I have just finished reading the entire Wheel of Time series. Here's what it's all about. Major spoilers.
Many thanks to Leigh Butler for writing and posting this, I shall re-post it to my blog.
The Eye of the World
In the Prologue (set some three thousand years before the events of the series proper), a dazed Lews Therin Telamon wanders through the ruins of his palace, not noticing the dead bodies everywhere or knowing that he was the cause of it. He calls for his wife Ilyena, not noticing that she is one of the corpses. A man appears from thin air and looks at the scene with disdain. He calls himself Elan Morin Tedronai, and calls Lews Therin “Lord of the Morning.” Lews Therin is confused, but calls the man “Betrayer of Hope.” Tedronai taunts Lews Therin, and then magically (and painfully) Heals Lews Therin so that he regains enough sanity to realize what he has done. Lews Therin screams in agony, then uses “the True Source” to Travel far away, to an empty plain. In remorse, he draws an enormous amount of the One Power and obliterates himself with a solid bar of light. After, a jagged mountain remains in the place where he had been.
The true story begins in Emond’s Field, a small village in the Two Rivers district of the nation of Andor, where we meet Rand al’Thor, Matrim (Mat) Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, Egwene al’Vere, and the village Wisdom Nynaeve al’Meara.
On the eve of the spring festival Bel Tine, Emond’s Field is unexpectedly attacked by monsters called Trollocs and Myrddraal. A mysterious Aes Sedai named Moiraine Damodred tells Rand, Mat, and Perrin that they are the targets of the attacks, and convinces them to come with her to Tar Valon to protect their village. They are joined by Moiraine’s warder, Lan Mandragoran, a wandering gleeman named Thom Merrilin, and by Egwene, who discovers the plan and insists on coming along.
At the city of Baerlon, they meet Min Farshaw, a young woman who can see people’s futures, and also Padan Fain, a peddler they’d thought dead after the attack on Emond’s Field. Rand, Mat, and Perrin begin experiencing dreams in which they are taunted by a frightening man who calls himself Ba’alzamon. Shortly before they leave the city, Nynaeve arrives to retrieve the Emond’s Fielders from Moiraine; when they refuse to go with her, she insists on joining the party. Egwene and Nynaeve both discover that they are capable of channeling saidar, the female half of the One Power. Egwene is excited by this, but Nynaeve is violently against the notion of becoming an Aes Sedai.
Chased by Shadowspawn, the party is forced to take refuge in the haunted and deadly ruins of Shadar Logoth. Rand, Mat and Perrin meet a ghost named Mordeth there and barely escape from him alive. When the party attempts to leave the city, the glowing deadly fog called Mashadar forces them to separate.
Rand, Mat and Thom end up taking passage on Bayle Domon’s rivership heading to Whitebridge, and Rand discovers that Mat has taken a ruby-hilted dagger from Shadar Logoth despite Moiraine’s warnings not to touch anything of the city. Thom is apparently killed in Whitebridge saving the two boys from another Myrddraal, and Rand and Mat continue on alone to Caemlyn, dodging Darkfriends and battling privation. Mat’s behavior grows increasingly paranoid and mistrustful.
In Caemlyn, Rand befriends an Ogier named Loial, and then accidentally falls into the Palace gardens, where he meets Elayne Trakand, heir to the throne of Andor, her brother Gawyn Trakand, and her half-brother Galad Damodred. Galad has Rand arrested and brought before the Queen, Morgase Trakand. Elaida, Morgase’s Aes Sedai advisor, has the gift of Foretelling, and warns Morgase that Rand is dangerous, but Morgase decides to let him go free.
Meanwhile Egwene and Perrin have been traveling in the company of a man called Elyas Machera, who claims to talk to wolves, and says that Perrin can do the same. They run into a company of the Children of Light, also called Whitecloaks, and Perrin kills two of them after witnessing them kill a wolf. He is sentenced to death, but Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve rescue him and Egwene. Nynaeve notes that Perrin’s eyes have turned golden, just as Elyas’s were. When they reach Caemlyn, they find Mat almost completely corrupted by the influence of the dagger he stole; Moiraine somewhat restores him, but says he must go to Tar Valon to be healed completely.
Loial warns Moiraine of a threat to the Eye of the World, which is confirmed by the disturbing dreams Mat, Rand and Perrin have been having. The Eye of the World was created by Aes Sedai who sacrificed themselves to create a pool of saidin untouched by the Dark One’s taint, and is hidden in the Blight. The Eye of the World is protected by Someshta (the Green Man) and contains one of the seven seals on the Dark One’s prison, the Dragon banner of Lews Therin Telamon, and the Horn of Valere.
Loial guides the group through the Ways (passageways built by the male Aes Sedai during the Breaking of the World, which are now tainted by the same evil that tainted saidin) in order to reach the Eye of the World. There, the party is confronted by two of the Forsaken, Aginor and Balthamel. The Green Man kills Balthamel, and Aginor and Rand battle for control of the Eye of the World. Rand defeats Aginor, defies Ba’alzamon, and uses the Eye of the World to decimate the Trolloc army threatening human lands.
Afterwards Rand realizes to his horror that he has channeled the One Power and is therefore condemned to a fate of insanity and a rotting death. It is revealed that Moiraine believes Rand is the Dragon Reborn.
The Great Hunt
In the Prologue, Ba’alzamon presides over a clandestine gathering of Darkfriends, from all nations and walks of life, including two Aes Sedai. Ba’alzamon shows them images of Rand, Mat and Perrin, and tells them he wants the Dragon to serve him.
Rand et al recover and rest at Fal Dara in the Borderlands. Suian Sanche, the Amyrlin (or leader) of the Aes Sedai comes to the castle, and she and Moiraine force Rand to confront her conviction that he is the Dragon Reborn. Rand, however, continues to deny it. Padan Fain is a prisoner to Fal Dara, where he had been revealed as a very powerful Darkfriend. He soon escapes, stealing the Horn of Valere and the tainted dagger Mat took from Shadar Logoth.
