Monday, March 5, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #41: Chapter 37—The Last Battle Part 2

By Linda

Egwene POV

Egwene thinks that she hasn’t finished with the Empress—but alas, she has. After leaving their hostile meeting, she sees the cracks in reality for the first time. These are mainly, but not entirely, due to balefire. Egwene promptly develops a weave that doesn’t heal them of itself, but cushions the cracks in the Pattern while they heal themselves, and is one of her greatest feats. It leaves a film of crystals.

With all this distraction, she finally notices that Gawyn is not there with her. Bryne volunteers to go and bring him back. (They assume the Warder has gone to the Andoran armies to fight). Egwene permits Siuan to go with Bryne, but indicates that she would like her to be the Tower’s spy among the Seanchan. This tragically means Siuan’s death. If Egwene had known, would she have still asked this of Siuan? I believe so, but she would probably have phrased it differently.

Siuan actually commends her; says Egwene is a great replacement, a wonderful legacy. Most of Egwene’s legacy will be her part in the reform of the Aes Sedai, and her legendary battle with Taim and the Sharans, plus the Flame of Tar Valon weave. It is an outstanding legacy, but as Amyrlin, she is a short-lived replacement. And for Siuan the swan who can’t sing, what shall be her swan song? The fact that she kisses a man openly for the first time. Their last and only public kiss.

Egwene realises her hypocrisy in thinking Captain Chubain is too young for his job. He’s about 10‒15 years too young, she’s about 200.

Mat had the clever idea of setting the dry bush alight around the Shadow’s army to force them back, and for the smoke to cover the Aes Sedai army’s movements (and also the sight of their channelling.)

Gawyn POV

The rings hide Gawyn so well that even a Myrddraal does not see him, and neither does a Trolloc that passes close by him. Nor does Gawyn feel pain. When he runs through the Trollocs, they hear and smell him, but he is a blur. Gawyn is almost like a Myrddraal himself in the way the shadows hide him:

“There were shadows here and shadows were protection.”

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

and Myrddraal are slightly out of phase with time and reality, according to their creator, Aginor. The Amyrlin’s Warder is quite knowledgeable in what he can do while wearing the rings, showing some practise.

Gawyn is not going to kill Demandred for pride or glory, but for necessity. Nevertheless, he wants to do something that matters and he thinks he can be risked, but not Egwene or Logain. The fool still hasn’t learned what the Warder bond is because he refuses to listen. He is too impulsive to be a good choice as a Warder.

Demandred tries to balefire Gawyn but he dodges it, thanks to the rings, which make the encounter an actual duel and not an execution. Demandred challenges Gawyn’s loyalties and ethics as they fight. The Forsaken truly outclasses Gawyn—runs rings around him. He asks if Elayne or Rand is any better than Demandred in killing for advantage? Yet for them, it is a last resort against those who are committing crimes; for Demandred it is a first resort to gain advantage.

Demandred believes no one—Rand or anyone else—can defeat the Dark One. Apparently, the best way to save the world is to let him destroy it and protect people after. The Forsaken says Rand claims he can do the same.

Demandred believes that it must be Rand with Lews Therin’s memories who is the Light’s general, and therefore keeps looking for him on the battlefield. No one else could be so skilled in his opinion. He assumes that Rand wove Night’s Shade around Gawyn, not that he could have a ter’angreal with the same effect.

So many beliefs, false assumptions and outright lies. Desperate to be at the forefront of the war himself, Demandred thinks that Rand is personally orchestrating everything. (Mind you, Rand thought the same until he was convinced by Moiraine and others at Merrilor that he can’t do everything.)

Gawyn is not one enough with his sword—it is still a thing he manipulates instead of a part of him. Demandred efficiently wears Gawyn down and then stabs him fatally, although the Warder bond keeps Gawyn alive a little while.

Faile POV

Faile is rightly convinced that there is a Darkfriend among her group, but wrongly that they are one or both of the two men who ran off. She thinks Vanin’s terror is at being caught and not at what he was holding, not understanding how religiously Mat’s men try to avoid danger. Since she believes that it is pointless to hide the Horn, Faile is wearing it openly.

Perrin POV

Berelain pointedly has a chaperon for Perrin while he is in the hospital in her palace. This consideration is partly due to being pulled into line by Faile, but also due to her own desire for marriage to Galad.

Janina is able to selectively Heal. After more than one session, Perrin is finally Healed fully but is exhausted, so Janina probably Healed in the way Samitsu does and not the full five Powers Healing that Nynaeve weaves, that doesn’t take so much out of the patient.

Perrin deduces that three battlefronts moved to Merrilor, but Rand still fights. He informed them that time moves differently at the Bore—much more slowly—which they are all glad of and pass along to the battle command. At first, Berelain held back that Faile’s caravan was destroyed and she has vanished. Perrin insists his beloved is alive, because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate. He is determined to return to Gaul, but finally accepted that he would die without sleep.

Androl POV

Pevara looks down on Theodrin as not being “proper” Aes Sedai. However, Pevara hasn’t behaved as a “proper” Red in decades. She is otherwise understanding and positive towards Theodrin, though, and can accurately identify her feelings.

