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.

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.

A Memory of Light, Part VI

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

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

This week, we covered Chapters 29-36. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Finally, Graendal’s Compulsion of the Great Captains has been uncovered. Do you think that Mat’s medallion will protect him from her ‘advances’? It seems as if Ituralde was the only Captain to resist the Compulsion: any ideas about why that might be?

I expect Mat will be able to resist as long as he has the medallion and/or doesn’t sleep. It seems Graendal only worked her Compulsion on the captains while they rested. And perhaps that is why Ituralde held out longer than the others – he was getting less sleep. Maybe? His battle line was being pretty hard hit, so most folks weren’t getting much if any sleep.

Or maybe Graendal was running out of time and hit the other 3 harder because those battle lines were considered more critical? We’re running out of time for all the answers to be laid out before us, so we might have to settle for speculation on things like this.

2) Mat rides into battle and is suitably awesome. Do you think that Tuon is reassessing her ability to control her Prince? Could this be the end of formal Seanchan society as it has existed for thousands of years?

Yes, I think Tuon is reassessing many things right now. I am not sure how much that reassessment will change her mind tho. No matter how proper it is for her to control her man, that won’t happen in this relationship. So, she can either fight it and look the fool (even if she executes Mat she will look the fool) or she can pretend that it is right and proper and change society.

So, I am hoping that Mat can show that change is a good thing under fire, and later on show that it is also a good thing in times of peace. After all, there is that whole slavery issue that won’t sit well with him or the folks of Randland.

3) Perrin and Slayer clash again. It seems like Perrin is still outmatched, although he is continuing to improve, but will he ever be able to dispatch his enemy? Were you surprised that Lanfear proved to be as fickle as we had suspected? Will Perrin take any further part in the Last Battle now that he has returned to the waking world?

So I was terribly worried that Perrin might not make it out of this series alive….but now that he has landed back in the Waking World, injured but alive, I think he will make it. I am not sure he will be the one to take out Slayer. After all, Perrin had to leave his Aiel buddy in the Dream World and I would be surprised if Slayer had taken serious note of him. So he might be able to sneak up on Slayer and take care of business. Of course, he might die too.

Lanfear! Erg! Well, we knew that she is playing her own game.

4) The battle outside Cairhien is almost lost and even the mighty Ogier are starting to fall when Androl produces a miracle. What did you think of Logain’s comment about the notes in Taim’s rooms: does he have a list of all the Shadow’s battle plans? Please comment on the epicness of Androl’s miracle! 😀

I am both glad and a little concerned that Logain will be stepping up. His character line has been building for books now, and then he was MIA for a good while, and now he is back in time to help out in the Last Battle. But did he come off as a little too focused or even egotistical to anyone else? I drew a vague correlation between Logain and Rand – two men who suffered greatly at the hands of others while completely helpless. I am concerned that Logain may lash out as Rand did once upon a time, but not be nearly as successful….or perhaps take out some of the good guys as collateral damage while attempting to get Taim.

Androl’s miracle was awesome! If he can somehow open gateways to lava, what else can he open gateways to? Snow storms? Epic hurricanes? Deep, icy ocean waters? Androl may just be the scariest man on the field!

5) Tuon is taking the End Of The World in her stride, with her giant travelling throne and making full use of Min’s Talent. Are you a little disturbed by her serenity at this time? Do you think that Min’s demands will be met, or will she eventually refuse to reveal her viewings?

Tuon has been raised since birth to command the world and maintain absolute, total control at all times. So, quite frankly, I am not surprised that she and her court have all these trappings and still hold to ceremony and hierarchy. Tuon has to maintain serenity on the outside, even if she has concerns or fears going through her head.

Min rocks! I think Tuon needs folks to push back on her, and I am so glad that Min is doing so in such a public way without pleasantries, etc. I think Tuon will behave for the duration of the Last Battle. But after that…well, I hope Min has some type of security that will give her an out is Tuon gets imperialistic.

6) Just for a change, things go horribly wrong. Do you think that the black spikes were a deliberate attack against Faile’s group? Can you believe that Vanin and Harnan are actually Darkfriends, or were they just after the tobacco? Is there any chance that the Horn will make it back to Mat’s hands?

The black spikes seem too convenient for the attack to be happenstance. I would suspect intentional fuckery from the side of evil. But I am not sure the Evil knows Faile’s mission. So, maybe just trying to upset/hurt Perrin, an important Ta’veren, by killing his wife.

I was completely surprised that Vanin and Harnan were suspected of being Darkfriends! And they ran! So, I really hope they are not as our heroes need to be able to trust valued friends at this time, but damn! It’s totally possible they were up to no good.

I have this silly vision in my head of Mat and Olver riding double on a horse passing the Horn back and forth, calling the Heroes to their aid. Wouldn’t that be epic? Haha! Olver would have the story of his life if he assisted Mat in calling forth these epic Heroes.

7) Red veiled Aiel infiltrate the camp in Thakan’dar and cause mayhem. Do you think that even Cadsuane and Sorilea are powerful enough to defeat Graendal? Will the Aiel ever recover from the shame of learning about the fate of their male channelers?

I think we need Cadsuane to play nice for once and do the whole Team Work thing. If she can do that, then Graendal doesn’t stand a chance against Cadsuane and Sorilea.

That was a powerful revelation – the moment some of the Aiel realized that the red-veiled Aiel were a product of their traditions. I really felt for them in that moment because I know their whole society (whoever remains after the Last Battle) will take it very seriously and will pay toh forward, probably for generations.

8) Rand is frozen in place as he battles the Dark One. Why is Moridin frozen as well? Do you think Nynaeve will be able to do anything to help Alanna before she can release Rand from his Bond? Is there any chance that Nynaeve can save the world by simply bopping Moridin on the head with a big rock?

I can only think that the Dark One wants Moridin frozen as he deals with Rand. After all, the DO has got to have a big ego, so he has to be the one to take out Rand (if he can). If Moridin does it, it would steal all the DO’s thunder.

I am not sure Alanna will release Rand. She has been pretty selfish about that since the beginning. But Rand was forcibly bonded to her and there has never been any real affection, so I am not sure her death will have a huge impact on him.

We all want to hit Moridin over the head with a big rock, but right now, everyone has their hands full and Moridin isn’t doing anything. Perhaps hitting him would disrupt something else?

Other Tidbits:

Min got new clothes! How cute! I just hope they have the ability to conceal more knives, instead of less.

Olver and his cuddle time! How old is he now? 9? 12? I don’t recall how old he was when he was first picked up. But isn’t he getting to be that age where snuggling into any woman’s bosom is a little suspect?

Do you think Nynaeve will be able to teach the Wise Ones the art of healing the male channeler madness? If so, perhaps some of the red-veiled Aiel can be captured and returned to society…maybe.