Mat will not survive long without the dagger, so he, Rand, and Perrin accompany Lord Ingtar south to retrieve it and the Horn. Egwene and Nynaeve go with Moiraine to Tar Valon to begin training as Aes Sedai, and find that Elayne Trakand and Min Farshaw are in the city as well. Egwene and Elayne are novices, but Nynaeve passes the test to become Accepted, the intermediate rank before full Aes Sedai. Egwene learns that she is a Dreamer, with the ability to see visions of the future in her sleep.
Rand, Loial, and a Shienaran “sniffer” named Hurin are separated from the rest of the party and transported to an alternate world via a Portal Stone. Rand meets Ba’alzamon there and has a heron branded onto one of his palms. They meet a mysterious woman named Selene, who helps them find another Stone and encourages Rand obliquely to use channeling to activate it. They return to their world far ahead of Ingtar’s party, and find Fain’s company, which they manage to infiltrate and steal back the Horn and the dagger. Meanwhile Perrin is guiding Ingtar’s party, pretending to be a sniffer like Hurin but in reality reluctantly using his connection to the wolves to track Fain.
Rand’s party travels to Cairhien, where Selene abruptly leaves them. Rand is overjoyed to find Thom Merrilin, whom he’d thought dead, in town. Rand and Loial are attacked by Trollocs and once again lose the Horn and dagger. Dena, Thom’s lover, is murdered for his involvement with Rand. Ingtar’s party finally catches up with Rand in Cairhien, and they determine that the Horn has been taken to Toman Head in the coastal town of Falme. Rand tries to use a Portal Stone to get them there more quickly, but this drastically backfires and the party ends up losing months of time.
Meanwhile, invaders from across the ocean called the Seanchan have occupied Falme, and the Whitecloaks are preparing to attack them. In Tar Valon, an Aes Sedai named Liandrin convinces Nynaeve and Egwene that Rand et al are in danger, and takes them along with Min and Elayne to Toman Head via the Ways. Once there, Liandrin betrays them to the Seanchan; Nynaeve and Elayne escape, but Min and Egwene are captured. Egwene is collared with an a’dam, a device used to enslave and control women who channel.
Rand, Mat, Perrin, Hurin, and Ingtar sneak into the occupied city to find the Horn and dagger. Rand confronts and kills High Lord Turak, who had been the commander of the Seanchan forces and also a blademaster. As they attempt to get out of the city with the Horn and dagger, Ingtar confesses to Rand that he is a Darkfriend, but redeems himself by sacrificing his own life to let the others escape.
Elayne and Nynaeve rescue Egwene and also attempt to flee the city, but the Whitecloaks attack, causing chaos. Rand et al are trapped between the two opposing armies, and in desperation, Mat blows the Horn of Valere, summoning dead heroes from the grave to aid them. All of the heroes greet Rand as “Lews Therin,” and treat him as an old friend. The heroes fight the Seanchan while Rand is drawn into a duel with Ba’alzamon that everyone in Falme sees in the sky; the two battles seem to depend upon each other. Rand is unable to defeat Ba’alzamon until in desperation he uses a suicidal move Lan taught him. He apparently kills Ba’alzamon but is severely wounded. Min finds him in the aftermath, and sees Selene, who reveals herself to be one of the Forsaken, Lanfear, and instructs Min to watch him until she comes back for him.
Rand wakes some days later with an unHealable wound in his side and the Dragon banner flying above their camp. The Shienarans pledge to him as the Dragon Reborn, and Rand finally accepts the title.
The Dragon Reborn
In the Prologue, the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of Light, Pedron Niall, meets with “Ordeith,” a man who has somehow gotten himself admitted to Niall’s inner council, who reiterates his conviction that Rand, Mat, Perrin, and most of the Two Rivers is a nest of Darkfriends. Niall decides it is time to do something about the region.
Rand al’Thor escapes the rest of his companions to travel alone to the Stone of Tear, to see if he fulfills the prophecies there and thus is truly the Dragon Reborn. Along the way he battles Darkfriends and Shadowspawn, and begins doubting his sanity. Moiraine sends Min to Tar Valon to report to the Amyrlin, while Perrin, Moiraine, Lan, and Loial chase after Rand. They are joined by a Hunter for the Horn named Zarine Bashere, though she insists on the name Faile. Along the way she and Perrin eventually fall in love. They discover that the Forsaken Sammael rules the nation of Illian.
Meanwhile a very ill Mat travels with Nynaeve, Elayne, Egwene, Hurin, and the Aes Sedai Verin Mathwin to Tar Valon. After a tense encounter with Whitecloaks outside the city, they arrive safely. Mat is Healed from his corruption from the dagger; after, he sometimes speaks the Old Tongue without realizing he is doing so. Elayne and Egwene are both raised to Accepted. Siuan Sanche tasks Elayne, Nynaeve, and Egwene with hunting for the Black Ajah, and they find clues which lead them to depart for Tear; before they go, Elayne gives Mat a letter to bring to her mother Morgase in Caemlyn. Mat, though still weak from his Healing, defeats Gawyn and Galad in a duel. After a bizarre night of unnaturally lucky gambling, Mat meets up with Thom Merrilin and escapes the city. They travel to Caemlyn to deliver Elayne’s letter, and Mat learns of a plot by Morgase’s lover Gaebril to murder Elayne. Vowing to stop the plan, Mat leaves Caemlyn to pursue the three women to Tear.
