Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #24: Chapter 21—Not a Mistake to Ignore

By Linda

Siuan POV

Yukiri used a cushion of Air to break their fall through her open gateway. Fortunately it offered a fine escape route. It strikes me that tents are not very strategic, and later we see that the Seanchan are ambushed and trapped within their command tent. Yukiri is probably thinking that using Air to prop up a channeller would enable him/her to fly.

Siuan broke ranks in complaining to Yukiri about her weave, apart from being ungrateful. She is still not following traditional Aes Sedai ranking. True, times are different, and hard, but Siuan also has accepted her new position rather grudgingly. The grumbling is to mask her pain at the losses from this one attack, which are immense—almost 50% of the soldiers and about 32% of the Aes Sedai. While Siuan pretends that the Aes Sedai that died treated her badly:

"Bah," Siuan said, "most of them treated me like fish guts anyway. They resented me as Amyrlin, laughed when I was cast down; and then made a servant of me when I returned."

A Memory of Light, Not a Mistake to Ignore

her off-hand summary of her situation is true in outline. Many sisters have acted in this manner to her, for example, the Blue Sitter Maigan—just not necessarily those that died.

Siuan believes that Egwene is still alive. Like Moiraine, she trusts the Pattern as well as Egwene’s resourcefulness.

Bryne realises that he is making mistakes, but doesn’t know why. The chapter title refers to his mistakes being too large, too obvious, to ignore. Even by him. He has lost confidence and this makes him look old.

Lyrelle POV

As we see from her ‘so-called Black Tower’ description, Lyrelle does not accept the Black Tower as a legitimate entity. This is bolstered by her receipt of a warning from the Amyrlin that the Black Tower has joined the Shadow. Egwene and/or Lyrelle imply that they believe most, or all, Asha’man are Darkfriends. If they truly did believe this, then why Bond them? Just because Aes Sedai were Bonded? This is nonsensical reasoning and a justification for feelings of superiority.

Even though Lyrelle is a Sitter, the thirty reinforcing Aes Sedai accept her leadership reluctantly. In a way, I’m not surprised since I’m not impressed with her attitudes and thoughts.

The Blue Sitter is appalled that she has to accept that the Black Ajah is public knowledge, and that therefore Aes Sedai are not superior to Asha’man—and, in fact, are more like them than is acceptable. Both groups had to cleanse their ranks of Darkfriends.

Lyrelle plans to bind the strongest Asha’man, although she knows—but took a while to accept—that she won’t be able to Compel him. Wait until she finds out that even one of medium strength will probably be stronger than her when he reaches his potential. (Of course, she would be more dextrous in her weaving, which will compensate.) She thinks she can intimidate him in short order into telling her which of the others are the most talented, so her cohorts can Bond them. On the other hand, she doesn’t believe the taint is cleansed, or that the Asha’man could outfight them. We’ve hear this all before… Lyrelle is like a Blue version of Elaida or Toveine. However, unlike Elaida, Lyrelle is observant and good at reading people. I notice that she doesn’t return Androl’s greeting, and I’m sure so does Androl!

Her comment that:

It said something about these Black Tower men that they chose to finish the walls around their grounds before actually building their tower.

A Memory of Light, Not a Mistake to Ignore

shows that she doesn’t understand why the wall was finished and not the Tower, even though her group was kept out, and many men kept in, for weeks. Also, the most important parts, as far as Taim is concerned, are already built.

Pevara says that Bonding Asha’man is a misguided mission. She advises not to Bond randomly by coercion, but to take the willing. Rand’s order for the Asha’man to be men first and weapons second arrived in time to prevent the men from tamely accepting Aes Sedai demands to Bond them. This is definitely for the good of the Asha’man, but does stretch the bargain he made with Egwene, who in turn thinks they may be Darkfriends.

Pevara emphasises that Logain leads the Asha’man now. Like Elaida, Lyrelle wishes he had not survived. For one thing, Lyrelle was going to take over the Black Tower to have more influence than Lelaine, her Ajah Head.

Ironically, not having control through the Bond will mean that she has to treat her Warder as an equal, a partner, and not a servant. It will be a painful shock for one so power hungry that she wants own Asha’man troops forced to her will.

Androl says that his trick is “worthy of an Aes Sedai”, who have the reputation of being tricky by meeting the words of a bargain but not the spirit of it. And yet Androl more than meets this bargain in spirit, since he has gathered men who agree to be Bonded. Lyrelle was going to take whoever she wished. She still can, but it has to be from this select group. It is indeed not the time to whine, but the time for pragmatic politics—what with half Egwene’s army wiped out and Rand in Shayol Ghul.

Bonding goes two ways and negotiating will soften attitudes out of necessity. The Asha’man and Aes Sedai will each live long lives—again, equality. If some non-Green Sitters with Lyrelle are bonding two men, this will doubly break Ajah custom (since it is not customary to bond other channellers).

Pevara POV

Pevara is on the side of the Asha’man against Lyrelle’s cold and calculating intentions. Like Seaine, Lyrelle thinks Pevara chose the wrong Ajah. She has effectively abandoned her position as a Sitter, although for a very good reason.

Androl makes light of Pevara’s warnings about the Aes Sedai, saying that the men will weather the dangers of being seen as a threat or a tool. He points out that Pevara changed—but she was positively disposed towards them compared to some of Lyrelle’s Aes Sedai. Myrelle will also be won over easily to see their points of view.

Pevara and Androl can see the psychological damage that the Turning processes has left on Logain and Emarin. Once complete, the Turning results in irreversible moral as well as psychological destruction.

The Asha’man don’t know what to think about the fact that Rand knew something was wrong at the Black Tower and did nothing. Jonneth, a loyal Emond’s Field man, believes Rand must have had good reason. Emarin thinks the worst of him. Androl points out that Rand’s attitude is all of a piece—he has never had much to do with the Black Tower. Of course, Taim manipulated Rand to ensure that, and Rand fell for it. Emarin is right that Rand became harsh and even callous—but that stopped with his epiphany, which these Asha’man don’t know about. It occurred too late for Rand to do much for the Black Tower except fall into the trap while trying to save them (which Rand was tempted to do).

Logain is their true leader, not Rand, and Androl second. Pevara sees that Rand cannot remain their leader anyway since he is the world’s sacrifice. The Asha’man must be independent and not reliant on any one man. Their own men. Not weapons. They have a positive outlook and a future now beyond the Last Battle.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #23: Chapter 20—Into Thakan’dar

By Linda

Egwene POV

Romanda uses traditional Aes Sedai Healing as battlefield emergency medical aid, which is how this type of Healing was actually used in the Age of Legends.

Gawyn makes a good observation about the senselessness of the Trollocs trying to hold the area against all odds and with huge losses.

"It's like . . . like the Fades think that even after a rout like this one, they're in a good position.”

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Egwene listens to him and orders the army to pull back. Too late; the Sharans arrive. The coin armour of the soldiers is very typical of ancient Chinese soldiers, and the dresses of the channellers are also Asian in style—Korean and Mongolian, mainly (see Sharan fashions). The Ayyad’s black dresses symbolise their link to the Shadow, and also parallels Chinese history. In the Qin dynasty, the most popular clothing colour was black, since the Qin Emperor believed that the Qin dynasty should eclipse the Zhou dynasty like water extinguishes fire, and black is the colour of yin and water.

Egwene realises that Aes Sedai should be in Warders’ cloaks—the ultimate camouflage—in battle so they can hide, if necessary. They can’t always drive off attacks with channelling and are as helpless as anybody when outnumbered by hostile channellers.

Aviendha POV

Forgers are perhaps more like androids than Shadow constructs, since the Aiel are adamant that they are not alive and Demandred said that they can’t live outside Thakan’dar, but turn to dust if take away from the area (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). They use the blood of people to temper the blades—one person for each.

Rhuarc is now a siswai’aman and perhaps the highest ranked of them. It does not appear to mean that he has abdicated his position as clan chief.

Aviendha owns more than one necklace: the snowflake one from Egwene, plus, judging by what Cadsuane said, one from Rand as a remembrance/regard gift. She is prepared for her own people to pay the ultimate price for the Light’s victory:

Seeing the end of her people had nauseated and horrified her, but also awakened her. If the end of the Aiel was the sacrifice required for Rand to win, she would make it. She would scream and curse the Creator's own name, but she would pay that price. Any warrior would. Better that one people should end than the world fall completely under Shadow.

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Like Rand, Aviendha has prepared herself for the enormity of sacrifice to come, and understands Rand wanting to get on with that fight. She feels that they are very alike, and that this comes out in the way they treat each other:

She stepped up to him, and he moved so that he stood just beside her, his shoulder touching hers. He did not drape an arm around her, and she did not take his hand. He did not own her, and she did not own him. The act of his movement so that they faced the same direction meant far more to her than any other gesture could.

A Memory of Light, Into Thakan’dar

Rand also uses an Aiel expression of love to her for the first time.

Aviendha realises that Rand intends to kill the Dark One. Unlike everyone else, she thinks this idea reasonable, but says that the greatest victory would be making the Dark One gai’shain. Rand is dismissive, but Aviendha is correct, as she also is in wondering if sealing the Dark One up is equivalent to taking him gai’shain. She lectures Rand about ji’e’toh, which amuses him—but she thinks the subject too serious for amusement.

The new crossbow crank first mentioned by Mat and Talmanes in Knife of Dreams, As If All the World Were Fog, has arrived among troops outside the Band and it may even hve been improved upon (See Inventions article for further details).

Some gai’shain have temporarily put aside white to fight with the Dragonsworn in the Last Battle—following the prophecy of the Dragon breaking oaths and ties:

"It is said," the one-eyed man said carefully, "that when the Dragon is Reborn, he will break all oaths, shatter all ties."

-The Great Hunt, What Was Meant To Be

Aviendha is inclined to dismiss their abandonment of custom, even honour, as foolishness but then thinks she should reserve judgement. In a way, the prophecy is self-fulfilling when it is being used to justify breaking their oaths. Other people, including Uno, have done this with the prophecy in mind and some were compelled by events without any consideration of the Karaethon Cycle. We also see people—gai’shain and Tinkers—refusing to break their oaths even though they have the bitter realisation of why it is not wrong for others to have done so.