OK, this might sound harsh. Did Rand send Alanna to the Pit to be captured on purpose? If so, why? I am not sure……

A Memory of Light, Part V

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week,  Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

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

1. What do you think of the Sharans so far? You can address fashion, choices, attitude, class distinction, the fact that one of the Forsaken leads them, whatever you want, or all of the above.

I really like tattoos. However, it looks like they are used to note class and since tattoos are permanent, I am not sure this allows for much movement among the classes, except for downwards.

And they totally came out of the blue…so I am not really liking them. Oh, and their entire army appears to be willing Dark Friends and not tens of thousands of people enslaved or under mass Compulsion. It would be fascinating to read about their society and see how they went about developing this army of darkness. I read on-line that the anthology Unfettered has a short story written by Jordan & Sanderson on the Sharans that was cut from this book, so I plan to check that out once we finish the series.

2. Gawyn is actively using the Bloodknife’s ring, Leilwin saves Egwene’s life, and Egwene meets with Tuon, amidst the chaos of the raging battle. What do you think, what stood out to you, what do you predict will happen?

First, I am pretty worried about Gawyn doing some heroically stupid at some point during this book and if Nynaeve isn’t around to heal him, he won’t live to see the epilogue.

I no longer think Leilwin is contemplating assassinating the Amyrlin Seat, and with Gawyn gearing up to be a bloody hero, it is probably a good thing she is hanging out with Egwene.

I am glad that Tuon is meeting all sorts of new and interesting people that keep telling her she is full of herself and dead wrong about some things. 🙂

3. It seems that both Agelmar and Bashere might be darkfriends. Do you think they are? If not, what is going on, and might it be connected to whatever Graendal was doing, messing with people’s dreams in T’A’R?

So last week, I totally missed that Bashere was having difficulties as well and thought it was just Agelmar. So I was worried about a Darkfriend amongst the Great Captains. But this week I see that it is happening to at least 2 of the Captains and we also have Perrin’s POV showing Graendal up to no good. So, is it possible to do some kind of Compulsion through dreams? Maybe it wouldn’t be called Compulsion as it would have to be more subtle than that. Anyway, I think both these men are being tampered with and, of course, the Side of Dark probably has their thoughts and mental plans about the battle. Neither of those things are good for our heroes.

4. Rand finally enters the Pit of Doom with Nynaeve and Moiraine, leaving Thom outside to witness the fight below. Rand’s blood stains the rocks, we hear the DO’s voice and Moridin shows up. What do you think of how this is playing out? How do you think Rand will fare?

So I am guessing that Rand, Nynaeve and Moiraine will have folks to battle inside the Pit, while Thom will do his best to keep anyone from attacking them from behind, if they get past the army. Rand has to battle the DO at some point, so I don’t know if he will finish the fight with Moridin first, or if the ladies will tackle him while Rand goes straight to the DO.

As for how Rand will fare….well, since Book 1 we have and he have been told he has to die. If he doesn’t die, I expect others will have to. This is THE LAST BATTLE, so I expect we will have a few dead heroes by the end of the book and if Rand is one of them, then we know he died for a good cause, having already spread his seed among three worthy ladies.

5. Oh good heavens, Perrin! Slayer tries to kill Rand in the Pit of Doom, but Perrin heads him off. They fight, and Perrin sees phantoms from the waking world (and maybe other worlds!). The wolves want him to lead them into the Last Hunt. He sees Rand and Moridin sword-fighting, speaks to Nynaeve, though she’s in the waking world, puts the dream spike around the Pit of Doom, and figures out how to defeat the red-veils (in T’A’R’ at least). Um…discuss!

Perrin sure is learning quickly! I really enjoy the scenes with him. He is so practical in his thinking and his approach to problems. I believe many wolves will die, both in the waking world and T’A’R, but I am also looking forward to Perrin leading them in the Last Hunt.

That’s cool he can speak to Nynaeve from the Dream World, but I was also concerned about him distracting her during a critical moment.

And Perrin has to face Slayer, right? There’s no way around that! They have to fight! And I fear it will be messy. Quite frankly, I have been worried for some time that out of all of Rand’s friends, Perrin is wearing the Red Shirt and won’t come out of this battle alive.

6. Fortuona has developed some interesting thoughts about Mat. She names him Rodholder. When she hears of Min’s talent, she names her a Doomseer and suddenly Min is as important (and trapped) as Mat is in the Seanchan court. Mat throws away his “emperor’s clothes” and heads for the battlefield. Were you surprised by the twist with Min? Are you excited to see Mat on the battlefield? Discuss!

While I had not thought about Min and the Seanchan, it made total sense that they would be fascinated with her and hold her in high regard, with their talk of omens every five minutes.

I am glad that Mat is making some of his own choices about clothing. After all, he is not wholly Seanchan even if he is married to the Empress. I especially laughed when he threatened bodily harm to the one of the clothing attendants who wanted to remove his small clothes. The Seanchan always take him serious in such things!

Yes, it will be good to see Mat on the battlefield. I expect his luck will help many and keep him alive.

7. Perhaps comment on some (or all) of the more minor events, such as why Moiraine and Nynaeve are getting along so well, while Moiraine and Lan aren’t, why Nynaeve would actually seem older without her braid, Elayne’s war speech before her troops, the darkness that shadowed the sun for a time, or the fact that Aviendha has officially joined Team Badass.

I hadn’t really noticed Moiraine not getting on with Lan. Perhaps she knows Nynaeve is with child and she wants Lan to be more careful? But Moiraine has always struck me as more practical than that – if there was ever a time for risk takers, it’s during the Last Battle.

Elayne’s war speech was pretty good. I liked that she didn’t give them false hope and yet pushed them towards something worthy of fighting for.

There’s something like 6 solar and 6 lunar eclipses each year (but best you look up those numbers). Obviously, it matters where on Earth you are as to how many you personally witness each year. But the thing is, eclipses aren’t that uncommon on our world, and so I would expect one to show up in Randland. But putty my nerdy girl glasses aside, I really enjoyed this small bit because our history shows humans reading a lot into eclipses and comets during major battles, so why not during the Last battle?

Hooray for Aviendha! You know she will make sure shit gets done.

Other Tidbits:

Demandred sure does seem to have a big ego on him – even larger than many of the Forsaken.

I think all those years of stealing pies and messing with badgers in the Two Rivers really prepared Mat for having words with Tuon on a regular basis. 😉

 

A Memory of Light, Part IV

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week, I am the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

This week, we covered Chapters 15-21. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Mat and Tuon finally consummate their marriage. Do you think it was all Mat hoped for? Will Tuon’s ideas for him in her empire pan out? Tuon gets to keep her damane: how do you think Mat will deal with or adjust to this in time?

Tuon seemed more affectionate before she became Empress, back when she was just the head of an invading army and could get a little girlish over Mat’s kisses. I think Mat was surprised that Tuon did not admit to loving him when he said he loved her.

