Monday, October 29, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #56: Epilogue—To See the Answer


By Linda

It’s not a coincidence that the first three POVs are of the ta’veren, with the Dragon first, naturally.

Rand POV

Here’s a thing: if Rand hadn’t carried Moridin’s body out, there would have been no body swap. Nakomi approves of the swap, saying that he’s doing something he needs to do, which is good. Normally a bodyswap would be a wrongness, however both souls choose their fate: one very much wants to live, the other to die.

Is Nakomi the Creator? I don’t think so. The Creator speaks directly the couple of times it communicates—with the minimum of words, and more for reassurance. Nor is the Creator prone to micromanagement or coercion as the Dark One is.

Another possibility is that Nakomi is an Aiel Hero of the Horn. Her name, which Bair recognised as Aiel, seems to hint this. Her conversation with Aviendha in Towers of Midnight is reminiscent of Birgitte’s contact with Perrin, Elayne and Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod in the early books. When Nakomi appears in the real world at Thakan’dar and spoke to Rand, Heroes of the Horn are still abroad in the waking world.

Aviendha queried Nakomi on where she is from, and got a cryptic answer:

"I am far from my roof," the woman said, wistful, "yet not far at all. Perhaps it is far from me. I cannot answer your question, apprentice, for it is not my place to give this truth."

Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold Land

Nakomi's home and people are far from her and unreachable because she is dead, yet still feels tied to the Aiel. Looking further, Nakomi is far from the main world, yet not. Tel’aran’rhiod surrounds the waking world, yet as a shade, Nakomi cannot touch it unless called by the Horn. Nakomi’s favourable opinion of the Westlands, emphasising their beauty and lushness, is as though they are familiar to her, as they would be if she had roamed about Tel’aran’rhiod long term and had cut ties with the Three-fold Land. She would be unlikely to feel this way had she remained in the Waste or only left it recently; recent contact with the Westlands would inspire the kind of wariness or alienation expressed by Aviendha.

Most importantly she is honour bound not to explain further—some precept that she does not violate, such as those the Heroes have...

Nakomi’s name is reference to Nokomis, the grandmother of Nanabozho/ Manabozho, the trickster figure of the Ojibwe Amerindians. She is in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Song of Hiawatha:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest.

In fact, in the Ojibwe language, the language of the traditional tale on which Hiawatha is based, Nokomis means “my grandmother” (see Character Names N article for further discussion of Nokomis/Nakomi and Hiawatha/Rand).

Nakomi is not literally Rand’s grandmother although she is wise and knowledgeable. Bair said her name was ancient, and recognisably Aiel, so it is likely she is a Hero who was an Aiel from the distant past in one of her recent births, particularly considering her legendary name.

Rand’s realisation that he asked the Aelfinn a wrong question is a bit mysterious because the exact and full wording of his questions aren’t in the books. However I found them in Robert Jordan’s Rand notes, (see The Aelfinn’s Answers article). The last question is said to be "How can I destroy the Dark One?" and the answer:

"What was, is, and will be. To choose is the fate of your kind. Without choice, humankind is dust."

Rand did not understand this answer until the very end, which is why he said:

"I see the answer now," he whispered. "I asked the Aelfinn the wrong question. To choose is our fate. If you have no choice, then you aren't a man at all. You're a puppet . . ."

A Memory of Light, Epilogue

Humans must have choice or else they are not adults and not responsible for their actions.

Mat POV

The Sun is out because Rand is also out of the Darkness and out of Shayol Ghul. I judge that Mat that killed Shaisam as Rand sealed the Bore. Shockingly, Mat almost reaches for the dagger but restrains himself. It rots as he walks away. If he’d touched it, he may have kept it around longer and started its infection all over again. After this, the dice finally stop.

Perrin POV

There are no swirling colours, or vision of Rand in Perrin’s mind—no ta’veren pull—and after having them influence his actions for months, he misses them.

The Land has had its fertility restored with the Sealing of the Dark One and is already green and blooming. While Perrin acknowledges that “no masterwork comes without a price,” this one includes the death of Egwene.

Loial POV

Loial records that Rand Sealed the Bore at noon, the time of day when the sun (and therefore Rand) is at its strongest and the Dark One at his weakest. The Fourth Age starting in the middle of day distresses Loial’s tidy mind, but he accepts this fact.

Flinn notices that Rand’s three women are not concerned that Rand is dying. It’s a bit obvious, but this also means the women don’t exactly lie…

Mat POV

Mat is convinced that Tuon’s unborn baby is a boy. Each claims this child means they have no further duty there—a certain amount of chest-beating bluffing is going on. What a couple.

