In this section, conventional bonds and rules are broken while Rand makes a rule he vows not to break.
A borderlander farmer and his neighbors realize the Last Battle is upon them. They drop their lives, abandoning homes to set off to make a stand with their fellow men.
A sul’dam returns to deliver a message which will require her to break the taboos of her society.
A Seanchan banner-general learns that Trollocs are no myth, violently shattering her longstanding beliefs.
Graendal travels to Moridin’s fortress, where farmers try to plant crops that resist the Blight. Moridin lets her learn the other Forsaken’s plans, and unexpectedly, Semirhage is hung out to dry. Rand is to be unharmed, except in his heart, where she is to bring him anguish.
Ituralde surprises a much larger Seanchan army.
Masema the prophet is killed by Faile, who does what her husband cannot, killing the man who represents strict adherence to rules and the Light.
Most of these short sections show the bonds holding men being broken, in fact or metaphorically. The last one shows Faile killing the personification of rules that bind. The breaking of bonds, the end of custom, the shattering of ties between men. If this prologue matches the ones from past books, then we should see a lot more of this theme, and we will, especially as pertains to Rand.
Masema and Aram were each killed by Faile or Perrin, and each represented truth and strict adherence to convention and rules. This fits in with the discussion of their necessary dalliances in the previous book.
Demandred claims his rule is secure and he gathers for war. With talk of the role he should have been playing, keeping an eye on Rand the way Osan’gar was, his affinity for using proxies, the claim that his rule is secure, and the emphasis on channelers in the Last Battle, a reader should once again be hard pressed not to conclude that the least possible involvement Demandred could have with Mazrim Taim is telling him what to do, which is to gather an army of male channelers.
Rand surveys the countryside of Arad Doman, noting a pattern breakdown causing the wind to blow the wrong way, against itself. It is not the trees, but Rand’s banners which are blowing the wrong way though, a subtle clue that it is he who is at odds with the Pattern, that something is more wrong with him than reality, despite the many signs of it failing around him. The way his eyesight is blurred is a symbol for the difficulty he has in seeing things the way a normal man should. His sight and his view are both distorted. Setting the line that cannot be crossed, he says to himself: ‘ “You will question her, but you will not hurt her!”Not a woman. I will keep to this one shred of light inside of me. I’ve caused the deaths and sorrows of too many women already.’ No sooner stated, this rule is destined to be broken, as indicated by the themes in the prologue.
Moridin had ordered Semirhage to capture Rand, presumably to break him before the Last Battle. He must have two plans, one for if he is captured, one for if he remains free. The orders to Graendal to break his heart only become necessary because Semirhage failed. In either situation, the goal is to break Rand’s spirit.
A few bits of vocabulary and phrasing stood out as peculiar. I think they are more likely artifacts of Sanderson’s wording than Jordan choosing new words, because in past books his odd vocabulary included obscure words like widdershins, not contemporary words. Jordan was very good at avoiding contemporary words. Here are the examples I found:
Like the funnel cloud of a twister.
This ain’t no southerner wetfarm.
Rand’s peculiar apology to Merise: ‘Yes, yes Merise. I’m not trying to command you.’
Wouldn’t it just be ‘one of the High Blood’? Like the hair crest of a member of the High Blood.
They were well inside the Seanchan defensive perimeter.
Lews Therin’s rambles have no pronoun. Should have killed him. Should have killed them all. An oversight? Meant to make Lews Therin sound madder? There has usually been a distinct I, You, or We when Lews Therin speaks, signifying the distinct personality. Is this meant to show him growing indistinct from Rand?
Using contemporary words, or older words, or futuristic words all have an effect on how the reader perceives the world you’ve created.