In Tear, Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne are unwillingly betrayed by Juilin Sandar, a thief catcher, (who was under the influence of a form of Compulsion from Liandrin) to the Black Ajah and then imprisoned in the Stone of Tear, where they are rescued by Mat and a repentant Juilin. Faile falls into a Black Ajah trap meant for Moiraine, and Perrin risks his life in the World of Dreams to rescue her.
Rand and the Forsaken Be’lal duel in the Stone of Tear. Moiraine interrupts the battle and kills Be’lal with balefire. Ba’alzamon appears, disables Moiraine, and attacks Rand. Rand takes Callandor, proving himself the Dragon Reborn, and, with it, kills Ba’alzamon. Rand thinks he has killed the Dark One, who he believes was Ba’alzamon, but Moiraine tells him that the Dark One is not human, and therefore cannot have been Ba’alzamon, because Ba’alzamon left behind a corpse. Egwene, remembering a parchment of prophecy that Verin Sedai showed her, instead deduces that the corpse is possibly Ishamael, Chief among the Forsaken. The Aiel in Tear take the Stone and reveal themselves as the People of the Dragon.
The Shadow Rising
In Tear, Selene appears to Rand and reveals herself as Lanfear, and entreats him to join her, but then the Stone is stormed by two different groups of Shadowspawn: one sent by Sammael to kill Rand, and the other by another Forsaken, Semirhage, to protect him. Rand uses Callandor to kill them all, leading many of his followers to believe he is going mad.
Despite rumors of trouble in the Two Rivers, Rand decides to go to the Aiel Waste and seek answers there. Egwene goes with him, hoping to learn more about her prophetic dreams, and Moiraine is going as well. Mat is unsure what to do, but after receiving cryptic warnings from snakelike beings called Aelfinn on the other side of a mysterious portal, decides to go with Rand. Perrin is then left to return to the Two Rivers, and Faile and Loial go with him. Elayne, Nynaeve, and Thom decide to resume their hunt for the Black Ajah in Tarabon.
In the Waste, Rand meets Aviendha, an Aiel Maiden of the Spear who is training to become a Wise One, the society of women channelers among the Aiel. She, Rand, Moiraine, and Mat all enter the abandoned city of Rhuidean to test themselves in the ter’angreal there. Rand relives the history of the Aiel (his paternal ancestors) from both before and after the Breaking, when the prison that holds the Dark One away from the world was breached and the taint on saidin drove the male Aes Sedai mad, sending the world into chaos. He emerges with dragon tattoos on both arms, marking him as theCar’a’carn, the Chief of Chiefs among the Aiel.
Mat finds a portal similar to the one he entered in Tear and goes inside, to find the foxlike counterparts to the snaky Aelfinn. The Eelfinn do not answer questions, however, but instead bargain for gifts. They hang him as the price for his gifts, but Rand resuscitates him. He is left with the memories of hundreds of war leaders in his head, a fluency in the Old Tongue, a bladed spear called an ashanderei, and a medallion which protects him from the One Power.
Moiraine and Aviendha each separately enter a different ter’angreal which is a testing ground for potential Wise Ones, which gives a confusing glimpse into their futures. Afterwards, the Wise Ones assign Aviendha to teach Rand Aiel ways as they travel to Cold Rocks Hold to announce Rand’s new title. Along the way they encounter a caravan of merchants, which accompanies them. At Cold Rocks, Rand’s declaration is undermined by an Aiel named Couladin, who declares that he is the Car’a’carn. To prove Couladin an imposter, Rand is forced to reveal the secrets he learned at Rhuidean, that the Aiel once eschewed violence. An uproar follows, which Rand short-circuits by creating a thunderstorm in a place which never sees rain.
Rand then chases a Forsaken named Asmodean back to Rhuidean, who had been disguised as a gleeman among the merchants. Asmodean is trying to acquire the keys to the Choedan Kal, the most powerful sa’angreal ever created, but Rand defeats him and cuts him off from the Dark One. Lanfear appears and puts a heavy shield on Asmodean, forcing him to teach Rand how to channel. Rand returns to Cold Rocks to find most of the Aiel accept him as Car’a’carn, but Couladin’s clan, the Shaido, have broken from the rest.
In the Two Rivers, Perrin discovers that the people are caught between Trollocs, led by a mysterious man named Slayer, who hunts wolves in the World of Dreams, and the Children of the Light, with whom Padan Fain is working, who believe Perrin is a Darkfriend. He also finds Verin Mathwin and Alanna Mosvani, both Aes Sedai, in the Two Rivers, along with a man calling himself Lord Luc who claims to be helping the people but only seems to be hindering. With the help of the Aes Sedai, Tam al’Thor (Rand’s father), Faile, Loial, and the Aiel Gaul, Perrin leads the people of the Two Rivers to war against the Trollocs, and the villagers begin to call him Lord Perrin, and Perrin Goldeneyes, titles that he tries without success to discourage. Before the final victory, Perrin marries Faile, and drives out Lord Luc after discovering that Lord Luc and Slayer are the same person.
In the city of Tanchico, Elayne and Nynaeve encounter the Forsaken Moghedien and the Black Ajah, and remove a male a’dam from their possession as well as one of the Seals on the Dark One’s prison. Elayne and Nynaeve also meet Bayle Domon and the Seanchan Egeanin, who comes to learn that the things she has been told all her life about women who channel are lies. They rescue the Panarch Amathera from the Black sister Temaile, who is tormenting her. Nynaeve and Moghedien confront one another directly, and Nynaeve discovers that when she is not blocked, she is equal in power to the Forsaken. Nynaeve shields the Forsaken, but they are discovered by one of the Black Ajah, who damages the palace using ater’angreal that makes balefire. In the confusion, Moghedien escapes.
