Today I continue reading A Memory of Light, and subjecting you all to my stream-of-consciousness reactions as I go. (Where by “all” I mean “those of you who click on the cut tag,” which is probably not a lot, since at this point 95% of my audience probably falls into two groups: those who don’t care, and those who do care but haven’t read the book yet themselves and don’t want spoilers.)
First part is here, for those few who care and have read the book/don’t mind spoilers.
Duel with Moridin. First stage of the boss fight! (Of course it has to be multiple stages.)
Sigh, Agelmar. Right from the first mistake, I was wondering.
Perrin and Gaul have now been Healed by Lanfear. The world gets weirder and weirder . . . .
Dude, there’s something wrong about the idea that Perrin went to the edge of the Bore and looked in before Rand got there. And are you really safe peering into the Dark One’s hidey-hole from Tel’aran’rhiod? (Apparently.)
Faceoff between Egwene and Fortuona! The whole “your information network sucks, if you don’t know I was damane” thing is kind of funny. As is Mat stepping between them: the “throw you the pair of you over my knee” line sounds like a misstep, until Egwene realizes Mat’s deliberately trying to attract her anger, at which point you realize that was kind of a brave thing for him to do. I’m not sure what I think of the agreement Egwene and Tuon reach, but — eh, it’s progress? Sort of? If Egwene can get Tuon to keep her word about releasing unwilling damane, which is kind of dubious right now.
My thoughts on Davram Bashere. “Oh, for fuck’s sake, not another Darkfriend.”
Downside to Graendal’s diabolical plan: we really are wading through hundreds of pages of battles to see her interference play out.
Okay, Min gets to be more than a clerk. Good. Follow-up: Min gets to be Tuon’s . . . Truthspeaker? This isn’t going to end well.
At this point, I’m just antsy for everybody to notice that their commanders are trying to get them killed, so we can move on to whatever happens next.
“By the Light, he had a book to finish before he went!” Loial, I think I love you.
Heheheh. This book appears to have a running theme of “exhibitionist Mat.” Sex in the garden, stripped to his smallclothes by his tailor, shirtless in the command tent . . . I don’t mind so much here the motif of “Mat thinks X, demonstrates not-X” when it’s him not being “bashful.” Preferable to “I’m totally rational and innocent!” or “I don’t ogle women!”
At least Agelmar, unlike Bashere, gets to have a moment of “what the HELL somebody get me out of here before I do more damage.” Lan grabbing the sword is a nice touch.
Spitting a piece of his fingernail in some guy’s direction makes the guy low Blood? Wow. Seanchan is messed up. (Maybe we saw that before, and I just don’t remember.)
“Has he punished you for that?” “Yes […] He returned me to life.” Man, I’m finding Moridin weirdly sympathetic. Talk about major depressive disorder.
Yay, Black Tower! And Logain as the whatever they’re going to call their Amyrlin? (I’m betting it won’t be “M’Hael,” not anymore.) And awwww, Androl and his lava. But dude, I am really starting to get tired of battles . . . yeah, I know, it’s the Last Battle. But it’s the personal moments I dig, more than “and another million Trollocs die.”
Yay wolves, and yay Ituralde fighting against the urge to fuck everyone over. He’s the only one we really get pov on for this situation (apart from a brief bit with Gareth, before the truth has become obvious), so he comes off looking the best. And Gareth at least gets an Agelmar moment of “holy shit, somebody stop me.”
Which of course sets up Mat to command everything, because he’s immune to Graendal. Egwene, please start noticing that Mat really is qualified for this: not just a good tactician, but the best general you’ve got.
White Tower/Seanchan detente: talking through a gateway. Well, whatever it takes.
Go Min, inadvertently doing the Truthspeaker thing of “you just try torturing me and see where it gets you.”
Aaaaand back to Merrilor we go, for what I presume will be the actual Last Battle (at least on the army side of things).
K, how long is this Slayer thing going to go on? And for that matter, what’s happened to Perrin?
