Welcome back to "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. As you all know, A Memory of Light is just one week away. In preparation for its release, this blog will contain a few of my predictions. But, before we begin:
Spoiler warning! This will include content from many books in the series, including Towers of Midnight, and speculation about A Memory of Light. Please read at your own risk.
Also, this WILL NOT contain spoilers from A Memory of Light's Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 11, or Tor's daily previews. Please refrain from posting any spoilers from A Memory of Light in the comments section. The A Memory of Light pre-release spoiler discussion board can be found here. The A Memory of Light full spoiler discussion board is here.
I just finished my Towers of Midnight re-read, and I spent a lot of time thinking about many events that happened in that book; namely, Aviendha's second trip through the glass-column ter'angreal, and Moiraine's rescue from the Finns. We already know Moiraine has important information—after all, Mat gave up his eye "to save the world" (The Shadow Rising, Chapter 15, "Into the Doorway"; Towers of Midnight, Chapter 54, "The Light of the World"). But what of Aviendha's visions of the future—or possible future? Will the knowledge she has arm the Aiel for what is to come?
We've talked about the actual visions before and most everyone agreed they showed a possible future, not the future. Honestly, I'm still torn. I could see it going both ways. Obviously, I hope it's only a possibility. I respect the Aiel culture and would hate to see their honor lost so drastically. But the important fact is that Aviendha saw each step that took them down that path. She saw three key events that can be fixed, if she can convince the Aiel to bend a bit of their pride.
The Aiel have been left out of the Dragon's Peace, meaning they were not sworn to peace, a reward for their service to Rand. However, this lack of being included leads the Aiel down a very dark road. This is the first part of them going to war against the Seanchan. This part may be easily fixed, if Aviendha convinces Rand to include the Aiel.
The next major dispute between the Aiel and the Seanchan is the leashed Wise Ones. This hatred for the Seanchan festers inside the Aiel, growing into something so consuming they are unable to break away from it. Ladalin thinks that, "Her hatred of the invaders ran deep…Perhaps that hatred had destroyed the Aiel" (Towers of Midnight, Chapter 49, "Court of the Sun"). In that same chapter, Aviendha reflects:
The woman [Ladalin] had thought of war and associated it with honor, but hadn’t understood what honor was. No gai’shain? Retreat? There had been no mention of toh. This was battle stripped completely of point or reason.
Why fight? For Ladalin, it had been about hatred of the Seanchan.
There was war because there had always been war.
This may be a bit harder to fix. The Aiel are a proud people. They have so much honor and feel such shame when it is insulted. The Seanchan have insulted them by not letting the Wise Ones go after their year and a day of gai'shain service is up. So, to make peace with the Seanchan, the Aiel will need to let the collared Wise Ones go. They will need to let the insult go, let their hatred go. That won't be very easy for Aviendha to convince the Aiel to do.
On top of that, the Aiel still consider battle to bring honor.
Her mother had gained great ji in battle. Padra had had few chances to prove herself. A war with the Seanchan…the prospect invigorated her. But it would also mean much death.
The Aiel would go to war again. And there would be much honor in it.
Padra wants to start a war out of her desire to be like Aviendha. That's terribly ironic.
One last thing that Aviendha might try to prevent is Rand bowing to the Seanchan Empress. Oncala's vision shows this exchange between Hehyal, chief of the Taardad, and Talana, Queen of Andor:
“We have been patient with you,” Hehyal said. “We have come to you and explained what will happen if we cannot hold off the Seanchan.”
“The Dragon’s Peace—”
“What care do they have for the Dragon?” Hehyal asked. “They are invaders who forced him to bow to their Empress. She is considered above him. They will not keep promises they made to an inferior.”
From this Aviendha knows that if Rand bows before the Empress, the Aiel—and perhaps the other citizens of Randland as well—see him as weaker than the Empress. I think Rand's in a state of mind where he will willingly bow to Tuon, for the greater good, but look at how much harm comes from it later. But how will Rand make an alliance with them without bowing?
Here's my crazy theory on this one: Aviendha and the Aiel will bow before the Empress in Rand's place. She knows that so much harm comes from their hatred, their war, their unwillingness to surrender to the Seanchan. She will see that they need to submit. It will be the only way for the Aiel to survive as a people, avoiding the awful visions she saw.
And if that's unlikely to happen, here's another possible way to avoid that future: Aviendha will not have Rand's children. Now, before you start getting angry and saying "Min's viewings are always right," remember that Robert Jordan said, "The viewings and prophecies that occurred before the loosening of the Pattern are very valid. But those that occurred at, or after, the loosening have a higher chance of not coming true." Since he said this, I think we will have at least one instance when Min's viewing is wrong. Perhaps more than one. I think it would be very interesting if Elayne winds up with twin girls, instead of a boy and a girl—which would prove Min to be wrong—and Aviendha would then make sure she didn't get pregnant. I think she is strong enough to make that sacrifice for her people, since it is her line that leads to so much trouble.
That, mixed with the Aiel surrendering to the Seanchan, can make lasting peace.
Moiraine had three requests to make of the Eelfinn. She says that one of the requests was to keep the angreal that she and Lanfear brought into their world. What were the other two? She knew she wouldn't be allowed to escape since the doorway melted, so it's unlikely that she asked for that. Could she have asked for her Bond with Lan to be broken? It was necessary for everyone to think she died. If Lan's Bond with her still existed, he would have gone into the other doorway ter'angreal or into the Tower to get her out. That would have resulted in his and her death. She couldn't let that happen, so she needed the Bond annulled. Or did the Bond break because the doorway was destroyed? There were still other connections to the Finns' worlds, so I don't think that could have broken their Bond. I think it's much more likely Moiraine asked for it to be broken as one of her requests.
