So I’ve made it over halfway through the book before I stopped to write out my thoughts, so I might only end up with 2 posts for this book, which is just as well considering I’ve had 4 posts for the past couple books, and also because this book is a little shorter than the others in the series. Anyway, on we go.
Even though one of the primary goals of the last book was to acquire the Bowl of the Winds, I was still surprised that they used the bowl as early as they do in this book. Within the first few chapters Nynaeve, Elayne, and Aviendha have used the bowl with the help of the Kin and the Atha’an Miere. As soon as a couple of chapters later, we’re shown that the weather already starts to break and to turn towards the winter weather that it’s supposed to be.
But of course we’re also shown at the end of the last book that the Seanchan have returned, as big of a problem as this always is, it’s largely compounded by the fact that there are several hundred women who can channel very close to them and standing right next to a beacon having just used an immense amount of Saidar to use the Bowl of the Winds. Of course they use Saidar to Travel away, but to prevent the Seanchan from learning how to Travel, Elayne tries something that Aviendha was able to do slightly earlier, she unweaves the portal rather than simply letting it dissolve.
The unweaving is another moment that showcases two points that are constantly brought up in this series. The first to repeatedly show that the Aes Sedai and the White Tower are not the be all end all that many people think them to be. There is a lot that they don’t know, and a lot that they’re unwilling to even consider as being possible. The second is something hinted at several times when we’ve gotten a viewpoint from one of the Forsaken. The Aes Sedai from the Age of Legends were no stronger than the Aes Sedai of the current age, this is clearly shown when Nynaeve is able to best Moghedian in a duel of the power. Also, Rand is stronger than the Forsaken, and I don’t remember exactly whom he was referring to but he says that one of the Asha’man is nearly as strong as he is. The only difference between the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends and the Aes Sedai and Asha’man of present day is their knowledge in how they use the power. The Forsaken have been surprised by a number of things including: unweaving, the warder bond, Healing someone who was stilled, and I’m sure several other things that I’m forgetting.
The next thing that I want to talk about is something that comes up involving two very different characters doing the same thing. When Perrin is talking to Alliandre (the Queen of Ghealdan) he is his usual honest self, but later when talking to Faile Alliandre thinks that she was very carefully played by a man who is skilled is the game of houses. A couple of chapters later Cadsuane says that she has thrown many people off balance by simply telling them the truth when they’re expecting her to sidestep and avoid coming anywhere near what she actually plans on doing. A very large part of this series deals with the political intrigue between dozens of different factions and rulers, and it’s very refreshing to see people simply being honest, even if it’s for two extremely different reasons.
Rand also receives a visit from an Asha’man with a message from Taim; this chapter sets up a lot of tension from multiple areas. The first is that Rand still doesn’t trust the Asha’man completely, even those who have been with him for some time now. It also shows that the Asha’man aren’t completely his even though he is providing everything for them, while they will ostensibly listen to him, they really are Taim’s people, and Taim considers himself easily as an equal to Rand. This leads to something that has bothered me in the past when reading these books. I know that Rand is usually juggling about 37 things at once, but if you’re creating an army of men who can channel, and you don’t really trust the man who is in charge of training that army, wouldn’t you try to stop by once in a while to check up on them?