The Fires of Heaven primarily follows the stories of Rand, Egwene, Avienda, Moriaine and Lan in their pursuit of Couladin and the Shaido and Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom and Juilin attempting to return to the Tower after their exploits in Tanchico.
Rand and his companions begin the story departing Rhuidean in pursuit of Couladin, who has taken the Shaido out of the three-fold-land and into Cairhein. Before departing Rhuidean, Moiraine loads the merchant wagons up with as many of the objects of power as she can fit from Rhuidean. She seemed particularly concerned with the twisted door frame ter’angreal that Matt passed through while in Rhuidean.
During the pursuit of Couladin, Rand and Aviendha grow closer, eventually consummating their relationship, after Aviendha attempted to flee her feelings for Rand through a gateway into Seanchan territory. Aviendha revealed to Rand that she had foreseen that she would fall in love with Rand when she visited the three rings in Rhuidean, which reveal all of the possible branches a person’s life might take, though they remember only a few. However, due to Aviendha’s view that her near-sister Elayne has a pre-exisiting claim on Rand, Aviendha tells Rand that their romantic encounter would be a one time thing and she would deal with discharging her toh with Elayne when she next saw her.
Rand’s relationship with Moiraine also evolved on the journey. In her desperation to get him to listen to her counsel, Moiraine agreed to obey Rand’s commands, which was a source of conflict between Rand and Egwene, who felt Rand was becoming unreasonably arrogant.
Egwene continued her training as a Dreamwalker and learned how to speak to other people in their dreams, though she continued to forge ahead on her own against the wishes of the Wise Ones.
Aviendha also progressed in her training as a Wise One and began studying channeling with Egwene and Moiraine, greatly increasing her ability with the One Power.
Once Rand and his companions caught up to Couladin at Cairhein, he wanted to confront Couladin one on one and kill him with his sword, but the Maidens and his other companions convinced him to remain with Egwene and Aviendha and use the One Power to assist the Aiel warriors in battle.
Matt attempted to leave before the battle began, but found himself in the thick of things and using the battle knowledge he had gained from the memories gifted him in the twisted stone door ter’angreal to lead a band of Cairhein and Tairen soldiers to several key victories and ultimately kill Couladin in single combat. In recognition for his combat prowess, many of the soldiers volunteered to form a company called the Band of the Red Hand under Matt’s command.
During the fight with the Shaido, Sammel attacked Rand and his companions with the One Power, injuring Rand, Egwene and Aviendha and killing a number of Maidens in the process. Rand vowed to try to keep the Maidens out of danger after that fight.
Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom and Juilan encountered Galad, who had joined the Whitecloaks, while attempting to return to the Tower. Galad wanted to haul the pair of them back to Caemlyn, but they managed to forestall him.
After learning that the Siuan had been deposed and the White Tower had split from a number of different sources, Nynaeve and Elayne determined to try to find the group of Blues and other Aes Sedai that Nynaeve had discovered were gathering in Salidar, while she was riffling through Elaida’s papers in Tel’aran’rhiod. Unfortunately, Nynaeve couldn’t quite remember the name of the town.
The girls, along with Thom and Juilin, determined to hide themselves in a traveling menagerie while they searched for Salidar, in the hopes of avoiding entanglements with Galad and the Whitecloaks. After having one of the Tower’s agents attempt to drug them with a herb that prevented channeling and haul them back to the Tower, they also hoped to avoid further problems with Elaida’s supporters.
While in Tel’aran’rhiod, both Nynaeve and Elayne encountered a hero tied to the Wheel named Birgette, who agreed to help them spy on the Forsaken. While listening in on a meeting where several of the Forsaken were plotting to draw Rand into a trap by baiting him into attacking Sammael, Birgette and Nynaeve were discovered and attacked by Moghedian.
Moghedian immobilized, shielded and tortured Nynaeve, until Birgette shot her with an arrow, allowing Nynaeve to escape. However, in the process, Moghedian ripped Birgette out of Tel’aran’rhiod, causing her to appear in the waking world, but in an extremely weakened state. In order to save her life, Elayne bonded Birgette as a Warder.
Panicked by the fact that Moghedian had discovered they were traveling with a menagerie, Nynaeve sought assistance in finding a ship from Masema, who was now calling himself The Prophet and stirring up a lot of trouble, and Galad. Elayne revealed the plot against Rand to Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod, but kept Birgette’s identity a secret.
Nynaeve finally remembered the name of the town and both Galad and Masema attempted to secure a ship for her, setting off an eruption of deadly riots and the destruction and flight of most of the menageries. With the assistance of Thom, Juilin, Galad and the Shienaran soliders who were not followers of Masema, Nynaeve and Elayne were able to board a ship and travel to Salidar. Along the way they picked up three companions, who were refugees on the ship.
Once in Salidar, Nynaeve and Elayne were tasked with teaching the Aes Sedai how to use the ter’angreal that allowed access to Tel’aran’rhiod that they had taken from the Black Ajah. Nynaeve also began giving Siuan private instruction, in exchange for Siuan’s agreement to allow her to study her, Leane and Logain to determine if stilling could be healed.
