Since its debut in 1990, The Wheel of Time® by Robert Jordan has captivated millions of readers around the globe with its scope, originality, and compelling characters.
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
The seals of Shayol Ghul are weak now, and the Dark One reaches out. The Shadow is rising to cover humankind.
In Tar Valon, Min sees portents of hideous doom. Will the White Tower itself be broken?
In the Two Rivers, the Whitecloaks ride in pursuit of a man with golden eyes, and in pursuit of the Dragon Reborn.
In Cantorin, among the Sea Folk, High Lady Suroth plans the return of the Seanchan armies to the mainland.
In the Stone of Tear, the Lord Dragon considers his next move. It will be something no one expects, not the Black Ajah, not Tairen nobles, not Aes Sedai, not Egwene or Elayne or Nynaeve.
Against the Shadow rising stands the Dragon Reborn...
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About the Author
BRANDON SANDERSON grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He lives in Utah with his wife and children and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. He is the author of such bestsellers as the Mistborn® trilogy and its sequels, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning; the Stormlight Archive novels The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Oathbringer; and other novels, including The Rithmatist and Steelheart. In 2013, he won a Hugo Award for Best Novella for The Emperor's Soul, set in the world of his acclaimed first novel, Elantris. Additionally, he was chosen to complete Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time® sequence.
KATE READING is the recipient of multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards and has been named by AudioFile magazine as a “Voice of the Century,” as well as the Best Voice in Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2008 and 2009 and Best Voice in Biography & Culture in 2010. She has narrated works by authors such as Jane Austen, Robert Jordan, Edith Wharton, and Sophie Kinsella. Reading has performed at numerous theaters in Washington D.C. and received a Helen Hayes Award for her performance in Aunt Dan and Lemon. AudioFile magazine reports that, "With subtle control of characters and sense of pacing, Kate’s performances are a consistent pleasure."
MICHAEL KRAMER has narrated over 100 audiobooks for many bestselling authors. He read all of Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time® fantasy-adventure series as well as Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series. He received AudioFile magazine's Earphones Award for the Kent Family series by John Jakes and for Alan Fulsom's The Day After Tomorrow. Known for his “spot-on character portraits and accents, and his resonant, well-tempered voice” (AudioFile), his work includes recording books for the Library of Congress’s Talking Books program for the blind and physically handicapped.
Date of Birth:October 17, 1948
Date of Death:September 16, 2007
Place of Birth:Charleston, South Carolina
Place of Death:Charleston, South Carolina
Education:B.S. in physics, The Citadel, 1974
Read an Excerpt
Tears from Steel
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose around the alabaster spire known as the White Tower. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
The wind twisted around the magnificent Tower, brushing perfectly fitted stones and flapping majestic banners. The structure was somehow both graceful and powerful at the same time; a metaphor, perhaps, for those who had inhabited it for over three thousand years. Few looking upon the Tower would guess that at its heart, it had been both broken and corrupted. Separately.
The wind blew, passing through a city that seemed more a work of art than a workaday capital. Each building was a marvel; even the simple granite shopfronts had been crafted by meticulous Ogier hands to evoke wonder and beauty. Here a dome hinted at the form of a rising sun. There a fountain sprang from the top of a building itself, cresting what appeared to be two waves crashing together. On one cobbled street, a pair of steep three-story buildings stood opposite one another, each crafted into the form of a maiden. The marble creations — half-statue, half-dwelling — reached with stone hands toward one another as if in greeting, hair billowing behind, immobile, yet carved with such delicacy that every strand seemed to undulate in the wind's passing.
The streets themselves were far less grand. Oh, they had been laid out with care, radiating from the White Tower like streaks of sunlight. Yet that sunlight was dimmed by refuse and clutter, hints at the crowding the siege had caused. And perhaps the crowding wasn't the only reason for the disrepair. The storefront signs and awnings hadn't seen wash or polish in far too long. Rotting garbage piled where it had been dumped in alleys, drawing flies and rats but driving away all others. Dangerous toughs lounged on the street corners. Once, they'd never have dared do that, and certainly not with such arrogance.
Where was the White Tower, the law? Young fools laughed, saying that the city's troubles were the fault of the siege, and that things would settle down once the rebels were quelled. Older men shook their gray-streaked heads and muttered that things had never been this bad, even when the savage Aiel had besieged Tar Valon some twenty years previously.