In Tar Valon, Min arrives at The White Tower and sees numerous visions that portend something terrible happening there. She reports these to Siuan Sanche, but the Amyrlin only decides to hide Min in plain sight at the Tower, in the guise of Elmindreda, a giddy, empty-headed woman unable to decide between two suitors. However, her arrival has tipped off Elaida that something is going on between Siuan, Moiraine, and the Dragon Reborn.
In a bloody coup d’etat, Elaida and her supporters confront and depose Siuan, stilling her and Leane Sharif, her Keeper of the Chronicles (stripping them of the ability to channel). Elaida is made Amyrlin and many Aes Sedai flee, splitting the Tower. Min hides, and with the help of the cook Laras, frees the deposed Amyrlin Seat and Leane. Min, Siuan and Leane are recognized by Gawyn Trakand as they try to flee the Tower grounds. He is reluctant to help Siuan since the disappearance of Elayne, but he helps them escape because it means helping Egwene, with whom he is in love. While riding through the city toward freedom across one of the bridges, they come across Logain, a former false Dragon who had been gentled (stripped of the ability to channel) whom they talk into going with them.
The Fires of Heaven
In the Prologue, Elaida tries to solidify her rule over the Aes Sedai remaining in the Tower and meets with Padan Fain, who gives her advice about controlling Rand. The Forsaken Rahvin, Lanfear, Graendal and Sammael meet to discuss what do to in the wake of Ishamael’s death, and come to a precarious truce.
In Rhuidean, Rand has begun hearing a voice in his head, and having memories that are not his own. Egwene continues her training as a Dreamer and a Wise One. Chasing the Shaido Aiel, who have crossed over the Spine of the World and are pillaging Cairhien, Rand al’Thor leads his Aiel over the Spine and meets the Shaido in the Second Battle of Cairhien. Mat tries to escape the entire affair, but almost inadvertently saves some troops from a Shaido ambush. Roped into continuing to command these troops throughout the day, he wins numerous battles using the memories of past generals he received from the Eelfinn in Rhuidean, earning their personal loyalty. Mat kills the Shaido leader, Couladin, in battle, and the Shaido Aiel retreat in defeat.
Falsely believing Queen Morgase Trakand of Andor dead at the hands of the Forsaken Rahvin, who is masquerading as her former lover Lord Gaebril, an angry Rand prepares to Travel to Caemlyn with a small Aiel strike force. Before he can do so, Lanfear, learning that Rand slept with Aviendha, attempts to kill them both in a jealous rage. Moiraine Damodred stops Lanfear by hurling them both through the Eelfinn doorway, which melts down, seemingly killing both herself and Lanfear.
Rand attacks Caemlyn. During the ensuing battle, Rahvin kills Mat, Asmodean, and Aviendha, but Rand hunts down Rahvin in Tel’aran’rhiodand, with Nynaeve’s clandestine help, destroys him with balefire, thereby reversing the deaths of Mat, Asmodean, and Aviendha. Asmodean, however, is later killed again by an unknown assailant.
Min, Leane, Siuan and Logain travel in search of the rebel Aes Sedai, entangling themselves along the way with Gareth Bryne, once Queen Morgase’s advisor and now exiled by her under the influence of Compulsion. Morgase has since somewhat realized what is happening to her, and escaped Caemlyn. Bryne follows Siuan et al to Salidar, where none of them have the reception they quite expected.
Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom, and Juilin travel disguised as circus performers through lands filled with Seanchan left behind from the battle at Toman Head, Dragonsworn, bandits, and Whitecloaks, attempting to find the base of the rebel Aes Sedai. On the way they are aided against Moghedien by Birgitte in the World of Dreams. In retaliation, Moghedien rips Birgitte out of the dream world into the real world; Elayne bonds Birgitte as her Warder to save her life. Nynaeve finally remembers that the rebels are in Salidar; after they arrive, Nynaeve is able to trap the Forsaken Moghedien inTel’aran’rhiod with the use of an a’dam.
Lord of Chaos
In the Prologue, Demandred goes to the Pit of Doom and meets Shaidar Haran, a strange giant Myrddraal. Later Demandred meets with the other surviving Forsaken (excepting Sammael) and tells them the Great Lord’s message is “Let the Lord of Chaos rule.” Mesaana tells them she will have Rand al’Thor in hand soon. Morgase is in the hands of Pedron Niall in Amadicia. A man named Osan’gar wakes, amazed to be alive and in a new body; his companion, Aran’gar, is furious to be in a woman’s body. They receive orders from Shaidar Haran.
Rand is shuffling back and forth between Cairhien and Caemlyn, attempting to rule them both. Mazrim Taim, a former false Dragon, arrives in Caemlyn and pledges allegiance to Rand. Neither Rand nor the voice in his head trust him, but nevertheless Rand sets him up to run the new Black Tower; Rand has declared an amnesty for male channelers and wants Taim to recruit and train them.
Egwene recovers from her ordeal and falls in love with Gawyn, meeting with him in secret. She is summoned to Salidar, where she is raised Amyrlin of the rebel faction of the Aes Sedai. She reunites with Nynaeve and Elayne, who are using a collared Moghedien to learn more about channeling, but Nynaeve discovers how to Heal stilling and gentling on her own. Egwene is determined to be more than the figurehead she’s been set up to be, and sets the rebels marching toward Tar Valon. She raises Nynaeve and Elayne to full Aes Sedai, and sends them to Ebou Dar to search for the Bowl of the Winds, in order to end the unnatural drought upon the land.
In the Two Rivers, Perrin feels Rand summoning him from afar and departs to find him. Rand is being diplomatically courted by both the Tower Aes Sedai and the rebel faction in Salidar. Alanna Sedai and Verin inadvertently join the rebel envoy in Caemlyn. Alanna bonds Rand as her Warder against his will, but finds she cannot use the bond to control him.
