Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #33: Chapter 30—The Way of the Predator


By Linda

Perrin POV

The chapter title is about testing to find the weakness in your opponent. Perrin is referring to Slayer, but we see little of him in this chapter.

Perrin is searching for Graendal, who found the weakness of the Light’s armies: there is only one person devising the strategy for each army. Corrupt them and they lose the battle and the army. At first, Perrin assumed that Graendal was giving orders to Darkfriends in the camps to sabotage the battle, but her plan is more effective.

Quite a bit of time has elapsed, and Perrin is frustrated that they have to rely on others to leave Tel’aran’rhiod. It is difficult to get the timing right and meet up, when time flows very differently in each place, and he considers following Graendal through her gateway to return to the waking world. He senses a similarity between taking a gateway out of Tel’aran’rhiod and waking up.

Seeing his old friend Elyas out of context was disconcerting; it takes Perrin quite a while to recognise him in a place he normally doesn’t go. Elyas has avoided Tel’aran’rhiod because it is dangerous, but all places are dangerous now and everyone has to do their bit.

It takes Perrin little time to put a few snippets of information together and realise Graendal is corrupting the minds of the Great Captains to undermine their armies. Elyas is to wake up and warn the other leaders, and save Ituralde.


Rand POV

The essence of the Dark One is a cold expanse of darkness, infinite and empty like a black hole. Wind surges into the void. The black hole analogy will become stronger as the wind also strengthens and tries to suck everything in along with it. Nynaeve’s eyes are closed in endurance, but Moiraine is determined to witness.

Rand is using Callandor—the sword that is not a sword—in a sword fight. Lews Therin Telamon was always better than Moridin at fencing, and Rand feels more confident after practising fighting one-handed so effectively with his father. (In some ways, that was the least that he was taught in that session, as we will see). Both men are now bleeding on the rocks of Shayol Ghul—another similarity, another link.

The terrain has been changing while the men fight, to help Moridin catch Rand off guard, and also to push Rand into the Dark One’s nothingness, which he eventually does, for the second stage of this battle. All goes black for Rand as he contacts the Dark One’s void.

Elayne POV

Elayne’s army is on the verge of collapse with exhaustion, nearly overrun. The dragons are out of ammunition, but her channellers are too exhausted to make gateways for supplies. Worse, Elayne’s army can’t retreat because they have insufficient space and would be slaughtered as they pull back.

Logain and a hundred Asha’man arrive, a comparison with Lews Therin and the Hundred Companions at the end of the War of Power. They have joined Elayne because they found the Shadow’s battle plans in Taim’s study.

Logain’s eyes are darker than they once were, but not “wrong”. His whole being is very dark but the Turning to the Shadow was not completed so he may be restored. After all: “There is no person so dark that they cannot come back to the Light…” Of course, once Turning is completed, the person cannot be brought back to the Light by natural means.

Elayne’s words that:

"We must retreat—unless you can produce a miracle, Lord Logain."

- A Memory of Light, The Way of the Predator

make Logain smile not because she acknowledged his rank—birth and earned—but because he thinks they can produce a miracle.

A balanced circle of 14 women and 13 men—the strongest type of circle—performs a “great work”. Such a magnum opus is legendary these days. They will perform their own miracle, contrasting with the lack of cooperation between the sexes at the end of the War of Power in the Age of Legends. Both Lews Therin and Logain turned the tide of battle.

Elayne tends to think that strength is the most important factor in a channeller. This is understandable since she has been trained by Aes Sedai—all too well. She also assumes that Androl is not able to do much, and is likely susceptible to being overwhelmed by the power. It’s easy to see in her doubt the start of the Aes Sedai discounting weaker channellers in everything. Furthermore, even numb with exhaustion, she finds Pevara’s affection for a man shocking in a Red. The usual Aes Sedai judgments and stereotypes have already been swallowed wholesale.

Just as Leane is able to achieve as much as she used to by channelling cleverly, so does Androl. Making Gateways to a volcano magma chamber is a brilliant idea and he has the amazing talent to bring it off. Extra Asha’man outside the circle fan the lava and heat away from the humans and blow Trollocs into the flow.