Moghedien POV

Moghedien starts getting optimistic that she will get away and set up shop again. Plus, with the Dark One Sealed away, she won’t be punished for her failures. Then she immediately has another failure: the Spider doesn’t reverse her weaves so they cannot be detected, but inverts them and gets complacent enough to weave a light. So she is collared by a satisfied sul’dam, one of Jordan’s mundane, but appropriate punishments.

The Forsaken currently has her coursouvra, but the Seanchan won’t allow her to keep it. It may be destroyed (in which case she becomes an automaton) or it may be given to or taken by someone else, since it looks valuable. Interesting times ahead for Moghedien.

Nynaeve POV

The kings are shocked that Elayne, Min and Aviendha are not crying over the death of Rand’s body and their comments arouse Nynaeve’s suspicions. Nynaeve tries to bully the explanation out of Aviendha, a sitting duck. The Aiel is briefly alarmed but composes herself. I was surprised that Aviendha reacted as much as she did: it’s a measure of her feeling that she is living a lie and has toh.

The Wise Ones’ belief that the glass column ter’angreal warns them of a future that should be changed saved the Aiel from a terrible fate.

Perrin POV

Perrin is in the wolf dream, when he really wanted to sleep. He is there in wolf form, but is thinking like a man. As he dwells on his guilt over leaving Faile in order to help Rand win, he goes to all the important places of his relationship with Faile and with Rand. At the finale, he chooses to visit Faile’s death place rather than Rand’s death bed. During the war, he did “what he was supposed to” and let Faile do her duty. However, what Perrin was supposed to do has a happy ending: he hears a falcon cry in the dream and realises it’s Faile. He tracks her down and uses adrenalin-enhanced strength to uncover her body single-handedly: Perrin epitomises Strength.

Elayne POV

Birgitte lingers after the other Heroes have gone back to Tel’aran’rhiod. Elayne doesn’t answer Birgitte’s question about Rand—again a lie by omission, in the Aiel way. Birgitte has anticipated Elayne’s intention to take possession of the Horn of Valere and sent Olver to hide it. To her surprise, Elayne doesn’t mind, and is glad not to have the temptation. THe Hero realises that Elayne has matured.

Birgitte’s soul is about to move to a baby that is shortly to be born. Knowing that Gaidal was not called by the Horn, and so is alive as a young child, she is looking forward to meeting him again in a new life. It will be one of her usual reincarnations where she is a few years younger than he.

Tam POV

It is so sad that Tam doesn’t know that Rand lives, and probably won’t for at least a few years, if ever. This is his and Rand’s great sacrifice for the world. He thinks the fertility of the Land is Rand’s final gift, but that gift might be prodigal Rand returning some years from now. The three women have an obvious lack of grief; if Tam knew the truth, he also would be unable to dissimulate and the funeral would be a farce. Cadsuane for one, already thinks it’s a farce.

Tam’s thoughts that “Rand could finally rest” are true, just not in the way he thinks. Basically, it represents freedom from burdens and freedom to be as he wishes.

Only Tam carries a light—for the pyre. Everyone else is indistinguishable during their “saluting the body of the Dragon Reborn.” That body deserves honouring, even if Moridin spent a few hours in it. It did do so well.

Min POV

The funeral is the fulfillment of not only Min’s viewing that the three would be there, but also of Egwene’s dream of a man lying dying:

A man lay dying in a narrow bed, and it was important he not die, yet outside a funeral pyre was being built, and voices raised songs of joy and sadness.

- A Crown Of Swords, Unseen Eyes

This dream was anonymous because (apart from wanting to keep the surprise) Moridn’s soul died in Rand’s body, while Rand is restored to life and health in Moridin’s body. A complicated situation. The knowledge of her beloved’s early death was quite a burden for Min to carry for two years.

There is conflicting information regarding whether Nicola’s foretelling of “three on the boat and he who is dead yet lives” refers to this scene. Team Jordan has said that it is an example of an unreliable narrator and referred to Rand’s funeral where the three women stood alone around Rand’s pyre, but on another occasion said that it is yet to happen.

The three women make no pretence of grief and do not comfort Tam, who lights the pyre, but Moiraine does. This is not their finest hour even if they weren’t hypocritical. It’s as though they are looking to the day Rand’s other loved ones find out, and making sure they can say with a clean conscience that they misled by omission only, and not by actual lying.

Rand POV

Rand is a bit stunned with the novelty of a hale body. His eyes have a saa to commemorate Moridin, and also his own channelling of the True Power. Most importantly, it’s not an active saa.

