As the world races toward the Last Battle with the Dark One, friends Perrin, Rand and Egwene continue to grow their forces and unite the nations in a front that will be able to defeat the Dark One's forces. The Wheel of Time continues to turn as the world moves towards the Last Battle and the ultimate defeat of the Dark One, an ancient evil whose forces are on the move throughout the nations and preparing to consume the land into total darkness. Perrin Aybara, best friend to Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn and future conqueror of the Dark One, continues his mission in the nation of Ghealdan with the hope of unifying the remaining forces for war. Unfortunately, the Children of Light, a religious sect against the Dragon Reborn and those who follow him continue to thwart his plans at every turn.
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Perrin and his forces come head to head with a group of the Children of Light and their leader Galad Damodred, an old acquaintance of Perrin, though now they are no longer allies. The Children of Light have been pursuing Perrin for years, knowing he murdered two of their forces back when he first left his home of Edmond's Field. Not one to let go of a grudge, the Children of Light want Perrin to pay for his crimes, despite the world crumbling around them. Perrin calls a meeting with Galad to try and reason with him, knowing neither side could afford coming to blows at this time. Galad agrees.
While touring Perrin's camp, Galad discovers his mother, the ex-Queen of Andor, Morgase is indeed alive and among the people in Perrin's servitude. Morgase, not knowing of the killings from before, is outraged and demands a trial. Perrin agrees that a trial will be the best way to settle the situation and that Morgase will be the judge. Galad charges himself with the decision on sentencing but cannot come to a fitting punishment.
Meanwhile, Perrin's wife Faile is struggling with the rumors that her husband was unfaithful with her friend Berelain while she was kidnapped by invading forces known as the Seanchan. Berelain admits the two of them were together which enrages Faile and demands that Berelain publicly denounce the rumors of intimacy so she can save face and stand strong with her husband. Although she disagrees at first, Berelain realizes it would be for the best especially for morale among the people.
Later, Perrin finds himself a target by the Forsaken Graendal ( a servant of the Dark One) who has been given the task of killing him as it has been foretold that Perrin will perish before the Last Battle. Utilizing a relic known as a Dream Spike, Graendal uses her servant Isam to activate the relic so that Perrin cannot travel through the Dream World, a way of moving from one location to another in a quick amount of time. During one of his dreams, Perrin discovers the Dream Spike and immediately tries to destroy it but with no avail. He realizes he must flee Ghealdan if he is to escape assassination. Leaving behind his forces, Perrin flees to the city of Tar Valon while still in the Dream World in an effort to throw off his pursuer, Isam.
Meanwhile, at the White Tower the home for Aes Sedai (women who can channel the One Power or simply magic) Egwene al'Vere has taken her place as the Amyrlin Seat (ruler of the Aes Sedai). Currently, the tower is in a place of unrest and divided after the battle that occurred previously during an invasion by the rival nation known as the Seanchan. With the original Amyrlin Seat, Elaida captured, her remaining followers are having a hard time accepting Egwene's new status. However, that is the least of Egwene's problems as she is currently on the hunt for a Forsaken known as Mesaana who has been killing Aes Sedai within the tower. Egwene believes she can stop Mesaana by luring her into the Dream World and trapping her there. Unfortunately, Egwene's plan is thwarted by her friend and lover, Gawyn who hopes to be Egwene's guardian known as a Warder. Egwene refuses this offer, knowing it will put him in danger.
Later that night, Egwene calls a meeting in the Dream World with several groups of Aes Sedai as a cover to trap Mesaana. Mesaana takes the bait and attacks along with several members of the Black Ajah (Aes Sedai who are bound to the Dark One). Egwene over powers Mesaana destroying her mind and forcing her into madness. Unknown to Egwene, back in the real world, several Seanchan assassins have infiltrated the White Tower with a mission to kill her in her sleep. Thankfully, Gawyn catches them beforehand and fights them off, being severely injured in the process.
Egwene returns from the Dream World and finds Gawyn dying. Refusing to allow him to slip away after saving her, she heals him with the One Power and promises to make him her Warder. Gawyn confesses his love to Egwene and asks for her hand in marriage. Knowing with the Last Battle looming in the future, and her life beyond it uncertain, Egwene agrees for this could be her only chance to experience true love with the man she has held dear for so many years.
Meanwhile, Perrin continues to evade the assassin Isam but is finally caught while sneaking onto the White Tower grounds. The two fight and Perrin creates a void in the Dream World and destroys the Dream Spike once and for all. Isam vows revenge and the death of Perrin, but Perrin narrowly escapes by awakening back in his camp in Ghealdan. Unfortunately, things aren't going well as a Trolloc Army approaches with the intention of destroying Perrin and his forces. Thankfully, Perrin is able to rally his troops together and destroy the army before they reach their camp, also saving the Children of Light in the process. Thankful for being spared, Galad decides to unite their forces together in an effort strengthen their chances against the Dark One.
