Rand stared at the chest. Selene's company was far from burdensome, but near her he could not help thinking things he should not.

One month later, it's time for a review of Book Two! Once again, there are spoilers for events up to and including Book Twelve.

First off, let's talk about the infamous Tor cover. Yes, apparently Trollocs are black men. I really don't want to judge books by their covers, but let's face it. The Tor covers are pretty crappy. The only cover that clearly indicates the events of the book is the one for Book Three. Seriously, go ahead and take a look at the Tor covers, and try to remember the major events of that book. Take Lord of Chaos for example. We've got some dude -- Rand? -- chatting with some Aes Sedai while a Draghkar is overhead. Hmmm, not ringing any bells. Let's take a look at the e-book cover. Oh right, Book Six ended with the Battle of Dumai Wells, the horrific battle that destroyed most of the Shaido, revealed the Asha'man to the world, and gave Rand PTSD. Seriously, with the exception of Books One and Three, all the e-book covers depict major events from that book, and do so with better art to boot.

(Also, Raymond Swanland kicks ass and is Rebecca Guay 2.0 in a perverse roundabout way. Have my babies.)

Anyway. On with the story.

This one isn't a mere Tolkien derivative, and moreover it plays with the reader's expectations a bit. The Gandalf figure take a vacation for this book. It's less 'action-packed', and focuses more on character development. It really spreads out which characters get POV chapters; in Book One, only three characters got them. It really sets you up for this big confrontation with Fain, and then it never happens. This book felt like it belonged in a series, while the first book felt more stand-alone-ish.

A fourteen page prologue. Bah. Minuscule. We do get the introduction of "Bors", who I think must hold the record for the longest-lived minor villain in the series. Like most minor villains, he eventually meets a horrible, horrible end, but wow, does he stick around for a long time.

I'm having trouble reconciling the Ishy of Books One and Two and the Ishy Moridin of the later books, especially Book Twelve. There he's a lot more reserved, and also aware and accepting of the fact that oblivion rather than eternal life awaits if the Dark One wins. In these earlier books, he's less a nihilist and more "Join me, and together we will rule Randland for all eternity!" Maybe he thinks he can get away with lying to Rand in the early books, or maybe it's some other reason.

Lanfear is also introduced in this book, but she doesn't really do much, other than act mysterious and sexy around Rand and try to make him use the Power more. You get this JailBaitWait vibe from her, which is (probably intentionally) creepy.

As for new locations and cultures, we get to see Tar Valon, Toman Head, Cairhein, and the Seanchan. Tar Valon is pretty much as advertised in Book One. Toman Head is, well, pretty boring, being only defined in relation to the invading Seanchan.

The description of Cairhein only deals with the noble class (the Cairheinin are fleshed out in a lot more detail in later books, though). I always feel a little let down by the simplistic politics in the series. To be fair, the series doesn't have politics as its focus as in, say, Song of Ice and Fire. But still, more could have been done than having the idiotic nobles read hidden meaning into what is clearly nothing at all. It wouldn't take much effort to improve. You have Barthanes asking Rand about the Choedan Kal, to which Rand gives his honest opinion which seems to imply that he's working against the King. That was alright. Have more stuff like that. Random Noblewoman #1 asks if Rand if he thinks the King's Gift should be abolished. Random Nobleman #2 asks about the current contract for the grain barges. Would have been more interesting than Rand being propositioned by three random noblewomen.

Ah, the Seanchan. Everyone's favourite fantasy fascists. Not too much to say about them for now, except to note that this batch is a little more 'honour-bound' (read: stupid) than the later batch is. I'm just going to assume that it's just people attached to Turak's House that are this dumb.

Nynaeve and Egwene start training at the Tower, and they meet Elayne and Min there. Egwene and Min become best of friends, and have slumber parties where they talk about boys. And by boys, I mean Rand. Gag me with a spoon. I can see Egwene chatting about him; she was practically engaged to him. Min talks about him a little despite only meeting him once, but then again she knows what the future holds. But Elayne? She's shared the stage with him for a grand total of one scene. Seriously, is it just some idiotic infatuation? I already have problems with your character without such stupidity being thrown in. Yes, I know the whole "talking about who will marry Rand" is foreshadowing. It's also very, very creepy foreshadowing.

In most other books, there would be a series of really boring chapters about their training at the Tower. Don't know if I've mentioned this before here, but I really don't like Magic School Fiction. Thankfully, we can skim over their novice training while still having them competent with the Power thanks to the Portal Stones dilating time for the other characters. I'm pretty sure the Stones were written in for this purpose alone; unlike other parts of Jordan's cosmology, the Stones never appear in the series again as far as I can recall.

Then the 'heroines' get willingly abducted by Liandrin, who's got to be the most obvious villain of all time. I guess it's just a comment on how training novices to accept orders without question is a Bad Thing, but still. Dumb as rocks, ladies. On the other hand, you've got to be paying close attention to pick out Verin's first lie of the series.

Egwene and Min get captured, while Nynaeve and Elayne escape. Nynaeve is a pretty competent leader here; again, why does she have to be so incompetent and unlikeable in later books? Egwene gets a grand total of one chapter dealing with her breaking process. Seems a little short, but then, I'd rather that than something like the torture sequence from Wizard's First Rule.

The climax was decent. Not the best of the series, but I got more into this one than the previous one. I think most readers predicted that the Horn would be blown, but I'm sure Mat blowing it was a surprise to most (it certainly was to the other characters in-universe). Really, the book is kinda awkward in that it stands between Book One and Three, which form an unofficial trilogy of sorts. You end up wanting to read more, which I suppose is the mark of a good book.


  • Achievements for Team Light: Retrieved the Horn of Valere, used the Horn of Valere to drive off the Seanchan Expeditionary Force, initial declaration of Rand as the Dragon Reborn.
  • Forsaken Count: None. Total of two dead, for now.
  • Seals Count: Two, both destroyed. Total of three destroyed.

So, um, anyone actually reading this?