Friday, June 1, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #44: Chapter 38—The Place That Was Not

By Linda

Rand POV

At the end of his strength fighting the Dark One, Rand thinks of his father telling him to let go of all the guilt and pain at others’ death that he is carrying. Even this isn’t enough, because Rand still mistakenly believes that being a sacrifice for humanity means he should be the only one to suffer, that he should do it by himself. Yet cooperation and sharing are the key to the Light’s victory. This is what Rand’s women friends have criticised him for: pushing them away and trying to do everything himself. And indeed, he hears from Egwene telling him to let her be a hero. Is he truly hearing her soul, or imagining what she would say? Bearing in mind, that he is outside the Pattern.

This is the time that Rand needs all his strength, but he is tying up a large part of it bearing the unbearable. Cadsuane spoke of how Rand confuses strength and hardness, but he also confuses taking responsibility for what he’s done and for what others on his behalf, and taking responsibility from them to make their own choices.

Rand didn’t want to let others sacrifice themselves because he wanted to protect them. However, depriving others of choice, especially moral choice, is quite bad. Choice is one of the fundamental tenets of The Wheel of Time’s theology (that, and the necessity of balance). Derailing choice is the last remaining part of Rand’s wrongness. He really resists giving up on this and feels a failure. Egwene hints to him that his mistake will result in failure:

You have embraced your death. Embrace mine.

Tears leaked from the corners of his eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispered.


"I've failed."

No. Not yet you haven't.

A Memory of Light, The Place That Was Not

In the end, Rand lets go because he is in too much pain from the deaths and the Dark One. In sheer exhaustion he allows all the dead to be heroes—including Ilyena. Lews Therin was reborn as Rand to do better and fix up Lews Therin’s mistakes.

Unburdening himself gives him the mental space to stand up to the Dark One. Rand was dragging himself down, just as Perrin hamstrung himself.

The Dragon is outside the Pattern to fight the Dark One, and able to see the entirety of the universe. The Dark One is a force—mainly, or perhaps solely, of the True Power, I guess—not a being. Rand now feels steady and entire, much to the Dark One’s surprise, and has the strength to refuse to give in. He acknowledges the fallen and their nobility, though he has not put words to that yet. Rand embraces the Oneness, the void that Tam knew is so important for mental and spiritual health. (In the previous chapters, we saw Demandred keeping himself fresh through his many battles using the Oneness). Even Lanfear told Rand that he would find uses for it that he couldn’t imagine:

"Wear this void of yours all the time, Rand al'Thor, and you'll learn uses for it you never suspected."

The Great Hunt, In the Mirror of Darkness

The Oneness, the positive void, is hugely important to Rand’s victory.

The Dark One insists that he controls everything and is breaking everything so Rand has lost. Rand finally sees his error. Giving up, despairing, means losing to the Dark One.


And this is paralleled among the armies on both sides, who have each just lost a major figurehead. Mat rallies the Light, but the Shadow remains stunned. So, at last things aren’t looking too good for the bad guys.

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