Across the nations in Caemlyn, the Queen Elayne Trakand and Galad's sister is feeling the pressure from Mat Cauthon, a dear friend and best friend to Perrin and Rand. He believes that Elayne should dedicate some of their forces to build heavy artillery that could take down the Dark One and his forces. Not trusting manmade contraptions, Elayne is hesitate but knows they need all the power they can get it. She barters with Mat and reveals she will give him the man power to build the machines, code named: dragons in exchange that she can make copies of his personal medallion that cut off channelers from the One Power as she knows it will be useful against the ever-growing Back Ajah. Mat reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, after their victory in Ghealdan, Perrin and his forces travel to Caemlyn and meet with Elayne in an attempt to unite their nations. Through a long debate, Perrin offers up his home and nation of the Two Rivers and Elayne uses her new artillery as a bargaining chip to become Queen of the neighboring nation of Cairhein.
A few weeks pass, and Thom Merrilin an old friend of Mat's approaches him regarding a letter he received from Moraine Damodred, an Aes Sedai from their past who had helped them originally escape from their home in Edmond's Field when it was under attack and who had disappeared through a portal when she attempted to kill a Forsaken named Lanfear. Thom believes that Moraine is still alive and being held captive in a structure known as the Tower of Ghenjei. Upon arriving, the men find themselves trapped inside the tower and find Moraine who is in a deep sleep. The three of them come under attack and must make their way through deadly obstacles and games in order to achieve safe passage outside, one obstacle resulting in Mat giving up his left eye for a way out.
After escaping the tower, Thom and Mat wait for Moraine to regain consciousness. When she does, she is pleased to see both Mat and Thom after such a long time, although she is only a shadow of her former self, with her powers damaged due to her long time in captivity. Thom and Moraine spend time alone together and she confesses her love for him. That she has loved him since the beginning. He admits he has the same feelings. Moraine reveals she has come into a possession of a powerful relic that could assist Rand in his attempt to defeat the Dark One. The three agree the time has come to find him and with time running out begin their travels to find Rand.
Far across the nations on the other side of the world, Rand al'Thor finds himself refreshed and renewed after finding his humanity again which he had previously lost and stopping himself from destroying the world. Determined to destroy the Dark One and his shadows he has spread across the land, Rand heads to the White Tower to meet with Egwene. Egwene is surprised by his arrival, not sure of his purpose and worried he may attempt to take the White Tower for himself. Rand assures her this isn't the case and that despite their past and the odds between them, he respects her and the power she has claimed for herself.
Rand reveals that he plans to destroy the remaining seals of the Dark One's prison which resides in the wasteland known as the Blight. He believes that by channeling the One Power as well as the True Power (magic that was once only accessible by the Dark One) he can create a permanent seal and avoid the Last Battle altogether. Egwene believes this plan to be suicide, telling Rand destroying the remaining seals could release the Dark One and bring the destruction of the world as the nation's forces will not be able to rally in time. Rand refuses to listen, his arrogance clouding his judgment. In an attempt to delay the inevitable, Egwene strikes a deal with Rand to meet him at the Field of Merrilor after she has some time to unite more nations against the threat. Rand believes that it is a fair compromise, and states he plans to rally more troops together in a unified front over the next month.
During this time, Aviendha, one of Rand's lovers as well a descendant of a people known as the Aiel, makes her move through the Aiel Waste in an attempt to take her final writ of passage and become a Wise One, a powerful channeler of magic among the Aiel. While moving through the city of Ruidean, she meets a nomad named Nokami who reveals to her that she is the future of the Aiel race. It is revealed to Aviendha through a series of visions that Rand could bring upon the destruction of her people along with the entire world if he proceeds with his plan to destroy the Dark One's seals. It is also revealed that Rand will most likely perish in his final fight against the Dark One. Terrified of this possibility, Aviendha begins her journey to the Fields of Merrilor to stop Rand from making a disastrous move.
As time passes, Rand travels from city to city, expelling the Dark One's forces and building his troops. During this time, he is able to secure the nation of Saldaea as well as Bandar Eban but loses the nations of Kandor and Arafel where the Dark One's forces have become too strong. With the forces he has gathered together, Rand brings them to the Fields of Merrilor where he plans a meeting of the nations to prepare for their final assault on the Dark One.
Best part of story, including ending:
I was happy that this novel decided to bring back Perrin and Mat into the fold after they were missing from the previous books. Mat's sense of humor despite the situations presented as well as his fearless demeanor are a great addition to the narrative. I also loved seeing Perrin take center stage and resolve his issues with the Children of Light.
Best scene in story:
I love the interaction between Egwene and Rand as they have had such a rocky history due to Rand's quest for power and her attempts to take over the White Tower. Rand finally accepts Egwene in her role yet still lets his own arrogance control him, which could lead to his undoing.
Opinion about the main character:
Rand is not featured in this novel much, but when he is it seems we have taken a few steps backward. Despite him growing in the previous book and reclaiming his humanity, Rand continues to let his arrogance control him, resulting in plans that are doomed to fail.