No doubt her last request was for specific knowledge. She has to come out of there with the key to victory because she will somehow save the world. I thought it would be her return that made Rand turn away from the Shadow inside him. But since he had his epiphany without her, her information must be something different. Perhaps she learned how to Heal the Bore? Perhaps she learned what the Dark One's real purpose is—since Verin says Rand's understanding isn't correct? Questions/requests related to the Shadow can have harsh consequences, but she's clever enough to phrase it the right way, I'm sure.
Okay, here's a few final predictions.
While I understand some of our main characters might die, I can't predict a single one. There is too much foreshadowing of events that take place past the Last Battle. The most popular character to die, I think, will be Birgitte. After that, I can see Gawyn dying, but I still think it unlikely.
I think the Aiel will suffer very heavy casualties. They have a prophecy that says, "He shall spill out the blood of those who call themselves Aiel as water on sand, and he shall break them as dried twigs, yet the remnant of a remnant shall he save, and they shall live" (The Shadow Rising, Chapter 34, "He Who Comes With the Dawn"). Remember one of Min's first visions of Rand? She says she sees, "you [Rand] pouring water on sand" (The Eye of the World, Chapter 15, "Strangers and Friends"). Notice the similar wording? Perhaps that's a metaphor for the Aiel and their sacrifice in the Last Battle. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if every major Aiel character (Amys, Rhuarc, Sorilea, Bair, etc.) all die. Melaine will have her babies—unless that vision fails as well—so she might be safe until after the battle.
All the Forsaken will die. Even if one does wind up returning to the Light, it will be done in a sacrificial way, giving up their life for the Light to win. Out of all those who can turn, I think it likely to be Moridin.
Slayer and Fain will die. Slayer by Perrin. Fain by Rand. There's too much buildup between those pairs, too much narrative debt.
I think Cadsuane will die. She thinks in The Gathering Storm, that, "Over two centuries ago, she'd sworn to herself that she'd live to attend the Last Battle, no matter how long that took" (Chapter 5, "A Tale of Blood"). Notice how she never swears to live after the battle. I think that could be an ironic way of handling the situation. She lives to attend the Last Battle, but dies during it.
Perrin and Faile will take over the throne of Saldaea.
Mat and Tuon will settle the Seanchan around Altara; after the Dragon's Peace, they will not seek to conquer any more land this side of the ocean. Perhaps Setalle Anan can help with this; if she is Healed and is Aes Sedai again, Tuon will see that Aes Sedai are not evil creatures. Tuon will keep the damane they currently have, but not capture any more.
Nynaeve will become Elayne's Aes Sedai advisor ("If she had her way, Nynaeve al’Meara was going to be the Aes Sedai advisor to the next Queen of Andor" (Winter's Heart, Prologue)). Malkier is beyond saving, so she and Lan will live in Andor instead.
Egwene will continue as Amyrlin.
Galad will merge the Whitecloaks into Mayene's forces, becoming an independent group, but still tied to the Winged Guards. Galad and Berelain will get married and become good friends with Faile and Perrin. Galad's blood relationship to Rand won't play any part during or after the battle.
As mentioned above, the Aiel will bow their pride, accept the collared Wise Ones as lost, refrain from devotion to battle—not necessarily take up the Way of the Leaf, but become more peaceful—and live in the Wetlands. With their toh met, they can mold their culture into something better than what they were before. They won't be Aiel anymore, or even Jenn Aiel. As the prophecy said, only a "remnant of a remnant" would be saved (The Shadow Rising, Chapter 34, "He Who Comes With the Dawn"); only a few will stick to their warrior ways, most likely the Shaido hiding in the Waste. Though their losses during the Last Battle will be great, those who live will adapt to their new life. There's also several mentions in the prophecies of the Dragon's blood saving men from the Shadow. Though the word "blood" is never capitalized, it could still be used metaphorically. Could it also be a reference to the Aiel? In Aviendha's trip through the glass columns, one of the visions talks of "Dragon Blooded" Aiel (Towers of Midnight, Chapter 49, "Court of the Sun") which seem to be male channelers, from the context.
Though I'm not a huge fan of it, I think the body-swap theory will most likely be the reason why Rand will survive. He and Moridin will flip bodies—perhaps Moridin doing so willingly, giving up his life for the Light to win. Rand's body will die; his soul living on in Moridin. That is the reason Aviendha's children can have dark hair "after their wetlander side" (Towers of Midnight, Chapter 49, "Court of the Sun"). Rand is Andoran royal blood and Aiel blood—both of which have red-gold hair. Moridin, however, has "hair black as night" (A Crown of Swords, Chapter 41, "A Crown of Swords"). With Rand's physical body dead, and his literal blood falling on the ground, he can complete whatever task he needs to seal up the Dark One for good. Everyone will think him dead—that way he can live on in peace with his three women. He will settle in Caemlyn; Aviendha and Min will live there too. But maybe Moridin's body is too tainted by the True Power by this point, so his life won't last that much longer.
I really hope all our main characters have lives that are somewhat happy after the Last Battle. As much as they've given to the world, I'd like to see them receive something back. Rand has sacrificed so much for others—the Wheel and the Pattern need to acknowledge how much he's done and give him some happiness.
One more week, and we'll know.
Thanks for reading, everyone. We won't have any new theory blogs until March of 2013. But when we come back, we'll have full A Memory of Light spoilers! Hope to see you then!