The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Path of Daggers, Part 19

Hidy-ho, Wheel of Timers! Welcome back to the Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 29 through 31 of The Path of Daggers, in which we have an ending. Not the ending, but… you know, I feel like I’ve heard this somewhere before.

Anyway! Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of information regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

Also, don’t forget: the Re-read is going on a brief hiatus after this post, so there will be no Re-read posts on either Friday July 2nd or Tuesday July 6th; the Re-read will re-commence with the beginning of Winter’s Heart the following Friday (July 9th).

And before we move on, it’s time for our last-post look at the cover art! I have to say, though it’s not my favorite of the Sweet covers (that would be TFOH, despite my issues with Mat’s medallion and spear on it), the TPOD cover is by far one of the better covers in the set. The colors work together really well, and nothing is egregiously out of proportion or obviously incorrect at all. The banners against the stormy sky are especially nice. The best part of the cover, though, is actually on the back, where you can see that the army is riding past the remains of a huge stone statue of a queen, in a position oddly reminiscent of gur erznvaf bs gur Fgnghr bs Yvoregl ba gur ornpu in (the original) Planet of the Apes. I’ve been idly pondering whether that was deliberate or not.

(Yeah, maybe it’s a little silly to ROT-13 spoilers for the ending of a film that (a) was released over forty years ago and (b) any self-respecting geek should totally have seen or at least know about already anyway, but I don’t care, because ambushing people with spoilers is near the top on my list of Things People Should Be Stabbed With A Rusty Spork For Doing, and one of my goals in life is to remain free of both tetanus, and sporks. So there.)

And, er. Yeah. So let’s wrap this ‘un up, reckon?

Chapter 29: A Cup of Sleep

What Happens
Min is entreating Rand to go and talk to Elayne, and he is refusing, saying it’s safer for him to stay away, and he knows which letter to believe now, but he is obviously very upset. Min tells Fedwin Morr, who is also in the room, that Rand is sulking because he thinks a woman doesn’t want to see him again, but she knows he is really hurt that Elayne has ripped down all his banners at the Palace. She points out that he hasn’t even bothered to wonder if Mat’s all right; Rand snaps back that he would know if Mat was dead.

“Haven’t you twisted yourself into knots to make sure she got the throne of Andor? Which is hers by right, might I add. Didn’t you say you wanted her to have Andor whole, not ripped apart like Cairhien or Tear?”

“I did!” he roared. “And now it’s hers, and she wants me out of it! Good enough, I say! And don’t tell me again to stop shouting! I’m not—!” He realized that he was, and clamped his teeth shut. A low growl came from his throat.

Min resists the idea of slapping him, and tells him that he knows Elayne will never side against him, and Andor will follow the Dragon Reborn, so the only reason he must be in “a snit” is because he thinks she doesn’t want to see him. Swallowing hard, she adds that in two minutes Elayne will be kissing him. Rand repeats angrily that he is not angry, and Min considers kicking him, but then they are interrupted by Sorilea, who brings in five women dressed in hooded black robes. Min realizes by the auras flickering around them that the women are Aes Sedai. They line up, and Rand strides down the line, ripping the hood off each woman and staring coldly into their faces: Elza Penfell (Green), Nesune Bihara (Brown), Sarene Nemdahl (White), Beldeine Nyram (Green), and Erian Boroleos (Green). Elza looks at him with a strange fervor, the others with varying degrees of nervousness (except Nesune, who studies him calmly); all are among those who had kidnapped him.

Some had been among those who tortured him while trying to carry him to Tar Valon. Sometimes Rand still woke, sweating and panting, mumbling about being confined, being beaten. Min hoped she did not see murder in his stare.

