Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-through #10: Chapter 7--Into the Thick of It

By Linda

Elayne POV

The chapter title refers to the thick of the Last Battle that they abruptly enter as well as the thick of the trees around the tent. The darkening of the meeting is explained by the rapid growth of a dozen trees, hundreds of feet tall in under five minutes, that Rand achieved—probably by singing, since none of the Asha’man reacted to him channelling. For once, positive shadows, not negative. On his approach to the meeting site, Rand made grass grow and later in the book, Mat tells us how Rand was able to make things grow rapidly.

Most of the channellers panic and reach for the source when Perrin mentions that the trees are like Great Trees in a stedding. But they are not in a stedding. Egwene reminds them all that there is a limit to Rand’s powers—and he can’t create steddings.

Elayne is quick to call a meeting before resistance grows to her being placed above the other monarchs and generals. Bryne volunteers his maps to Elayne, but declines defending Andor with her. Understandably, he has moved on from his position in Andor. After the meeting, he compliments Elayne on how well she ran it, showing her that he has no hard feelings towards her.

The generals’ plans are: to keep Tarwin’s Gap plugged as long as possible, to prevent the Trollocs from spreading out of Kandor and Caemlyn into surrounding regions, and (at Rhuarc’s suggestion) to protect Rand at Shayol Ghul. Elayne won’t let the Aiel make their own dispositions at Shayol Ghul. She overrules Amys, Aviendha and Rhuarc, following Rand’s insistence that there are to be no independent generals.

Agelmar suggests that they attack the Caemlyn Waygate from inside. In fact, Brandon wrote a scene for A Memory of Light where Perrin led forces into the Ways to close the Waygate on that side, and the Ogier showed up to drive the Black Wind off with their song. However, it was cut due to the length of the book and because the scene was a sideline to the Last Battle.

Instead, Bryne suggests a way to lure the Trollocs out of Caemlyn and a position to ambush them. It is decided to hit Caemlyn hard for a quick victory, since the Shadow’s numbers are smallest there, to reduce the battle fronts from four to three.

The generals realise the significance of having four great captains and four battlefronts—it is not a coincidence. Mind you, it is never suggested that the Aiel have a Great Captain, though in earlier books Bruan was hinted to be one:

even Rhuarc considered Bruan a deadly fighter and a devious tactician.

The Fires of Heaven, Rhuidean

While Bryne is in Kandor, Bashere in Andor and Agelmar in Shienar, Ituralde will lead the Aiel and others at Thakan’dar—and he does very well. He remarks that he never thought that he’d fight alongside Aiel.

Ituralde shows symptoms of trauma from the battle for Maradon. Considering his physical and mental state, it is all the more impressive that he held out the longest (or best) against Graendal’s Compulsion.

Perrin warns Elayne against sending someone to the Black Tower for help and to be careful about the Black Tower because something is wrong there. Without thinking, Elayne says she is always careful. Possibly Birgitte would disagree.

Loial’s mother Covril says that she argued the Ogier should open the book of translation and flee, but did not truly believe it was the right thing to do (which could mean that she believed it might be right—or half-believed it was right). I always wondered about Covril’s allegiances…All her actions had relatively innocent explanations, but had potentially dark outcomes.

In this case, she claims that she argued to test her belief and that of other Ogier, and to prove that staying was the best thing to do:

"An argument must have opposition if it is to prove itself, my son," she said. "One who argues truly learns the depth of his commitment through adversity. Did you not learn that trees grow roots most strongly when winds blow through them?"

A Memory of Light, Into the Thick of It

Presumably through the branches and not the roots.

Rand’s growth of Great Trees proves to the Ogier that they should stay and fight the Shadow (for Rand).

Elayne wants Perrin to be quartermaster for the armies but he insists that he must help Rand. Faile volunteers for the job, but Elayne doesn’t trust her. She tries speaking circumspectly about the Horn to Perrin, but he mentions it openly. It had been hidden in a strong room in the Tower and moved just before the Shadow broke into the room.

Perrin points out to Elayne that Faile is a good choice to guard and deliver the horn to Mat because she is not close to Elayne, Egwene or Mat. They will start making supply runs now to establish a pattern, and also because they are needed.


The night is too dark for Trollocs to see. Dusk is a time of strength for them—they can outsee humans then. Also, as Liandrin says:

At dawn the day was born, just as twilight gave birth to night, but at dawn, night died, and at twilight, day. The Dark One's power was rooted in death; he gained power from death, and at those times she thought she could feel his power stirring.

The Great Hunt, The Shadow in Shienar

The Dark One’s power is the True Power which Shadowspawn contain, so they too are strengthened at dusk. Full sun, of course, is too bright for them.

Lan is surprised that a king, Easar of Shienar, bows to him. The Borderlanders will follow Lan as overall leader of these forces. Easar explains:

”You raised the Golden Crane. We were sworn to come to your aid, so we have."

A Memory of Light, Into the Thick of It

Simple and honourable loyalty.

Lan gives a rousing speech to turn the men from despair and self-pity. Easar quotes a poem and smiles at his memories of what makes the poem relevant to him (his wife, probably, and his grief at her death). The poem speaks of someone damaged, but accepting this and continuing on nevertheless. The Malkieri king is damaged—has been from infancy after his family, home, country, and even role were destroyed.

Lan formally accepts the role of leader of the armies at Tarwin’s Gap. He has a dig at Rand when he says he will do his duty:

"What am I?" Lan asked, swinging into the saddle. "Some sheepherder from a forgotten village? I will do my duty.”

A Memory of Light, Into the Thick of It

and declares that he will make any man under him also do his duty. Mind you, it was not that long ago that Lan was reluctant to take on the responsibility for others as part of doing his duty. Rand and Lan have some important similarities. Easar smiles again—at the dig, or at Lan taking on the role he was born and trained to do? Perhaps both. This scene has a strong undercurrent of acceptance.

Lan feels that his army—including the Asha’man—is very united. Lan has five Asha’man, all Borderlanders, one from each nation. He would prefer the Asha’man made gateways, healed or did other useful tasks rather than killed Trollocs.


Rita_in_Tibet said...

Love the read throughs and insightful commentary. Looking forward to re-living the rest of the book!

David R-G said...

Small typo in the Bryne chapter: "Ador" instead of "Andor".

Otherwise great stuff! Love Lan's dig at Rand.

Linda said...

Thanks, David, for your help.

:) I also loved Lan's dig at Rand.