Sigh….Tuon and her cultural need for slavery. It really bothers me. The fact that Mat has rescued (or stolen property) damane in the past will probably come up again when Mat protests the treatment of some of the Channelers. At least, I hope it comes up and I hope it makes Tuon think. I can’t see Mat adjusting to the sometimes brutal methods of breaking and training Channelers.

2) Rand and Tuon have their meeting. Feel free to comment away! Also, Mat and Rand have a quiet little bragging contest. What other characters would you enjoy seeing in a bragging contest?

Wow! I loved that Rand employed his little singing trick to get some greenery going while he was shielded. I am guessing he learned the ability from the Ogier and I am betting the Seanchan assumed he was some how using the Power to make the greenery. This might make the Seanchan hesitant to shield him again in the future.

I also thought it was great how Rand essentially puled rank on Tuon and then also kneeled and offered her peace. I am a bit disappointed that Tuon pushed so hard to hold on to the captured damane when Rand essentially gave her lands in Randland – lands that are not rightfully hers. Well, if Mat gets Tuon to see the error in slavery, then he will win the bragging contest.

I would love to see Lan and Bashere have a bragging contest. Or Moiraine and Cadsuane! Nynaeve would win against anyone purely on her stubbornness and turning her nose up and sniffing at anyone else’s accomplishments.

3) Lan’s battle continues, though he has to give ground. What do you think about his conversation concerning female warriors? Taim has shown his face at Lan’s front; does that change your mind on who might finally get to kill this baddie?

Haha! I loved Lan’s half of the conversation about trained, equipped female warriors in battle. It was generous of him to offer a decent burial to the fool who had issue with women fighting. It’s THE Last Battle – of course the women will fight. Dork.

Way back when we realized Taim was up to no good, I thought Rand would have to take him out. Later, I thought it would be Logain. Then, with Logain captured and weakened, I thought it would be Androl. But now Taim is far from any of those guys. However, we also know that Egwene plans to send the Red Sisters hanging out at the Black Tower to Lan, so I think there is still a chance that Androl (along with Pevara and the Reds with their newly Bonded men) will get to face Taim. I am hoping Androl opens a teeny tiny gateway right in the middle of Taim’s black heart. Or his brain.

4) Do you think there is any significant Dark Friend left in Rand’s forces, in disguise/hiding? Lan was asked to keep an eye on Aglemar and Aviendha doesn’t care for Al’salam. Is it just so many cultures being thrown together? Or do we have reason to be suspicious of something darker?

We know that Demandred is still out there some where, but I think he might be leading the Sharran forces (see Q.6). But I also worry that there are one or more Dark Friends in key positions. Rand seems to be able to look into the hearts of men and tell if they are Dark Friends, but he needs to be facing them and perhaps even concentrating on them to tell. So there’s a who slew of folks he hasn’t been able to do that with.

I can’t recall if he has taken the time to face Al’salam, but since he is at Shayol Ghul with Rand, and is a relatively unknown and untested character, I would be concerned about him.

I expect Aglemar is simply weary like everyone else. Mistakes will happen.

5) In a short conversation with Egwene and Gawyn, Rand reveals that he is Galad’s half-brother and that the seals are fakes. Which do you think caused Gawyn more grief? Who do you think switched the seals and for what purpose?

Haha! I think Gawyn might be a little ill over learning that his half brother Galad is also half brother to Rand. He was perturbed enough to learn of Elayne’s liking for Rand.

So Rand says the seals are fake, but only he can tell. The fakes would have to be made of cuendillar to pass for real. Egwene and some of the Aes Sedai she trained can make cuendillar, but I am not sure they can shape it to closely resemble the real seals. Rand was pretty open with the info concerning breaking the seals, so I can see a lot of people wanting to steal the seals and keep them save. yet very few people, if any, would have the ability to make convincing fakes and swap them.

So perhaps Rand is lying. But why? Does he need the misdirection? Is it, in part, to keep Egwene safe? If everyone believes the seals to be fake, then Egwene is less of a target. But I think only Gawyn and Aviendha have heard the news. So, I lean towards Rand going for misdirection, but I am not totally sure why. And who would he leave word with to tell Egwene they are real and should be broken? Argh!

6) Bashere and Elayne are trying to outmaneuver 2 armies of trollocs. Meanwhile, Egwene’s forces are routed by the sudden appearance of the Sharran army. Will the forces of good be able to recover prior to Rand’s duel with the Dark One? Any ‘in retrospect’ comments concerning the Sharrans? Did you see that coming?

I am thinking the forces of good will be fighting by the skin of their teeth while Rand fights the DO. Even though Elayne and Bashere have a plan, something else will come up. Even though Rand has asked the Seanchan to join Egwene’s forces, I don’t think they will totally annihilate the Sharran army. Nope. This is epic fantasy, and the climax of a very long series. We need to have blood and death and the chance that things won’t turn out good in order for the end of the battle, when the good have won, to make us cheer.

I didn’t see the Sharrans showing up and fighting for the forces of evil. They have been mentioned briefly here and there throughout the series, but never in any major detail. We knew they had some Channelers, but I can’t recall the details. Honestly, it kind of felt like a weak plot ploy to help move things along.

7) Lorella Aes Sedai and the rest of the Reds hanging around outside the Black Tower insist on Bonding their promised 47 male Channelers. Egwene has sent riders to fetch them back in order to send them to Lan. Are we about to see the moment the purpose of the Reds changes? Do you think Pevara and Androl have shared the double Bonding technique with the male Channelers?

Yes! I think we are about to see that magical event that takes the bitchy, man-hating Reds and turns them into an awesome fighting force that will make adult Channelers tremble in their boots! Hooray! I expect great things from these small-minded women.

I am really hoping that Pevara and Androl have shared the double Bond idea with the other guys. I expect the ladies will get a few surprises more than they expected. Lorella, and perhaps most of the Reds, are going into this expecting being able to control their Bonded men to some extent. Haha! I expect to be amused by their attempts to order the men around.

Other Tidbits:

That practice session between Tam and Rand, with Tam’s new sword, was great. Rand initially wanted the Asha’men to train with weapons because it would give you an edge if you couldn’t access the power, or were weak. It seems Rand was slipping into that idea of ‘I have the Power, why bother with the sword’ and it was good to see Tam pull him out of that.

Some of the Whitecloaks felt the Ogier were little more than Trollocs and worried about them turning and fighting the humans. Silly! I am glad to see Galad keeping them in check.

Rand plans to not just capture or contain, but kill the Dark One. I always think of such supreme forces as akin to Elementals – it would be like trying to kill Mother Nature or Father Time. How would you do it? Should you do it? I thought it interesting that Aviendha counseled that it was more honorable to take the DO as gai’shain.

Gawyn has leanred a bit more about the Seanchan assassin rings. I know he feels underutilized, at least until the Sharran showed up, and I worry he will use one or more of the rings in some heroic effort, and he will die, and Egwene will cry.

A Memory of Light, Part III

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host this week 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 tiny violins for our bad guys.

