door the Darkhound shattered is whole again. Rand is mystified, until Moiraine tells him he used balefire, the most destructive form of the One Power known to exist. He removed the period of time in which the Darkhound fatally wounded Mat, but the memories remain. In order to gain his trust, Moiraine swears an oath of loyalty to Rand and Rand, shocked, accepts it. Moiraine is apparently desperate to know his plans and even promises not to manipulate him again. Bound by the Three Oaths, she must keep that promise. Rand reveals some of his plans to her. Returning to his room, Rand is confronted by Lanfear, who tells him the Darkhounds were sent by Rahvin in retaliation for Rand interfering with his plans. Rand is confused until he learns that Rahvin has had Andoran troops sent into Cairhien to press Morgase’s claim for the Sun Throne. Those Andoran troops are now fighting the Tairen troops sent by Rand a few months earlier to ease the refugee crisis, and the Tairens are winning. Rand is bemused until Lanfear finally spells it out for him: Lord Gaebril is Rahvin, in disguise. Horrified that Morgase is being used by one of the Forsaken, Rand’s first instinct is to go to Caemlyn and face him, but fights the impulse. Too much needs to be done first.

Lanfear departs as the clan chiefs bring Rand dire news: the Shaido Aiel are moving en masse on the Jangai Pass. Couladin apparently means to finish what the Aiel started twenty years ago by utterly destroying Cairhien, just to spite Rand. The other clans seem to be increasing their speed, though whether to join Couladin or Rand is unclear. Rand has no choice: he orders the six clans under his authority to march on the Spine of the World.

Many thousands of miles away to the west, chaos and war is growing in Tarabon, despite the investiture of the new Panarch Amathera and the defeat of the Children of the Light’s plans to absorb that nation. Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom and Juilin have been heading east by wagon, posing as dye merchants, but have found themselves overtaken by chaos and war, attacked several times by bandits. They at last reach the border with Amadicia and the town of Mardecin, now suffering that almost all trade with Tarabon has dried up. Thom learns that the newest rumour is that Tanchico has fallen to one of the rebel factions and that both Panarch and King been displaced, though there is no proof of this. More interesting is the news that, after almost a year of fighting, the Children of the Light have at last been pulled back from Almoth Plain. Bizarrely, rather than use the Whitecloaks to reinforce the increasingly unstable border, Niall has pulled them back to Amador itself. To stop Taraboner refugees rioting along the border, Niall is sending generous food shipments into the nation. Nynaeve and Elayne, whilst exploring the town, discover one of the Yellow Ajah’s network of ‘eyes-and-ears’, a herbalist named Ronde Macura. Macura tells them there is an important message relayed from Tar Valon by carrier pigeon at great urgency: all sisters are welcome to return to the Tower. The Aes Sedai must be strong and whole. Nynaeve and Elayne are puzzled by the odd news, but then fall unconscious; their tea was drugged. They come round a few minutes later, but find themselves unable to channel and only barely move. The tea contains an ingredient, forkroot, which dulls the mind so people cannot achieve the concentration necessary to channel. Luckily, Thom and Juilin know where they were going and come to rescue them an hour later.

Elayne and Nynaeve question Ronde, believing her to be an agent of the Black Ajah, but are puzzled by her vehement denials. The order has come from the Amyrlin Seat herself that Nynaeve al’Meara, Elayne Trakand and Egwene al’Vere are to be returned to the White Tower by any means necessary. Elayne and Nynaeve are baffled; they are returning to Tar Valon anyway and Siuan Sanche herself sent them on their current mission. They begin to get the feeling that something is wrong at home.

