The final quarter of Lord of Chaos does two major things; the first is some more work to set up the future books in the series. If you wonder how a series this huge can stay constantly interesting, this book serves as a great example. As one storyline is resolving, Jordan introduces things that will be large parts of the upcoming books, most notably Nynaeve and Elayne searching for the bowl ter’angreal in Ebou Dar. The second of course, is resolving Rand’s confrontation with the two factions of Aes Sedai, those from the tower and those from Salidar.
The trip to Ebou Dar was annoying to me, Mat goes there because Rand asked him to follow Elayne until she can go to Andor to be crowned. But since Elayne insists on looking for the bowl, Mat has to follow her there, largely against his wishes. I know that Nynaeve and Elayne have been separated from most of the other main characters for quite a while, but I’d imagine that at some point they had heard about Mat’s luck, or if nothing else simply his prowess in battle. Hell, even hearing Siuan talk about Vanin’s scouting ability makes you think that they would want to have his help in looking for the bowl, but instead they completely exclude him from their search largely because he won’t let Elayne study his foxhead ter’angreal. I think this is the second time that I’ve complained about Nynaeve and Elayne being unnecessarily stupid in trying to achieve their goals, and it’s irritating me just as much now as it did the first time.
The final part of the book is an interesting twist on one of the most common traditions of the Fantasy genre, following prophecies. In my last post for book 4 I compared this series to David Eddings’ Belgariad, with the main difference being that in Eddings’ story they knew exactly how the prophecies would be fulfilled, and then went on their way to fulfill them. The biggest part of the ending of this book deals with Rand horribly misunderstanding one of Min’s viewings (not a traditional prophecy per se, but it amounts to the same thing). When Min sees that the Aes Sedai will hurt Rand, he runs from the Aes Sedai in Caemlyn, straight towards those who actually do plan to hurt him in Cairhien.
This is the second thing that the end of this book does; it sets up Rand’s next growth arc throughout the series. Another thing you don’t see done very well in fiction is a character going on multiple growth arcs throughout a series. Rand has already gone through several (being exposed to the world, learning he can channel, starting to take charge, commanding the Aiel) and is beginning a very dark arc, where he doubts he can trust any Aes Sedai. Of course this all ends up with one of the best ending scenes in any book, the battle of Dumai’s Wells. It’s a very strange confluence of events that lead to the battle playing out the way it does, but we’ll just chalk it up to two ta’veren being involved. It’s also the first time that we see what Taim has been up to in training the Asha’man. Their brutality is surprising, even to Rand, but they get the job done. And the very final scene, with Rand cowing the Aes Sedai, is easily one of the biggest moments of this or any other series. Another wonderful ending to a book.