Nynaeve gave an exasperated shake of her head. "Men! They always say to send for them if you need them, but when you do need one, you need him right then."

Hurin: You know, you could always send for me before you need me, so that I'll be there when you need me...

Nynaeve: Plan ahead? Us? Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to be very busy in this book.

Elayne: Yeah! We're going to walk into not one, but two traps this time!

It's been a while since my last review (and last general post on the series), but here's my review for Book Three. I'm already halfway through Book Four, for what it's worth. Anyway, Ramble On!

Like most WoT books, it opens with a prologue, which are still short and to the point, for now. We get introduced to Pedron Niall, and see his response to the Whitecloak's crushing defeat in the previous book. Niall's one of those misguided antagonists that litter the series. He's the leader of Randland's version of the Knights Templar, a despicable group. He was the mastermind behind the Whitecloak war in the last generation. On the other hand, he sincerely believes that the Dragon prophecies are lies and yet correctly predicts that the end of the Age is coming. His efforts are focused on uniting the south-west corner of the known world into one nation, because he believes the Age will end in conventional warfare, with a second Trolloc War.

Elaida is much the same way, at the beginning of the series. An antagonist, but a well-intentioned one. She Foretold that someone from House Trakand would save the world, and in great irony attaches herself to the wrong line of House Trakand. It's a shame how later on in the series she's reduced to just being power hungry and generally insane.

I suppose the insanity could be attributed to Padan Fain, our Gollum-Wormtongue composite character. We see him briefly here advising Niall, pressuring him into invading Hobbiton. In the grand scheme of things, Fain isn't that obvious of a threat. After being a major villain in the first two books, he's only going to appear in one scene each book. Despite instigating a couple of wars, the main protagonists can never pin him down, and he's never enough of a threat to track down and kill.

And let's be clear: we're talking about a two thousand year old spirit that has possessed someone who sold his soul to the Devil, a murderer and rapist, someone whose very presence infects those around him with paranoia, fear, and hatred. And he's a minor threat in these books.

Anyway, that's the prologue. On with the rest of the story!

I mentioned that Book Two is a 'vacation book', because Moiraine is absent from most of it. This is another 'vacation book', and it's more shocking because the titular character runs off for the majority of the book. I like how every character in the series (and the reader) is lead to believe that Rand will go insane due to the Taint, and yet what actually happens is conventional insanity. Well, severe and traumatic stress, at any rate. It's to be expected: it isn't enough for Rand to know that he's go insane and rot to death, or that he's the reincarnation of the most reviled figure in the past three thousand years, or that he's got the fate of the world resting on his shoulders, or that he's constantly hounded by assassins; he also has to put up with the main villains visiting him in his dreams and playing with his mind as well. It's just as well we don't get POV chapters from Rand for most of this book, they wouldn't add anything new, and it's more interesting seeing him from other people's view.

After Rand runs off, he's followed by a few other main characters. This is the first book we really see cracks in Moiraine's facade -- she's no longer Gandalf at this point. Perrin accompanies her, and we get some nice and enjoyable chapters from him. Enjoy it while it lasts, readers. This is the last book we get to see Perrin as a bachelor. Faile shows up partway through. She's not annoying in this book, but then, she's not all that developed yet. However, there's this dream sequence at the end where Perrin is freeing a captive Faile while hundreds of falcons are swooping down on him and ripping him to shreds. I thought that was a fantastic metaphor for their relationship.

The Supergirls return to Tar Valon, where they get chewed out by Siuan for being stupid and falling into a trap set by the Black Ajah!. Yay! Then, because she can tell that the Supergirls are so good at falling into traps, she tells them to hunt down the Black Ajah by themselves. Wait, what? Oh, there's this whole thing about how Siuan can count the number of Aes Sedai she knows are not Black Ajah on the fingers of one hand. Okay, fair enough. You could do something drastic, like summon all the Aes Sedai together, point out that you can't lie, then say that the Black Ajah exists and that you aren't one. But hey, that would never work.

Sometimes, you've just gotta rip that scab right off.

Not much more happens at Tar Valon, except that the rest of the Supergirls are raised to Accepted, the magic equivalent of graduate students. Not much more to say here, but I do want to take the opportunity to start a new counter:

Number of rituals where women get naked: 1

Let's just see how high that thing goes.

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I've got to say this every book: Nynaeve is not as annoying as I remembered (I can promise you this changes by Book Four). It's odd how Nynaeve is the competent, in control member of the party while it's Egwene who's the immature brat. She'll be hardly recognizable in the next few books. And Elayne... is really just here to round out the party for this book. With Nynaeve and Egwene being at each other's throats, there needed to be a mediator for this book, and Elayne needs to go to Tear in this book for the events of Book Four. The character does start to get used more in the later half of the series, but right now she's criminally underutilized. It's a shame really, because the character could have been developed more.