Siuan had arrived in Salidar, along with Min and Leane prior to the girl’s arrival and convinced them to allow Siuan to run their eyes and ears network. She also convinced them that the Red Ajah had convinced Logain to become a false dragon, so that they could pull him down, in order to push them into attempting to depose Elaida, instead of hiding out in Salidar. She also convinced them to form their own Hall and raise their own Amyrlin.
Min revealed to Elayne that she had, had a viewing that she would fall in love with Rand and have to share him with two other women, one of which was Elyane. The pair agreed not to let Rand stand in the way of their friendship.
Thom, Juilin, Uno and the other Shienarans offered to assist Elayne and Nynaeve in fleeing Salidar and returning to Rand, but they decided to stay and the men agreed to assist Gareth Bryne, who had been convinced to form and lead an army to assist the Salidar Aes Sedai in retaking the White Tower.
Back in Cairhein, while Rand was attempting to maneuver the Cairhein nobels in preparation to hand the throne over to “someone with a claim,” Rand learned from Matt, who he sent on a scouting mission, that Rahvin had crowned himself king in Andor and Morgase was missing and presumed dead.
Unknown to Rand, Morgase had actually fled Andor, along with a solider named Tallanvor, her old nurse Lini, Basil Gill, and a street tough and his girlfriend. She had intended to seek the aid of her former general Gareth Bryne, but upon discovering he had left Kore Springs in pursuit of Siuan, she headed for Amadicia instead.
Grieved that Elayne’s mother had been killed while he was too busy dealing with Cairhein to do anything about Rahvin, Rand vowed to travel to Camelyn and kill Rahvin. Though he meant to run off alone, he was convinced to take Egwene, Aviendha, Moiraine and as many Aiel warriors as he could transport, but before he could leave, Moiraine insisted he come to the docks to see something.
Once at the docks, a jealous Lanfear, who had learned Rand had slept with Aviendha, attacked the group, capturing and torturing Egwene and Aviendha. When Rand refused to become Lanfear’s lover, Lanfear lashed out at him and nearly killed him, because he could not bring himself to kill Lanfear, because she was a woman. During Rand’s battle with Lanfear, Moiraine pushed her into the stone doorframe ter’angreal, where it was presumed that they both died.
A letter Moiraine had written Rand before her death revealed that she had foreseen the battle with Lanfear in the rings in Rhuidean. According to her, if she had not sacrificed herself to kill Lanfear, Rand would have either died or been consumed by Lews Therin and ended up Lanfear’s devoted lover. She also left a letter for Rand to deliver to Thom, but Rand did not read it.
After Moiraine’s death, Rand was confronted by the Maidens, who were angry that Rand had planned to leave them behind when he confronted Rahvin. Rand agreed to no longer try to protect the Maidens. Lan departed, advising Rand that his bond had been passed to another and asking him to tell Nynaeve that he had found a new love and to forget him and advising Rand to do the same with any woman he loved.
Meanwhile, Matt’s Aiel lover attempted to kill him and revealed herself to be a Darkfriend in the service of Sammael, which prompted Matt to accompany Rand to confront Rahvin, along with Aviendha, Asmodean and a number of Aiel. Egwene stayed behind due to injuries suffered at the hands of Lanfear.
When Rand arrived in Camelyn, he set off wards set by Rahvin and was immediately set upon by lightning which killed Matt, Aviendha and Asmodean. Rand continued on to pursue Rahvin, while the Aiel fought Trollocs in the city.
Back in Salidar, Nynaeve spotted Moghedian spying on her and Siuan in Tel’aran’rhiod and attempted to flee, but Moghedian followed and attempted to capture her. Birgitte, using the stone ring ter’angreal, arrived in Tel’aran’rhiod and distracted Moghedian long enough for Nynaeve to capture her with an a’dam she created by manipulating the dream.
Moghedian revealed to Nynaeve that Rand had walked into a trap and Nynaeve determined to use Moghedian’s power, via the a’dam, to assist Rand in battling Rahvin. After traveling to the palace in Andor, Nynaeve discovered that Rand and Rahvin had entered Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh during their battle. Nynaeve was able to sneak up behind Rahvin while he was pre-occupied with Rand and attack and gravely injure him with fire, when Rahvin turned to confront her, Rand destroyed him with a powerful burst of balefire.
Once Rand returned to the waking world and left the palace, he discovered that due the balefire’s effect of erasing Rahvin’s past actions, Matt, Aviendha and Asmodean were alive and busy fighting Trollocs. Rand helped the Aiel defeat the remaining Trollocs.
Nynaeve revealed to Moghedian that she knew she must have been in Salidar to know the things she knew and drugged the woman with forkroot tea and advised her she would find her soon in the waking world.
The story ended with Rand meeting up with Davram Bashere, general of the Saldaen army, who were in pursuit of Mazram Taim. Rand revealed his plan to offer an amnesty to any man who could channel, including Taim, in order to build an army to fight the new dreadlords in the Last Battle.
Meanwhile, Asmodean stumbled across someone he knew, but who was not revealed to the reader, who killed him.