Siuan, Min, Leane and Logain reach Lugard, the capital city of Murandy. Siuan is anxious to discover where the Aes Sedai who fled Tar Valon when she was stilled have gone, in particular her former comrades in the Blue Ajah. She locates an agent of the Blue Ajah, an innkeeper, who gives her a name: Sallie Daera. Siuan recognises the name as a deliberate corruption of Salidar, an abandoned town a few miles from the River Eldar in Altara. The town was abandoned in the Whitecloak War and has never been repopulated. It is occasionally used as a refuge and safehaven for members of the Blue Ajah and their agents. It is also the home town of Deane Aryman, the Amyrlin Seat who saved the White Tower from destruction after Bonwhin Meraighdin was deposed and stilled shortly before the death of Artur Hawkwing. Siuan and her companions head for Salidar, unaware that Gareth Bryne and his men are just a day behind them.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Juilin and Thom reach the town of Sienda, north-east of Amador. They’ve skirted around the capital to avoid pressing their luck. On the road outside they encounter a travelling menagerie owned by Valan Luca, a flamboyant travelling showman who immediately takes a shine to Nynaeve. Nynaeve and Elayne are surprised to see s’redit (elephants) among the animals, having only previously seen them at Falme during the Seanchan invasion. Leaving the mystery behind they press on to Sienda. Taking rooms at an inn, Nynaeve uses one of the ter’angreal captured from the Black Ajah to enter Tel’aran’rhiod. She first meets Birgitte and asks her to seek out Moghedien for her; she and the Forsaken have unfinished business from Tanchico. Nynaeve then meets Egwene and the Aiel Wise Ones who have been teaching her dreamwalking, namely Amys, Bair and Melaine (Seana died at Cold Rocks Hold). They exchange news and Nynaeve then goes to Tar Valon, where Egwene joins her in secret (she is not supposed to be in Tel’aran’rhiod unsupervised). Rifling through the Amyrlin’s study they discover some up-to-date news from the vast Aes Sedai network of eyes-and-ears. Marshal-General Davram Bashere and his army from Saldaea have vanished, as has their quarry, Mazrim Taim. There is no way of knowing where either have gone and Queen Tenobia of Saldaea is refusing to cooperate with the Aes Sedai counsellors sent to advise her. A border flare-up between Illian and Murandy is settling down and Pedron Niall is claiming the credit for mediating peace talks. Nynaeve stumbles across a rumoured gathering of Blue sisters at a remote village when Egwene suddenly finds a message signed by Elaida as Amyrlin. They realise the White Tower has splintered over Siuan’s deposing, but can find no word about Siuan. They are also unable to locate the report about the Blue sisters again. Back in the waking world Egwene alerts Moiraine to what has happened, but Moiraine seems more relaxed about her fate, and Rand’s. She mourns for the outbreak of civil war in the Tower, but Rand and his quest to unite the world must now be her number one priority.

Galadedrid Damodred after joining the Children of the Light.

The next day Nynaeve and Elayne are horrified to encounter Galad dressed as a Whitecloak! Galad insists they go to Caemlyn immediately and they apparently agree, but escape from him at the earliest opportunity. They hide in the menagerie, disguised as performers, until Nynaeve can recall the name of the place where the Aes Sedai rebels were gathering. The s’redit handler, Cerandin, was left behind when the Seanchan fled from Falme and she has made her way east, away from the chaotic coastal lands. The s’redit are a great attraction and Luca immediately hired her for the crowds the animals can draw. Cerandin agrees to teach Elayne and Nynaeve about Seanchan if they teach her about these lands. The menagerie heads north towards Ghealdan. Meanwhile, Liandrin and many members of the Black Ajah are hot on their trail, but have made the error of stopping in Amador. There their serving woman, Gyldin, reveals herself as the Forsaken Moghedien in disguise. Moghedien gives them new orders...