Sorilea explains that these were named da’tsang, and though the toh for their betrayal cannot be met, they know their shame and have all asked to serve Rand however they may, and the Wise Ones decided to let him decide. Min thinks this is very odd, but Sorilea shoots her a look that warns her not to interfere. Rand considers, then asks Erian why, when he killed two of her Warders; Erian replies that she has concluded they were wrong to take him, and must help him fight the Last Battle, though she will understand if he rejects her offer. He stares at her, then asks the others the same question. Beldeine says proudly that the Green Ajah is the Battle Ajah and must be there with him; Min sees that she is going to bond an Asha’man as a Warder. Sarene says it is only logical to follow him, even if it wasn’t before, and Min sees that she will have a tempestuous love affair, “of all things!” Nesune tells him bluntly that she wants to study him, and serving him seems a fair exchange for the chance; Rand blinks, and Min sees that she will have honors and fame, and found a huge library. Elza, however, sinks to her knees.

“You are the Dragon Reborn,” she said breathlessly. “You must be there for the Last Battle. I must help you be there! Whatever is necessary, I will do!” And she flung herself facedown, pressing her lips to the polished stone floor in front of his boots. Even Sorilea looked taken aback, and Sarene’s mouth dropped open. Morr gaped at her and hastily returned to twisting his button. Min thought he giggled nervously, almost under his breath.

Harshly, Rand asks them if they would accept being confined in a box all day except when being beaten. Elza ecstatically agrees; the others are shaken, but Erian answers unsteadily that they would, if he requires it. Watching him stand there, furious, Min tries desperately to think of a way to keep him from such a vengeful course, knowing he would never forgive himself for it. Suddenly all the images around the women come together, and Min gasps in relief.

“They will serve you, each in her fashion, Rand,” she said hurriedly. “I saw it.” Sorilea would serve him? Suddenly Min wondered exactly what “in her fashion” meant. The words came with the knowing, but she did not always know what the words themselves meant.

The rage leaves Rand’s face at her words, and the Aes Sedai glance at Min, surprised that her words could carry such weight. Finally Rand tells them that they will have to swear as Kiruna and the others did. They do so, and dismissing them, Rand tells Sorilea to put them with her other “apprentices.” Sorilea says that she thinks more will follow, and takes the women out with a very satisfied look, but pauses to tell Rand that Cadsuane Melaidhrin is in the Palace again, and she thinks Cadsuane thinks Rand is afraid of her. She leaves. Rand stares at the Crown of Swords for a while, then abruptly tells Min he’s going to find out what Cadsuane wants, and asks her to come. Min agrees, and they (and Morr) exit into the corridor. The six Maidens (including Somara) outside rise but don’t follow, and Somara stares flatly at Rand; they still have not forgiven Rand for not taking them to Ebou Dar. Rand mutters something and heads off.

A stone wall seemed to strike Min from behind; she thought she heard roaring, crashing. And then Rand was turning her over—she was lying on the floor?—looking down at her with the first fear she remembered seeing in those morning-blue eyes. It only faded when she sat up, coughing. The air was full of dust!

Then she sees that the Maidens are gone, killed when something turned Rand’s apartments into rubble. She shivers, realizing if they’d still been inside they’d have died. Rand asks Morr if he can trust him; Morr answers that he can trust Morr with his life, and Rand answers that’s what he is trusting him with, and orders him to guard Min at all costs, and kill anyone who tries to get at her.

With a last look down at her—oh, Light, any other time, she would have thought she could die happily, seeing that look in his eyes!—he went running, away from the ruination. Away from her. Whoever had tried to kill him would be hunting for him.

Morr patted her on the arm with a dusty hand and gave her a boyish grin. “Don’t worry, Min. I’ll take care of you.”

Once around the corner, Rand stops to seize saidin, thinking of how it had been a man channeling that blew up his quarters. He thinks it is Demandred, or possibly Asmodean, but that it was odd that the channeling had seemed to come from two different directions.

He seized the Source, and saidin flooded him with molten cold and freezing heat, with life and sweetness, filth and death. His stomach twisted, and the hallway in front of him doubled itself. For an instant, he thought he saw a face. Not with his eyes; in his head. A man, shimmering and unrecognizable, gone. He floated in the Void, empty, and full of the Power.