The fulfillment of Min’s viewing that Alivia will help Rand die is mundane. Such outcomes happened occasionally. Min’s anxieties over this viewing were completely unnecessary—worse than if she knew nothing. This has also happened before: in fact, Min’s panic has resulted in actions that fulfilled the viewing. The Empress is wise to insist on hearing a description of the viewing as well as MIn’s interpretation of it to provide the opportunity for another opinion, and cross-check it with her own symbol system. Otherwise there is the risk that Min’s viewings can be as wrong-headed as those of Elaida.

Cadsuane POV

Cadsuane immediately identifies Rand in his new body, which is unexpected. Can she see Rand’s eyes clearly enough to see the saa and also knows what it represents? Or just recognise Rand’s soul somehow? Odd.

The Green sister is bailed up by four Sitters. They don’t begin the traditional way with a formal summons to the Hall—which it is illegal for her to refuse—but try to get her to agree to be Amyrlin willingly instead. This was not Aes Sedai custom until Egwene was raised. It’s curious, given Cadsuane’s track record for avoiding being made Amyrlin by fleeing before any such summons could be issued. Or is that why they have done this? To convince her rather than force her? I do think they chose the right woman—respected, if not feared by all, flexible, tenacious and experienced. And she does actual research.

Rand POV
Speaking of Cadsuane, Rand is one who respects and fears her. He can tell she has recognised him even though she doesn’t say what she suspects. They have the measure of each other. Rand can’t channel either saidin or the True Power now, even though Moridin could channel both. Perhaps the overload of Powers burned Rand (and Moridin) out, but at the same time Rand has moved beyond channelling to be an ascended being, the alchemical buddha who can will things into occurring. The now-ex Dragon is presumed wise enough to be entrusted with this ability. The book has quite a Buddhist ending, which I notice some readers find objectionable or inadequate.

Very tellingly, Rand doesn’t think about Tam (who is grieving—because it would hurt?), just the three women. I do think Rand owes it to his father to grieve for his grief. Instead he thinks of his love for all three women and hopes one or all will come after him.

When Rand told Alivia to get gold and other supplies for him, he didn’t consider that she’d have to steal them. He takes responsibility for this, as he should.

Rand may become an eternal wanderer figure, as well as an itinerant worker and entertainer as he was at the beginning of the story. He will no longer be a recognised Magus—even though he has some mysterious ability. This fits in with the many paths, many lives prophecy:

"And his paths shall be many, and who shall know his name, for he shall be born among us many times, in many guises, as he has been and ever will be, time without end.”

- The Dragon Reborn, Opening prophecy

Will Rand have the long life of a channeller? Will all that power he used in the Pit of Doom make that difference? I think so.

The last words of the book and series—Loial’s—show us Rand not as the Dragon, or as a magus, but as chi, or prana, the breath of life for the world.

I liked the ending. It’s Jordan’s ending, in his words, and where he was heading to over this epically long epic. I knew from the first that the solution to defeating the Shadow would be theological and be Eastern as much as Western, and by the last book I knew that there would be a lot of alchemical symbolism to it also. Truly this is an Opus Magnus.


Now that my read-through is over, I shall resume updating articles with information from Jordan’s notes (which I’ll announce here) and also writing some new articles. My next post here will probably be a recap of which articles I’ve updated already.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #55: Chapter 49—Light and Shadow


By Linda

Perrin POV

The Dark One’s influence has caused Tel’aran’rhiod to become a Blight—a black wasteland, almost a void. (Rocks still remain, but they are disintegrating.) The world is collapsing in on itself in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perhaps it is a warning of what may happen or a reflection of what is happening in Rand’s battle with the Dark One. Either way, the Land cannot maintain itself against the onslaught. Shayol Ghul is a beacon of light pulling Dragonmount to it. A conjunction of mountains is being added to the other conjunctions—of people, of sun and moon, of Powers. The dual world axis is converging to one, in one way symbolising the danger that the Light could become overwhelmed and corrupted by the Shadow, in another way, heralding the sacred conjunction and the successful completion of the Great Work in removing the Dark One’s access to the world. Rand’s birthplace and death place are merging.

Cyndane was not allowed to disguise herself either in Tel’aran’rhiod or with a mask of mirrors as part of her punishment. Moridin policed this in Knife of Dreams and The Gathering Storm, but in Towers of Midnight he become preoccupied and she began to get away with it and appear more openly as Lanfear.