It’s taken a while, but Androl and Pevara are taking stock of their bond, and then their relationship. To Androl, Pevara is solid and reliable and their relationship life-saving. Androl is awkward around women. Even if they can see into his mind, they see awkwardness there. Pevara has been mentally comparing Androl to her figurines of her family. He will be her new family. All Aes Sedai see their family fade away over time, but Pevara’s family was cut off short.

Androl realises that Pevara’s achievement with the gateway, when she can’t do them easily, and didn’t have control and wasn’t the leader of the ring, was because she acted as him. She is able to overcome her fear of male channelling upon herself.

An inveterate traveller, Androl knows where he is relative to everywhere he’s ever been. He also “knows” any place he’s at in a very short time. He has an extreme sense of location, of place. Androl says that “small things matter.” He is a perfect example of that: his channelling ability is small, but really matters to the whole world.

They laugh at themselves, which is such a positive trait. They need all the mirth they can get in such times. It is something to fight for, something to help them fight. Respite, positivity—things the Dark One knows are the most dangerous—keep them from despairing.

Rhuarc POV

Rhuarc gives us an informative assessment of how the battle is going at Thakan’dar. Ituralde’s defences were finally broken, but they efficiently reduced the numbers of Shadowspawn. He is impressed by the dedication of the Dragonsworn; which is something, coming from an Aiel. As for the red-veiled Aiel, Rhuarc calls them Honorless. Impressively, he himself kills a red-veiled channeller. More concerningly, he feels the Light are losing the battle here.

And then Graendal strikes. She didn’t kill him, but has Compelled him to use his considerable fighting talents for herself, her protection. Rhuarc is robbed of his mind—judgment and values—and is now walking dead. A sad end to a much-loved character. It really shows the vileness of the Shadow. The Dreamwalkers knew something of his fate, we see them earlier in the series asking him if he wants to die old and fat in bed. Graendal turns everyone to herself; these days it’s a compensation for being robbed of her beauty by the Dark One. But she was always a monster even before being reborn as Hessalam.

Rand POV

Rand creates his “perfect” world out of one of the “If worlds” that is an alternate reality that may be less likely. Ogier are rebuilding Emond’s Field as compensation for Rand’s sacrifice. Originally, the Ogier thought of a monument to Rand, but the Two Rivers people made the more practical choice of reconstruction. They worked closely with the Ogier and learned off them.

The Two Rivers is more diverse, and more egalitarian than before and is now a place of pilgrimage or tourism. With the development of gunpowder weapons, the people are renowned riflemen as well as archers. But the only war is in the east, along Sharan border.

A monument was still made, but instead of commemorating just Rand, it honours all the fallen in the Last Battle. Rand rejects the sight of his friends on that monument as not definite fact, and this makes his vision wobble. He is still insisting it’s his sacrifice only, no one else’s.

Darkness only exists when Light falters. The Dark One can’t win so long as Rand is steadfast, which is why he tries to make Rand despair. The Dark One tells Rand that his world is flawed, because it can’t be perfect. There is still crime. The Dark One, being openly and fully evil, is more honest, more true, than Rand’s world—supposedly. Though who would believe such a liar? It’s just another attempt to make Rand give up.

This short vision is the “true” world that Rand should aim for: high ideals, but still with choice and messiness, and not draconian or extreme. Balanced. The Dark One is trying to force Rand to give up, or to be an extremist. Good forced on people is the evil of Shadar Logoth. The Dark One’s contention that if Rand can’t have perfection then his world is inadequate, that a grey world is the same as a black world, and that since criminals break rules there should be none, sounds sadly familiar in the real world.

Silviana POV

Still Silviana digs at the Blues. She is on the whole a very sensible and thorough woman, but Blues (and men) are her blind spots. She carries deep prejudices, which, from time to time, Egwene pulls her up on.

The Keeper assumes that Demandred attacked Egwene—she almost forgot about Gawyn (because good riddance) even though he isn’t there but has gone off on his own. Courageously, she offers to stand in Egwene’s place in the Warder bond. Silviana doesn’t understand the emotional attachment and intimacy of the bond, augmented, in this case, by love and a long-term commitment of marriage. She really misses the point. Instead, Egwene’s group will fight their way to Gawyn.

Elayne POV

Elayne judges that Mat’s plan to send Egwene’s army to attack the rear of the Shadow army fighting Elayne was genius.

Birgitte is fretting over how many of her memories have been lost. Unlike if she were born a baby, she can remember that she knew things she doesn’t now know. She is like an adult baby, or someone in the early throes of Alzheimer’s. It is a cruel situation.

While Galad is Elayne’s big brother, and certainly feels this way toward her, she doesn’t like him enough to accept his advice or criticism, seeing as she outranks him on a social scale. Yet she takes liberties to read a letter written to Galad and not her. She is an entitled miss. Galad doesn’t know the depth of Elayne’s rejection of him (which originated in part due to jealousy of Galad’s place in their father’s heart), but continues as though she feels everything that he thinks she should.

