A Memory of Light, Part VIII

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

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

I want to take a moment to thank everyone! First, Anya of On Starships & Dragonwings who kicked off this mad read along over 2 years ago. A big thanks to Liesel, Eivind, and Sue who kept is going! And a wee little thank you to all you silent stalkers out there. Here we are at the end of this 15 book (including the prequel) read along. It’s been a magnificent ride!

This week, we covered Chapter 38 to the END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Egwene speaks to Rand from beyond the grave and he has a hard time “letting go” of those who’ve died on the battlefield. What did you think of this part and it’s solution?

This was one of my favorite parts of the ending. Rand finally got it! He is not the only hero in this tale! I know others have been trying to tell him this for ages now. Sometimes it was frustrating to watch Rand feel like he had to carry all this on his shoulders and let no one help him. Then when he was suffering from all the deaths in the Last Battle, I kind of wanted to slap him. Of course, there will be deaths!

So it was great to see Egwene giving him this last message, watching him realize the truth, and then part of the self-imposed load being lifted from his shoulders.

2. There’s a new horn blower, and we see more of Brigitte, Noal, Artur Hawkwing, and others. Comment on what you liked of this section. What did you expect, not expect?

This was also awesome! I loved that Olver could call the Heroes of the Horn and the Noal was the one to step in and save him. It was also great, if a bit predictable, that Brigitte appeared and saved Elayne one more time. I am sure this helped Elayne get over her pain of losing her Warder and friend, not to mention preventing her belly from being cut open.

However, I do wish that the rules of the Horn had been explained a bit more by the end of the book. Everyone, including Mat, thought the Horn was tied to him. So was it his balefire death wierdness that severed that tie? Or his hanging by the Aelfinn? Or do you simply need to be somewhat pure of heart and in desperate need?

3. Lan lives, Alana dies, and Thom is successful at killing many members of the Black Ajah outside the pit. Questions? Comments? Happy dances?

I was totally emotionally prepared for Lan to be dead, just like he has been emotionally prepared to die for his entire life. That said, I was quite happy to see him live! Hooray!

I am glad that Alana let go of her Bond to Rand prior to dying. I have to wonder if Rand sent her off (how many books ago) in order to get caught and be used by the Dark One as a leash at this point. Rand must have put trust in her to release the Bond, if that is in fact why he sent her off.

Then again, since Alana forced the Bond onto him, he might have been a little distracted by her death, but not devastated.

Thom’s role, while perhaps not considered major, was still awesome. At the very first, as an Aes Sedai approached, and Thom put a knife in her, I had this horrible moment where I thought that just maybe Thom was a super secret Dark Friend, but was then immensely relieved that he was simply taking out Black Ajah and the like.

4. Androl impersonates Rand to trap the evil idiots, Grady opens a gateway to Hinderstap (dah!), and Logain breaks the seals. What was your favorite and why? (Feel free to comment on all.)

Androl is getting a lot of practice with his impersonations! And once again, we see that the uncoordinated efforts of the bad guys keep leading them to doom and despair! Mmaaahhhhwwaaaaa!

While it was interesting to glimpse Hinderstap again, I found Logain’s final actions to be the most interesting. Logain was definitely craving power and vengeance and it was nice for him to hold both within his sights, and then let it go. His actions to rescue and protect some noncombatants, and his subsequent realization that the Black Tower and Asha’men could become protectors, was excellent! I really like how his character arc ended.

5. Aviendha vs. Graendal. Aviendha loses her feet (ouch!), and kills Rhuarc. Ultimately Graendal’s compulsion backfires. What did you think of the final solution here?

Aviendha’s time as a fighter have most likely come to an end. At least she will be able to go on as a teacher of one kind or another. It was a little hard losing Rhuarc, mostly because I think he will kick himself for an eternity in the next life and the one after that for falling to Compulsion.

While we see Graendal’s Compulsion backfire and she becomes an adoring servant to Aviendha, I wonder what happens to her afterwards? Does Aviendha keep her around long enough to pick her brain? Does Nynaeve release Graendal from the Compulsion (while she is shielded) and then execute her?

6. Perrin takes out Lanfear and Slayer, and the worlds flicker. Meanwhile, the Wild Hunt comes to Thakandar and the spirits of dead wolves appear on the slopes. Um, discuss!

Wow! Just wow! Perrin took a real beating, and I didn’t expect him to play much more of a role in the final chapters of this book. So I was both delighted and a little worried to see Perrin back in play. Let me just say I was quite relieved that Perrin lived as I was worried he was Rand’s Red Shirt in this series.

Having so many wolves lost was a little heart rending, but we all knew that was coming books ago. They died well and accomplished much before the end.

7. Rand, Nynaeve, and Moiraine exploit the flaw in Callandor to trap Moridin. How well-thought-out was that? Are you surprised it worked?

OK, now please be kind, but I still don’t fully understand Callandor. For me, listening to the audiobook, things happen really fast sometimes and I don’t have the luxury of rereading a sentence or paragraph or page.