As Perrin enters Shayol Ghul, he sees Moridin kneeling at the Pit of Doom, and the other three standing tall. Lanfear used Compulsion on Perrin instead of seduction and even then had to pretend to be allied to the Light to manipulate him. (Otherwise she would have had to use such heavy Compulsion that he would be mindless—which would be noticed.) She felt that she “cheated” as Graendal does by resorting to Compulsion to win Perrin’s heart. The Compulsion was only effective because she played on his guilt that he wasn’t there to save his family from Fain and his resentment that Moiraine convinced him to leave the Two Rivers.

It was not because Perrin was un-willing that enables Lanfear’s Compulsion to be undone, more a matter of him willing it away with his extreme strength of will. Despite the Compulsion, Perrin has considerable independence of thought and realises that Lanfear plans to kill Rand and save the Dark One. He knows this is the ultimate wrongness and that he must do his duty. In his previous scene Perrin made two choices, but this is his third and greatest choice—between Lanfear and his beloved Faile (and his dear friends). As a character, Perrin epitomises the choice between virtue and vice which is the Lovers Tarot card. Actually, this time he must follow his duty AND his love. The Wolf King overwhelms Lanfear’s Compulsion with his love for Faile and also for Rand, his love for duty and rightness. By coming out of Compulsion in this way, he has prevented his own living death.

With the ultimate wrongness being to kill Rand, (or Nynaeve or Moiraine) and so prevent the Light’s victory, Perrin commits the lesser wrongness of killing a woman not threatening him.


Rand POV

Shaitan seems little better than Shaisam at the end (as the similarity of their names hints)—saner, and not played for laughs, but just as childishly selfish. The Dragon feels contempt for the Dark One when he realises the extent of his deceit and cruelty. Moreover, Rand realises that he created his own hell, and killing the Dark One would make it happen. This is the ultimate example of the Aiel’s belief that killing an enemy is a lesser honour than taking him captive. So, Rand shielded the Bore and repaired the hole with undifferentiated saidin and saidar: pure duality, no subdivision into “elements”.


Moiraine POV

Once Rand weaves a new prison for the Dark One, Moiraine flees the Bore before it closes, pulling Nynaeve with her. Thom saves her from running off the edge of the path outside Shayol Ghul. So determined is she to Witness the Bore closing, despite the blinding intensity of the Light, that she doesn’t watching where she is going. Rand and Moridin are both standing at this point—as the hole shrinks to nothing. The Blackness has been vanquished and the final stage of alchemical transformation, the Redness, represented by the blood of the Dragon and the Land, also has occurred. The Great Work is complete.

In alchemy, the culmination of the Whiteness phase leaves the alchemist completely free in a state of pure spirit and intelligence, beyond space, time and form, and once back in the body, the soul can realise its state of spiritual completeness. Heaven and earth in the alchemist are then united (Nigel Hamilton, The Alchemical Process of Transformation). Rand felt this at the end of his battles with the Dark One.

Jung wrote:

You can exert no influence if you are not susceptible to influence.

Carl Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy

Moridin discovered this the hard way after he was linked to Rand. It inspired the desire for death in him, which led to him sacrificing his own corrupt soul, just as Rand sacrificed his corrupt body. So the Dark One who wanted to break the Creator’s champion, broke his own. Not that he cared.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #54: Chapter 48—A Brilliant Lance


By Linda

The previous chapter was very complex and layered; this chapter is simpler, conveying joy at victory and relief that it is over.

Elayne, Thom and Min POVs

Elayne, Thom, Aviendha and Min were all witnesses of Rand’s victory through their bonds and also, in the case of Thom, proximity. A moment before, Elayne had been numbed by exhaustion and the apocalyptic war, as had Aviendha.

Aviendha

Graendal’s weave is turned back on her to cause compulsion at least as extreme as what she inflicted on others. She is another one receiving her just deserts.

Logain POV

Logain thinks he was a fool to forsake uncovering the powerful sa’angreal to rescue people. Yet he is a fool for thinking Sakharnen would be more important to him. The people’s thanks and appreciation of their rescue and his part in it were vital to him—to restore and redeem him and the Black Tower. This will be a huge difference to the Asha’man and Black Tower in the Fourth Age.

