A Memory of Light, Part VII

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the next to final week of this read along.

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is the host and can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers  has in-depth answers.

This week, we covered Chapter 37, entitled ‘The Last Battle’. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  What did you think of the structure?  That is, one huge chapter with no breathers.  Was it appropriate for the battle, or did you find the difference from before jarring?

I thought the structure worked. We got to see the battle from several view points and I never felt like I had battle fatigue. In fact, I am eager to see what the final week brings, because things are still happening!

2.  Tuon orchestrates a fight with Mat, and decides to return only after some careful deliberations.  Ice-cold gamble or foolhardy move by Mat?  Am I the only one who thinks the Seanchan have gotten away with very little fighting so far?

I was surprised that Tuon agreed to the fake (or semi-fake) argument as she can get stuck on what is appropriate for her station.

But then I was more surprised that she was actually contemplating not returning to the battle! Has she not been paying attention? Ugh! I wanted Min to give her a slap.

And yes, the Seanchan as a whole have not been as engaged in the Last Battle as everyone else. I hope Mat can change that. After all, they do have a sizable force made up of competent warriors and a solid command structure.

3.  Androl and Pevara spend much of the battle behind enemy lines to recover the seals, practicing telepathy and other fascinating effects.  Why not another lava trick?  Logain also challenge Demandred.  What do you think of his motivations?  Where will his glory come from?

I think it is great that Androl and Pevara are exploring this double bond and also building a solid friendship (and perhaps something more?). Maybe Androl isn’t capable of such a big trick unless he is the recipient of a circle of channelers? Still, it would be cool if he made tiny little gateways that shot out little lava streams. That would distract the bad guys, if nothing else.

I think Logain wants to do good, but his time in captivity has also made him want to lash out. It really does remind me of Rand shortly after he was released from the Aes Sedai and their box. I am not sure where his glory will come from. I had hoped that he would get to take out Taim, but we saw that he did not. Perhaps Mogedien or Padan Fain? They’re lurking around somewhere, right?

4.  In the meantime, Rand and the Dark One exchange visions for the future.  What do you think of all these?  Can Rand really kill the Dark One now?

This was unexpected, but I really liked it. A few weeks ago, I asked if the Dark One could be killed, because he/it was kind of like a force of nature or Elemental. Now that we have seen this exchange of visions, including one in which the Dark One and evil no longer exists, we see that life would not be balanced or complete. So, no, I think Rand will have to find a way to contain or minimize the Dark One.

5.  Some choose not to fight for various reasons.  What do you think of Ila’s thoughts on violence, now, at the Last Battle?  Did you expect the gai’shain to fight?  Any difference between them and the reluctant mercenaries from the prologue?

The forces of the Dark are not going to give quarter. They are not interested in taking captives, except maybe a select few. They are not interested in a swift and honorable defeat of the enemy and will then rule in relative peace and efficiency (like the Seanchan). No, the Trollocs want to kill you and then eat you. The Red Aiel are literally mad with blood lust. The Sharans will enslave at best, and torture and kill at worst. The elderly, the young, the weak, the inebriated will not be spared. Essentially, if the Dark wins and you are left alive, you will wish you were dead.

So, it’s silly to try healing Trollocs, or simply turning them free to run wild in a lightly populated place. I think the Aiel as a whole will understand if the gai’shain pick up arms and fight at this time. I am sure there can be a way found to ‘regain’ any honor lost in such an act. And, yes, I think there is a philosophical difference between the gai’shain and the reluctant mercenaries – honor versus coin. But in practicality, no. They all need to get armed and get busy.

6.  Faile and Co. make it to the battle, only to be betrayed by Aravine.  Do you think anyone other than Olver made it out (Faile, especially)?  What did you think of Bela’s heroic death?  Where does the Horn go from here?

Aravine! Argh! Dark friends pop up in such inconvenient places.

I am not sure if Faile made it out alive. She was horsed and uninjured when she lead off the Trollocs. But it is a messy battle field. Quite frankly, if Faile dies I will be sorry for Perrin’s loss but not particularly sad that Faile is gone.

Fuck! Bela! Man, that was hard. She was there from the beginning. She will be mourned.

I am not sure how Olver will get the Horn to Mat. Perhaps Mat will figure out somehow that Olver has the Horn and will borrow one of the Seanchan flying beasties, swoop down, pick up the boy, and then boy fly to glory blowing the Horn!