You won’t win, he told Lews Therin. If I die, I’ll die me!

I should have sent Ilyena away, Lews Therin whispered back. She would have lived.

Rand sneaks along the corridors, looking for his attackers; he knows by the bond that Alanna is frustrated but safe, out of the Palace. Hearing someone coming, he wraps himself in Folded Light, and a group of Maidens run by without seeing him. He thinks he had promised to let them fight, but not be slaughtered out of hand, and he already has five new names to add to his list along with Somara’s.

A promise he had had to make, a promise he had to keep. For that promise alone, he deserved to die!

Eagles and women can only be kept safe in cages, Lews Therin said as though quoting, then abruptly began weeping as the last of the Maidens vanished.

Rand moves on, searching, hiding himself from enemies and allies alike, reasoning that his attackers must have gotten the information on his whereabouts from someone in the Palace. He hides twice more from Maidens, and once from Cadsuane, who is hunting the corridors as well with six more Aes Sedai in tow; Rand tells himself again that he is not afraid of her, but Lews Therin is dead silent until she is out of sight. Then he stumbles upon Ailil and Shalon, the Windfinder from Harine’s retinue, coming out of a room; he quickly shields Shalon and binds and gags them both and leaves them in the room. He comes to a balcony overlooking a room a floor down, where Dashiva is standing with Rochaid and Gedwyn. Gedwyn is arguing that he felt nothing, and “he” is dead, when Dashiva sees Rand.

The only warning he had was the sudden snarl that contorted Dashiva’s face. Dashiva channeled, and with no time to think, Rand wove—as so often, he did not know what; something dredged from Lews Therin’s memories; he was not even sure he created the weave entirely himself, or whether Lews Therin snatched at saidin—Air and Fire and Earth woven around himself just so. The fire that leaped from Dashiva erupted, shattering marble, flinging Rand back down the hallway, bounding and rolling in his cocoon.

Rand releases his shield, to breathe, but also so he can send fireballs and the red wires he learned from Sammael back in the Asha’man’s direction. He then immediately runs back down the corridor to where he can get down to the level below, and approaches the room he’d seen them in cautiously.

I should have killed them all in the beginning, Lews Therin panted. I should have killed them all!

Rand let him rage.

The room is wrecked, but there is no sign of the three men. Then Rand feels saidin being wielded, enough to make a gateway, but Rand thinks it could be a ruse. He continues to hunt the hallways for hours, at one point almost killing Narishma and Flinn, but finds nothing.

He realized that he had learned one thing. Trust was a knife, and the hilt was as sharp as the blade.

Then he found pain.

Holding the Crown of Swords in a room deep under the Palace proper, Min watches Rand watch Fedwin Morr, who is sprawled on the ground constructing a tower out of wooden blocks. Min thinks of her horror and sadness at realizing Morr now had the mind of a child, and how difficult it had been to convince Morr to use the wooden blocks instead of pulling stones out of the walls with the Power to make Min “a big tower to keep [her] safe in.” She thinks she feels even worse for Rand than for Morr.

“You hide yourself in the depths, it appears.”

Rand leaps up to confront Taim, and Min realizes that he is deciding whether to kill Taim or not. Rand remarks softly that Taim is holding saidin; Taim notes that he was worried about getting stabbed by the Aiel women filling the corridors outside, but evidently lets the Power go. Rand does not relax, though.

“I came to report deserters. Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered, but these are Gedwyn, Rochaid, Torval, and Kisman. It seems they were malcontented over events in Altara, but I never thought they would go this far.”

Taim asks if there were any other casualties among the men he left with Rand. He glances at Morr, and offers to take “this one” with him; Rand snaps back that the others are staying away from Rand on his orders, and Rand will take care of Morr. He picks up a cup on the table.