Gabrelle prompts Logain to break the seals (and cement his prophesied glory) but he was going to do it anyway. They are discarded like rubbish, although once valuable in material and function.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #53: Chapter 47—Watching the Flow Writhe


By Linda

Aviendha POV

Both very dextrous weavers, Aviendha and Graendal have almost killed each other. This is a huge credit to Aviendha, since Graendal is much stronger in the power than she and drew heavily on her ring to conserve her strength. At the end of her own strength, Aviendha starts unpicking her weave as a last resort. Completely unpicking a weave does nothing (and anyway, Aviendha could just let go of the weave and allow the gateway to close), but incomplete unravelling is what will cause an unpredictable, hopefully destructive, event. Aviendha prefers this outcome, rather than just delaying or preventing Graendal’s return to Thakan’dar, and it is what occurs.

The chapter title refers to the chain reaction the unpicking causes in the weave.

Shaisam POV

Mat does not succumb to Mashadar because he was cured of it in the White Tower and is now immune. The “fox that makes the ravens fly” tricks Shaisam by playing dead to lure him close enough to attack, like the fox does the raven in Western folk tales. As a former Darkfriend, zombie maker, and potential new Dark Lord, Shaisam could be likened to a raven. Trickster Mat gets his revenge while also saving Rand from the very real threat of Shaisam. In fact, Mat is the only one who could safely do so—Shaisam is such a potent evil. The personification of the evil arising from merciless good, Mordeth was corrupted by Fain, someone whom the Dark One had touched, into being a deity himself.

Perrin POV

While in European folktales the wolf was often in competition with the fox, in Ancient Egyptian mythology, the wolf-headed god Upuaut worked with the fox/jackal-headed god Anubis as chief officers of the god of the underworld, the Universal Lord Osiris. This is another trio of gods that Jordan drew on when he developed the three ta’veren characters. In this scene, Perrin wants to help his friend Mat kill Shaisam but is wise enough to refrain and go about his own urgent tasks. First up he rescues Gaul, who was worried about the wolves vanishing from Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin assures him they were called by the Horn into the waking world.

The Wolf King is torn between aiding Gaul and Mat, and then Faile and Rand in this chapter, and he has a third choice (the number three again!) coming up in his next scene. One of the main themes in Perrin’s sub-thread is that of the Lovers or Choice tarot card—the choice between virtue and vice or duty and pleasure. The choice between making (hammer) and destroying (axe). Perrin also feared that he had to choose exclusively between his human and animal natures, but that was a mistake.

Rand POV

Moridin channels saidin through Callandor, then realises it is also a True Power sa’angreal. This is its danger and its trap as the “blade of ruin” described in the prophecies in Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light. The “blade of ruin” and “fearful blade” are a link with the Dolorous Stroke of Arthurian legend that caused the wasteland. In this case, it prevented the tainting of saidin or saidar and the wasteland formed by the Breaking of the world; it was a dolorous stroke for the Shadow.

Moridin thought he would get his promised oblivion from the Dark One as a reward for killing Rand. Even though channelling the True Power at Shayol Ghul is death—as Rand and Demandred both believe—Moridin doesn’t die because he is captured by Nynaeve, Moiraine and Rand working together—the three as one, as per prophecy:

He shall hold a blade of light in his hands, and the three shall be one…

- The Gathering Storm, Reading the Commentary

Why does the Dragon need such a flawed and dangerous item reserved for him for three thousand years? Rand needs a True Power sa’angreal indirectly so three powers can be used together at extreme strength. By a quartet. This is the first time in the series that four—the number of the material world, solidity, power, omnipotence, will, and temporal law and justice—is more important than the number three.

Min worked out how and why Callandor was to be used. We saw her early thoughts on this in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. Kudos to her.

The Dark One’s own power is used against him to prevent him from tainting saidin and saidar. Nor can he simply cut off the True Power through the modest hole in his prison, due to the vast amount Moridin is drawing. Rand is a mirror of Shaisam as he feels what it is like to be a deity and contemplates killing one. His reaching for the devil through an indistinct “fluid” reminded me of Mat at the Eye of the World seeing the pool of saidin and wondering what’s in it. (Just the Horn, Mat, and the Dragon banner and a Seal. Things for this very moment.) Moiraine described the Eye as:

"The essence of the male half of the True Source, the pure essence of the Power wielded by men before the Time of Madness. The Power to mend the seal on the Dark One's prison, or to break it open completely. "

The Eye of the World, Meetings at the Eye

Rand will soon make weaves of the pure essences of saidin and saidar to mend the Dark One’s prison, linking us to the end of The Eye of the World when the world was greened again, while avoiding the trap of the taint that occurred just before the prologue of that same book.

As Rand grips the Dark One, Light has come—time to break seals. Now that Rand has the Dark One’s undivided attention, so to speak, there is no risk that he will spare attention for cutting off Moridin’s access to the True Power.