This week, we covered Chapters 8-14. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  Rand is traveling around, giving precious gifts to Elayne and Lan (so far.)  Is this his way of saying goodbye, his final will? Do you think he is being unnecessarily fatalistic?

Yes, I think this is one way in which Rand is saying goodbye, and no, I don’t think he is being fatalistic. It’s the Last Battle. Any and all could die and it is a big hairy deal to everyone. For many, it will be the last thing they do – though I hope we don’t lose any of the main characters.

My fatalistic side is afraid that Perrin may be the one to fall…..but I may just be overly worried about losing my favorite character of the series.

2.  Egwene stands strong in Kandor, but the other two battlefields are suffering setbacks.  Do you think the Light has to do something drastic, or will they be able to weather the storm with the current plan?

I expect there will need to be something drastic, otherwise this will be a very long and boring book. 🙂 If Tarwin’s Gap falls, and if they can’t reclaim Caemlyn and close off the Waygate, then a whole lot of people will be screwed. But, at the same time, our heroes will have to realize that they can’t save everyone. They simply need to save enough and defeat the evil in order to be able to rebuild.

3.  Mat joins the story, on his way to Tuon in Ebou Dar.  Will the “Seanchan Question” finally be resolved?  Rand seems to be hesitating, too…

The Seanchan question has to be resolved before the end of this book, and I expect that Mat will be instrumental in that. I have to wonder if the married couple need to exchange some boon or such in order to be completely wedded. Maybe Mat could ask Tuon to stop conquering and enslaving folks as his boon?

4.  Rand takes his turn on the battlefield, but is turned back.  Do you expect him to try again, or is this the last we see of him on the field before the invasion of Shayol Ghul?

I have a hard time seeing Rand sitting things out. While I can understand the logic – he needs to minimize the chances of being taken out by a baddie and also conserve his strength, he still has this big bleeding heart that makes him think he needs to protect everyone. Besides, it is more fun (or nerve racking) seeing him risk his neck.

5.  Perrin leaves and takes the battle to the World of Dreams… in the flesh.  Do you think it is as evil as it’s claimed?  Did you like his speech?  Was it wise to bring Gaul, untrained, to this fight?

I think Perrin has the right of it. It doesn’t smell evil to go into the Dream World in body, but it is very risky. And, obviously, it has been used by evil people for evil deeds.

Perrin’s speech was very cool. To the point and I think it crystallized some things for Rand – there are no ‘good’ choices left.

I think it was wise to take Gaul. He is good in strange circumstances and should be able to handle most things on the fly. However, I do worry that he is the Red Shirt for this adventure.

6.  Lanfear makes another plea to Rand, and he lets her into his mind to prove he is over her.  She then appears in the World of Dreams to pester Perrin.  What game is she really playing at?

She’s looking for a protector that is also a patsy – she needs help getting out of her predicament but also wants to control/use her would-be rescuer. Since Rand is obviously not going to assist her and can’t be manipulated by her, she has to find someone else.

Of course, I think the Wheel will Weave her actions into the Pattern for the good of our heroes and Lanfear may very well end up ‘assisting’ the good guys even though that is not her intention.

7.  We find out how people are turned to the Shadow.  What do you think of this mechanism?  Are the turned really turned, or just taken over, as Androl seems to think?

It seems that if a person is willing to be Stilled (or perhaps it is a voluntarily giving up the Power) then they can’t be turned. Now that we the readers know that Stilling can be healed to some extent, I think more folks will be able to resist this turning. Logain has been unStilled once before, so hopefully all his loyal Channelers will recall that be able to unTurn themselves. Then the healers can return some of their Channeling ability afterwards.

Or we might not have time for that and the lot of them will have to be killed, or Still en masse by Rand and left to muddle through the end of the world as best they can.

8.  It appears Taim and his cronies are finally ejected from the Black Tower, although Taim is still alive.  What do you think of how this went down?  Will we now see the good Asha’man lend their strength to the fight?  Could that turn the tide of the war?

It seemed pretty sudden to me. I think Taim must have had some place he was suppose to be and couldn’t put as much time or effort as he wanted in fighting back. In any event, it leaves our good Asha’men free to join the fight. Under Androl and Pevara, I can’t see them doing anything else.

Will the Asha’men be the thing that turns the tide? I don’t think so. We have a lot of tides to turn and a lot of people chipping in to help win this battle. No, I think the force that will change the tide one way or the other are the Seanchan. Will they continue to harrass and enslave Randland as they fight the Last Battle? Or will they see the light and come to the aid of Rand and his fellow warriors? I really hope Mat knocks some sense into Tuon…..by bedding her! 😉

Other Tidbits:

Elayne gave Rand a dagger that makes him invisible to the Dark One. I wonder how it works and what’s it’s limitations are. I can’t recall where Elayne picked it up, perhaps in that stash she had Birgitte lugging around for a while.

 

 

A Memory of Light, Part II

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

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

This week, we covered Chapters 2-7. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Pevara and Androl have done some mutual Bonding, which seems to have created a rather uniquely intimate link between the two. Do you think that the other Aes Sedai /Asha’man pairs could create something similar, or do we have an example of mushy, romantic specialness in this case? Have you been surprised by the Red’s ability to work with male Channelers, or do you think that she is unusual for her Ajah?

I expect that other Aes Sedai/Asha’men bonds will happen – perhaps not in this book, but after the big battle is won and folks have a chance to get back to normal lives.

I think there are other Reds like Pevara that will be able to overcome their squeamishness towards male Channelers, if for no other reason than they don’t want to look weak and silly in front of other Aes Sedai.

I have to say that when Pevara had her little panic attack and Bonded Androl, without his permission, I wanted to slap her. Aes Sedai are such bullies. I did cheer a little when Androl turned around and Bonded her so that she could experience it first hand. I think this is nearly the only way the Aes Sedai can learn.

2) I was beginning to worry that Aviendha’s quadruplets would need to be the product of some sort of bizarre ‘virgin’ birth scenario, but now there is at least a biological chance that they could be created in the normal way! Yay! Do you really think that it was necessary for her to use sexytimes as a way to persuade Rand to grant her a boon? Were you disappointed or relieved not to have more details of what was obviously a rather extended night of baby-making?

I expect that Elayne will become injured in some fashion, perhaps end up in a coma, and Aviendha will have to raise her kids along with Elayne’s.

No, I think Rand would have granted her a boon just for getting a look at her tits. Though I am sure he is grateful for the sexytimes. Plus, the three ladies had to gather and discuss how they were going to handle Rand. I wonder what Min and Elayne did to distract themselves from the night of bedroom gymnastics they surely sensed through the bond.

Well, I think you all know me by now. I like the sexytimes to be as descriptive as the rest of the book, so, yeah, I would have enjoyed seeing how Aveidnah (who is super athletic) put Rand through his paces.