“The Wisdom in my village could cure anything,” Rand said as he knelt beside Fedwin. Somehow, he managed to smile at the boy without taking his eyes from Taim. Fedwin smiled back happily and tried to take the cup, but Rand held it for him to drink. “She knows more about herbs than anybody I’ve ever met. I learned a little from her, which are safe, which not.” Fedwin sighed as Rand took the cup away and held the boy to his chest. “Sleep, Fedwin,” Rand murmured.

It did seem that the boy was going to sleep. His eyes closed. His chest rose and fell more slowly. Slower. Until it stopped. The smile never left his lips.

“A little something in the wine,” Rand said softly as he laid Fedwin down. Min’s eyes burned, but she would not cry. She would not!

“You are harder than I thought,” Taim muttered.

Rand tells Taim to add Corlan Dashiva to his list of traitors; this seems to both shock and anger Taim, though he recovers quickly, and Min wishes she could make sense of her viewings about him. Rand tells Taim to go back to the Black Tower, and not come here again, and that he, Rand, may be moving around for a while. Taim bows minutely and leaves, and Rand tells Min that he thought he was the pack of hounds, hunting down wolves, but now it turns out that he is the wolf.

“Burn you,” she breathed. Tangling both hands in his hair, she stared in his eyes. Now blue, now gray, a morning sky just at sunrise. And dry. “You can cry, Rand al’Thor. You won’t melt if you cry!”

“I don’t have time for tears, either, Min,” he said gently. “Sometimes the hounds catch the wolf and wish they hadn’t. Sometimes he turns on them, or waits in ambush. But first, the wolf has to run.”

Min only asks where.

Aw, poor Fedwin.

I don’t think this is one of the better Big Ass Endings in WOT overall, but I do think it is one of the more poignant. Such a conflict of emotions, feeling so sorry for Morr even while being horrified at the idea of being in Min’s position, babysitting a guy who’s lost his mind, and could literally rip you apart without even trying. Yipes.

As to the attack itself, most of the mysteries/confusion initially surrounding it have been pretty well cleared up by now, though I do wonder if the whole elaborate chain of reasoning we concocted to explain why it happened despite the “no kill” order re: Rand in LOC was a case of way overthinking things, or not. I’m going to discuss this more in WH, when we get most of the information that fuels that FAQ section, but for now I have to note that I (along with most of the fandom) never bought Taim’s shtick about “deserters” for a hot second. His pants are so on fire, you guys.

The Third Man: Mention of Moridin’s face (I presume) again. I think the only relevance of its appearance is that it happens every time Rand seizes saidin, but if there’s more significance to that than merely that saidin and the True Power are pissed off at being so rudely introduced in ACOS, I’m not sure what it is. Presumably we will find out Real Soon Now.

Mat: Very interesting little passing comment there of Rand’s, that he would know if Mat were dead. It’s a precursor to the whole Ta’veren Swirly Colors thing, of course, but I think that actually it’s been in place for quite a while before that, in the sense that Mat and Perrin couldn’t (logically) feel Rand tugging on them unless he was, you know, alive to do it. However, this is I think the first real indication that it goes both ways.

Elza et al: Wow, this scene plays a hell of a lot differently with hindsight. For one, there’s the viewing Min has of Beldeine bonding an Asha’man, which is kind of “enh, whatever” now, but I remember being completely boggled by the notion on first reading, like, really? Way to overcome your prejudices there, girl, brava! Sarene’s rationale for swearing to Rand is interesting too, in that it reveals (in my opinion) that she has definitely had a Session of Half-Assed Compulsioning with Verin, because otherwise her assertion that what wasn’t logical before is suddenly logical now isn’t very, well, logical. So, like, Q.E.D. and stuff!

And then, of course, there’s Elza herself. I’m trying to decide whether I think her oh-so-easily-misinterpreted rationale for serving Rand is clever, or… something. Mostly, though, I’m just wishing she were real for a second so I could kick her in the face, for what she’s going to be privy to in TGS. Grr. How this is serving Rand (as Min’s viewing asserts) I’m real unclear on at the moment, unless it means that that whole True Power thing is essential in some way to Rand figuring out how to re-imprison the Dark One. Let’s hope so, because otherwise that was a whole lot of horrible angst to no purpose.