Oops. Going to the Blight: not what you want to do.
Rand is facing the Dark One! 584 pages into the book! I’m not actually faulting Sanderson or Jordan for that; I’m just amused.
Not sure what happened with Berisha and being killed and all that. I’m just hoping it isn’t Random Darkfriend #912, as I’m really tired of that.
Bela really has turned into a running joke. Killing her would be like killing the dog in an action movie: you just don’t do that. (Unless you’re really, really mean.)
. . . sigh. Please tell me there’s something else going on with Vanin and Harnan, and they’re not just Random Darkfriends #912 and #913. Also, please tell me Faile doesn’t have a fake Horn now — or if she does, it’s because they actually stole it to take it to Mat somehow, though I have no idea how that would work.
Oh, man, the thing with Alanna is kind of diabolical. And I guess now I know why there was never a moment in the story where somebody made her unbond Rand: we need somebody for this who isn’t Elayne, Aviendha, or Min.
THE LAST BATTLE. Chapter 37. Page 617. Here we go (still, and at last).
Holy mother of god this chapter is 190 pages long I’m not making that up. Um. I guess this really is the Last Battle. Like, all of it, armies and Rand and the Dark One and everything.
Props to Mat for figuring out and coping with the spy thing; I just wish he could have something go right for him. (Yeah, yeah, I know: Last Battle. Utter doom. It will get worse before it gets better, I’m sure.)
K, at least Logain was smart enough to unbond Toveine. Otherwise him killing her would be pretty stupid.
I . . . really don’t know what’s up with Pevara and Androl and the link/bond/whatever mess, but I suspect that it’s an interesting twist on the whole gender thing this series has going.
Every time somebody refers to Galad as “Damodred,” I briefly mistake it for “Demandred.”
Mat’s speech about card gambling and playing games to Elayne keeps coming through in George Clooney From Ocean’s 11 Voice. “Been practicing that speech?” “A little. Did I rush it?”
Where the hell is Alivia?
Rand vs. the Dark One, Round One. Sure, try to shred/squish (squishred?) him. That isn’t nearly interesting enough to work. Round Two, Dark One AU: that’s at least more interesting, though as always (e.g. the Town) I have trouble believing that world could keep limping along enough for people to even stay alive. I mean, what the hell do they eat? Maybe the Dark One is micromanaging it all.
Rand vs. the Dark One, Round Three. RAFO to see what’s behind this door!
Gawyn, I hoped you would at least succeed at taking out Demandred, and thereby accomplish something badass. But nope. The most we can say for it is that you kept him convinced that Rand is at Merrilor, and not off at Shayol Ghul.
Hah! Through the Town, back to Merrilor. (Assuming it works.) Okay, that explains how the Horn will get back to Mat. I agree with Mandevwin, though: I don’t buy Vanin and Harnan being Darkfriends. Possibly this is wishful thinking on my part.
Perrin is totally not going to sleep through the (rest of the) Last Battle. But I guess he’s out of commission for now.
Leather and trees. Pevara and Androl are in danger of becoming adorable. (It helps that Pevara actually has a sense of humour.)
Noooooo, Rhuarc! I’d be happier if you were dead. Maybe somebody can fix your brain after Graendal dies? Speaking of which, somebody kill Graendal already.
. . . come to think of it, where the hell is Moghedien? I am going to laugh my ass off if she just crawls into some hole and waits for it all to be over.
Back to Round Three. I actually really like the way this fight is being played out, using possible Patterns as their weapons. My husband did something similar once in an RPG; makes me wonder if Rand’s solution will be the same as his. (There are also some complicated cosmological questions buried in here, but I’ll leave those for an actual post.)
Gawyn, you fuckhead. You really didn’t think this through. Silviana is right; you are going to totally screw over Egwene and a bunch of other people if you die.
Poor Birgitte. I hold onto the hope that when the Horn sounds, she’ll get back Gaidal and her memories and everything else.
I guess I can cheer Galad for gender equality?
