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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Hazeel

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  1. In the final entry of this blog on Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, I offer parting thoughts on the final book, and the series as a whole. So I’ll just cut to the chase: what did I think of A Memory of Light? This was a momentous book, anticipated eagerly for years, and a tremendous conclusion to one of the longest, most popular series in modern fantasy. And it could’ve gone horribly wrong. It might never have been written. There certainly were doubts when Robert Jordan tragically died just as he was completing his masterpiece. Brandon Sanderson had a lofty task before him, and dividing the final book made sense, although having read the three entries, I think he could’ve done it in two (and, if I recall correctly, he intended to until requested to go for three). Did Sanderson do a good job? Well, I enjoyed his first two contributions to The Wheel of Time (TGS especially) while also pointing out his shortcomings. I think A Memory of Light was ultimately consistent with his prior two works. It had its ups and downs. But did I enjoy this final book? Yes. Yes I did. I wasn’t exactly certain when first reading the book. The first half shared a lot of ToM’s problems. The pacing was a little slow, Sanderson’s writing contained his customary idiosyncrasies, and too much detail was provided to rather mundane battles when subplots and character arcs could’ve been concluded in greater detail. I did enjoy the exciting prologue, and the plot twist with the captains was excellent, although it out-stayed its welcome. Yet the battles melded together after some 500 pages, and while there were interesting developments (like with the Asha’man, Androl’s character winning me over after my hesitance in ToM), things were a little slow. The conclusion to the long-standing Seanchan subplot frustrated me. While it would’ve been very difficult to write a satisfactory, believable solution, Sanderson could’ve at least offered it more development than one hasty conversation, especially marred with poor writing regarding Mat and Rand’s final reunion. Speaking of reunions, there were many character interactions that could’ve been fleshed out. I acknowledge Sanderson didn’t have much time or space, but the way characters reacted to major deaths or how they interacted in eagerly-anticipated reunions still would’ve benefited from more detail. I also would’ve loved to have seen the three male protagonists together at last, as they’ve been separated since TSR, really. I’ll credit Sanderson for wrapping up many subplots and mysteries, and giving many characters an opportunity to stand out, but it wasn’t perfect. Moiraine and Nynaeve particularly were too under-used. Moiraine’s return in ToM was made rather superfluous given she did very little in Tarmon Gai’don, and Nynaeve only marginally more. Sanderson could’ve easily removed one of the more irrelevant Lan battle scenes, for example, to give Moiraine some more spotlight. In addition to the resolution of the Seanchan subplot, characters like Alviarin and Padan Fain sorely needed better conclusions, and some characters didn’t appear period, like my favorite Fade, Shaidar Haran. I wouldn’t have minded some closure on other long-standing mysteries too, although I suspect Jordan would’ve left many loose ends hanging to allow for more speculation. But despite these problems, the novel turned around by the Last Battle. Despite being incredibly busy in real life and a little too distracted to invest myself in this book, the prospect of reading the Last Battle, once and for all, greatly increased my enthusiasm, and I credit Sanderson immensely for still maintaining the spirit of the series. While I, of course, would’ve much preferred to have read Jordan’s own words in concluding the series, it still felt like the legitimate conclusion to The Wheel of Time. I’ve only read this series for 3 years. Some fans have waited since the very first book an astonishing 24 years ago to read Tarmon Gai’don. It was an incredible experience to see everything come to a conclusion, and in such an intense way. The Last Battle (the chapter and the event) wasn’t perfect, and again, I would’ve preferred Jordan. But it’s really what I imagined, what I hoped for from Sanderson. Fans have had many legitimate grievances with Sanderson’s handling of the series, and I’ll admit, ToM and the first half of this book definitely could’ve used more development and organization. Yet, while I imagine my exhilaration from finishing the series once and for all will subside and I’ll look back on those final chapters with a bit more objectivity, I couldn’t put this book down once the Last Battle intensified. Sanderson’s penchant for the surreal, his strong (if not Jordan level) skill in writing pitched combat, allowed for a cinematic, thrilling, and plot twist laden finale. When it seemed like characters were dropping dead left and right, I realized how unprepared I was, which is a good feeling to have when reading a grand finale like this. Few series closers have excited me like this (I’ll always have fond memories of reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time, no matter what anyone says) and Sanderson was gutsy with those deaths. But it wasn’t executed perfectly. Siuan was killed too off-handedly, and many of the ‘deaths’ lost their punch when they turned out not to be deaths after all (Lan, for example). But Egwene’s death was not something I seriously anticipated when reading this. Jordan always played it safe with his characters’ survival, and while I hoped for real casualties in The Last Battle, Egwene really caught me by surprise, and while it could’ve been written better, perhaps, Sanderson did a damn good job. The final moments of the book were a tad rushed. It seemed as if Sanderson wanted to get it all over with in the final chapters, although he still maintained the intensity and exhilaration. As I mentioned earlier, Mat’s final confrontation with Fain definitely needed work, while Perrin’s clash with Slayer was conversely quite good. And how about the big battle? Rand v. the Dark One? Honestly, I would’ve preferred more Rand in this book, especially after his relative absence in ToM, and his battle with the Dark One was a little too philosophical for my taste, I don’t really know how else I would have written it. Sanderson’s so good with the surreal and the magical, I expected a little more in terms of actual fighting, but the visions were well-written, and the final moment when Rand defeated Moridin and the Dark One simultaneously was excellent. And the plot twist at the end, Rand’s final fate…it impressed me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first, but after reading the epilogue and thinking about it, I think it was an excellent, and rather unpredictable, decision. As I mentioned earlier, it was bittersweet, and WoT should have ended neither tragically nor too happily. So in the end, I credit Sanderson for a good job on this book, and all his other contributions. Perhaps he could’ve have taken his time more, and improved some of the issues prevalent in his writing. Mat still never improved to a satisfactory level, there was still idiosyncrasies in his writing, a lack of organization, and I’m sure that when I get around to a reread, I’ll notice plot flaws. But given the insurmountable task he was confronted with, I think he did a serviceable job, and I certainly don’t think the series should’ve been abandoned when Jordan died. I don’t think at all that the last three books were bad enough to necessitate eliminating them from the canon or something. I don’t regret Sanderson’s contributions. This incredible series needed an ending, and I think it received a good one, although that’s, of course, subject to debate. And having reviewed A Memory of Light, perhaps a few words on the series on the whole. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve read The Wheel of Time for only three years (and for one those years, I was hardly reading it, distracted by George R.R. Martin’s brilliant A Song of Ice and Fire), but it’s had a major impact on how I perceive and enjoy fantasy. To be honest, I was rather young and inexperienced with professional, serious fantasy when I first stumbled upon the series in a Denver bookstore. Prior to WoT, I’d only really read YA fantasy, Harry Potter defining my childhood. But reading The Wheel of Time was a step up, and I realized it the moment I read the prologue and was intrigued by the complexity, the sophistication of Jordan’s writing style and his immersive world. In many ways, I wasn’t completely prepared for the scope of this series. When I reached the overwhelming TSR, I couldn’t really appreciate the complexity of this series. And Jordan could be a daunting author even at his best, with convoluted writing and a myriad of subplots. But when I returned to the series after a hiatus, having made another major step into epic fantasy with A Song of Ice and Fire, I was enticed like never before. The fascination with Jordan’s world and his rich plotline allowed me to endure the slower entries and even enjoy them (except CoT, there wasn’t much enjoyable about that one). WoT has consumed my fantasy reading to an extent I haven’t explored too far beyond it into the world of epic fantasy, but as it served as my official introduction to how fascinating and complex the genre can be, I’m more excited than ever to make further discoveries. The Wheel of Time isn’t a perfect series. I see debate abound whenever it’s brought up on Internet forms and book review sites everywhere. Some defend it obsessively, others condemn it furiously. Robert Jordan had his flaws as a writer, although I think his prose was definitely superior to Sanderson’s, and even his pacing, at least earlier in the series. His gender politics, so to speak, were impressive in some regards, but he often blundered (for example, the unfortunate implications of the whole Mat-Tylin fiasco). His pacing, of course, is a contentious issue, and while I think it was nowhere nearly as bad as some claim, it did slow in the later entries, unforgivably so in CoT. And I had the ability to read the books consecutively, while many disgruntled fans had to wait years only to see little story development. Jordan’s incredible universe was a little derivative, at least in EotW (although that was partially intentional). But for these flaws, and perhaps more I didn’t get around to, Robert Jordan wrote one of the most acclaimed, intriguing, exciting, and best realized fantasy series in recent years. And I think Brandon Sanderson did a commendable job in bringing it to a conclusion. And so these are my parting words. How about New Spring, one may ask? Well, I haven’t read the prequel, but since I’m very much fascinated with Randland, I intend to read as much on it as I can, and will definitely jump into New Spring when I have the opportunity (although there’re plenty of other novels I’ve intended to read that were pushed aside because I wanted to finish WoT), although I don’t think I’ll have any blog entries on it. Yes, this is, until further notice, my finale entry on this blog. After finishing the exhilarating TFoH (still possibly my favorite book in the series), I was so intent on reading through this series, I decided to provide my own commentary on this blog, and even when my enthusiasm in WoT waned a little, I was dedicated to continuing it. I know the entries were a little slower coming in recent months, for which I apologize. This blog wasn’t wildly successful or anything, but I know a few of you out there have followed it, perhaps from the beginning, and I applaud you for enduring my often-incoherent rambling. I know I never offered any really profound commentary on this series; this was just a way to express my immediate reactions as I delved through this incredible series for the first time. And with that, I bid this blog, and this series, farewell. It’s been quite an experience.
  2. In the final entry of A Memory of Light, it all comes to an end. Chapter 38: The Place That Was Not Comments This is too much. Too intense. Sophisticated commentary, I know, but that’s all I can say. Chapter 39: Those Who Fight Comments I’m not even sure what to say anymore because everything’s going so fast and it’s all too intense! It looks like the battle of ideas between Rand and the Dark One is subsiding into a real battle now. Awesome. But he can’t kill Mat! Everybody’s dying, but not Mat. And now Olver’s blown the horn. This is all so goddamn cinematic. Elayne’s still alive, of course, although I was worried there! And Birgitte’s back! She didn’t stay dead long, did she? But of course, the Horn would’ve brought her back, and now I guess she’s a Hero of the Horn again! And that asshole Hanlon/Mellar is finally dead! I still wish I knew what happened to Lady Shiaine and the other Darkfriends, but okay. But WHY IS LAN ALIVE? I THOUGHT HE DIED. I’m not sure how I feel about this! Lan’s alive, which is awesome! But I seriously thought he went down in an epic blaze of glory fighting Demandred. Mat’s sending the final charge. The Heroes of the Horn are here. Mat’s talking to Artur Hawkwing. I was confused about Mat’s connection to the Horn when Olver blowed it, but now it makes sense. So the connection was severed when Mat got ‘killed’ by Rahvin? Well, that’s fortunate, ‘cause Olver (and everyone else) would’ve been utterly screwed there otherwise. But Noal Charin is back too? Well, that makes sense too, because he’s Jain Farstrider, but damn, everyone’s coming back from the dead. Chapter 40: Wolfbrother Comments It’s the end of the world, Birgitte just came back from the dead, Elayne nearly got gutted by Hanlon, and the two are still arguing about Elayne’s security! I love it. DARKHOUNDS. Are these those Darkhounds from CoT? Please tell me Jordan actually had a purpose for those. Aviendha’s gonna fight Graendal. Awesome. Elayne’s charge is pretty cool too. Damn, I think we’ve gotten to that point in the battle where everything transitions from despair to excitement and triumph. Or I hope, I can’t handle another Egwene. What’s Jur Grady doing? Wait. WAIT. HINDERSTAP. Oh my god, this is actually pretty brilliant. I didn’t expect this plot twist whatsoever. Sanderson, you are forgiven for the apparent randomness of Hinderstap in TGS! There was a point to it! Oh my god, Mat is a genius, this is perfect. Chapter 41: A Smile Comments I totally forgot about Moghedien. She was hanging around with Demandred this whole time, right? She hasn’t really done anything in forever. I don’t expect Moghedien to blow shit up in the Last Battle, though, her style has always been to lurk in the shadows. And that’s kinda what she’s doing now, disguising herself as Demandred. What does this mean? Oh damn, the dragons. I’m glad Talmanes still had a role in the Last Battle, after playing such a major role in the prologue. This was a short chapter, so moving on… Chapter 42: Impossibilities Comments Everything’s going to hell in Thakan’dar. The imagery of lightning literally turning solid and falling to earth is pretty…impressive, but Sanderson’s always good with the surreal. But oh shit, Aviendha found out about Rhuarc. Rhuarc’s terrible fate would’ve hit me harder if it weren’t for all the tragedies that preceded it. I’m kind of numb at this point, so much has happened. But Rhuarc dying as a Compelled thrall of Graendal’s is especially tragic given he’s an Aiel, and they place so much emphasis on honor and self-reliance and all. I almost thought Sanderson had forgotten about Alviarin! That would’ve been disappointing, as she used to be such a major player, and then did pretty much nothing in the latter entries in the series, and she just had to have a role in the Last Battle. But it doesn’t look like she’s playing a major role. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I suppose it’s a nice twist that some Darkfriends would be taken prisoner instead of being outright executed (this has been a pretty blood affair so far), and who else but the Ogier to offer rehabilitation? Still, I would’ve hoped for more for Alviarin than just showing up for two pages and getting captured by Ogier or whatever. Still, Androl’s trick was pretty clever. Aviendha and Graendal! Wow, was Aviendha seriously just crippled? She might not even make it out of this alive, I don’t even know what to expect anymore. Shit. Chapter 43: A Field of Glass Comments Logain’s bitterness is becoming increasingly concerning, if understandable. It reminds me how few Logain POVs we’ve had prior to AMoL, if any. I just hope he doesn’t do anything stupid. It’s so cool to see Mat lead the charge alongside the Heroes of the Horn. The river crashing down and sweeping the Trollocs away was obviously evocative of the defeat of Isengard in LOTR. Hell, this whole stage of the battle feels like that moment in Return of the King when, after all hope seemed gone, everything suddenly starts to turn around, and orcs/Trollocs are dying everywhere. This is it. Victory is in sight. Chapter 44: Two Craftsmen Comments I was kind of concerned that Perrin was gonna sit out the Last Battle, but he’s back in action, and not a moment too soon. I forgot about Gaul. Shit, he’s still in the Wolf Dream. Granted, I think time’s moving differently there, but still. I liked the final interaction between Perrin and Luhhan. Perrin’s character arc has really come full circle, and I have to commend Sanderson for staying true to the character in his books. And we finally have some resolution on some of that mysterious madness going on with Masema during that blasted Shaido arc, specifically regarding Masuri. I didn’t expect Sanderson to answer all questions, and while there are a few mysteries I would’ve liked him to address, I’m glad he managed to return to at least some of the loose threads. Thom Merrilin is another character who hasn’t done much in the Last Battle. He’s not a channeler and not much of a warrior either, so it’s not entirely surprising, but I was initially disappointed that he was spending the apocalypse sitting on a rock. But the way he off-handedly disposed of the Darkfriends trying to sneak into Shayol Ghul was pretty cool. Speaing of loose threads, we now know what happened to Jeaine Caide, who I recall was one of Liadrin’s old cronies from way back that just disappeared from the narrative. Chapter 45: Tendrils of Mist Comments Mat’s reunion with Noal was another of many encounters in this book that could’ve (and under Jordan, probably would’ve) been developed more for emotional impact. I understand Sanderson was running out of time, but both happy reunions like this and tragedies like Egwene’s death were kind of underwritten in terms of their impacts on the heroes. But at least Mat’s heading to Shayol Ghul! His role in all this hasn’t ended yet. And Padan Fain’s back! After five books of doing nothing (well, he reappeared for a second in ToM)… This is really late for a reintroduction, but I hope he finally plays a role in the