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.

The Gathering Storm, Part VI

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has critical thinking skills and tiny violins.

This week, we covered the Chapters 36-42. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Verin demands a deal for Travelling his army & Mat demands a compromise. What do you think is in Verin’s sealed letter of instructions? Will Mat hold to his bargain?

Ugh….what could Verin have in mind? Well in light of what we learn later on in this section, I think she has left instructions that will 1) make amends for some of her past bad deeds and 2) help the Dragon Reborn’s efforts to defeat the Dark One. But I really don’t have any idea on specifics.

I am not sure if Mat will hold to the bargain. Obviously he is reluctant to agree to carry out sealed instructions (which seems remarkably prudent of him – must be because he so strongly distrusts Aes Sedai). If Mat hears about Verin being Black Ajah but that she died in order to reveal the Black Network to Egwene, then I think he will be more inclined to carry out her request. But I don’t see Mat and Egwene having a chat before the time limit is up.

2) Tuon, now referred to as Fortuna, carried through with her decision to attach the White Tower. What did you think of her discussion with Selucia concerning how this action might very well turn the Dragon Reborn against the Seanchan? Is Fortuna’s concerns well founded, or should she be more concerned about how the Aes Sedai will react?

I think Tuon is having second thoughts about her decision to attack the White Tower and defy the Dragon Reborn. But of course she can’t outright say that and she sure as hell can’t act on these misgivings in any way that would lower her eyes.

She has stirred up a hornet’s nest one way or the other. Face the wrath of the Dragon Reborn or face the fury of a trampled on and surly united White Tower? Hmmm… I would rather face Rand. either way, Fortuna is in deep shit.

3) Rand is certain he has removed Graendal from the picture. Do you agree? Will Nynaeve forgive Rand for having her play a part in his ruse?

I am one of those people that always needs a body. Or a head. Or a heart. In the case of balefire, I need to see with my own eyes the person who is being wiped out of existence. So while I hope that Rand’s little ruse told true, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Graendal popped up later.

Nynaeve is pretty cool about telling Rand that she despises the action he has taken. She is very careful to separate the action from the man. She doesn’t hate Rand but she sure as hell hates having been a party to killing an entire castle full of servants and playthings (even if they were little more than mindless zombies). It think that if Rand defeats the Dark One and saves the world, and lives to talk about it later, then Nynaeve will be able to forgive him.

Though she will probably take pains to gather up all the mentally tortured and broken who were affected by the Forsaken, myrrdraal, etc. and tuck them away in a very comfortable basement while she strives to find a way to heal them all.

4) Nynaeve swallows her pride and asks Cadsuane and the Wise Ones to let her in on The Plan. Why do you think they want Perrin? Any ideas on what The Plan is?

I am not sure why they want Perrin, though I think that whatever they are planning won’t work unless you have the trio together (Rand, Perrin, Mat). I hope they have already figured this out. Though it does seem to be a bit childish to keep the entire plan from Nynaeve as I think she has proven to be one of Rand’s truest friends.

While listening to this section, I really felt that Cadsuane had backslid and was being an arrogant ass once again. Sigh…..Is Min the only one to realize that Rand needs support not bludgeoning? He needs guidance, not to be herded? I wonder why Sorilea didn’t take a greater lesson from Cadsuane’s banishment.

5) And the big reveal for this section concerns Verin. Did you see that coming? What more did she leave in her notebook for Egwene to decipher?

Argh! OK, so no offense at all to my compatriots in this read along. But since it had been asked more than once during past books if we thought Verin was Black Ajah, I had kind of figured that she must have some tie to them or be one, otherwise why keep asking? So, I had a sinking feeling that Verin was going to turn out evil and I was deeply concerned for Egwene when Verin turned up in her room.

But, Verin held true to her character – deeply curious about the world around her, she fond herself in this horrible situation where she could either die or become Black. And yet, she plans her death so that she has some time to leave Egwene a pretty powerful gift – all the info she has collected on the Black Ajah. I bet is like a huge PhD dissertation. So I was very happy to see that Verin is indeed a good guy, even if she had to do some horrible things (which she regrets deeply) to get to this point.

I would love for there to be a side story on Verin!

As to what else (besides the very long list of Black Ajah) is in the book… well, I would think there would be a list of Dark Friends, especially those in stations of power or influence. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some detailed notes on Weaves of torture or Compulsion or How To Be A Sneaky Bitch.

6) The Seanchan finally attack the Tower! Feel free to gush about your favorite parts. What did you think of Bryne’s demand of Warder status of Siuan (and his still unnamed second demand)? Was Egwene bad-ass enough for you? Pleased or surprised by the actions/reactions of the other Aes Sedai?

I loved how Egwene took control of the battle in her section. When she was challenged by one Sister (who said something like – Oh, so you think you are in charge?) and Egwne bluntly tells her yes and asks her if she would prefer to be in charge. Of course, the Sister declines because who really wants to be in charge in a fucked up situation like that (and if you just raised your hand and said, ‘Pick me!; then you need to get a job in Emergency Management.

I also like how Sierin (spelling?) had a central place for info to flow into and back out, and for the wounded to stumble to if there were no Aes Sedai on hand to do the healing on the front line.

And then Siuan and Bryne have to save each other. So romantic! In a totally kick ass kind of way.

And I like tht Bryne made the demand to be Siuan’s Warder. I look forward to seeing what his second demand turns out to be. Perhaps he will ask her to stop doing his laundry and consider that debt paid. It might be a bit too gushy if he asks her to marry him.

7) The aftermath: Do you think the Seanchan raid on the White Tower will be seen as a success or a loss by the Seanchan? How will Egwene react to being removed from the Tower? How will the Tower react to it’s loss of Elaida?

I am really hoping the Seanchan see it as a loss, but I am not sure their collective pride will allow that. Also, I am not sure what their body count was compared to the number of captured and/or dead Aes Sedai.

I know Egwene was mumbling not to remove her from the Tower, but if they start flying a white flag of truce and talks the next morning, then Egwene may not be too upset about it. Plus, she will have a chance to snuggle kiss Gawyn.

Well, once they have confirmed that Elaida is missing, I think many will sigh a big sigh of relieve. Then they will have to struggle with the moral question of trying to rescue or ransom her (which might not be possible due to the Tower losses). It would be funny if it was Egwene of all people who insisted they rescue Elaida – but Egwene hates the a’dam enough that she might just insist on freeing every Sister from such a fate, even Elaida.

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

Verin describes the ritual for becoming Balck Ajah as rather singular. *shiver* I just want to say that is messed up and that maybe becoming Black Ajah isn’t for the faint of heart.

But where are the rest of those specialized assassins? How long do they live again? Could they still be creeping around?

OK, I know this was in this section, but I felt I had asked one two many questions as it was. The last chapter is Rand getting ready to leave Bander Eban in Arad Doman. The Sea Folk ships have arrived and all the food is spoiled, every last bit. He has to walk away leaving all these starving people. And…. well, he was right. He had done everything he could. Arad Doman and the Merchant’s Council needs to pull their own weight and try to save their people and themselves. The world may be ending and Rand has the big chore of saving the known world. It would be great if a few more folks stepped up and took a few items off his to-do list.