Since Rand declared himself, many people have broken their oaths or ties: soldiers and channellers that were pledged to others have pledged themselves to Rand, some against their rulers’ wishes: Shienarans, Saldaeans, Tairens, Illianers, Cairhienin, Asha’man, Aes Sedai. Gawyn’s choice to put aside his Warder’s oath led to the bond between him and Egwene being broken.

Others are revealed as Darkfriends and so shown to be faithless to whatever ties they were thought to have. People also left their homes, marriages and jobs to wander aimlessly. The breaking of oaths is encouraged (if not caused) by the Shadow as part of the chaos.

With prophecy so prominent, it is easy to see only the workings of destiny in the characters’ lives as though they have little free will and are wholly beholden to follow the Pattern. However, fate is not more powerful than free will; as with the other complementary forces in the series, there is a balance between the two. Some characters have one attitude to this, some another. Rand uses prophecy as a guide to recognising patterns of events and what may arise from them. Aviendha does the same for what she saw in the three rings and is trying to prevent the future she saw in the glass columns. Earlier, in The Gathering Storm, The Ways of Honour, she had expressed dislike of being fated to marry Rand. She wanted to ensure choice, and therefore uncertainty and free will, in her life. Mat uses prophecy as an instruction manual because when he tried to deny fate, he failed; he went from one extreme to the other. But it’s not simple—there is an interplay of choice and the Pattern in people’s lives. Min knew that Gawyn would make a hugely fateful choice between two futures, with no indication which way he would decide. In Jordan’s world history and fate are broadly determined but each individual has the choice to work towards fulfilling their role in the Pattern or to reject this.

Rand proved that the dull dagger worked, preventing the Dark One from sensing him—see ter’angreal article for more information—and feels the touch of the Pattern in the way events have led to it being in his hand at the crucial time. Aviendha wants Rand to stay serious, but he tries to laugh. When she realises something is bothering him, she openly asks what the problem is, instead of telling him off or abusing him as so many others seem to do. Not surprisingly, the theft of the Seals has him concerned that they will not be broken at the right time. Breaking the Seals allows Rand to reforge the prison—clearing rubble so he can build, as Herid Fel said. This is why someone (Logain) will have the role of Sealbreaker once they are stolen back.

Despite earlier criticising Rand for levity, Aviendha makes jokes. He gives her command of the channellers at Thakan’dar to fight Dreadlords and Forsaken. Both Min and Aviendha each wanted to go into Shayol Ghul with Rand, but this would be unwise, since neither would have an actual role there, whereas they certainly would (and will do) elsewhere. As each sees the unsuitability of the other’s wishes, it quietens their own objections.

Nynaeve doesn’t want Rand to use Callandor because it is a trap. But that is the point of it. It’s a trap actually aimed at Moridin, but it has to appear as though Rand is the vulnerable one to lure him into it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #22: Chapter 19—The Choice of a Patch

By Linda

On the surface, the chapter title refers to Mat choosing a patch for his eye, but Elayne has to choose which ground to fight on, and Egwene has to choose whether to avoid Tel’aran’rhiod.

Elayne POV

The chapter also shows the danger of not looking below the surface. Years ago, Bryne advised Gawyn and Elayne against being over-confident or lulled by appearances.

Be careful of currents, he'd said. River currents are one of the most dangerous things under the Light, but only because men underestimate them. The surface looks still because nothing is fighting it. Nothing wants to. The fish go along with it and men stay out of it, all except the fools who think to prove themselves.

A Memory of Light, The Choice of a Patch

Elayne remembers his lesson, but Gawyn did turn out to be a fool that had to prove himself.

Bashere looks well, but isn’t, and that is the case for Bryne, too. The Saldean’s oversight in not thinking of the river is pretty damning, even if he isn’t used to large rivers, since maps have been emphasised all along. To his surprise, Elayne talks of trust:

"You show surprising faith in me for someone you have known a very short time." "Rand trusts you," Elayne said. "Even during the dark times, Bashere—when he would look at every second person around him with darkness in his eyes—he trusted you."

A Memory of Light, The Choice of a Patch

Unfortunately Bashere is no longer able to be trusted.

Egwene POV

Tel’aran’rhiod shows the wearing down of the Land. It has a time-worn look, and is in dire need of renewal; the Age has gone on too long. Such renewal was initiated by sacrifice in ancient times and it seems that the Land now desperately needs Rand’s sacrifice. Remarkably, the Stone still stands as it was, perhaps because it was wrought by the One Power.

Bair confirms Aviendha’s vision in the glass columns. Wise Ones will now need to make three visits to Rhuidean: one for the rings ter’angreal and two for the glass columns. I expect that many qualified Wise Ones will want to see for themselves what the columns show of the future. In the Wheel of Time world, anything done three times has added potency, or “trueness”. Melaine worries at the change, but the glass column ter’angreal shows that the Aiel must change. Or, looking at it another way, they must stick to the spirit of their old ways by educating and training their leaders thoroughly, even if they adapt to life outside the Threefold Land. This way they know which of their traditions are worthwhile and why. The women don’t make decisions for the men, but presumably prospective clan chiefs should also make two trips through the columns.

The vision shows that Aviendha’s children were not well-trained; they were given power too early and not by merit, but because of who their father was. An earlier wannabe Aiel aristocrat, Sevanna, planned for her children to inherit her power and ruined the Shaido before she was stopped.

The first cracks in reality are appearing in Andor, the Borderlands and the Blight, and the cause is correctly deduced to be the Shadow’s use of balefire. The Dreamers decide to not use it, although they acknowledge that some crucial people are alive because this rule was disobeyed. Nevertheless, they are not going to fight balefire with balefire. As upholders of the Pattern, Aes Sedai are already forbidden it. Egwene thinks about how Perrin said that balefire is only another weave. This hints that this most powerful of weaves could be countered, as any other weave can and gets Egwene thinking about solving this.

The Wise Ones decide that Tel’aran’rhiod is now too dangerous to visit unless there is great need. Egwene farewells the World of Dreams “until she Dreams again”. This turns out to be quite an Aiel-like farewell, since according to Aiel belief she awoke from the Dream without visiting it again and won’t be back until she is reborn. Unless she was made a Hero of the Horn. However, after she died, her spirit spoke to Rand before the Horn was blown, but did not appear elsewhere and she was not heard from or seen after the Horn was sounded.

Egwene has realised that Rand deliberately angered her at their last two meetings to manipulate her quite successfully. To her surprise, Rand wants to give her a remembrance gift. It is a ribbon, a simple gift for one of the most powerful women in the world. She feels it is an unnecessary distraction at a time of war; although when she understands that Rand seeks a reconciliation with her, she comes around. She says that he’s been difficult—but so has she. And why wouldn’t they, since they both have been through a great deal.

Lews Therin knew that the Seals would fail. The seals that Egwene hands to Rand are cuendillar, but not genuine. They were probably switched during the robbery, which was made to appear as though the thieves were successfully driven off without taking anything.

When Gawyn learns Rand is Galad’s brother, he feels that Rand and Elayne are connected too closely. As this family tree shows, they are not related by blood, sharing no parents.


In the past, Mat the trickster disliked being watched—because it was usually due to distrust or envy. Now he dislikes the way lower ranked Seanchan won’t look at him. They still watch him—just not his face. While Mat’s egalitarian values are offended, there are practical repercussions too. Mat can’t tell when he is being watched or not and will just have to assume that he is, which makes sneaking around more difficult.

The freckled woman helping the Seanchan tailor clothe Mat is Moghedien, as we find out later. She is disguised as a So’jhin.

Mat refuses to let his old clothes be destroyed, despite being distracted by the valuable jewellery. Nor will he accept any fancy clothes yet—just military wear. Of course, military clothing can be quite fancy enough.

The Prince still picks out rubies in preference to other jewels. Apart from being very valuable, their red colour links them to Mars, god of war. The servants take his lead and drape him in them. Mat is being outfitted in a style is similar to Chinese military clothing in the Western Zhou, or in the much later Qing dynasty, (see Costume in the Wheel of Time article), and also to costume worn by Samurai warriors and courtiers of the Edo period in Japan. The Seanchan have strong links to both China and Japan. Paltron cloths are a reference to the pauldron of armour. The Qing and Samurai robes have pronounced shoulder padding to imitate armour. The dark green colour of his clothes is for the Two Rivers—but also links him with the Deathwatch Guards.

Mat realises he doesn’t need to gamble to get money now. It’s his luck to have married someone so rich that such challenges are meaningless. He always wanted riches and now he has them; but his new position offers a lot of responsibility and no fun. Like a bargain with the Eelfinn, he got what he wanted but it isn’t turning out as expected. Mat fears that his gambling and trickery days are over, but, considering Seanchan politics, they are certainly not. It’s just that the stakes have permanently changed from money to lives.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #21: Chapter 18—To Feel Wasted

By Linda

Gawyn POV

Last POV, Gawyn made much of how he had learned and accepted his supporting role, but here he is being restless and discontented again. Instead of killing Trollocs with a long polearm, he wants to duel with the Trollocs with a sword, control the fight and beat them. He is thinking of himself and not protecting the Amyrlin, even if only by staying whole. Her attitude that she didn’t need protecting rubbed off on him, who wants a bigger, more important part on the world stage. It’s not that no Trollocs break through the lines of Aes Sedai—they do; but the killing power of the channellers makes Gawyn feel feeble in comparison. The prince envies the soldiers fighting—who are just doing what is necessary—and would not make a good general due to his hunger for glory.

On the other hand, Gawyn’s tactics for protecting the Amyrlin are sound. However, he is somewhat complacent that the Aes Sedai are winning their war. It’s noticeable that Gawyn gives all other Aes Sedai the honorific except Keeper Silviana, who does not like him, or he her.

Egwene’s group now know that some Asha’man are Dreadlords and immediately fear that all those in the Black Tower may be. Yet the Aes Sedai have direct experience of some of their own being Dreadlords, but not all. Likewise, Egwene still distrusts Leilwin because she is Seanchan.

Gawyn is in the throes of deciding to take risks with the bloodknives’ rings. (For more information on these ter’angreal see here.) Leilwin sees the rings and tells him more about them. Gawyn warns Leilwin and Domon off mentioning assassins and rings to Egwene, because he is tempted to use the rings to fight on the battlefield and Egwene would undoubtedly make him hand them over if she knew he had them. This is the early warning of Gawyn wandering off to win glory. Aes Sedai claim all ter’angreal as their property on the grounds that such objects are either useless or dangerous to others, and Gawyn’s case is a vindication of this attitude.

