Their heads swiveled toward the golden-haired woman as one, and the magpies fell blessedly silent. Silent, yet hardly accepting. Min could grind her teeth all she wanted, but Nynaeve’s sullen glower irritated Cadsuane. The girl had good material in her, but her training had been cut far too short. Her ability with Healing was little short of miraculous, her ability with almost anything else dismal. And she had not been put through the lessons that what must be endured, could be endured.
Author: Robert Jordan
Synopsis: Rand, having survived the attack of the crazed Asha’man, sets out to cleanse the taint from saidin, the male half of the One Power. Nynaeve goes to help him, and Lan goes to protect Nynaeve. Elayne, Min and Aviendha unite to work things out with Rand. Mat meets the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Perrin searches for his own lost wife. And Cadsuane, still hoping to teach Rand laughter and tears, follows that quest from Cairhien to Far Madding to Shadar Logoth.
Notes: At various moments I don’t understand Min, or Elayne, or Aviendha, but as of book 9, I still cheer for Rand al’Thor. Despite the loss of his moral compass, despite his continual hardening, despite the immense number of deaths he can now credit to his name, some part of him remains redeemable.
He owes his hardening in part to his failure to recognize that the women who have died for him made that sacrifice of their own choice. I love that he hurts over the death of every woman, but that’s still the root of his problem.
Inside the redeemable part of Rand al’Thor is the impulse that made him respond as he did to Lan’s request when the pair of them were hanging from the roof. Also, the man got down on his knees beside Nynaeve and put everything he had into cleansing the taint from saidin. Bravo, Rand. You’re still a hero.
I also love Cadsuane. Rand does need to learn laughter and tears again, and he wouldn’t have survived this book without her. Besides, I like the way she thinks. The lesson that “what must be endured, could be endured” is not easy to learn, but I like to think her ideas stopped me complaining a time or two since the read.
This book read well, and felt like it pulled off more of a mystery aspect than usual. I can think of a number of reasons why I never figured out Dashiva’s true identity, and almost no reasons why I should have, but I still can’t believe I didn’t.
The three girls’ Warder bonding and Elayne’s subsequent seducing of Rand made for the closest Jordan has come to a sex scene, and the necessary awkwardness more than came through. I could have done without that. Birgitte’s reaction made me laugh in spite of myself, though. Birgitte is weird and incomprehensibly risqué, but sometimes, she’s just hilarious.
I loved Elayne and Aviendha’s becoming first-sisters, though. The Aiel are awful sometimes, but they’re still my favorite of the cultures.
Here in book 9, I love Egwene more than ever, too. Her cool strength amazes me. Robert Jordan does a great job with character progressions for the most part, and hers is among my favorites to watch.
And I still like Nynaeve, and love that she’s become—at her core, anyway—content. Lan’s growing on me, too.
Recommendation: Books 6 and 7 were a little hard on me, but I loved book 9. Reading on!