Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan: Final Week

This week we read through to the end of the series . . . what will I do now that we are finished????

1. Egwene speaks to Rand from beyond the grave and he has a hard time "letting go" of those who've died on the battlefield. What did you think of this part and it's solution?

I liked this section because it fulfilled several roles in the larger story.

Egwene’s words were simple and yet they allowed Rand to release his guilt and sense of responsibility to the whole world. Only someone who knew him very well would have understood this aspect of his character and could make him see how arrogant it is to assume that nobody else can help. It also showed how much both of them had grown and matured during the series. Finally, it elevated her death into a true act of heroism, rather than an overly dramatic suicide provoked by the loss of Gawyn. Probably only Egwene or Nynaeve could have played this role of mentally slapping Rand with the utmost love and support.

I was rather grateful that many of the deaths were listed rather than shown in a drawn-out series of detailed scenes. Not only did this save us from it becoming rather maudlin, but it also conveyed the speed and apparent randomness of the battlefield. This increased the sense of the desperation and intensity of the fighting, and showed us that there was a very real danger that the forces of Light could be swept away. We needed to be shown the possibility of defeat for us to feel that Rand’s efforts were truly momentous.

Of course, the deaths were also metaphorical blows raining down upon Rand’s consciousness. They were weapons that the Dark One could use to destroy his confidence and will to continue the fight, and they almost succeeded in breaking Rand. Whilst I did not enjoy reading the list of the dead, I could appreciate the decision that some of our beloved characters could not survive the battle: sometimes Fantasy loses its grip on realism when all our heroes survive the End Of The World uninjured. Although I am still not happy about Bella’s fate . . .

2. There's a new horn blower, and we see more of Brigitte, Noal, Artur Hawkwing, and others. Comment on what you liked of this section. What did you expect, not expect?

To be honest I thought this was pretty much inevitable at the end of Chapter 37. It seemed highly unlikely that anyone would rescue Olver and we had already deduced that Mat’s death in Caemlyn had severed his link to the Horn. This was a suitable solution and gave Olver a great excuse to swagger about shoving his face into ladies’ bosoms for the rest of his life.

As soon as the Heroes appeared and one dashed off towards Olver, I knew that it had to be Noal. Again, this was not much of a surprise, but it was nice to see the old guy again, and looking much fitter than in his last few years. I was also rather revealed to learn that he was not being held by the Finn and tortured.

Birgitte was suitably badass, although I would have preferred that Mellar suffered more horribly for a much longer period of time before he died. I had hoped that he would have had his nether regions dissolved in a bath of acid over several hours . . . :D

I had hoped that Hopper might return with the Heroes, and I am quite certain that Bella should have been there all tripped out in gold-plated shoes, etc . . . grumble, grumble . . . and what about Egwene: surely her death was suitably heroic! :(

I wish that we could have seen Tuon’s reaction to her great-great-ancestor turning up for a quick chat. Perhaps even she was a little shaken by that encounter.

I couldn’t help noticing that Gaidal was notable for his absence amongst the Heroes. Could this mean that Olver is Gaidal????? Although young Olver is possibly ugly enough, I do not think that he old enough as Gaidal answered the summons when Mat blew the Horn at Falme and I do not think that was ten / eleven years ago. I am not sure if we have encountered any truly ugly baby boys, but I imagine that he is out there just waiting for Birgitte’s next return. I wonder if she will be reborn as one of Elayne’s twins?????

3. Lan lives, Alana dies, and Thom is successful at killing many members of the Black Ajah outside the pit. Questions? Comments? Happy dances?

Hurrah! Lan survives to sweep Nynaeve off her feet and breed lots of grumpy little Borderlanders. Of all the people who really, truly deserved a happy ending I think that Lan was at the top of the list, so I was very happy to learn that he had not only been super-badass, but had also survived.

Alana survives long enough to release Rand and so prevent the end of Life As We Know It. What a waste, but I am not overly bothered by her loss.

Thom’s casual knifing of the Black Ajah was excellent. It was very nice to get a good laugh during all this pain and misery, plus it showed why Channelers really do need Warders. He and Moiraine are going to have such fun.

4. Androl impersonates Rand to trap the evil idiots, Grady opens a gateway to Hinderstap (dah!), and Logain breaks the seals. What was your favorite and why? (Feel free to comment on all.)

Androl leading Taim’s supporters into the stedding was another laugh-out-loud moment. I particularly enjoyed the elderly Ogier lady and her opinions about keeping the nasty people ‘safe’. I wonder how long they will last before they puncture their own eardrums to stop the incessant bumblebee-like rumbling! :D

I wondered what that was all about with the dam. I thought it was odd that we had a specific mention of a squad of supposedly normal looking villagers being sent that way earlier in the battle. It was a good thing that Grady stayed put and followed his instructions to the letter otherwise Mat’s plan would have been a bit of a damp squib. I can only imagine how terrifying the reappearance of all those ‘dead’ people was to the Darkfriends. As a side note: I wonder if the curse was broken when Rand completed his task.