K, Logain, whatever. Report back when you’ve done something awesome.
. . . my god. Siuan.
Who the hell is Shendla? The text avoids giving us any kind of markers for her; is she Sharan? Aiel? Moghedien in disguise? (Moghedien is apparently not totally off the radar, though we haven’t seen her.) Demandred vs. M’Hael, yawn, selfish stupid villains. Go away.
Enjoy your cameo appearance, Juilin. I didn’t expect to see you in this book at all.
Wow. Gawyn, too. You know how this series cruised along without ever being willing to really kill any of the good guys? Either that’s changed, or Rand’s going to rewrite the Pattern at the end to give everybody their HEA.
(And there goes Egwene. Fuck you, Gawyn, and your useless death.)
Halfway through the Last Battle.
Is Callendor going to be relevant any time soon? And what about Nynaeve and Moiraine getting to do anything?
Okay, Round Whatever of the Rand/Dark One fight, and this one is more interesting. The obvious dystopia was too obvious; removing people’s consciences is much more clever. But I’m not sure how “a world without Shadow” is actually going to go . . . .
Cannon fodder from Caemlyn. Well, I can’t blame them. If a Trolloc trips over your corpse on his way to attack a soldier, that’s still a useful service.
Yeah, it must be weird for Galad, finding out that Rand’s his brother. I really had forgotten that only a small number of people know what Tigraine did. But hey, it’s touching that brothers seem to be the one point on which Galad is human.
Nynaeve and her herbs. It’s useful, and a thumb in the eye of all those Yellows, but I’m really hoping for something more interesting from her before the end. Her and Moiraine both.
Perrin, you’re totally going to be the King of Saldaea before this is done.
Teslyn! Okay, so Leigh Butler was just flat-out wrong when she thought a bunch of characters were being dismissed from the narrative last book.
Aw, for a moment I thought Egwene would bond Perrin, and that’s how they would both get back into the battle. But a) Faile would shiv her and b) Perrin’s still asleep, so go Leilwin, I guess.
. . . son of a bitch. Seriously? Did Galad just go down, with Demandred still standing? The Forsaken are like ninja; they get more badass the fewer of them there are.
Androl, the Swiss Army knife. Seriously, there appears to be nothing this guy can’t do. Now he’s a pickpocket!
Demandred may have claimed that the Trollocs weren’t limitless, but I don’t see much sign of it here.
Galad is not dead yet? Well, I’m not putting any money on him surviving. Not when he’s bleeding out in the middle of Demandred’s command post.
Yeah, I suspected the “world without Shadow” wouldn’t work very well. Rand’s meeting with Elayne didn’t fully sell the realization of “omg I did something horrible,” but that’s okay, because I was halfway there already. His world may be nicer, but it’s true that he did the equivalent of Turning everybody, taking away their free will. Theodicy: it’s a bitch.
I guess we’ve been in Olver’s point of view so we can see him stab somebody in the kidneys.
How did Leane get away from Demandred and the Sharans, anyway?
BELAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Is illogically awesome.
Vanin and Harnan are not Darkfriends. Unfortunately, Aravine is. Sigh. And now I’m annoyed that Faile has passed the Horn to Olver; I was enjoying the notion that she, the former Hunter of the Horn, would be the one to bring it to Mat.
Logain, please kill Demandred. At this point I don’t even care if you have a moment of “I’M KING OF THE WORLD!” afterwards; I just want him dead already. We’re less than fifty pages from the end of the battle; it’s time for some actual progress.
Egwene nuking Taim would count as progress.
Ila and Raen! Morgase, passing briefly through the background! Everybody is going to get a cameo before this is done. Also, meditations upon the Way of the Leaf. Thank you, Raen, for pointing out that the Tinkers survive because other people are willing to fight. Thank you, Ila, for noticing that the mercenaries with you are actually just cowards.
Bela is dead. Shit just got real.
