The first thing that jumped out at me in this installment of the Wheel of Times series is that Rand is no longer the leading voice. He is still the protagonist of the story, however, the story is told from the perspective of other characters—mainly Perrin, Egwene, and Mat. Though this book begins with the original group split up and at different parts of the land, they are all pulled to the same place; similar to book two, The Great Hunt.
In one spot—a valley in the Mountains of Mist—is Moiraine, Lan, Perrin, Loial, Min, and Rand. Feeling a bit trapped and thinking that he is a threat to his friends, Rand runs off. When she learns of this, Moiraine sends Min to Tar Valon to inform the Amyrlin Seat. The Shienaran army she sends to Jehannah to await her instructions (I think Jordan did this to get them out the way, for now). Meanwhile she, Lan, Perrin, and Loial pursue Rand, who is heading for Tear. Rand is such a strong ta’veren, a person who is strongly connected to the Wheel of Time, that he leaves evidence of his presence in his wake. There are villages where nearly everyone gets married and others that are destroyed. Along the way, Perrin learns that he can enter Tel’aran’rhiod, the dream world, and he meets a pretty but annoying girl called Faile (which means falcon), who attaches herself to the group.
In another spot—well, at Tar Valon—are Egwene, Nynaeve, Mat, and Elayne. For being lured to Toman Head, the girls are punished, but due to the development of their powers, Egwene and Elayne are promoted to Accepted. Of course, there is a reason for this. It is now known that there are Black Ajah in the White Tower and the Amrylin Seat has set the girls to the task of finding them, hence the status promotion to make their search a bit easier. Verin Sedai gives Egwene a ter’angreal that enables its wearer to easily enter Tel’aran’rhiod. Egwene is considered to be a Dreamer and Verin believes that the ability could come in handy in rooting out the Black Ajah. With the help of Egwene’s dreams, the girls figure that the Black Ajah are in Tear and make plans to go there.
While at the White Tower, Mat is healed of the taint from the dagger from Shadar Logoth. He too feels trapped after a while and is grateful when Elayne asks him to carry a letter to her mother, Queen Morgase of Andor. By chance, he meets Thom Merrilin and they travel together. After delivering the letter, Mat learns that Elayne’s life is in danger, and Egwene and Nynaeve’s as well by association. He decides to save them and thus travels to Tear too.
We hardly read from Rand’s perspective (maybe just a few pages) but we know that he is traveling to Tear and is followed by the Dark One’s minions and taunted by Ba’alzamon, as always. He is lured by his dreams of Callandor, a sa’angreal in the form of a crystal sword. It is implied that he is probably going slightly mad.
Again, good story. It’s captivating and the reader will want to stick around to see how it ends. What kept me reading was the Aiel who kept popping up every now and then. I kept wondering what they were up to in regards to Rand. Would they abduct him and drag him over to the Aiel Waste? Would they somehow be able to stop Ba’alzamon taunting him? I find them all very interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about them. I also like that we are given new perspectives to read from. We are already familiar with Perrin (a joy to read, especially in chapter five, Nightmares Walking, where I finally read a fight scene from his perspective; totally cool!) and Egwene (an annoying character at times) but I enjoyed reading from Mat’s perspective the most. It made me realize that he does think about his actions, sometimes, and is not as foolishly compulsive as I first thought. I enjoyed travelling with him and I like that he relies on luck, which suits his character. He never knows if something will work out. He just jumps at a chance and hopes things will be okay.
I enjoyed reading this installment but I found it unnecessary long—674 pages, sans the glossary and other back matter. I believe this installment could have been shortened and added to another installment, such as book two. Throughout this book, there are unnecessary descriptions that serve no purpose to the story and that the reader hardly needs to get a sense of the setting or of a particular character. I do not think a 674 pages-long book was needed to tell the story of how all the characters are brought to Tear so Rand can take Callandor. I do appreciate the character developments in this installment but even that could also have taken place in a shorter book.
One thing that I find annoying with Robert Jordan, other than the unnecessary descriptions, is the characters’ obsessive, repetitious thoughts. I thought I would escape them since we aren’t reading from Rand’s perspective in this book but unfortunately, it seems to be a staple of Jordan’s narration. Many times the characters repeat the same things over and over, such as Rand constantly thinking to himself that he will not allow the Aes Sedai to control him. I understand that such thoughts reflect the character’s stubbornness and steadfastness in committing to a particular goal but I find it annoying. We already know what motivates them. We don’t need it repeated all the time.
Overall, it’s a good read and I’m still interested in the story. I just wish Jordan had realized that his books don’t have to be long and suffused with descriptions to be good.
Quotes from the book:
“Always plan for the worst, child; that way, all your surprises will be pleasant ones.” — Verin Sedai
“To lead…is neither to push nor to pull.” — Leane Sedai
“…if you break a tool so it cannot be fixed, you don’t weep over it. You just get another one.” — Nynaeve
“A man is the easiest animal to put on a leash, and the hardest to keep leashed. Even when he chooses it himself.” — Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat
“You can turn the worst that comes to your advantage if you only think…” — Abell Cauthon, Mat’s father
“A woman clothed [has] more authority than the same woman naked…” — Egwene
“If you can’t hide what you are going to do, do it so everybody thinks you are a fool.” — Mat
“For the young, death is an enemy they wish to try their strength against. For those of us a little older, she is an old friend, an old lover, but one we are not eager to meet again soon.” — Rhuarc, an Aiel man
“Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.” — Thom Merrilin
- The Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan (blurbbookreviews.wordpress.com)
- The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 26 (tor.com)