Phew! Logain finally stopped being an idiot and did the Right Thing. Saving children AND rehabilitating the image of male channelers all in one move: he certainly earned his moment of glory. I feel a lot happier about him leading the Black Tower into the future now that he has stopped being a douche bag. Plus he will have Androl to keep him on the straight and narrow.

5. Aviendha vs. Graendal. Aviendha loses her feet (ouch!), and kills Rhuarc. Ultimately Graendal's compulsion backfires. What did you think of the final solution here?

Aviendha was so totally badass in this fight! I loved the way that they both ended up exhausted and crawling along the floor. I expected Aviendha to finally beat Graendal to death with a rock, but the reverse Compulsion was hilarious. Considering how close she came to seriously upsetting all the Light’s plans, I was highly delighted to see Graendal receive a massive dose of her own medicine. I hope she cleans lots and lots of blocked toilets in her new role as Aviendha’s slave! :D

I was saddened by Rhuarc’s passing, although it was necessary to show how subtle and effective Graendal’s actions were. It also mirrored Rand’s dilemma about allowing people to die: Aviendha could have tried to save her dear friend, but she did what was needed, which is pretty much what I would expect of her.

6. Perrin takes out Lanfear and Slayer, and the worlds flicker. Meanwhile, the Wild Hunt comes to Thakandar and the spirits of dead wolves appear on the slopes. Um, discuss!

Way to go Perrin! Of course, I have been voting for someone, anyone, to strangle Lanfear since about 2 pages after we met her, so I was very, very happy about this. It served her right for trying to use Compulsion on him! :D

My feelings towards Slayer are somewhat more mixed. We know very little about his backstory, but he would probably have been a decent person if had not been corrupted by the Dark One and the Blight. Isam’s life in the Town as a child sounds as if it was horrific beyond imagination, but I am not sure how he and Luc met or merged. I seriously doubt that either of them was particularly good by that point, but I am not sure that they would have been truly evil if they had experienced different circumstances.

The Wild Hunt was not much of a surprise, although we have not seen the Darkhounds for a very long time. I am not sure why they had been kept in reserve until this point, but I am not going to complain that the Shadow made that decision. The dead wolf spirits were epic . . . although I was very disappointed that Hopper was not one of them :(

The biggest “WTF!” moment was the reappearance of Fain and his companion alien parasite buddy, Shaisam. It has been so long since we last saw Fain that I had almost forgotten about him amongst all the other excitement. I have to wonder where he has been during the preparations for the Last Battle, but, then again, I was quite happy not knowing anything more about him. At least he gave Mat a chance to kill off something epically evil on a one-to-one footing. We had seen him being an uber general, but he had not claimed a massively significant scalp, unlike both Rand and Perrin. I was most intrigued by the suggestion that Shaisam was an alien entity of some sort . . . I wonder if it travels between worlds like the Ogier . . .

7. Rand, Nynaeve, and Moiraine exploit the flaw in Callandor to trap Moridin. How well-thought-out was that? Are you surprised it worked?

This was obviously planned out well in advance, although I did not see it coming. In retrospect it was a sensible approach to using Callandor in light of the way that Rand and Nynaeve worked together to cleanse saidin. In that case, Rand had to use both forms of the One Power, so it was a logical step to see that Callandor could be used to merge them with the True Power. Throughout the series we have been told repeatedly that the greatest works were accomplished using both forms of the One Power, so it makes sense that even more wattage would be needed in this situation.

The idea of turning the Bad Guy’s minion against his master is a classic plot device. Of course, Moridin was an unwilling accomplice in this action, but it is still a common twist, and one that is much more believable than a last minute change of allegiance (you did not fool us at all, Lanfear). At least he did not profess to be Rand’s father and then throw the Dark One into a deep hole at the center of a Death Star . . .

8. What did you think of Rand's final solution for the DO's prison? Will it hold?

We know that Lews Therin had to try to seal the Bore without the assistance of female channelers, so we can only hope that Rand is more successful in this attempt. As it stands, it seems as if the Dark One will be prevented from touching the Pattern in the future, but I suppose that he will have a very long time with nothing to do but try to break through again. However, it seems that he was completely contained before the Bore allowed him to escape in the first place, so perhaps Rand’s solution will be permanent until the Pattern is repeated.