Aaaaand Logain fails, too. Who will take out Demandred? Egwene fails to take out Taim. For the love of little fishes, somebody needs to achieve something, here.
Add Hurin to the cameo tally.
Awww, Annoura rescued Galad! But not his arm. And at the cost of her own channeling ability. Shit, man. Somebody at least notice his amulet and make use of it, so we get something other than pretty people out of this touching moment.
“Rand wept.” I saw what you did there, Sanderson. (Or Jordan. I know parts of this book are his work; I just don’t know how much.)
There goes Bashere, Deira, Hurin, Jori Congar, Enaila, Karldin . . . it’s open season on the minor characters, now.
Can I hope for Taim and Demandred to wipe each other out? No, no I cannot.
Oh shit Mellar. With a medallion. AND CUTTING OFF BIRGITTE’S HEAD. If she has not been returned to the Horn, I am going to be so pissed.
Aiaiaiaeeeeeeeeeee, Darkfriend C-section. DOES NOT WANT.
Rand, you can’t trust the Dark One to keep a promise. But that’s okay; you refused it anyway.
Min speaks truth to power. Also throws knives at spies.
Where is Padan Fain? (And Alivia. And Moghedien.) I’m beginning to suspect the denoument will not begin right after this chapter.
Warders as straight-up human shields. Man, their loyalty, though I wish they could do more.
Oh, god. Balefire dominoes. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
. . . the Flame of Tar Valon? I think Egwene just pulled that out of her ass, but whatever. Taim’s toast. It’s about time for something to go right.
. . .
I said it was time for something to go right. Not for Egwene to holy-nuke herself in the midst of the Sharans.
God damn it.
Moving on. Sharan channelers: kaput. Berelain: has the medallion. Mat: has Rand’s banner. Lan: GO FUCKING KILL DEMANDRED PLEASE.
(Sorry, caps-lock key. You can rest when this book is dead.)
“The fall of the last king of the Malkieri. He would need to include it in his book.”
Lan has the medallion! He may actually do this! Two Rivers archers clearing the way! Stay on target!!!!
Let go. Is this going to end the way I thought, briefly, that it might?
I’ve only time for one last lesson. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Not that I didn’t expect Lan to go out like this, but still. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
The Last Battle (the chapter) is done. The Last Battle itself is not.
Okay. Not actually what I thought with the “let go” thing, but still good. Because yes: this is not just about the Chosen Hero. And that’s important.
. . . wait, now Rand is speaking in all caps.
LAN IS NOT DEAD
BIRGITTE IS BAAAAAAAAAAAACK
AHAHAHAHA MAT ISN’T ACTUALLY BOUND TO THE HORN ANYMORE
BUT NOAL IS
. . . I’m speaking in all caps, too.
(I’m still not that interested in Noal, and faintly annoyed that Olver’s the one who blew the Horn. But whatevs.)
Kill Graendal. Somebody. Please. We’re running out of book, here.
Mat, you are a goddamned genius. Hinderstap into the fray! . . . twice! Nothing like soldiers who will just keep coming back.
(We are so not going to get any denouement. Seventy pages to go. Stuff yet to be dealt with: Graendal, maybe Moghedien, Moridin, the seals, Slayer, the Dark One.)
Ah, there you are, Moghedien. So you were the freckled girl, aka the spy. Well, that makes sense. Much good may it do you, when you take cannonballs to the face from a cavern via gateway.
And there’s Alivia, though not her prophecied moment, yet.
Under this sign, he shall conquer. Nice touch with the clouds.
Mou. Aviendha just torched Rhuarc.
Alviarin! I shouldn’t be happy to see her, but what can I say: she is competent. Was competent. Nice trick, Androl, with the stedding and all. You really do win the title of Most Amazingly Competent Character to Show Up at the End of the Series. (The wiki tells me he first got mentioned in the prologue of Winter’s Heart, but he wasn’t what you’d call important until recently.) I guess Alviarin isn’t actually dead, though. Go, Ogier pacifism: it’s more competent than the Tinker sort.