So, with that in mind, I am very glad that the trick worked. Obviously, for the ending, it was fairly important that it did work. On the other hand, I am pretty foggy on just what the big deal was, why Callnador was needed, and what role Moiraine played (other than looking intense and serious for the past several chapters).

8. What did you think of Rand’s final solution for the DO’s prison? Will it hold?

I liked how this was resolved. Last week, we saw Rand come to the conclusion that destroying the Dark One would not benefit the world, but instead create a world where folks were not truly themselves and couldn’t experience true free will.

So, of course he had to come up with a new solution and I liked what he came up with. As this is a world where the Wheel weaves as it wills, and there are no true endings or beginnings, I don’t expect it to hold forever. We will have another massive confrontation sooner or later.

9. Comment on some (or all) of the aftermath: our ta’veren heroes are ta’veren no longer, Ilturalde will rule, Tuon is pregnant, Moghedien survives…as a damane!!!, Faile lives, Cadsuane as Amyrlin, Rand vs. Moridin and the three women around the funeral pyre, and Loial’s writing makes an appearance. In the end, Rand doesn’t channel, but thinks his pipe is lit and it is. What does it all mean? What did you like/dislike? Was there anything unresolved you wanted to see? General thoughts, feelings, reactions. (This is your last chance to geek out! :D)

I think all 3 Ta’veren are very relieved to no longer be Ta’veren. Plus, Rand has to disappear now so it’s probably good that Mat and Perrin can’t track him with the rainbow sensory ties they use to have.

Ituralde has a good head on his shoulders, so I think things will go well with him leading.

Tuon is pregnant and threatening Mat’s life….again. I think he is amused and likes a woman who keeps him on his toes.

I had mixed feelings about Moghedien. Part of me really wants her dead, because alive she will eventually wreak havoc. Also, it’s obvious some of the Seanchan were scouring the done & dead battlefield for possible slaves to be collared while no one was really paying attention – against the agreements laid down by Tuon and Rand. Naughty Seanchan!

For Perrin’s sake, I was glad to see Faile still alive. I wouldn’t have mourned her passing, but I would have hated to see Perrin mourning for the rest of his life.

Cadsuane will make a decent Amyrlin. She has a wealth of knowledge, years, and hands-on experience. Hopefully she has learned some tact and won’t be such a bully.

It was awesome to see Loial lived and gets to go on to write his book – perhaps the very books we read!

And finally, Rand gets to do a body swap at the last minute. He gets to take over Moridin’s handsome and whole body and ride off into the sunset, with his Bonds in tact with his mini-harem. Um…..WTF? Did anyone else have a moment there? OK, we have seen for several books now that Moridin and Rand are somehow attached to each other. But this sudden leap to a whole body swap at the end…well, I didn’t feel it was necessary. I was OK with Rand dying because he was OK with making the ultimate sacrifice. Plus, he had already reproduced with Elayne and perhaps Min & Aviendha as well.

And, of course, I would have loved more info on how Demandred came to be in charge of an entire nations of Dark Friends. So I must (happily) run off to read the short story in the anthology Unfettered.

I would also like to know how Taim came to have the Seals. I know Eivind gave some very plausible ideas of how this came about. Still, I would have liked it explained in the narrative.

OK, now that I have picked apart the ending, over all I really enjoyed it. Yes, there was some death and tears, but we won! The world goes on and most of our heroes continue on with their lives. There will be more adventures!

Will the WoT world be opened up for other writers to write in? How about an HBO series based on the books? One can only hope.

The Gathering Storm, Part IV

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, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is  your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for logic and tiny, tiny violins (on occasion).

This week, we covered the Chapters 22-28. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. We finally learn Rand’s logic for swapping Bashere and Ilturalde. Do you agree with his logic? Will it work?

I think so. It’s not the first time in epic fantasy or in history that a big-time ruler has assigned underlings to major posts outside of their home countries for the very same reasons Rand has. Though I think Bashere has been with Rand long enough now that he deserves a bit more trust. But, alas, Rand is over burdened, a little insane, sleep deprived, and quite frankly doesn’t have the luxury of time. I think if the Last Battle was scheduled to take place in 10 years, then Rand would have time to use more finesse in his maneuverings of the rulers of Randland and the invading Seanchan. But with the time pressure, he has to push people into positions they are not 100% comfortable with.

2. Rand balefires Semirhage, then banishes Cadsuane. He says he has become “cuendillar” but Cadsuane sees darkness around him. What do you think it is? Is this a good thing? Will it help or hinder him in the Last Battle?

This is a messed up situation. First, Cadsuane is not given to worry about small things. So if she is seeing a darkness about him before he took up the True Power, then there’s a darkness about him. Semirhage was not surprised by this new-to-Rand power itself, although she was surprised that the Dark One would grant the power to Rand. So, I believe this is probably another tainted power source and is likely responsible for Moridin’s black dots in his vision.

Perhaps this is where Cadsuane will have to use some subtlety and teach Rand either how evil this new power source is (and how to let go of it or block it) or how to cleanse it. We know he has experience cleaning power sources. I think this will have to be done before the Last Battle otherwise it could overwhelm Rand and make his a toy of the Dark One.