narrative, because he’s such an ominous villain and even Jordan seemed at odds as to what to do with him at times, let alone Sanderson. It’s been foreshadowed for some time that he’ll play a crucial role at Shayol Ghul, so I’m excited! Shaisam, interesting new name. Perrin v. Slayer. For the last time. Awesome. Mat riding on a raken, eh? Not a bad way to get him to the battlefield. And Olver’s just loving it, ha. Chapter 46: To Awaken Comments Rand and Moridin are back in action. This is all ending. And oh my god, Alanna. But she released the bond! Finally! Why the hell did she have to bond him in the first place and risk all humanity? It’s tragic she died and everything, but at least Rand and the world didn’t just go down with her. And what happened to Callandor? This is too intense. And Perrin’s kill of Slayer was fucking incredible. The imagery of the two running through Thakan’dar, shifting in and out of the dream instantaneously, with the entire world ending around them… Well done, Sanderson. I would’ve loved to have learned more about Slayer, but this is a satisfying conclusion to one of the more intriguing villains in the series. Damn. BUT NO, FAIN, YOU’RE NOT KILLING MAT. Chapter 47: Watching the Flow Writhe Comments This is too much for me. Aviendha’s unweaving the Gateway. It’s gonna explode. Don’t let it take Aviendha too. BUT YES, MAT’S ALIVE. Damn you Sanderson for playing that old trick, I almost believed you there. And Fain’s dead. Like that. Wow, that scene was pretty well-written and intense, but I would’ve hoped for more. I expected Fain to play a role at Shayol Ghul, but a final clash with Mat, given their history together, would’ve also been satisfying. But compared to Perrin’s huge confrontation with Slayer, everything ended a little too quickly for me between Fain and Mat. And I still had a fantasy of Fain having a conflict with Shaidar Haran. By the way, where the hell is Superfade? Words can’t describe the trap Rand just pulled on Moridin and the Dark One with Callandor. Jesus, this is so intense. Chapter 48: A Brilliant Lance Comments So Graendal Compelled herself, huh? Fitting, obviously. And I presume that’s the end of her. Wow. So Logain didn’t do anything stupid. Excellent. This chapter was really short, and everything’s about to end, so I’m moving on. Chapter 49: Light and Shadow Comments Oh my god, I forgot about Lanfear too. She showed up in the book earlier, of course, following Perrin around, but I still don’t know what her purpose is. I expected her to do something with Rand, to be honest, but now she’s following Perrin again. What the hell is she planning? Wait, what’s going on here? WHAT JUST HAPPENED? So…Lanfear’s evil. She was playing Rand and Perrin all along. That’s not surprising, and it would’ve been a copout if Sanderson tried to pull a redemption arc or something. But she…Compelled Perrin? She’s been Compelling him all along? And she nearly just had him kill Rand at the crucial moment? I didn’t expect that for a moment. I didn’t expect Perrin to end up killing Lanfear! Holy shit, this was all so confusing. But who cares, because Rand is killing the Dark One. Okay, not killing. As much as I love a dead antagonist, it makes sense that Rand’s sealing him back into the Bore. And it’s all over. Rand defeated the Dark One. It was mainly a battle of ideas, but the battle is over. Tarmon Gai’don has finished. I feel like I should have more to say about this, but seeing this series end is too much for words. Maybe Sanderson could’ve fleshed this final moment out a little more, but really, I can’t criticize. This climax was what I was hoping for. Epilogue Comments I was hoping to write with more coherency for the epilogue, but really, the intensity, the feeling of closure, is gonna make this commentary pretty brief too. I’ll comment on the epilogue as a whole: I liked it. It felt a little abrupt, so I was surprised to hear that this was all Jordan, but on second glance, it does read more like him, especially those last few moments, which really brandish the sort of poignancy Jordan would’ve brought to the whole finale. I didn’t expect what happened to Rand in these last few pages. And maybe it could’ve been made clearer, but on the whole, I have no problems with how it ended for Rand. There’s something bittersweet and poignant about him riding into the sunset, with the whole world thinking he’s dead. It’s what he wants: a life of peace and simplicity, no more responsibility, no more burdens, no more notability. And yet everyone he knows believes he, the savior of the world, burned on that pyre, not…Moridin. Huh. Perrin’s final moments of panic were somewhat concerning, but I didn’t think Faile had died. Which is surprising, because just a few chapters ago, I was ready to believe that Sanderson could kill off anybody. I guess the shock of Egwene subsided, because really, she was the only huge character to actually die. Birgitte, Elayne, Lan, Galad, Mat, all survived. Well, Gawyn, Siuan, and Bryne died, which was major, but not on the scale of Egwene’s death. Still, I was obviously relieved Faile was alive. Perrin would’ve been destroyed otherwise, and I don’t think either Jordan or Sanderson would’ve written such a sad ending for him. But there was a point of confusion about the switch, so to speak. Min, Elayne, and Aviendha knew about the switch, right? That was why they didn’t act distraught about Rand’s apparent death? Yeah, Min says it outright somewhere. That doesn’t completely make sense, though. If Rand’s survival was something they were intent on concealing from the world, why didn’t they at least act like they were grieving? Otherwise, people like Nynaeve would naturally become suspicious. Unless I’m missing something? I’m still not entirely happy about the prospect of Mat spending the rest of his life married to the Empress of an expansionist slave state (and ruling it himself, no matter how he resists), but I guess he got a happy ending too. Speaking of the Seanchan, it really tells me something that I was legitimately sympathetic for Moghedien when she was captured. Moghedien is one of the Forsaken, an embodiment of evil, somebody who worked to bring about the end of all things, somebody who probably murdered thousands in her time. Yet I don’t think even she deserves to spend the rest of her extraordinarily long lifetime (unless the Forsaken are now completely mortal, or something?) as a damane. So yes, the Seanchan still piss me off. Cadsuane will become the new Amyrlin. That’s pretty fitting. I mean, she’s quite old, even for an Aes Sedai, so it probably won’t be a long reign, but she was the most likely candidate. Like most fans, I could get quite irritated by Cadsuane, but in the end, I have to say I still like her overall. But of course, it remains tragic that an Amyrlin as extraordinary and young as Egwene had to die so early into her reign. The epilogue was a little rushed in places, but that final POV from Rand was just perfect. Any qualms I might have had about the book fled from my mind when I read those final paragraphs. This was a good ending to one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. And I’ll write a more detailed review in a separate post, one that’s hopefully more coherent. And that’ll be the last post in this blog. Wow.
  3. In this entry of A Memory of Light, the Last Battle is here. Chapter 37: The Last Battle Comments I’m really not sure how to respond to this chapter. I was considering splitting it up into chapter-sized chunks, and then I thought about just responding to every single POV, but eventually, so much was happening, I just gave up. I’ll try to encapsulate how I felt about the Last Battle, but with such a gargantuan chapter, it’s difficult any which way. But let me just say I was freaking exhausted by the end of this. From mild enthusiasm towards the beginning, my connection to this final apocalyptic conflict increased throughout the chapter. And when everything went to hell towards the end, I was on the edge of my seat. At one point, I just didn’t know what was coming next. I just knew I liked it. A lot. Stepping back, I can see the flaws in The Last Battle, but it definitely was exhilarating. Sure, it started a little slow. There was a lot of action, but like plenty of the fighting in this book, it became a little bland after a while. I was definitely caught up in the atmosphere of much-awaited Tarmon Gai’don, but Sanderson doesn’t necessarily have Jordan’s skill at depicting thrilling battles. Jordan could be confusing too, but there was a definite sense of scale to his battles. You felt like you were right in the action, whereas with Sanderson, it’s a little too separated, and I have difficulties seeing it all play out in my head. Not to say I didn’t enjoy the battles, they just started out too mundane. I think this chapter, and the whole book, could’ve served with shortening. Because this chapter was daunting. The sheer girth of it made it difficult to get through at times until Sanderson really ramped up the intensity. The battles didn’t exactly become clearer, but they certainly grew more exciting in the second half, and there was shocking twist after shocking twist. Still, I would’ve preferred a little more clarity and immersion to the battles of the Last Battle, although this is a problem for the whole book, and Sanderson does better in this chapter than earlier in the book, where the battles kinda blended together. So how about what actually happened? I’m not sure how to approach this, to be honest, it was just all so much. Perhaps I should start with Egwene, despite her scene being towards the end. Because DAMN. It’s eerie, when I went into this book, I attempted to predict who’d die in Tarmon Gai’don. I seriously hoped Sanderson/Jordan would’ve used the apocalypse to finally eliminate some characters and end the safety net present throughout the series. Not that I want to see these beloved characters die, but one of Jordan’s primary faults was that he was too attached to his creations. With such a huge cast, people NEEDED to die, and there just wasn’t enough. So I was expecting casualties this time around, and before the Last Battle, I was somewhat disappointed by how safe Sanderson was playing it. And then this chapter happened. And Egwene was one of a handful of names I arbitrarily predicted was going to die before reading the book. There was no logic to the choice, but for some reason, I felt if a major character were to die, it’d be Egwene. But I didn’t really expect Sanderson to kill somebody of her caliber. Siuan, Gawyn, Gareth? Sure. Those are major characters, but not so huge that it hurts really hard. But Egwene? I was astounded. And this happened after a slew of deaths and pseudo-deaths, so I just didn’t know what to expect. Some people stop reading for a while when confronted with a shocking death like this, but it had the opposite effect on me. While I was still absorbing Egwene’s death, I couldn’t resist finishing this chapter. I HAD to see who else died. I didn’t expect Egwene to kill Taim. I thought Androl or Logain would’ve been more fitting to take the bastard out at last, but I suppose a character as strong and prominent as Taim needed to face off against a higher-caliber hero like Egwene. And damn was that fight epic. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the reverse-balefire. It seems a tad deus ex machina to me, but aside from that, Egwene’s death was…intense, just in how it was written. And for the loss itself… I’m still getting over it. Some have been pretty outspoken in their dislike of Egwene. I never really disliked her, although she was rather annoying at times. Elayne and early Nynaeve tended to irritate me a little more. So I definitely wasn’t apathetic to Egwene’s death. But I also don’t think Egwene’s death was an inappropriate end to her lengthy, exhilarating character arc. Would I have loved for her to emerge from the Last Battle and rule the White Tower into an era of peace? Of course. But an incredible sacrifice on the battlefield isn’t a bad way for her to go, and I don’t think it makes her prior accomplishments meaningless. I mean, without Egwene, the White Tower would probably still be divided right now, and Tarmon Gai’don would be hopeless. And Egwene wasn’t the only major death… There was already a significant turn when Gawyn was mortally wounded by Demandred. I thought he was going to make it at first, but when Galad found him on the battlefield…when Egwene reacted with such sorrow and then courageously found acceptance…when Galad rode off to avenge his brother against Demandred. That was something. I’ve obviously never been a huge fan of Gawyn, especially in the Sanderson books, and yet his death shook me as much as some of the others. He was a fool, to run away from Egwene and challenge a goddamn Forsaken, but because he used those rings, he probably wouldn’t have lasted long anyway. Still, his death accomplished little and put Egwene at incredible risk. And then Siuan and Gareth. That was so…SUDDEN. Completely unexpected. And this is where I have to step back and criticize Sanderson for a little. Starting with Siuan and Gawyn, and then continuing into Egwene’s charge against Taim, and Galad’s clash with Demandred, and Elayne’s ambush, and finally Lan’s last stand, I was thrilled and horrified like I haven’t been in this series for some time. But Sanderson doesn’t have George R.R. Martin’s skill in making his deaths purposeful in addition to visceral. I think Siuan was killed too off-handedly. I was definitely looking for casualties, but it was almost blink-or-you’ll-miss-it, and I think a major character (one I quite liked) like Siuan deserved more. Especially since I question the necessity of rehashing a viewing that was already seemingly fulfilled in TGS. If Sanderson intended to kill off Siuan and Gareth through that viewing, why did he have them seemingly fulfill it in TGS? Anyway, Elayne’s ambush… That was also unexpected. I was waiting for Daved Hanlon to turn up. But when the Last Battle came around, I assumed Sanderson just forgot about him, as I didn’t think Hanlon could play a huge role in the Last Battle. How wrong was I. I still wish we knew what happened to Hanlon’s other Darkfriend companions, but his appearance was a welcome surprise. And then there’s what happened next. Birgitte decapitated. Just like that. It almost seems too quick. Is this really the end of Birgitte? And Elayne… Shit, when it was announced that Elayne died, right after Egwene, I was ready to believe it. Everything was a rush at that point. And then I realized Hanlon had a decoy in place to fool the commanders into believing Elayne was dead when she wasn’t. Still, I was damn worried for her. I didn’t expect that kind of competency and savagery from a simple Darkfriend like Hanlon! By the time Lan challenged Demandred, I was more than exhausted. Demandred’s role in the Last Battle was pretty exhilarating in general. Eventually, his rants about Lews Therin grew repetitive, but when he first showed up, he was one formidable force. As the only Forsaken really involved in the Last Battle, he made a definite presence, blowing up hundreds of soldiers at a time, unchallenged. To see Gawyn, Galad, and then Logain attempt to kill him and fall not to his channeling skills but simply his abilities as a swordsman was also daunting. After Gawyn, I was willing to believe Galad had died, which was why it surprised me he was only injured, although I guess he needed a happy ending with Berelain. But I was seriously concerned for Logain. It seemed Demandred was a one-man killing machine and Logain didn’t stand a chance. By the way, getting into Logain’s head in this chapter was…revealing. It’s been apparent since the beginning that he was a rather unscrupulous figure, to say the least, but his bitterness and ambition in his POVs was surprising, if somewhat understandable. Anyway, I was relieved when he actually emerged from his encounter with Demandred relatively unscathed. And then Lan. His last ride was epic indeed. It’s rather fitting Demandred fell not to a channeler but in a swordfight due to his own arrogance. Demandred could’ve balefired Lan out of existence, or had his entire army obliterate him, but he chose to fight, and it killed him. Thus exits one of the more memorable villains of the Shadow, right alongside Taim (although Taim didn’t do all that much in the Last Battle, aside from engage in some interesting interplay with Demandred). But Lan! Is he dead? Seriously? At this point, agan, I didn’t know what to expect. A series renowned for the survival rate of its heroes was turning into a legitimate bloodbath, and all sense of security I had in the beginning of the Last Battle vanished. What else is there to say about this gargantuan chapter? I enjoyed Mat running the battlefield, and his isolation was definitely apparent. He could trust literally nobody for risk of the Shadow manipulating them. He had to strategize entirely by himself, and had to keep changing up the battleplan because of the obvious infiltration of Shadow. But I do wish Mat played a greater role on the battlefield itself, just like in the Battle of Cairhien. The attack on the Seanchan camp shook things up, and not just because Siuan died so suddenly. It brought Mat and the Seanchan closer to the battle, rather than having them safe and isolated from the action. But the argument that followed… At first, it seemed Tuon’s departure was calculated and that she intended to return, but now I’m not so certain. Is Tuon really abandoning the battle that decides the fate of all existence? Can she doing anything else to make me hate her and the Seanchan anymore? Oh, and what about Rand’s actual battle with the Dark One? I’m conflicted on this one. I wasn’t expecting the ultimate confrontation to be so…philosophical. Outside of some briefly-mentioned assaults by the Dark One on Rand’s soul or whatever, most of it was kind of conversational. On the other hand, I’m not sure what I expected. This isn’t Dragon Ball Z. The emphasis isn’t on huge explosions and all that. And the Perrin-Slayer battle has cinematic going for it in spades. If this were a movie, I definitely would’ve hoped for a more action-packed battle with the Dark One, but for what it is, I think it kinda works. I would’ve hoped for more actual fighting, and Sanderson could’ve written the different visions a little better, but I appreciate it for what it is. Now for the conclusion. So much more happened in this colossal, eventful chapter, but I just can’t cover it all. I’ll just give my final word on Tarmon Gai’don. Although, to be honest, the battle’s not exactly over yet. But for the chapter itself, I enjoyed it. I wasn’t entirely certain when I started it. I still feel Sanderson could’ve shortened it, and lessened the emphasis on more mundane ‘battle porn,’ as I’ve seen it named. But even if this chapter was a tad too long, it was thrilling all the same. The second half was nonstop excitement and terror, and heightened my opinion on the entire book. Sanderson could’ve handled some of the deaths better, but they packed a punch. So yeah, I liked the Last Battle.