The Supergirls go off to Tear. They get captured on the way, and are rescued by a group of Aiel, who started to appear sporadically in Book Two. They are very grateful for the rescue. Then they are captured in Tear, and are rescued by Mat. And they are very not grateful for the rescue. To the author's credit, they do eventually apologize for this. In Book Seven. As you can tell, I didn't like the Supergirls that much in Book Three. Let's talk about someone I did like instead.

In the first two books, Mat acted more as a plot device than a character. In Book One he was insane due to Acute Cursed Dagger Possession, in Book Two he was dying due to Acute Cursed Dagger Withdrawal. He wasn't stupid, per se, just pretty impulsive. To be blunt, not too many people liked him. Then Book Three rolls around, Mat finally gets Healed, and we get his first POV chapter. And there was much rejoicing.

Why is Mat such a fan favourite? For me, it's because he's a straight-up implementation of the Trickster archetype. Another reason is that he never gets politically involved the way most other characters do. While other characters are struggling with nobles and angsting over their problems, Mat's still having bar fights. He's one of the few non-magical main characters, which means he approaches problems and fights differently. I think this is why I like female characters like Min more than her magical peers. Min's a philosopher with knives; most other female protagonists are The Most Powerful Channeler Of This Generation #52. And as it turns out, Mat's social ineptitude is rather humourous when it's from his point of view. There are other theories put forward why he's popular: Leigh Butler writes that Mat's the only 'American' hero of the series (this is a post on Book Four; scroll down to the Chapter 24 commentary).

One thing that surprised me was that Mat's doing the whole ancestral memory thing even here. I thought that, and the Old Tongue fluency, only appeared after the events of Book Four. Anyway, we see Mat join up with the other main Trickster of the series, Thom. I think Mat and Thom are my favourite pairing in the series: they play well off each other, and every chapter where they both appear in is entertaining. Mat and Thom also go to Tear, by way of Camelyn.

This is the book where many of the Forsaken reenter the world and start to take over it. Before we've just seen Ishy and Lanfear, and the two redshirts in Book One. Neither Ishy nor Lanfear are the governing type, but now we begin to see the second iteration of Forsaken pop up, ones that take over a nation and control it (the third iteration is, of course, the Tea Party Forsaken). We also see what I call the Fisher King effect. Rahvin causes people in Camelyn to be more manipulative. Sammael incites hatred in Illian. Be'lal causes despair in Tear. We can only assume there are a lot of orgies going on in Arad Doman. Anyway, as a rereader, it was a fun diversion trying to guess which Forsaken was responsible for each action in the book.

I found it interesting on the reread how much Sammael is hyped up to be the next target. By the beginning of Book Four, the reader is lead to expect that Sammael will dealt with next, and yet he manages to stick around for a lot longer.

And Be'lal is the ultimate anti-climax boss. To the book's credit, Be'lal's defeat isn't the climax of the book: Ishy's defeat is. I suppose Be'lal's swift defeat was to showcase the power of balefire, which first appears in this book. If I recall correctly, the downsides of balefire (y'know, the risk of destroying reality) isn't clearly stated until Book Five. So it seems odd to the new reader to see Moiraine use it twice in this Book, and then not use it in life threatening situations later on.

Quite a lot of new elements are introduced in this book. In addition to balefire, there are the Darkhounds (who don't appear all that much in the series, perhaps because they're supposed to be difficult to control) and the Grey Men (one actually appeared without explanation in Book Two). And, of course, T'A'R is revealed in this book (again, T'A'R was in previous books, but never fully explained). I think one of the early signs that the series was slowing down was when Jordan stopped introducing new elements to his world in the books, and instead just revisit existing elements. Definitely not the only factor, but still...

I mentioned in the last review that the first three books form an unofficial trilogy, which I dub the 'Acceptance' trilogy. In the course of the trilogy, the main character moves from his farmboy origins to the leader of a nation, and fully accepts his role. Another major difference between these three books and later ones is that Rand is mostly responding to threats in the first three. At the end of the third book, he kills Ishy, the main puppetmaster of the series. From now one, it's Rand who takes the initiative. From here on it, things start getting more political.

It's late (rather, early), and I'm tired, so that's all for now.


  • Achievements for Team Light: Capture of two of the thirteen 'original' Black Ajah; capture of the Stone of Tear, the most powerful fortress in the world, with the aid of the Aiel; retrieval of Callandor, the third most powerful artifact known; control over the nation of Tear.
  • Forsaken Count: Be'lal (balefired by Moiraine) and Ishy (killed by Rand). Total of three dead (for now) and one erased.
  • Seals Count: One intact. Total of three destroyed, one intact.