3) Apparently, being Turned to the Dark Side does not improve your intellect very much. Do you think that we will ever see a truly intelligent Darkfriend? Did the sequence with Dobser make you more hopeful of Androl and his party surviving against Taim’s attack?

No, I don’t think we will ever have a truly intelligent Darkfriend or Forsaken…. well, not one that can work with others. Cyndane/Lanfear has some cunning to her, but she despises everyone and has difficulty playing nice on Team Dark One.

Yes, I expect that Androl and Pevara will do some major ass kicking before this book is through and one of those asses may very well be Taim. Up until this week’s reading, I had expected that Logain (maybe with Rand’s help) would be the one to take out Taim. But now I suspect that Androl and Pevara will take out Taim, perhaps with Logain’s help (though he is merely a bit of a drool monkey right now due to his long imprisonment and ill treatment).

4) Rand is beginning to manifest some startling new powers and can now manipulate the Dream more successfully than Moridin. Do you think this will cause the Nae’blis to alter his plans and be more aggressive in his pursuit of Rand? It seems that Lanfear is managing to somehow slip away from his control via the mindtrap: or was that all staged for Rand’s benefit?

I think Rand’s new abilities within the Dream will irritate Moridin and while making him more aggressive, it will also make him more careless. Basically, I don’t think Rand is in increased danger on account of this.

I think Lanfear is indeed managing to escape Moridin’s complete control and this will also make him more aggressive and more careless. I don’t think he is cautious enough to have staged the whole Lanfear crying for help thing. Plus, Lanfear is not really a team player (and there are suspicions she was giving Slayer/Luc/Issam orders to kill Rand, which is in direct contradiction to Moridin’s orders).

5) And, yay verily, there will be much politicking and arguing and then Moiraine will appear and quote the Prophecy, thus creating peace and harmony amongst the leaders of the World. Did anyone else expect her to wink at Perrin in a conspiratorial way as she walked past him? Do you think that the new and improved Dragon’s Peace will hold and also stop the future we saw in Aviendha’s visions? Who do you think Rand expected Roedran to be?

So much to say here! First, I don’t know why Rand suspected Roedran. I expect that is something I will pick up on a reread.

1) Egwene almost cost the world not only peace, but existence with her inflated sense of importance. I am so glad Moiraine pointed it out (and in such a way that Egwene could swallow it).

2) Yes, Moiraine is extra awesome, and I definitely could see her and Perrin trading nudges and winks back and forth. They were the two even-headed ones on scene.

3) Aviendha was right to demand the Aiel be included in the Peace and Perrin was great to point out that they needed a job. The Aiel can not meet toh nor generate honor unless they have a task before them, be it small or large.

4) I think rand left out some folks and that may or may not cause issues later – like the Dark Tower and the Traveling Folk (though since they follow the Way of the Leaf, it may not be such a big deal for them). Perhaps even the Ogier should be allowed to sign the Peace and guarantee their rights in this new United Nations of Randland. And the newly risen Malkier, will they sign?

5) Here is my biggest criticism of the Peace – Elayne will lead the armies! At first, I thought it was a joke or some sort of subterfuge by Rand. But, nope, he meant it. Sigh….OK, Elayne is an entertaining character and she has her moments. But she is entertaining because she keeps messing up and she has her shining moments because she has dug herself into yet another trap. The entire series, she has walked into one trap or another, acted on impulse and feelings instead of logic. In fact, just last book (like 300 pages ago) she was threatening to execute Perrin. So I am guessing that this is a plot point that Sanderson was committed to via Jordan and he hasn’t had a whole lot of time to make Elayne look competent. But I also expect that Elayne will be competent the rest of the book and this will be a huge character change for her with little reason/time to make it happen. I expect this point will continue to bother me. Some people believe that beauty = competence. Alas, that is not one of the magical qualities of this world.

You know who would make a good leader of the united armies? Someone who has a lifetime of training and experience? Someone who’s culture and training allows them to absorb new tactics and use them immediately? Someone who has Channelers and flying beasts to sends swift messages? Tuon/Fortunata, Empress of the Seanchan. So, I am quite surprised that Rand didn’t try to bring them into the fold by offering the Seanchan this chance to prove that they are worthy leaders to the folks of Randland.

6) Great Trees and a singing Ogier army, then Gateways bringing aid to Lan’s final charge. Discuss, with specific dimensions for the size of your grin and/or the number of tears shed! 😀

This was pretty fricking awesome. I really enjoyed the whole scene of Lan’s final charge. He rallied the men, but didn’t lie to them about their odds. He had Nynaeve in his thoughts (but somehow couldn’t sense her exuberation at finding out Rand meant to go to his aid). The charge beginning and then suddenly being joined by 4,000 extra men. Then another gateway, and another, and another. Yes, that was great. I had dramatic theme music rolling in my head for the entire scene.

It was nice to see Loial and his mum too.

7) Mat is off in Ebou Dar doing something mysterious. Can we hope that he is trying to talk some sense into Tuon? Will he accept the Horn from Faile or run away screaming?

So Perrin knows that Mat is married to the Seanchan empress, right? Has he mentioned that to anyone? that could be a very important and useful piece of intel right now. I expect Mat is either trying to get some sexytimes with his wife (and he needs some after the Tower of Ghenjei) or arguing with her about how slavery is basically evil and she really needs to saddle up and ride with the White Hats on this one.

I think Mat will accept the Horn readily enough. He might not like it, but he already knows the necessity of it. I expect grumbling and perhaps a badger to mysteriously appear in Elayne’s sleeping quarters at some point (for ordering Mat to blow the Horn).

Other Tidbits:

Aviendha sneaking into Elayne’s tent was awesome! And she was just trying not to be a bother to the guards. But this also has me worried about the capability of the evil Aiel and the inability of Elayne’s guards and scouts to detect them.

Rand comes up with the first shower this Age has seen! Hooray! Maybe Aviendha will tell Elayne and Elayne will commission some castle engineers to make it possible for the royalty. And in perhaps 200 years, the middle class will have showers. Then all will smell better.

Androl! Gosh, this late-to-the-party side character is turning out to be pretty interesting. I could definitely enjoy a book (or trilogy) just about Androl and his adventures prior to the Dark Tower.

(Ooops! I read a chapter too far and this little comment is actually from Chapter 8). Elayne finally announces who the father of her twins is (though Bashere had to show her the logic in it). It was overdue and I am glad that whole Evil Mellar Daddy rumor can be put to bed for good.

I did like that Elayne was direct with Aiel, making it clear that they simply couldn’t run off and do their own thing, no matter how competent they believed themselves to be.

 

Towers of Midnight, Part VIII

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerWelcome everyone to Book 13 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. We start Book 14 next week and here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

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

This week, we covered the Chapters 49-END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Aviendha’s visions finally show us the decision that will place the Aiel upon their path to destruction. That first step seems so logical, so will she be able to persuade the Wise Ones to avoid it when only she has seen this future? Can you see any way that Randland can avoid being overwhelmed by the Seanchan, even if the Aiel try to preserve the Dragon’s Peace?