  4. In this entry of A Memory of Light, Mat becomes the new leader of the forces of good when the battlegrounds erupt into chaos due to the sabotage of the four captains, Perrin emerges from the Wolf Dream wounded, Faile's mission to retrieve the Horn of Valere takes a drastic detour, Aviendha clashes with Graendal in Thakan'dar, Nynaeve attempts to keep Alanna alive in Shayol Ghul, and Rand challenges the Dark One as Tarmon Gai'don begins. Chapter 29: The Loss of a Hill Comments Yep, something’s definitely up with Bryne. Damn. And, of course, Agelmar’s been touched by the Shadow too. That confrontation with Lan was pretty intense. It’s fortunate that these legendary generals are normally good people. I imagine many in their place would refuse to recognize they’ve been corrupted, and would just get rid of Lan for subordination. Of the five generals, we’ve seen the least of Agelmar, so it was difficult to be certain, but I had a feeling he couldn’t have been a legitimate Darkfriend. Now it’s obviously apparent that the Shadow (presumably Graendal) is employing a strategy to eliminate Randland’s forces by interfering with its generals. Which means Rodel Ituralde is probably next. And that’s at Shayol Ghul, the most crucial location. Gulp. Hopefully Perrin can do something about Graendal. Well, I’m glad Mat finally saw some action. I can sense he probably won’t be as directly involved in battle as he was in his crowning moment at Cairhien, taking on a more strategic approach, planning from afar. Which is cool, I suppose, but Mat to me belongs on the battlefield, organizing and waging war in the midst of chaos, so this little interlude was a relief. Oh, and he happened to discover Bryne’s a Darkfriend, just like that, before disaster could ensue. Nice. Of course, Bryne’s not really a Darkfriend, just Shadow-touched, but Mat’s pretty close anyway. Chapter 30: The Way of the Predator Comments So Perrin’s figured it out now, Graendal’s messing with the four great captains’ heads. And he’s probably the only person who knows. Hmm, he’s not really in a position to divulge that information, is he? Agelmar and Bashere have already been outed, but Bryne’s clearly been touched (and Mat at least kinda noticed) and I’m sure something will happen to Ituralde. If something isn’t done quickly about this, these four battlefronts will likely collapse just as Graendal intended. Lan and Elayne are already struggling to survive, and things could go to hell very easily for Egwene, and the folks at Shayol Ghul. I’ll admit, this twist with the captains caught me by surprise, and I commend Sanderson/Jordan for shaking things up with these betrayals just as the battles were starting to get stale. Rand touched the all-consuming darkness. Shit… What does this mean? Is his duel with Moridin over? This is all happening so fast! But wait! Androl just unleashed a volcano on an army of Trollocs. Seriously. I wasn’t completely behind this new character when Sanderson rather hastily introduced him in ToM, but at this point, I’ve totally turned around. In addition to his entertaining interactions with Pevara and his courage against Taim, he just rescued Elayne’s entire army with that Gateway skill of his. It’s incredible that Androl was ostracized as a weakling at the Black Tower. Sure, he can’t do much else than Gateways, but what else do you need when you can unleash goddamn volcanoes? Sanderson’s really been playing with Gateways in war in this book. It’s not exactly Jordan, but I like the possibilities nonetheless, using Gateways to survey battlefields and, you know, unleash volcanoes. Chapter 31: A Tempest of Water Comments Yeah, things are going to hell on Egwene’s front as well. Where the hell is Bryne? Even though I’m pretty sure I know where this is all going (it’s been done twice before on the other battlefields, after all), this is all still pretty suspenseful, given that the fates of these battles hangs in the balance with the sabotaged commanders. And now it’s happening to Ituralde! Damn, it’s even freakier from a commander’s perspective. Seeing Ituralde literally struggle against his own thoughts is evocative of the Imperius Curse from Harry Potter (which is no surprise, as it’s pretty much identical to Compulsion). Fortunate that the wolves were there to interfere and that Ituralde had the strength of will to resist for long enough. Although I hope Ituralde’s okay! Now Bryne’s been outed. Again, it’s lucky that all the great captains are reasonable, strong-willed people, otherwise they’d likely refuse to believe their own minds would’ve been sabotaged like that, and then there’d have been real problems. This exciting plot twist with the captains became a tad redundant when applied on all four battlefields in the same detail, but I appreciate it all the same. And now Mat has control over the armies! Awesome, I’ve been waiting for him to really enter the battlefield. Chapter 32: A Yellow Flower-Spider Comments Ugh, I can’t believe Min has to spend Tarmon Gai’don verbally abused by Tuon. I guess it was an unexpected turn, but I don’t like Min trapped among the Seanchan. Not to mention Tuon’s intentions to act preemptively on Min’s ‘omens’ by executing people! There’s no way that Min could live with that on her conscience. Awesome of Min to stand up to Tuon like that. And Mat’s officially in charge. Excellent. The idea of a last stand at Merrilor seems rather appropriate, bringing things back to where the novel started. But Galad’s not really lending to a positive atmosphere, is he? Well, it is the apocalypse… Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tabac Comments All I can say about the Slayer fights, as always, is that they’re certainly not in Jordan’s style, but they’re pretty damn impressive in their surrealism. The unreality of the Wolf Dream in general has always impressed me and Sanderson’s handling of these battles is definitely commendable. But it looks like Perrin’s in trouble again. When’s he gonna kill this bastard? And I was wondering when we were gonna hear from Faile. This book has been hectic, dealing with so many characters, I almost forgot about Faile and her mission to deliver the Horn of Valere. We’re over halfway through the book, and only now is it being addressed. Well, I’m intrigued with this subplot. It gives Faile something interesting to do for the Last Battle (let’s face it, as neither a channeler or an accomplished warrior, she otherwise probably would’ve been on the sidelines) and it’s been so long since the Horn of Valere has been relevant, it’s interesting to see it again. But I didn’t expect Faile to get stranded in the Blight! That’s…quite a dilemma. I was a little worried for Aviendha and Cadsuane in that scene there. Nobody major has really perished yet, but it looked like those red-veiled ‘Aiel’ had Aviendha cornered there. Anyway, Graendal clearly made another appearance, but I’m not entirely sure what she was doing there, as she already sabotaged Ituralde’s mind. Hmm. Chapter 34: Drifting Comments Rand’s fighting the Dark One. Shit, we’ve technically seen the Dark One before (back in LoC and everything) but this is something else. This is it. The final battle’s really starting. I didn’t expect Rand to tackle the Dark One with Moridin still alive! I’m really not sure where this is going to go, but I’m excited! And what the hell happened to Perrin? He got hurt real bad, it seems. Lanfear’s behavior towards Perrin remains confusing… Anyway, it’s rather fitting that the first book concluded with the Blight and now we’re really returning for the first time since, just as the final battle heats up. Jordan’s description of the Blight was very visceral and creepy in EotW (in fact, Jordan’s distinctly ominous writing style in that book was one of its major draws when I first read it years ago), and Sanderson does a pretty respectable job in maintaining the terror of the Blight. This is a land that will kill you if you even touch it. And Faile and gang are trapped in the middle of it. And the only way out is to Shayol Ghul. Mat’s not even there, but I suppose Faile could contact Aviendha and everyone. Speaking of Aviendha, not much to say about her, except it seems Graendal’s really hounding the Aiel in Thakan’dar. Poor Damer Flinn, though. Chapter 35: A Practiced Grin Comments It was entertaining to get a perspective from Olver. I forget if we’ve had one before, but I think Sanderson did a good job. And poor Olver, man, stuck in the Blight. I suppose he was always looking for adventure. I really hope his eagerness doesn’t lead to disaster in a land when stepping on the wrong plant can kill you painfully. I don’t think Jordan/Sanderson would have the guts to kill Olver like that, but still… I’m excited for Cadsuane, Aviendha, and Sorilea to challenge Graendal, though. But things are going to hell for Faile back in the Blight. Vanin and Harnan, Darkfriends? Damn, I didn’t expect that. It’s difficult for me to believe that these long-standing, lighthearted characters would be of the Shadow. I don’t see why they would’ve been forcibly turned to the Shadow (although stealing the Horn would certainly be an important task for the Shadow to infiltrate), but it’s difficult to believe that good old Vanin was always plotting to betray Mat while he was in the Band. I have a feeling there’s more to this. But at least Faile recovered the Horn! Chapter 36: Unchangeable Things Comments I totally forgot about Alanna. Wow. I guess this might fulfill the viewing about Nynaeve huddled over somebody’s corpse, huh? Well, Alanna’s not dead yet, and if anybody’ll save her, it’s Nynaeve. I wish she had a little more to do in Shayol Ghul, but I guess this is Rand’s fight. Anyway, it’s actually a pretty devious scheme of the Shadow, as the loss of a Warder/Aes Sedai obviously has a toll. It would’ve been tougher to capture and kill Elayne, Aviendha, or Min, but Alanna? Even I forgot about her. Damn it, why did she have to arbitrarily bond him eight books ago? I guess I now know what the purpose of all that was, from a narrative perspective. Nothing much happened with Mat except battle preparations, but things are really heating up. This entire book has pretty much been battle so far, but this is the battle. And it’s finally starting. And I have no idea what’s going to happen with Perrin. Tarmon Gai’don’s started, and he’s half-dead? Well, here we go. It’s begun.
  5. 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 Comments 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 Comments 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 Comments 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 Comments 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 Comments 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 Comments 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.
  6. It certainly would've been cool to see the rise of Demandred and introduce the entire Sharan culture, but I understand there wasn't enough time for everything. As for the Seanchan, I get that no possible compromise could've satisfied both sides, but I still wish there was a better fate for all those poor damane condemned to torturous slavery like that.
  7. In this entry of A Memory of Light, Rand confronts Tuon for the last time, Elayne is cornered at Cairhien, Egwene's strategy turns to disaster with the intervention of the Sharans and the appearance of a very dangerous foe, Aviendha leads the push into Thakan'dar, and Perrin hunts Graendal in the dream. Chapter 17: Older, More Weathered Comments Okay, this chapter pisses me off. I guess I should’ve expected it, but still, I’m pretty disappointed. So just like that, the Seanchan are good guys. This tremendous conflict has been resolved in one meeting, and now the Seanchan have consented to help Rand save the world, and with essentially no concessions. If this was only a temporary ceasefire, I wouldn’t be so irritated, but Rand is pretty much consigning several nations to remain under the yoke of an unjust conqueror. In the last few books, it seems as if Jordan/Sanderson have attempted to imply Tarabon, Altara, Amadicia, and everything else the Seanchan have invaded as having benefited from the occupation, but I just don’t buy it. The Seanchan are an aggressive empire that have brutally been invading and conquering nations they have no right to. And now Rand has pretty much sanctioned that. I don’t want to be too hard on him, as he really has very few choices regarding the Seanchan debacle. I’m more pissed off at Tuon than anything, but I would’ve hoped for at least some concessions. I mean, even if the Seanchan deserved to keep the nations they invaded, the horrific damane policy simply cannot be permitted, especially since it threatens Aes Sedai, crucial allies of Rand. I know Tuon would never have conceded to liberate the damane, but I just can’t feel good about an agreement that condemns untold numbers of innocents to perpetual torture and enslavement. I shouldn’t be surprised of Tuon either, really. She’s always been a proponent of the damane system and an apologist of the empire. For some reason, I hoped her ascension would result in some change to the Seanchan’s policy (I assumed Jordan/Sanderson would use the opportunity to make the Seanchan more sympathetic), but it’s been essentially the opposite. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to sympathize with a character so fervently dedicated to enslaving, humiliating, and torturing entire populations. I’m more irritated with Jordan/Sanderson, if anything. Why did Jordan spend so many books establishing this clearly-evil empire, depicting in detail its flagrant, destructive imperialism and its sadistic slavery institutions, if we were supposed to accept them as protagonists in the end with essentially no changes to their structure? Unless Jordan planned differently and Sanderson’s to blame? Meh, I don’t know. I had a feeling Jordan/Sanderson wouldn’t be able to properly wrap up this plotline (there just wasn’t enough time), but I’m irritated that events turned out in such a fashion that this agreement Rand made was the only possible conclusion. On a sidenote, Rand and Mat’s banter was really jarring. I can’t remember when they last met, and this is what they decide to talk about? Trying to outdo each other in ‘who did the coolest shit in the last few books’? Really? Especially at such a crucial and serious plot point? Another example of Sanderson’s humor backfiring, I suppose. Ugh. Chapter 18: To Feel Wasted Comments I completely forgot about Gawyn and the rings. I can certainly tell that’ll end in disaster. I’ve obviously never been a huge fan of Gawyn, but I certainly don’t want him to put on the ring and die! At least now he knows what they do, but I still imagine the rings will be important later. Other than that, not too much significant about the chapter. I enjoyed the Cadsuane-Rand interplay, although I’ve noticed Cadsuane hasn’t really played a large role in the Sanderson books. She was certainly a very Jordan-style character, and I’m wondering whether Sanderson exactly knows where to take her. She’ll clearly be present at the last battle, but I’m not sure how. As for the Lan and Agelmar scene, it struck me as highly suspicious. Agelmar’s competence and energy will clearly prove important later in Lan’s storyline, and their conversation already gives me the impression there’ll be further tensions between the two. I just can’t imagine what could be up with Agelmar, if there may be something more sinister about him. Hmm. Chapter 19: The Choice of a Patch Comments It seems as if Elayne’s battle strategy against the Caemlyn Trollocs isn’t working out so well. It’s incredible how quickly the fighting has translated from uprooting the Trollocs from Caemlyn to a battle to protect Cairhien. Well, I’m excited to see how it plays out. As for the revelation about the seals…well, I didn’t exactly expect that! So after all that conflict over whether or not to break the seals, turns out Rand doesn’t actually have them! Damn. I haven’t really been keeping track of the seals over the last few books. I remember certain attempts to steal them in CoT, but I don’t believe they came of anything. When could the Shadow have stolen the seals? How? More importantly, how the hell is Rand gonna retrieve them if he doesn’t even know where to look? Taim’s probably involved, he’s the only one of the Shadow aside from Moridin with the competence to pull off something like that. Nothing to really say about the Mat scene. Another thing that irritates me about the fate of the Seanchan is that Mat’s role in the Last Battle has him working with a faction I seriously despise. Back when Tuon was tagging along with Mat’s Band, it didn’t bother me much, but now Mat’s the outsider expected to adjust to the customs of the Seanchan. Interesting twist, if the Seanchan customs weren’t so deplorable. I mean, I was never exactly a fan of Tuon, but after the last few books, it’s really jarring to see Mat fall for someone like her so hard. Chapter 20: Into Thakan’dar Comments Sharans. Way to enter the game late, guys. Damn, Jordan/Sanderson kinda timed adding an entire new culture and civilization into the mix really tight, didn’t they? There really wasn’t time earlier to bring the freaking Sharans into the plot, but in the middle of the apocalypse is pretty abrupt too. I’ve been vaguely curious about the Sharans since they were first mentioned in…LoC, I think. I didn’t really expect them to be, well, bad. Seriously, this huge civilization that’s managed to utterly crush the Aes Sedai forces like that is working for the Shadow? What else could go wrong? Damn, things are going to hell pretty quickly here. Anyway, it’s surprising that we’re getting into Thakan’dar this quickly. The Last Battle is really ramping up if Rand is entering the valley of death. Does that mean he’s finished interfering on other fronts? Because I think Egwene could seriously use some help with the Sharans! And what’s Rand gonna do about the seals? Just wait and see? Chapter 21: Not a Mistake to Ignore Comments So the whole Sharan invasion seems to have been more disastrous than I thought. Egwene’s entire army was routed, the Amyrlin herself is missing, everything’s chaos. Damn. Almost hard to believe these warriors appearing out of nowhere could cause so much damage. I guess that leaves another force to contend with in the Last Battle. How did Lyrelle and Myrelle get into the same scene together? That’s really annoying and confusing to read, I can’t tell the names apart. Anyway, Lyrelle seemed almost cartoonishly irritating (did she always act like a Red?), but Androl’s ploy was pretty clever, so I commend that. I almost forgot about this envoy to the Black Tower, glad to see that got resolved. I don’t really blame the Asha’man for feeling resentful towards Rand. I mean, he did leave Mazrim Taim to screw things up for half the series. Chapter 22: The Wyld Comments Wow. Demandred. I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. Through the entire chapter, I was completely puzzled over this Wyld character. Was it really the time to introduce another devious, ruthless villain with a complex backstory and motivations? This Sharan subplot is becoming really confusing. And then bam, turns out he’s Demandred. Duh. I almost forgot about Demandred in this book, to be honest, there’s so much going on. So Demandred’s hidden among the Sharans all this time. That actually makes a lot of sense, although there was really no way to predict that. Well, that was definitely an intense and, for me, surprising introduction. This Sharan culture seems…intriguing, and I credit Sanderson for the difficult task in introducing them so late in the game. So Leane’s captured, and Egwene and Gawyn are in a really bad position. And Graendal’s up to something in Tel’aran’rhiod. So Perrin’s hunting her now as well as Slayer? I suppose I’m getting the showdown I was hoping for in ToM! Damn, he came close to capturing her! Perrin’s mastery over the dream is pretty shocking, although he’s had plenty of practice. What the hell does Graendal want with Bashere?