In Caemlyn news arrives of rebellion in the Two Rivers. The standard of Manetheren has been raised in defiance of the Lion Throne. An outraged Morgase confronts Gaebril but is summarily dismissed. Her thoughts reeling, Morgase goes to her old nurse, Lini, and learns what has been going on for the past few months: Gaebril has won the support of many nobles who opposed Morgase as Queen, possibly in preparation to make his own claim to the throne. Gaebril’s armed forces, the White Lions, are already supplanting the Queen’s Guard as the dominant military force in the capital. Morgase realises she has no choice but to flee, rally support from somewhere else, and then force Gaebril from the city by military might. Lini and Guardsman-Lieutenant Martyn Tallanvor smuggle her out of the city to a royalist safehaven, the Queen’s Blessing Inn, where Basel Gill and his doorwarden, Lamgwin Dorn, agree to help her escape. Lamgwin has fallen in love with an exiled Cairhienin noblewoman, Breane Taborwin, who fled Cairhien when the civil war began and she also volunteers to come along. They flee Caemlyn, heading north and west for Kore Springs, where she hopes to enlist the help of Gareth Bryne.

In Tar Valon Padan Fain enters the Tower strongroom and seizes the dagger from Shadar Logoth again at long last. Alviarin Freidhen stumbles across him but does not kill him. He correctly guesses that she is Black Ajah and bluffs his way out of the situation by claiming to still be a Darkfriend.

The Aiel clans reach the Jangai Pass and find the Cairhienin fortress-town of Taien devastated by the Shaido. There are only a hundred survivors out of several thousand. Rand sees the survivors well-treated and the Aiel prepare for the crossing into Cairhien. That night Rand is startled when Aviendha gives him a gift: the sword of King Laman Damodred of Cairhien, the treekiller. His blade was made with the One Power and is one of the most deadliest swords ever forged. Rand accepts the blade but not the ornaments. He thinks hard about what will happen next. The Reyn have joined him, but the Miagoma, not far away to the north-east, are still prevaricating. The Codarra, Daryne and Shiande are still some way off to the east and their intentions are unclear. By now Couladin will have reached Cairhien and begun looting and ravaging the country. According to the townsfolk, Rand has only gained one day on Couladin’s forces. Unless Couladin lingers in the east, he will be at Cairhien City long before Rand can reach him. Trollocs and Darkfriends raid the camp, shouting out the name of Sammael and Illian as they attack, but are quickly defeated. The true intent becomes clear when two Draghkar try to assassinate Rand. Rand balefires one and Aviendha kills the other with a storm of fire. Rand and Asmodean discuss the reasons for the attack and Rand is suddenly seized by the memory of a battle at Serendahar during the War of the Shadow, when Sammael tried to bait Lews Therin Telamon into attacking him. He lets this slip to a stunned Asmodean, who recovers and offers his opinion that it was one of the other Forsaken hoping that Rand would destroy Sammael and rid them of a rival.

The Aiel clans cross the Spine of the World in force, descending past the destroyed fortress-town of Selean into eastern Cairhien. The Miagoma are only a day behind them, but Rand cannot wait. He commands the clan chiefs loyal to him, and leaves messages for the others, that the Aiel will save Cairhien from the Shaido. They will not despoil it, nor will they loot food from the starving. He means to reach Cairhien City and relieve it as soon as possible, though it seems dubious that the capital will hold out against the Shaido for the five or six days that it will take Rand to reach them. Egwene meets Elayne in Tel’aran’rhiod and learns of their journeying in the menagerie. They are only three days from the River Eldar and the border with Ghealdan. In the reflection of Elaida’s study in the White Tower they rifle through more reports. Lord Bashere’s army is still missing and no Ajah’s eyes-and-ears have reported in from Tanchico in more than a month. Now others in Tarabon are also going silent. Rumours abound that one of the Dragonsworn factions has seized Tanchico itself, but other rumours speak that Rand himself is there. There are indications of minor uprisings in Arafel and Shienar, crushed quickly but still disturbing given the usual political stability of the Borderlands. Queen Morgase of Andor has been in seclusion for days, possibly with an illness and Pedron Niall has begun gathering troops in Amador by the thousands, possibly for an attack on Altara. Egwene is suddenly whisked away to the Two Rivers, where she meets Gawyn, apparently her husband in this vision. She is startled by the sudden expansion of Emond’s Field and the presence of wolf banners, and then a tremendous snare of the Power engulfs her, but she manages to escape, impressing Moghedien who was trying to capture her.

