In this section, the heroes are taking charge of the situation.
In past books, the inexperience of the heroes was evident in the before last section. Always the odds were stacked against them and only a desperate effort to reach out and use the magic object (Eye of the World, Horn of Valere, Callandor) allowed them to win. Events happened to the Heroes but they were not something that could be controlled, only endured and overcome. In The Shadow Rising, all three stories have a new element, in that the heroes are actively planning and carrying out those plans to overcome the obstacles. Rand was last seen chuckling over his suspicions and hopeful that his plan to recruit the Aiel would work. Nynaeve and Elayne work out a plan to not only enter the Panarch’s Palace but to start riots to cover their escape. Perrin may be outnumbered, but he’s getting Faile out of danger, and managed to get Slayer out of the way by thinking. Nynaeve already showed this kind of maturity and foresight, but for the others it is a welcome development. They may make mistakes, but those are a result of taking action.
It’s not exactly clear why the Black Ajah haven’t been able to find the object they are looking for. The Seal on the Dark One’s prison was hidden by Moghedien, but the black bracelets were in plain sight. How did they know they could find something in Tanchico, and why didn’t they have a description of it? They correctly reasoned that it is a ter’angreal, and they were able to guess that it should be in the exhibition room or the Panarch’s collection, so why not just scoop up anything that might be a ter’angreal? I suppose they were waiting on Eldrith to finish her research to make sure they got the right item, since they wouldn’t want to look like fools when they presented their prize. Still, their information about where to look and what the ter’angreal does is very specific, while its shape and description are not. One of the Forsaken must have found a fragment of information that was incomplete enough that field work was needed to figure it out, if it was even possible. Forsaken don’t get their hands dirty, except Moghedien, so the task is delegated to the Black Ajah.
Birgitte can’t figure out why she is talking to Nynaeve or Perrin. It is simple: The Pattern needs to give some highly knowledgeable insight to the Heroes, which requires releasing a Hero of the Horn from the precepts, and possibly changing the very identity they’ve had for countless reincarnations. Throwing Birgitte under the wagon wheels, as it were. It might have been all part of the Pattern, but it also feels like desperation.
Birgitte gives some insight about Tel’aran’rhiod. Existing in Tel’aran’rhiod as a dead Hero makes her more vulnerable, because she is all there. The admonition against being in Tel’aran’rhiod too strongly makes a little more sense. Your very being can be affected if you are in Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh. Others can do more than change your clothing or your braids, they can change you. Entering as Egwene and the Wise Ones do, with a firm footing in the waking world, reduces that vulnerability. The only major confrontation at the end of this book in Tel’aran’rhiod is Perrin confronting Slayer, Nynaeve only observes. This is a switch from earlier books, but Tel’aran’rhiod still plays an important part.
Moghedien doesn’t know how Nynaeve found the bracelets. Does she not know about using Need in Tel’aran’rhiod? Are Wise Ones the only ones who have figured this out? Isn’t Moghedien the best at using Tel’aran’rhiod? Is she just assuming Nynaeve can’t enter the World of Dreams? Are Darkfriends somehow unable to use Need? Since a number of the Forsaken have been entering Rand’s dreams, they must be able to use some of Tel’aran’rhiod’s properties to learn about Rand and their enemies.
Nynaeve is as powerful as Moghedien, but this equality might only apply to their strength with Spirit. Moghedien could be much more powerful in other of the Five Powers, or in overall strength.
Nynaeve and Elayne must have been delusional if they thought no one would be hurt by the riots they instigate. Elayne rationalizes it beautifully, as a ruler might, by inferring that the citizens of Tanchico are aiding in the battle against the Dark One, whether they know it or not, whether they want to or not. A ruler’s whims come first; Elayne’s whims are presented as necessary for the sake of the world. It’s as slippery slope, Elayne.
Perrin came to the Two Rivers to die. Despite his best efforts, that will still happen, and where he couldn’t get Faile out of harm’s way before, now he does, by agreeing to marry her. In many ways, the initial situation from the beginning of his quest has not changed, except for being killed by Trollocs instead of Whitecloaks.
I used Perrin’s wedding vows at my own wedding. Not obsessed with the series at all.
Slayer’s identity isn’t stated directly, but the mystery is nicely closed up with a comparison that even if they have the same inhuman smell, Slayer looks like Lan, Luc looks like Rand. There is not much more that could be said without revealing how they became a combined person, and that mystery is meant to be resolved in the future, not now. Based on Birgitte’s information and the fact that Slayer operates in Tel’aran’rhiod, one way these two people may have been combined into one is if it was done in Tel’aran’rhiod, where what you imagine becomes reality.
Don’t let events simply happen to your characters; have them take actions, make decisions, do things.