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Book 14 Chapters 23-28




In this entry of A Memory of Light, Rand finally makes his descent into Shayol Ghul, Gawyn helps Egwene escape at great risk to himself, Perrin continues to clash with Slayer in the Wolf Dream, Lan is perturbed by Agelmar's peculiar behavior, Tuon has a tense encounter with the Aes Sedai, and Elayne faces a startling betrayal as the defense of Cairhien starts to crumble.


Chapter 23: At the Edge of Time




Oh no, Gawyn’s using the rings. Knew it. Isn’t this essentially suicide? Can the rings’ effects be Healed? Gawyn knows what they do, he has to realize how dangerous this is. Well, he’s never lacked courage, I’ll give him that. Anyway, that was a pretty intense scene there. I was convinced something was going to happen, like Gawyn dying, but Leilwin came to the rescue, and it seems like Egwene and Gawyn have escaped the Sharans for now.


Aviendha’s scene was just battle, although pretty exciting.


What stood out in this chapter, of course, was Rand entering Shayol Ghul. Damn, after 14 books, this is really happening. I can only imagine how this felt for people reading the series since the 90s. I’ve only been a fan for 3 years, but this is a really exciting moment.


Chapter 24: To Ignore the Omens




I’m a little perturbed by Mat’s depiction in this book (and I guess all the Sanderson ones). Although I hope my concerns will be assuaged when Mat finally gets into action (seriously, everybody’s fighting except the world’s greatest tactician at this point), I’m just starting to notice that Sanderson is kinda writing Mat as a clown. That’s the image I pick up in his scenes, especially when other people look on him. And that’s just not Mat. He was never a comedic relief character, he was never too much of a buffoon. He had several moments of stupidity, sure, but often times he could be a pretty serious character. It’s just the way Mat’s written continues to rub me the wrong way, even though it’s certainly improved since TGS.


Anyway, the scene at Thakan’dar reminded me why Ituralde’s my favorite general (save Mat, of course). Bryne, Bashere, and Agelmar just don’t make battles as interesting as Ituralde did. The siege of Maradon in ToM was more intense than most of the battles in this book so far, and it was quite exciting to read Ituralde handle the trollocs with such ingenuity here, with burning logs and huge thickets of thorns. I’ve enjoyed the action in this book, no doubt, but at one point, battles just blend together if there’s nothing to make them special, like here.


Chapter 25: Quick Fragments




I couldn’t help but be reminded of the latter Harry Potter books (when the war with Voldemort started) when Siuan questioned Egwene to see if it was really her. Interesting how situations have become so similar, that the heroes of Randland can’t trust each other anymore, out of fear of Shadow infiltration. Anyway, I’m still nervous over Gawyn. Obviously, he’s not dead yet, but his putting on the ring will clearly have tremendous ramifications at some point.


And Rand’s fighting Moridin at the edge of time. Damn.


Agelmar’s incompetence is becoming a serious concern for Lan, as expected. I just can’t imagine what could be up with him, though. Surely he’s not a Darkfriend? But he’s a general, he shouldn’t be incompetent. Hmm.


More surreal Perrin-Slayer combat, yay. Could Slayer really hurt Rand from Tel’aran’rhiod while he’s fighting Moridin? Because Rand has enough to deal with at the moment! Perrin’s certainly become quite the bad-ass, but I feel his reluctance to kill in the Dream will come back to bite him. I’m not one to agree with Lanfear, but she certainly has a point regarding Perrin’s naiveté.


Chapter 26: Considerations




For some reason, the Egwene-Tuon encounter was sort of like rubbing salt in the wound of the disappointing end of the Seanchan conflict. I loved that Egwene stood up to Tuon’s bullshit (as a character, she’s been consistently losing my sympathy considerably over the last few books) and called her out on how appalling the Seanchan empire is. But the fact that it came to nothing (and it seemed as if concessions were about to be made!) irritated me, even though I shouldn’t really have expected much. This is clearly an instance of the narrative forcing two opposing, uncooperating entities to unite against a greater foe. Except one is an empress of imperialist slavers and the other a victim her people tortured.


What surprised me was how utterly delusional Tuon was. Her claims that Egwene (and all ‘marath’damane’) would be happier as damane than as not appalled me as much as Egwene, but I also almost pity Tuon for this indoctrination. I can believe she really thinks this horrific form of torture and suppression is a good thing because of her upbringing. I can believe she really thinks members of the White Tower would voluntarily become damane. On the other hand, every slave state to exist has justified slavery, often claiming it was beneficial to the victims. Plantation owners in the South claimed blacks were unbridled animals that were better civilized and more comfortable under slavery. And many probably believed this to be true. So Tuon’s delusion does nothing to justify how horrific the damane system really is. Well, other than Mat’s silly White Tower joke, nothing else to say about Egwene’s scene. I just hope something comes out of it. Maybe Tuon will finally start thinking after learning that Egwene was tortured as a damane.


Frustrating as it was, the Egwene-Tuon interplay was interesting, enough to make this a solid chapter, but then there was the Bashere reveal. Because damn. At first, I was perturbed. Bashere’s an awesome character, and I found it highly unlikely that he would’ve always been a Darkfriend. Then I realized he could very well have been Turned. And then I remembered Graendal had been after Bashere’s dreams, and I finally understood what had happened. Still, a pretty impressive plot twist. These battles have been exciting and all, but not too suspenseful. However, having a general incapacitated and the armies in disaster have definitely intensified things.


Chapter 27: Friendly Fire




With Bashere a ‘Darkfriend’ and Agelmar probably afflicted too, judging his prior behavior, I’m getting concerned for Bryne. There’s no way he could be a legitimate Darkfriend, but Graendal could’ve touched him or something. Anyway, I’m glad Min has something to do, because she really hasn’t done anything in this book. Hell, her role for the majority of the series was following Rand around, but she did have a purpose with Callandor and their romance was one of the stronger in the series.


On the other hand, now Min’s been snared by the Seanchan as well as Mat. Okay, they’re not prisoners, but I’ve already been rather disappointed with Mat’s role in the book so far, and having Min essentially forced to serve the Seanchan isn’t exactly pleasing either. Well, at least her visions are coming into play again… But seriously, getting real tired of Tuon.


Chapter 28: Too Many Men




Well, now I’m almost certain Agelmar’s been affected. Again, he’s likely not a real Darkfriend or anything, but the Shadow’s clearly interfering with him. At least Lan’s picking up on it before everything goes to hell like at Cairhien. Still, Lan’s soldiers clearly aren’t in a good spot, and if Lan can’t prove with certainy that Agelmar is attempting to self-sabotage, that’s only going to get worse.


Loial is a badass.


And Mat’s finally getting on the battlefield. About damn time.


Other than that, not much to say on this chapter.



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