While establishing his personal army, the Band of the Red Hand, Mat takes in a young orphan named Olver. Mistakenly believing the rebels to be few in number and cowed, Rand sends Mat to retrieve Elayne so he can put her on the throne in Andor. Mat finds the rebels in no way cowed, and Elayne flatly refuses to go with him. He is reluctantly strong-armed into following her and Nynaeve to Ebou Dar.
Shortly after Perrin joins up with him, Rand is secretly kidnapped by Elaida’s Aes Sedai, who begin journeying back to Tar Valon. Along the way Rand is tortured severely, which nearly drives him insane. Learning of the kidnapping, Perrin leads a mixed force of Rand’s followers after the Aes Sedai, leading to the climactic Battle of Dumai’s Wells. At the end of the battle, the rebel Aes Sedai with Perrin’s forces are forced to swear fealty to the Dragon Reborn, while the surviving White Tower Aes Sedai, who kidnapped Rand, remain captives.
A Crown of Swords
In the aftermath of Dumai’s Wells, Rand struggles to maintain control of his conquered territories as well as of his own mind. He falls in love with Min, and feels extreme guilt about loving three women at once (Min, Elayne, and Aviendha). During his attempt to quash a rebellion by Cairhienin nobles, Rand is attacked by Padan Fain, who severely injures him with the Shadar Logoth dagger; he is rescued by Cadsuane, a mysterious and cantankerous Aes Sedai who has inveigled herself into his council. Rand leads the Asha’man in an assault on Illian, and chases Sammael to Shadar Logoth, where he is assisted in his battle by a mysterious stranger. Sammael is killed by Mashadar, and Rand takes the crown of Illian, formerly the Laurel Crown, but now called the Crown of Swords.
Perrin has a pretend fight with Rand and takes his forces to Ghealdan to deal with the Prophet Masema.
Egwene and Siuan work together to manipulate the rebel Aes Sedai to continue to move against Elaida’s faction in Tar Valon. Egwene discovers that Lan’s bond has been illegally transferred from Moiraine to Myrelle, and uses the knowledge to force Myrelle and Nisao to swear fealty to her directly, an unheard-of measure.
In Ebou Dar, Elayne, Nynaeve, Birgitte, Aviendha, and search for the Bowl of the Winds. They initially work at cross-purposes with Mat, but eventually trust is gained. Nynaeve is reunited with Lan, and breaks her channeling block. They enlist the help of the Kin, a secret society of female channelers, and the Sea Folk, and retrieve the Bowl. They are attacked by a gholam, a creature immune to channeling, killing several of their party before Mat defeats it with his medallion. In the face of an impending Seanchan invasion, they flee Ebou Dar, but Mat is left behind to search for Olver, and is taken out of the action when a wall collapses on him.
The Path of Daggers
Elayne Trakand, Nynaeve al’Meara, and Aviendha escape the Seanchan invasion of Ebou Dar, and use the ter’angreal called the Bowl of the Winds to reverse the unnatural heat brought on by the Dark One’s manipulation of the climate. They Travel to Andor, where Elayne formally makes her claim to the Lion Throne.
Perrin Aybara moves into Ghealdan in an attempt to stop Masema Dagar, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the Dragon. He unknowingly rescues Deposed Queen Morgase of Andor (who escaped from the Whitecloaks and now goes by the name of Maighdin), from the Prophet’s men. He secures an oath of fealty from Alliandre, Queen of Ghealdan. At the end of the book, Faile Bashere is kidnapped by the Shaido Aiel.
Egwene al’Vere finally manipulates the rebel Aes Sedai into giving her actual authority as Amyrlin, and they and the army Gareth Bryne has built for them Travel to Tar Valon to begin their siege of the White Tower.
In the Tower, several Aes Sedai have begun a hunt for the Black Ajah. Toveine Gazal leads a contingent of fifty Aes Sedai to subdue the Black Tower, only to find the Asha’man much stronger and more established than they imagined. Toveine and her companions are captured and forcibly bonded to Asha’man to control them.
Rand al’Thor, with the Asha’man and the Illianer army, attempts to repel the Seanchan invasion in Altara. Though successful in early skirmishes, things go awry later, when Rand uses Callandor on the Seanchan army. The inherent instability in Callandor causes Rand to lose control, causing much destruction to both armies and forcing a stalemate. Returning to Cairhien, Rand is attacked by Darkfriend Asha’man led by Dashiva; the assassination attempt wrecks much of the Sun Palace. Afterward Rand prepares to leave with Min.
Perrin Aybara and his followers pursue the Shaido Aiel who kidnapped his wife, Faile Bashere.
Elayne Trakand attempts to solidify her grip on the Lion Throne and put down rebellious nobles.
Mat Cauthon is trapped in the city of Ebou Dar in Altara, which is under Seanchan occupation. He plans his escape, but in the end, his plans are disrupted by the interference of a Seanchan noblewoman named Tuon, who is revealed to be the Daughter of the Nine Moons, heir to the Seanchan Crystal Throne. Mat, remembering the prophecy that he will marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons, kidnaps Tuon instead of tying her up and leaving her behind.
Rand al’Thor agrees to be bonded as a Warder by Elayne Trakand, Aviendha, and Min Farshaw, and consummates his relationship with Elayne. He hunts down the Asha’man Darkfriends in Far Madding and kills most of them. Lan also kills Toram Riatin in a duel. Caught by guards, Rand is imprisoned for a short time but is set free by Cadsuane and the other Aes Sedai who followed him. Rand and Nynaeve al’Meara Travel to Shadar Logoth. There, defended by Cadsuane Melaidhrin’s Aes Sedai and loyal Asha’man against the Forsaken, Rand and Nynaeve link and use the Choedan Kal to cleanse saidin of the Dark One’s taint so that men who channel will no longer go mad. Whilst using so much of the One Power, the access key to the female half of the Choedan Kal is destroyed.