  8. Note: Apologies for the late post, I've been incredibly busy recently and haven't had the time to read AMoL or write posts as much as I'd like. In this entry of A Memory of Light, Perrin delves into Tel'aran'rhiod to track Slayer, battle with the Shadow wages in Braem Wood and in the Borderlands, Androl manages to liberate the captive Asha'man, and Mat infiltrates Tarasin Palace. Chapter 12: A Shard of a Moment Comments Birgitte’s sequence was mainly just battle (I’m starting to pick up a trend here, unsurprisingly), but her thoughts on her fading memories remain pretty tragic. It’s difficult to fathom, especially for someone like me, who has a very vivid memory and cherishes my recollection of the past, to have that all slip away randomly. I’m still not sure what to make of Rand’s recent relationship with Lanfear. I can’t tell if Sanderson (or Jordan, whoever planned it) is setting up a redemption arc for Lanfear; if that’s the case, I can’t say I’m for it. Lanfear just seems too far gone, and attempting to stuff in a redemption arc in the last book just doesn’t fit for me. But maybe it’s all simply a ploy? Still, a pretty interesting confrontation nonetheless. I wonder if Perrin’s desire to enter Tel’aran’rhiod physically will become crucial later on, as the dangers in doing so have been emphasized numerous times now. Chapter 13: What Must Be Done Comments So the Aes Sedai smashing Trollocs on the battlefield is certainly exciting, but there’s little to comment on. Moving along to Elayne and the conflict in Braem Wood, Bashere’s plan is gutsy, but I’m curious to see where it goes. Perrin’s scene with Tam was odd, Sanderson still doesn’t write lighthearted scenes all that well. But the discussion with Bornhald was interesting. Back when the Whitecloaks were major antagonists with ToM, I was really hoping for at least a confrontation with Bornhald, but I’m surprised to find how natural the Whitecloaks’ rapid ‘redemption’ was. Perhaps Sanderson could’ve executed it better, but I’m overall satisfied how that subplot proceeded, and I think Bornhald’s conflict with Perrin has received proper closure, especially after this. I’m wondering if Perrin will be the one to confront Padan Fain after all this; I personally hope it’ll be Rand, but Perrin has plenty of impetus too. Gaul as a character never exactly fascinated me, as he’s never done all that much, but I’m still excited to see he and Perrin hunt Slayer in Tel’aran’rhiod together. Chapter 14: Doses of Forkroot Comments Damn, I still don’t get Lanfear’s agenda. It wouldn’t be the first time she seemed to be helping the heroes for personal gain, even at the cost of the Shadow, but still. I’m getting worried that there’s a redemption arc in store here! Or maybe Lanfear’s as nebulous as always. Her mention of choices regarding the forced Turning of Asha’man seems to suggest there’s more to Lanfear than meets the eye, however. I’ve never paid much attention to her backstory, but I think I should probably glance back at the previous books, to recap the enigma of Lanfear. Asha’man madness after the taint is a little confusing. I guess madness just doesn’t go away even when its source has been eradicated, but it’s still pretty damn sad that many of the Asha’man retain their insanity, including our friend Androl (although he has a certain control over it). Anyway, clever trick of Androl’s. Things definitely got intense quickly in the ritual chamber, and well displayed how unpredictable these Asha’man can still be, even after the taint and supposedly under Taim’s dominion. Androl’s skill in gateways is really coming in handy. Although I wasn’t sure what it was Taim stole from Rand (as mentioned in his conversation with Hessalam) at first, it seems relatively certain it’s the seals. Which is a pretty big deal. When did Taim have the opportunity to accomplish that? Taim’s ascendance in the Shadow’s favor has been juxtaposed quite well with the rest of the Forsaken, who, Moridin excepted, have fallen apart in recent books, even the shrewd Graendal now another punished lackey for the Dark One. I do hope Graendal displays some of her old cunning, even in her current straits. I’ve always hoped for a fitting, explosive end for her character, and I haven’t seen much of that yet. Chapter 15: Your Neck in a Cord Comments Just an observation on the writing in the beginning of the chapter: does the word arabesque make sense in the WoT context? The very word defines architecture that’s Arab-derived, so it really makes no sense in a fantasy world, right? Meh, more Sandersonisms. Anyway, not much else to say about Mat’s little infiltration of Tuon’s bedroom, except I’m rather curious to see how their reunion will transpire, as much has changed, at least for Tuon, since KoD. Circumstances have certainly shifted too. Mat’s desire to gamble and drink during the apocalypse, while consistent, is really questionable. He has to understand he’s one of the greatest generals Randland has, and that he has a duty to protect the world with those skills. As for the Rand-Tam swordfight, I’m rather indifferent. Under Robert Jordan, it would’ve probably been a more touching scene, but Sanderson just doesn’t have that skill for human interaction, and it fell somewhat flat, especially since the concept of a meaningful practice fight to humble the messianic hero isn’t exactly original. By the way, although I’ve been rather critical of Sanderson’s writing since TGS, don’t interpret that as dislike. While it’s obvious that Jordan was the more talented author, Sanderson’s far from terrible and I still commend him for grappling the insurmountable task of completing WoT, with some considerable success at times. Others, not as much. Well, moving onto the actual Mat-Tuon reunion. This wasn’t as momentuous as it could be, but I don’t exactly obsess over those things. Still, Tuon’s pretty callous about it, although I suppose that’s rather consistent with her character. I think it’s clear she feels for Mat secretly, she’s just not exactly open about it. Anyway, I notice Karede’s returned. I like him, hopefully he plays a role in the Last Battle. Chapter 16: A Silence Like Screaming Comments The Loial scene is somewhat superfluous, although I appreciate getting a glimpse of the peaceful Ogier as fearsome warriors. It’s a little jarring to see these usually cuddly creatures so bloodthirsty, but I like it nonetheless. Still, I would’ve much preferred seeing Loial at the Stump rather than a simple battle scene. Meh. It was interesting to see the Whitecloaks fighting alongside them, and I’m glad Sanderson hasn’t ignored the zealotry that would only logically remain in their ranks, although I still think the transition of the Whitecloaks from antagonists to essentially protagonists was a little too quick. And Rand’s going to negotiate with the Seanchan. I have no idea what he can possibly achieve with words, given what happened in TGS, so I’m tentative going into this. As for the Lan scene, like most of his battle scenes in this book, they’re exciting, but nothing particularly consequential to the plot. Deepe was a pretty minor character, I don’t even remember what he did in ToM, so his death isn’t incredibly significant.
  9. In this entry of A Memory of Light, tensions rise in the confrontation at the Field of Merrilor, but the heroes disperse; with support, Lan brings the fight back to the Shadow at Tarwin's Gap, Elayne and Perrin conceive a plan to defeat the Trollocs at Caemlyn, Egwene prepares for battle in Kandor, Rand rethinks his role in the Last Battle, Mat searches for Tuon in Ebou Dar, and Androl and Pevara find themselves in dire straits at the Black Tower. Chapter 5: To Require a Boon Comments So the big meeting’s begun! Sanderson did a good job ratcheting up the tension, I’m very excited to see how all this proceeds. Potentially explosively, I imagine. To be honest, I didn’t understand the whole exchange between Rand and Roedran. What was that about? Anyway, it’s rather ironic that the Borderlanders are pushing for war, considering they left their people to die for the last few books. The vision of the future and the whole Dragon’s Peace from ToM obviously makes sense now. I applaud Rand for trying to establish a future of peace for Randland, but there were obviously some flaws. I think the whole concept of peace after the Last Battle can’t really coexist with the Seanchan, considering they’ve displayed no sign of relenting their aggression, and even if they were content with their current holdings, the Seanchan need to be taken to task for their vicious imperialism. There’s no way an Amyrlin, especially Egwene, would ever permit the damane system to persist in Randland. But I’m not sure what Rand can do about it. I still agree with Rand on breaking the seals, and this heated confrontation with Egwene only reaffirms that. I didn’t expect Egwene to be so antagonistic. I mean, Rand responded in kind, but she was the most vitriolic. I’ll admit Rand was being a tad paranoid (but with good reason) about the White Tower’s intentions, yet it certainly seemed if Egwene wanted the Aes Sedai to run the Last Battle, which I can’t say I completely agree with. Obviously, they have their role, but the White Tower has proven itself incapable of responsibly leading the world in peacetime. How could they possibly manage it in war? Rand’s right to try to assert some kind of dominance. He’s also completely correct in wanting to eliminate the Dark One for good. Can Egwene really settle for repeating the cycle of apocalyptic warfare again and again? What if the next Dragon isn’t as adept as Rand? Better to finish the Dark One once and for all. Anyway, Moiraine to the rescue! If anybody can stabilize the situation, it’s her. Chapter 6: A Knack Comments Moiraine obviously didn’t show up until the very end of ToM, so it’s only now, really, that I have a feel for how Sanderson writes such an important, distinct character. It’s pretty solid, to be honest, although there’s naturally some inconsistencies. Only Jordan could write Moiraine perfectly. It’s still somewhat surreal to have this character back in action after so long. It’s only been 9 months for me in reading time; incredible to think that some avid fans had to wait almost 20 years for Moiraine to return. I’m curious what her presence will mean. Clearly, she’s capable of deflating these stand-offs, but what else will she contribute to the Last Battle? Rand’s obviously not at all the person she mentored in TFoH. I wonder if Aviendha and Perrin’s little intervention to the Dragon’s Peace will be sufficient to averting the predestined fate. If so, it was a little too easily resolved. But there’s still potential for disaster in the current arrangement. Again, with the Seanchan in the equation, anything could happen. Rand really needs to attend to them. I’m glad a compromise was reached, but it does seem as if most of Rand’s duties were delegated to others. Is he just heading straight to Shayol Ghul, or will he participate in other aspects of the Last Battle? If Elayne’s leading the armies, I don’t know. I’m intrigued by the choice, as Elayne really doesn’t have much military experience. Politicking, sure, but military strategy? Not so much. Hell, if Mat was present, he’d have been the obvious choice for leading the charge into Tarmon Gai’don. What else will he do, if not lead? Mat better be in his goddamn element in this finale… Egwene breaking the seals is also interesting, but it makes sense, given the foreshadowing. Hopefully she and the White Tower can be relied upon. I don’t trust Aes Sedai (at least some of them) not to vie for power or influence even during the freaking apocalypse. The rescue of Lan’s forces was quite awesome. Such a noticeable change from Rand’s rhetoric in TGS, when he was willing to leave Lan to die if it helped him against the Shadow. Now Rand managed to provide a colossal army to intervene at the last moment! Pretty exciting battle scene. Lan’s recent arc is pretty powerful, when you think about how suicidal this all was, up until the very last moment. The fortitude of the common Borderlanders, especially Lan, living in constant danger of the Shadow yet approaching death fearlessly, is pretty incredible. Chapter 7: Into the Thick of It Comments So the Last Battle seems to be starting surprisingly quickly. Obviously, it’s just preparations for now, but I didn’t expect things to proceed at this pace, which is good. Already, the armies are being prepared to battle the Shadow at strategic locations. So Agelmar and Lan are obviously handling Tarwin’s Gap, Bryne and Egwene will fight for Kandor, Elayne and Bashere will defeat the Trollocs in Caemlyn, and Ituralde will help Rand at Shayol Ghul. So…what’s left for Mat? While there haven’t been any character fatalities yet, and the Last Battle hasn’t even really begun, the impending doom is quite palpable. I never expected Caemlyn to be destroyed to such an extent; hell, I expected Talmanes to pull a miracle out of nowhere, but the entire city is devastated. At least there’s hope for Elayne destroying the Trollocs, if not saving the city. In addition to Caemlyn, it appears Kandor is falling apart. Damn, the Borderland defenses didn’t last long. It didn’t help that all the armies were gone screwing around… That still pisses me off. Anyway, I had no idea how devastated Kandor was. It’s pretty horrific. I’m curious to see how much success Egwene will have there. This is the Green Ajah’s day; after how irritating they’ve been throughout the series, I’m hoping they can at least kick some serious ass in the Last Battle. That leaves Ituralde for Shayol Ghul, which is interesting, I expected Bashere to accompany Rand in the final battles. But Ituralde’s campaign in Saldaea in ToM was pretty exciting, so I’ve no qualms. Also of note is the return of the Ogier, in which I was a little disappointed. I expected the Great Stump to be one of the numerous hanging threads that ToM would resolve, but when Loial was once more absent, I hoped to witness his moment of awesome in the prologue of AMoL at least. But Sanderson just omitted it. I can somewhat understand, as there’s simply more to get to, but I definitely would’ve preferred to see the culmination of Loial’s arc rather than one of the gratuitous Perrin chapters last book. Unless Loial does something really significant in this book… I mean, he’s a fan favorite who was relegated to the sidelines for much of the series, and just when there was a potential for awesome in swaying the Ogiers into the Last Battle, it’s all off-screen. Sigh. Oh, and Mat’s in Ebou Dar. I expected him to have a (potentially