Well, Aviendha is Bonded to the Dragon Reborn, so if the Aiel won’t listen to her, then Rand will. She just needs to convince one party or the other….or prevent Tuon from being assassinated. That was part of the vision, too, right? That the Seanchan had a leader who seemed amenable to some kind of reasonable peace, but then she died and the new ruler is a ruthless pain in the ass. So, with 3 paths to change this future, I think Aviendha will be able to make it happen.

The Seanchan are driven by honor. I think that if someone pointed out their lack of honor in abandoning their homeland, then a chunk of them would go home to stomp out the trollocs (or whatever the Seanchan equivalent is). Then perhaps trade would ensue and there would be no need for whole sale Seanchan dominance. Plus, I really don’t like the Seanchan and if the series ends with them ruling Randland I will be mightily put out.

2) Elayne takes the Sun Throne without bloodshed. Were you impressed by her method of uniting the two countries or do you think that it will offer her enemies a neat way to gain power? Will she ever beat the Daes Dae’mar out of the Cairhienien nobility?

I haven’t been Elayne’s biggest fan of late. I have found her choices to be driven by childish whim or need without a whole lot of thought being put into them (gaining her first throne was more Birgitte’s work, challenging the Forsaken and nearly being killed, threatening to execute Perrin, etc.) so her well through out path to teh Sun Throne both surprised me and seemed out of character. She has been playing the twit for the past few books, so has she finally slowed down a bit, learned from her mistakes? Is she listening to her mom? We’ll have to see if she reverts back to her twitness in the final book.

No, I think Daes Des’mar is here to stay.

3) It seems that I was wrong for wanting Rand to deal with the Borderlanders earlier. Do you feel as if this plotline has reached a satisfying resolution or do you think that the Borderlanders should have been keeping a watch on the Blight instead? Where do you expect Rand to send them next: to their respective homes or to Tarwin’s Gap?

While I was amused and a little awed that the Borderlanders basically set aside their lives to deliver a few bitch slaps to Rand, I also have to tilt my head to the side and quirk an eyebrow. Really? They couldn’t be doing anything better with their time? And they felt the need to bring such a large contingent? Really, it would only take like 3 of them to do this little prophesy test of theirs. All the forced they brought with them couldn’t keep them safe if Rand decided to kill them.

I think Rand will have a use for them and Tarwin’s Gap sounds like a good one.

4) Both Pevara and Androl have detected people who have undergone mysterious changes. I guess that we all think that Taim is responsible, but do we have any idea of what has actually happened to them? I was a little unsure of Javindhra: has she undergone a similar transformation to Tarna, or does she have some other reason for wanting to stay in the Black Tower?

Could it be some kind of Compulsion or perhaps possession? We have seen Graendal possessing birds and spying. So is it possible for other Forsaken or even the Dark One to possess some Asha’men? Even and Aes Sedai or two? Whatever it is, it’s not good.

If Tarna is Black Ajah and she is working with Taim to create these transformations, then that could also be the answer in her case.

5) Foxes and Snakes and blindings, oh my! The Tower of Ghenjei certainly took its toll on our heroes, but at least Thom and Moiraine are happy now! This section was so jammed with action, revelations and fulfilled prophecies: did you manage to follow it all or were you a little overwhelmed? It seems that the second red doorway, in the Stone of Tear, has also been destroyed: do you think that Finn will finally stop receiving visitors now?

Wow! There was so much in this section and no, I didn’t follow it all. This series has gotten ever more complicated as we moved through it, so I am sure there are several small things that I missed. Plus, it looks like TOR is or just has released a WoT book with back stories for some of our side characters, stories that never made it into the series. So, yeah, I expect I missed stuff through out this big chase/fight scene.

I expect the Finn have more than just the 2 ways for people to wander in and out. Those two red doorways might have once been the Aes sedai ways, but I bet the Finn deal with more than just the Aes sedai.

6) So, Noal WAS Jain Farstrider. Were you surprised by this revelation? What did you think of his ‘death’: is he really gone, or trapped like Moiraine? Alternatively, did he die such a hero’s death that he might become bound to the Horn like Birgitte?

Uh, no, I wasn’t surprised Noal was Jain Fartstrider. I think that was broadcast loud and clear long before we got to the Tower of Ghenjei. I am guessing he is trapped by the Finn and will be drained unless he can find a way to either kill himself or force them to kill him. Once he is truly dead, then I think it would be fitting for him to be bound to the Horn (unless he is super tired and needs one big rest, then I think the Wheel should give that to him).

7) Olver seems to mirror Mat quite a lot, from his way with serving girls to his ability to beat a game that is supposedly impossible to win. It seems that his nosiness was rather fortuitous, but do you think that Verin’s letter will prove at all useful now that the Trolloc attack has already started? Do you think that she should have left instructions that would have actually made Mat open the letter in time to prepare for the attack?

Even though Talmanes and crew will be getting to the party late, I still think the info in Verin’s letter will prove useful: they know how the trollocs are getting in and can shut it down. No one else has that info and it’s already going to be somewhat chaotic inside the city anyway. I fear Talmanes may die a hero’s death in trying to save the city.

No, I don’t think instructions demanding Mat open the letter at a certain time would have been good. He balks at any directions from women, especially from Aes Sedai. So, verin making any such demand would not have worked.

8) Evil Aiel with filed teeth!!?!??!? Discuss!

I can’t recall if the Shaido had a color scheme involving red or not. I figure after Sevanna was captured and hauled off (along with others), then the remaining Shaido probably broke up into smaller bands. This could be one of them. It appears they have no sense of honor, at least in regards to Wetlanders. If they attack the Seanchan and even come close to succeeding in killing someone high up (like Tuon/Fortunata), then the Seanchan won’t bother to discriminate – they will hunt down all Aiel.

9) Lanfear barges into Rand’s happy place and asks him to help her. I suspect that we were supposed to be surprised that she was still alive, especially after Moiraine’s report of her death at the hands of the Finn, but had you already suspected this? Do you think that Rand will dash off to save her, and, if so, will she finally turn from the Shadow, be a decent person and help the man that she supposedly loves?

Wasn’t Lanfear now … uh.. whatever her name is that dresses in slinky clothing? And Moridin has her leashed via one of those little gilded cages he wears around his neck. So, yeah, we know she’s not dead and the Finn lied to Moiraine. Or the Dark One (or a minion) had to kill Lanfear while she was in the Finn’s keeping and then revive her afterwards.

I think Rand will have heartburn over yet another woman being tortured. And, as we saw way back like in book 2 or 3, Rand believes you simply have to want to stop serving the Dark One in order to be counted among the good again. I say, actions speak way louder than words, so Lanfear is going to have to prove herself in my book before I vote for her rescue.

