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.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part V

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

This week, I am your host. Make sure to catch Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 13-16. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1) Chapter 13 starts with Elayne returning to her bath and Aviendha alludes to some joke Birgitte played that relied upon the feedback loop built into her bond with Elayne. Any guesses as to what this joke was?

Well, I recall Elayne once acting drunk and Nynaeve giving her a scolding, and in actuality it was Birgitte who was drunk and dancing and having fun.

Then there was that one time that Elayne found a rather unusual *cough, cough* angreal. She woke up in bed with everyone grinning at her and not answering questions. Perhaps that angreal gave her some fun sexytimes or close enough to it and Birgitte caught the afterglow through the bond.

2) Dyelin returns with the High Seats of Mantear, Haevin, Gilyard, and Northan. Do you foresee any issues concerning the ages of these High Seats? Dyelin seems to have an unhealthy curiosity about Brigitte. Do you think she is merely in disbelief about Brigitte’s abilities, or do you think Dyelin is studying her for more nefarious reasons?

I fear the other High Seats won’t take these four seriously. Additionally, I am also concerned that their own houses won’t take them seriously. In fact, them proclaiming their fealty to Elayne may cause a bit more dissension if their elders disagree with them, or feel snubbed because they ran off and did this thing without consulting them.

Dyelin, so far, has been very true to her word and therefore Elayne. However, she is also in a position of greater knowledge of Elayne’s plans, etc. If I was a smart, planning evil person, I would definitely take the measure of those guarding Elayne. Which would mean studying Birgitte in her boots and tight pants. I can see how someone could get distracted by those attributes and not think seriously of Birgitte. However, Dyelin is not enchanted by swaying female hips and has been studying Birgitte. Right now, I think Dyelin is just trying to get a read on if Birgitte believes she is truly her namesake and living a silly tale,. or is she truly competent. I don’t thin Dyelin has any evil plans for Elayne.

3) While Elayne met with Master Norry and Mistress Harfor (just how many spies does Elayne have in the her Palace, and can she keep them ignorant and in play?), Aviendha sheilded their conversation. Once the meeting was concluded, she told Elayne someone had attempted to listen in. Who do you think that was, and why?

Sounds like Elayne has a ton of spies within the Palace. But I think this would be n0rmal during a time of great change and upheaval. And not all would be spies in the sneaky sense of the word, but could just be people trying to ride out the change by keeping multiple parties happy.

I really am not sure who was attempting to listen in. We had a Wise One and a trainee waiting to come in and examine Elayne (the saidar version of the ultrasound). I guess one of them could have done so, but I think Aviendha may have recognized their energy, perhaps? We also know there are slew of Aes Sedai creeping around the city, coming and going. Perhaps one disguised made it into the inner palace and made the attempt.

The ‘why’ is probably the simplest question – to gain info, any info, that concerns Elayne and her plans.

4) It appears that Arymilla, who is vying for the crown of Andor, isn’t above holding prominent people hostage in order to strengthen her claim. Do you think she is as daft as Elenia believes she is? Elenia has a plot to use Naean Arawn in order to further her own claims for the thrown; do you expect that to go well for Elenia? What is up with the seemingly mad and definitely violent Nasin?

No, I don’t think Arymilla is that daft. First, she is holding together a sizable force, one large enough that Elayne takes her as a real threat. Two, she doesn’t appear to be anyone’s puppet.

Even if Elenia manages to wrest some followers from Arymilla, I don’t expect her path to be easy. And Naean could totally be playing her. And of course, even if she past those hurdles, she has to deal with Elayne, and I think we all know how that will turn out (even if Rand has to step in and assist).

I really am not sure about Nasin. Can he be a male channeler that went a little crazy? I assume the users of saidin are like the users of saidar – there are different levels and some can only channel a trickle and are easily overlooked (think of all those Kin). Whatever the cause of his madness, he is violent and probably needs to be put down.

5) We spent some more time in Hanlon’s head. He and Falion have some sort of an agreement wherein they exchange info behind Shiaine’s back. Which of the three do you expect to end up dead first? Shiaine asks three things of Hanlon: free some sul’dam and/or damane, shift some guards away from the food warehouses, and entertain Elayne in bed. Which of the three do you expect Hanlon to accomplish and what do you think is the master plan?

Well, I am guessing that Hanlon will be the first to die, either from trying to get into Elayne’s panties, or killed while attempting to kill or abduct Elayne, Birgitte, or Aviendha.

Hanlon said that freeing some sul’dam or damane would be easiest. So, I expect him t do that first. Perhaps with guards hunting them, he could then shift men away from the food warehouses, which will then be torched. I expect Birgitte and/or Aviendha to become highly suspicious of Hanlon at this point. And I expect Elayne to be very hesitant about listening to those suspicions because Hanlon once ‘saved her life’.

Master plan: Create chaos and new foes by freeing channelers, burn the food to sew dissension among the commonfolk (who wants to back a leader who can’t keep the masses fed?), and bed Elayne to learn more of her plans and secrets. Then kill and burn and run amok at the appropriate time to keep Andor in turmoil until one of the Forsaken or a very special Dark Friend can seize the reigns and rule Andor in name for the Dark One. There will be much festivities, but please dress in black goth style to show support for your new overlord.