disastrous) reunion with Tuon in this book, but I didn’t expect it so soon! But I suppose it makes sense to get it out of the way so Mat can get to battling. As the Seanchan pretty much sat out all of ToM, I’m apprehensive to return to their storyline. I’m a little worried there won’t be any satisfactory resolution. If the readers are expected to accept the Seanchan’s current brutal rule… There’s no feasible way they can be redeemed at this point, but I don’t see how else they can be dealt with in such little time. Hmm. Lan’s speech again reinforces just how gruesome the life of a Borderlander (and really any soldier in this apocalypse) is. To accept death, to detach like that… Of course, people in Randland know without doubt that they’ll be revived in the pattern (at least in most cases), so death in WoT doesn’t quite have the terrifying mystery that it actually has. Still, that kind of courage is moving. Chapter 8: That Smoldering City Comments So everybody knows that Elayne is carrying Rand’s baby. Glad that’s cleared up, I suppose. But it does remind me, what’s Daved Hanlon and gang up to? Those damn Darkfriends have hung around on the periphery of the plot for several books now, I hope they’re not written off too easily, I wouldn’t mind a solid confrontation. Anyway, the plan to defeat the Trollocs seems sound, although it still bites to see Caemlyn burn even further. Returning to Androl and Pevara, they certainly seem in trouble. Considering Taim’s conversion process is supposedly irreversible, the stakes are high here. Is somebody gonna rescue them before they’re turned? Will they escape by themselves? Logain can only hold out for so long, and if he’s turned, the whole resistance falls apart. Damn, it’s amazing how quickly Taim’s turned from an obviously nefarious but discreet manipulator into an unabashed Forsaken villain! And still no response from Rand! Chapter 9: To Die Well Comments After Rand’s last-minute intervention, I sort of expected Lan’s troubles to be over! That was clearly unrealistic, as the fate of the Malkieri is still very much undecided. I’m glad Lan is finally starting to think rationally. It’s commendable as hell to die for a cause, but Lan’s line of thought has been suicidal up till now. At least now he realizes he and his men can accomplish more if they don’t charge to their deaths. Not much to say about the Egwene scene, I’m still not sure where the Leilwin subplot is going. Her character hasn’t really interested me in some time. Similarly, the Rand-Elayne sequence seemed a little redundant and poorly-written. Sanderson definitely doesn’t have Jordan’s grasp of fantasy-esque but realistic dialogue, especially when it comes to romantic or humorous scenes. But Elayne now has a Seed, which I’m not sure was mentioned before, as it certainly isn’t familiar to me. Still, interesting. But where did Elayne get the last-minute ter’angreal for Rand? I suppose she probably made it, but it seemed rather sudden. Chapter 10: The Use of Dragons Comments UNO. He’s back. After not appearing since, like, the middle of the series, I was convinced he would just vanish into the tremendous cast of characters, but kudos to Sanderson for bringing back a rather memorable supporting character, even just for a moment. Elayne’s swearing is still pretty ridiculous, but it was like that under Jordan too. Anyway, excited for shit to go down in Caemlyn. Things aren’t looking good for Androl. Looks like Toveine is next to be turned. Interesting how she was originally brought into this whole Black Tower storyline and then thoroughly ignored. Why did Jordan bother introducing her character back around TPoD if nothing important was gonna happen until Pevara arrived in KoD? Dreadlords at Tarwin’s Gap. Not good. Is this the first major appearance of dreadlords? I think they popped up briefly last book, but aside from that, they haven’t played a major role. Chapter 11: Just Another Sell-sword Comments Horizontal gateways, huh? Can’t believe I didn’t really think of that. Gateways are so ingenious, it’s no wonder they’re being used for purposes other than transportation. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Anyway, moving onto Mat’s first appearance! I was worried there would be more redundant ‘Mat in a bar’ scenes, but this seemed to be a rather plot-driven section. I can’t really detect any difference in Sanderson’s writing to Mat since ToM. It’s just a matter of how much he tries to stuff in comedy. Can’t say I enjoyed the tidbit about Tylin. I would’ve hoped Sanderson wouldn’t resurrect (and exacerbate) that messed-up subplot. Well, it seems we’re not done with Seanchan politics just yet, which I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s been a while since TGS, so I need to refresh on the state of things. What I remember of Galgan wasn’t particularly encouraging, so it’s not surprising that he’s trying to assassinate Tuon. I’m not sure how Mat intends to rescue her, and frankly, I wouldn’t be too torn up about her death, except for the fact that Galgan would probably be even more murderous as Emperor or whatever. The Rand scene was an interesting loss for him, considering how messianic and over-powered he’s been lately. I agree with Moiraine’s premonitions to an extent, but I don’t want Rand on the sidelines until it’s time to confront the Dark One. He shouldn’t waste too much energy, but I would love to see him crushing Shadowspawn on the battlefield, as that’s always memorable. But apparently dreadlords, in number, can match even Rand. One thing that bothered me was the return of the fat man angreal. That’s disappeared since LoC, I’ve assumed for ages it was just a loss for Rand, but then he magically finds it when he needs it, off-screen? That just seems like lazy writing, and I don’t think Jordan would’ve intended Rand to recover a rather powerful angreal like that, if at all. Sanderson could’ve at least used a different angreal, rather than one assumed gone for half the series.
  10. Ah, I forgot Aviendha wasn't pregnant yet, lol. Still, the scene itself could've been better written.
  11. In this entry of A Memory of Light, Rand prepares for a momentous meeting, Elayne learns about the horrific fate of Caemlyn, Aviendha confronts her relationship with Rand, and Androl and Pevara daringly attempt to rescue Logain from Taim's clutches. Note: I usually write my summaries for my entries using Encyclopedia-WoT.org for reference, a very useful resource, but for some reason, it doesn't seem to have any info on AMoL past this point. For that reason, I'll probably omit summaries in my later entries, and just respond to the material. Chapter 1: Eastward the Wind Blew Summary Rand and Perrin converse, the former grateful that Perrin still has some of his innocence. They walk through the camp, and Balwer reports that Roedran will attend the meeting. A small earthquake shakes the camp, and Rand realizes the Last Battle has started. There is commotion in Elayne’s camp. Egwene writes a letter to Rand, and then Travels to Elayne’s tent with Gawyn. Elayne is concerned that she has not heard from Caemlyn. Finally, a messenger arrives, revealing that Caemlyn is besieged by Trollocs. Captain Guybon arrives at the camp, and Egwene and Elayne rush to the gateways. Talmanes emerges horribly injured. Nynaeve barely manages to Heal him. Elayne and Birgitte head through the gateway to inspect the fallen city firsthand. Leilwin promises to serve the Amyrlin Seat, and Egwene isn’t certain what to do with her. Rand remains intent on breaking the seals despite Egwene, but promises Perrin the ensuing meeting will not result in conflict. They’re informed about the fall of Caemlyn. Concerned that Elayne will abandon the meeting, Rand contemplates on how to ensure she attends. He promises to personally investigate the situation in Andor. Comments And so AMoL officially begins, now that we have the prologue out of the way. The sense of finality is pretty gripping. I’m more excited for this meeting than ever, and also nervous about the potential consequences. This situation is ripe for catastrophe. The loss of Caemlyn is still sinking in. I mean, what the hell is Elayne going to do now? After spending far too many books trying to claim the Lion Throne, now that she has it, the entire capital city is in flames? And right as the Last Battle starts? To be honest, I’m a little disappointed that Talmanes survived. I shouldn’t be surprised, considering this is WoT, but considering how dramatic the battle for Caemlyn was, I was wondering whether Talmanes would be a shocking first fatality. But Nynaeve Healed him, which I suppose is a good thing. But I do sincerely hope, as terrible as it sounds, that this Battle is…deadly. It wouldn’t feel fitting if this all went down without some major deaths. Still not sure what Leilwin’s role in all this is, although I assume it will entail the Seanchan. Chapter 2: The Choice of an Ajah Summary Pevara is the only Aes Sedai not yet claimed by Taim. Androl insists that saidin is no longer tainted, but Pevara points out signs of his insanity. They practice linking, and they accidentally bond each other in the process, allowing them to feel each other’s thoughts. They learn Logain and Taim supposedly reconciled, implying Logain has been captured. Aviendha sneaks through the camps, proceeding to Elayne’s, intent on preventing the Aiel’s horrific future. She infiltrates Elayne’s tent, where the nobles are convening. Elayne acknowledges that the city is lost, and intends to battle the Trollocs outside of Caemlyn’s confines. She receives a condescending letter from Rand, a ploy to convince her to remain. Elayne decides to play along. Comments Not too much to comment on this chapter, although I’m becoming more interested in the Asha’man subplot now that it’s gaining momentum. I’m just a little irked that the storyline was ignored for so long. But if Taim has Logain… That’s unexpected. I guess it’s entirely possible, as we haven’t really seen Logain since KoD, providing plenty of time for Taim to track him down. Maybe it’s bullshit on Taim’s part, but if he has Logain captive, that could crush the entire opposition inside the Black Tower. And if Taim is turned… Damn. Not much happened with Aviendha, though. She has a pretty insurmountable task ahead of her; how is she supposed to fight fate? Chapter 3: A Dangerous Place Summary Androl and Pevara proceed to the gathering of the Asha’man. Welyn announces that Logain and Taim have reconciled, and currently plan for the Last Battle with Rand. He pledges Logain will return soon. Androl and his supporters are obstructed from leaving by Mishraile. Coteren announces that Androl has been demoted to a soldier. He grudgingly accepts, aware of his weakness in the Power, and leaves. Androl assures Pevara that Logain will be rescued that night. Aviendha approaches Rand before his tent while he works on a document. Rand is still conflicted over his romances, but Aviendha accepts the pains of their relationship. They enter the tent to the jeers of Maidens. Androl and Pevara hide in a storeroom, growing accustomed to hearing each other’s thoughts. One of Taim’s cronies, Dobster, enters and Pevara shields and binds him. However, two more Asha’man suddenly enter, and Pevara clashes with them until Androl manages to knock them out. Comments That was a pretty intense scene with Androl there. It seems increasingly apparent that Logain really hs been captured. Androl and Pevara face some serious odds here. I suppose they laid the trap for that Asha’man to interrogate him, but then what? Can so few really challenge Taim’s regime here? Hmm. To be honest, I didn’t care too much for the whole scene with Aviendha and Rand. It was rather poorly written, but on the other hand, I can’t recall much experience with Sanderson writing romance. There was Morgase in ToM, which I felt was a little superfluous, but other than that, Sanderson hasn’t really addressed too many of the relationships Jordan established, specifically Rand’s convoluted…situation. But, seriously, Rand’s relationships with Aviendha, Elayne, and Min were resolved ages ago, back in WH (I think). We didn’t need Rand to accept his romance with Aviendha, he acknowledged they would bear the burden of his death books ago. And what’s the need for a cheesy sex scene? Really, Rand’s romances were already protracted enough under Jordan, we don’t need to pay any further attention now that it’s the Last Battle. There should be a reunion and that’s all that’s necessary. Chapter 4: Advantages to a Bond Summary Androl and Pevara discuss their pasts while waiting for Emarin. When the Asha’man appears, he somehow manages to fool the captured Dobser with money, and he reveals that Taim indeed has Logain. Pevara binds him again, and they all prepare to rescue Logain. Rand dreams after sleeping with Aviendha, and confronts Moridin. They discuss Lanfear, who Rand is still conflicted about. Rand understands why Moridin seeks apocalypse. Moridin attempts to taunt him, but Rand exerts his will; the clouds disappear and the ground blooms. Moridin vanishes, and Rand returns to sleep. Pevara and Androl approach the underground prison. They manage to dispose of the guards, and proceed underground to Logain’s prison cell. He hasn’t been turned. Androl suddenly detects channeling, and Taim’s supporters attack. A weave then brings the earthen ceiling down. Comments I like Androl and Pevara’s friendship so far, Sanderson manages to write them with chemistry. How Emarin tricked Dobser was a little dubious to me (nobody’s that smooth), but the Asha’man storyline has been consistently exciting so far. Logain really is captured, but thankfully not turned yet. But with that little cliffhanger there, I wonder how long that will last! The confrontation between Rand and Moridin wasn’t strictly necessary, but I liked it nonetheless. I’m really curious to see how this ancient conflict will be resolved in the ultimate climax. It seems as if Rand has transcended Moridin, which is consistent with the series’ treatment of the Forsaken. Even a few books ago, Moridin, if not all of his Forsaken companions, was a daunting, supernatural threat, but now, even he appears human, a flawed and petty creature. Perhaps Rand won’t be the one to confront him after all, and will just proceed to kill the Dark One? Hmm.
  12. Long time reader here, first time poster, although I have been blogging my read-through the series in the Blog section of the site. But having almost finished A Memory of Light, I thought I'd start posting here on the forums, as I'd love to discuss the series with fellow fans!