3. Gawyn reaches Gareth Bryne where he IDs an Aes Sedai in hiding, and is told the truth about his mother, Elayne, and Egwene’s situation. Even after he sees Egwene, do you think he’ll go to be at Elayne’s side, or stay to be Egwene’s warder? Do you think he’ll ever accept that Rand wasn’t responsible for what happened to Morgase? What will the discovery of Shemerin do for the rebels?

I think a lot depends on Egwene. If Egwene goes from being the White Tower’s prisoner into another immediate danger, she may be quite glad to have a Warder as adept as Gawyn. But if all the dust settles after the Seanchan attack the Tower and Egwene has the Aes Sedai united, then she may well tell Gawyn to go protect Elayne, who is after all, pregnant with Rand’s kids.

I think Gawyn won’t ever believe Rand unless one of two things happen. 1) Morgase shows up again (total possibility) and personally slaps some sense into Gawyn (which I would very much like to see); or 2) He Bonds with Rand and then he will be able to easily see that Rand is telling the truth. Since Rand is already Bonded to so many people, adding yet another to his head may be too much to ask for (but it would amuse me greatly).

I think Shemerin’s tale will unite more of the ‘rebel’ Aes Sedai against Elaida. Those who have started wavering will think again about just what life under Elaida would be like….and they will shudder and decide that such a life would suck.

4. Yup. It’s official. Sheriam is a Darkfriend. Were you surprised? Does it bring any clarity for you of her past actions? Do you think she’ll be successful at stealing the dream ter’angreal?

I was surprised. I think it was because we recently read the prequel and saw Sheriam as a younger woman. Uh…. she had past actions? OK, I know she did, but there are so many side characters in this series that often trying to recall what one character did or didn’t do is beyond me. I think when I give this a reread in a few years, knowing that Sheriam is Black, I will pick up on such details then.

Because she has such a short time frame, and that it will become obvious they are missing when even just one of the regular users can’t find one, then I expect she will get caught. And remind me, is Nynaeve walking about T’A’R on her own or does she surreptitiously borrow one of the ter’angreal for her meetings with Egwene? Either way, this will bullocks up Sheriam’s plans.

5. Aviendha gets her honor back and we finally learned what all the punishments were about. What did you think of the Wise One’s tactics? What will Aviendha see in Rhuidean, and what’s next for her?

I think the Wise One’s would make good dog trainers as this tactic so reminded me of the doggy towel test that I described a week or two back. And yeah, I see their point – you have to be ready to take up the mantel of being a Wise One and no one but you can decide when you are ready for that. Self-worth is important. I just wish they had had some sort of further test for Sevanna.

I am not sure what Aviendha will see in Rhuidean. Min had some Viewing that Aviendha would end up with 3 kids not her own, right? So maybe she will see something that gives her more information about this. Perhaps she will be given a view of some betrayer among the Wise Ones (there has to be more than Therava among the ranks, right?) or perhaps the location and disguise of a Forsaken.

6. The cockroach incident was pretty gross. It was definitely a dark omen. What do you think this incident is foreshadowing?

The cockroaches appear at a meeting in which Lelaine and Romanda were doing yet more maneuvering, right? And Sheriam was there, so if I believed in portents, I would say that the rebel Aes Sedai have some major housecleaning to do – do away with the Black Ajah and politicking. Or such large cockroaches are merely another set of eyes and ears for the Dark One and his touch upon the world was releasing another bubble of them to go forth and collect data. In such a case, it was probably good that they were exterminated. Though the smell of that many burning cock roaches (and remember, they explode) was probably revolting.

7. Hinderstap. (Oh good heavens!) What do you think that was all about? And what does it mean for Mat?

This is yet one more messed up situation that Mat has stepped into. Ugh! The Wheel of Time version of zombies! But to be aware the next day of what you have probably done while you were a brainless, violent fiend has got to weigh upon the soul. Again, I think another bubble of evil surfaced and affected this particular community in a different way than we have seen previously.

I am really hoping that Mat can do a side adventure and cure this town of this evil enchantment/bubble/whatthefuck. But I fear that it will take defeating the Dark One to put this town to rights again. In which case, the town needs a pep talk about how cool Rand is and how he has all this help in prepping for the Last Battle and he will deifnitely triumph so they just need to hold out a little longer and don’t drink themselves stupid each day and tend their sheep instead.

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

I have to say that part of me was glad to see Cadsuane humbled by Rand’s banishment. So many folks have been treating Rand like a bumbling 20 year old man with too much power and not enough wits. Well, Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Min, Elayne, & Egwene are not without flaws and their arrogant handling of the situation (thinking to bully or steer Rand) is becoming a hindrance instead of a help.

I like that the common washer women tried to protect Shemerin and let her fade into the background, as she wishsed to do. Any one of them could have gone running to any senior Aes Sedai with the news, and would have probably been rewarded for the info.

It’s been many, many books since we last saw the fighting prowess of Mat and I liked seeing it in zombie town. He always seems to be mildly surprised when someone continues to come after him when he just knocked their buddy in to the mud.