Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn and future destroyer of the Dark One, finds himself betrayed by those he trusted the most and falling into an emotional isolation that could bring upon the destruction of the entire world before the last battle even begins. Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn and future destroyer of the Dark One, also known as the nemesis planning to destroy the world is struggling to keep the nations from falling into complete chaos. As his forces lay waste to those that oppose them in Arad Doman, Rand is beginning to realize that uniting the people into unified front is going to be much more difficult than he expected. As he struggles to maintain order and bring peace to the nation, Rand also continues his personal quest to find one of the Dark One's most powerful allies, known as the Forsaken and named Graendal.
Utilizing the Aes Sedai (women who can channel the one power, also known as magic) that he has captured and taken under his control, Rand is able to capture another one of the Forsaken known as Semirhage. Together, with the Aes Sedai he tortures her through means of interrogation that are well-beyond extreme in an attempt for her to give up Graendel's location. Unfortunately, Rand does not know that Semirhage has joined forces with a rogue Aes Sedai and servant of the Dark One, Elza Penfell. After a long interrogation process, Elza frees Semirhage and gives her what is known as a Domination Band. A relic that once placed on a male channeler, will cut off his access to the One Power. Elza finds Rand a threat to not only his own people but to the Dark One and believes he should be culled before he destroys not only the dark forces but the entire world.
Later that night, Semirhage sneaks into Rand's encampment and places the Domination Band around his neck, cutting him off from the One Power. Realizing Elza's betrayal, Rand promises to bring her to justice if it is the last thing he does. Although, he knows that he is the one who is truly in danger. Semirhage takes Rand's lover Min into custody and brings her before Rand. Elza uses the Domination Band to control Rand, forcing him to torture Min to the brink of death. Enraged, Rand reaches out with his power, finding a small tear in the shield that the band around his neck put up around him. Using what little strength he has left, Rand is able reach out the True Power, a pure source of magic that belongs only to the Dark One. Wielding the True Power, Rand breaks free of the Domination Band. Shocked and terrified, Elza and Semirhage attempt to flee but Rand uses his power to destroy them.
Meanwhile, in Tar Valon, the capital city for the Aes Sedai and location of their home base known as the White Tower, Egwene al'Vere the leader of the rogue Aes Sedai finds herself captured and unable to leave the tower due to her plan to retake the White Tower failing. Egwene continues to be at odds with Elaida, the ruler of the Aes Sedai who finds her as a threat and dangerous as she opposed her rule and tried to take her position of power. Elaida strips Egwene of all of her titles and ranks because of her rebellious actions. Refusing to allow Elaida such control, Egwene refuses to accept her authority while in front of the entire Aes Sedai council. This enrages Elaida who proclaims that Egwene is a follower of the Dark One and should be imprisoned. The council agrees and Egwene is taken to the tower's dungeons and locked away, despite her claims that no one has proof of such an affiliation.
Back in Arad Doman, Rand has cut himself off from all of his advisers, beating himself up over the fact he had not seen through Elza's deception. When consoled by his adviser, Cadsuane, he banishes her from his services, and tells her to flee the nation, promising to kill her on sight if their paths ever cross again. Rand realizes that he cannot trust anyone and must rely solely on himself. Using the one power, he cuts off all of his emotions, removing any softness from his soul in an attempt to harden his demeanor and bring his people to their knees in terror.
Meanwhile, back at the White Tower, Elaida comes under fire by the council who declare she has no proof of Egwene's loyalty to the Dark One. They declare that she has been imprisoned falsely and release her to her rooms. While there, Egwene is confronted by an old friend and fellow Aes Sedai named Levin who used to be her mentor and friend while she trained in the tower. Egwene is distraught when Levin announces she is a Black Ajah, a sect of Aes Sedai that is sworn to do the Dark One's bidding. Egwene demands to know why she would do such a thing as she had trusted her with her life.
Levin says all will be revealed in time, and drinks a powerful poison, stating she had found a loop hole in her oath to the Dark One, which stated she would not betray him until the hour of her death. Now with her last breath moments away, Levin reveals that she joined the Black Ajah to study them. She hands over a journal to Egwene that reveals all of their sects as well as a list of all of the members of the Dark One's group. Egwene tries to save Levin by channeling the one power, but is unable to ward of the poison, with Levin dying in her arms but having given her a powerful gift in the process.