  13. In this entry of my readthrough of The Wheel of Time, it's the beginning of the end: Isam receives a new mission, Leilwin seeks audience with Egwene, the Forsaken convene, and Talmanes seeks to rescue Caemlyn from the fires of Trolloc invasion. Prologue Summary Bayrd and other guards accompany Jarid Sarand, who is increasingly erratic. Bayrd crafts a stone spearhead as all the metal in the camp melted away. Jarid blames this on Elayne and the Aes Sedai, intent on giving Elenia the throne. His soldiers finally decide to start abandoning him. The guards bind Jarid to a tree, leaving him to die. They decide to head northward to fight in the Last Battle. Talmanes leads the Band towards blazing Caemlyn. Refugees flood from the gates and the whole city is in flames. Talmanes is intent on locating the dragons before the Trollocs seize them. Sandip reports that the nearby mercenaries are not contributing. Trollocs attempt to block the gates. Isam waits in the inn of the enigmatic Town, as summoned. He has horrific memories of a childhood in the Town. Men outside wearing red veils, known as Samma N’Sei, prowl. Moridin walks past, causing the veiled men to disperse. After Moridin passes, a woman enters, presumably a Chosen. She informs him that he is to kill Rand, and accept orders from none but the Great Lord. Two Samma N’Sei enter, and the woman explains they will accompany him in his task. Talmanes and his soldiers drive the Trollocs from the gate, but he is wounded by a Fade. They contemplate on how to rescue the dragons. Talmanes manages to recruit the mercenaries to help hold the gate. Leilwin and Bayle slipped through a gateway from Tar Valon to the Field of Merrilor, and search for Nynaeve and Elayne. She wishes to end the injustice of the damane. Sleete escorts them to Nynaeve, who berates them for relinquishing the sad bracelets to Suroth. Nynaeve then escorts Leilwin to Egwene. Melten applies blisterleaf to Talmanes’ wound, which is killing him. The Band fights at the southern gate while the mercenaries secure the west. Talmanes insists on proceeding to the Royal Palace first, to locate Aes Sedai. Aviendha arrives at the Field of Merrilor and meets with the Wise Ones, reporting what she witnessed in Rhuidean. They decide to dispatch another Wise One to confirm, and Bair later volunteers. Aviendha inquires about Nakomi, but Bair only recognizes it as an ancient name. Talmanes and his companion fight towards the Palace, but are overwhelmed by Trollocs. The wound weakens him. The Queen’s Guards suddenly attack the Trollocs from behind, dispersing them. The Palace stands, for the moment. Guybon wants to defend it, but Talmanes convinces him to escort the refugees out of the city. Trollocs have seized the walls. Talmanes is determined to locate the dragons, and Guybon decides to accompany him. Androl and Pevara converse while he works on a saddle. They have been considering escape methods, and Androl mentions a rebellion in Murandy. He decides to think of a plan. One of the few remaining Kinswomen cannot save Talmanes from the poison. The soldiers slowly proceed to the dragon warehouse only to find it burned. They hear booming, and proceed down the street to face more Shadowspawn. Talmanes manages to kill another Fade. Aludra and the townspeople suddenly appear, with the dragons secured. Moghedien arrives in Moridin’s dreamshard in Tel’aran’rhiod, a stone platform floating in the ocean. She has been permitted to carry her own mindtrap and channel without permission. Moridin still claims Cyndane’s. Demandred appears, soon followed by a hideous woman: Hessalam, whom Moghedien recognizes as Graendal’s new body. A new Chosen appears: Mazrim Taim, known as M’Hael. He was raised because of his creation of a new generation of Dreadlords. Moridin assigns Moghedien to assist Demandred. Talmanes collapses from the pain while Guybon argues over how to utilize the dragons. The Trollocs have them cornered by the city wall. Talmanes decides to use the dragons to blow through the walls. The dragons blow the Trolloc-secured battlements to pieces, but Talmanes falls unconscious. Comments So this was a lengthy prologue, but quite action-packed! A nice ominous way to begin the end. I initially thought, since several pages were dedicated to such a minor character, that Jarid Sarand and his supporters would somehow play a somewhat important role in this book for some reason (perhaps more Andoran politicking, gasp), but it seems it was just a loose end resolved. In that case, it seems sort of irrelevant. I think we could’ve done without seeing what happened to freaking Jarid, but perhaps it’ll be of importance later. Doesn’t look like Jarid is getting out of it alive, though. Seriously, pretty callous to leave him to starve, there’s no way he’s getting rescued. And Isam! Damn, that section was confusing, I still don’t know exactly what this Town is, except that Isam apparently had a horrific childhood there, largely because of these red-veiled Samma N’Sei. Well, that’s one mystery from ToM resolved. Partially, ‘cause I still don’t know exactly what they are. Shadow Aiel or something? Still, they seem nasty, and I’m sure Isam’s new assignment to hunt Rand will display just how dangerous they are. I’m not sure who the Forsaken is, though. I’ve definitely liked Slayer as a villain in the last few books, though. Yeah, he didn’t really appear until ToM, but he certainly has a presence. Not much to comment on, regarding the Leilwin scene. Her character, and Domon’s, never particularly interested me, although her desire to fight against the injustice of the damane system is telling. I’m not entirely sure what she intends to do about it, and how Egwene will react, as Nynaeve was naturally pissed to see them. Seriously, Leilwin really dropped the ball with the sad bracelets, the consequences were nearly apocalyptic. Aviendha’s part is rather self-explanatory. I can tell that her primary storyline in this book will be attempting to avert the end of Aiel civilization, which is pretty damn awesome, although I’m not sure how she intends to change the future. Considering how visceral that revelation in ToM was, this is one element of AMoL I’ll definitely pay attention to. Androl and Pevara’s section was pretty uneventful. Considering there’s been seven books of buildup regarding the Black Tower shenangians, I’m just frothing for progress here. Sanderson’s really been protracting it. And another Forsaken meeting! Damn, their numbers have really thinned. I mean, we’ve lost Semirhage, Aran’gar, and Mesaana in the last two books (that’s everyone, right?). I can understand how Moridin’s getting nervous. So…Mazrim Taim is a freaking Forsaken now. Well. Considering he’s been more competent than several of the Forsaken combined, that makes sense. It’d be stupid for the Dark One not to utilize this devious villain to a greater extent. There’s still so much that’s a mystery about Taim, though, I hope the story in the Black Tower sheds some more light on his dubious activities and his motivations. He’s one of my favorite characters in the series, and he’s certainly different from the other Forsaken, considering how young he is. There’s another new Forsaken on the scene, though: Hessalam. I like the irony of Graendal becoming punished with a hideous form (very much like the Balthamel – Aran’gar shift), but she didn’t stay dead long, did she? This also marks a return from Moghedien, who I don’t believe we’ve seen since WH. Finally she’s doing something: working with Demandred. Are we finally gonna get answers on the ever-mysterious Demandred? Well, this is the finale, we’d better. Finally, Talmanes. I like how Sanderson dispersed this miniature storyline throughout the prologue. Damn, it was sort of surreal to see Caemlyn burning. An excellent way to start the Last Battle, in my opinion, to shockingly destroy one of the oldest, most hallowed locations in the series. Sure, I expected Caemlyn to play a pivotal role in the Last Battle, but to see it razed at the very beginning? Very unexpected and visceral. And Talmanes is dying! Considering this is WoT, I’m a little skeptical about him not making it through this, but this is the Last Battle, and such a major death would be a very shocking way to set the mood. So, I definitely liked the battle scenes. Even with the city burning and the trolloc hordes amassing, I expected Talmanes to somehow reclaim Caemlyn. But he’s not Mat, and it became clear the place was lost. Damn.
  14. In this entry, I officially conclude Towers of Midnight, the penultimate entry in The Wheel of Time, in which Elayne successfully claims the throne of Cairhien, trouble brews in the Black Tower, armies convene on the Field of Merrilor, Perrin accepts the wolf in him, Rand encounters somebody unexpected in his dreams, Lan reaches Tarwin's Gap, and Mat, Thom, and Noal make a daring infiltration of the Tower of Ghenjei to rescue Moiraine from the wicked Eelfinn and Aelfinn. Chapter 52: Boots Summary Elayne, Birgitte, and a hundred guards Travel to Cairhien, and are accompanied to the Sun Palace by the nobles. Birgitte discovers a poisoned needle on the Sun Throne, outraging Lorstrum and Bertome. Elayne sits upon the throne, announcing the prosperity of the alliance of Andor and Cairhien. She postpones the coronation feast to gather their forces for the Field of Merrilor and the Last Battle. Mat looks through countless papers and reports. He learns Tuon is now empress. The last page reports wolves congregating. He resists opening Verin’s letter. Setalle approaches him with a letter from Joline, revealing they all arrived at the White Tower safely. Mat explains his distate of nobles with a metaphor of boots. He is secretly concerned about Birgitte’s advice on the Tower. He hopes his luck is sufficient to survive. Comments So Elayne’s Queen of Cairhien. Glad we got that out of the way, and that she’s spending no time getting ready for Tarmon Gai’don. Nothing more to comment on there, outside of the poison needle, and I don’t think it really matters who planted it. It’s Cairhienin politics as usual. Elayne and Birgitte’s banter over the throne was a little silly. As for Mat, nothing really significant there, just more build-up to the Tower. His whole boots metaphor was articulated rather unevenly, Sanderson still doesn’t have a complete grasp over Mat’s kind of humor. Chapter 53: Gateways Summary Pevara walks through the Black Tower with Javindhra. Guard posts on the walls surrounding the grounds have been manned. Taim still refuses to allow full Asha’man to be bonded. He intends to invite the other Aes Sedai camped outside soon. Pevara must now request permission before she can leave the grounds. She intends to leave before matters worsen, but Javindhra stubbornly wishes to study more. A strange-acting Tarna is also intent on remaining. Pevara decides to try Traveling, but somehow cannot. Perrin bids farewell to Mat, Thom, and Noal. He then leads his armies through a gateway to the Field of Merrilor. Most of the armies are present, save the Borderlanders. Perrin trusts Rand in breaking the seals, and doesn’t agree with Elayne in stopping him. Mat, Thom, and Noal approach the Tower of Ghenjei. Thom draws the symbol in the side of the tower, making a large opening. They enter a room with four openings. As they move through the corridors, Mat finds the chambers keep changing, and starts relying on his dice. An Eelfinn confronts them, attempting to fool them, yet Thom lulls it to sleep with music. They eventually proceed to a familiar large room with black columns. Comments Now things are ramping up! This glimpse into the Black Tower was much more interesting. Pevara’s an established character and one of the few Reds I actually like, and I’ve been waiting to check in on the embassy to the Asha’man. Taim’s becoming less and less inconspicuous with his villainy (although, crafty as he is, he’s never been all that subtle), probably because he’s recognized that Rand is pretty much completely ignoring this volatile institution he created. So now Taim’s imprisoning Aes Sedai…and doing something sinister with them, as Tarna indicates. Is Taim converting Asha’man and Aes Sedai to his control? If so, that’s…bad news. He would have an entire army of powerful channelers directly loyal to him. And it seems the second dreamspike’s in place here, as I can’t think of anything else specifically restricting channeling. As for Perrin’s portion, I’m glad he’s siding with Rand, but it could lead to a potential conflict when Egwene finally confronts him. And the infiltration of the Tower of Ghenjei begins! Sanderson’s almost as talented as Jordan with describing the surreal and magic, so it’s little wonder he’s excelling with the fantastical Tower setting. Damn, that place is creepy and weird. I have only vague memories of Mat’s journeys into the lands of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn in TSR, but I recall being completely puzzled. And to be honest, the Aelfinn and Eelfinn are still pretty mysterious at this point. Well, this adventure’s off to a good start. Chapter 54: The Light of the World Summary The melted remnants of the twisted red doorway are in the center of the room. Eelfinn suddenly surround them. When they start attacking, Mat explodes one of Aludra’s nightflowers, and flees with Thom and Noal in a random direction. They eventually enter a chamber with Moiraine floating in the center. Thom reaches for her, pulling her free from the mist despite the pain. Eelfinn suddenly appear on the pedestals, ready for a bargain. Mat demands a clear path out without Eelfinn interference. He realizes what price the Eelfinn will demand in return, and allows them to rip out his left eye. After Mat recovers from the agony, the three flee. As they proceed through the hallways, Mat realizes he didn’t mention the Aelfinn when he demanded none interfere in their escape. Aelfinn suddenly materialize. Comments Damn, this is exciting. To those who claim The Wheel of Time is a very derivative Tolkien-esque fantasy world, I counter with the Tower of Ghenjei. This is a bizarre, fascinating, and ominous environment, and Sanderson handles it seamlessly. Navigating a labyrinth that defies the laws of physics would be challenging enough without the Eelfinn attacking! They didn’t do that when Mat came here first, right? And Moiraine! She’s returned after eight books! Well, she’s not conscious, but she’s been recovered surprisingly quickly. I enjoyed Mat’s deft bargaining with the Finns. He’s clearly learned from his previous experience in the Tower, and is intent on escaping alive. But, of course, getting out is the complicated part, as the ending of this chapter attests. Just when I thought they were almost out, I remembered we’d yet to see the Aelfinn in this little adventure, and lo and behold, the Aelfinn attack. Well, this chapter is pretty self-explanatory. Lots of action, which I always enjoy. Chapter 55: The One Left Behind Summary Mat, Thom, and Noal run through the labyrinth carrying Moiraine, chased by the Aelfinn. The nightflowers manage to dispose of some, but the Aelfinn are too enraged to be seduced with music. Mat doesn’t have time to use his luck effectively. Noal decides to stay behind and hold the Aelfinn off. He requests that Mat tell the Malkieri that Jain Farstrider died clean. Mat and Thom escape, eventually coming to another large room with columns. However, the twisted red doorway there is destroyed. As the Aelfinn start surrounding them, Mat reflects on his original deal and recalls that he never asked for the ashandarei. Realizing it actually fulfilled his request to escape, Mat cuts the symbol into the wall with the weapon, and they manage to escape. Comments Noal’s dead. Hmm. Again, with so many characters and so few deaths in The Wheel of Time, the moments in which relatively major characters perish are pretty significant. But as with many, Noal’s death is somewhat diminished because, although he’s been a pretty important part of Mat’s storyline for a while now, the reader hasn’t had enough time with him. I mean, it seems as if Jordan created him for the direct purpose of dying in the Tower of Ghenjei. Other than that, he really hasn’t done much. I like Noal, he’s not a boring character by any means, but he’s just not quite important enough to evoke too strong of a reaction in his death. Nonetheless, it was a great scene, cinematic and well-written. I haven’t really been following the whole Jain Farstrider mystery, it seemed relatively obvious for a while now, and it’s not all that important anyway. What moved me more was the sense of hopelessness when Mat and Thom were cornered by the Aelfinn, after all they’d suffered to rescue Moiraine. Mat’s panic and Thom’s despair was very palpable, and I commend Sanderson for evoking that kind of mood. I was scared for the heroes, even though I really knew they were gonna make it out somehow. The Aelfinn (and the Eelfinn, for that matter) are nasty. Compared to the more archetypal villains in this series (like pretty much everyone serving the Shadow) or ones that actually piss me off quite a bit (i.e. the Seanchan), the Finns present a different sort of threat. They’re so otherworldly and mysterious, they can’t be compared to imperialist slavers or omnicidal doombringers. They’re more inhumane than the Forsaken, that’s for sure, and contributed to the whole sense of danger in this scene. Unfortunately, Sanderson almost ruined the epicness and intensity of this scene with the very ending. Just as I was cheering for the cleverness of their escape, it was tarnished by cheesy uncharacteristic dialogue on Mat’s part, just like when he defeated the gholam. Urgh. But otherwise, the Tower of Ghenjei was a riveting climax to this book, which is impressive, considering how much of Mat’s storyline led up to this. There was so much build-up, it could easily have been underwhelming. Chapter 56: Something Wrong Summary Gawyn is suspicious of Perrin’s allegiance, considering the Whitecloak army in his stead. Egwene is thankful for Gawyn’s submission. They prepare to meet Elayne. A small force of farmers recently arrived. King Roedran has not responded to Egwene’s request. As they approach Elayne, Gawyn recognizes Morgase and they embrace. There is a sudden break in the clouds, marking Rand’s arrival. Androl and his supporters futilely attempt to open a gateway. They notice bizarre changes among certain Asha’man, including those who once supported Logain. Androl decides to finally approach the Red sisters. He knocks on Pevara’s door, and she reluctantly agrees to collaborate. Comments This was really a cliffhanger chapter, with the finale of this book obviously being Mat’s little adventure just now. Gawyn’s reunion with Morgase was somewhat overshadowed by Rand’s last-minute return. To be honest, while I expected, considering all the anticipation throughout this book, that this confrontation on the Field of Merrilor would occur by now, it seems it’s happening in AMoL. While that’s slightly disappointing, it makes sense. It would be a fitting start to the Last Battle. As for the Asha’man, I’m a little more irritated that the only story we’ve really had relating to the intrigue in the Black Tower in some time was so brief and superfluous in this book. The machinations of Mazrim Taim (and his conflict with Logain) really received very little attention throughout the series, despite all the intrigue and hints. It’s all been suspense, and I expected more action and plot development by now. I suppose it’ll all be addressed in AMoL, I suppose. Nonetheless, it’s exciting to see Pevara and Androl unite in the face of calamity. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Taim is brainwashing the members of the Black Tower or something. Chapter 57: A Rabbit for Supper Summary Mat, Thom, and Moiraine emerge from the Tower of Ghenjei. Moiraine details her imprisonment, explaining that the Aelfinn and Eelfinn leech off emotion and the One Power. She is now very weak at channeling without an ivory bracelet angreal, one of her three demands. A man once approached her during her imprisonment, but she wasn’t his quarry. Moiraine offers to Heal Mat’s pain, but he refuses, still wary of channeling. He in turn explains some of the recent events to Moiraine. She intends to locate Rand, and then asks Thom to marry her. He agrees, also deciding to be her Warder. Mat is stunned by their romance. Comments Moiraine’s return is as weird for me as it is for Mat. One of the most important and memorable characters of the earlier books, she’s disappeared from the narrative for eight books now, and so much has occurred and changed in the series since then. I can only imagine how it felt for those who followed the series since the beginning. The Fires of Heaven was published in 1993, right? That meant some readers spent 17 years with this series before Moiraine returned. DAMN. It was only 9 months for me. Anyway, I’m very excited for Moiraine’s return (although I’ve secretly always been a little dismayed that the only really shocking death in WoT was reverted) and Sanderson seems to have a solid grasp for the character so far, which is reassuring, because she was always very distinctive. As for the romance with Thom, I think that’s been foreshadowed for ages, so no surprises there. I didn’t expect Thom to become her Warder, though. He never seemed to be the Warder type. Something that stood out for me in this chapter was Moiraine recounting her imprisonment in the Tower. It’s very surprising that Moiraine is now very weak after the Finns leeched her of the One Power, but that she has an angreal to mitigate that. That’ll definitely come into play in the next book. It also explains an observation in a previous book that stated Cyndane was weaker than Lanfear was. I never doubted they were one and the same, but I was curious regarding the inconsistency. It makes sense now, though. The Finns clearly leeched off her before Moridin arrived. Epilogue Summary After failing to kill Perrin, Graendal decides to flee from her manor near Ebou Dar. Before she can escape, however, Shaidar Haran approaches. He faults her for the death of three Chosen, including Mesaana (because of the dreamspike). The opportunity to hunt Rand has been given to another. Graendal’s punishment is to begin. Perrin seeks Boundless in the wolf dream as Hopper instructed. Boundless flees, but Perrin eventually manages to track him down. Boundless reveals that he is Noam, and did not accidentally lose himself to the wolf, but did so purposively, because his human life was too painful. Perrin realizes he has control over his balance. Olver plays snakes and foxes with a bored Talmanes. He intends to approach the Tower of Ghenjei himself to learn which Shaido killed his father. He suddenly wins the unwinnable game. Olver then discovers Mat’s letter, and decides to open it. Talmanes reads it, and then suddenly flees. Olver takes a glimpse and finds that the letter urges Mat to have the Queen destroy the Waygate near Caemlyn, as an army of Shadowspawn is approaching. Olver rushes out of the tent to see fires over Caemlyn. Talmanes rouses the Band to come to the city’s defense. Olver decides to fetch his knife. Barriga flees from Kandor into the Blight, the rest of his merchant caravan dead. He approaches a band of men ahead, dressed as Aiel. On further glimpse, however, the ‘Aiel’ have teeth filed to points. The creature withdraws his knife. Rand dreams an ordinary dream to find solitude. He intends to break the seals regardless of Egwene’s resistance. He hears a scream and enters a dark corridor, running into a lightless room. He recognizes a woman huddling inside: Lanfear. She begs for an end to the torture but she tumbles into darkness. Lan’s army, grown to twelve thousand, approaches Tarwin’s Gap. He claims his rightful title as Lord of the Seven Towers and charges forward to face a horde of 150k Shadowspawn, ready to meet his death. Comments This was an excellent epilogue, functioning as WoT epilogues should: with tantalizing teasers and cliffhangers leading towards the next (in this case, final) entry. I wasn’t certain what plot development aside from the Last Battle would consume the rather sizable AMoL. There’s the confrontation on the Field of Merrilor, the Black Tower, and obviously the Seanchan, but what else? This epilogue answered some of that. The only section that seemed out of place was Perrin’s, as it would’ve better fit in one of his earlier chapters. Epilogues usually aren’t for something as significant as character resolution. Nonetheless, I liked the scene very much. So Boundless is Noam. I remember Noam, despite it being ages since I read TDR, as it had a considerable impact on Perrin and his relationship with the wolves. I’m so glad that Perrin has accepted being a wolfbrother as much as being a leader. Graendal? I thought she was toast when Shaidar Haran appeared, which would’ve been disappointing, as she really didn’t do much in this book (technically she was ordering Slayer around, but Slayer clearly was more of a direct antagonist for Perrin) and I’ve been looking forward to a confrontation between her and Rand. Their conflict in TGS never felt really completed. But it seems as thought the Dark One has something else in mind for Graendal. She’ll probably become yet another slave of Moridin’s for her failure. I wonder who replaced her in her task to hunt down Rand. On a sidenote, this chapter subtly confirms that Graendal killed Asmodean, now that I look at it, but I’ve been spoiled for this for some time because of the damn glossary. When I first purchased ToM ahead of time, I glimpsed through the glossary (for some reason) and it revealed that Graendal killed Asmodean. I have no idea why such a long-running mystery was so off-handedly revealed in the glossary, but it teaches me not to expect glossaries to skirt spoilers. It was interesting having an Olver POV for once. His character has always seemed a little pointless, but it appears as if he’ll have some action here soon, if he really does participate in the defense of Caemlyn. I’m certain if Mat arrives on time, he’ll get Olver the hell outta there. So Elayne’s chapters already confirmed that there would be an invasion of Caemlyn soon, but I didn’t expect that to be in the contents of Verin’s letter. Hmm, seems as if she made a rare miscalculation in assuming Mat would disregard her requests. Although, to be honest, it was a logical assumption, considering Mat. I definitely didn’t expect Caemlyn to be attacked, though! I assumed Talmanes would warn Elayne in time, but no, Caemlyn is burning! Damn, what’s going on in the Royal Palace? This looks to be an epic way to start AMoL: an epic defense of Caemlyn from the forces of the Shadow. Nothing to comment on the Shadow-Aiel (or whatever they are) except that I’m intrigued. I assume these new sorts of Shadowspawn will have an important role in the next book, otherwise their placement in the epilogue would be odd. And we finally have a Rand POV! He seems pretty peaceful, I was almost expecting it all to be a front. I have a feeling he won’t be completely serene in AMoL (or at least I hope he won’t, that’d be boring), but it seems his epiphany on Dragonmount really did remove most of the madness, aside from what Nynaeve glimpsed. So…Lanfear. I call bullshit. I’ll be damned if there’s a redemption story at play here for one of the most obsessive and dangerous Forsaken. It seems as if Cyndane has replaced Graendal in the hunt for Rand, and this is an obvious ploy. I have no doubt that Cyndane has actually been tortured by Moridin for her failures, but she’s clearly bait for a trap to get Rand. So that’s Towers of Midnight. My thoughts on the book? Hmm, difficult to say. On the one hand, this book was simply packed with plot development. So many things were resolved and moved forward, it’s staggering. But on the other hand…I felt there was a surprising amount of filler. Furthermore, the book felt a little too disjointed. In many ways, it was focused too much on Perrin’s protracted storyline and stuffed many of the different plot threads in randomly. Compared to the brilliant focus of TGS, in which neither Rand nor Egwene’s excellent storylines felt ignored or rushed, ToM falls short in terms of organization. The writing wasn’t up to par all the time either. Maybe it’s because more of this book was Sanderson in comparison to TGS, but some of the writing definitely could’ve benefited from Jordan’s hand. I’ll run through the major storylines. Perrin’s obviously dominated the majority of this book, which was one of my criticisms. As much as I enjoyed most of his thread, I felt like it dominated the book too much. While TGS put surprising weight on Rand and Egwene’s storylines, that didn’t really affect the other threads in the book. In contrast, there seemed to be too much Perrin in ToM and while Sanderson struggled to include everybody else, it ended up feeling rushed and hasty. While Perrin’s storyline received a lot of praise in this book (and I understand why), it wasn’t flawless. Too many extra, superfluous chapters were thrown in when Mat, Rand, or Elayne could’ve used more focus. Sanderson had a lot to accomplish with Perrin in this book, but he protracted it a little too much. Nonetheless, I’m impressed with the storyline nonetheless. The battle with Slayer was surreal, and the confrontations with the Whitecloaks lived up to my expectations. I definitely enjoyed the closure Perrin’s character finally received, having suffered far too much of his angst in the protracted Shaido storyline. Morgase’s little thread seemed a little pointless in comparison, as the major moments of characterization were just rushed through. Berelain and Galad’s romance was a bit clumsy too. Mat’s storyline, initially promising, disappeared halfway through the book before finally returning for the ending. I think Sanderson did improve on Mat’s character, but not to the extent that some claim. Whereas nearly every character he picked up seamlessly, Sanderson’s sense of humor still jarringly clashes with the Mat we all know and love. That was most apparent in the letter fiasco and some of the cheesier dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of the old Mat in this book and I commend Sanderson for his successes, but it was far from perfect. Thankfully, the climax was excellent. The Tower of Ghenjei was one of the more exciting moments in recent books, and Sanderson did brilliantly, save a few slip-ups with Mat’s characterization. Rand’s absence from this book was a little disappointing, though. I know Sanderson had a lot to accomplish with the other characters, in addition to aligning everything chronologically, but having had Rand already sit out CoT, another book in which he largely kept to the sidelines didn’t seem wise, especially since there was plenty of filler in ToM. Sanderson’s characterization of Rand in TGS made it one of the better WoT books, but that was largely absent in ToM in favor of Jesus Rand. In large part, this is me just missing the brilliant tension Rand’s madness brought to the narrative in previous books, but Sanderson could’ve handled the transition a little better. Rand’s few moments were great, though, especially the Battle of Maradon, which was one of the more exciting parts of the book and an excellent moment for Rodel Ituralde. Egwene’s storyline could’ve used work, though. After TGS, it made sense she had a lessened presence, but the chapters she did appear in were largely superfluous and focused on Gawyn’s characterization. Gawyn’s arc in TGS and ToM is way too protracted and just serves to irritate the reader in displaying his obstinate stubbornness. I’m glad he finally received resolution, but it took much too long, and detracted from Egwene’s narrative, which was just buildup for a confrontation with Mesaana. The confrontation itself was good, but was overshadowed by Perrin’s thrilling battle with Slayer. I suppose it makes sense that Sanderson was more aimless with Egwene this book, because her brilliant storyline in TGS was supposedly more Jordan than anything. Nynaeve didn’t factor much into this book (and she really hasn’t in most recent books), but I did enjoy her testing. It felt much like a classic WoT scene. Elayne’s storyline wasn’t bad, considering how irritating she was in previous books. After her absence in TGS, this was Sanderson’s first experience with Elayne, and he handled her relatively well. Most of the problems remained from how Jordan wrote the storyline: way too much tedious politicking and bickering about her pregnancy. The confrontation with the Black Ajah prisoners was very exciting, but that was pretty much the only thing of note in Elayne’s storyline, and it could’ve definitely used some more depth. ToM had numerous other old plot threads to address (and some it didn’t even get to), and while most were handled rather disorderedly, some were quite successful. One of my favorite parts of the book was Aviendha’s journey into Rhuidean, which was visceral, ominous, and emotional. Sanderson displayed the same talent there that he did in much of TGS. As mentioned earlier, I definitely enjoyed Rodel Ituralde’s chapters. However, the Black Tower and Lan’s storylines were a little underwhelming. I was eager to return to these long-ignored arcs, but most of their few chapters was just more suspense, which we really don’t need at this point. Lan only did anything at the very end, and his repetitive arc reminded me of Aviendha’s in TGS. The Black Tower chapters seemed a little wasteful after such a dearth of plot development in that field recently. So how did I feel about ToM? I liked it, that’s for sure. Plenty of very memorable, exciting scenes. But I don’t think it was quite as good as TGS, which was compact, organized, and well-paced. ToM was much too inconsistent and hectic. Perhaps part of the problem is I just wasn’t quite as enthusiastic when I was reading this book, primarily because of real life issues, which obviously had an impact on how much I enjoyed ToM. Another issue is that so much of TGS was consumed by the Seanchan. As much as I loathe them, they’re easily one of the most entertaining and interesting aspects of the plot, and Sanderson handled them excellently. The Seanchan were largely absent from ToM, and after the cliffhangers in TGS, that was a little irritating. But after the tediousness of CoT, I can’t really complain too much about the pace of Sanderson’s books. ToM was rather uneven, and there was some filler in arcs like Perrin’s, but it was definitely one of the more exciting books in WoT. On a final note, what about the cover art? Not bad, to be honest. Definitely one of the better in the series, compared to the rather silly TGS art preceding it. The artist has always excelled in environments, and the forest is really quite beautiful. The characters are surprisingly adequate. My only real criticism is that the Tower of Ghenjei is rocky when it’s constantly described as incredibly smooth. But whatever, not a bad piece of art to go out on, considering this was the artist’s last contribution to the series. So thus ends ToM, the penultimate entry in The Wheel of Time! Wow. Off to A Memory of Light!
