Prologue: Lews Therin Telamon is wandering a decimated castle looking for his wife Ilyena. Elan Moria Tedromai arrives and they have a conversation about how they've been fighting since the beginning of time, and how then points out that Ilyena is dead. Lews is crazy with grief and calls a huge lightnight bolt to destroy himself, and causes a huge volcano to appear where the castle once was.
Body: Rand al'Thor and Tam (his father) are walking into Emond's Field carrying a cart of cider. Upon arriving the town is excited about Bel Tine (harvest festival) but also uneasy that the Winter has not turned to spring. Animals aren't producing as much, and harvest is much smaller. Two strangers arrive in town, Lady Moiraine and an'Lan Mandragoran. A gleeman and a peddler arrive and the town council immediately takes the gleeman into the mayor's office to get news of the fighting in other areas, and the potential return of The Dragon.
After spending some time in town Tam and Rand return to their farm outside of town to find it's been attacked by Trollocs. They both escape but Tam is hurt quite badly and Rand builds a makeshift litter to carry him back to town to have the Wisdom heal him. arriving at the town, they find that Emond's Field was also attacked by Trollocs. After finding the Wisdom, she tells Rand that Tam can't be healed. Rand asks the mayor who defers to Lady Moiraine an Aes Sedai.
Lady Moirane is able to heal Tam. While Tam is recovering unconscious she tells Rand that the trollocs came looking for him or two of his friends (who are all the same age). Because of this she needs to take them to Tar Valon. Rand, Mat, Perrin, Thom the Gleeman, and Egwene all end up going with the Aes Sedai together. Even Bela (Rand's horse) goes on the journey.
Along the way they find that they're being followed. They reach a ferry in the middle of the night and bribe the ferryman to cross them. Moiraine creates a bunch of fog to cover their tracks, and also destroys the ferry so no one can follow them across.
At Baelon they all get a much needed bath, and some food. Thom entertains everyone with his Gleeman ways. Nyaneve catches up to them here and tries to convince them to return to Emond's Field. She has no luck and ultimately ends up going with them to ensure their safety. During the night Rand goes to the kitchen to get some food and a fade shows up. Tam scares it off and they all leave in the middle of the night.
On their way to Tar Valon they are pursed by Trollocs and Fades. After displaying some Aes Sedai fire power they divert to Aridhol an ancient crumbling city where the Trollocs won't pursue. The three boys sneak off in search of treasure and find Mordeth who tries to get them to help him load some "treasure" onto his horses. After revealing himself the boys run back to the group. Moirgaine scolds them and Lan returns with news that trollocs have entered the city.
After a brief battle with the Trollocs and Fade the group is split up into three groups. Perrin and Egwene end up in the river, and ultimately across it. Rand, Mat and Thom narrowly escape Trollocs and end up on a boat moored on the river. Moiraine, Lan, and Nyaeve end up tracking the other two groups hoping to meet up with them at Caemlyn.
Perrin and Egwene meet Elyas who speaks with the wolves and points out they're going the wrong direction. Together they all head towards Whitebridge with a brief stop at the Tinker camp. After spending a couple days at the tinker camp they're off towards Whitebridge. After walking for quite a while they come across some Ravens (eyes of the Dark One) and must proceed carefully. They're ultimately captured by some guards, and are separated from Elyas.
Rand, Mat, and Thom find some tension on the ship they're on as the crew doesn't like the fact that they were attacked by Trollocs following Rand. When the ship arrives at Whitebridge the captain offers to Ferry them all the way to Whitebridge if Thom will continue to entertain the crew. Not feeling comfortable they decline. A fade appears in Whitebrige and Thom sacrifices himself so Rand and Mat can get away.
Rand and Mat have a rough traveling time after that as the run into Dark Friends several times along the way. They make their way towards Caemlyn by performing tricks at each inn. Rand plays the flute, and Mat juggles. At the inn in Four Kings they are almost robbed, but lightning strikes the inn just in time and they're able to escape.
Mat and Rand finally arrive in Caemly and find the Queen's Blessing Inn that Thom recommended. The inn keeper there is friendly to their cause and allows to the stay free of charge. At the inn Rand meets Loial in the library, an almost ten foot tall Ogier he mistakes for a Trolloc. Rand wants to see the false dragon Logain so he climbs to the top of a small hill and on top of rock fence. He's startled and falls backwards off the fence where he meets Elaine and Gawyn, the queen's children. After a brief encounter with the guards Rand is brought before both Queen Morgase and Elaida. The queen shows mercy on his trespass and lets his go against Elaida's advice.
Meanwhile Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve finally catch up the Whitecloaks that kidnapped Perrin and Egwene. After Nynaeve frees the Whitecloak's horses (and Bela) to create a distraction, Moiraine brings lightning down on the camp while Lan helps Perrin and Egwene escape.
Finally the group all meets up at the Queen's Blessing. After hearing everyone's story Moiraine decides moving on to Tar Valon is not a good idea. With time running out she decides to go to Fal Dara and the Blight where the eye of the world is. Since the Caemlyn is crawling with Darkfriends and Whitecloaks they have to employs "The Ways" as a means to escape the town.
The ways are an ancient Ogier traveling mechanism. Basically they're gates between remote places. They enter one gate in Caemlyn and after traveling in a strange and dark place they exit just outside Fal Dara. After reaching the king at Fal Dara Padan Fain, the peddler from Emond's Field is shown to be following them. After Moiraine interrogates him she learns more of the Dark One's plan and they decide to set out for the blight at once.
The Blight is a strange place where the plants even seem to be against the heroes. After traveling up the mountain for quite some time they reach The Green Man who is reminiscent of an Ent. He agrees to take them to the eye. Once they are all at the eye Aginor and Balthamel arrive to kill them. The Green Man kills Balthamel but dies in the process. Aginor and Rand have a battle during which electricity kills Aginor apparent caused by Rand. Rand dreams of a castle where he sees Ba'alzemon, after a long conversation Rand "kills" Ba'alzemon.
After that the pool that contains the eye gives them a chest containing the Horn of Valere, and the banner of the Dragon. Lioal buries the Green Man and secures his grave site. They walk down the mountain to Fal Dara where they learn the battle of Tarwin's Gap was won. The group discusses what to do and where to.
See also: Chapter summary at Dragonmount