Rand POV

Rand debates whether killing the Dark One will remove Trollocs from the Land—in other words, whether they are linked to him. Events show that they have to be killed individually or along with their Myrddraal and will not be undone if the Dark One is cut off from the world.

Aginor made monsters because he could, not because he was cruel or mad. It appals Rand to think that the souls of people may be reborn as Trollocs. However, once they are twisted, it appears that these souls are reborn as Shadowspawn thereafter:

A Trolloc, however, bears a twisted, or corrupted soul, and would be reborn as a Trolloc. Though frankly, a Trolloc's soul is such a pitiful thing, it hardly seems worth calling a soul.

- Robert Jordan Q&A

To lift the soldiers’ spirits, Rand makes it obvious at the end of his stint fighting, that he had fought with, and for, them. It also convinces Demandred that Rand is staying in the battlefields. The Forsaken never imagines that Rand went to Shayol Ghul quite early in the war and completely overlooks even the possibility that Rand bypassed him. This highlights the extent of his obsession, since Demandred otherwise is a master tactician.

After showing himself at the three active battle fronts, it is nearly time for Rand to go to Shayol Ghul. Rand acknowledges to himself how much of his sanity he owes to Min, who concentrated on helping him do what he wants rather than instructing him or controlling him.

Speaking of instructors, Cadsuane shows Rand that she knows what Rand is doing—giving people remembrance gifts—which is of concern to her, because it shows that Rand expects to die, and means he may not even seek to live. Rand’s feelings on his sacrifice are understandably very private and he doesn’t let on to anyone his hopes but quietly asks Alivia offscreen to prepare for his departure. Cadsuane probably always intended to use Alivia in the defense of Shayol Ghul, as Rand suggests.

Cadsuane says that she has never cared so much for Rand that she would not trade his life for the world. I think that those who love Rand would at least agonise over the choice. The Green keeps testing Rand by being annoying and pressing on his vulnerabilities—so that he keeps control of them. Rand realises this is valuable practice, though unpleasant, and indeed it does help him in his battle with the Dark One. He lets Cadsuane know indirectly that she will never get a regard gift, but it would be more of a surprise to her if she did. She knows the price for using rough techniques.

Cadsuane’s intelligence gathering is very good: she knows the Black Tower men have finally escaped. Rand realises that Perrin might have helped with that. He feels guilty about staying away from the Black Tower, and has trouble resisting going there, which irritates Cadsuane that he could risk everything trying to free the men himself. It has been a real danger since Rand’s epiphany; before it, he was too dark to make a rescue attempt. I guess Rand was going to feel bad either way, since he was responsible for creating the Black Tower, but falling into the Shadow’s trap there would have made the situation much worse. Another, even greater, danger was if Rand had not ignored Demandred.


Lan recognises that he, like Deepe, would take an opportunity to kill an important henchman if given it. This is foreshadowing of his fight with Demandred, just as Gawyn’s discontented fiddling with the ter’angreal rings is his.

The POVs of the three men in this chapter are linked, with Lan being somewhere between Gawyn and Rand. He is well beyond being a fallen Prince like Gawyn, but is a hidden monarch like Rand, expected to die fighting the Shadow; yet he has played a properly supporting role to more than one powerful woman ungrudgingly and unstintingly for twenty years. The sort of supporting role Gawyn was brought up to do.

Mandarb fought his way back to camp despite being wounded, and Lan promises his horse a peaceful retirement. For the first time, he thinks about life after the battle and the possibility of living with Nynaeve happily ever after—something he has never even allowed himself to imagine before. Like Rand, Lan is starting to hope. Lan is conscious of his similarities to Rand: both were born to fight the Shadow, and die doing so, since the Shadow is endless. Cadsuane and Elayne both encouraged Rand to hope for life after defeating the Dark One. Lan thinks his mentoring and then friendship with Rand broke through his hard shell even before Nynaeve (who also played a large part). In Rand’s case, it was Min—as he acknowledges above—and also Moiraine, with the latter also keeping Lan alive. Both men are weighted with duty and aspire to impossibly high standards.

The chapter ends on a seemingly innocuous note about being human—and therefore fallible. Baldhere has misgivings of Agelmar’s tactics, because he is making mistakes. Lan reminds him that Agelmar is human, but Baldhere still feels that there is something wrong. Unfortunately he is right.

When Lan meets with him, Agelmar faces up to these concerns calmly and admits he is making mistakes. The Great Captain says he will listen to advice, but won’t be undermined or have his command watered down. While it could be argued that Lan made a mistake in trusting Agelmar on this, it would indeed have undermined their military effort if every move was argued over by a committee. Besides, as real world experiences show, a committee is no less difficult to derail.

This is the first sign that the Great Captains are being corrupted. Aes Sedai ward their dreams against invasion and the warder bond protects their warders to a lesser degree, but it never occurred to them that anyone else would need such protection. This is another result of the Aes Sedai holding themselves apart—and above.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #20: Chapter 17—Older, More Weathered

By Linda

Mat and Rand have not been in the same place since Lord of Chaos. They won’t be again until the last moments at Shayol Ghul, and then only approximately. There is also the period after Rand has “died”, until he sneaks away, but by this time Rand, at least, may have ceased being ta’veren.

Rand is wearing red, black and white. Mat notes that he is regal, older and more weathered—like Lews Therin, but in Moridin’s colours. These are also the colours of the Aes Sedai banner.

Tuon and her entourage panic when Rand is brought in. Even Mat starts to, because he thinks Rand is mad. In Mat’s opinion, proof of this is that Rand is not afraid of being taken captive. Mat has done all he could to avoid Rand—including avoiding thinking about him. The first thing Rand says is that Mat led him to Tuon. This makes Tuon furious because she feels betrayed by Mat.

It doesn’t last; Mat indignantly discovers that Tuon has his medallion. While she is embarrassed a little at the theft, she is ruthless enough that her feelings of shame are brief. Yet in Knife of Dreams Tuon was outraged at being disguised as a thieving servant in the menagerie.

Rand says that it is futile for Mat to try and keep away from him because the Pattern will never allow it. That’s true, but they have been apart more often than not. The two have a funny bragging contest, typical of Celtic culture.

Mat tells Rand in an offhand way that he cares about him–despite expecting him to go mad—and that he is looking a lot better, even like a winner. And Tricksters have an eye for winners. Mat tries to pass off his poor treatment of Rand during The Great Hunt as teasing, but it rings hollow.

Convinced that Rand is in over his head, Mat offers to talk to Tuon, but the Dragon addresses her formally himself. Tuon claims Rand as a captive ruler who has resisted her, and says he should have remembered his oaths to Hawkwing. To her surprise, he turns her own arguments against her. One of Tuon’s major roles is as a Nemesis figure, including to herself.

It is obvious from her words that if Hawkwing’s heir were still ruling on the mainland that the Seanchan would not have submitted to the heir’s rule but contended with them. After all, the Seanchan are Hawkwing’s heirs also, and contend continually among themselves for the opportunity to rule. Tuon dismisses Rand’s scenario as a non-issue.

Then Rand overturns her claim as the only legitimate heir of the only man to unite and rule the empire. Rand says that he, as Lews Therin, has an older and more complete claim and scares all of them with his powers. There are timely threatening rumblings of thunder that are unexplained. More explicable is how Rand restores the land while shielded; he uses Singing, as Mat observes.

Like his “cleansing of the temple” at Maradon, it has a mundane explanation and yet also shows great skill. There is a show of force and power with nothing to attack. It also demonstrates Rand’s fitness to rule—just as Tuon is fit to rule due to her establishment of social order, so Rand is fit to rule because he restores health and fertility—natural order—to the Land. Rand says he could have easily killed her, but she has done well for nations under her, and so he has stayed his hand.

Mat and Rand both point out to the Empress that her rule is not strong and she has nothing to spare to fight on more fronts. Tuon insists on keeping damane she has—the unspoken reason being that her rule is too dependent on them. It’s not surprising that Mat and Tuon want to get away from Rand; he is someone they can’t control or outwit.

Rand bows to Tuon on one knee as he offers her peace and alliance in exchange for her help in fighting Last Battle and fulfils a Seanchan prophecy that he would bow or kneel—the paraphrasing varies—to the Crystal Throne:

"I must find a way to make contact with the Dragon Reborn as soon as possible. He must kneel before the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don, or all is lost.” The Prophecies of the Dragon said so, clearly.

Winter’s Heart, What a Veil Hides

He must bow before the Crystal Throne before the Last Battle can begin.

The Gathering Storm, Gambits

Bowing among the Seanchan bowing is formal, either signifying an oath made, as when Egeanin bowed to Elayne, Nynaeve and co in Tanchico after making a vow to them ( The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace); or obeisance of one lower to one higher. Naturally, the Empress would see bowing and kneeling as the same, since everyone makes obeisance to her, and she would not conceive of anyone merely making a courtesy to one who sat the Crystal Throne. The Prophecy indicates that the Dragon Reborn and the Empress as a personification of the Throne must make a courteous agreement before the Last Battle begins. The more Dragon-centric mainland prophecies foretold that he would “bind the Nine Moons”—the name of the Seanchan Court—"to serve him”, which seemed to be in conflict with the Seanchan prophecy and pointed to the latter as an impostor. As it happened, both were true.

By her stated reckoning, the Empress and the Dragon are of equal rank, although his display of restoring the Land shows him as more powerful and holy than her, and therefore Rand’s extra courtesy actually puts her at a disadvantage because she is obligated to him. His prestige is such that his excessive courtesy makes her look inferior or arrogant, and his argument over their respective lineages makes her look like a Johnny-come-lately and lower than he, especially after he exercises his powers. This is not how Tuon expected the prophecy to be fulfilled. Rand undermined her but also offered her help. Balance.

The prophecy was certainly useful: it was the belief that Rand needed to kneel to her which brought Tuon to parley with Rand; otherwise she would never have gone near him.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #19: Chapter 16—A Silence Like Screaming

By Linda

While the thinking and talking continues, the action definitely steps up its pace in this chapter. The silence like screaming is the agony of those whose voices are never heard—or who don’t have a voice, but still suffer the horror of corruption and destruction.

