Ba'ax ka wa'alik, my brilliant wanderers of Dragonmount! Welcome back to "It Works in Theory," Dragonmount's theory blog, which I am privileged enough to get to write. I apologize for the extended delay between entries; it's been a hectic holiday season for me, and the blog seemed like it could use a nice little winter hibernation to get a little bit leaner (luckily it had been storing up on enough fat to help it sustain itself long enough without me for a bit). Since you have had to wait so long for another entry, let's go right ahead and knock our disclaimer out of the way so we can get started:
WARNING!!! Spoiler Alert!!! WARNING!!!
This blog is based on theories that will include facts and material from the latest books in the series, so if you have not read through Towers of Midnight, continue reading at your own risk! The entire physical universe, including this blog, may one day collapse back into an infinitesimally small space that may or may not be bigger than a studio apartment available for rent in New York City. Should another universe subsequently and spontaneously re-emerge, the existence of this blog in that universe cannot be guaranteed. It is guaranteed, however, that if there are deadlines for said blog, they will more than likely not be met in a timely manner.
First of all, I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and that you are all having a happy new year so far! I'm not sure how many take any stock in this at all, but if those pesky Mayans (google this week's greeting for an easter egg) end up being right, 2012 could end up being our last year on this planet. I doubt it is, but just in case, I decided to make my resolution this year to ensure humanity's survival for another millennium. Everyone cross their fingers that I stick to my resolution for once! Even if the world doesn't end, this will be the year that A Memory of Light will come out, which will mean the end of the fantastic epic series we've all been following for various amounts of time. I'll pause to give everyone time to sniffle into some tissue paper.
Since we're discussing all kinds of different ends, I thought it might be fitting today to discuss something I'm sure many are wondering about with the release of the last book coming closer and closer upon us: which main characters will survive, and which ones get the axe? Since I wrote a similar type of blog not too long ago discussing which Forsaken might end up turning to the Light (to read that entry, click here), it seemed like a good idea to do this one in a similar format, and lo and behold, I think we might even have the same number of good guys to examine! We'll be basing the likelihood of death on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being they'll almost certainly stay alive, and 10 being they'll be as dead as a doornail. In not necessarily any specific order:
Mat (AKA Prince of Ravens, AKA Lord of Battles, AKA Toy)
Occupation: General, Ta'veren, Gambler, Loveable Degenerate
I wanted to go ahead and get our favorite rapscallion out of the way first because I think he's probably the main character who's flirted with death more so than any other. Hung and left for dead after his second trip to the land of the 'Finns, killed by a Forsaken and resurrected by Rand's balefiring of said Forsaken, pursued by an invincible killing machine of a gholam for several books, and oh, let's not forget the treatment he got from Queen Tylin when she was grooming him to be her pet; he's definitely had his fair share of close calls with death. Plus, there was a time when Robert Jordan had been tossing around the idea that there might be some "outrigger" novels after the series ended which would feature Mat and Tuon in lands not featured very much in the Wheel of Time. So, I think it's safe to say Mat should be safe in the last book.
Verdict: 1 out of 10
Egwene (AKA The Amyrlin Seat, AKA The Flame of Tar Valon)
Occupation: Amyrlin, Dreamer, Punching Bag for Aes Sedai-haters
Egwene has grown before our eyes into an incredibly powerful woman in the world of the Wheel of Time, training as a Wise One apprentice, learning what it is to be able to interpret one's Dreams as a Dreamer, and also tripping and falling into the Amyrlin's seat (well, it might have been a little more complicated than that, but not much). She's one of the most powerful female channelers of her generation, her iron will and fortitude have helped to bring the White Tower from general disrepair back into a more respectable position, and she strives to use her position of leadership to help the forces of Light win the Last Battle.
To be honest, we haven't gotten many glimpses of foreshadowing of her death, and you kind of figure that as a Dreamer, we might have gotten some of those if her death was imminent. She's had her close calls as well, having been kidnapped and held prisoner a couple of times, and has faced down some Forsaken to boot. Realistically, I don't see her dying since her position now puts her somewhat further from the battlefield than she would have been before, and it was more than likely the intent of the author to have Egwene lead the White Tower back to glory. She has been compared several times to some of the greatest and most powerful Amyrlins in history, and even though she's done quite a bit in her short tenure, I doubt she's done yet.
Verdict: 2 out of 10
Logain (AKA Guaire Amalasan?)