Merchants ignored both young and old. They had their own problems, mainly on Southharbor, where trade into the city by way of the river had nearly come to a halt. Thick-chested workers toiled beneath the eyes of an Aes Sedai wearing a red- fringed shawl; she used the One Power to remove wards and weaken the stone, while the workmen broke the rock apart and hauled it away.
The workmen had sleeves rolled up, exposing curls of dark hair along burly arms, as they swung pick or hammer, pounding at the ancient stones. They dripped sweat onto rock or into the water below as they dug at the roots of the chain that blocked passage into the city by river. Half of that chain was now indestructible cuendillar, called heartstone by some. The effort to tear it free and allow passage into the city was an exhausting one; the harbor stoneworks — magnificent and strong, shaped by the Power itself — were only one of the more visible casualties of the silent war between the rebel Aes Sedai and those who held the Tower.
The wind blew through the harbor, where idling porters stood watching the workers chip the stones away, one by one, sending flakes of gray-white dust to float on the water. Those with too much sense — or perhaps too little — whispered that such portents could mean only one thing. Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle, must quickly be approaching.
The wind danced away from the docks, passing over the tall white bulwarks known as the Shining Walls. Here, at least, one could find cleanliness and attention in the Tower Guard who stood watch, holding bows. Clean-shaven, wearing white tabards free from stain or wear, the archers watched over their barricades with the dangerous readiness of snakes prepared to strike. These soldiers had no intention of letting Tar Valon fall while they were on duty. Tar Valon had repelled every enemy. Trollocs had breached the walls, but been defeated in the city. Artur Hawkwing had failed to take Tar Valon. Even the black-veiled Aiel, who had ravaged the land during the Aiel War, had never taken the city. Many claimed this as a great victory. Others wondered what would have happened if the Aiel had actually wanted to cross into the city.
The wind passed over the western fork of the River Erinin, leaving the island of Tar Valon behind, passing the Alindaer Bridge soaring high to the right, as if taunting enemies to cross it and die. Past the bridge, the wind swept into Alindaer, one of the many villages near Tar Valon. It was a village mostly depopulated, as families had fled across the bridge for refuge in the city. The enemy army had appeared suddenly, without warning, as if brought by a blizzard. Few wondered at it. This rebel army was headed by Aes Sedai, and those who lived in the White Tower's shadow rarely gambled on just what Aes Sedai could and couldn't do.
The rebel army was poised, but uncertain. Over fifty thousand strong, it camped in a massive ring of tents around the smaller camp of Aes Sedai. There was a tight perimeter between the inner camp and the outer one, a perimeter that had most recently been intended to exclude men, particularly those who could wield saidin.
Almost, one could think that this camp of rebels intended to set up permanently. It had an air of common daily life about its workings. Figures in white bustled about, some wearing formal novice dresses, many others clothed in near approximations. Looking closely, one could see that many of these were far from young. Some had already reached their graying. But they were referred to as "children," and obedient they were as they washed clothing, beat rugs, and scrubbed tents beneath the eyes of serene-faced Aes Sedai. And if those Aes Sedai glanced with uncommon frequency at the nail-like profile of the White Tower, one would be mistaken in assuming them uncomfortable or nervous. Aes Sedai were in control. Always. Even now, when they had suffered an indelible defeat: Egwene al'Vere, the rebel Amyrlin Seat, had been captured and imprisoned within the Tower.
The wind flicked a few dresses, knocked some laundry from its hangings, then continued westward in a rush. Westward, past towering Dragonmount, with its shattered and smoking apex. Over the Black Hills and across the sweeping Caralain Grass. Here, pockets of sheltered snow clung to shadows beneath craggy overhangs or beside the occasional stands of mountain blackwood. It was time for spring to arrive, time for new shoots to peek through the winter's thatch and for buds to sprout on the thin-branched willows. Few of either had actually come. The land was still dormant, as if waiting, holding its breath. The unnatural heat of the previous autumn had stretched well into winter, pressing upon the land a drought that had baked the life from all but the most vigorous plants. When winter had finally arrived, it had come in a tempest of ice and snow, a lingering, killing frost. Now that the cold had finally retreated, the scattered farmers looked in vain for hope.
The wind swept across brown winter grass, shaking the trees' still-barren branches. To the west, as it approached the land known as Arad Doman — cresting hills and short peaks — something suddenly slammed against it. Something unseen, something spawned by the distant darkness to the north. Something that flowed against the natural tide and currents of the air. The wind was consumed by it, blown southward in a gust, across low peaks and brown foothills to a log manor house, isolated, set upon the pine-forested hills in eastern Arad Doman. The wind blew across the manor house and the tents set up in the wide, open field before it, rattling pine needles and shaking tents.
Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, stood, hands behind his back as he looked out the open manor window. He still thought of them that way, his "hands," though he now had only one. His left arm ended in a stump. He could feel the smooth, saidar-healed skin with the fingers of his good hand. Yet he felt as if his other hand should be there to touch.
Steel, he thought. I am steel. This cannot be fixed, and so I move on.
The building — a thick-logged structure of pine and cedar after a design favored by the Domani wealthy — groaned and settled in the wind. Something on that wind smelled of rotten meat. Not an uncommon scent, these days. Meat spoiled without warning, sometimes only a few minutes after butchering. Drying it or salting it didn't help. It was the Dark One's touch, and it grew with each passing day. How long until it was as overwhelming, as oily and nauseating, as the taint that had once coated saidin, the male half of the One Power?
The room he stood in was wide and long, thick logs making up the outer wall. Planks of pine — still smelling faintly of sap and stain — made up the other walls. The room was furnished sparsely: fur rug on the floor, a pair of aged crossed swords above the hearth, furniture of wood with the bark left on in patches. The entire place had been decorated in a way to say that this was an idyllic home in the woods, away from the bustle of larger cities. Not a cabin, of course — it was far too large and lavish for that. A retreat.
"Rand?" a soft voice asked. He didn't turn, but felt Min's fingers touch his arm. A moment later, her hands moved to his waist and he felt her head rest upon his arm. He could feel her concern for him through the bond they shared.
Steel, he thought.
"I know you don't like —" Min began.
"The boughs," he said, nodding out the window. "You see those pines, just to the side of Bashere's camp?"
"Yes, Rand. But —"
"They blow the wrong direction," Rand said.
Min hesitated, and though she gave no physical reaction, the bond brought him her spike of alarm. Their window was on the upper floor of the manor, and outside of it, banners set above the camp flapped against themselves: the Banner of Light and the Dragon Banner for Rand, a much smaller blue flag bearing the three red kingspenny blossoms to mark the presence of House Bashere. All three flew proud ... yet just to the side of them, the needles on the pines blew in the opposite direction.
"The Dark One stirs, Min," Rand said. He could almost think these winds a result of his own ta'veren nature, but the events he caused were always possible. The wind blowing in two directions at once ... well, he could feel the wrongness in the way those pines moved, even if he did have trouble distinguishing the individual needles. His eyesight hadn't been the same since the attack on that day he'd lost his hand. It was as if ... as if he looked through water at something distorted. It was getting better, slowly.
This building was one in a long line of manors, estates and other remote hiding places Rand had used during the last few weeks. He'd wanted to keep moving, jumping from location to location, following the failed meeting with Semirhage. He'd wanted time to think, to consider, and hopefully time to confuse the enemies that might be searching for him. Lord Algarin's manor in Tear had been compromised; a pity. That had been a good place to stay. But Rand had to keep moving.
Below, Bashere's Saldaeans had set up a camp on the manor's green — the open patch of grass out front, bounded by rows of fir and pine trees. Calling it the "green" seemed an irony, these days. Even before the army's arrival, it hadn't been green — it had been a patchy brown, winter thatch broken only occasionally by hesitant new shoots. Those had been sickly and yellow, and they had now been trampled by hooves or booted feet.
Tents covered the green. From Rand's vantage on the second floor, the neat lines of small, peaked tents reminded him of squares on a stones board. The soldiers had noticed the wind. Some pointed, others kept their heads down, polishing armor, carrying buckets of water to the horselines, sharpening swords or lance points. At least it was not the dead walking again. The most firm-hearted of men could lose their will when spirits rose from their graves, and Rand needed his army to be strong.
Need. No longer was it about what Rand wanted or what he wished. Everything he did focused only on need, and what he needed most was the lives of those who followed him. Soldiers to fight, and to die, to prepare the world for the Last Battle. Tarmon Gai'don was coming. What he needed was for them all to be strong enough to win.
To the far left of the green, running below the modest hill where the manor rested, a twisting stream cut the ground, sprouting with yellow stickfinger reeds and scrub oak that had yet to send out spring buds. A small waterway, to be certain, but a fine source of fresh water for the army.
