In the fifth book of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, Rand is focused on his efforts to unite the Aiel and confront the Foresaken one at a time. The rogue Couladin (Aiel false Dragon) leads his followers against Cairhien and razes every village in their path. Rand follows to stop him. He is distracted by the presence of Sammael, but Mat with his incredible luck comes into his authority as a general. Afterwards, Rand takes a small force to confront Rahvin (who proclaims himself king) in Caemlyn. Before they can travel, Lanfear appears and must be dealt with. During this whole time, Morraine eases up on trying to control Rand and concentrates on providing him political information. Aviendha has been ordered by the Aiel Wise Ones to form a relationship with Rand. Though she fights it for Elayne’s sake, her own heart is hard to resist, despite her better judgment.

After leaving Tanchico, Nynaeve and Elayne find evidence of an Aes Sedai refugee town through their Tel’aran’rhiod ramblings and set out in search of it, hiding from Elaida’s lackeys, Whitecloaks and Moghedien, a Foresaken out for revenge against Nynaeve. They are joined by Birgitte, a legendary female archer from history who is transported to their time during a confrontation with Moghedien. They reach the refugees after Siuan (the fleeing Amyrlin), Leane (her Keeper of the Chronicles), and Min find the outpost. Siuan and Leane have been stripped of their powers on Elaida’s (the usurping Amyrlin) authority and are trying to find a useful life among the Aes Sedai. Nynaeve and Elayne are reduced to subservience after months of freedom, adventure and control of their destinies. Gareth Bryne (former Captain-General of Queen Morgase’s Guards) is drawn into the pattern when Siuan, Leane, and Min cross his path and he chases them to Salidar (the refugee town) as escaping felons, a misunderstanding out of control.

Parts of the story lagged for me, though that may be due to having to read other books simultaneously, feeling I needed to read it quicker. The Wheel of Time books are best read at your leisure not rushed. As with the other books, I enjoyed the characters and connections. I am looking forward to seeing more of Aviendha and Rand, Gareth and Siuan, Perrin and Mat’s exploits as generals, and Rand’s dealings with the remaining Foresaken. There are presently too many details to keep track of. It is slowing the reading, and I’m not sure if they are all important. It is challenging, but fascinating if you are up for a challenge.