Siuan, Logain, Leane and Min finally reach the town of Salidar, fifteen days’ hard ride south and west of Lugard near the River Eldar in Altara. An extremely large number of Aes Sedai have gathered here, including the entirety of the Blue Ajah. Siuan confronts them and tells them that they have no direction, aim or goal. There had been some talk of going back to Elaida, but all thought of that is erased when Logain tells his story, that the Red Ajah set him up as a false Dragon so they could pull him down. The ‘rebels’ reluctantly agree that Elaida must be deposed and a new Amyrlin Seat placed in the Tower. Siuan and Leane still maintain their spy networks across the subcontinent and the Aes Sedai agree to use their knowledge. Logain they can take to see nobles in Altara and gain armed support against Elaida. Siuan and Leane also convince the rebels to elect their own Hall of the Tower and their own Amyrlin Seat to legitimise their position. Things fall into place when Gareth Bryne and his men arrive. After thinking on the question, Bryne agrees to assemble and command the rebels’ armies against the White Tower in return for Siuan and Leane agreeing to pay their penance to him. In the meantime the rebels dispatch two Aes Sedai, Kiruna Nachiman and Bera Hawkin, east to the Aiel Waste to locate Rand al’Thor and offer the rebel Aes Sedai’s assistance and advice.

Rand’s forces continue their westwards march, reaching the town of Eianrod approximately halfway between Selean and Cairhien City. Thanks to Rand's mediation (and possibly his ta'veren status) the Goshien and Shaarad Aiel have ended their blood feud, reducing tensions in the camp. However, the news has finally been confirmed: the Shaido Aiel have surrounded Cairhien and been laying siege to the city for the past six days. Foregate, the wooden suburb beyond the wall, has been razed and only the River Alguenya prevented the flames from consuming the city itself. A group of Tairens and Cairhienin led by Meresin, Estean, Daricain and Edorion have made it to Eianrod. By their reckoning the city can hold for seven days at the outset. Rand promises to be there by then. He returns to his tent and stumbles across Aviendha taking a bath. She is shocked by his appearance and channels without realising it, opening some sort of portal with the Power and diving through it into a blizzard. Rand jams it open and follows. He rescues her from the freezing ice and builds an igloo they can shelter in. They make love, much to Rand’s surprise and Aviendha’s shame: she loves him, but he is meant for Elayne. The next morning they emerge to see a vast ocean to the east...and a group of Seanchan troops, sul’dam and damane among them, examining the portal. Rand realises they have Travelled to the Seanchan home continent far across the Aryth Ocean. Rand and Aviendha block the damane from the Power and try to take one prisoner, but then the portal begins to collapse. Rand and Aviendha dive back through it to Cairhien, followed by a Seanchan spear which is cut in half when the portal closes. Rand keeps the spear to remind him that there are more enemies arrayed against him than he can possibly count.

Nynaeve enters Tel’aran’rhiod and there meets Birgitte, who has finally found Moghedien for her. They spy on a meeting of the Forsaken, where Moghedien, Lanfear, Graendal, Sammael and Rahvin are discussing their plans for Rand to attack Illian and then be taken by the others, linked. They leave, but Moghedien follows them. Birgitte distracts her and Nynaeve escapes. However, Moghedien blasts Birgitte with so much of the Power that she is torn out of Tel’aran’rhiod entirely and deposited back in the real world. She is so close to death that Nynaeve is unable to Heal her. In desperate Elayne bonds her as Aes Sedai do their Warders. This gives Birgitte the added strength necessary to survive. Birgitte pays her way in the menagerie by performing archery feats.