If Lanfear miraculously turns from the dark, I expect that she will then be killed in some heroic attempt to either save Rand or someone he cares about.

Squatch having a snack
Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

Just smile and nod at the evil crazy Asha’men. Just smile a nod and keep walking.

So Mat was stunned by Moiraine and Thom proposing marriage to one another. Uh…So was I. When did they ever get around to kissy kissy? I’ll definitely be paying attention to their every exchange when I do a reread in the future.

Can ta’veren-ness wear off on other people? Like Olver showing signs of incredible luck? Or was that just the Wheel’s way to 1) show Olver that the Finn can be beaten and 2) get him to wrap up the game and go dig through Mat’s mail like a cheeky blighter?

 

Towers of Midnight, Part V

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerWelcome everyone to Book 13 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Towers of Midnight 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.  Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers  has the insight and wicked humor.

This week, we covered the Chapters 26-33. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  Slayer prowls the World of Dreams, where a strange violet dome prevents access.  Meanwhile, gateways fail in the real world.  Is there a connection?  It’s building to a battle between Perrin and Slayer very soon.  Do you think Perrin’s work with nightmares will bear fruit or is it still too soon?

Yes, definitely a connection between the failing gateways and the violet dome, and possibly even the bubble of evil that turned nearly everyone’s weapon against their users.

I think Perrin will have to face Slayer before the armies can leave the valley through gateways. But since Perrin’s timeline is behind everyone else’s, we might not see that fight until next book.

2.  Perrin avoids a battle by submitting himself to a possibly pointless trial.  Do you agree with this choice?  How risky is it for Perrin?  At the same time, Morgase is finally revealed and will act as judge!  What do you think about that?  Does Berelain strike you as smitten by Galad?

Personally, I think the trial could wait until after the Last Battle, you know that big looming, possibly world ending battle with the Ultimate Evil? Yeah, prioritize guys!

I think Morgase is making Galad recall his sense of honor (like proving someone guilty before killing them) and making him question his ideals of ultimate right and ultimate wrong. There is plenty of grey between the two. So, this trial might not be so risky for Perrin. Plus, Perrin hasn’t agreed to submit to punishment and Faile is secretly planning an escape route for him. If anything, this trial is probably more dangerous for Galad – he could loose face with the Whitecloaks, he could force a confrontation that leaves him dead, or (worst of all) his ideas of right & wrong could be shattered and he will loose all confidence and go hide in some cave for the rest of his life.

I think Morgase will do fine as a judge. She may still think Perrin is beneath royalty, but she is not about to have him hanged for being an upstart.

God, yes! Please let Berelain and Galad distract one another to prevent them from wrecking other peoples lives!

3.  Sitters attempt to undermine Egwene (again) and Egwene wraps them up neatly (again).  Have we seen the final political battle or do you expect more?  What do you think of Egwene’s proposed changes?

I hope this is the last Tower politics we see, at least until after the Last Battle. These ladies need to get their shit together or they won’t be able to make a difference in the Last Battle.

I am glad the Egwene has cut off most of their political maneuvering power, for now. Until they think of something creative. But she also set them a big task (minding the armies) and that should keep them sufficiently busy.

4.  Shots fired!  The dragons are in production and work well, but the Last Battle is near and time is short.  How many will they be able to make, and much of an impact will they really have?  Birgitte thinks the world has changed.  What are your impressions?

I am thinking that time is getting short, so perhaps they only have enough time to make cannon for the palace. But as it is a governmental seat, that could mean a lot in the Last Battle.

Since so few people have seen cannon and know what they can do, I think the initial impact on enemies will be large. But, as with every weapon, folks will find ways to counter them or avoid them. So Elayne will have to plan carefully and get the most out of their initial use.

Apparently, the world in times past has come up with cannon before and Birgitte has seen it. And, yes, the world has changed. City states can no longer rely on strong, high walls for protection (both because of gateways and now because of cannon). Instead, leaders will have to build strong relations and cooperate in order to maintain healthy cities/kingdoms/etc.

5.  Wolves gather at Dragonmount and Perrin observes the “Veins of Gold” event from the World of Dreams.  The Last Hunt is now upon us and the wolves are mobilizing.  What are your thoughts?  Did you enjoy seeing this scene from another perspective?

This was an awesome scene! I really enjoyed revisiting this pivotal moment through Perrin’s eyes. And seeing the wolves so excited, relieved, and battle ready was awesome too. I want to think that Perrin’s presence in the dream world just might have helped Rand, all in the background, of course.

6.  Mat finally disposes of the gholam, helped out by some Kinswomen and a gateway.  What do you think?  Was this the solution you had in mind?

I think this was the best they could do at this time. Of course, I always want to see such evils things destroyed completely. We all know that evil things tend to come back around (like certain Forsaken). Still, it was an awesome fight scene and it was pretty satisfying. Also, I like to see that Mat has learned to play nicely with at least 1 Channeler instead of insisting he do everything on his own.

7.  Rand lands in Maradon in the eleventh hour, bringing aid.  He then shows off some impressive channeling.  Do you think he made a dent in the shadow army?  Do you agree with his assertion that he must stay away from the main battle?  Feel free also to comment on Torkumen and King Alsalam.

Since we don’t know how the Trollocs, Myrdraal, etc. are spawned, then I am not sure if he made a dent at all. My guess is that the Dark One can generate at least the Trollocs pretty easily, so this blasting of the bad guys, while satisfying, probably didn’t affect the total numbers all that much.

I am not sure what he considers the main battle – Lan’s fight? Ituralde’s battle? Breaking the final seals? They are all important, but I am not clear on where the Dark One will appear and have the one-on-one with Rand (and wouldn’t that be the main battle then?).

Well, it turns out that Torkumen was a Dark Friend of some kind. I thought he was just a self-interested idiot. But that may be enough in these times to allow the Dark One into your heart.

Have we met Alsalam before? Ituralde seems to hold him in high regard so that speaks well of him.

8.  Egwene plans an elaborate trap in the World of Dreams.  Do you expect it to be as easy as she imagines it?  Meanwhile, Gawyn has discovered important information in Caemlyn, but refuses to return. Does this strike anyone as a potentially disastrous case of miscommunication?

No, nothing is going to easy in these last fights & battles. Egwene is underestimating her foe. But, you know, she has only recently become a badass fighter (and part of that is because she had a foretelling and know the Seanchan were coming). She doesn’t know about the Seanchan assassins and while she is pretty sure who lurks in T’A’R, she could be completely wrong…again. How many times did she and Nynaeve walk into traps earlier in the series?

Gawyn is a twit. May I slap him? I know lots of the characters are getting prickly over their pride lately, but this strikes me as extreme.

Squatch having a snack
Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

Elayne being hoisted up in a bed was an image! Birgitte found this amusing and so did I.

Yoile is dead. sniffle.

It was very good that Gawyn could let go of his anger at Rand (of course, part of the reason he can do so is because he believes he will die – what happens if rand doesn’t die?).

