Friday, October 23, 2015

The Fires of Heaven

The fifth book in Robert Jordan's uber-epic Wheel of Times fantasy series is entitled The Fires of Heaven and follows immediately after the end of the previous part of the tale, The Shadow Rising. In this novel the narrative focuses on three main story arcs that interleave and mesh at regular nodes throughout the story. In the primary arc, the Dragon Reborn, Rand al'Thor, has fully become his own man. Even though the wheel of time weaves as it will and he is pulled along, he has finally broken free from the manipulations of the Aes Sedai and one Moiraine Damodred. Rand has refused to let pain, loss, uncertainty, or fatigue pin him down and leave him impotent. He boldly acts to impose his will across the land, putting down the petty schemes of would-be power mavens as he works to prepare mankind for his final battle with the Dark One himself.

In the Aiel wasteland, Egwene al'Vere has become a member of the tribe of ancient Wise Ones, a group of women who are cousins to the Aes Sedai. Egwene has been working to develop her unique skills as a dream walker, one who can enter the unseen world to gain information about the minions of the Dark One. The Aiel have secluded themselves in the wasteland as punishment for betraying the Aes Sedai hundreds of years ago. However, they are a part of the prophesies and have joined their lot with Rand after he demonstrated convincingly who he was and the power that he controls.

Finally, Nynaeve al'Meara and Elayne Trakand have been on a secret mission for the Amrylin Seat, the leader of the Aes Sedai, to hunt down a secret sect of their number who have pledged their souls to the Dark One. Many battles and daring adventures fill their lives as they escape by a thread through luck, through skill, and through fate. Yet they do not know that the White Tower has fallen and they are entirely on their own.

Throughout the entire tale, the thirteen lieutenants of the Dark One himself, the immortal and powerful Forsaken, are scheming their dark schemes to seize absolute control, even against their tainted Lord. One after another of them has set their targets on our heroes, not counting on them to come out of their encounters with the upper hand. Another wonderfully vivid and engrossing chapter in the tale. So far, an absolutely top-notch series. I now move onto the sixth book in the series, Lord of Chaos.