Loial POV

Loial doesn’t truly understand hastiness, especially the other side of it—impatience. Humans won’t listen to someone all day, and yes, they do miss out on a lot because of that. The Ogier notice that people live faster because of their shorter lives, but they don’t realise this gives humans a very different perception of time. Loial feels that the Ogier are complacent about the long time they have and so achieve far less. Of course, currently, the risk is that the Ogiers’ very long lives will be cut short.

On the other side, humans do not sense the health of the land as well or deeply as Ogier do. With the Ogier being quiet and deep, the intensity of their arousal into battle fury is all the more unexpected. Loial’s rage is at the corruption and ruination of the land and living things, and at being deprived of peace and forced to kill. The Ogier feel forced to live like Trollocs, and in their rage turn around and out-Trolloc the Trollocs—at least in battle.

Ogier were named after ogres as well as after Ogier Street (itself named after the Ogier family) in Charleston. This scene is when they really show that they are ogres.

Galad POV

The Ogiers’ transformation into ogres scares the Whitecloaks. One of the Children—Golever—thinks that they must be Darkfriends. On the whole, anything that scares the Whitecloaks is believed by them to be allied to the Shadow. The best thing Galad can do for the Children is stop this simplistic thinking.

Rand and Moiraine POV

Rand’s thoughts of “If what Thom said was true, Mat might be the key [to making a pact with the Seanchan]”—refers to the fact that Mat has married the Empress.

Rand kind of regrets not trusting Moiraine. Although she counters him that he did trust her, but wanted to do everything himself. He now freely says that he can’t. Yet even while thinking that he should trust Moiraine, Rand doesn’t tell her anything about Callandor—especially that it is a True Power sa’angreal. Ironically, he destroyed the male Choedan Kal because it was too dangerous, yet Callandor is at least as dangerous as the Choedan Kal was, if not more. The immensity of the One Power that could be pulled through the Choedan Kal balanced the lure of channelling the True Power unaided, yet Callandor is a sa’angreal for the True Power…

However, Rand does tell Moiraine that he aims to kill the Dark One. He thinks he will be able to do this more easily than sealing it way. I am reminded of the Aiel saying that “Even a child can kill”. Re-sealing the Dark One in its prison would be harder, but also much more constructive, as the system of toh would indicate. Moiraine says the Dark One is part of the Wheel and implies that destroying it would damage the Pattern. From what we see when the Dark One and Rand exchange visions at Shayol Ghul, she is probably is right about this, but for the wrong reason. She is worried about causality, but the Dark One offers people choice, and that is its most important role in the Pattern. Rand thinks killing the Dark One will be another of his impossible tasks, his “nine impossible things” as Nicola Foretold, and a parallel with Hercules’ labours.

Moiraine is not fooled by Rand’s bluff that his memories make him old. If that were so, Mat would be old, and Perrin with the wolves’ collective memory probably even older.

Moiraine has apparently heard about the previous failed meeting with Tuon—from her agents, or perhaps from Nynaeve. Like Rand’s abilities, Moiraine’s seemingly magical ability to know things and acquire information may have a mundane explanation.

While Moiraine regards the pact with the Seanchan as an unnecessary distraction, Rand sees it as essential to winning. This time, Rand is right: the Seanchan must join in the fight in the Last Battle. After that, it is important that they be part of the peace pact, as Aviendha’s visions in the glass columns showed. Moiraine has emphasised Rand’s destructive and divisive side, but in order for him to right Lews Therin’s mistakes, he must also be unifying.

Moiraine now acknowledges that Rand is mature, probably because he did not snap at her when she says he is just a youth. She broods that doesn’t know if his ideas are right. What is unspoken, is that her ideas may not be right either. In actuality, each has some things correct, and some not. The Blue sister trusts in the Wheel to weave things right, yet wishes she could understand it.


Unsurprisingly, everyone is in awe of Lan’s feat of killing two Myrddraal simultaneously. As Lan(celot), he is the best of the best, truly “the highest knight on life”. The scene looks ahead to when he does what no one else can do and kills Demandred.

Kaisel is concerned that the Saldaean women, including the queen, are fighting in battle. Lan believes that it is not worth objecting about. Yet Tenobia is killed later on after Agelmar’s judgment is corrupted. Of course, many other rulers and nobles perish in the Last Battle. Everyone has to do their part, and Lan thinks Kaisel is stupid about women in thinking they shouldn’t fight. The Malkieri King’s been among Aes Sedai a long time; it has changed his Borderlander views.

Lan’s plan relies on the Trollocs being so ravenous that they are distracted with eating their dead. It works until the channellers arrive. Asha’man Deepe refuses to retreat when M’Hael attacks and is killed. Realising Deepe’s error of judgment, Lan is also nearly killed, which would have been a triumph indeed for the Shadow if he had been.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #18: Chapter 15—Your Neck in a Cord

By Linda


Like any Trickster figure, Mat knows all the entries and exits of the palace; Tricksters need such knowledge for daring coups and escapes (see Trickster essay).

Mat is sensitive at the neck, and his scarf feels like a chain and a ribbon—perhaps even the pink ribbons that he so dreaded when in thrall to Queen Tylin. It’s also a reference to him being hanged. He had just dangled high above the ground, a position nearly as dangerous as being hanged—having your neck in a cord. This neck symbolism has been continuing throughout the series, since The Eye of the World, when Trollocs tried to lasso his neck with a catchpole.

Not only is Mat’s neck motif prominent in this chapter, so is his fool motif:

Well, he would not be a fool and try this sort of thing again, that was for certain. Just this once, and grudgingly. Matrim Cauthon knew to look out for his own neck. He had not survived this long by taking fool chances, luck or no luck.

A Memory of Light, Your Neck in a Cord

Tricksters are often fools; they achieve their objectives by unconventional means, and get out of their scrapes, but are more often than not the butt of jokes in the process. Selucia calls Mat a fool three times in this scene—and something said or done three times in the series is true. Her first words are:

Selucia scowled. "What are you doing here, you fool?"

A Memory of Light, Your Neck In a Cord

Selucia is the Empress’ truth-speaker. No fool herself, she quickly deduced how Mat lost his eye.

"Hush," Selucia said. "You just tried to convince me you weren't an assassin, now you bring up that? Fool man."

A Memory of Light, Your Neck In a Cord

As well as calling him a fool, she mentions his neck:

"There is another way," Selucia said. "Come before you break your fool neck.”

A Memory of Light, Your Neck In a Cord

The joke is on Mat that there was an easier way in and out of the palace unknown to him, the Trickster.

Part of Mat being a fool involves him being forced by circumstances into risking his fool neck no matter how hard he tries not to. The Fool is a wild card—literally so in the tarocco or tarot family of card games—but low in rank. Another wild card in games is the Joker, but it is usually high rank. (And Mat is the only main character to play cards.) Fools like the freedom of having little or no rank, and Mat is grateful Selucia doesn’t refer to his title and his noble rank. He is determined to be a fool here, not the Joker. She and the Empress are well aware that he is both (see Fool and Joker essay).

Rand POV

Unlike Mat, who tries to avoid responsibility, Rand feels the burden of being responsible for peoples’ safety and lives. Making himself harder was the wrong way of handling this, as was deadening himself to pain. Only recently has he discovered that he needs to accept the pain, as the Aiel do physical pain.

Somewhat awkwardly, Rand gives Tam Artur Hawkwing’s sword. Tam tries to deny Rand’s gift, and, in turn, Rand makes him feel obliged to accept it. The gift is an expression of love and also obligation; Rand explains to Tam that his sword and the void kept him alive.

Tam knows that the flame and void is a meditation technique. This is a side of Tam of which Rand is ignorant until now; he never saw his father as a skilled fighter—a blademaster—or as a meditator. It makes sense: Rand thinks about how he has to be calm or at peace with himself to lead well. And the wise and experienced Ogier assure people that only decisions reached in calm can be sure (The Great Hunt, Among the Elders). The Oneness leads to that.

Rand feels weighted down by the burden of duty. Tam uses sparring as another kind of meditation: living in the moment, concentrating on one thing to the exclusion of all else. Such a purposeful activity offers a respite in the waking world, comparable to making a haven of one’s own dreams while asleep.

Rand hasn’t adapted his fighting to reality, to his lack of a hand. He is not living in the now and clings to ways of thought that are crushing him. Tam has anticipated problems—disaster, even—and practised fighting one-handed. He has not pretended that he is all powerful and invincible, or that the Pattern will look after him. Many powerful channellers fall into this trap of self-aggrandisement. Rand did; and he has come a long way out of it, but this is the last of its symptoms and Tam will literally wear it away. Rand sees that one-handed swordsmanship is possible and useful; and is encouraged and pressured by the fight to let go and follow his own instincts.

Interestingly, Rand attributes to Lan the opinion that one-handed fighting is futile—but Lan believes that you don’t surrender until you are dead, so he would acknowledge the necessity of fighting on without a hand.

By focussing on something straightforward, Rand leaves his worries behind. Emphasising the positive helps deal with the negative.


Tuon is also sparring to take her mind off things and stay sharp—with her eyes shut. Mat realises how dangerous she is and how she could have killed him. Except that Mat is dangerous, too, which is why they have a healthy respect for each other.

Their marriage is a self-fulfilling prophecy: they only said their vows because prophecy said they ought to. Mat realises that he has to live with it now. For a long while, he thought of courting her as a game, but marriage is not a game. It’s not an accident, either. Responsibility can’t be passed off. Like all fools, Mat tries to avoid responsibility–yet promptly protects his wife.

Mat acts on instinct—as Rand is doing—and kills a Grey Man. The slightest sound alerts Tuon. She showed that she trusts Mat implicitly, which he found moving.

Tuon calls her guards fools when they catch the wrong guy, then pretends that she never called Trollocs myths. Acceptance is one thing, denial another. This is why the Empress needs a Truthspeaker: to force her to accept that she can and does make mistakes and wrong assumptions, and to remind her of her fallibility and humanity. Selucia is covering too many roles at present, and consequently is not being an effective Truthspeaker, particularly as it does not fit with her previous relationship with Tuon. She is both very attached to her mistress and has obeyed her for a long time.

