It's recap time! Onwards with Book Eight!

Once again, I don't have a misquote ready, though I suppose I could do something with Sor and Cads conversation about Rand being "strong" and "hard" were I so inclined. I'm not, though, so have some random fanart instead.

It seems a lot of people dislike Book Eight. I don't get why, Book Eight is actually my favourite of the 'middle stretch'. It's the Empire Strikes Back of the series. It's the first book since Book Two that gives us a good look at Seanchan culture (at least military culture). It's the first time the good guys suffer a major defeat. This is a very Rand-centric book, focusing on how he's changed after Dumai's Wells and his conquest of Illian. Heck, even the cover art is great, when most of Sweet's WoT covers are just passable.

(The bad covers probably have as much to do with Tor's art director as with Sweet himself. A lot of the covers just have nothing to do with the book. This one's very Ozymandias-esque, though, which is great.)

We start the prologue with all the Borderland rulers on their way south with their armies. And what's this? They're making this blood oath about something? Neat! I bet they're off to do something really cool!


The first subplot we encounter is the Elayne-Nynaeve-Avs subplot. It starts off well enough: they activate the Bowl of Winds to fix the weather, and then escape from attacking Seanchan forces (after deciding that someone else will have to rescue Mat). They also cause this weird magical fallout effect which disrupts channellers around Ebou Dar -- this becomes plot relevant later. I can't recall if it's explained what causes this; it's either from activating the Bowl of Winds, or from "pulling apart" a weave (which can be compared to setting off a kiloton bomb).

But once that's dealt with, we're left with basically the same plot that made Book Five drag: our heroes have just completed a quest, and now they're walking back to home base. Okay, it's slightly different: we have the Sea Folk being crabby this time, presumably because Nynaeve is too busying doing the horizontal tango with Lan.

And you know what makes it worse? This time, our heroes can teleport! Oh, there's this explanation why they can't teleport: there's a minuscule risk that they might kill a bystander by doing so. But this could have easily been handwaved away; Elayne teleporting to some abandoned part of the palace or something.

So, instead of that, we get another slow Elayne-Nynaeve subplot. Some stuff happens, which is somewhat interesting, but it could have been squished into a chapter or maybe two. There's a murder mystery that comes up at the end, but it's not enough. Don't worry, I'll get into that one later.

For what it's worth, this is the only subplot I was unhappy with in this book. All the other ones are pretty good, at the very least. The next one that comes up is the Perrin one. His and Berelain's forces get teleported west, and they're supposed to contact Masema, a character we were introduced to in Book Two and transformed into a religious figure by Book Five. The idea is that Rand is trying to get the Prophet and his rabble under his control (or deal with them if this isn't possible). There's a good storyline here, at least for this book. As a re-reader, though, it's a bit hard to stay invested, since how the Prophet and Dragonsworn end up is already known. Still, some pretty good chapters.

Oh yeah. And Faile gets captured by itinerant Shaido at the end of the book. This starts what's known as the SUBPLOT OF DOOM. But more on the destruction of Perrin's character in my next recap.

Then there's Egwene's subplot. This book concludes a small arc that started with Book Six. Egwene has been installed as a rebel Pope, but she's a puppet, not to mention a fall guy if things go bad for the rebels. For the past two books she's been consolidating support. This book sees even more political manoeuvring, with her ultimately tricking the council into declaring martial law, and giving her a lot more executive power. Is it riveting and action packed? No, but it is a satisfying conclusion to this part of her character development, gaining the power that she deserves, but not the respect quite yet. The book ends with the rebels teleporting to Avalon and starting one of the three main sieges of the book (though the siege of Tear doesn't really count because it happens off-screen).

And finally, there's Rand. Despite all the other stuff that's going on, this felt like a very Rand-centric book. We see Rand take a small force against the attacking Seanchan. Since he's probably going to lose a lot of people anyway, he picks the most traitorous nobles and their forces from among the three countries he controls. Thus, most of this book has him isolated from his usual supporting cast, alone among 'allies' who wouldn't mind seeing him dead. Here we see Rand at his hubristic, and it's here where he's given his first major defeat, and it hits him hard.

Later, he's the target of a particularly devastating assassination attempt. He has to euthanize one of the earliest Asha'man after he goes insane, and this shortly after Rand himself mows down his own forces when he loses control. His subplot ends when he decides that he has become too big, too noisy, and that it's time to step back into the shadows (hugemassive spoilers in that clip). He and Min take off at the end of the book, and this the last time (for a while, at least) we see him directly leading the nations he so bloodily united.

I don't know what else to say, other than that the action is pretty well spread out through this book (unlike some of the others), and that surprisingly it's become one of my better liked books on the reread. Probably not as much of an impact as the first four books, but still a good read.


  • Achievements for Team Light: The Bowl of Winds is used, the rebel Aes Sedai besiege Tar Valon, a significant portion of the Seanchan expeditionary force is destroyed (at great cost).
  • Forsaken count: Total of two dead, two erased. (Huh, I don't think there was any interaction between the main baddies and the heroes in this one.)
  • Seals count: Total of four destroyed, three intact.

Join me next recap, when I get to increment the rituals counter again!