The captured Seanchan channelers are being so silly! I say that if collaring makes them more comfortable and useful for the Last Battle, then do so, save the world, and then work on rehabilitation.

 

Towers of Midnight, Part IV

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerWelcome everyone to Book 13 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Towers of Midnight over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is 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.

This week, we covered the Chapters 21-25. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Morgase discovers that she was manipulated by one of the Forsaken. Do you think that her discovery will finally alter her attitude towards Tallanvor, or will the poor lad have to go off and die in the Last Battle all unrequited and depressed? Does this information make it more likely that she will reveal her true identity to Perrin and Faile?

I think she will eventually admit her feelings for Tallanvor and give the lad a real chance. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t happen.

Morgase has probably wondered for a while now if she temporarily lost her wits when she was with Gabril/Ravin. Finding out that he was a Forsaken in disguise must be somewhat of a relief (hooray! I wasn’t crazy!) and also terrifying at the same time (shit! I was under the influence of the Forsaken!). So I expect she has some feelings to work out.

I really think Morgase will have to reveal herself sooner or later – either to prevent Perrin and Galad from killing one another or to prevent Gawyn and Rand from killing one another. I am just not sure how it will play out.

2) Phew! Maradon has finally opened its gates for Ituralde and his troops. Personally I could have kissed Yoeli at first, but do you think that he will really refuse to continue fighting Shadowspawn in order to submit to execution for his actions? What did you make of Lord Torkumen: Darkfriend or idiot?

I think Yoeli (and his would be executioners) will see the sense in living to continue the fight against the Shadowspawn. Also, I think Ituralde’s force would be mightily pissed if Yoeli was executed. Who in their right mind wants Ituralde pissed at them?

I think Lord Torkumen is an idiot. But by calling him a Darkfriend, Ituralde is pointing out that it would be that easy to turn his own troops against him. Hopefully his slow wit will come to the conclusion that it is better to ally with Ituralde rather than declare war on him.

3) Speaking of idiots . . . yet again Gawyn rushes in and ruins Egwene’s plans. Do you feel any sympathy for the poor lad, with his love-addled brain, or are you getting frustrated with his inability to let Egwene take care of herself? Any more thoughts on the identity of the assassin and Egwene’s assumption that it is Mesaana? Will Gawyn be any more sensible once he returns to Caemlyn?

In this specific case, I did have sympathy for Gawyn. After all, he had made the active decision to leave her be when he saw something strange, and that strange through a knife at his heart. What else could the lad do at that point? So I think that Egwene is being a little harsh (seems to be her modus operandi all the time now) as Gawyn had to do something. I would have done something and I think anything at that point would have scared off the assassin.

Again, I believe we have a few (many?) Seanchan assassins running around the Tower. Egwene is foolish to dismiss Gawyn’s gut feelings about the assassin(s).

I think Brynn gave Gawyn some good advice – He needs to figure what he wants, and go do that. Then he will have a better idea of how Egwene would fit into his life and Egwene will have a better idea on if she wants to fit into this life. Egwene has already figured out what she wants to do with her life (be an integral part of the Aes Sedai culture/society) and I think she is still figuring out how/if she wants Gawyn in her life.

4) So, Birgitte entered the Tower of Ghenjei, wandered around it for a few weeks and then died. Can we expect a better outcome for Mat, Thom, and Noal? Obviously they are going to survive, but apart from Mat’s luck, do they have any other advantage that you can think of that Birgitte was lacking?

I too expect that they will survive, thought they might come out maimed or changed in some way.

Mat’s luck alone is a huge advantage. But, yes, I think they have more info than many adventurers who are crazy dumb enough to enter the Tower of Ghenjei on purpose. Also, Mat has his medallion, which the inhabitants may recognize. Noal is a kind of unknown, as we have all guessed he is some unique person spun out into the thread by the Wheel to do something incredible at this time. Thom of course is wicked awesome as he can walk right up to a myrdraal, kick it in the balls, and live to tell about it.

5) What is it about idiot Trakands this week?!!??! So, just for a change of pace, Elayne dashes off and places herself in terrible danger and then somehow manages to survive by the skin of her teeth. I doubt that any of us were surprised by her rashness, but what did you think of her disguise: effective or not? Was anyone at all surprised to discover that the secretary/torturer was a Darkfriend? How much do you want to see Mellor with a knife through his eye?

I thought her disguise very clever. Why haven’t the Aes Sedai in general tried this kind of trickery? And I think she was getting somewhere before she was so rudely interrupted.

I wasn’t surprised the torturer was a Dark Friend. After all, if you take some deep, repeatable pleasure in torturing people, then you probably lack the fuzzy warm lining to your soul that makes most people palatable to one another. I was surprised that the jailbreak for the Black Ajah/Darkfriends was happening that night.

Oh yes, I definitely want to see Mellor with a few too many body piercings gone awry! I hope Elayne gets to kill him, but considering how ridiculously easy she is to trick and capture, it will probably be Brigitte who gets to kill him.

6) It seems that Perrin may be coming to terms with his inner Wolf. Do you think that this will happen in time for the battle with the Whitecloaks, or will he need a few more ‘training sessions’ with Slayer before he can take that final step?

I am still hoping the battle with the Whitecloaks will not happen, because Morgase reveals herself and talks sense into Galad. But if she doesn’t step forward, then they will fight and I don’t think Perrin is ready to unleash his inner wolf in that battle. I do expect he will be ready for the Last Battle. Maybe he has to unleash on the Whitecloaks in order to learn how to reign himself in.

7) Lan’s little army is growing steadily and he is thoroughly annoyed by it! How funny is this? I was disappointed that we did not get to experience the swapping of his Bond to Nynaeve in this section: am I just impatient, or are you looking forward to that scene as well?

I too was waiting for that moment when he notices a bond to Nynaeve. So, maybe it hasn’t happened yet for him on the timeline. Something to enjoy in next week’s reading?

Lan needs to get over his one-man suicide run. He can’t hold the tide by himself and if they don’t hold back the flood of Trollocs, etc. then more people will die. So, either these brave men sacrifice themselves (I expect most of them to die) or they stay home and die with all their friends and family. Both options suck; it’s just one has a smaller body count. If Lan could set aside his pride for second, then his brain would have the power to do that math and see the reason of taking an army.

Squatch having a snack
Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

Is anyone else disturbed by the thought of Trollocs using human speech? If they can chitchat, can they be reasoned with? Is it possible to have tea with them and get them better wages so that maybe, just maybe, they would stop warring on humans and eating them?

I LOVED Brigitte’s comment about sticking a sign on all those portals that lead to the Tower of Ghenjei to warn folks. She made it sound like someone had left the warning sign off of a broken elevator, or such.

So where was Rand when Elayne was being attacked? Or even Aviendha? Both can make Gateways. I understand both are busy doing Important Things, but this was an emergency!