The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
May let fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
In the Prologue to Towers of Midnight, book thirteen of The Wheel of Time, Lan Mandragoran rides on toward death; Perrin Aybara, Lord Goldeneyes, has a disturbing dream; Galad leads the Whitecloaks into harm’s way; one who has left humanity behind creeps through the Blight; and the Blight border faces invasion.
As with the previous four titles in The Wheel of Time series, this prologue from Robert Jordan’s Towers of Midnight, completed by Brandon Sanderson, is available for sale before the book’s official release date (November 2, 2010).
About the Author
ROBERT JORDAN (October 17, 1948–September 16, 2007), a native of Charleston, South Carolina, was the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time®, with millions of books in print.
BRANDON SANDERSON grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University and lives in Utah with his wife and children.
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
Mandarb's hooves beat a familiar rhythm on broken ground as Lan Mandragoran rode toward his death. The dry air made his throat rough and the earth was sprinkled white with crystals of salt that precipitated from below. Distant red rock formations loomed to the north, where sickness stained them. Blight marks, a creeping dark lichen.
He continued riding east, parallel to the Blight. This was still Saldaea, where his wife had deposited him, only narrowly keeping her promise to take him to the Borderlands. It had stretched before him for a long time, this road. He'd turned away from it twenty years ago, agreeing to follow Moiraine, but he'd always known he would return. This was what it meant to bear the name of his fathers, the sword on his hip, and the hadori on his head.
This rocky section of northern Saldaea was known as the Proska Flats. It was a grim place to ride; not a plant grew on it. The wind blew from the north, carrying with it a foul stench. Like that of a deep, sweltering mire bloated with corpses. The sky overhead stormed dark, brooding.
That woman, Lan thought, shaking his head. How quickly Nynaeve had learned to talk, and think, like an Aes Sedai. Riding to his death didn't pain him, but knowing she feared for him ... that did hurt. Very badly.
He hadn't seen another person in days. The Saldaeans had fortifications to the south, but the land here was scarred with broken ravines that made it difficult for Trollocs to assault; they preferred attacking near Maradon.
That was no reason to relax, however. One should never relax, this close to the Blight. He noted a hilltop; that would be a good place for a scout's post. He made certain to watch it for any sign of movement. He rode around a depression in the ground, just in case it held waiting ambushers. He kept his hand on his bow. Once he traveled a little farther eastward, he'd cut down into Saldaea and cross Kandor on its good roadways. Then —
Some gravel rolled down a hillside nearby.
Lan carefully slid an arrow from the quiver tied to Mandarb's saddle. Where had the sound come from? To the right, he decided. Southward. The hillside there; someone was approaching from behind it.
Lan did not stop Mandarb. If the hoofbeats changed, it would give warning. He quietly raised the bow, feeling the sweat of his fingers inside his fawn-hide gloves. He nocked the arrow and pulled carefully, raising it to his cheek, breathing in its scent. Goose feathers, resin.
A figure walked around the southern hillside. The man froze, an old, shaggy-maned packhorse walking around beside him and continuing on ahead. It stopped only when the rope at its neck grew taut.
The man wore a laced tan shirt and dusty breeches. He had a sword at his waist, and his arms were thick and strong, but he didn't look threatening. In fact, he seemed faintly familiar.
"Lord Mandragoran!" the man said, hastening forward, pulling his horse after. "I've found you at last. I assumed you'd be traveling the Kremer Road!"
Lan lowered his bow and stopped Mandarb. "Do I know you?"
"I brought supplies, my Lord!" The man had black hair and tanned skin. Borderlander stock, probably. He continued forward, overeager, yanking on the overloaded packhorse's rope with a thick-fingered hand. "I figured that you wouldn't have enough food. Tents — four of them, just in case — some water too. Feed for the horses. And —"
"Who are you?" Lan barked. "And how do you know who I am?"
The man drew up sharply. "I'm Bulen, my Lord. From Kandor?"
From Kandor ... Lan remembered a gangly young messenger boy. With surprise, he saw the resemblance. "Bulen? That was twenty years ago, man!"
"I know, Lord Mandragoran. But when word spread in the palace that the Golden Crane was raised, I knew what I had to do. I've learned the sword well, my Lord. I've come to ride with you and —"
"The word of my travel has spread to Aesdaishar?"
"Yes, my Lord. El'Nynaeve, she came to us, you see. Told us what you'd done. Others are gathering, but I left first. Knew you'd need supplies."