7.  Gawyn, Galad and Lan all decide to challenge Demandred.  Gawyn pays the ultimate price: foolish move, or a reasonable gamble to remove the most dangerous enemy on the field?  Galad tries to avenge him, and fails, only for Lan to do the deed and finally fulfill his series-long death wish.  What do you think of these events?

Demandred is definitely a bad ass, even if he is an arrogant ass. So I think we all saw it coming that Gawyn would attempt something foolish with his fighting skills and the Seachan assassin rings. However, I didn’t see him be quite this foolish and accomplishing nothing. He didn’t even wound Demandred nor take out some key commanders in Demandred’s army. I was surprised that there was such an empty death for Gawyn.

I thought it was interesting that Mat sent Galad a note and the necklace with the duplicate foxhead medallion. Mat actually does do a lot of thinking, but I guess he has to be under some pressure for it to manifest.

Lan has been looking for his death since before we met him. So I am not surprised that he found it on this battlefield (though we haven’t seen his head on a spike nor had Nynaeve feel his last breath yet – resurrection?).

8.  Egwene, having lost her warder and husband, slays M’Hael (WITH a sa’angreal) and then lays waste to the Sharans, and kills herself, Lews Therin style.  Did you expect Egwene to be the first out of the original crew?  Was her fate sealed already when Gawyn died?  What will her legacy be, as Amyrlin?  And what of this new weave—the Flame of Tar Valon?

I was not expecting Egwene to die at all, even with Gawyn’s death! This totally surprised me. Yet, I was OK with it. This is the Last Battle and I don’t think everyone is going to make it out alive. After all, we have several heroes in the series and sometimes heroes die spectacularly.

As to Egwene’s legacy, well I expect all these crystals she created in sealing cracks will become pretty valuable. Maybe even turned into angreals of some sort. Also, nearly all her words were recorded for some reason or another, so I think the aes sedai who are left will take greater heed of them.

I think this new weave, the Flame of Tar Valon, will be very, very hard to teach without turning oneself into a giant crystal pillar. It will be studied, as best it can be, and written about ad naseum. But I am not sure anyone will be able to duplicate it until the Wheel turns again and we have another Last Battle and the need is great.

9.  Elayne, having suffered huge losses for the whole battle, is taken by Mellar, threatening to cut her babies out.  What will come of this?  Is Birgitte now permanently dead, or is she just waiting on the other side for the Horn to blow?

OK, as incompetent as Elayne is, I don’t particularly want to see her dead through said incompetence. Sigh….who will save Elayne this time? Bryne is gone, Bashere too. Birgitte too. Maybe Mat will blow that Horn soon and Birgitte’s first act will be to save Elayne’s ass one more time.

And yes, I totally think Birgitte is waiting in the ethereal wings for the Horn to blow.

10. Anything else you feel I missed?  Ogier?  Dragons?  The beautiful Shendla?  Demandred’s approach to the battle?  All the minor deaths: Hurin, Mr. and Mrs. Bashere, Bryne and, dare I say Siuan?  Min’s spy-hunting?  Leilwin?

There was so much in this chapter! I am pretty sure Siuan and Bryne are gone. Min’s visions don’t lie and they did separate in order to get some things done. I was worried how Egwene would take the loss of one of her closest advisors (Siuan) but with Egwene’s death, that is no longer a concern.

If Faile lives, I am sure she will take the loss of her parents hard. Though they did pass in glory, so that will be celebrated. Faile is enough of a warrior to see that.

Egwene freed Leilwin from the Bond before doing her last act, right? So, I am sure Leilwin will mourn her in some way, but she won’t be crushed by it. Perhaps she and Bayle will go on to do some more good deeds.

Since the Seanchan aren’t doing too much at the moment, I guess Min has time to hunt for spies. I wouldn’t be surprised by how many she might uncover.

8 thoughts on “A Memory of Light, Part VII”

  1. 1. I quite liked it. I suppose it was designed to put the reader into the mindset of the characters, who got no respite. As Pevara noted, a battle is not a sprint, but a soul-grinding trudge. And as great as this chapter is, it’s not exactly read as a sprint, either.

    2. I can perhaps agree with Mat that this deceit was necessary, and that it had to be the Seanchan, because otherwise it wouldn’t be believable, but I can’t help but feel that the Seanchan have got off unfairly easily so far. They joined late and now spent the most dire part of the battle lunging about waiting for the call to return, and Tuon wasn’t even sure she wanted to do that! Psh…

    3. There are plenty of channelers to go around. I’m not sure why the forces of the light haven’t decided to reproduce the lava trick. Maybe Demandred with his sa’angreal could have prevented it easily? I don’t know.