Across the nation in Arad Doman, Rand has called a meeting with the Seanchan, a people who had declared war on the nations and have slowly been taking over the land one nation at a time. He is addressed by their leader, known as Tuon, who demands he bow to her as she has now declared herself an Empress of the people. Rand denounces her title and demands she swear fealty to him in a truce in an effort to combine their power and defeat the Dark One. Tuon refuses, sensing that Rand has a dark power surrounding him, most likely an after effect of channeling the True Power, which has now increased his connection to the Dark One.
Furious, Rand storms off and returns to his encampment. Tuon watches him go, pleased that she has grown in her power and shown her people they will not bow to any forces. Deciding to take matters in her own hands, Tuon knows that the one way to defeat Rand is by taking control of the Aes Sedai. Meeting with her advisors, she makes the decision to move forward with a plan to attack the White Tower in Tar Valon and take the Aes Sedai into her control.
Back at his camp, Rand is furious and refuses any consoling from neither his lover Min or his good friend and Aes Sedai Nynaeve. Worried he may do something rash, the women discuss reaching out to his banished adviser, Cadsuane for help even though they know it could have deadly consequences. Through his scouts, Rand discovers the hiding place of the Forsaken, Graendal and tracks her down to a palace that is out in the wilderness of Arad Doman. Refusing to reason with her, Rand calls upon the One Power and True Power and uses a powerful magic known as balefire to wipe the palace and Graendal from time itself. Realizing he has lost all control and humanity, Nynaeve flees Rand's camp in search of the one person she knows that could bring Rand back to his old self—his father.
Meanwhile, in Tar Valon, the Seanchan launch their attack on the White Tower. The Aes Sedai are not prepared for such a battle and fall to the Seanchan and either captured or killed. Realizing defeat is near, Egwene unites a group of Aes Sedai still in training and is able to defeat the Seanchan and force them from the White Tower. In the midst of the battle, old friends Gareth and Gawyn come to Egwene's aid and rescue her from the tower despite her protests. When they reach a safe distance, followed by Egwene's rebel Aes Sedai, Egwene fears she may not be able to reposition herself to retake the tower for herself.
Back in Arad Doman, Nynaeve locates Rand's father Tam al'Thor and brings him to Rand. Tam tries to console Rand, showing him that his hatred has consumed him and allowed the Dark One to take a foot hold. Rand is furious that Tam was brought before him, feeling Nynaeve has undermined his authority. He unleashes his power and tortures Tam, almost killing him until he realizes what he has done. Rand runs away from his camp, consumed by guilt and anger and heads to the Dragonmount, a place where the Dragon left the world a lifetime before. There, Rand draws on all the forces of the One True Power and plans to destroy the entire world and himself. Before he can complete the task, he remembers where he came from, the small town of Edmond's Field, where he was a young farmer, content to live his life in peace. That memory brings him back to reality, returning his humanity to him and allowing him to smile for the first time in years.
Meanwhile, Egwene has forced all of the refugees to swear their alliance to her. In the process, she exposes the Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah and has them killed for treason. She meets with her council and advisors and plans one last attack on the White Tower in an attempt to reclaim control, but her plan is never put into motion as she receives word that the ruler of the White Tower, Elaida, was captured and taken prisoner. The remaining council declares Egwene their new ruler, and she takes her place in the White Tower.
With the future uncertain, Egwene prepares the remaining Aes Sedai for the last battle against the Dark One.
Best part of story, including ending:
For the first time in a long time in the series, the plot has finally taken a breakneck speed. We finally get to see plot threads resolved that have been strung out over several books, specifically the fact that Egwene finally takes her place as ruler of the White Tower which readers have been waiting for since 2002.
Best scene in story:
I loved when Rand allows the One Power to consume him and while on the Dragonmount realizes he has the power to destroy the world in that single moment, yet it his memories of who he was back as a young farmer in his hometown of Edmond's Field, that brings him back to the realization that their is so much left to live for.
Opinion about the main character:
Rand continues to be a very difficult character to enjoy reading as he has grown increasingly arrogant and cynical and hates most of the people around him. Even his own friends, he can't stand and it is sad to watch as these relationships crumble under the strain of their mission to destroy the Dark One.