  15. Note: Apologies for the late update, been quite busy recently. I'm hoping to finish the book within a week, though. In this entry of Towers of Midnight, Morgase finally receives closure in her relationship with Tallanvor, dissent brews in the Black Tower, Mat prepares to rescue Moiraine, Elayne schemes to claim the throne of Cairhien, Tuon learns a startling secret, Rand confronts the Borderlanders at last, and Aviendha glimpses into a terrifying future. Chapter 44: A Backhanded Request Summary Morgase decides to support Elayne in Caemlyn. She prepares to leave when Tallanvor returns from Whitebridge. They converse tensely before Lini finally decides to drag them to Perrin to be wedded. Tallanvor finally properly asks to marry Morgase. Perrin has requested audience with Elayne. He recognizes the attraction between Berelain and Galad. Morgase and Tallanvor request a marriage, and Perrin performs the ceremony brusquely. As he surveys his army, he is tapped by Mat, who warns him about the possibility of assassins. He requests a meeting at an inn, and to borrow an Asha’man for a gateway. Comments Another slow Perrin chapter, to be honest. I honestly feel as if this rather colossal book could’ve been shorter if all the Perrin chapters were condensed a little. I don’t think Morgase’s marriage (especially considering the marriage itself only occurred over a page or two) required a whole chapter. Nonetheless, it’s more closure over Morgase’s protracted arc, so I suppose it’s important. I don’t know, her whole subplot was rather problematic. Interesting, yes, but this poor woman was subject to so much misery throughout the series, and for what? And her romance with Tallanvor, like many in this series, wasn’t particularly interesting. But Mat’s reunited with Perrin! It’s only been nine books! Meh, the whole rock-throwing or whatever didn’t seem particularly characteristic of Mat at this point. He’s changed a lot since the immature kid he was in the very first books. But it’s a relief to see our protagonists start coming together. Chapter 45: A Reunion Summary Elayne awakens frustrated, unable to channel enough to enter Tel’aran’rhiod and support Egwene. Melfane confirms that she has twins. Talmanes informs Elayne in a letter that he has consented to moving companies of the Band to Cairhien. Dyelin discusses with her on how to claim the Sun Throne without fermenting animosity. Elayne dwells on the invasion of Andor that Chesmal mentioned. Birgitte enters with Galad and Morgase. Elayne realizes that her mother renounced the throne, preventing a potential successional crisis. Galad reveals he is the new leader of the Whitecloaks, and is sent to his quarters with a dinner invitation to converse further. Elayne contemplates on how to publically handle Morgase’s return. Aviendha surveys the city of Rhuidean, and ruminates on its newfound irrelevance. She ponders why Aiel leaders should learn of their now-obvious past and their toh if that toh is finally being fulfilled? Comments So Morgase and Elayne’s reunion feels…sort of underwhelming. These reunions (Mat and Perrin, Rand and Tam, etc., etc.) aren’t as important to me as they are to some, which is why I didn’t really criticize Sanderson on writing certain scenes of character interaction more hastily than Jordan would’ve. But it was jarringly noticeable here, even though there was an explanation for why Elayne and Morgase were containing their emotions. I don’t know, such a monumental reunion should’ve had more emphasis. It’s not as if they were just separated; Elayne (and most of Randland) thought Morgase was dead. Not much to say about Aviendha, this is all build-up for her hopefully satisfactory journey into Rhuidean. Chapter 46: Working Leather Summary Androl crafts a leather armguard. He is feeble with the One Power, but Logain promoted him to Dedicated against Taim’s volition. He wanders through the Black Tower village. Logain’s absence has been noticed by his supporters. Androl notices shadows creeping upon him whenever he clutches the saidin, a still-present affect of the madness. He finds practicing Dedicated divided between allegiance to Logain and Taim. A feud erupts between the two, but Androl prevents it, although he’s suspicious of the startling progress made by those personally training with Taim. Logain’s supporters intend to gather information against Taim, and look to Androl as their leader. Comments I’m conflicted on this chapter. On the one hand, I’m relieved to finally see the Black Tower back in focus again. The mysterious politics of that place has been ignored for so many books, a subplot clearly in the works by Jordan but never really brought into the clear. I’m hoping this chapter leads into some actual progress regarding just what the hell Taim has been up to in the several books Rand has ignored him for. I mean, this subplot has to move forward, there’s only a few hundred pages left and then it’s AMoL. Well, it was intriguing as always to glimpse the sinister developments in the Black Tower, especially after so long an absence since Jordan finished KoD with a very tantalizing cliffhanger, but I’m also somewhat disappointed by how much of this chapter was…filler. There was a lot of pointless description, banter between the Asha’man, etc. It’s important to give some development to new characters like Androl and to detail the atmosphere of the Black Tower, but considering how lacking this subplot is in development, I would’ve hoped Sanderson would use it for more than just further establishing the feud between Logain and Taim’s supporters. Chapter 47: A Teaching Chamber Summary Accompanied by Alliandre, Arganda and his guards, some Two Rivers soldciers, and more, Perrin’s party enters Caemlyn through gateway. Grady cannot Travel to the Black Tower for some reason. Perrin proceeds into the Royal Palace, where Elayne waits in the throne room. She thanks them for returning Morgase, and Faile requests privacy to discuss further matters. Elayne is infuriated with Perrin’s supposed treason of raising the wolf banner. Morgase speaks in Perrin’s favor, however, and it is ultimately agreed that the Two Rivers will be granted to the Dragon Reborn, with Perrin as its steward, which will create a bond with Ghealdan. Elayne discusses Rand’s plan to break the seals, and Perrin offers his aid. Tuon enters the chamber in which damane are trained. A defiant damane named Suffa is brought before her, who is forced to demonstrate Traveling. Tuon understands the magnitude of this discovery. She intends to utilize this newfound skill to successfully claim the marath’damane of the White Tower, and then recapture Seanchan. She is still intent on having the Dragon Reborn serve the Crystal Throne. Perrin, Mat, and Thom converse in an inn’s private chamber, having exchanged stories. Mat still is reluctant to open Verin’s letter. He requires a gateway to the Tower of Ghenjei to rescue Moiraine, something Perrin is apprehensive about. Mat declines his aid, as only three may come. He decides to explain everything. Comments The Seanchan have finally returned to the narrative! Considering how the majority of TGS concerned them, there was definitely a notable absence in ToM. As much as I generally abhor the Seanchan (and this chapter only reinforced that), they’re simultaneously one of my favorite parts of the entire series because of how interesting the whole subplot is. Especially after the monumental events in TGS, I was eager to see the backlash amongst the Seanchan, and just when I thought ToM would be devoid of them, we have a glimpse of the aftermath of the failed Tower raid. And that aftermath seems to entail another attempt to enslave all the Aes Sedai…because of Elaida. Wonderful. Even in captivity, she still manages to screw over the Tower. I suppose this justifies why yet another female antagonist was sold into perpetual slavery rather than meet a clean demise, something I griped about in TGS. So now the Seanchan know Traveling. And now the delightful-as-ever Tuon intends to raid the Tower again and then bring the Dragon to his knees. What happened to the Tuon I loved in KoD? Well, she wasn’t perfect then, but TGS has showed her true colors, and her imperial tendencies don’t seem to have diminished. Well, there were some other notable developments in this chapter, including Elayne’s infuriating contemplation of executing her friend over nothing. Okay, she never really considered decapitating Perrin, but seriously. I’m glad this petty conflict was finally resolved, and relatively cleanly. Still, it continues to perplex me that Andor only cares about this little region of their kingdom that the monarchy was eager to ignore when it was besieged by Trollocs but all of a sudden wants to assert its dominance when Perrin’s followers started waving a banner around. Sigh. And then there’s still this nonsense about an intervention with Rand. I seriously hope Perrin doesn’t really support Egwene in whatever she’s planning. Nothing much to say about Perrin and Mat’s conversation, it’s more build-up to the infiltration of the Tower of Ghenjei. Chapter 48: Near Avendesora Summary Aviendha completes her journey into Rhuidean’s glass columns, unsurprised, having already known what to expect. On a whim, she decides to utilize her talent and read the ter’angreal. It appears too complicated to analyze, but when Aviendha steps away… She is Malidra, scavenging for food in a Lightmaker camp. She is discovered and killed by something from a metal rod. Aviendha is baffled by the vision and its placement in time. She decides to step back into the columns. She is Norlesh, whose husband Metalan desperately tries to trade with outlanders for food, but is refused because of the Raven Empress’ orders. The pair hide for the night, but their baby dies. Aviendha cannot comprehend that such a feeble wretched people were her ancestors. She continues. She is Tava, whose hold is assailed by flying beasts. Her father manages to help drive the assault back, but the entire village is burned to the ground. The clan disbands, as the Raven Empire is planning assaults from the east as well. Aviendha realizes that the soldiers were Seanchan, and that the vision represents the future of the Aiel, not the past. She fearfully continues. Comments Note: See the next chapter for commentary. Chapter 49: Court of the Sun Summary She is Ladalin, who converses with the three remaining clan chiefs. It is revealed that the White Tower has crumbled. The Seanchan have claimed Rhuidean, Illian, and Cairhien, and are utilizing Andoran war machines. Only five clans have survived the brutal war, and the chiefs decide to retreat to the Three-fold Land. Peace with the Seanchan, as intended by the Dragon, is impossible. Aviendha is horrified by the honorless state of the Aiel. She continues. She is Oncala, who carries the blood of the Dragon Reborn. The Aiel have been fighting the aggressive Seanchan alone for forty years. They convince Queen Talana in Caemlyn to join the fight as well, using plans stolen from Ebou Dar that outline an attack on the city. The Aiel omit that the plan wasn’t preemptive. Aviendha is disgusted by the power-hungry nature of her own granddaughter. She continues. She is Padra, daughter of the Dragon Reborn. She and her three siblings have channeled constantly since childhood. Seventeen years have passed since the Last Battle. Padra intends a meeting of the clan chiefs. The Aiel intend to attack any Seanchan who trespass upon their camp, as the Dragon’s Peace doesn’t apply to them. They decide to retaliate against the Seanchan collaring Wise Ones. Aviendha is desperate to change the dismal future of the Aiel, but the glass columns have nothing further to reveal. She intends to save her people, and decides to think. Comments I thought I’d comment on these two chapters as a whole, considering how they flowed into each other. I wasn’t sure what to expect when Aviendha walked into the pillars. Like she mentioned, the truth about the Aiel has already been revealed. Why reiterate it? I was nonetheless surprised when the chapter opened with Aviendha emerging from the test. What then? Turned out there was more. I was confused as Aviendha was, especially considering I have a very faint recollection of Rand’s personal wander into the pillars (a scene most fans cite as one of their favorites; I seriously need to reread the first four books). Why were the Aiel so wretched? Why were they being assaulted by…the Seanchan? The answer hit me as hard as it did Aviendha. Being slaughtered and hunted to a depraved extinction is the future of the Aiel, and it’s because of unchecked Seanchan expansion. Seriously, I’m done with the Seanchan. If the readers are supposed to accept cooperation and peace with these genocidal imperialist slavers after Tarmon Gai’don…just no. I didn’t think the Seanchan could look less likeable after the whole damane system was detailed in the earlier books, but their little war in Randland (which isn’t going to stop with Tarmon Gai’don, as it turns out) only makes matters worse. What they’re going to do to the Aiel is horrific. Of course, the Aiel aren’t completely without blame either. As Aviendha observed, they were acting rather duplicitous and war-hungry in the first generation or so after the Last Battle. Still, that was partially her perspective. I have to commend Sanderson (or Jordan, depending on how much of this writing and plotting was in his notes) for this scene. Definitely one of the highlights of the book so far, it was brilliantly written, shocking, visceral, and clever. I completely didn’t expect the visions to be detailing the future of the Aiel back to the present. And it appears as if this future is inevitable. Well, not completely inevitable. I could believe such an ending for the Aiel from George R.R. Martin, but not from an author like Robert Jordan. There has to be a happy ending for the Aiel, right? Right? Well, Aviendha will be the one to secure it, I imafgine, I just don’t know how. It was also very interesting to glimpse the aftermath of the Last Battle. It was very ambiguous as to the survival of the main characters, but it did reveal Rand’s children, something I didn’t expect at this point. I’m not sure how much I’m into how special and over-powered his kids are, but I’ll wait and see. Chapter 50: Choosing Enemies Summary Elayne sits before a formal audience, listening to the distant booms of the dragons. Birgitte and visiting Cairhienin nobles eventually enter after the demonstration concludes. Elayne has Arymilla, Elenia, and Naean escorted inside. She strips them of their titles and estates, a fate considered worse than death by some. The two most notable Cairhienin are Bertome Saighan and Lorstrum Aesnan. Elayne hints at securing stability with Cairhien by offering the lands that were just forfeited. Bertome and Lorstrum jump at the opportunity to seize territory in Andor. Elayne then allows Elenia a chance to start anew, as new land would be made available in Andor and Cairhien’s unification. After the display, Birgitte expresses confusion. Morgase and Dyelin explain that Elayne gained the favor of the Cairhienin nobles, who now intend to take both thrones. Elayne now has her potential enemies close to her. Comments So I’m glad that lesser but still important threads like this are given due attention (we can’t simply ignore that Elayne was promised the Sun Throne but has yet to claim Cairhien), but there are definitely more important things in the narrative I’m looking forward to, and thus I’m a little apathetic when it comes to further Elayne politicking. I suppose her protracted storyline has killed my enthusiasm for politics in Randland, but I do think the reason Egwene out-manipulating manipulators in her storyline worked better than in Elayne’s was because she had at least slightly worthy adversaries and worked from a position of disadvantage. Elayne’s never faced interesting opponents. She simply spent several books in the series slowly but surely out-politicking nobles to claim the throne, and I’m thankful we only have to suffer a little more of that before her character can finally move onto something more interesting. Egwene, in contrast, first operated as an underdog, with all the Aes Sedai supporting her secretly attempting to manipulate her. Secondly, she was forced to operate as a captive, which clearly provided some interesting roadblocks in her attempt to bring about unity in the Tower. There was conflict, the politics weren’t too overly convoluted (at least towards the end), and thus it was a rather interesting storyline. I can’t say the same about Elayne’s similar quest to claim her rightful position as leader of an institution, and so I’m just eager for her to claim Cairhien and be done with it. Thankfully, while Jordan may have protracted this with numerous chapters of Elayne scheming with Dyelin and treating with various bland Cairhienin nobles, Sanderson (who at least maintains brevity when it comes to politics) seems to be accelerating this subplot. Her plan seems sound, so I’ll just wait for it to unfold. Chapter 51: A Testing Summary Min has a viewing of Callandor gripped by a black hand. She is concerned about the deeper flaw in the sword, fearful it will be used against Rand. He decides to finally deal with the Borderlanders. Rand is perturbed by Traveling’s malfunction around the Black Tower. He chastises Cadsuane for all of her disrespect. They proceed through a gateway to Far Madding, where the Borderlander army awaits, headed by the four leaders. Each strike Rand in turn out of anger. Rand restrains himself, and King Paitar asks about the death of Tellindal Tirraso. Rand replies she was a clerk who accidentally died when he battled Demandred. This somehow proves to the monarchs that Rand is indeed the Dragon Reborn. Thirteen Aes Sedai surround the tent where the rulers later converse with Rand. Paitar explains that his ancestor had a Foretelling from an Aes Sedai about Tellindal Tirraso and the importance of asking the supposed Dragon Reborn about her fate. Rand reveals how close the monarchs came to inciting apocalypse. If he had treated with them earlier and received such treatment, he likely would’ve attacked the whole army. Rand reveals he will break the remaining seals tomorrow, and that the Borderlanders may accompany him to the Last Battle if they pledge their allegiance. He sends for Hurin to apologize. Comments I’ll admit, I’m a little disappointed. Five books, Jordan seemed to have a very complex plan regarding the Borderlanders. I was always impressed by the complexity of his foreshadowing and his myriad subplots, and while many were protracted to only disappoint in the end, more still served a clever purpose and only suffered from length. I was hoping something as important as the Borderlanders abandoning their own nations to track Rand down would fall in the latter category. I didn’t have any idea what the Borderland leaders were scheming when this bizarre subplot was first introduced in TPoD, but I assumed it served some purpose. But did it? In the end, there was no intricate conspiracy against Rand, there was no grand task they requested of him, they didn’t even come to pledge fealty to him. They came to ask him a question about some woman and react accordingly. That seems rather lackluster to me. I’m not sure if Jordan had any idea where he was going with this subplot, if he knew but just didn’t clarify it enough in his notes, or if Sanderson came up with something at the last minute. I’m not sure who to blame, but I would’ve hoped for something more than this, especially considering the level of suspense in TGS. I know we’re supposed to be pissed at the Borderlanders (Jordan probably intended this to display that the Borderlanders, depicted as warriors constantly defending the world from the Shadow, were prone to petty politics as much as any other nation), and I am. I mean, they have the bloody nerve to condemn Rand for what’s happening in their own nations? If the Borderlanders had supported Rand as any sensible nations in their position would’ve, if they hadn’t abandoned their people to the apocalypse, the bloodshed Rand attempted to revert in Maradon would’ve been prevented. Yeah, I’m definitely pissed at the Borderlanders, but I’m also irritated with the author(s) for not writing a more compelling reason for this protracted little subplot than a random prophecy. Well, at least they’re gonna finally support Rand and participate in this war against the Shadow they were supposed to be waging. Or so I hope… I did enjoy Rand talking down to Cadsuane, although his own behavior in this chapter was a little alarming, just in the way he talked. It reminds me we still haven’t been inside Rand’s head since his epiphany. For all I know, there could still be trouble in there. Hopefully I’ll get a glimpse soon. I also enjoyed that he promised to apologize to poor Hurin. I hope he has a role in the Last Battle.
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