Occupation: False Dragon, Asha'man of the Black Tower
In my last blog (A Halo of Gold and Blue), I focused on Logain and what his glory might end up being. I also focused on what his possible "lineage" might be, and how that might be pertinent to what ends up happening with him. The thing is, his glory might involve him doing some great deeds which would require him to stick around for awhile, like possibly becoming Tamyrlin for the male section of the new "Gray Tower" I've talked about. However, it might also involve him sacrificing himself for some greater good, which means that he might not have that long of a shelf life at all. I'm leaning more towards the former, however. I think he'll be in relatively good condition at the end of the book.
Verdict: 4 out of 10
Aviendha (AKA The Wise One apprentice formerly known as a Maiden of the Spear)
Aviendha of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel
Occupation: Wise One apprentice, First-sister to Elayne, Heartthrob of the Dragon Reborn
Of all Rand's lovers, Aviendha is definitely my favorite. Way back in my very first blog on the website, I talked about Aviendha and the visions she saw in Rhuidean of the future of her people. I find the time we've spent with her character to have been invaluable; her heartfelt sentiments and musings have helped paint the picture of her being a very reluctant hero. She is extremely humble, but after seeing what she saw in the pillars in Rhuidean, she knows she will do anything she can to help prevent the awful fate that might be in store for her people. If that meant taking the mantle of leadership for her people to help direct them down a different path, I think she would do it, but I suspect that something else might be in store for her. I believed at the time of writing that blog and still do that she is a perfect martyr character, and it seems likely to me that she might think the best way to help preserve her people's honor is to help them rediscover their roots and use the lost Talent of Singing to help fight the Dark One in the last book. This passage comes to mind very easily:
The Shadow Rising
Chapter 2, "The Dedicated"
Ten Thousand Aiel linking arms and singing, trying to remind a madman of who they were and who he had been, trying to turn him with their bodies and a song. Jaric Mondoran killed them. He stood there, staring as though at a puzzle, killing them, and they kept closing their lines and singing. I am told he listened to the last Aiel for almost an hour before destroying him. And then Tzora burned, one huge flame consuming stone and metal and flesh. There is a sheet of glass where the second greatest city in the world once stood.
Verdict: 7 out of 10
Lan (AKA Aan'allein, AKA Lord of the Seven Towers, AKA The OG BA Gaidin)
Occupation: Warder, uncrowned King of Malkier, Nynaeve's Bonded
Let's face it, Lan would like nothing better than to expel his last breaths in the last book, as long as it meant his sword was glistening in the blood of his enemies and his ears were filled with the cries of their painful deaths all around him. This stony-faced Warder has been battling his own one-man war against the Shadow since he was sixteen, and he has more reason than most because he's the last remaining lord of Malkier, a nation that was completely annihilated by forces of the Shadow when he was still a babe in swaddling clothes. While he was Moiraine's Warder, Moiraine could barely keep him from going off and surrounding himself with insurmountable odds just to seek comfort in vengeance and death. Once his bond passed to Nynaeve, she showed him that flowers could be grown where he "cultivated dust and stone" and his demeanor lightened slightly, but his goal of retribution against the forces of the Dark One had not been hampered one bit.
He now has a force of Malkieri with him, riding to what he thinks is his death, galloping into the maw of his enemy like he's part of a great Shakespearean tragedy. So, all is said and done, and we shall soon see Lan's dying throes of bittersweet vengeance? Not so fast, my friend. The whole scene has been set up for too long and with too much build up for things to go down like we imagine. I doubt Nynaeve has used up all her tricks to try and keep him from dying without more aid, and Logain himself might be tied to Lan's rescue as well, so it seems very possible we might have a Gandalf-riding-down-the-hill-at-first-light-of-the-fifth-day type moment on the horizon.
Verdict: 5 out of 10
Nynaeve (AKA Wisdom of Edmond's Field, AKA leader of the "Wondergirls," AKA Braid-puller, AKA Ol' Battle Axe)
Occupation: Aes Sedai, Healer, Herbalist, Scolder
Of course, we have to cover Nynaeve now that we just covered Lan. Who would I be to try and come between the two? Nynaeve has also gone through a great journey throughout the series, at first seeming to be a nearly one-dimensional scolder who never let up on those she was admonishing. She overcame her block (with Moghedien's help), is now married, and shows many more emotions than she once did. Some think that she has lost her edge, but I just see that she has matured more as a person and no longer sees anger as the only way to deal with her peers. But how likely is she to croak?