After his feat, Androl is exhausted and surprised that the equally exhausted Elayne immediately plans to fight on. They must wipe out all the Shadowspawn. Elayne is determined and courageous (like a Green); and this is also the right tactic; one side of winning the war is exterminating the Shadowpawn. The other side is Rand winning his battle. They are interdependent, and every win on each side literally advances the other.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #32: Chapter 29—The Loss of a Hill


By Linda

Egwene POV

Egwene witnesses one of Bryne’s “mistaken” orders born of Graendal’s Compulsion and is going to investigate why it occurred. Without seeing it herself, she would not be willing to entertain the idea that there is something wrong with him and his tactics.

She also notices how sickly Gawyn looks, but cannot imagine the cause—the bloodknives’ ter’angreals leeching his life away. However, she is well aware of his resentment at not yet fighting directly in battle. As Elayne’s First Prince of the Sword. Gawyn would not be a good incumbent because he acts like senior military positions are more about the literal sword than the generalship, advisory and responsibility. Despite having received appropriate training, he is too hungry for personal glory to be anything but a liability.


Lan POV

Agelmar is making inspirational speeches—and they are almost platitudes—as though convincing himself by convincing others. Worse, he is contradicting plans he made on previous days. Nevertheless, such is the trust in him, that Lan finds him rather convincing, even though he knows Agelmar’s maps are not up to date. This leads Lan to start having qualms, until his messengers arrive to prove Agelmar is wrong. Then the whole fa├žade cracks and falls down. Agelmar breaks through his Compulsion and wants to commit seppuku—there is a strong Japanese influence in Shienaran culture—but Lan stops him. Lan deduces that Agelmar has been Compelled.

One outcome of the mess is that they observe Queen Tenobia of Saldaea being killed. Like Gawyn, she was obsessed with glory and war and paid the price. Appalling as this is, it is far from their worst problem. Agelmar has carried out Graendal’s orders too well and they will be lucky if they don’t lose the entire army. Tenobia’s death brings Faile, and Perrin, one step closer to the Saldaean crown.


Mat POV

Much to Mat’s dismay, Min has informed Tuon about the viewings she sees around him; in fact, he makes it obvious to her that he would much rather she misled Tuon. Min refuses to use her talent in an unethical and untrustworthy manner. Selucia is another woman annoyed with Mat: over the likelihood that Tuon will follow Mat into potential danger.

Mat complains about how the Pattern has pushed him where he is—to lead armies and battle Forsaken. The Pattern and women. However, Mat is a great complainer about small things rather than large, so he can’t be too put out by it.

His fear of channelling has not abated, and he still clams all male channellers are crazy, not just Demandred and Rand. This negativity has nothing to do with the taint, because he was told in The Gathering Storm that it is gone. He just fears channelling as much as any Seanchan or Whitecloak does.

Once in sight of battle, Mat boldly, even recklessly, gallops into the fray to find out why the Seanchan troops have not been given orders to fight and assist Bryne’s army. Quite the reverse, Bryne has ordered Tylee to do nothing. Mat sees that Bryne’s plans are rubbish, and leads the Seanchan to undo the damage. Ironically, his ashandarei is not an effective weapon in this battle and Mat pulls out. This is when he captures an overconfident Sharan channeller. She is slow to get over the shock of her weave melting when it touched him and try an indirect weave. The Ayyad are too used to fighting with the One Power to quickly adapt and use other means, as another Sharan channeller complemented Egwene:

“Few of the Ayyad would reach for a dagger so quickly, rather than for the Source. You have been trained well.”

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

Mat breaks a nail—supposedly an omen of very bad luck, according to Tuon in Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides. Or at least he cracks it, and then accidentally ennobles an officer who has just been converted into a devoted follower by biting the nail off and spitting it at his feet. This is a funny example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Like Lan, Mat can see that the forces here have been used badly and will undoubtedly lose. If he steps in immediately, with absolute control of the army, he can turn things around. Tuon frets that betting on Mat might be a mistake, but he blithely reassures her.