Burn that woman, Lan thought. And she'd made him swear that he would accept those who wished to ride with him! Well, if she could play games with the truth, then so could he. Lan had said he'd take anyone who wished to ride with him. This man was not mounted. Therefore, Lan could refuse him. A petty distinction, but twenty years with Aes Sedai had taught him a few things about how to watch one's words.
"Go back to Aesdaishar," Lan said. "Tell them that my wife was wrong, and I have not raised the Golden Crane."
"I don't need you, son. Away with you." Lan's heels nudged Mandarb into a walk, and he passed the man standing on the road. For a few moments, Lan thought that his order would be obeyed, though the evasion of his oath pricked at his conscience.
"My father was Malkieri," Bulen said from behind.
Lan continued on.
"He died when I was five," Bulen called. "He married a Kandori woman. They both fell to bandits. I don't remember much of them. Only something my father told me: that someday, we would fight for the Golden Crane. All I have of him is this."
Lan couldn't help but look back as Mandarb continued to walk away. Bulen held up a thin strap of leather, the hadori, worn on the head of a Malkieri sworn to fight the Shadow.
"I would wear the hadori of my father," Bulen called, voice growing louder. "But I have nobody to ask if I may. That is the tradition, is it not? Someone has to give me the right to don it. Well, I would fight the Shadow all my days." He looked down at the hadori, then back up again and yelled, "I would stand against the darkness, al'Lan Mandragoran! Will you tell me I cannot?"
"Go to the Dragon Reborn," Lan called to him. "Or to your queen's army. Either of them will take you."
"And you? You will ride all the way to the Seven Towers without supplies?"
"Pardon me, my Lord, but have you seen the land these days? The Blight creeps farther and farther south. Nothing grows, even in once-fertile lands. Game is scarce."
Lan hesitated. He reined Mandarb in.
"All those years ago," Bulen called, walking forward, his packhorse walking behind him. "I hardly knew who you were, though I know you lost someone dear to you among us. I've spent years cursing myself for not serving you better. I swore that I would stand with you someday." He walked up beside Lan. "I ask you because I have no father. May I wear the hadori and fight at your side, al'Lan Mandragoran? My King?"
Lan breathed out slowly, stilling his emotions. Nynaeve, when next I see you ... But he would not see her again. He tried not to dwell upon that.
He had made an oath. Aes Sedai wiggled around their promises, but did that give him the same right? No. A man was his honor. He could not deny Bulen.
"We ride anonymously," Lan said. "We do not raise the Golden Crane. You tell nobody who I am."
"Yes, my Lord," Bulen said.
"Then wear that hadori with pride," Lan said. "Too few keep to the old ways. And yes, you may join me."
Lan nudged Mandarb into motion, Bulen following on foot. And the one became two.
Perrin slammed his hammer against the red-hot length of iron. Sparks sprayed into the air like incandescent insects. Sweat beaded on his face.
Some people found the clang of metal against metal grating. Not Perrin. That sound was soothing. He raised the hammer and slammed it down.
Sparks. Flying chips of light that bounced off his leather vest and his apron. With each strike, the walls of the room — sturdy leatherleaf wood — fuzzed, responding to the beats of metal on metal. He was dreaming, though he wasn't in the wolf dream. He knew this, though he didn't know how he knew.
The windows were dark; the only light was that of the deep red fire burning on his right. Two bars of iron simmered in the coals, waiting their turn at the forge. Perrin slammed the hammer down again.
This was peace. This was home.
He was making something important. So very important. It was a piece of something larger. The first step to creating something was to figure out its parts. Master Luhhan had taught Perrin that on his first day at the forge. You couldn't make a spade without understanding how the handle fit to the blade. You couldn't make a hinge without knowing how the two leaves moved with the pin. You couldn't even make a nail without knowing its parts: head, shaft, point.
Understand the pieces, Perrin.
A wolf lay in the corner of the room. It was large and grizzled, fur the color of a pale gray river stone, and scarred from a lifetime of battles and hunts. The wolf laid its head on its paws, watching Perrin. That was natural. Of course there was a wolf in the corner. Why wouldn't there be? It was Hopper.
Perrin worked, enjoying the deep, burning heat of the forge, the feel of the sweat trailing down his arms, the scent of the fire. He shaped the length of iron, one blow for every second beat of his heart. The metal never grew cool, but instead retained its malleable red-yellow.