The menagerie reaches the town of Samara on the Ghealdanian border only to find that the Prophet of the Dragon controls the town and the surrounding countryside. Nynaeve meets Uno, one of the Shienaran troops who accompanied Rand from Shienar to Toman Head before Moiraine sent them into Ghealdan (The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn). Uno and another soldier, Ragan, take Nynaeve to see Masema Dagar, the Prophet of the Dragon. Through his fanatical tirades about the Light and the virtuousness of the Dragon Reborn, he agrees to search out a boat to take them downriver and along the coast to Tear. After leaving Nynaeve is stunned to learn that even Queen Alliandre of Ghealdan is wary of speaking around him lest he has her flogged. However, in the streets outside Nynaeve runs into Galad! Galad tells her that the Children of the Light were preparing to occupy the town of Salidar in Altara until the Prophet’s forces suddenly surged southwards for the border without warning. Now the Amadician armies and the Children are preparing to stop them crossing the river no matter the cost. Nynaeve recognises the name of Salidar from the reports she read in Tel’aran’rhiod as the gathering place of the rebel Aes Sedai. Galad agrees to also help find a riverboat to get her and Elayne out of Amadicia as fast as possible. Uno and Ragan volunteer to accompany Nynaeve and Elayne to Tear and convince many of the remaining other Shienaran soldiers to come as well, fifteen in total. Back at the menagerie Nynaeve tells the others about Salidar and the multiple offers of help to get them out of Samara.

The capital city of Cairhien.

Rand’s army finally reaches Cairhien City to find it besieged by the 160,000 Shaido Aiel and those who have rejected Rand as the Car’a’carn. A large bulk of the Tairen army has regrouped in the hills beyond the city under High Lord Weiramon and joins up with Rand’s forces. Some elements of the Cairhienin army have also arrived. All told Rand’s forces number more than 320,000 troops, but the intentions of the 200,000-odd other Aiel warriors in the four other clans heading west are still uncertain. Ignoring them as elements that cannot be predicted for the moment,  Rand, Lan, Rhuarc and the other clan chiefs have worked out a plan of attack and Rand and Lan are intrigued when Mat formulates the same plan on his own in less than five minutes. Mat finally decides the time has come to leave Rand to his own devices and flees the site of battle, heading south away from the city.

Mat’s plan to escape doesn’t quite work. He stumbles across a group of Cairhienin and Tairens led by Daerid, Melanril and Estean heading straight for a Shaido force and warns them of the danger they face. He arranges them and another group of Cairhienin led by Talmanes Delovinde into a counter-attack force and they wipe out the Shaido as they attack. However, Mat’s attempts to escape the battle fail and instead he finds more and more battles for his troops to fight. Soon more than 3,000 men are following him and new junior officers appear, such as Nalesean, who takes command when Melanril is killed.

Rand, Egwene and Aviendha observe the battlefield from a giant wooden tower they had built. Using the One Power they aid the battle, but then a lightening bolt blasts the tower into matchwood, injuring all three, Egwene more severely than the others. Rand takes to the saddle, fighting where he will and the afternoon fades into twilight. Finally Rand runs out of enemies to kill: the Shaido are in full retreat, heading north towards Kinslayer’s Dagger. Victory is Rand’s. 20,000 Shaido have been taken gai’shain and thousands more are dead. The Codarra, Daryne, Miagoma and Shiande have arrived and joined forces with Rand's troops. More than 470,000 Aiel troops now serve him, the largest army operating in the Westlands in recorded history. Most startling is the news that Couladin is dead, killed by Mat of all people. Mat is now surrounded by fawning Cairhienin and Tairen troops, convinced that he is a new Artur Hawkwing and cannot loose a battle, to his distress.

Cairhien City throws open its gates to its rescuer and three noble families, formerly battling one another for the Sun Throne, emerge to enthusiastically great Rand: the Lady Colavaere of House Saighin, Lord Dobraine of House Taborwin and Lord Maringil. The Tairen lords are also full of false adulation. Rand realises, with a sinking feeling, that he must deeply mire himself in Tairen and Cairhienin politics not to trigger off another conflict in Cairhien between the factions supposedly loyal to him.