Crossroads of Twilight
Perrin Aybara continues trying to rescue his wife Faile Bashere, kidnapped by the Shaido Aiel, even resorting to torturing prisoners for information. In addition, Perrin is approached with the suggestion of a temporary alliance with the Seanchan to defeat the Shaido.
Mat Cauthon continues trying to escape Seanchan-controlled territory while courting Tuon, the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Mat discovers that Tuon is a sul’dam and can therefore be taught to channel the One Power.
Elayne Trakand continues trying to solidify her claim to the Lion Throne of Andor. She finds out she is expecting twins, but keeps the identity of the father (Rand) secret.
Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, rests in hiding after the ordeal of cleansing the One Power. He is furious that the Asha’man have bonded Aes Sedai without permisson. He sends Davram Bashere, Logain Ablar, and Loial to negotiate a truce with the Seanchan. They return at the end of the book to tell him that the Seanchan have accepted the truce, but demand the presence of the Dragon Reborn to meet with the Daughter of the Nine Moons.
In the Tower, Pevara and the new head of the Red Ajah conclude that it is their duty no longer to hunt down and gentle men who can channel, but to bond them as Warders.
Egwene leads the rebel Aes Sedai in maintaining the siege of Tar Valon. After successfully blocking the River Port at the White Tower with her rediscovered Talent for making cuendillar, she is taken prisoner by agents of the White Tower.
Knife of Dreams
In the Prologue, Galad Damodred discovers that Eamon Valda, current Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks, had violated and (he believes) murdered Morgase, and challenges Valda to a duel. He kills Valda and assumes command of the Whitecloaks. General Rodel Ituralde is fighting the Seanchan invaders in Arad Doman and Tarabon. High Lady Suroth (a Darkfriend) learns that the Forsaken Semirhage has murdered the entire Imperial family in Seandar, and that the continent is in chaos.
Egwene, held prisoner in the Tower and reduced to the rank of novice, communicates with the rebels via her dreams, and forbids them to rescue her. Despite harsh treatment she maintains her dignity, and begins undermining Elaida’s power from within. Both the rebels and the White Tower send sisters to the Black Tower to bond Asha’man; Taim welcomes the White Tower contingent ominously.
Lan decides to ride to the Borderlands to resume his one-man war with the Shadow, but Nynaeve tricks him into going to the long way around, so that she can go ahead of him and recruit men to his cause.
After many trials and outright fighting, Elayne defeats her rivals and wins her crown. She ousts the Black Ajah from Caemlyn.
Perrin, in alliance with the Seanchan, defeats the Shaido and rescues Faile. Tam al’Thor joins him with forces from the Two Rivers; he does not believe the rumors he’s heard about his son being the Dragon Reborn. The remnants of the Shaido retreat back to the Waste.
Mat continues trying to escape Altara and elude the large army of Seanchan sent by Suroth to kill Tuon. He rejoins Talmanes and the Band of the Red Hand and stages a devastating guerilla campaign against the Seanchan. After a long and strange courtship, Tuon astonishes everyone by completing the marriage ritual to Mat, giving him the title of Prince of the Ravens, before returning to Ebou Dar without him to claim her throne and oust the traitor Suroth. Thom reveals to Mat that Moiraine Damodred had not died in Cairhien as they had all assumed, but was a prisoner of the AelFinn and Eelfinn. Reluctantly Mat agrees to help Thom rescue her.
Recognizing that he cannot fight the Last Battle against the Dark One and the Seanchan at the same time, Rand arranges to open negotiations with the Empress. He is having increasing difficulty controlling his channeling and the Lews Therin voice in his head. He goes to meet with Tuon only to find that she is Semirhage in disguise. The ensuing fight captures Semirhage, but at the cost of Rand’s left hand. Semirhage outs his split personality difficulties to his followers, and tells them his condition is inevitably fatal.
The Gathering Storm
Rand tells the Seanchan that he still wants a meeting with the Empress. Semirhage escapes captivity and uses a Domination Band (male equivalent of an a’dam) to capture Rand. She almost forces him to kill Min with it, but in desperation Rand accesses the True Power, the essence of the Dark One, and frees himself, killing Semirhage. After this ordeal he has lost nearly all semblance of compassion, and exiles Cadsuane, threatening to kill her if he ever sees her again.
Tuon meets with Rand, but the negotiations end in disaster, as Tuon senses the darkness within him. She rejects his truce, declares herself Empress and authorizes a surprise attack on the White Tower.
In the Tower, after a showdown with an increasingly irrational Elaida, Egwene is imprisoned as a Darkfriend, but she is released when it cannot be proven. Egwene returns to her rooms to find Verin there. Verin reveals that she is Black Ajah, and has fatally poisoned herself in order to be able to tell Egwene this, and give her Verin’s research on the Black Ajah, which contains nearly every member’s name.
The Seanchan attack the Tower, and in its state of disarray the Aes Sedai can mount no adequate defense until Egwene takes matters into her own hands. Using Vora’s sa’angreal, Egwene nearly single-handedly defeats the raid and drives off the Seanchan. She is rescued against her will by Siuan Sanche, Gawyn, and Gareth Bryne and brought back to the rebels, where she swiftly exposes all the Black Ajah in the camp, including Sheriam. Some twenty escape, but the rest are executed. The rebels prepare to invade Tar Valon, but then receive a message that Elaida was captured in the Seanchan raid, and the Tower Aes Sedai have decided that Egwene is their Amyrlin. The Tower is reunited.
Rand tracks Graendal to her hideout and, to Min and Nynaeve’s horror, uses the Choedan Kal to obliterate the entire palace, with no concern for the collateral damage. He travels to war-torn Arad Doman, but in his despair can find no heart to help them, and abandons them to return to Tear.