(Yeah, blah blah, he had to hit bottom, blah, I still hated it, okay?)

The Maidens: And after all that Rand STILL isn’t honoring his promise to them! Sheesh. Although, I’m being a little disingenuous here, because under the circumstances if I were Rand I wouldn’t have wanted them around either, but still.

While I found out later that TPOD wasn’t even close to being Rand’s lowest point, I can perhaps be forgiven for assuming it was, pre-TGS, given the state of mind in which we leave him here. Altogether, one of the more downer Big Ass Endings in the series, I must say. Which is at least consistent with the rest of the book, so… yay?

Oh, and now that we’ve had the ending, here’s two more chapters!

Chapter 30: Beginnings

What Happens
Perrin rides toward the town of Abila, accompanied by Elyas, Aram, Seonid, Masuri, their three Warders, Edarra, Carelle, Grady, Neald, and Balwer. Seonid and Masuri have their hoods up, cloaking their faces, and their Warders are very on edge; Perrin agrees with the Warders. Perrin murmurs to Elyas that he was right not to bring Faile; Elyas snorts back that of course he was, but he shouldn’t expect to not have to pay for it later. He adds that his advice was right, wasn’t it, and Perrin nods grudgingly. He thinks that raising his voice to Faile was even harder than not raising it at Berelain, but Faile’s hurt smell had gone away, even though she was still jealous of Berelain.

When he firmly told her she was not coming with him this morning, she had not raised a single word of protest! She even smelled… pleased! Among other things, including startled. And how could she be pleased and angry at the same time? Not a scrap of it had showed on her face, but his nose never lied. Somehow, it seemed that the more he learned about women, the less he knew!

The guards at the gate are unwashed and fervent-smelling, but allow the party in with no trouble, and Perrin reflects that he was right to come with only a small retinue. Inside the gates, the city is jammed with people, all of them smelling of fear, and Perrin notes where several inns and houses have been pulled down to express the Prophet’s anger at their “licentious” activities. Balwer peels off from the group once in the town, and Perrin lets him go without worry, thinking that Balwer always manages to collect a surprising amount of information on these forays of his for a secretary. The rest of the party heads to the well-to-do merchant’s house where Masema is staying, though Balwer told Perrin that Masema would just as willingly stay in a hovel.

Masema drank only water, and wherever he went, he hired a poor widow and ate the food she prepared, fair or foul, without complaint. The man had made too many widows for that charity to count far with Perrin.

Perrin gives his name (no title) to the guards outside the house, and says he has a message for the Prophet from the Dragon Reborn (Balwer had cautioned him against using either Rand’s or Masema’s names), and that the Prophet knows him. Soon a woman opens the door and invites them in calmly, but she smells terrified. Perrin leaves the Warders and Neald outside, and the rest follow the woman inside to a room with papers and maps everywhere. Perrin is struck by Masema’s appearance.

His deep-set eyes burned with a black fire, and his scent… The only name Perrin could give that smell, steel-hard and blade-sharp and quivering with wild intensity, was madness. And Rand thought he could put a leash on this?

Masema immediately launches into a diatribe against Perrin, berating him for murdering men who have “come to the Lord Dragon” (from a corner, Hari the ear-collector smiles viciously at Perrin) and his greed and ambition re: Manetheren, but cuts off in shock as Seonid and Masuri reveal their faces. Perrin notes in passing that Aram is staring at Masema with his mouth open.

“So that is true, too!” Masema snapped, spittle flying from his lips. “With filthy rumors spreading against the holy name of the Lord Dragon, you dare to ride with these… these…!”

“They’ve sworn fealty to the Lord Dragon, Masema,” Perrin cut in. “They serve him! Do you? He sent me to stop the killing. And to bring you to him.”