    Pevara and Androl are as always a delight to see, and it seems we haven’t yet seen the end of what double bonding can provide. I had to snort when Taim disguised Androl as Androl. My only regret is that he probably didn’t find out who had dunnit it before he died.

    Logain does well, but his motivations are suspect. I hope we get to see his glory moment before the end, and I hope it involves him doing something selflessly for a change. Up until now I’m not impressed.

    4. Some very interesting visions here. Particularly the last three, and definitely the “nothingness.” Whatever else, the Dark One clearly has respect for Rand as an adversary. Clearly the idea of killing the Dark One is now dead. I didn’t need Rand’s internal monologue to tell me that the Elayne we saw in that vision was totally wrong. What else is there to do? I can’t say too much about the resolution of this plotline, so more on that next week.

    5. I find it hard to differentiate the gai’shain and the mercenaries, to be honest. The mercenaries value money, and the gai’shain value honor. In choosing not to fight, they are both elevating personal values above the future of humanity, no? Aiel have been berating each other for being overproud for the entire series. How is this any different?

    Besides, unlike the Tuatha’an, the gai’shain are presumably excellent fighters.

    6. Yeah, Aravine was surprising. Faile may not be highly liked but she vindicated herself here I think. Bela was brilliant, outdoing herself not only once but twice. I have read that of all the deaths Sanderson had to write, this was the hardest one for him. But Harriet (RJ’s wife) insisted that Bela had to die.

    As for the Horn, read on and see. 🙂

    7. As for Gawyn, I can’t fault the idea as such. Demandred was extremely dangerous and Gawyn must have felt that, with the rings, he stood a decent chance. That’s fine, I don’t mind. But surely he could have mentioned it to Egwene first? He must have known that his death would endanger Egwene, and by extension, the whole battle.

    I really liked Galad in his vengeful mode, having learned that Rand is his half-brother. It was a shocker when Demandred dispatched him, too, since we have learned quite thoroughly that Galad is by quite a bit a better swordsman than Gawyn.

    Lan’s crusade was brilliant to read. It will go down as one of the greatest duels in the genre, no doubt. And, as Sue pointed out, this was foreshadowed since the beginning of book two!

    8. Yes, I was also very surprised when I read, for the first time, that Egwene died. I might be rationalizing, but in hindseight her fierceness from previous books makes her look as one of those characters that burn brightly but not for long. Unfortunately there was no room in the Fourth Age for her. I do think, in many ways, her love for Gawyn led her towards this ending, but she would likely not have done anything differently had she known. And throughout the Fourth Age, Amyrlins and Aes Sedai alike will learn from her as she learned from those before her.

    9. God damn, Mellar freaks me out. It’s high time someone dispatched this asshole to the depths of wherever it is dead Darkfriends go. Birgitte is dead, but the Horn might be blown very soon, so we will find the answer to the question of what happenes to her, after her unconventional entry into the real world. 😉

    10. This was mentioned previously, but there are some deleted sequences from Demandred’s point of view in Shara published in the ‘Unfettered’ anthology under the name ‘River of Souls’. There, you’ll get some backstory on his rise to power and this Shendla character.

    Sad to see all these guys go, especially Siuan, whom I quite liked. Min was awesome… uuhh, Leilwin was awesome. Everybody was awesome!

    1. Yeah when Taim disguised Androl as himself was hilarious. I don’t think I’d be good at this kind of spy work. I’d have to point and laugh and call him a moron, which would of course blow my cover. I didn’t know that about Sanderson and Bela. Sad! I guess everyone was pretty surprised by Egwene’s death, and it’s definitely interesting to re-read and contemplate the early clues given. I agree all around. Everyone was awesome. Even characters that we might have been annoyed with at first (another side character? Really?) we end up really loving. 😀

    2. Yep, I totally agree the Seanchan have been slackers so far in this battle.

      Yes, it was pretty funny when Androl had to go about ‘disguised’ as Androl. I wanted to smack the bad guys for being so dense!

      Exactly! The gai’shain have fighting skills. If those with no fighting skills choose to assist in helping the wounded, even doing healing, or running messages, or delivering food and water to the front line, I can’t fault them for not fighting. They would probably get in the way anyways. But the gai’shain could make a difference.

      Galad did take the news about his relation to Rand quite well.

      Mellar is fiendishly creepy. I totally agree about dispatching this asshole.

    3. 2. Yep – the Seanchan have looked increasingly less and less powerful over the last few books, and they are mostly sitting on their bums for the Last Battle: not impressive at all.