Tuon deduces that Mat went to save someone—or she was well-informed. Perhaps Selucia listened in to Mat’s plans after he read Moiraine’s letter at the menagerie.

The Empress expects people to serve her well, and therefore doesn’t express pleasure or gratitude when they do. She openly takes people for granted: they should just be grateful that their efforts are accepted and that they are not supplanted by another.

It seems that Mat won’t let his wife push him around too much. He won’t be trivialised, unless he wants to play the fool. She respects that. Tuon sees him as one who has survived great danger, and, moreover, is also glad to see him –an admission that is a major concession from her.

Mat wastes energy trying to avoid responsibility, as Rand does worrying over it. The moral is to accept it and move on. The chapter is about necks in a cord—or a yoke—and being strangled by responsibility as well as danger. But a yoke offers the possibility of progress and achievement, even if the labour is great.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #17: Chapter 14—Doses of Forkroot

By Linda

Perrin POV

In Tel’aran’rhiod, the wind blows hard in natural patterns, but Perrin finds it easy to impose calm on a limited area, due to his skill and also his devotion to rightness and the natural order of things. Reality in the dream looks worn and the Land is coming apart. This is a step beyond what Moridin described to Rand earlier in the book:

"It dies, and the dust soon will rule. The dust . . . then nothing."

A Memory of Light, Advantages To a Bond

Moridin saw the end as a winding down of a universe crushed by entropy rather than a big crunch:

”The end is near,” Moridin said. “The Wheel has groaned its final rotation, the clock has lost its spring, the serpent heaves its final gasps.”

The Gathering Storm, Prologue

The storm is no longer gathering: it has arrived and is eroding the Land in Tel’aran’rhiod. It is worse where Rand is, reflecting the conflict between Rand and the Dark One and Rand’s arrival near Shayol Ghul. Fragments of land are sucked up by the wind and pulled toward the black clouds. The winds herald oncoming destruction. This is part of the “hills take flight” motif in the Lord of Chaos rhyme:

The lions sing and the hills take flight.
The moon by day and the sun by night.
Blind woman, deaf man, jackdaw fool.
Let the Lord of Chaos rule.

Lord of Chaos Prologue

Rand becomes Lord of Chaos as he fights the Dark One. It is the Dark One’s aim to make him the Lord of Misrule so that he has trouble garnering support, but the Pattern accounts for this by making Rand’s chaotic actions resulting in unexpected counters to the Shadow’s plan. Perrin sees that sometimes the land comes back together again—resists the pressure of destruction.

Gaul’s strong will, identity and focus keeps him steady in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin asks him what he did to deserve Gaul’s loyalty. First was freeing him, which made Gaul follow Perrin because the Aielman had toh. He continued to follow not from what Perrin did, but what he is: ta’veren, strong, wise, an honourable fighter against. Gaul was always impressed with Perrin’s fighting ability and physical and mental strength and has assigned himself the task of supporting him. He won’t explain this to Perrin and deliberately changes the subject.

Gaul has to choose whether to marry two women– one who doesn’t love him and one who does—or no marriage. Mirrors Perrin who had to “choose” between Faile and Berelain, though that was an easy choice, and will again between Faile and Lanfear.

Lanfear surprises Perrin by appearing beside him—like a lamia or succubus apparition. A lamia is a beautiful woman from the waist up and a serpent from the waist down, who kills children, seduces sleeping men, and enchants her victims with glamour and illusion. A succubus is a female demon who takes on a human female form to seduce men in their dreams. Lanfear—or Cyndane, as we should call her, because Moridin is strict with names—is not wearing Moridin’s colours, but her own. When she learns the wolves’ name for her, she denies hunting the moon because it is hers already. The name 'Moonhunter' is derogatory as well as accurate—Lanfear is arrogant and deluded.

The Forsaken declares that she wants vengeance on somebody, this obviously being Rand, whom she blames for her predicament (and perhaps Moiraine, in passing, also). Moridin indicated this earlier:

"Mierin hates you now, anyway," Moridin continued. "I think she blames you for what happened to her.”

A Memory of Light, Advantages to a Bond

The two scenes are linked. Lanfear can sense when Moridin is wondering where she is and quickly flits back to a more acceptable activity.

Perrin says Lanfear has never made any sense to him. He remembers that the wolves said she wants him. He doesn’t know what for, and neither do we. Not yet.

Androl POV

Turned, Toveine has flung aside her reservations about Logain to be openly affectionate. Logain is crucial to either side due to his influence and strength. His resistance and devotion to the Light is very impressive; he has resisted eleven or so attempts to Turn him. Only this time does he scream in agony.

The Black Asha’man are exhausted trying to Turn Logain and his faction. All Reds except Pevara have also been Turned. Graendal—Hessalam, now—is in charge of the Black sisters. She is dressed in black, which she has never worn on screen before. The eleventh attempt at Turning Logain is underway, and with plenty of women, the procedure is close to succeeding, judging by his screams. Truly the eleventh hour, the last chance to save him; a twelfth attempt (symbolic number!) will probably be successful. Women Turn men easily and men women, as with Healing stilling. It is evidence of the necessary balance between the sexes and between saidin and saidar.

Evin still kind and well-meaning to Androl, and persuaded Taim not to kill him. Evin still has anxiety from before his turning, as well as paranoia from taint. Androl plays on it to break free.

The doses of forkroot have been stopped for Androl, because they are going to Turn him soon and also because he is considered negligible, particularly with the dreamspike preventing his only major Talent from working. Which is why he is triumphant when he uses Evin’s paranoia from the taint to make him strike at Abors, who is holding Androl’s shield; using the Shadow’s weapons against them. Later in the chapter he does the same with their weaves. Impressively, he is able to open a tiny gateway under extreme duress despite the dreamspike being still in place. This could well be something the Forsaken consider impossible.

Taim reveals that he has the Seals but hasn’t handed them to the Dark One yet:

"I have already provided a gift to the Great Lord himself. Beware, I am in his favor. I hold the keys in my hands, Hessalam."
"You mean . . . you actually did it? You stole them!"

A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot

Taim uses similar tactics to those of Sammael, and she backed off from him also. Androl doesn’t know what Taim is referring to, but he can see that Hessalam does. He doesn’t know who she really is, either.

It is amazing that Androl broke the barrier of the dreamspike for a tiny gateway. He uses gateways to beat Taim’s minions and kill most of them by using their own weaves against them.

Logain he sent far from the Black Tower. On the Shadow’s side, it was Graendal who opened a gateway to safety, and Taim followed her.

Perrin POV

Lanfear explains to Perrin that the Asha’man guards were Turned and what this process is. She thinks Turning people to the Shadow is a waste, because it damages them; better if people come willingly. It is a crude method in her opinion, but since Semirhage devised it, Lanfear was always likely to reject it. After all, she says that Compulsion – Graendal’s preferred method – is cheating. Lanfear’s way to tie people to her was seduction.

She puts a dose of forkroot in the guards’ wine to help Perrin because she is “fond of him”. Perrin says no one should be forced to the Shadow. She counters, saying that they could have chosen to be severed from the Source; then, as non-channellers, they couldn’t be Turned. It’s spiritual warfare.

"That's not much of a choice."
"This is the weave of the Pattern, Perrin Aybara. Not all options will be good ones. Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad lot and ride the storm."

A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot

The storm is outside. Time for final choices.

When she reminds him that the Pattern offers only bad choices sometimes, Lanfear implies that’s all that she had when she swore to the Shadow. It led her to be shut in the Bore for over 3,000 years. Perrin is not convinced by her claim—excuse, really—that she has suffered enormously—he is aware of how many she has made suffer enormously. Any thwarting of her desires or plans is agony to such a spoiled brat. Her current sufferings are punishment for trying to use Rand to overthrow the Dark One or make the Dark One owe her—and have not stopped her from promoting this plan.

As “the one who is punished most” (A Memory of Light Prologue) she says she is no longer one of the Forsaken due to the Dark One learning that she was planning to help Rand win. (At the time of the prologue, Moridin indicated that she was a Forsaken, though the lowest ranked.) This sounds more altruistic and cooperative than it actually is: Lanfear planned to use Rand, not help him. He was to either beat the Dark One with her “at his side” or she would kill him as he tried to do so and thereby save the Dark One. Now she is helping Perrin to keep him amenable to her influence.

Perrin is impressed with her skill in Tel’aran’rhiod. Lanfear is not supposed to be able to “do this” – move around independently in Tel’aran’rhiod? The Forsaken is sticking to her usual methods of using powerful men: she tells Perrin how he will be of use to her: to win with her at his side, as though he is doing it for her or sharing it with her. Basically he is to win the battle for her as her Champion, and Lanfear would be the dark Lady of Sovereignty.

Perrin shrugs her off. Lanfear tries a little honey and shows him how to set and unset the dreamspike. Perrin hopes that the retraction of the dome will bring Slayer to him. What it does immediately is enable Androl to make gateways again—gateways that aimed the Dreadlords’ weaves back at them.

In both scenes we see the Shadow undermining itself—Evin manipulated into attacking another Dreadlord, Dreadlords killed by their own weaves, and Lanfear plotting against the Dark One.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #16: Chapter 13—What Must Be Done

By Linda

Egwene is strong in Earth, and is able to sense voles underground and green shoots in the dying grass. As an archetypal Green, which is the colour of life and nature, the Amyrlin is a vengeful mother or earth goddess such as Rhea, the ancient Greek mother of the Gods, who saved her son Zeus (a parallel of Rand) so he could free her children from Cronus. As Mother, Egwene is a parallel of Terra, who was offered sacrifices, notably the holocaust, which were animal sacrifices wholly consumed by fire. She was one of a few stern Roman mother goddesses. Egwene has aspects of the Roman earth and agriculture goddess Ceres, including her plebeian origin. Ceres was connected with Libera (Freedom). The ancient Greek earth goddess Demeter, instituted harsh weather as she mourned the violation and loss of her daughter Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld. Durga, the vengeful incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess Shakti, who was consort of Shiva (a parallel of Rand, Egwene’s original intended husband) and slew demons, also has some similarities with Egwene. The Forsaken have demonic parallels.