Mat’s letter is more educated than the “joke” letter he sent Elayne in Caemlyn to manipulate her into giving him a hearing (and that upset many fans with its style). Mat sent Galad to Elayne and a messenger there with his orders for Galad, so the spy at military headquarters can’t determine what is going on.

For a long while, as Galad notes, he wouldn’t have killed women (which Whitecloaks certainly would if they believed the women were Darkfriends or could channel), but not now. Galad has seen that women can be evil. Elayne says for once she agrees wholeheartedly with him. Galad thinks that Elayne is joking when she says that she doesn’t want to strangle him for what he says. His belief in right makes him oblivious of his family’s failings, at times. Probably just as well. Galad becomes increasingly appealing over the series. Early in the books we only know him through Elayne’s eyes, and they are highly biased. Away from her, his actions can speak for themselves and although a little stiff (as many Cairhienin are), he is good-hearted, just and reasonable.


Mat is loving the gamble of war, and he admires Demandred’s willingness to gamble also.

Logain won’t take orders at all easily from Mat, and tries to deny that he should cooperate. There’s resentment in his belief that he declared himself Dragon too soon and so was not the one. Yet Logain doesn’t want the Dragon’s destiny. Now he wants the glory and honour of killing Demandred as compensation for how the Reds treated him. Some of this is post traumatic stress and the effects of almost being turned to the Shadow. Mat was probably unrealistic in trying to get Logain to aid the Aes Sedai, considering what they did to him. Sure, everyone needs to work together, since the war is everyone’s—as Mat says—but Logain would be far more motivated to aid a group that had not damaged him.

Mat hasn’t worked out how to get rid of Demandred. He correctly doubts Logain would do much good against such a powerful Forsaken. The Shadow attacks the command tent as Mat wonders how to save Elayne’s forces and Tuon begins their pretend rift.


Sharans wear lamellar armour (typical of their strong “Chinese” origins). Tuon breaks free of her ceremonial clothes and runs to save Mat from Grey Men. It is ironic that Tuon is highly mobile, while Min, who used to be admired for wearing men’s clothes, is stuck in her cumbersome dress.

Min is appalled that her rescuer, Siuan, is here and not with Bryne. The two must stay near each other to live. Siuan doesn’t care since if Mat dies, the Last Battle is lost, and insists they must help him. While Min saves Tuon, Siuan is killed by a fiery explosion after attracting attention with her channelling. Another much-loved character is lost.

Demandred POV

Demandred is peeved that his “advantage” in using the eyes of scouting bird with the True Power is overtaken, even eclipsed, by gateways that look down on a battlefield. The people of this Age are not the primitives that the Forsaken had convinced themselves. They have open minds, and are therefore free to experiment, whereas the Age of Legends people had such extensive knowledge that they are comparatively closed to new ideas and techniques.

The Forsaken won’t Travel to Mat’s command post for fear that Lews Therin is there. This is a gamble he won’t take. He’s being cautious, not afraid! It shows just how much he respects and fears the abilities of his despised Lews Therin. He’s also wary of M’Hael, who has been promoted rapidly due to his successes. Demandred’s grudging respect to M’Hael shows how strong-willed and persistent M’Hael is.

Rand showing himself in various battlefields has made Demandred wonder where he is. It adds credence to Demandred’s belief that there’s a trap somewhere. He can’t believe that the master general of this Age isn’t Lews Therin in disguise. This is consistent with his attitude to Third Age people even after expressing surprise at their innovation. His assessment that they are too young and can’t be experienced enough is correct. Mat had a very unexpected genesis: he was manufactured by the Pattern and the Eelfinn—and is a concert of generals.

The Forsaken reluctantly admits that Lews Therin was stronger in the One Power and more popular. (And if he thinks Lews Therin is Mat, a pretty damn good general.) But Demandred was better at war—plus it is an outlet for his anger and resentment. He acknowledges Mat is a very good gambler, as Mat also said of him.

Shendla does not see Demandred as evil. For the Sharans, the Pattern is about fate and balance, and not so much which side you’re on or the choices you make, as it is for the other nations. The Sharans have had little choice until now, but perhaps after the Last Battle they will feel differently about choice and the Pattern. Judging by their conversations in this book and in River of Souls, they accept that since the Pattern calls for two sides, there’s no shame in either side. It could be that they have had to be constrained the entire Third Age to be the sort of people that would fight wholesale for the dark side. Yet they worry about the existence of their nation after this apocalyptic event as much as the fate of the world. Shendla is satisfied that Demandred will try to save Sharans when he remakes the world, and Demandred is surprised that he wants to do well by them. Having been locked into his sterile feelings of envy and resentment for centuries, he is almost surprised to find he has developed feelings for Shendla, too.

M’Hael is roundly punished for insulting Demandred. A True Power shield sucks up the One Power like an a’dam when touched by a man or like a gholam. The shield might have given the idea of a gholam to Aginor—or at least how to craft one using similar weaves and principles.

Rand POV

The Dark One has to work within time’s rules when he touches Pattern. This is why balefire prevents the Dark One from capturing a soul. He is bound by the logic of causality when he reaches into the Pattern.