And so we come to the moment to complete the Magnum Opus (Great Work) of sealing away the Dark One. In alchemical symbolism, the culmination of the opus is the conjunction, the union of two (or more). Jordan has multiple conjunctions operating to emphasise that his Great Work is the salvation of the world. With the number three so important, the lynchpin conjunction was the triple conjunction of the powers. Opposites are reconciled in a conjunction, and love is both its cause and its effect (Edward Edlinger, Anatomy of the Psyche). Saidin and saidar are perfectly balanced and united at last, and harness the opposing True Power to cut an evil deity off from the world. And it was sealed in blood: Rand’s blood, the sacred link of Rand and the Land, drips to seal the Sealing, “washing away the Shadow, sacrifice for man's salvation” (The Shadow Rising, Reflection). Outside, the Land, one with the Dragon, is slathered in the blood of the fallen.

Most, perhaps the whole, of Rand’s duel with Moridin and then the Dark One at Shayol Ghul took place within the duration of the solar eclipse (which would be up to seven minutes), in astrology the strongest type of conjunction of sun and moon. During this time, Dragonmount and Shayol Ghul pulled toward one another in Tel’aran’rhiod (A Memory of Light, Light and Shadow); in one way symbolising the danger that the Light could become overwhelmed and corrupted by the Shadow, in another way, heralding the sacred conjunction of saidin and saidr and the successful completion of the Great Work.

There is another marker of the sacred conjunction:

The image of a miraculous growth of flowers or vegetation comes up in dreams as evidence of proximity to the coniunctio.

Edward Edlinger, Anatomy of the Psyche

Perrin saws them in the Wolf Dream, and Aviendha in the waking world.

There are three stages of alchemical transformation to achieve the Great Work: the blackness (nigredo), whiteness (albedo) and redness (rubedo). According to the alchemists, matter suffers until the blackness disappears, then a new day will break, the albedo. Rand enters the blackness of the Pit of Doom and the Dark One’s void, and battles the Dark One’s efforts to torment him into despairing and giving up. His spirit was refined at Dragonmount, and the black thorns on his brain overlain with white, but he still suffers physically and has plans of violence—killing the Dark One, the less honourable alternative, by Aiel values.

A shift in his understanding of evil results in his victory. Intense light explodes from Rand at the end of his battle with the Dark One, enough to be seen over the whole continent; it is the Dark One’s moment of judgment as much as Rand’s or the world’s. But in alchemical symbolism this state of “whiteness” is an abstract, ideal state and in order to make it come alive, it must have “blood”, it must have the “redness” of life and humanity (Carl Jung, Interview). Rand’s life blood slowly dripping away. Note also that Callandor turns crimson red as Moridin pulls the True Power through it, heralding the imminent success of Rand’s trap enabling the Sealing of the Bore. Moridin wants to go to the extreme of blackness—oblivion—but he is forced into the triple conjunction, and then Rand brings on the Whiteness and Redness in quick succession as he seals the Dark One away.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #52: Chapter 46—To Awaken


By Linda

So much tension: the chapter ends on multiple cliffhangers.

Rand POV

Mere minutes have passed since the three entered Shayol Ghul, so the total eclipse is barely over at the Pit of Doom, despite days of battle having passed at Thakan’dar and weeks elsewhere. Rand feels more powerful than Moridin and tells him he’s unimportant, but Moridin laughs and knifes Alanna, his wounded hostage.

Nynaeve POV

Nynaeve can’t stop the knife because Rand has control of her channelling. It is fortuitous that herbs (and the application of mundane knowledge) rather than Healing save the day—and the world. They bring Alanna to consciousness and she releases the Warder bond before dying. On the whole, Aes Sedai consider herbs beneath them, but these plants have changed the course of events repeatedly in the series including for the Aes Sedai themselves. Jordan’s herbs often have real world parallels (see Herbs article for these and part they’ve played in series).

While rightly vilified for being made without consent, Alanna’s Warder bond was not all bad for Rand: it gave him great strength and endurance from Lord of Chaos until Winter’s Heart, when Elayne and Aviendha bonded him. (Min was included). It also was a major motivator for Rand, because of the distrust and suspicion it invoked.

When his first attack doesn’t work, Moridin does the unexpected again in stabbing his hand so Rand feels it and drops Callandor. There’s power in cleverness and determination.

Perrin POV

As Rand let go of his crushing sense of responsibility and pain, so Perrin lets go of his anger and pain. Concentrating on his task—his duty—he is not worried about whether he is wolf or man. In fact, he is truly in between, a liminal being on the thresholds of animal/human and awake/dreaming. All three ta’veren are liminal beings: Mat is liminal between the physical world and the underworld, and Rand between heaven and hell.