One of the things that stands out to me is the vision of Nynaeve crying, and that her grief must be important. Some think this grief might be over Rand's death, which we might cover in a future blog, but I think it more likely has to do with Lan. Let's say she decides to shirk her duties at Rand's side and goes off to try and help Lan, which no one could really fault her for, but arrives to find that she has arrived too late. I don't see her being able to move on so easily and resume her responsibilities in Tarmon Gai'don. It seems more likely that she will instead pursue her own goal of vengeance, and this might lead to her not surviving Lan long. The only thing is, she still seems to have a special role in other events to come, but we don't know if she will be able to fulfill those roles yet still live on. I believe her fate is somewhat connected to Lan's.
Verdict: 4 out of 10
Perrin (AKA Young Bull, AKA Goldeneyes)
Occupation: Blacksmith, Wolfbrother, Ta'veren, General
Perrin is a character many actually can see departing the physical realm in the last book because of one main reason: as a Wolfbrother, he'd be able to assist the forces of Light even if he died because of his abilities in the wolf dream/Tel'aran'rhiod. It's also not far-fetched at all to see him dying in battle since he leads his men from the trenches; he fights right there at the front line neck and neck with his foe and often puts his life in danger. That being said, I actually don't think it's a definite that Perrin will perish because he still has to fulfill the "Broken Crown" part of Min's vision of him (for a more in depth explanation, visit this past blog entry), and he still seems to need to play his part in the lost Talent of Singing resurfacing. Not only that, but Min's vision about the sparks flying around Rand, and the sparks growing larger with either of his ta'veren buddies around him seems to indicate that Rand, Mat, and Perrin will need to be near each other during a climactic moment for the Light to succeed, and this probably would not be possible even with Perrin in the same location in the wolf dream.
Verdict: 2 out of 10
Gawyn (AKA Egwene's Bonded, AKA Leader of the Younglings)
Occupation: First Sword of Andor, Warder, Holder of irrational grudge towards Rand
As Elayne's brother, Gawyn is acting First Sword of her Court, although the title is mainly just in name only. His true duties lie at Egwene's side, as both her Warder and as her love interest. Although very young, he is unbelievably skilled with a blade, and proved his worth when he dispatched not one, not two, but three Bloodknives sent to dispatch Egwene while she was sleeping. He very nearly died on that occasion, and would have died if Egwene had not awoken and Bonded him as her Warder. After recovering somewhat, he took the three ter'angreal rings from the would-be assassins and held onto them for later. It is mainly because of these rings that he holds, and the properties they share, that his death seems more imminent than most.
The rings grant unnatural speed and aid in keeping the bearer hidden, making it so it is in fact very difficult to look directly upon someone wearing the ring. However, this gift comes with a steep price, because once the ring is adorned, the owner will die within a manner of weeks. Gawyn has held an unnatural grudge towards Rand for much of the series, and though in the last book he appeared to be reconciling somewhat with the fact that Rand was now his brother-in-law, he still seems to have some deep-seated issues with the Dragon Reborn. There is even an idea out there that Gawyn might take on a "Mordredesque" type role and take Rand out, whether it's Light Rand or Dark Rand. It's somewhat hard to believe that Gawyn himself would survive such a feat, though. Either way, his chances of surviving the last book look grim.
Verdict: 8 out of 10
Elayne (AKA Caryla, AKA Morelin)
Occupation: Queen of Andor, Aes Sedai, One of Rand's cadre of lovers
Speaking of Trakands, we might as well cover Gawyn's sister Elayne, the golden-haired beauty herself. As Queen, she should never be near any frontlines of battle, yet she seems to love throwing herself in danger's way as often as she can. She uses Min's vision as an excuse to do so; Min saw in one of her visions that she would give birth to two healthy twins, so as long as Elayne is still pregnant, she thinks it's completely okay to tempt fate as often as possible. Honestly, though, I don't think it's likely that she will actually die in the last book because she seems to have accomplished too much in uniting Andor and Cairhien to die now. Also, if I'm not mistaken, there's some references to her surviving the Last Battle during Aviendha's visions in the pillars at Rhuidean, making it somewhat more far-fetched to see her die. One thing that does make me think there might be a possibility is that if Aviendha dies, then should Elayne die too, Rand's love life would suddenly be simplified to a normal one on one relationship with Min, so I guess there could be some reasonable doubt...