What am I making? Perrin picked up the length of glowing iron with his tongs. The air warped around it.
Pound, pound, pound, Hopper sent, communicating in images and scents. Like a pup jumping at butterflies.
Hopper didn't see the point of reshaping metal, and found it amusing that men did such things. To a wolf, a thing was what it was. Why go through so much effort to change it into something else?
Perrin set the length of iron aside. It cooled immediately, fading from yellow, to orange, to crimson, to a dull black. Perrin had pounded it into a misshapen nugget, perhaps the size of two fists. Master Luhhan would be ashamed to see such shoddy work. Perrin needed to discover what he was making soon, before his master returned.
No. That was wrong. The dream shook, and the walls grew misty.
I'm not an apprentice. Perrin raised a thick- gloved hand to his head. I'm not in the Two Rivers any longer. I'm a man, a married man.
Perrin grabbed the lump of unshaped iron with his tongs, thrusting it down on the anvil. It flared to life with heat. Everything is still wrong. Perrin smashed his hammer down. It should all be better now! But it isn't. It seems worse somehow.
He continued pounding. He hated those rumors that the men in camp whispered about him. Perrin had been sick and Berelain had cared for him. That was the end of it. But still those whispers continued.
He slammed his hammer down over and over. Sparks flew in the air like splashes of water, far too many to come from one length of iron. He gave one final strike, then breathed in and out.
The lump hadn't changed. Perrin growled and grabbed the tongs, setting the lump aside and taking a fresh bar from the coals. He had to finish this piece. It was so important. But what was he making?
He started pounding. I need to spend time with Faile, to figure things out, remove the awkwardness between us. But there's no time! Those Light-blinded fools around him couldn't take care of themselves. Nobody in the Two Rivers ever needed a lord before.
He worked for a time, then held up the second chunk of iron. It cooled, turning into a misshapen, flattened length about as long as his forearm. Another shoddy piece. He set it aside.
If you are unhappy, Hopper sent, take your she and leave. If you do not wish to lead the pack, another will. The wolf's sending came as images of running across open fields, stalks of grain brushing along his snout. An open sky, a cool breeze, a thrill and lust for adventure. The scents of new rain, of wild pastures.
Perrin reached his tongs into the coals for the final bar of iron. It burned a distant, dangerous yellow. "I can't leave." He held the bar up toward the wolf. "It would mean giving in to being a wolf. It would mean losing myself. I won't do that."
He held the near-molten steel between them, and Hopper watched it, yellow pinpricks of light reflecting in the wolf's eyes. This dream was so odd. In the past, Perrin's ordinary dreams and the wolf dream had been separate. What did this blending mean?
Perrin was afraid. He'd come to a precarious truce with the wolf inside of him. Growing too close to the wolves was dangerous, but that hadn't prevented him turning to them when seeking Faile. Anything for Faile. In doing so, Perrin had nearly gone mad, and had even tried to kill Hopper.
Perrin wasn't nearly as in control as he'd assumed. The wolf within him could still reign.
Hopper yawned, letting his tongue loll. He smelled of sweet amusement.
"This is not funny." Perrin set the final bar aside without working on it. It cooled, taking on the shape of a thin rectangle, not unlike the beginnings of a hinge.
Problems are not amusing, Young Bull, Hopper agreed. But you are climbing back and forth over the same wall. Come. Let us run.
Wolves lived in the moment; though they remembered the past and seemed to have an odd sense for the future, they didn't worry about either. Not as men did. Wolves ran free, chasing the winds. To join them would be to ignore pain, sorrow and frustration. To be free ...
That freedom would cost Perrin too much. He'd lose Faile, would lose his very self. He didn't want to be a wolf. He wanted to be a man. "Is there a way to reverse what has happened to me?" Reverse? Hopper cocked his head. To go backward was not a way of wolves.
"Can I ..." Perrin struggled to explain. "Can I run so far that the wolves cannot hear me?"
Hopper seemed confused. No. "Confused" did not convey the pained sendings that came from Hopper. Nothingness, the scent of rotting meat, wolves howling in agony. Being cut off was not a thing Hopper could conceive.
Perrin's mind grew fuzzy. Why had he stopped forging? He had to finish. Master Luhhan would be disappointed! Those lumps were terrible. He should hide them. Create something else, show he was capable. He could forge. Couldn't he?