Just outside the window, the winds suddenly righted themselves, and the flags whipped around, blowing in the other direction. So it hadn't been the needles after all, but the banners that had been in the wrong. Min let out a soft sigh, and he could feel her relief, though she still worried about him. That emotion was perpetual, lately. He felt it from all of them, each of the four bundles of emotions tucked away in the back of his mind. Three for the women he had allowed to place themselves there, one for the woman who had forced her way in against his will. One of them was drawing closer. Aviendha, coming with Rhuarc to meet with Rand at the manor house.
Each of the four women would regret their decision to bond him. He wished he could regret his decision to let them — or, at least, his decision to allow the three he loved. But the truth was that he needed Min, needed her strength and her love. He would use her as he used so many others. No, there was no place in him for regret. He just wished he could banish guilt as easily.
Ilyena! a voice said distantly in Rand's head. My love. ... Lews Therin Telamon, Kinslayer, was relatively quiet this day. Rand tried not to think too hard about the things Semirhage had said on the day when Rand had lost his hand. She was one of the Forsaken; she would say anything if she thought it would bring her target pain.
She tortured an entire city to prove herself, Lews Therin whispered. She has killed a thousand men a thousand different ways to see how their screams would differ from one another. But she rarely lies. Rarely.
Rand pushed the voice away.
"Rand," Min said, softer than before.
He turned to look at her. She was lithe and slight of build, and he often felt that he towered over her. She kept her hair in short ringlets, the color dark — but not as dark as her deep, worried eyes. As always, she had chosen to wear a coat and trousers. Today, they were of a deep green, much like the needles on the pines outside. Yet, as if to contradict her tailored choice, she had had the outfit made to accentuate her figure. Silver embroidery in the shape of bonabell flowers ran around the cuffs, and lace peeked out from the sleeves beneath. She smelled faintly of lavender, perhaps from the soap she'd taken to most recently.
Why wear trousers only to trim herself up with lace? Rand had long abandoned trying to understand women. Understanding them would not help him reach Shayol Ghul. Besides, he didn't need to understand women in order to use them. Particularly if they had information he needed.
He gritted his teeth. No, he thought. No, there are lines I will not cross. There are things even I will not do.
"You're thinking about her again," Min said, almost accusatory.
He often wondered if there was such a thing as a bond that worked only one way. He would have given much for one of those.
"Rand, she's one of the Forsaken," Min continued. "She would have killed all of us without a second thought."
"She wasn't intending to kill me," Rand said softly, turning away from Min and looking out the window again. "Me she would have held."
Min cringed. Pain, worry. She was thinking of the twisted male a'dam that Semirhage had brought, hidden, when she'd come impersonating the Daughter of the Nine Moons. The Forsaken's disguise had been disrupted by Cadsuane's ter'angreal, allowing Rand to recognize Semirhage. Or, at least, allowing Lews Therin to recognize her.
The exchange had ended with Rand losing a hand but gaining one of the Forsaken as his prisoner. The last time he'd been in a similar situation, it hadn't ended well. He still didn't know where Asmodean had gone or why the weasel of a man had fled in the first place, but Rand did suspect that he had betrayed much about Rand's plans and activities.
Excerpted from "The Gathering Storm"
Copyright © 2009 The Bandersnatch Group, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE: What the Storm Means,
1 Tears from Steel,
2 The Nature of Pain,
3 The Ways of Honor,
5 A Tale of Blood,
6 When Iron Melts,
7 The Plan for Arad Doman,
8 Clean Shirts,
9 Leaving Malden,
10 The Last of the Tabac,
11 The Death of Adrin,
12 Unexpected Encounters,
13 An Offer and a Departure,
14 A Box Opens,
15 A Place to Begin,
16 In the White Tower,
17 Questions of Control,
18 A Message in Haste,
20 On a Broken Road,
21 Embers and Ash,
22 The Last That Could Be Done,
23 A Warp in the Air,
24 A New Commitment,
25 In Darkness,
26 A Crack in the Stone,
27 The Tipsy Gelding,
28 Night in Hinderstap,
29 Into Bandar Eban,
30 Old Advice,
31 A Promise to Lews Therin,
32 Rivers of Shadow,
33 A Conversation with the Dragon,
35 A Halo of Blackness,
36 The Death of Tuon,
37 A Force of Light,
38 News in Tel'aran'rhiod,
39 A Visit from Verin Sedai,
40 The Tower Shakes,
41 A Fount of Power,
42 Before the Stone of Tear,
43 Sealed to the Flame,
44 Scents Unknown,
45 The Tower Stands,
46 To Be Forged Again,
47 The One He Lost,
48 Reading the Commentary,
49 Just Another Man,
50 Veins of Gold,
EPILOGUE: Bathed in Light,