As a result, Perrin, who represents the Strength tarot card, is at full strength.

The fall of his hammer was like claps of thunder, the flashing of his eyes like lightning bolts. Wolves howled alongside the wind.

A Memory of Light, To Awaken

These lines also refer to Perrin’s sky god parallels, notably the Norse god Thor and the Slavic god Perun. The instinctual craftsman dodges in and out of Tel’aran’rhiod and the waking world as he concentrates on his prey, and they flicker between multiple worlds when he deals the killing blow. This is reminiscent of the Portal Stone trap/malfunction in The Great Hunt. Perrin sees various mirror and If worlds, notably one with soldiers that are a combination of Aiel and Seanchan.

When Perrin follows him from Tel’aran’rhiod to waking world and back, Slayer finally feels the terror he gave to others. Most of Jordan’s Darkfriends get their just deserts (see Darkfriends article).

Perrin’s expert eye assesses that the Light has lost the battle at Thakan’dar even though they won elsewhere. Where the Shadow has concentrated its attack, all three ta’veren are needed there to win. One or two are not enough. Perrin hears the Horn of Valere sound—not Olver’s first call, though—to summon the Heroes to Thakan’dar, including Hero wolves. The Last Hunt counters the Darkhounds’ Wild Hunt.

Mat POV

Olver and the Heroes are at the base of Shayol Ghul. Unfortunately, Shaisam’s mist is nearly at the path leading up the volcano. Mashadar touches Mat at the end of the chapter. More anon.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #51: Chapter 45—Tendrils of Mist


By Linda

Mat POV

“Blood stained the rocks” after the battles on the Heights is a reference to the prophecy of Rand’s blood sacrifice for salvation and that Rand is one with the Land. Mat carries Rand’s banner with the Aes Sedai symbol to fight under at Thakan’dar to ensure that the prophecy of “under this sign he (Rand) will conquer” is fulfilled.

Gateways won’t open at Thakan’dar because reality is breaking up there. Mat praises Grady for his efforts at the rather alarming battle at the Ford involving people who are trapped in a different kind of broken reality.

Trickster Mat reiterates that he won’t be bound to the Horn, or anyone. Yet, ironically Mat is bound—to Rand, and objects to this strongly all through the series.

Shaisam POV

Shaisan consumes souls rather like the Machin Shin infestation of the Ways, that was “friendly”—professional courtesy, Jordan called it—to Padan Fain/Mordeth in The Great Hunt. Shaisam’s drones have dead eyes rather than the wrong ones of those Turned to the Shadow. He hides his body among these zombies. Shaisam is still bound to a body but can transcend this dependence; he is on the verge of being a deity, but needs a place to “infest” (again like the Black Wind and like vermin or disease). This sets up the next chapter.

So powerful is Shaisam now, that he is able to convert Myrddraal, whereas before he used to just kill them. His protective mist is the part of Mashadar that was carried out of Shadar Logoth in the dagger by Mat. Once Fain/Mordeth was reunited with dagger, he was able to unite Mashadar with him, control it, grow it and become Shaisam. It seems that with his usual luck Mat chose to steal Mordeth’s most potent item.

Still, Shaisam is played for laughs at times in the last book, which prevents us from taking him seriously and lessens the surprise and daring of Mat killing him. Shaisam has imbued himself in Mashadar and plans to find a suitable place in the world to imbue himself in, too—as the Black Wind did in the Ways. The sun can still burn Shaisam and Mashadar away, but the clouds are too thick for that right now.

Gaul POV

Gaul and the wolves in Tel’aran’rhiod are working together very well to counter Slayer. Slayer tricks the wolves, but not Gaul. However, the Stone Dog honourably reveals himself to protect the wolves and is injured as a result.

Perrin stands with his face toward the sun (a symbol of life, the Creator, and Rand), even though it can’t be seen. Slayer reminds us of the foretelling that Luc will be important in the Last Battle. Luc and Isam both wanted to be part of something important, so this foretelling was a major inspiration for them. Isam wanted the ability to channel but the Dark One gave him other gifts instead, including the ability to enter Tel’aran’rhiod without channelling, which requires a dual-souled nature.