The Shadow is against the health, fertility and the natural order of things, and the Land and the Mother want vengeance:

In that moment—maiming, destroying, bringing death upon the enemy—she felt as if she were one with the land itself. That she was doing the work it had longed for someone to do for so long,

A Memory of Light, What Must be Done

Appropriately, Egwene the Mother uses Earth to kill Shadowspawn. The feelings of vengefulness and union with the Land are foreshadowing of Egwene’s sacrifice as she unleashes a healing holocaust to counter the Shadow’s destruction and balefire.

Elayne POV

Rand visits Elayne occasionally in Braem Wood. As Rand hoped, Lan and Egwene are pulling the Shadow’s forces out of the Blight.

"What must be done" is evacuate and burn cities as well as farm land in Shienar. The citizens are to go to Tar Valon.

Elayne and Bashere decide that it is time to move out of the woods to the River Erinin, heading for Cairhien. While Elayne doubts they will have to go that far, Bashere says that once they start, they won’t control how it ends so long as the Trollocs are still after them.

Perrin POV

Tam approves of the way Elayne leads, and how she knows when to let those who know what to do have their way. Perrin feels Rand tugging him to Shayol Ghul to fight; he will soon be needed there to guard Rand. As part of his preparations for when Rand needs him, Perrin hands command of his army to Tam. He explains the necessity to Tam, who then understands, but still tries to avoid the responsibility, saying the nobles should. To forestall further argument, Perrin makes Tam a noble, as he discussed with Elayne in Towers of Midnight.

Bornhald turned to brandy from the shame of allowing an atrocity to go unpunished. He owed Perrin the truth about the murder of Perrin’s family, yet it was his consciousness that they may die soon that spurred him to confess. Although the scene shows that there is some good in the Whitecloaks, even in the unsympathetic ones, arrogant and judgmental attitudes often lead them astray. The Whitecloaks condemned Perrin as a criminal because he killed two of the Children in defense, but they did far worse acts in the Two Rivers. Bornhald hates Perrin in part because he feels guilty about what he condoned, and needs to reclaim some honour by meeting his obligations. Perrin falters in shock and grief at the news, but refocuses.

Bain and Chiad are meeting their obligations even though this means not fighting in the Last Battle. They keep an eye on Gaul as they can. Perrin accepts that gai’shain should remain so and not be forced to fight.

With the worlds collapsing in together, and the barriers between weakened, it is now possible to enter Tel’aran’rhiod from the Blight. As the Dreamwalkers instructed Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod, there are some places that cannot be touched from Tel'aran'rhiod.

“There are some places one cannot enter in Tel’aran’rhiod,” Seana said. “Rhuidean. Ogier stedding. A few others. What happens there is shielded from a dreamwalker’s eyes.”

The Shadow Rising, Beyond the Stone

Rand reiterates what Edarra said: that entering Tel’aran’rhiod physically is very evil. Perrin says it is actually foolishly dangerous, not evil, but he has to be on equal terms there with Slayer. Rand accepts this reasoning.

The chapter title ostensibly refers to evacuating and scorching the earth in Shienar to provide nothing to the Trollocs, but Perrin must be able to enter Tel’aran’rhiod as Slayer does, and Egwene must fight on behalf of the Land.

Rand says a formal farewell to Perrin and expresses his obligation to him. They do not speak again—and perhaps never will. Another sacrifice.

Nynaeve is offended that Perrin tells her to look after Rand. She needs no instructions from Perrin; she has always looked after him.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #15: Chapter 12-—A Shard of a Moment

By Linda

Birgitte POV

Birgitte is terrified that she is losing her memories—not only of her past lives, but also of living in Tel’aran’rhiod. The latter are more precious. She fears that she has been unlinked from the Horn and will lose Gaidal forever. Yet people normally born have no memories of their former lives or the afterlife, where they waited to be reborn, and it is gradually happening to Birgitte as she settles into this life. In her normal rebirths she would start the same—unknowing, just making her own way, meeting Gaidal by chance and doing heroic things out of necessity. Nobly she puts this aside to concentrate on the Last Battle.

Rand POV

Lews Therin learned every technique—in case it was useful—but rarely used some of them. While it’s tempting to think of Lews Therin as a jack of all trades, this probably would be doing him an injustice. He had a well-rounded training.

Rand returns to his roots in his dreams with simple Two Rivers clothing. It symbolises a respite from his responsibilities. Walking with a staff alone, he represents the Hermit figure of the Tarot. This is reminiscent of when he wandered through Ebou Dar and scaled Dragonmount in The Gathering Storm.

Rand is walking in the wild like Birgitte, but the land is healthy where he is, not dying. Just as the Hermit takes time out alone for self-development, Rand enters a dreamshard to meditate.

There is no rest for Rand, for even his dreamshard is invaded by Shadow. Exerting his will is not enough to dispel the invasions. The Shadowy cavern persistently breaks into new areas, tempting him to stop and look in, which Rand inevitably does, but he knows enough not to do anything impulsive because any object in the dream may be real, or symbolic of something else. (As mentioned above, this whole episode is also symbolic). This is why the three ta’veren were at such risk in the first two books when they were pulled into dreams by Ishamael to be tempted with wine, etc. Not knowing what they were really doing, they could have been trapped or suborned by taking something voluntarily from Shaitan’s advocate (see The Dragon Reborn read-through post here.)

Speaking to Lanfear triggers Rand’s memories of this life and his previous one. He wants to give her a second chance, but sees it is an act. Rand points out that since she swore to the Shadow she has to take the consequences. However he senses that she is genuinely captive—feels a shadow surrounding her. It is the effect of her mindtrap.

The Dragon still resents that Lanfear used him but didn’t love him for himself, just for what his status could do for her. When she says he doesn’t understand her, he challenges her to reveal herself to him so he can be enlightened. She hasn’t the confidence, although she is tempted to, which is quite a change and shows the horror of her punitive captivity. She says she can’t do it because she has been betrayed, and implies that it is Rand who is at fault. Lanfear never accepts responsibility. Rand sees that she can’t love anyone but herself. None of the Forsaken can. They are all extremely selfish, and in the case of at least one—Asmodean—likely destroyed whatever family they had. It was the Shadow’s monstrous crime to corrupt the Dragon into doing the same.

Lanfear is the only Forsaken whose backstory involves a close love relationship, but from seeing Lews Therin’s side we know that his love was “used” to raise her up in society. (Sammael and Demandred had a close competitive relationship.) Lanfear wanted the Dragon to love her completely but didn’t return the favour. She wanted to be worshipped by the most powerful man for the kudos. Anything less is not her due. It’s all about her. This scene resolves the remaining issues with this on his side so he can move on to his final destiny. Further enlightenment is consistent with the Hermit.

Rand is able to do what Lanfear couldn’t and opens himself to her. The Dark One knows his heart anyway. He shows her that he is better raised this time and a different person. She is shocked that he doesn’t feel much for the most irresistible of women, but has three women dear to him and a fourth—Ilyena—that he remembers with fondness.

Rand’s three loves may not be a physically beautiful as Lanfear—or as strong in saidar—but they are more loving, caring and skilled. Apart from their care for Rand, all make outstanding contributions in their own right: Min with her ethical, just application of her viewings and her diligent study; Aviendha with her honour and determination; and Elayne with her courage and leadership.

Enlightened, and supported by those close to him, Rand is also able to do what Lews Therin couldn’t and lets go of hatred and scorn. Of course, thanks to Moiraine, he was not sucked in by Lanfear this time.

Rand’s compassion is essential but dangerous. Moiraine was right to drive this home to him. However, she mistakenly thought that Rand should not be compassionate, though. He knows he needs to be and that any of his characteristics can be used against him.

It was Perrin’s compassion that brought Galad to ally with him. That and his openness—the same qualities that Rand displays.

Perrin POV

Perrin looks after everyone, then seeks the Wise Ones. When he asks Edarra about a way to enter Tel’aran’rhiod in the flesh, she won’t help—and nor will any other Wise One—because it’s evil.

He wants to do it for a pragmatic reason: it’s easier to manipulate Tel’aran’rhiod if he is there physically. If he enters too strongly while dreaming, he could be cut off from his body, which would die. His aim is to kill Slayer, who bodily enters Tel’aran’rhiod, and he needs to be on equal terms to do so. In his opinion this is worth the risk of losing his humanity or dying forever, and sacrificing opportunities for rebirth. After all, Perrin’s beloved teacher, Hopper, sacrificed his rebirths helping Perrin fight Slayer. Other people, too, did things that were less than noble, even dishonourable, but directly helped the Light. Verin is a good example.

Both Rand and Perrin are warned against things that are very necessary, such as entering Tel’aran’rhiod bodily or being compassionate—things that turn out to be essential in winning the battle. They had to go against advice and live and win on their own terms. The Hermit is alone. Rand is “the Man who channels stands alone” (The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #14: Chapter 11--Just Another Sell-sword

By Linda

Egwene POV

As she did with the Ajah Heads, Adelorna publicises Egwene’s achievements during the Seanchan attack to the Greens in an effort to bring their support to Egwene. Previously the Greens had been stand-offish because Egwene went out of her way to gain the support of the Reds, believing they were being left out. By being antagonistic, the Greens risk losing political clout in the Hall and with the Amyrlin, when the Last Battle—the very reason for the Greens’ existence—is on. Egwene may be surprised at their capitulation, but is pragmatic about it.

Adelorna could have pulled the Ajah into line before this, because the Greens are obedient to their Captain General. However, perhaps Adelorna lost face being captured by a sul’dam. Adelorna recognises that Egwene would have chosen Green and therefore would have been “their” Amyrlin. The Ajah Head rightly feels indebted to Egwene for saving her from the Seanchan.

It’s true that Egwene is literally not of any Ajah; but the Amyrlin should also be of all Ajahs—a fact most Aes Sedai seem to forget. While Egwene has tried to be unifying, she has not much in common with Browns or Whites. She feels more engaged with the Yellows, Reds, Blues, Greys—and now Greens.

The Red—Green antagonism is like reverse colour blindness. (Instead of not being told apart, they won’t appear together.) Aes Sedai are colour blinded because they obsess over colours, not because they can’t see them.

Egeanin wants to serve and protect Egwene, but Egwene only wants to interrogate Egeanin. Egwene’s distrustfulness is reasonable but her fear and anxiety of Egeanin is not. Her PTSD kicks in whenever she looks at Egeanin. Yet Egwene had a dream that one would save her—a fact she seems to have forgotten:

“As if Egwene would trust her safety to one of the Seanchan.”