He sits down without asking permission, and Masema informs him coldly that he has given up “the names of men.” He continues that he is eager to obey the Lord Dragon’s summons, but winter makes travel slow, and he has much yet to do here. Perrin counters that he can have him in Cairhien today, and back in Abila in a few days at most. Divining that Perrin means by channeling of some kind, Masema recoils in horror, saying that he will not be touched with the Power, and it is blasphemy for mortals to touch it; Perrin almost gapes at him, and points out that the Lord Dragon channels.

“The blessed Lord Dragon is not as other men, Aybara!” Masema snarled. “He is the Light made flesh! I will obey his summons, but I will not be touched by the filth these women do!”

Perrin contemplates knocking Masema out and taking him anyway, but knows that one shout of alarm from the house could turn Abila into a bloodbath. Sourly, he tells Masema that they ride then, and wonders how he’s supposed to keep Masema a secret as Rand wanted riding all the way to Cairhien. He adds that the Lord Dragon is very anxious to speak with Masema; Masema replies that he is the same.

His eyes flickered toward the two Aes Sedai. He tried to hide it, actually smiling at Perrin. But he smelled… grim. “I am very anxious indeed.”

Faile is out hawking with Alliandre and Berelain, with Maighdin in attendance; Bain, Chiad, and a score each of Alliandre’s men and Berelain’s Winged Guards flank them. Faile reflects that Maighdin has proven to be an excellent lady’s maid, now that the precedence issues with Lini have been worked out (Faile pretends she doesn’t know that had involved an incident with a switch); she is convinced, however, that Maighdin has begun sharing Tallanvor’s bed, and if Faile finds proof she’ll have to force them to marry. But Faile is cheerful, for Perrin has finally begun behaving as he should, merely tolerating Berelain’s advances, and shouting back when she shouted at him.

She knew he was not Saldaean, but it had been so hard, thinking in her heart of hearts that he believed her too weak to stand up to him. […] And that very morning, he had been commanding, quietly brooking no argument, the sort of man a woman knew she had to be strong to deserve, to equal. Of course, she would have to nip him over that. A commanding man was wonderful, so long as he did not come to believe he could always command. Laugh? She could have sung!

They are interrupted by Parelean, Arrela and Lacile, who gallop up with the news that Masema has been meeting with the Seanchan. Alliandre exclaims that surely Masema cannot think that they will come to the Lord Dragon; Berelain, on the other hand, points out Masema’s hatred of Aes Sedai, and the Seanchan’s ability to take women who can channel prisoner. Faile asks for Parelean’s proof, and he says three farmers saw a flying creature land with a woman who went to talk to Masema for three hours. Faile begins to say that she needs to ride to Abila, when the party is attacked by dozens of Aiel. Faile tells the others that someone must get the news of Masema to Perrin, and orders them all to scatter and break free at all costs. They do, and Faile follows suit; she almost breaks free, but is thrown when her horse is shot out from under her. A large Aielman quickly disarms, strips, and binds her, to her humiliation, and she is brought back to the clearing, where she sees that Parelean is dead, along with most of the soldiers. Bain and Chiad are among the prisoners; they are tranquil of their own capture, but rouse when they see Faile.

“This is not right, Shaido,” Chiad mumbled angrily.

“She does not follow ji’e’toh,” Bain barked. “You cannot make her gai’shain.”

“The gai’shain will be quiet,” a graying Maiden said absently. Bain and Chiad gave Faile regretful looks, then settled back to their calm waiting. Huddling, trying to hide her nakedness against her knees, Faile did not know whether to weep or laugh. The two women she would have chosen to help her escape from anywhere, and neither would raise a hand to try because of ji’e’toh.