      3. I would also have liked to see Taim discover that Androl had both stolen the seals and outwitted him: muhahahaha!!

      4. It was rather nice to get all this philosophical debate in the middle of a huge battle. Perhaps it is just me, but I do like a book that makes me think!

      5. Interesting point about the similarity there and I certainly find them much more annoying than the Tinkers.

      6. So, I need to blame Harriet, not Brandon . . . I still don’t understand why poor Bela had to bite the big one . . . perhaps she could become a Hero of the Horn??????

      7. Gawyn = idiot. I have tried very hard to be positive about him, but he continually reinforced my opinion of his idiocy.

      Strangely, I think that Galad has been massively rehabilitated in these last few books. Earlier he was always so cold and inflexible in his irritating superiority, but he has undergone one of the most surprising character arcs in the series. I thought that he had a much better chance of dispatching Demandred than Gawyn, and all done in the cool emotionless of the Void.

      Lan = EPIC! Only Aragorn versus Sauron could have been better!

      8. Good point about her burning brightly but for a short time. However, I think that she would have been excellent in the post-Last Battle reconstruction and could have possibly brought the two Towers together into a coherent entity. I worry that they are now leaderless . . . and the best candidates for the next Amyrlin are mostly in the North with Rand (Nynaeve and Cadsuane especially).

      9. Yep, Mellar has needed a good killing for quite some time now . . . I just hope it isn’t too quick! 😀

      10. You mean there is MORE to read!???!??!?!? Off to find that now . . .

  2. I love the idea of tiny streams of lava from Androl. And good point about Logain being a lot like Rand after Domai’s Wells. I hadn’t thought of it like that. Totally with you on the rest. Such a great chapter!

  3. 2. I agree that I was a little surprised at Tuon’s deception here, but perhaps this is an indication that she realizes that she cannot trust all her follower and also that deceiving them is sometimes necessary to get things done. Hopefully, this suggests that she is more flexible about traditional protocol than we thought. If not, Min will surely slap some sense into her . . .

    3. Tiny squirts of lava could be quite distracting and more than a little hurty! 😀

    The more time we spend with Logain, the more concerned I am about his mental state. I agree that he is now damaged goods, and I hope that he doesn’t lose the plot just at the worst moment. Only Min’s viewing gives me hope.

    Surely Moghedien deserves to be collared and made damane? Fain: crumbs, I’d forgotten about him . . . loathsome little man! 🙁

    4. Again, I agree: I am not sure what type of confrontation I had expected, but this was a bit of a surprise. At least it meant that we did not need a physical description of Evil, which would have inevitably been underwhelming.

    5. The gai’shain and Tinkers show how pacifist ideology can be the wrong reaction to some situations. Whilst I understand their desire to hold to their beliefs and traditions, this is the most unusual situation that they are facing, and the Shadow will not give a stuff if they die fighting or with noble intentions intact: they will still go in the cooking pot or worse.

    6. Yep, not so bothered about Faile except that it would break Perrin’s heart. I try to like her, but just can’t manage it! 😀

    (Imagine Sylvester Stallone at this point) BBBBBBBEEEEELLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAA!!!!!!! Sob! 🙁

    7. Sorry, but this was exactly how stupid I expected Gawyn to be. As with Faile, I have tried to like him, but I’ve had enough of his idiotic need to be all heroic: no tears shed for him.

    Mat is actually quite smart, but hates to show it! 😀

    Lan cannot be dead – it would be unthinkable!

    8. Agreed: I thought she would be able to power through his death, especially with Leilwin to step into his shoes. I was expecting some wailing and gnashing of teeth, but not epic suicidal destruction. I would expect the crystals to be collectors’ items even if they have no use at all: what a memento of the Last Battle!

    I suspect that nobody could recreate that weave, even those who saw it. We have had plenty of indication that Egwene could simply pull weaves out of her imagination and the ‘feel’ of the situation. Added to the lessons from Tel’aran’rhiod and her use of the powerful angreal, and I doubt that it will ever be used again.

    9. Yep – having your babies cut out does seem like an overly horrible way for her to die, never mind the overt rape references that I detect here as well . . . 🙁

    I am quite sure that Birgitte’s work is not yet done . . . 😀

    1. Ah yes, Min’s viewing. I hope it is right about Logain, but I wonder what will turn his mind away from vengeance and such to actually preserving the good of the world.

      Totally agree. I have tried to like Faile and Gawyn, but their continued bitchyness and idiocy (respectively) have made it hard. The loss of Bela as harsh.

      I agree that Mellar is tossing around some overt rape references. Come on Birgitte!

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