A Memory of Light, Just Another Sell-sword

Suddenly a woman appeared, clambering down the sheer side of the cliff out of the clouds, making her way as deftly as if she were walking down stairs. There was a sword strapped to her back. Her face wavered, never settling clearly, but the sword seemed as solid as the stone. The woman reached Egwene’s level and held out one hand. “We can reach the top together,” she said in a familiar drawling accent…

She had dreamed of a Seanchan before, a Seanchan woman somehow tied to her, but this was a Seanchan who would save her.

- Crossroads of Twilight, In The Night

The dream refers to Egwene being out of control after her Warder’s death, and Bonding Egeanin to save herself so she could pour her emotions into anger at the Shadow. Contrary to the implication of this dream, it was temporary—Egwene only lasted long enough to destroy Taim and the Sharan channellers and stabilise reality in that part of the battlefield. In turn she saved Egeanin by releasing the Warder bond before she died.

When writing the last three books, Brandon Sanderson did not feel right inventing new weaves in someone else’s magic system, so he worked out new uses for old ones. In this chapter, novel gateways have been developed—essentially a hole over the battlefield. Egwene cautions that they could be attacked through it, especially by channellers. Ironically the gateway saves lives when the Sharan channellers attack. Yukiri is contemplating “window” gateways, including a one-way glass type effect.

Egwene says to Bryne:

“You are a resource. One of our most valuable. Risks are unavoidable, but please take care to minimize them."

Yet the Aes Sedai didn’t protect him against Compulsion. More of this anon.

Bryne has factored in the Aes Sedai into his battle plans, but shows the Amyrlin conventional battle plans first. It’s best to let your boss think of your ideas, especially one that is jealous of their prerogatives. It saves time and stress.


Tinkers have flocked to the Seanchan in Ebou Dar for protection. Elsewhere, nations wanted the Tinkers to abandon their lifestyle or move away. Seanchan policy is not to change lifestyles or customs of people that swear to them. In fact, they accommodate people by finding appropriate tasks for them. Or encourage them to adopt them.

Speaking of customs, the Seanchan are preventing duelling deaths in Ebou Dar with bureaucracy—using it as a brake. Petra has left Valan Luca’s menagerie to work as a guard at the gates to Ebou Dar. Perhaps the menagerie disbanded due to the chaos of the times and drafting of horses for the war.

Mat managed to slink back into Ebou Dar; last time he was there he kidnapped Tuon and tied up Tylin. He hides his missing eye behind a bandage, yet the irony is that no one in Altara knows that Mat has lost his eye, so wearing no bandage might have been a better disguise.

The Yearly Brawl inn is a reference to JordanCon, held annually on the third weekend of April in Atlanta, and the innkeepers represent JordanCon directors Jennifer (screen name Kathana) and Jimmy Liang. Many a JordanCon panel has discussed Mat, so it’s cheeky that the hosts take a little while to recognise the real thing. Jame thought Mat wasn’t one-eyed because he carried throwing knives. But his condition is recent.

Rand POV

Due to long experience, the Borderlanders are more ruthless—or more pragmatic—in war than people were in the Age of Legends.

For all that Moiraine talks to everyone about following the Pattern, she is pushing Rand hard to Shayol Ghul, when he wants to show himself on the various battlefields. She thinks it is too risky a mission, even if well meant. But it is not yet time to confront the Dark One and Rand does convince Demandred that he is out there on the battlefields. Moiraine ignores Rand’s plan to make sure Shayol Ghul is not full of the Shadow’s forces, but he is correct in trying to spread out the Shadow’s armies.

Moiraine speaks of Rand’s confrontation with the Dark One as being “that moment”. However it lasts a lot longer than a moment—though it is experienced as a short time to those in the Pit of Doom.

Rand is glad Moiraine is back even though she nags him. He was carrying a Tar Valon mark around almost as a kind of amulet in the hope that she would return. He associates the mark with her because she gave one to him as a finder when they first met. This is one of the many examples of coming full circle in this book.

Lan says that Moiraine’s advice should be followed, but she thinks his rescue of Maradon was a mistake and that Rand should not save the Gap either. That gives Lan pause, and Rand insists on aiding him. There is a fine line between sheltering and helping.

Lan salutes Rand after giving him the title of sheepherder. Earlier, Lan was not so reverential of Rand’s occupation. But Rand is the Good Shepherd. In return, Rand calls Lan Dai Shan and gives him the remade Malkieri crown.

Rand reveals that he secretly used an angreal when driving out the Shadowspawn at Maradon. This is another of his miracles that has a mundane explanation.

When Rand confronts a mass of evil, the land is given strength to fight—with storms. He is the prince of peace (of the sword):

“He sought peace, the peace of destruction. He was life, but he was also death. He was the manifestation of the land itself.”

A Memory of Light, Just Another Sell-sword

One of Rand’s important parallels is the Hindu god Shiva, god of destruction, and the cosmic dancer.

Shiva is one of the most complex gods of India, embodying seemingly contradictory qualities. He is both the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.

- Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Aiel call battle the dance—and Rand battles the Dark One to save the cosmos. Rand’s peace is of the sword—not just another sell-sword, though.

Just as Rand is trying to pull the Shadow away from Shayol Ghul, the Shadow is trying to draw him out into the open. Single channellers are used as a decoy until a full circle of 72 channellers is gathered—a warning of how many Dreadlords the Shadow now has. It forces him to retreat. Moiraine also realises that it was a trap and reinforces that it’s too risky for Rand to fight this way. In this chapter, Egwene and Moiraine both complain about essential people and generals talking unnecessary risks.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #13: Chapter 10--The Use of Dragons

By Linda

Elayne POV

Elayne complains that they couldn’t get the televisual and teleaudio ter’angreal to work. These were in the cache of ter’angreal and are detailed here. The cache also contained a reference library ter’angreal that might have information on how to activate them, which Aviendha was able to get to work. Instead, they are using messengers by gateways. Elayne complains that she could go through the gateway and look at what’s happening in Caemlyn for herself. Birgitte threatens to fetch her back by force if she does, and tells her off for her recklessness. It’s a Warder’s duty.

I believe that Jordan planned for the ter’angreal to be used for this purpose in the Last Battle, but left no notes on their operation and so they had to be written out and put aside.

Egwene is angry with Elayne over her plans to employ the Kin. In Towers of Midnight, Partings and a Meeting, Elayne offered the Kin a place in Andor with stability, safety and freedom to channel in exchange for Travelling and Healing. Elayne plans to talk Egwene around into allowing Elayne to use them in Andor under Elayne’s “guidance”. The Amyrlin doesn’t like the thought of monarchs having their own set of channellers –even if weak ones, or Tower rejects. Suddenly Egwene and the Sitters are seeing the downside of rejecting some of the crop: somebody else will give them a place. These women want to channel, and can’t stop once they start, so it is to be expected that they want to employ their talent as channellers do in the Aiel clans, the Sea Folk and (directly or indirectly) the Seanchan. The White Tower is not as exclusive as it once was, or as powerful. In fact, by excluding channellers, the Tower has contributed to its own decline. Now that the secret of linking is out, weak channellers can achieve much with cooperation. In the Age of Legends, all channellers had a place in the Hall of Servants. Egwene did tell Elayne of her plans to have all channellers associated with the Tower, but Elayne has her own plans to corner a little of the market for herself.

Elayne is warned that the Tarwin’s Gap forces may have to retreat earlier than planned and considers overruling Agelmar’s judgment, but Bashere advises her not to. Instead she realises that they need to either lure the Trollocs into charging now, or else destroy them along with Caemlyn.

Lan’s POV supports Bashere’s advice. With many channellers attacking the Borderlanders, they need to retreat, but can’t even do that without more channellers to cover them.

Androl POV

Men only are being used to Turn the Asha’man. This takes much more time and energy and is why Logain and his faction were not turned quickly and were ultimately able to escape. If women Turn men, and vice versa, the process is much faster. Toveine is perhaps the first of the Tower Reds to be Turned. The men Turn her quickly – not merely because her allegiance or will was weak. Once the circle is mixed or there are thirteen women to link with the Myrddraal, even the most strong-willed and devout man will be Turned fairly promptly.

Taim has one of the seven Seals in his pocket. Androl doesn’t know its significance yet.

Elayne POV

In a former life, Birgitte led a band in Braem Wood and robbed a queen of Aldeshar who was regarded as a usurper. This is a reference to Maid Marian and Robin Hood, and the Band of Merry Men who fought in Sherwood Forest against the very unpopular King John, who usurped King Richard’s throne while he was crusading. Andor has a good few such references to England.

Trollocs were blown to pieces by the dragons, which are cannons. They are manned by dragoners. The names are a clever link to Rand and dragon symbolism (see article), but also to dragoons, mounted soldiers who carried guns, which are hand-held dragons by Aludra’s naming. A dragon was a type of late 18th to early 19th century hand-held blunderbuss that had a short, large calibre barrel. It shot many types of ammunition including shot and gravel. They were named dragons from the dragon head engraved on the muzzles of the early versions. All early gunpowder weapons had names and were linked to serpents, falcons, etc, just as Aludra likes to give names to all her inventions.

Birgitte repeats her misgivings about gunpowder weapons, but Elayne believes that their great destructive power is an effective deterrent to battle. From our own world’s use of not just guns, but also nuclear weapons, we can agree with Birgitte that this is idealistic.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #12: Chapter 9--To Die Well

By Linda


Lan and his men remember the deaths of their cohorts in a way that celebrates their deeds in battle when they were killed. The sacrifice of the fallen is appreciated and the grief and trauma of seeing their friends die is eased a little. They are as affected by this horrific attrition as much as Rand is later in the chapter, and, like him, have accepted the likelihood of their own deaths in the war. This helps them, too, to die well.

Lan regards Bulen as a noble fallen because he was the first Malkieri to swear to him as King, and by doing so, made Lan accept his responsibilities as a king. Bulen swore directly to the monarch as a noble would.

Earthquakes are prevalent at the Gap, due to its proximity to Shayol Ghul, but Lan is the first to notice that the cracks in the ground they cause contain nothingness. As usual, Lan is accurate in his assessment: they are fractures in reality, due to balefire and the Dark One unravelling the weakened Pattern. The cracks are breaks in the weave as it wears thin. It is temporary; the Land Heals itself at this stage.