Faile’s captor (Rolan) tells one of the Shaido Maidens, Efalin, that he thinks capturing more gai’shain is foolish with this many armed men about; Efalin replies that Sevanna wants more. Faile cannot understand how Sevanna can be near Abila instead of in Kinslayer’s Dagger, but thinks this is another thing she has to escape and tell Perrin about. Soon, Maighdin, Alliandre, Arrela and Lacile are brought in, also naked and bound, and one of the Aiel tells Efalin that the rest are all either dead or escaped. Stunned, Faile cannot decide if it is worse that she has been captured, or that she has to hope that “that pouting trull” Berelain has managed to escape to warn Perrin.

Egwene rides with Siuan and Sheriam along the column of initiates, followed by Chesa (still muttering about Selame and Meri running away). A month of recruiting has brought in a “startling” flood of women of every age, some from hundreds of miles away, and the number of novices is now almost a thousand. She thinks some of them might be problems, and a grandmother named Sharina who has a potential even above Nynaeve’s has shocked everyone, but Egwene mostly hopes not to see any of the initiates brought in from the Two Rivers two days before, who cannot believe that Egwene al’Vere is actually the Amyrlin. Egwene thinks she will have to hand out punishments if she sees one more of them stick out their tongue at her. Bryne rides out from the head of the army’s column to greet Egwene with a reassuring smile, commenting on the fine weather; Egwene knows she can’t let it show, but she is comforted by his presence. Romanda and Lelaine break off from the Sitter’s group to ride to her, and Egwene sighs.

The Hall obeyed her because it had no choice. In matters concerning the war against Elaida, they did, but Light, how they could quibble over what did or did not concern the war. When it did not, getting anything out of them was like pulling duck’s teeth! Except for Sharina, they might have found a way to put a stop to accepting women of any age. Even Romanda was impressed by Sharina.

She speaks before they can, telling them to get on with it; Romanda sniffs softly, but they obey, after stopping to glare at each other first. Egwene is pleased, as their animosity is still her greatest asset against the Hall. At the order, thirteen sisters link to form a gateway ten paces tall and a hundred wide, and the army begins marching through.

“It has begun, Mother,” Sheriam said, sounding almost surprised.

“It has begun,” Egwene agreed. And the Light willing, soon Elaida would fall.

Unable to wait, she spurs her horse and gallops through.

Chapter 31: After

What Happens
Winter slows trade and rumor alike, but nevertheless the conflicting stories spread, arguing over whether it is the White Tower broken or the Black, or neither; whether the White Tower had destroyed the Sun Palace or not; whether or not Aes Sedai were bound to serve the Dragon Reborn; whether he had defeated the Seanchan, or they him; whether he was dead or alive, and there was just as much celebration about the one as the other.

Across the nations the stories spread like spiderweb laid upon spiderweb, and men and women planned the future, believing they knew truth. They planned, and the Pattern absorbed their plans, weaving toward the future foretold.

AGH PLOTLINEOFDOOOOOM *headdesk**headdesk**headdesk*

Ahem. Pardon. I’m okay now. SORT OF.

So, Sevanna: Is annoying. And has a Faile. The End.

Though I have to pause and note: Morgase is sleeping with Tallanvor? Really? I’m… skeptical of the realism of this. I’m just… well, I would have thought that would take longer, considering what Morgase has been through.

Not to mention, even assuming it’s not too soon, I find myself really rather annoyed that we get to hear in such a backhanded way about what anyone with any knowledge of rape trauma knows is a seriously major step for the victim to take. Minor supporting character or no, that huge an event in Morgase’s character development really seems like something we should have gotten at closer than third-hand range, in my opinion. Hmph.

Assuming Faile isn’t completely wrong about all this in the first place, of course. But I’m pretty sure subsequent events bear her suspicion out, so.

Also, being forced to be naked in the snow? EEEK OW OW. That is all.

As snarked about above, I’m doubtful of the wisdom of putting Rand’s chapter before this chapter, instead of after it. I see the logic of putting Perrin/Faile/Egwene last, since they set up all the stuff that’s going to (start to) happen in Winter’s Heart, but it also feels a little deflating to put what is already not one of the stronger Big Ass Endings of WOT not even at the end of the book. But then again, sometimes it’s a little hard to judge narrative flow very well, with the chopped-up, chunks-at-a-time way I’ve been (of necessity) coming at the story for this re-read, so maybe I’m just imagining it. Still, it makes a somewhat less… ending-y ending than many of the other books, if you ask me.