. . . wherever Aviendha just went, I’m not sure her legs went with her.
Logain, it’s time to stop sucking.
Heh. Mat is not a Hero of the Horn, but should be. And he’s sending Hawkwing to talk to Tuon! Maybe that will fix the damane thing. In the meantime, Mat, for crying out loud — go help Rand.
Don’t kill yourself, Aviendha!!!
Good advice from Master Luhhan. What makes sense for a normal day, not so much on the Last Day.
Thom and his pile of bodies. Heh. He’s right, though, about body language. It’s hard to fake.
WTF? Who or what is Shaisam? We had Fain’s icon on this chapter. This is totally Fain, isn’t it. Yes, it’s Fain.
Well, at least we’re getting an attempt to make Luc and Isam relevant to the whole Slayer thing. So far, so unconvincing, but okay.
Mat, please kill Fain.
Forty pages to go.
Good move, Alanna. And good-bye.
Oh, ouch. I knew that connection between Moridin and Rand was going to be a problem.
Slayer. Dead. Finally.
WOLVES OF THE HORN!!!!!!! Ahem.
Perrin’s hammer proves its use, killinating Darkhounds.
OH FUCK. MAT.
Aviendha, detonating the gate on Graendal. Awesome, except I don’t know if she’ll live through it. (Three-women prophecies don’t necessarily refer to Rand’s lovers . . .)
FUCK YOU, FAIN, MAT IS IMMUNE! And you die exactly as you should.
Thank you, Perrin, for finally putting something ahead of your wife.
And THAT is why Callendor was relevant. Wow, that’s complicated — but okay, using the Dark One’s own power to avoid the taint. And the consequences of that will be . . . ? Depends on what Rand just did, I guess. RAFO. (With twenty-five pages to go, and the seals still unbroken.)
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Graendal is Compelled! (Tell her to Heal you, Aviendha.)
Which makes me think — where did Lanfear go, anyway?
So Logain is the one who breaks the seals. The Amyrlin was the Watcher of the Seals, and Egwene is gone; does this mean Logain will be the Amyrlin of a new, joined Tower? (We may never find out, with so little book left.)
Hey, there’s Lanfear. And all set to stab people in the back! With, apparently, some kind of Compulsion on Perrin, too. Oh, ick. Well, you were supposed to be devious. But you’re in Tel’aran’rhiod, and that means Perrin can just think himself out of it — and then snap your neck.
It’s actually kind of a sad moment for Perrin. But good for him.
Yeah, like I told you, Rand: he wouldn’t have kept his promise. So you make his prison anew, as many readers predicted you would have to. And seal yourself and Moridin away? Perhaps. You’ve been talking in all caps; only two other entities in this series do that.
No, you made it out. With somebody who . . . is Moridin? Or not? The text isn’t being clear.
Snerk. Moghedien’s still alive. I can’t say I get any satisfaction out of her being collared, though. (Fucking Seanchan.)
Okay, what do the three women know that nobody else does? Has Rand swapped into Moridin’s body or something?
Yeah, Faile isn’t dead. I figured.
And yes: Rand swapped into Moridin’s body. (With a Dragon’s Fang saa in his eye. Hah!) I don’t really get how Alivia is relevant to this, though, unless “helping Rand die” means “helping Rand convince everybody he’s dead.” Which I guess it could — except that all she’s done is leave clothes and money for him? That’s a little disappointing.
Uh, wow. So he can’t channel anymore . . . but he can change reality. Between that and the brief appearance by Nakomi . . . he may not be the Creator now, but I think he is the Creator’s avatar in the world. Or something. (I want fic where Nakomi was the one who sealed the Dark One away, last time.)
— that’s it. I have finished reading The Wheel of Time. Stay tuned for more thoughts eventually, I guess; I’ll certainly do an analysis post, which will probably fold in the reactions you didn’t get in these play-by-play entries. And then one to talk about what I’ve learned from this project.
But the series itself is done.
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