Tenobia shows the zeal for battle, and the idealising of it, that will see her killed. For some time she has surrounded herself with soldiers only and has wanted to do as they did:

As expected, the Queen of Saldaea was accompanied only by Kalyan Ramsin, one of her numerous uncles, a scarred and grizzled man with the face of an eagle and thick mustaches that curved down around his mouth. Tenobia Kazadi tolerated the counsel of soldiers, but no one else.

The Path of Daggers Prologue

“Even Tenobia has never led men in battle. She wanted to once, when I was eight, but Father had a talk with her alone in her chambers, and when he rode off to the Blight she stayed behind." With a rueful grin, she added, "I think you and he use the same methods sometimes. Tenobia exiled him, but she was only sixteen, and the Council of Lords managed to change her mind after a few weeks. She will be blue with envy when I tell her."

The Shadow Rising, Goldeneyes

Battle is necessary, but it is not great. Like the Pattern, it is good and bad.

Lan contrasts her glorification with the praise for fighters and the dead that he has encouraged:

There was a difference, he could feel a difference. Teaching the men to accept that they might die and to revere the honor of the fallen . . . that was different from singing songs about how wonderful it was to fight on the front lines.

A Memory of Light, To Die Well

The usual cure for such zeal is weeks of drill.

Lan is appalled that Agelmar’s plan includes retreating. He wasn’t present at Merrilor, where it was agreed that the Tarwin’s Gap forces would only delay the Trolloc incursion to buy time for the Caemlyn invaders to be destroyed, and likely would have dissented if he were.

"We reinforce Lan, but tell him that his job will be to hold there as long as he can. We place a second force at the border of Kandor, with the purpose of delaying there as well—perhaps a slow withdrawal, as conditions dictate. While those two fronts are held, we can focus our true attention—and our largest army—at breaking the Trollocs in Caemlyn."

A Memory of Light, Into the Thick of It

Lan refuses to countenance retreat. Agelmar reminds him of duty. Since the Shienaran general is following the agreed strategy, he is not yet affected by Compulsion.

Lan compares himself to Rand, who he actually taught:

He remembered teaching that same concept to a youth out of the Two Rivers. A sheepherder, innocent of the world, fearful of the fate laid out before him by the Pattern.

A Memory of Light, To Die Well

Agelmar points out that Lan evades responsibility—the burden of it, when it comes to leading others. Then Lan compares himself to Tenobia:

They will follow me. Like Bulen did. Leading them to death in the name of a fallen kingdom . . . leading myself to the same death . . . how is that any different from Tenobia's attitude?

A Memory of Light, To Die Well

Tenobia’s role in this chapter is to help Lan realise and accept the difference between needless death and noble sacrifice. Dying well and not.

It is so hard for him to abandon Malkier again, but they need to live to fight another day, not sacrifice themselves—unless there is no other choice. Then they will be dying well—the “To Die Well” chapter title.

Egwene POV

Egwene now appreciates the knowledge and experience of Sitters in battle and planning. This is a contrast with The Gathering Storm and even Towers of Midnight, when they looked like fools. Although her assertion that

"I trust General Bryne's battlefield assessment, as does the Hall,"

A Memory of Light, To Die Well

will be bitter words in future.

Elayne suggested that the Aes Sedai establish a hospital far from battle, to protect the Yellows. Silviana is against it—perhaps because Elayne insisted. Egwene isn’t that keen on the idea either, although Gawyn is because he realises that Aes Sedai are not invincible and proved it in Towers of Midnight. The Amyrlin feels she has to respect Elayne’s authority though, but also ponders rejecting Elayne’s idea to maintain Aes Sedai authority. She considers this a strain on their friendship. The clincher in favour of Elayne’s idea is her concern that the Seanchan might capture Yellows if they are not well-protected away from the battle. She fears them more than any Shadow-aligned group. This was na├»ve, as it turns out. They decide on Mayene, as suitable for a hospital, because it is small, unimportant politically and not prominent. Wisely, Egwene gets the Tower trainees to help the Yellows.

Egeanin publicly admits the magnitude of her error with the male a’dam. Her eyes are lowered; and her mistake is almost enough for them to be permanently so. Egwene offers her a way of repaying her debt through information on the Seanchan.

Egeanin doesn’t own even her name – it was given to her by the Empress and everything else taken away. Including her honour. Egwene is surprised that Egeanin swore a strong oath to her because she feels Seanchan are almost Darkfriends. Her role will be to temper Egwene’s attitude to the Seanchan slightly and also to save her. Her information perhaps helps Egwene negotiate with the Empress.

The Amyrlin isn’t quite worrying about the wrong things—more like in the wrong order.

Rand POV

Rand feels a responsibility for the casualties of war, which parallels Lan’s feelings. Thanks to his epiphany on Dragonmount, he is further down that road than Lan. The Malkieri king has dreaded this for over 20 years, and probably would have died needlessly in the Blight years ago if Moiraine hadn’t bonded him in New Spring. His wife and queen, Nynaeve, considers dying well to be dying of old age in bed:

She wanted to howl with fury. People should die after a long life, in their own beds, surrounded by family and friends. Anything else was waste. Pure miserable waste!

Lord of Chaos, Dreams and Nightmares

Elayne is trying to sort out in her mind where her relationship with Rand will go—or might go. Rand doesn’t know. After all, he doesn’t know his survival prospects. If one woman was Rand’s wife, she would be above all other people except Rand. With three, no single person is so elevated. There is also the implication that Rand’s burden is so great that he needs three to help, and sustain, him.

The Dragon expects to leave his children fatherless and that he will never know them. He never knew his biological father, and yet appears to be alright. Rand has to be dead to his father at least, and probably his children for many years, if not forever, for his death to be convincing. This was his true sacrifice—his and theirs. Being free of the burden of being the Dragon was his reward. He advises Elayne not to call her boy Rand because the expectations will be too large. They should live their own lives without that. There will still be bad enough expectations though: in Aviendha’s vision, her four children were treated very atypically by the Aiel and this did not turn out well. Elayne says Rand must have some hope. Rand says he hopes for the world but expects, and accepts, his own death.

Rand thinks Elayne is a good coordinator of battle plans. Elayne brushes his praise aside and says it is due to her training from Morgase and Bryne. Rand compares this dinner with their time in Tear, when he really began to know her and love her. They share common responsibilities and interests. Elayne notices that Rand finds being responsible for peoples’ lives and deaths a great burden. He wasn’t trained to this from an early age like her. (However, Lan was and also finds it very hard to bear.) Rand realised on Dragonmount that he made himself hard, so the burden wouldn’t hurt, but became uncaring. Being hunted down and abused did not help. He needs to care or else his strategies become unscrupulous—as Mordeth’s were.

Elayne is impressed that Rand has Lews Therin’s knowledge now. She sees the opportunity:

"I am him. I always was. I remember it now."

Elayne breathed out, eyes widening. "What an advantage."

Of all the people he had told that to, only she had responded in such a way. What a wonderful woman.

A Memory of Light, To Die Well

whereas Nynaeve saw the danger and the pain:

No man should have to remember the failures of Lews Therin Telamon.

The Gathering Storm, A Conversation with the Dragon

Here he admits to himself that growing grass was “some other trick”—and not being ta’veren, or channelling, as so many have suggested. In A Memory of Light, Older, More Weathered, we find out that this trick is the technique of Singing gained from Lews Therin’s knowledge.

Elayne insists that everyone has the right to do their bit in the war. It is not only important to her, but also to the Pattern. This is the starting point of what Rand needs to realise at the last. He thinks that he knows this now, but it is not really the case.

Because the Dark One is pushing evil into the Pattern, only good events surround Rand now. Earlier, he attracted both positive and negative events; extremes of the Pattern, but balanced. Rand was everyman then – representative of all. Now he represents the Light to balance the Dark One. The more the Dark One touches the world, the more the Pattern gets Rand to provide change to undo it.

When Elayne asks if there can be never be good in the world, she means lack of evil. There is good right then and there, but there is also evil. The world is not a Paradise and cannot be. The Age of Legends thought it was—but they were mistaken and the result was terrible apocalyptic war.

"There were many good years. Good decades, good centuries. We believed we were living in paradise. Perhaps that was our downfall. We wanted our lives to be perfect, so we ignored imperfections. Problems were magnified through inattention, and war might have become inevitable if the Bore hadn't ever been made."

A Memory of Light, To Require a Boon

Rand thinks the Pattern is not about good or evil. Moiraine would add that it is about both of them and choosing between them.

“The Creator is good, Perrin. The Father of Lies is evil. The Pattern of Age, the Age Lace itself, is neither. The Pattern is what is. The Wheel of Time weaves all lives into the Pattern, all actions. A pattern that is all one color is no pattern. For the Pattern of an Age, good and ill are the warp and the woof.” Even riding through late-afternoon sunshine three days later, Perrin felt the chill he had had on first hearing her say those words. He wanted to believe the Pattern was good. He wanted to believe that when men did evil things, they were going against the Pattern, distorting it. To him the Pattern was a fine and intricate creation made by a master smith. That it mixed pot metal and worse in with good steel with never a care was a cold thought.

The Dragon Reborn, Within the Weave

Perrin thinks that the Pattern should be good only, and the world a paradise. Rand sees the impersonalness of Pattern and has found it hard to bear. His role is so overwhelming he’d rather make it obsolete.

Rand’s error has led him to want to kill the Dark One and remove evil from the Pattern. He sees the Dark One as alien to Pattern and sabotaging it. Yet sabotage can be foreseen—or at least expected—and woven into the Pattern, along with measures to counteract it. Rand is viewing the Pattern from one side only and his perception is flawed.

Rand gives Elayne a Seed, which Cadsuane thinks is a type of ter’angreal. Where did Rand obtain it? From one of his hoards of ter’angreal? (He is a typical dragon in having hoards.) Hopefully Elayne studies the Seed so she learns how to make them before she turns it into an angreal.

In exchange she gives him the artham dagger. He didn’t recognise it at first, so he can’t read ter’angreal. Yet Lews Therin knows of artham, although no one had succeeded in making one when he was alive. They exchange gifts as equals. No one else does that with Rand.