Cadsuane drew breath. A chance she would have scoured anyone else for taking. But she was not anyone else, and sometimes chances had to be taken. “The boy confuses them,” she said. “He needs to be strong, and makes himself harder. Too hard, already, and he will not stop until he is stopped. He has forgotten how to laugh except in bitterness; there are no tears left in him. Unless he finds laughter and tears again, the world faces disaster. He must learn that even the Dragon Reborn is flesh. If he goes to Tarmon Gai’don as he is, even his victory may be as dark as his defeat.”
Author: Robert Jordan
Synopsis: As Rand leads a charge against the Seanchan, the Asha’man begin to mutter and show signs of madness. Perrin goes in search of the crazed Prophet, and Faile and Morgase are captured by the Shaido. Egwene prepares to declare war on Elaida, and Elayne, Aviendha, Birgitte, and Nynaeve help to turn the weather and then make their way to Caemlyn.
Notes: I love names and meanings, and the Wheel of Time world is scattered through with well-named characters:
Rand 'rim (of a shield)'
Perrin is possibly derived from Pierre (the French form of Peter, meaning 'rock'). Mat, as far as I can guess, is meant to be similar to Matthew ('gift of God'), perhaps combined with something else.
The difficulty is that some of the names are hard to trace. Egwene comes close to Eugene, meaning ‘well born’. The last half of Nynaeve’s name sounds like Niamh (pronounced Neev), which means ‘bright.’ Aviendha seems to be related to Avendesora, the Aiel tree of life. The dream world, Tel’aran’rhiod, apparently comes from the Welsh Arianrhod, meaning ‘silver wheel’ or ‘round wheel’. There’s alchemy in that last, I think.
Fun fact: despite the glossary, nobody pronounces the names alike. I had a brief and pleasant conversation with two friends about the books recently. One of them rhymed the Aes in Aes Sedai with days (I pronounce it eyes, which I think matches the glossary); the other inflected on the last syllable of Perrin, rather than the first. What would have happened if we’d gotten to talking about Tel’aran’rhiod and ji’e’toh? Who knows? One can’t remember everything in the glossary, anyway, especially the unintuitive pronunciations: no native English speaker, for instance, will pronounce a’dam as EYE-dam.
Moving on, this book didn’t frustrate me like the last one. The cliffhangers and head hops were still stressful, but I could feel for Rand a little more, and some things actually happened. The Bowl of the Winds got used (and the Atha’an Miere are one stubborn people—just sayin’.) The Seanchan got set back somewhat. Min and Rand are together, although not as together as I could wish. Elayne and Aviendha are going to be first-sisters. Loving Nynaeve seems to have given Lan some tenuous hold on life.
The ta’veren effects are fascinating, too; I suspect that the odd pull of chance and emotion could make for an interesting study. And this story still has some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever come across. It is true that there could be fewer descriptive paragraphs, but I’ve not gotten tired of learning about these lands and people.
Recommendation: Yes. I liked it better than the last book, and look forward to the rest.