9. Comment on some (or all) of the aftermath: our ta'veren heroes are ta'veren no longer, Ilturalde will rule, Tuon is pregnant, Moghedien a damane!!!, Faile lives, Cadsuane as Amyrlin, Rand vs. Moridin and the three women around the funeral pyre, and Loial's writing makes an appearance. In the end, Rand doesn't channel, but thinks his pipe is lit and it is. What does it all mean? What did you like/dislike? Was there anything unresolved you wanted to see? General thoughts, feelings, reactions. (This is your last chance to geek out! :D)

I guess the Pattern has been restored to the Creator’s original design, so he no longer needs ta’veren to tweak it for him. I wonder if Mat will lose his luck . . . that could be inconvenient for him! :D

I imagine that the Little Wolf will make an excellent king, though I am quite sure that he will always feel unworthy of the position.

Good going, Mat! I wonder if Tuon will decide to get rid of him now that he has done the necessary??? Perhaps this would be a good test of my luck question! :D

Moghedien as a damane is a very satisfying and suitable punishment for this vile woman. However, I find it interesting that although they were a minority of the Forsaken, most of the female ones managed to survive the Last Battle, and Lanfear made it almost to the end as well. I know that Mesaana is a drooling idiot, but she, Moghedien and Graendal accomplished something that none of the male Forsaken did: they lived! Is this an indication of sexism from the writers, or an indication that they believe that women are greater survivors because they tend to be more careful and intelligent than their male counterparts?

I thought Perrin’s discovery of Faile in Tel’aran’rhiod was quite lovely, but my dislike of her made me care much more about his emotional wellbeing than her survival.

Cadsuane being bullied was hilarious! I am quite sure that Moiraine needed to change her smallclothes when she found out! :D

Maybe I missed something in amongst the mad rush of final details, but I could not work out why the Rand / Moridin swap occurred. Obviously, it fulfilled many of the prophecies and viewings without actually killing Rand, but I was slightly ambivalent about it. In some ways it seemed like cheating that he could survive the ultimate battle between Good and Evil with a very neat witness protection scheme in place. However, we did have hints that the Creator himself was involved with the Last Battle, so this could be His direct action. Perhaps He thought that Rand and the girls deserved to have some peace after all the mayhem. Plus, this gives Aviendha an opportunity to conceive those four children that she is supposed to have with Rand . . . perhaps she will not have quadruplets after all, just four in total over several pregnancies.

This leads on to Rand’s newfound magical pipe-lighting ability. There is no suggestion that the One Power has disappeared in general, so this must be a Rand-specific change. Again, I assume that this is a gift from the Creator: perhaps it is His version of the True Power. It would be interesting to discover if Rand can do other things with it, but I suppose that we will never know.

I was very moved by Tam’s words at the pyre. This and Bella’s death were the points that moved me to tears. However, I was a little surprised that Rand’s women were so useless at covering up his non-death. They could have tried to look a little bit sad . . .

I am sure that I have missed something, but I suspect that there will be plenty to discuss when I read the other posts! :D



  1. Ooh good point about Egwene's death being heroic rather than just a result of recklessness due to grief. I like that. And I agree: if I had any qualms, it would be that certain bad guys--l won't name names because that would be indiscreet: Mellar--didn't suffer enough. I love the idea of Nynaeve and Lan breeding little grumpy borderlanders. They all have long braids and carry heron-marked blades, even to the dinner table. LOL. Good point about both Hopper and Gaidal being absent. Would have liked to have seen both of them again. Yeah with Cadsuane and Moiraine in the world, the White Tower is about to become an interesting place. :D And I don't think anyone really saw the body swap happening or knows why. Just a bizarre twist Jordan decided to throw in at the end. :D

    1. The body swap came as a total surprise for me and seemed somewhat unnecessary . . . it's not that I wanted Rand to die, but that I was resigned to it happening.

  2. Here we are, the final week of a very long read along. It has truly been awesome. Thank oyu for being a part of it from day one!

    Very true about Egwene and her final act. And I loved her supportive mental slap to Rand. That made as much (or even perhaps a greater) difference as her final physical act.

    Hmm... Yes, why wasn't Bella with the Heroes of the Horn? That would have been awesome!

    Good question about Hinderstapp - was the curse lifted? I guess Mat will have to travel there to see.

    Now that you mention Slayer and his childhood, I too wonder what he would have been like if the Dark had not claimed him so young. Perhaps there will be some side stories about his life if the world is opened up to other writers.

    Yep, the body swap was a so-so point for me. I would have been fine with Rand's death, as he was married to the idea from perhaps even Book 1. And, yes, why didn't his ladies at least try to look sad? They had plenty of other deaths to mourne, so why not shed some tears for them over Rand's old body pyre?

    1. Good point about Rand's women: shouldn't they have been upset by all the other deaths (Egwene, Siuan, Gawyn, Rhuarc) or even by Tam's grief, like I was?? Heartless ratbags!


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