Masema: Don’t get me wrong, I am totally happy the man gets dead in TGS, but at the same time I do feel that it was a rather pointless and non-arc-finishing way for him to go; far more so than I feel it was for Carridin. I could never stand Masema, but it still feels like a cheat that he never gets to have any real payoff as a character. I really wanted to see him meet Rand again and get the swift knee in the balls (metaphorical even more so than actual) he so richly deserved: to know his own Messiah thought he was a total douchebag. That would have been sweet. Alas, no. Grumble.

But that’s all later; for now, I can just be deeply annoyed at him for his plot-induced One-Poweraphobia, which so conveniently prevents us from wrapping his plotline up for four books. Pfeh. And also, to wonder what the hell his deal was with the Seanchan, as I can’t remember if we ever found out why he ever thought that was kosher in the first place. Frickin’ idiot. Well, I’ll find out, I suppose.

Egwene: Man, this little snippet was a hell of a lot more exciting when I thought it meant that the whole Tower schism thing was going to get resolved in the next book.

Not that I am begrudging how it did actually go down in the end, because that was unquestionably one of the best parts of TGS (and the series as a whole), but it really seems to me from the way this bit is written that Jordan originally thought it was going to get resolved in WH. I can’t know that for sure, of course, but it’s a feeling I get. I also have the feeling that the reason it didn’t happen is because it would have advanced Egwene’s plotline too far ahead of everyone else’s, which is both understandable and frustrating at the same time.

Oh, and enter Sharina Melloy, who several fans way more obsessive astute than I immediately jumped on as the showing-up of the “Sharina Sedai” dream-Lan mentions in Nynaeve’s Accepted test waaaaay back in TGH (later pretty much confirmed by Nynaeve’s reaction to the name in WH). I really really have to wonder if Jordan always intended Sharina to show up in this manner, or if he intended her to show up in some manner and this one jumped out at him while writing TPOD, or if never really intended for her to show up and then stuck her in there on a whim, or what. Either way it’s pretty impressive in a “keeping track of your world” kind of way.

And… that about wraps it up, I think.

So, thus ends The Path of Daggers, and thus is a good time for me to reassess its status as Leigh’s Least Favorite WOT Book. Is it, still?

…Well, yeah, pretty much. So far, anyway.

I mean, it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be, by any means; I thought I was going to be spending this entire portion of the recap spackling book-shaped holes in my walls, which clearly has not happened.

But I definitely sensed a difference here. There was… a lack of enthusiasm that I didn’t feel in earlier books; a reluctance on my part to get into it, especially at particular junctures, like the Seanchan campaign. And I know I was complaining about things not going right quite a bit more than previously.

Whether this is a reflection on the book or a reflection on me is, I think, a decision best left for you to decide on your own. Maybe it’s wrong of me to dislike the book for being a downer when that was perhaps exactly what it was supposed to be, but generally Jordan provides a more pleasing proportion of Awesome to Bad Shit Happening, and the moments of Awesome in TPOD were… spare.

Mostly, I’m just glad I’m done with it.

But that is just as much because I’m excited to move on to Winter’s Heart, which I don’t remember large chunks of but do very distinctly remember that it contains both one of the all-time best Big Ass Endings in the series, AND my second-favorite scene in all of WOT (after Mat and Birgitte’s scene in ACOS). And no, I’m not telling you which one it is until we get there.

My recap anticipation level for Winter’s Heart, therefore, is high. Yay!

But also, yay for a break first! Have a fabulous Fourth of July holiday if you’re American, and a fabulous random summer weekend if you’re not. Have fun, play nice, and try not to break the website while I’m gone, mmmkay? Ta!


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