Verdict: 2 out of 10
Moiraine (AKA Alys, AKA Mari, AKA The OG BA Aes Sedai)
Occupation: Aes Sedai, One-time holder of Lan's bond, Soon to be holder of Thom's bond
Moiraine was our introduction to Aes Sedai, and boy she set the bar high. She is an incredible schemer and weaver of intricate plots, and even though she was always protective of our heroes when they first set out on their journey, you always got the feeling she would sacrifice them in a heartbeat if it would help defeat the Dark One. For much of the series, we had actually thought her dead already, but it turned out that she was instead just held captive in the world of the 'Finns and required Mat, Thom, and Jain Farstrider himself to rescue her from there. Once rescued, it became evident that she and Thom had actually held interest for each other for quite some time, and they now plan on marrying. It doesn't seem likely that she was rescued just in time for the last book just to die off again, and she's far too intelligent to blunder her way into a mishap that would cause her death.
Verdict: 2 out of 10
Thom (AKA...too cool for aliases)
Occupation: Gleeman, One-time Court Bard, Skilled player at Daes Dae'mar
Thom has long been one of the most beloved characters of the series, serving for breathtaking moments of awe when he utilized an unexpected way of saving someone else, or when he gave us a good chuckle with his sharp wit. He started out as an old man, but a spry old man at that, and with his upcoming bond to Moiraine, he shouldn't have to worry about dying of old age anytime soon. He isn't particularly fond of putting himself directly in the path of danger and would much rather play his cards from the sideline or manipulate the situation to his desire, but if the situation calls for it, he is more than able to handle his foes. He also has a knack for surviving situations it seems he shouldn't with ease, so this makes it seem like he wouldn't be an easy adversary to take down. Rand and Mat themselves thought him dead for awhile when Thom took on a Myrddraal single-handedly in order to help them escape. I wouldn't say he's very likely to pass in the last book, but as Moiraine's bonded he might see more grave situations than even he is used to, so I'd still keep wary if I were him.
Verdict: 3 out of 10
Min (AKA Serenla, AKA Jaisi Trakand)
Occupation: Seer of visions, Would-be scholar, One of Rand's milksops lovers
When Rand first met Min, she seemed to be characterized as a street-smart, quick-witted, and nimble-fingered gal of the alleys; in fact, for some time I wondered how much Brandon Sanderson might have based the famous heroine of his Mistborn novels, Vin, after her. She has changed somewhat into being a little more dependent on Rand than might first be believed, and has her nose buried in a book more often than she would have guessed long ago. Her visions help her see what lies in store for other's futures, so she is one of the main tools we use for determining how likely it is for other characters to kick the bucket soon, but we don't have much to guess about for whether or not she will actually make it. She already almost had a pretty awful death when Semirhage took control of Rand through the use of one of the male a'dam and had him start to choke his own lover, but luckily Dark Rand snapped quickly enough to stop this from happening and saved Min's tush. Anyway, I don't see much either way to convince me she might die, but it wouldn't surprise me to see her in danger again.
Verdict: 2 out of 10
Rand (AKA The Dragon Reborn, AKA the Coramoor, AKA He Who Comes With The Dawn, AKA Shadowkiller, AKA Nuli, AKA Lews Therin Telamon)
Occupations: See aliases; he's the Dragon Reborn for cryin' out loud!
And then we arrive at the big Enchilada himself, the guy the whole series is pretty much wrapped around, the...wait, what am I doing, this guy has enough nicknames as it is. Rand al'Thor is the Champion of the Light, and the fate of the world of The Wheel of Time rests upon his shoulders, to a degree. Prophecies hint about his death countless times; his blood seems to be very significant indeed in deciding the Last Battle. To me, it seems like a given that he will die in A Memory of Light, but somehow be resurrected anew and with a healthy new body to fight the Dark One with. Some others disagree and think that instead he will merely fake his own death, citing the Dream Egwene had that I quoted in my last blog which shows Logain stepping over Rand's body and laughing.
I don't really see what purpose there would be in Rand faking his own death, though, and since it doesn't seem to satisfy any prophecies, it seems like a false interpretation of that Dream. More of the debate about Rand might be about whether or not Rand is resurrected, or the method in which he could be, but that topic is its own can of worms and I'd rather save that for later. For now, suffice it to say that I have a very strong feeling that at some point Rand will be no more in the last book.
Verdict: 9.999999 out of 10
Well, that's all for this week, everyone. I hope you continue to enjoy your new year. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section! Batik Che'e!