A hissing came from beside him. Perrin turned, surprised to see that one of the quenching barrels beside the hearth was boiling. Of course, he thought. The first pieces I finished. I dropped them in there.
Suddenly anxious, Perrin grabbed his tongs and reached into the turbulent water, steam engulfing his face. He found something at the bottom and brought it out with his tongs: a chunk of white-hot metal.
The glow faded. The chunk was actually a small steel figurine in the shape of a tall, thin man with a sword tied to his back. Each line on the figure was detailed, the ruffles of the shirt, the leather bands on the hilt of the tiny sword. But the face was distorted, the mouth open in a twisted scream.
Aram, Perrin thought. His name was Aram.
Perrin couldn't show this to Master Luhhan! Why had he created such a thing?
The figurine's mouth opened farther, screaming soundlessly. Perrin cried out, dropping it from the tongs and jumping back. The figurine fell to the wood floor and shattered.
Why do you think so much about that one? Hopper yawned a wide-jawed wolf yawn, tongue curling. It is common that a young pup challenges the pack leader. He was foolish, and you defeated him.
"No," Perrin whispered. "It is not common for humans. Not for friends."
The wall of the forge suddenly melted away, becoming smoke. It felt natural for that to happen. Outside, Perrin saw an open, daylit street. A city with broken-windowed shops.
"Malden," Perrin said.
A smoky, translucent image of himself stood outside. The image wore no coat; his bare arms bulged with muscles. He kept his beard short, but it made him look older, more intense. Did Perrin really look that imposing? A squat fortress of a man with golden eyes that seemed to glow, carrying a gleaming half-moon axe as large as a man's head.
There was something wrong about that axe. Perrin stepped out of the smithy, passing through the shadowy version of himself. When he did, he became that image, axe heavy in his hand, work clothes vanishing and battle gear replacing it.
He took off running. Yes, this was Malden. There were Aiel in the streets. He'd lived this battle, though he was much calmer this time. Before, he'd been lost in the thrill of fighting and of seeking Faile. He stopped in the street. "This is wrong. I carried my hammer into Malden. I threw the axe away."
A horn or a hoof, Young Bull, does it matter which one you use to hunt? Hopper was sitting in the sunlit street beside him.
"Yes. It matters. It does to me."
And yet you use them the same way.
A pair of Shaido Aiel appeared around a corner. They were watching something to the left, something Perrin couldn't see. He ran to attack them.
He sheared through the chin of one, then swung the spike on the axe into the chest of the other. It was a brutal, terrible attack, and all three of them ended on the ground. It took several stabs from the spike to kill the second Shaido.
Perrin stood up. He did remember killing those two Aiel, though he had done it with hammer and knife. He didn't regret their deaths. Sometimes a man needed to fight, and that was that. Death was terrible, but that didn't stop it from being necessary. In fact, it had been wonderful to clash with the Aiel. He'd felt like a wolf on the hunt.
When Perrin fought, he came close to becoming someone else. And that was dangerous.
Excerpted from "Towers of Midnight"
Copyright © 2010 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The entire book is included in Towers of Midnight. Don't waste your money, this is nothing but a grab for money, much as not releasing the ebook for several months. I am so disgusted that I wasted my money on this book that I will only read the others, not buy them.
This prologue while short for a WOT book is packed full of great moments that seriously get the reader ready for the books release. We get POV's from Lan (his first in the main series), Perrin (wow i am so tiered of this guy), [Spoiler] (Holy crap), Padan Fain (if you thought he was creepy before watch out), Galad (not bad but starting to show his Trakand colors) and a new character who we probably wont see again (because the Last Battle just got started). If your like me and cant wait for the book to be released in November this is a great appetizer. The only draw back in it was Perrin, but I have lost all respect for that guy.
BN should really warn people when they are just buying a few pages of a book. Or, they should give the person an option to apply the price to the real book. I read this book and loved it. However, got suckered into buying the preview, when I really wanted to buy the book.
Hey Irish_descent....do you not understand the idea behind a Prologue? I'm guessing no since you think "At worst this should have been included in Towers of Midnight as an intro chapter at best, it should never have been written" What would be the point of blowing your wad all in the first chapter, my friend? This is what a prologue does, it teases you and offers only a peak of what is coming.
Te description says published in 2010! Well it is 2011! I am too addicted to WOT to hit a dead end! I dont want to wait