In Samara word finally comes from Galad that a ship, the Riverserpent, stands ready to deliver Nynaeve and her companions downriver. They get to the ship and set sail, but Nynaeve insists they wait to pick up numerous refugees fleeing from the town: a fully-fledged riot has started between the Children of the Light and the Prophet’s forces and by the time they are downriver half the town is ablaze. Galad remains behind to rally the Children and fall back southwards. The ship slowly winds its way southwards, dropping off many of the refugees at Boannda but taking Nynaeve and many others down to Salidar. There Nynaeve and Elayne are restored to their correct ranks as Accepted and resume their training. The Aes Sedai at Salidar are astonished at their adventures (Nynaeve and Elayne tell them everything apart from Birgitte’s true identity and a few other choice facts) but grateful for the money and other items they bring back. They are disturbed to find the seal on the Dark One’s prison that Nynaeve and Elayne gained in Tanchico has shattered in transit, but are intrigued when Elayne says she believes she might be able to construct angreal from her studies of the Seanchan a’dam and other devices using the Power and agree to let her have that chance. For now, however, things will return to normal. Ragan and Uno offer to spirit Nynaeve and Elayne out of the town but they refuse. For now they are where they need to be. Gareth Bryne asks the Shienarans to help him in training the new recruits and they agree, whilst Thom and Juilin keep an eye on Nynaeve and Elayne. Meanwhile, Nynaeve gets Siuan to agree to let her study Siuan and Leane to see if stilling can be Healed in return for letting Siuan use one of the ter’angreal they took from Tanchico, one that allows even those who cannot channel into Tel’aran’rhiod.

In Cairhien Rand is dealing with the Tairens and Cairhienin. Half of the Aiel and most of the Tairen army have gone south back to Tear to gather in force for an attack on Rand’s next target. The remaining Aiel have been sent to keep the Shaido bottled up in Kinslayer’s Dagger or chasing bandits out of the country. The Cairhienin are wary of Andoran troops seizing land between the Erinin and the Alguenya but Rand will deal with Andor when he is ready to. He then receives letters from Tar Valon, one from the Amyrlin Seat Elaida and one from her Keeper of the Chronicles, Alviarin. Both offer assistance and advice, Alviarin going as far as virtually offering to swear fealty to him. Elaida is more formal, telling him an ‘escort’ has been sent to negotiate with him so he might come to the White Tower for safekeeping. Rand is not amused.

Mat returns after several days in the field. The Tairens and Cairhienin he commands have started calling themselves ‘The Band of the Red Hand’, after the valiant bodyguards of King Aemon of Manetheren who died defending him during the Trolloc Wars. Mat has destroyed three Andoran outposts and driven many troops - White Lions, mostly - back towards the Erinin. Yet a captive had distressing news: Queen Morgase of Andor is dead and Gaebril has proclaimed himself King of Andor and Cairhien both. Rand is horrified and angered that he has let Rahvin get away with ruling Caemlyn for as long as he has. Rand decides to raid Caemlyn and kill Rahvin in revenge. He has a strike force prepared, but Mat lets slip their destination to Melindhra, an Aiel Maiden of the Spear he has been sleeping with. She attacks him and he is forced to kill her, realising she is a Darkfriend and one of Rahvin or Sammael’s agents. Meanwhile, Lanfear visits one of her agents, Kadere, the leader of the peddler caravan which met Rand in the Aiel Waste and has travelled with him all the way back here (The Shadow Rising). Moiraine has had many of the artifacts from Rhuidean transported on their wagons. Lanfear is not happy when she learns of rumours linking Aviendha to Rand...

Moiraine engages Lanfear in battle.