6) Delana shares a few shocking tidbits with Egwene: 1) Several Aes Sedai suspect Egwene has bonded Gareth Bryn; and 2) Many Aes Sedai are considering negotiations with Elaida. Which did you find more amusing? Would either benefit Egwene’s efforts to make the Tower whole before the end of the world?

I found it very amusing that some suspect that Egwene had bonded Gareth Bryne! Of course, she wants Gawyn, but only a few even suspect that. Still, I could see a certain logic to having Bryne as a warder. There would be no way to pay the man off and he would have to take her orders instead of acting as a free agent. He wouldn’t like it, but he would also buckle down and be the best warder he could be.

I don’t expect Elaida to agree to Egwene’s terms, so negotiation with her will not be of any use except to appease some of Egwene’s followers. She can say, look, I tried and Elauda just would not see reason. So you see, I really did have to take her head.

Other Tidbits

I loved Dyelin’s comment to Birgitte about dragging your bait all over the lake.

Elenia dresses her maid in fancy clothes and believes she treats her well. She really had a huge disrespect for anyone ‘below her’.

I find it very interesting that Falion and Hanlon have this agreement, and part of it is him leaving bruises on her to keep up the ruse.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part IV

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

This week, our host is Sue over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 9-12. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. Well, I suppose that we now know that Faile is alive and well, more or less. Do you think that Nadric will avoid her from now on, or will he simply wait until she is more alone? What do you think is going on between Galina and Therava?

I think Faile will keep a better eye out for single men around the camp now, since she knows now that her status does not protect her from harm. And I also doubt that Faile is the first captive to be treated this way. So, yes, I expect Nadric or another to have similar ideas about Faile (or the other women she was captured with).

I really want Galina hurt, or stilled, or banished to the Seanchan homelands. She is double crossing Faile and crew and messing up their plans for escape, and getting them hurt.

As for Therava, well, I think she wants to undermine Sevanna, perhaps even take over. And I also still think Therava makes a better predatory bird than Berelain. Surely there is some discussion board somewhere that thinks the two predatory birds perched on Perrin’s shoulders are Faile and Therava?

2. Still with Faile, what do you think of her growing relationship with Rolan? Do you think that he might even help her to escape, or is that simply wishful thinking on her part?

I think the term ‘awkward’ covers much of this growing relationship. After all, he forcibly stripped her naked, made her march through snow, then carried her slung over his shoulder occasionally slapping her bum, later rescues her from Nadric, and now….is massaging the cramps out of her bound, naked muscles. Hmmm….I think Robert Jordan is once again playing out some sexual fantasy using these characters and elaborate setting that he created. Not that I mind so much, except that so much of his books are PG rated, so it always stands out to me.

I am not sure if Rolan wants to be free of Sevanna and sees a potential path with Faile, or if he simply wants sexy times. If Rolan does escape with Faile, it could make for a very interesting conversation with Perrin down the road.

3. Poor Elsie sees a ghost, but Elayne dismisses it as nerves. We do not seem to have had much supernatural activity in this series, so this seemed very significant to me. Was the ghost real or do you think that there might be some other explanation? Feel free to say if you think I am simply being overly suspicious! 😀

This incident stood out to me too. I think it was a Grey Man, or some Aes Sedai that has learned how to cloak herself in invisibility. Either way, I think Elayne should be more suspicious all around (see Q.4).

4. I am getting rather tired of Mellar and his evil smugness, but I am a little concerned about Elayne’s decision to berate him in public. Does this mean that she realizes that his moment of heroism was completely staged? Do you think that he might try to retaliate for the embarrassment?

I don’t think Elayne has even considered that Mellar’s heroism during the assassination attack was staged. Again, I think she (or Aviendha or Brigitte) needs to be way more suspicious of the people around her. Mellar is giving everyone the bad vibes, except for that one Aes Sedai who was singing his praises…what was her name? She and two others are on the list of possible suspects for killing Vandene’s sister.

And, yes, eventually Mellar will retaliate for the embarrassment. Of course he might save it all up for his final move (assassination or kidnapping) and be real nasty about it.

5. We have lots of coming and goings in Caemlyn. Do you think that the Aes Sedai at the Silver Swan are Elaida’s, independents or parts of Cadsuane’s group? What about the group that Mellar ‘helped’ to get into the city: are they trustworthy at all?

Let’s see. They are Aes Sedai, so no matter who they ‘promised’ to serve, they have their own agenda. Elayne thinks they are watched closely, but yet we haven’t heard about their agendas. And if Mellar helped a few in, then I would watch out for Black Ajah or Forsaken.

6. What is it with the Seafolk and square miles of land? I thought that Rand had granted them that as part of his agreement with them, but maybe Zaida does not know about that yet. Do you have any ideas about why this land is so important to a sea-faring people?

Perhaps this land is in addition to what Rand had already grated. And perhaps it has something to do with the location? I think the Sea Folk want several basses of operation throughout Randland – safe harbors, places to conduct business, trade, etc. Have we learned where the Sea Folk come from? Do they have a set of islands they call home or are they strictly ship and sea? If they don’t already have a homeland, then perhaps this is why the land gained during the bargains is so important.

Other Tidbits

I liked that part where Faile admits to herself that her only weapon is her wits. Oh boy! She is definitely not armed for this situation!

the whole point of babying Elayne (no wine, early to bed, goat’s milk) is to keep her well rested and healthy. It seems snide of Brigitte to be getting drunk every night and being hung over every morning. I know she is sad, but she has a job to do and being drunk every night can’t help with that.