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 VII

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, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host and can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art.  And Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has intellect and teensy violins.

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

1.  Egwene appears very reluctant to forgive Siuan and Gawyn for having rescued her from Tar Valon.  Do you think she went overboard?  Has Siuan lost her status forever?  What sort of thing might it take for Egwene and Gawyn to finally get together as they should?

I might be in the minority here, but I feel that Egwene has been a highhanded with many people who have supported her these many months – like all the Salidar Aes Sedai, including Siuan. So, let’s start with Gawyn and Siuan – they had to make a split second decision in the middle of a battle. They saw the Seanchan forces were pulling out but they had no idea if they would regroup and attack again. Plus we have all those assassins running around and Siuan and Gawyn had no way to know how few there actually were. Lastly, they themselves were unwanted invaders in the Tower, so they had to leave anyway and was there anyone standing around looking competent and trustworthy that they could have handed Egwene off to? No. So, yeah, Egwene is being just a touch overly sensitive to this.

Next, she is welcomed into the Tower with open arms, asked to be the new Amyrlin. She makes her loyal ‘rebel’ Aes Sedai wait outside in a courtyard, the ceremony is had without them. She does give a nice harsh berating to the Tower Aes Sedai, but she does this in private. She then gives the Salidar Aes Sedai a very public (and less severe) berating. I thought this was rather rude and put the ‘rebels’ in a lesser standing than the Tower Aes Sedai.

Egwene still has plenty to learn about people in general and leading in specific.

I am not sure what it will take for Gawyn and Egwene to get back to the kiss-kiss state. Perhaps he will take a very bad wound and she will have to save his life and will realize in that moment what a dumbass she has been and want to spend the rest of her life with him and make babies and hav e a pet goat. It would suck if he took that nearly mortal injury from Rand but with the unfounded vengeance he has going for him, he might just force Rand into forcefully defending himself.

2.  The Black Ajah is purged and all its members are now either dead or missing.  Do you agree with Egwene’s plan, or would you have waited until after the reunification, to get all of them at once? Would you have liked to see the hunters in the White Tower (Saerin et al) play a larger role?

I think she did the best she could in that situation. After all, it was known by the Tower that Verin had passed away and that news would travel swiftly to the Salidar Aes Sedai. Not all but some of those Black would know that Verin was Black and the simple fact that she expired in Egwene’s room would cause them to worry (if they have 10 or more brain cells to rub together). Some of those would probably tell others, etc. I suspect that is why some of them disappeared as swiftly as they did.

Saerin and crew had their time in the limelight discovering a handful of the Black. But they also fucked up in forcing some of the Aes Sedai to swear oaths of obedience to them specifically. Naughty! Obviously, they weren’t ready to hold such power and the hunt had to come out into the open.

3.  The Aes Sedai are reunited, eight books after the split, with no more bloodshed.  What do you think of everything?  Do you agree with the decision to take Silviana as a keeper, and to distribute the blame?  What will now happen with the Red?  And just how epic were those speeches?

I already answered part of this question above (in Q. 1). I think Egwene was not equal in spreading the blame and publicly berating the Salidar Aes Sedai (after the private berating of the Tower fools) was not OK.

I really like that Egwene insisted that the stole and Amyrlin seat (throne?) have all the colors represented before she was crowned (raised?). And yes, I like that Silviana is her Keeper. She was steadfast and fair throughout her dealings with Egwene. She carried out her role and took no joy in beating Egwene.

I am not sure even Egwene knows exactly what (and how) she will do with the Reds at this point. She gave a very nice little speech about how their role will change but that they will be very important, etc. She sounded very convincing, but I know she has had plenty on her mind; so this might have been a nice bluff to keep them from fidgeting while she figures out what to do with them. I am not sure what she will have them do.

While I disliked her public negative remarks of the Aes Sedai, I did like her speech about becoming a force of Light to be reckoned with and how the Aes Sedai will be remembered as a unified force that fought for the good at the Last Battle instead of a bunch of bickering women who couldn’t prioritize.

4.  Were you happy to see Hurin again?  Do you think he was happy to see Rand?  What can be done now, from Rand’s side, to fix this problem with the Borderlanders?