Some have theorised that Moridin channels only the True Power because his body can’t channel saidin even though his mind can. But the Dark One can’t grant the ability to channel, according to Slayer in this chapter. Moridin certainly felt when Rand channelled saidin and he wouldn’t have been able to sense it if he couldn’t channel it. He used only the True Power because he was addicted to it and it showed his status as favoured one. Plus, this intimidated the other Forsaken, who would never dare to use the True Power so boldly because it is lethal. (Tough guy Demandred, for instance, flinches, at Moridin’s saa.) The clincher is that Moridin channels through Callandor with saidin first, then, when he found to his surprise that it could do so, the True Power.

Mat POV

Olver loves flying on to’raken, but poor Mat is terrified. From his aerial viewpoint, Mat is appalled to realise that Fain and Mashadar are in Thakan’dar—and even the Shadar Logoth dagger also. He rightly doesn’t think the Light will be so lucky that the Darkhounds and Mashadar destroy one another, which means he will have to do something about one of them, at least.

Mat sees the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai forming overhead from white and dark clouds. The clouds are a good substitute for Rand’s banner which is lost when the to’raken crashes. No need to consciously fulfil prophecy this time.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #50: Chapter 44—Two Craftsmen


By Linda

Perrin POV

The hospital in Mayene is well-informed about how the battles are going. By recognising Chiad, Perrin reminds of her potential dishonour as a gaishain in visiting the battlefield to retrieve the injured and tend them. Perrin tells her it’s an exceptional time and what use is honour if the Dark One wins? She says it is everything, and he privately agrees. Otherwise the society ends up like Shadar Logoth or dark Rand, both of which had to be undone to save the world. Perrin convinces Chiad to find him an Aes Sedai that will lessen his fatigue by saying that he has to save Rand and Gaul. (She actually crept in to him to ask about Gaul, which is against tradition, and shows the extent of her love.)

Perrin and Master Luhhan acknowledge each other’s master’s pieces. And Master Luhhan is brilliant: the Whitecloak Byar doubted that the axe he made was indeed made by a village blacksmith. Both craftsmen agree that killing is never beautiful, even if the tools made for it are beautiful.

Perrin saw a vision of Mat talking with Seanchan (to arrange his transportation to Thakan’dar). And like Mat, he feels Rand pulling him to come and help. Perrin thinks he used himself up too early, but Master Luhhan says no, he’s still alive and must keep fighting because it’s an exceptional day. (A variant of what Perrin just told Chiad). It’s so typical of their characters that Mat would object to Rand’s pull because it’s an imposition, whereas Perrin would doubt that he is capable of undertaking it.

Perrin tests Masuri for trustworthiness before he will let her restore him. After all, an Aes Sedai cannot lie and neither does Perrin’s sense of smell. She grudgingly admits she was wrong to try and use Masema and has learned better—especially how excellent Perrin is. The Brown sister says that all the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones with Perrin learned this. Once Masuri washes away his fatigue, she gasps as he vanishes physically into Tel’aran’rhiod. Yep, he’s even better than they know.

Thom POV

The gleeman is another underestimated character. At first Thom appears to be a spectator of the battles recording the events as an epic ballad. But that is only one thing he is doing here. He gives as an accurate view of what’s happening. The Windfinders and the Dark One fighting over control of the weather. The last steamwagon fallen. The mist on one side of Thakan’dar unaffected by either the Windfinders or the Dark One; this is probably Shaisam. Thom muses on how one must do the unexpected to perform well, and in fact, that is what he is doing: being the unexpected last defence of Shayol Ghul in the waking world.

How glad he is to be there to protect Moiraine as much as Rand. Despite his ruminations he is alert and kills Jeane Caide, who was disguised as Cadsuane, but did not walk like her—the fifth Aes Sedai he has despatched. We never do learn what Jeane was doing between Tanchico and now. Nor do we know the names of the other four sisters that Thom killed. Robert Jordan doesn’t want the reader to know everything. But how bold is Thom to calmly knife channellers.

Because he is a very experienced and skilled performer, Thom is an accurate judge of a disguise, and is not fooled by an outer semblance or a faked voice. Thom has some aspects of the Fool in him—as a wandering but wise fool gleeman with his tall tales containing elements of truth—and also some aspects of the Magician, the next tarot card. The magician card originally represented an itinerant performer at fairs and was later developed by the occultists into a magus, and Thom is certainly both of these, as was his most important pupil, Rand, who started out performing at inns and houses on the way to Caemlyn and Tear and probably will again as he wanders the world after the Last Battle. Full circle.

As so often is the case, the chapter title refers to more than one situation. The two craftsmen in the series ostensibly are Perrin and Haral Luhhan, but they also could be Perrin and Thom (the POVs of the chapter) or even Perrin and Masuri, who is so skilled in removing fatigue.