Nynaeve, at Cadsuane’s suggestion, arranges for Rand to meet with his father Tam, in an effort to break him from his downward spiral. Rand becomes enraged when he discovers Cadsuane arranged it, and almost kills his own father. In horror, he flees to Ebou Dar, where he intends to wipe out the Seanchan, but his hand is stayed when he sees how peaceful the city is. Nearly insane with anger and despair, he Travels to the top of Dragonmount and prepares to immolate himself just as Lews Therin had, but Lews Therin speaks to him, saying that perhaps they live over and over again in order to have a second chance. Rand realizes he wants to have that chance, and instead of killing himself, destroys the Choedan Kal instead. He and Lews Therin finally become one person, and Rand discovers that he can finally laugh again.
Towers of Midnight
Lan travels through the Borderlands, unwillingly gathering followers. Padan Fain enters the Blight, capturing and enslaving Shadowspawn, and heads for Shayol Ghul, where he intends to kill Rand. Graendal is alive, and Moridin (Ishamael reincarnated) instructs her to kill Perrin. He gives her a dreamspike, which prevents all Traveling within its radius, and Slayer to do the job. A small group of Asha’man within the Black Tower become more and more disturbed by Mazrim Taim’s rule, and begin plotting to escape to Logain and the Dragon Reborn.
Perrin confronts the Whitecloaks, who still have a death warrant on him. Galad is stunned to see Morgase alive in Perrin’s company. Perrin agrees to a trial with Morgase as judge; she finds him guilty, but decress that the sentence will be deferred until after the Last Battle. Slayer plants the dreamspike in Tel’aran’rhiod to hinder Perrin’s channelers, but Perrin finds it and manages to move it, ending up in Tar Valon.
A restored Rand visits Tar Valon and meets with Egwene, telling her he intends to break the remaining intact seals on the Dark One’s prison and reforge the prison anew. Egwene tries to dissuade him to no avail, and he tells her he will meet with her again in one month on the Field of Merrilor. Alarmed, Egwene begins calling together all the nations’ armies in order to present a united front against Rand.
Egwene has ousted the Black Ajah from the Tower, but knows Mesaana is still hiding within it. She is frustrated that Gawyn continually interferes in her plans to smoke the Forsaken out, and refuses to bond him as her Warder. Gawyn eventually leaves the Tower. When Mesaana finally attacks, it coincides with Perrin’s moving the dreamspike, so she is unable to escape. She and Egwene battle in the dream world, and Egwene defeats her by breaking her mind. Gawyn returns just in time to avert a concurrent assassination attempt on Egwene in the real world, and almost dies of his wounds before Egwene bonds him to save him.
Perrin destroys the dreamspike, but Slayer kills Hopper, Perrin’s friend and guide. Perrin returns to the waking world and rescues the Whitecloaks from a Trolloc attack. Jaret Byar attempts to kill him, but Dain Bornhald saves Perrin’s life.
Mat encounters the gholam again in Caemlyn, and eventually corners and disposes of it. He and Elayne make a bargain to share his possession of gunpowder weapons, and he allows Elayne to copy his foxhead medallion for her own use. Morgase reunites with Elayne, and convinces her to allow Perrin and Faile to administer the Two Rivers under Andoran rule.
Mat, Thom, and Noal Charin (aka Jain Farstrider) enter the Tower of Ghenjei to rescue Moiraine. After fighting their way to her, Mat makes a bargain with the Eelfinn for her release in exchange for one of his eyes, but he forgot to include the Aelfinn in requesting safe passage out. He uses his luck to navigate the maze in which they are trapped, and Noal sacrifices himself in order to buy them time. Mat finally realizes that the ashanderei the Eelfinn gave him in Rhuidean is a literal key to getting out of their dimension, and cuts them an escape route. Moiraine is permanently drained of much of her strength, but alive and well.
Rand travels to Bandar Eban, which he had previously abandoned, and begins restoring order there. He goes to Maradon in Saldaea, nearly overrun by Trollocs, and defeats the Shadowspawn nearly singlehandedly, but is left with no strength to keep the rest of the Borderlands from falling to the Shadow. He returns to Merrilor to prepare to meet with Egwene.
Aviendha travels to Rhuidean for her final test to become a Wise One. She meets a mysterious Aiel woman named Nakomi, who sets Aviendha wondering at the fate of the Aiel once their debt is paid. She takes the same journey Rand had through the ter’angreal, viewing the Aiel’s history, and then discovers that the ter’angreal can show her the future of the Aiel as well. She is appalled to discover that her descendants begin a chain of events which end with the Seanchan taking over the wetlands in a bloody war, and driving the Aiel into extinction. Aviendha rushes to find Rand and avert this horrible future.
A Memory of Light
The forces of Light and Shadow alike assemble their forces for the Last Battle, while the land withers and reality itself seems to be becoming unstable. Caemlyn falls in a raid to attempt to steal Elayne and Mat’s gunpowder weapons, but Talmanes and the Band of the Red Hand get them out in time. Taim is promoted to be a new Forsaken, taking the name M’Hael, and Graendal has been punished for her failure to kill Perrin by being put in the body of an incredibly ugly woman and called Hessalam.
Rand meets with Egwene and the other leaders, and tries to convince them to go along with his plan to break the seals. It is not going well until Moiraine enters and eloquently makes his case, and then Egwene and the others agree. Rand also demands “the Dragon’s Peace” between all nations; he had intended to leave the Aiel out of the treaty, but the Aiel, spurred by Aviendha’s revelations in Rhuidean, demand to be included as well. Rand appoints Elayne commander of the forces of Light, and goes to get the Seanchan to sign the treaty. Tuon agrees to the terms with the exception of amnesty for collared channelers, which Rand reluctantly cedes.
