In this section, Egwene makes uneasy alliance with her personal Dark One.
Egwene has good reason to detest the Seanchan, having endured a short time in their clutches as a damane. She is tolerant of their help when she first hears of their arrival, but the matter of who leads who must be decided. So, she and Fortuona must meet face to face for the sake of expediency, despite the risk to their status being seen doing so.
She wore a glittering dress whose train extended a ridiculous distance behind her, carried by eight da’covale, those servants in their horribly immodest clothing. The use of the adjectives ‘ridiculous’ and ‘horribly’ not only describe the physical appearance of Fortuona’s garments and entourage, but also Egwene’s judgment of it. This sort of deep and personal attribution of adjectives is one way the author succeeds in crafting the third-person limited point of view.
In her confrontation with Fortuona, Egwene takes up the familiar theme of freedom to choose. Many of the evils in this world limit people’s freedom, and Egwene’s cause is one that Rand recently supported, and will again in his imminent confrontation with the Dark One.
Both Fortuona and Egwene can be excused for spontaneous bouts of uncharacteristic blurting out what they are really thinking when their minds should be keenly focused on the politics of this encounter. Their minds may be sharp as diamond-studded bear traps, but all preparation and logic go out the window once a ta’veren is part of the conversation. If Mat weren’t present, readers might frown over the women’s lack of formality and veering off topic. I suppose Egwene’s eagerness to publicly beat Fortuona account for some of her behaviour.
Elsewhere, the generals are caught making mistakes, and Bashere is arrested as a result. Lan has verified his suspicions about Agelmar as well. Perrin would like to investigate this matter more, but he has been battling Slayer and protecting Rand.
In his battle Perrin sees an image of snakelike men battling as well. Are the forces of evil also attacking the Aelfinn? Or are the Aelfinn and Eelfinn secretly participating in the battle at Thakan’dar, staving off the threat to their own existence?
The dreamspike serves a major plot related purpose, keeping Rand safe from outside interference, though it may later slow his escape. The wolves add to Rand’s defense, summoning Perrin whenever Slayer approaches.
Perrin’s encounter with Slayer ends in victory as the other man is driven off before he can harm Rand. Perrin and Gaul also fight several red-veiled Aiel, defeating the last by changing them into idiots. I wonder whether the turning process somehow weakens their willpower, thus affecting how easily they are altered in Tel’aran’rhiod, or perhaps it is simply lack of training as Perrin surmises. Lanfear even shows up to aid Perrin yet again, and despite misgivings, it is difficult not to wonder if this most Forsaken of them all might be swayed back to the Light.
Moridin has no such second chances in his future: “Now? Now you beg me to return to the Light? I have been promised oblivion. Finally, nothing, a destruction of my entire being. An end. You will not steal that from me, Lews Therin! By my grave, you will not!” Moridin came forward swinging.
Shaidar Haran’s demise is anticlimactic, yet not without interest. The giant Myrddraal’s husk lies on the ground before an infinite Blackness, whose touch may spell the end of Rand. Moridin will try to bleed one last time to weaken him enough for the Dark One to prevail, perhaps even to defeat Rand himself. The stakes, emotion, and uneven odds all contribute to the intensity of Rand’s slow progress to the Bore. The slow pace of Rand’s battle, explained by the time differential, also keeps the tension high. The book is half over, and he’s just facing his opponent now. How much can be left? What will happen? So, so good.
A raken hit by a fireball crashes atop a messenger in Byrne’s camp. With no one else to carry a plea for help, Min offers her aid. Necessity is a very believable reason for improbable coincidences to take place. In this case, it provides the desired motivation for Min and Bryne, and is quicker and more elegant than any other convoluted attempt to place her with the Seanchan could be. Added to Fortuona, Min and Mat now offer another convenient pair of viewpoints to show events from a more Seanchan perspective.
The use of an Ogier song of mourning makes the reader’s mood more downcast, especially in contrast to how the Ogier’s manic battle rage had provided an uplifting source of hope in an earlier chapter. Loial’s sections are short, and used to punctuate the plot with the desired emotion each time he shows up.
Writing Lessons: Use adjectives to simultaneously describe physical and symbolic elements, as well as reveal character.
Use necessity as a means to make improbable scenarios more believable.