|Waiting for Winter's Heart
To clear up one thing right away, the title of book 9 is not The Fisher King, Towers of Midnight, A Song of Ages, The Cliffs of Fire, Tower of Ravens, A Broken Seal, The Spears of Dawn, The Breaking of the Storm, or even The Return of Lanfear! The ninth book in the series will be titled Winter's Heart, announced and confirmed by Tor.
So what does it mean? Well, the obvious interpretation is - it's winter. In fact, it may not be winter, technically speaking, as the Dark One and now the Bowl of the Winds have been playing havoc with the concept of seasonal weather, but for all practical purposes it is winter and a particularly cold winter at that. That's so obvious, though, that it clearly isn't all there is to it.
Offhand, the only use of the phrase "winter's heart" I can recall prior to the announcement of the title was in The Fires of Heaven, to describe Lanfear's smile. I am reliably informed that there are others, but let's start with that one. The phrase was used just before Lanfear, with Moiraine right behind her, went tumbling through the doorway ter'angreal that she was foolish enough to stand in front of while engaged in battle. As it's about time we heard some news of what went on after that fall, this might just be a hint from Jordan that we're going to hear it soon.
The Moiraine question was one that I neglected to discuss in A Book By Any Other Name, but my answer to it can be summed up very quickly: She's alive! A lot of people seem to take the fact that Lanfear died, as evidenced by her reappearance as Cyndane, as proof that Moiraine must also have died (or alternatively that since Moiraine is clearly alive, Lanfear could not have died and Cyndane must be someone else). However, this doesn't have to be the case. On the surface it seems logical that since they went through the doorway together, they shared the same fate, or that Lanfear, being the stronger of the pair, defeated Moiraine. But there are several ways Lanfear could have died while leaving Moiraine alive.
Lanfear might have attempted to make a bargain with the Eelfinn (assuming for the sake of conciseness that the Eelfinn are the ones reached through that doorway) and not succeeded quite as she expected.
"I want a way out of here!"
"Certainly," the Eelfinn say, and free her soul from their realm by killing her.
They might just have killed her without bothering to bargain. After all, Lanfear is a Forsaken, and we know that the Aelfinn, at least, have low opinions of anything touching the Shadow.
Lanfear might have been burned out or killed when Moiraine grabbed her angreal away. This probably isn't the case, however, as in The Path Of Daggers Rand was neither burned out nor killed when Callandor was knocked out of his hand.
Moiraine might have killed her. Using the angreal she had just taken, or according to Shadar's favourite theory, using her belt knife, as she killed Merean in New Spring.
In other words, Lanfear's death does not in the least imply Moiraine's death.
I don't think that Moiraine will be back in Winter's Heart, (or if she is, it'll be right at the end) but I do think we'll learn a little more of what happened, and see Thom's point of view with him pondering about what happened to her - and maybe heading out to the Tower of Ghenjei or into Tel'aran'rhiod. Or a slightly ironic twist - for the doorway in Tear, to ask the Aelfinn "Is Moiraine Damodred alive? Where is she now? How can I rescue her?"
So much for that storyline. Continuing right on, I have just been informed that "winter's heart" or similar phrases have also been used in connection with Rand and Lan. Well, Rand is certainly likely to play a major part in Winter's Heart and following books (despite the appeal of the 'Perrin got left out of a book, Mat got left out of a book, it must be Rand's turn' idea) and there has been a good deal of talk among fans about the 'teaching Rand laughter and tears' pact between Cadsuane and Sorilea, which seems to relate. One translation of the Karaethon Cycle states:
Soul of fire, heart of stone, in pride he conquers, forcing the proud to yield. He calls upon the mountains to kneel, and the seas to give way, and the very skies to bow. Pray that the heart of stone remembers tears, and the soul of fire, love.
Winter's heart, heart of stone. Close enough for me.
As for Lan, at least a part of that is obvious. A frozen heart thawed by love applies to more than one character. Lan may have a larger part to play in the upcoming book, though - especially since we haven't seen his point of view anywhere other than New Spring. Speaking of which, it would be interesting if we met up with one or more of the characters from there - Edeyn in particular. And isn't it about time we heard something about a resurrected Malkier?
A few more predictions (on subjects not covered in A Book By Any Other Name, as there's not much point in writing about them in two book 9 essays):
Birgitte will die. See A Silver Arrow. (You didn't think I'd get through this without referring you to at least one other essay, did you?)
Rina, the Aes Sedai Elyas is bonded to, will make an appearance. (If she hasn't already - I rather like the theory someone came up with of Rina being a nickname for Verin. Rin/Rina, you see.) Most likely this will be done very subtly, and in a context unrelated to Elyas, so that only the alert readers who recognise the name will work out who she is until Jordan decides to hit us with it.
We'll find out, or at least get some substantial clues, whether Sammael is dead or alive.
Ditto for who killed Asmodean. (Graendal?)
Taim will be revealed as Demandred, to readers at least, but maybe not to Rand just yet.
Setalle Anan will be revealed as an ex-Aes Sedai, most likely Martine Janata.
For now, that's it. When it arrives, I'll write Thoughts on Winter's Heart and see how much I got right.