At the Black Tower, Taim has captured Logain and is attempting to Turn him to the Shadow forcibly. The few loyal Asha’man left, led by Androl Genhald and the Aes Sedai Pevara Tazanovni, manage to rescue him and escape.
The war begins on four fronts, each commanded by one of the four Great Captains: Gareth Bryne in Kandor, Agelmar Jagad at Tarwin’s Gap, Rodel Ituralde to Shayol Ghul and Davram Bashere with Elayne in Andor and Cairhien. However, all four generals are being subtly manipulated via Compulsion by Hessalam, and make a series of mistakes which nearly lose the entire war for the Light before the plot is discovered.
Rand goes to Shayol Ghul with a small force to protect the valley below, while he enters the mountain with Moiraine, Nynaeve, and Callandor. He duels Moridin there, and then is caught within the Dark One’s influence.
Perrin is protecting Rand from Slayer in the dream world, but is severely wounded and is forced to retreat. It is discovered that the seals the Light thought they had are fakes, and the Shadow has the real ones. The fighting takes a further turn for the worse when the nation of Shara joins in on the Shadow’s side, led by a man called Bao the Wyld, who turns out to be Demandred in disguise. Elayne realizes that Mat’s medallion makes him the only general they can be sure is not under the influence of Compulsion, and puts him in command of all the forces of Light.
Mat and Demandred prove to be nearly evenly matched in tactical genius, but Mat is at the disadvantage by the numbers. He pretends to exacerbate this by staging a fight with Tuon and having her withdraw the Seanchan from the field. Faile is sent to bring the Horn of Valere to Mat, but accidentally gets stranded in the Blight instead. Demandred, obsessed with defeating Lews Therin, wreaks havoc as he demands for Rand to confront him directly. Gawyn Trakand tries to duel him and is mortally wounded. Galad then tries the same and is defeated, though he survives his wounds. Elayne is captured by Darkfriends, and Faile’s party is exposed. In desperation Faile gives the Horn to Olver and tries to lead attention away from him, but Olver is soon surrounded.
Androl and Pevara manage to track down M’Hael and steal back the real seals on the Dark One’s prison, which Androl gives to Logain. Egwene, though devastated by the loss of Gawyn, her Warder, and exhausted from wielding a sa’angreal of her own, then asks Leilwin Shipless to be her Warder and takes the fight to M’Hael. Egwene, discovers a new weave, named semi-symbolically “the Flame of Tar Valon,” that can counter balefire and restore the holes in the Pattern it makes. Egwene causes her own death by overchanneling this new weave, but takes M’Hael and most of the Sharan channelers with her. Galad passes to Lan one of the copies of Mat’s foxhead medallion, which protects the wearer from channeling, and Lan is able to slay Demandred in single combat. Olver, in desperation, sounds the Horn of Valere, summoning Birgitte and the other Heroes of the Horn. Birgitte rescues Elayne, and Noal, newly added to the Heroes’ number, rescues Olver. Between the Heroes and reinforcements from the returning Seanchan, Mat declares victory.
Meanwhile, Rand duels the Dark One in a battle of the minds, each attempting to break the will of the other by constructing hypothetical worlds in which the other has lost. Rand constructs a world where the Dark One never existed, but discovers to his horror that that world is no better than the one where the Dark One won. He realizes that in both cases, the capacity to choose between good and evil was removed.
Mat heads for Shayol Ghul, and Perrin continues to battle Slayer, finally killing him. Perrin then falls under Lanfear’s influence and is almost Compelled to kill Rand, but his control over the dream world allows him to shake off the Compulsion and he kills her instead. Mat battles Padan Fain, his previous exposure to the corruption of Shadar Logoth making him immune to its effects, and kills him with the ruby-hilted dagger. Aviendha battles Graendal and is severely injured, but manages to make Graendal’s Compulsion backfire, leaving her in mindless adoration for Aviendha.
Rand returns to the Pattern and finds that Moridin has taken control ofCallandor. Moridin is gleeful to realize that it can amplify the True Power. However, Rand had anticipated this, and Moiraine and Nynaeve exploitCallandor’s flaw—that women can control a man who uses it. Rand, Moiraine and Nynaeve take control of Moridin and use his power to create a huge weave of saidar, saidin and the True Power combined. Seeing this signal, Logain shatters the remaining seals. This breaks open the Dark One’s prison, and Rand uses the three powers to drag Shai’tan into the Pattern, with the intention of killing him. However, he realizes that the reality he accidentally created —where people are good but “hollow”—will come to pass if he kills the Dark One. Instead, he banishes Shai’tan back outside of the Pattern and repairs the prison like new, so that no breach exists.
Bereft of the Dark One’s influence, the Blight dissolves. Mat reunites with Tuon, who reveals that she is with child. Perrin, racked with guilt over his decision to help Rand and abandon his wife, continues to search for her, eventually finding her buried under Trolloc corpses but still alive. Loial attempts to track down the two of them to get statements for his book. Cadsuane Melaidhrin is elected the new Amyrlin Seat, to her horror, while Moghedien, now one of two remaining Forsaken, is captured by a sul’damwho is exploiting loopholes in the Dragon’s Peace. Hessalam is last seen as a victim of Complusion and worshipping Aviendha. Thom and Moiraine, Lan and Nynaeve, have all come to wait attendance on Rand, who is slowly dying of his wounds even after Nynaeve and Moiraine pulled him and Moridin out of the Bore, and Perrin suggests summoning Elayne, Min and Aviendha as well to pay their last respects.
Rand dies from his wounds and a funeral service is held for him. But Elayne, Min and Aviendha know that Rand is actually alive, something that is also noticed by Cadsuane. It was Moridin who died and was burned on the pyre, and Rand, free of channeling and burdens both, rides free into the Fourth Age.