The next morning Rand’s forces ready themselves on the docks. Rand plans to Skim them all to Caemlyn in the same manner he pursued Asmodean from Alcair Dal to Rhuidean. Suddenly Lanfear appears from Kadere’s wagon (tossing aside his corpse in the process), enraged, and uses the One Power to snare both Aviendha and Egwene, demanding to know which he has slept with. Tossing them aside (and breaking several of Egwene’s bones in the process), she then attacks him. Rand is unable to channel against her, finding it impossible to harm a woman, even in self-defence, but Moiraine then attacks Lanfear using an angreal. She carries them both through the doorway from Rhuidean, the one leading to the other world where wishes are granted. The doorway promptly explodes.

A stunned Rand recovers from the attack. Egwene is whisked away for Healing, whilst Lan immediately saddles up. Moiraine arranged for his bond to pass to another should she die, Myrelle of the Green Ajah (one of the rebel Aes Sedai in Salidar), and he leaves for the west forthwith. Rand, Mat, Aviendha and many other Aiel then use the Power to Skim to Caemlyn and attack the Royal Palace. Much to his horror, Rand watches as Trollocs and Myrddraal appear, collapsing the wall of the palace on many of his followers (including Asmodean, Mat and Aviendha), killing them. Enraged and grief-stricken, Rand takes the fight to Rahvin.

Meanwhile, in Salidar, Nynaeve enters Tel’aran’rhiod and finds herself once again attacked by Moghedien. This time she gains the upper hand by imagining an a’dam on Moghedien’s wrist and learns that Moghedien was among the refugees from Samara, posing as another. She also learns of events in Cairhien and Caemlyn. She and Moghedien go to Caemlyn, in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Rand and Rahvin do battle, but Rahvin is outmatched and flees through a portal. Rand follows and finds himself in Tel’aran’rhiod, though he does not know what it is. He is cornered in the gardens of the Royal Palace whilst Rahvin blasts randomly with the Power, but Nynaeve distracts Rahvin long enough for Rand to blast him with balefire at full strength. Nynaeve and Moghedien return to Salidar whilst Rand emerges back in Caemlyn. Because of the balefire, time has been reversed and the garden wall in Caemlyn never collapsed. Asmodean, Aviendha and Mat still live, but only Asmodean knows what happened.

Mat, Rand and Aviendha in (probably) Caemlyn.

Caemlyn recovers itself after Rahvin’s death. Marshal-General Davram Bashere of Saldaea seeks out Rand and tells him he has tracked the false Dragon Mazrim Taim to Andor and seeks permission from the ruler of Andor, whoever that may be, to bring his 9,000 troops onto Andoran soil to track him down. Rand agrees, but tells Bashere that he is announcing an amnesty against any man who can channel the One Power. A society of men channelling the Power will take shape to battle the Dark One at the Last Battle. There won’t be enough time for them to go mad. Bashere is stunned but then offers his services to the Dragon Reborn and Rand agrees. Meanwhile, Asmodean goes searching for a glass of wine and finds only an old friend waiting for him...and death.

And Queen Morgase of Andor, Lamgwin Dorn, Breane Taborwin, Basel Gill, Martyn Tallanvor and Lini cross the River Eldar into Amadicia, stronghold of the Children of the Light, on the search for those who will help them raise support against the pretenders who think they can seize the Lion Throne.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these Adam, I appreciate them, I am currently doing a reread in preparation for January just like you. I've just started knife of dreams for the fourth time (I think).


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for these in depth summaries, Wert. I've only read these books once in 96 (and the new releases as they came out later on), so they take me way back. Lots of details I'd forgotten.

Just how long are you putting into writing one of these articles?


Adam Whitehead said...

I wrote the summaries for the first nine books as an aid to memory (I didn't have the Internet at home until 2005) before CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT came out, so these are all 10-11 years old. I wrote additional ones for CoT and half of one for KNIFE OF DREAMS later on. I still need to write the summaries for Sanderson's book and finish off the KoD one, but the rest of the series was done a long time ago :-)