This novel appears to be the most hated in the series based on Amazon, wracking in over 1500 one star ratings. I didn't think it was that bad though there were certainly parts that irritated me. The last novel concluded with Rand and Nyneave cleansing saidin. The first half of this novel takes place simultaneously, as Jordan shows us what all the characters were doing at that exact moment. Perrin and Mat do not feel the power being used, but due to the pull of the Pattern, they immediately realize that it has something to do with Rand. All the women that can channel feel the Power being used, and are worried about what this might mean. Thanks to their bond, Elayne and Aviendha also know it is related to Rand but not sure in what way.
Perrin is still looking for Faile, who is still held captive by the Shaido and a personal servant to Sevanna. His storyline actually almost got interesting but Perrin could not be distracted from his rescue effort. When Perrin and his forces visit a town to replenish their foodstocks, it turns out there is something odd about the area. Unfortunately, Jordan doesn't pursue this too much - yes, there are maggots/weevils in the grain, and apparently the town is haunted by ghosts but rather than investigating what is causing this or helping the people, Perrin decides to leave to save Faile.
Egwene is back, and continues her seige of the White Tower started two novels ago. Gawyn even makes a short appearance in the prologue but of course doesn't know what's going, who's sided with whom and continues to support the White Tower as a result. Given that all these people know how to Travel, communicate in dreams couldn't his sister or lover maybe drop by and explain exactly what's going? Just an update, really. "Hey bro, I'm alive, I'm queen, Elaida's a bitch. Egwene's the Amyrlin Seat and I'm pregnant." No? Egwene continues to suffer from headaches caused by Halima, a Forsaken in disguise, and a few people are murdered in the camp by Halima as well. Egwene for the most part handles her opposition deftly, but one thing that did irritate me was everyone's reaction to the incident with all the Power. Their very first assumption is that it is the Forsaken, and when they send out a recon party to investigate the area, they still assume it was a horrible weapon wielded by the Forsaken. So, whatever happened left Shadar Logoth, a place of unspeakable evil that even Trollocs fear, destroyed and you think the bad guys did it? This does, however, lead the women to think they might have to forge an alliance with the Black Tower. Oddly enough, a few people in the White Tower are beginning to have similar thoughts.
There are a few chapters with Mat but not very exciting ones. He is now traveling with the same circus that Elayne and Nynaeve once found refuge with, and trying to understand the Seachan noble, Tuon, he is destined to marry. I can't say much of significance happens, though Tuon is revealed as someone that keeps her word. The Aes Sedai of course act like children because that's how Jordan writes most of these supposedly strong women.
Meanwhile, Elayne and Aviendha become sisters by Aiel tradition, Elayne takes a bath, and tries to garner support while being irritated with the way she is treated due to her pregnancy. I'd be pissed as well to be treated as an incubator at only a month pregnant. However, I also can't help but think how stupid Elayne is - have sex with Rand in secret, it's all good. However, from everything we have learned about Andor, it is one of the more conservative societies, so maybe hold off on the pregnancy until the throne is secure. Her mother may have had lovers but this was after she had already done the political thing and had an acceptable heir to the throne while married to another noble.
So yes, there wasn't really that much going on in this novel. Parts of it weren't bad to read but I really don't even feel like I have to give spoiler alerts at this point because there was nothing to spoil. The novels are weird because it's hard to say if there is dramatic tension. Things might take forever to happen but the reader knows everything is going to work out: everybody ends up with the person they like, not even Rand had to make a choice between three women, and so far only one important character has died, so there is really no worry about sacrifices. Compare that to George R.R. Martin where so many beloved characters have died or the show The Vampire Diaries - so many characters died in the first season, some of whom I was rooting for and a bit attached to. I entirely expect Rand's prophesied death to be symbolic, and everyone will end up living happily ever after with a few scars.