It was nice to see Hurin and to see that his nose was still working. I think at first he was happy to see Rand but then when he realized how much Rand had changed, and how Rand did not return the affection, he was a bit disturbed.

Honestly, I think Rand messed up but I get why. I don’t think the Borderlanders are up to nefarious deeds nor are they trying to dodge their duties leading up to the Last Battle. But Rand has been tricked and shoved and attacked and forcefully Bonded and betrayed and he also has a few too many extra voices in his head. So, yeah the Borderlanders probably picked the location to protect themselves, but it could also be a set up for a trap. With Nynaeve and Cadsuane shoving him around, on top of everything else, I could see why this was just too much for him to trust the Borderlanders.

5.  Rand has a surprise meeting with Tam, for the first time since book one, and it does not go well!  Even though Rand was insane, how much blame rests with Cadsuane and Nynaeve here?

This was a great scene – so much going on and so many emotions yanked out of me! I really felt for Tam, and for Rand. They’ve always had a great relationship, Tam having raised him as his own in a loving, caring way. Rand returning that affection and respect. To see them so awkward with each and Rand needing to keep a barrier in place, calling his father ‘Tam’ instead of ‘dad’, etc. So sad to see. And yet, they were connecting, talking, sharing. At least, until Tam mentioned Cadsuane’s name.

I have to say that Cadsuane and Nynaeve have a large chunk of the blame to carry in this one. I think Min’s viewing needs to be reevaluated as I am pretty sure close inspection/reflection will show that both Rand and Cadsuane have something to teach the other in order for the world to go on spinning after the Last Battle. Cadsuane and Nynaeve can’t control everything and they certainly can’t control Rand.

6.  We got some more hints about the nature of Callandor, and now that the male Choedan Kal is also destroyed, they are more relevant than ever.  Does anyone want to try guessing what it’s for?

The sword Callandor is like Rand’s penis and the two female Channelers needed to wield it correctly are like Elayne and Aviendha. Min will be directing things and providing guidance, being the most experienced of the 4.

Or Callandor is simply a powerful weapon that needs 3 Channelers to get the most out of. Min, the brains in the bunch, will be the one to figure out how this all works and will convince Rand to give it a try.

7.  Rand travels to Dragonmount and has his epiphany.  Is he now sane for good?  What do you think he will be like when we see him again?  Was this what Cadsuane needed to teach him?  Feel free to speculate on the nature of the Lews Therin voice.

I have hopes that he is no sane for good. Of course he will have moments when he is sad, tired, stressed, questioning his actions, etc. But unless one of his Bonded ladies dies, I think he will be good to go for the rest of the series.

I think Rand will want to make some amends when next we see him. He’ll want to apologize to Tam and truly sit down and have a smoke and ale with him. He will probably want to let Nynaeve know that he has been insensitive about Lan’s ginormous task. I hope he tells some dirty limericks to Cadsuane and leaves her mystified. He’ll apologize to Min and then make sweet, crazy loud sex with her. Egwene has said in the past that Rand will bow to the Amyrlin Seat, so I am sure that will have to get worked out and the new, laid back (in comparison) Rand might not mind at all.

I am thinking that Rand probably still has to learn something from Cadsuane. Perhaps something to do with Callandor? Or maybe it is that he has to learn to trust a female Channeler, and not just any Channeler, but one he feels used him, lied to him, put his life at risk, etc.

Eivind shared several theories about Lews Therin several books back. The theory that stands out most to me is that Lews was Rand’s way of segregating his crazy thoughts and giving them a persona he could argue with and lock away from time to time. However, this idea that Lews was truly all in Rand’s head doesn’t explain the knowledge on past events & people Lews made available to Rand.

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

Shiriam was beheaded! And why such an execution? I totally agree with executing them, but since they have so many ways of killing them, why that method? And what will they do with the distraught (and the Darkfriendish) Warders?

When Cadsuane bundled Tam up in air and lifted him, I loved his response. He called her a bully, and she is. While she released him, I hope she takes his comments to heart and adjusts her manner. Through out this series, this has probably been the biggest aspect about the Aes Sedai that I have found infuriating – so many of them are bullies!