Winter’s Heart – Part 3

So we reach the end of another Wheel of Time book, and wow, what an ending.  We’ll get to Rand of course, but we’re going to start with Cadsuane for a moment.

Cadsuane is an intriguing character from the time she first appears, a legend among Aes Sedai, she is also one of the few people in the world who isn’t impressed by Rand at all, and she really comes to shine in this part of the book.  We’ve seen in her viewpoints that she is also one of the people in the world who really does care for Rand’s well being, to the extent that she says she has to teach him to be able to laugh again.  I don’t think it’s ever mentioned in the books – it certainly hasn’t been to this point – but I would imagine that Cadsuane had visited the Aelfinn at some point or other, either that or met with another Aes Sedai who had a foretelling talking about her helping the Dragon Reborn.

Most of my favorite stories are those in which you get to see a character grow over time.  One of the reasons that I love this series so much is because of the great job Jordan did with making all of the characters grow.  But there are other kinds of stories as well, and sometimes it’s fun to read about a character who is extremely powerful and always in control.  A great example of this would be James Bond or Liam Neeson’s character in the movie Taken.  That is Cadsuane’s role in the series – at least to this point.  She is the character who has seen everything, done everything, and isn’t impressed by much anymore.  Considering that so many of the other characters throughout the series have been people who are just coming into adulthood, she is a perfect foil to what we’ve been seeing for the past 4 books since Moiraine died.

And we also go back to Mat, who has been trying to figure out how to do the impossible and rescue not one, but three Aes Sedai from the Seanchan, and then manage to escape with his life.  The best part about watching this part of the story was seeing how it was both similar and different to Rand’s storyline.  In both cases, we know what the end goal is, Rand wants to clean the source, and Mat wants to rescue the Aes Sedai.  But the way that Jordan tells the two stories is very different.  With Mat, we get to see all of the planning that is going into it.  There are things that he has to do beforehand, and as he accomplishes each of the tasks to move closer to his goal, he gets new challenges that come up.  Compare this to Rand’s goal, where all we know is what he wants to do, but nothing about how he plans to accomplish the goal.  There is no step-by-step planning; all that we see is that he is going to use the Choedan Kal with Nynaeve’s help.  Even when he plans to start, it is Cadsuane who organizes everyone with him to set up a defense so that he doesn’t get killed well before finishing his goal.  The juxtaposition between the two methods of storytelling is interesting to read about and – like everything else in these books – very well done.  And even when Mat’s plan starts to fall apart, everything ends up working out well for him as he finally discovers that Tuon will be his wife, so he’s got that going for him.

So what else happened at the end, oh yeah, Rand cleansed Saidin, nothing major there, we’ll just move on to the next book.  This is one of the most interesting parts of the series because it shows the similarities and the differences between Saidin and Saidar.  The book clearly says that the struggle of trying to surrender to Saidar while trying to force Saidin to do what you want was difficult for Rand.

Along with cleansing the source being one of the most impactful scenes of the series, it’s also one of the most interesting fight scenes in the series thus far.  Cadsuane did an excellent job of planning the defense, and it shows that it was needed since all of the living Forsaken outside of Moridin show up to try and kill Rand.  It was also interesting to see even the Forsaken comment on just how much power Rand and Nynaeve were using.  You know exactly what the ending of this book is going to bring as soon as you read the prologue, and it’s still a fantastic final chapter.

It also means that I’m that much closer to reading A Memory of Light, and I still can’t wait till I get to do that.

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