Wheel of Time Reread #5: The Fires of Heaven

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

firesofheavenThe Wheel of Time series settles into a good pace with The Fires of Heaven, although this is the first book not to feature one of the ta’veren (See you soon, Perrin!) The story chugs along at a good pace – Rand takes the Aiel to restore peace in Cairhien, which has been made much harder by the Aiel dissenters led by the Shaido. Mat and Egwene tag along. Meanwhile, Nynaeve and Elayne escape from war-torn Tanchico and head for a safe place, but then find out that the White Tower is broken. Siuan, Leane and Min find their way to the rebel Aes Sedai camp (pursued by Gareth Bryne, who’s bored by living in the country) where they struggle to make themselves respected.

Okay, let’s begin with the most awesome parts. Mat! Birgitte! I love those two, and I’m pretty excited that Birigitte made it into real life from Tel’aran’rhiod. I think Mat and Birgitte meet up and get drunk together in some later book, I can’t wait. Mat is not given nearly enough POV time in the book (but he never is!) but he does get the chance to realise that his battle skills are really useful, even if he doesn’t like it. The Band of the Red Hand gets formed (TALMANES! I love Talmanes, especially after reading A Memory of Light‘s prologue), and Rand browbeats Mat into accepting responsibility and leadership, even if Mat does want to run far away. Hopefully now that Mat isn’t hiding from himself anymore, he’ll get more screen time.

Rahvin gets to be the Forsaken of the Book this time (although Asmodean, Lanfear and Moghedien also feature prominently) and a lot of attention is paid to Caemlyn. Morgase finally escapes after she hears word of Manatheren’s banner being raised from Tallanvor (yay Perrin, affecting people even when you’re not in the book or even mentioned by name), and Rahvin declares her dead but claims she proclaimed him King. That ends up really pissing Rand off and ruining the Forsaken’s plan to drive Rand towards Sammael in Illian and trap him there (I guess they didn’t count on Elayne being in love with Rand).

Nynaeve and Egwene continue to be really annoying in this book – I remember liking Egwene a lot more, but maybe that’s just towards the later books? Egwene comes off as really power-hungry (she’s always yelling at Nynaeve) and obnoxious, but she hasn’t really been focused on that much. I guess her maturity will come with her raising to Amyrlin. Nynaeve is annoying through most of the book (angry and hypocritical), but she definitely learns a lot and becomes a much better person by the end, especially because of Birgitte’s removal from Tel’aran’rhiod. Elayne is also growing, but she isn’t as much of a protagonist.

Aludra has to be the character that is met by the most number of main characters… Rand meets her first, then Mat saves her separately, and now Nynaeve and Elayne meet her in Valan Luca’s circus. Anyway, the circus was fun – there was lots of comedy with Valan Luca / Nynaeve and the Seanchan woman with the elephants was also interesting.

There are more Elayne/Min/Aviendha hijinks, but not much is resolved. I especially loved the part where Elayne finds out from Min that there’s an “unknown” woman that she has to share Rand with, and she hopes Aviendha is keeping a close watch on him (It turns out that Aviendha is keeping a very close watch on him). Rand is getting pretty scary – you don’t realise it from being inside his head (except for Lews Therin, who’s definitely getting stronger), but when he’s viewed from other perspectives, you see it right away.

Lanfear continues to be totally psycho, especially once she finds out that Rand’s been sleeping with someone else, and of course, Rand fails to kill her because he can’t deal with hurting women. There’s a lot of issues with Rand and women in this book, coming to a head when he can’t bear to ask the Maidens of the Spear to fight, and they give him a piece of their mind. As I recall, he still has this phobia in later books, though. Bad Rand. Maybe if you weren’t “chivalrous” like that, Moiraine wouldn’t have “died”.

Moiraine “dying” was one of the saddest parts of the books so far – I think I might have sniffled. Her letter to Rand was very touching, especially given that she found a way to counsel him without bullying him. You can see her knowledge of her impending doom colouring her actions throughout the book, and her acceptance of her decision. She’s definitely given up on trying to control Rand, and I can’t believe she knew who Asmodean was! (I guess she was eavesdropping on him). Moiraine is very cool.

Other random things – I forgot that Mat/Aviendha/Asmodean died before Rand balefired Rahvin (of course, Asmodean can’t catch a break) – balefire seemed a bit excessive to me, but since Mat lives and at least Rahvin doesn’t get resurrected – yay balefire! Also, I didn’t realise Egwene being raised Amyrlin was a plot hatched by Siuan – the seeds are set in motion in this book when Siuan and Leane “suggest” to the rebel Aes Sedai that someone strong in the power, easily biddable and not in the Tower when the rebellion happened.

And finally… yay Davram Bashere!

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