Friday, February 17, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #26: Chapter 23—At the Edge of Time

By Linda

Gawyn POV

Gawyn doesn’t recognise Demandred’s original name. Who and what the Forsaken were before their fall has been completely dwarfed by what they became. Their demonization was well-earned—and they gloried in the fame and power it gave them.

Egwene’s Warder relies on the bloodknife rings to keep himself from being seen. He knows this may kill him—or that is how he interpreted what Egeanin said. The rings endow power similar to that of Myrddraal—to be not easily seen, especially in shadows, and to have increased speed. However, they don't give the ability to move from one shadow to another as Myrddraal can. Gawyn realises their power makes him overconfident, but does nothing to correct this.

He rationalises that he is only using the ter’angreal to protect Egwene and therefore it is justified. What he ignores, or doesn’t understand, is that when, not if, this kills him, she will suffer horribly. Egeanin’s actions show that Gawyn’s risk was probably unnecessary to save Egwene.

Egwene POV

Sharans speak in an emotionally flat way. This may be the result of being trapped by the Pattern, and their lack of choice, or, more properly, that they allowed—felt their duty was—to be trapped by it. The Sharan system of demotion or lower status is forever, because tattoos can’t be removed. Hence people are trapped in their social position.

Egwene acknowledges that Demandred is worse than one of the Seanchan. Until now it is as though the Seanchan were the worst thing she had met—and she has encountered Shadowspawn, a couple of Forsaken—if she but knew it—and Black sisters:

The Seanchan captured and used Aes Sedai, but they didn't slaughter the common people with such recklessness.

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

She needs to escape if only to tell the Tower that Demandred has a large nation behind him. She is puzzled that Demandred doesn’t know where Rand is. He appears to be so busy demanding (that word) Rand come and challenge him that he didn’t sense where he is. And by the end of the chapter it’s too late: Demandred has missed his chance at a duel and Rand has gone to challenge the Forsaken’s boss. The Wyld’s further, increasingly strident, challenges are futile.

To Egwene’s horror, she realises that she has no power at the moment because she can’t use it without being discovered. This is comparable to Siuan’s situation and, like Siuan, Egwene won’t let it break her.

The Sharan channeller is not impressed with Demandred:

She walked around Egwene, looking curious. "You watched the Wyld's little show all the way through, did you? Brave. Or stupid."

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

The woman is quite strong, since she was able to shield Egwene and use two weaves of Air at the same time and also make a light without difficulty. The average Aes Sedai has trouble splitting her weaves more than two ways.

Sharan channellers are not particularly peaceable, judging by what she says:

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

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

Egwene lets herself panic by comparing her situation with that of when she was a damane. Cue a Seanchan to the rescue rather than Egwene’s knight out of King Arthur’s tales—much to her surprise. Egwene always thinks the worst of the Seanchan, and Egeanin’s role is to change this perception. Egeanin’s skill and bravery rival Egwene’s and cast Gawyn into the shade.

The omens Egeanin speaks of would be Demandred and the Sharan invasion. This is her only reminder of what she braved to go back into the camp to find and save Egwene. Gawyn assumes Egwene found someone rather than was rescued by her. He did not recognise Egwene’s alarm through the bond at all, which may be an effect of the ter’angreal, but could just be that he is a very self-centred, emotionally obtuse person.

Aviendha POV

Shadowforgers are like Trolls in their size, strength, and ferocity, and the way they turn to stone and dirt when killed. Killing them all will stop construction of the Myrddraal’s swords.

The eclipse occurs. Those who witness it think it literally is the end of the world. Certainly, it symbolises the potential end of world and the fight of light and darkness, but also the conjunction of saidin and saidar fighting together for good or ill. It has potent alchemical symbolism, as we shall see later in the book.

Aviendha realises the disadvantages of leadership—responsibility and problem-solving. I love the way she and Rand salute each other.

The passage where Aviendha

thrust her hands forward, letting loose a raw weave, only half-formed. This was almost too much power for her to shape.

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

does not make sense, because Aviendha is a particularly skilful weaver. Caire was able to craft intricate weaves in the Bowl of Winds with her powerful circle (that included angreal). Aviendha’s is a larger circle, though far from full. Perhaps it was that Aviendha’s uses saidin as well, which she is not experienced with.

Sarene thinks that there is a difference between Dreadlords and Black Ajah. Maria of Team Jordan verified that there is not, really. It may be that Sarene sees a difference in Black sisters if they are openly fighting in battle.

Graendal uses the True Power to Travel away and leave her minions to bite the dust.

Rand POV

The Eclipse shows the danger to Rand, who is Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun (see Rand essay), as he meets the Dark One. The conjunction is wearing off as Rand goes up the path to enter Shayol Ghul.

Thom stays outside to guard the entrance. His smile is infectious and keeps their spirits up—as he has done in inns throughout the lands.

Moiraine enters Shayol Ghul armoured in her shawl, Nynaeve in her best yellow gown. Rand thinks that Nynaeve looks older without her braid, which puzzles him because it is the traditional sign of womanhood in the Two Rivers. Perhaps Nynaeve looks more timeless when not bound by one culture. Or perhaps Rand has also changed, so to him, the braid doesn’t mean what it once did. Maybe Rand is reacting to Nynaeve’s weight of responsibility and not her outward appearance. Another possibility is that what Rand sees is genuine, and the three oaths may be starting to take effect. For all his memories, Rand is still making clueless remarks about women’s clothing. Nynaeve could not have afforded such an expensive gown in the Two Rivers. No Two Rivers woman could.

Rand wears an outer layer of royalty, but underneath his shirt is in the Two Rivers style, a symbol that he and the series have come full circle. Then and now. The Two Rivers is closest to Rand’s heart, and being raised so well there has been his saving grace. As he enters his wound opens and he drips blood on rocks of Shayol Ghul, fulfilling prophecy.

Rand asks the women politely to make a circle, unlike Aviendha in this chapter commanding the formation of hers. The women are concerned that Rand keeps the lead of their circle. He intends to be seized by Moridin, as portended by the eclipse.

Rand is no longer worried about survival; he is worried about doing it right. This is probably the optimal frame of mind to approach the contest. He is reassured by the Creator that it is the right time, which confirms that the Creator spoke at the end of The Eye of the World, where Rand fought and defeated Ishamael. As the next chapter shows, the Dark One can’t sense Rand on the threshold of Shayol Ghul because of the Artham blunt dagger, so it wasn’t he who spoke.


David R-G said...

Is "The Sharan channeller is not impressed with Demandred." supposed to say "not impressed with Egwene."?

Brandon said...

Hi Linda,
Another excellent blog. I thoroughly enjoy each of your posts!

Could you elaborate on one point that has come up in the last couple posts? What do you mean by the Sharans being trapped by the Pattern? Rand and the other mains are all bound to specific tasks in the Pattern and the Seanchan as a whole have very specific parts to play in the Pattern as well. How is the Sharan's place in the Pattern different from the rest? Also, I have read MoL since it was first released but I don't recall any mention of being trapped by the Pattern. Is this something I'm not recalling or was this from another source? Thanks!


Linda said...

Thanks all. I wrote a reply and lost it! I hope I can recap what it.

David, I did mean Demandred, but since my comment was a bit obscure I’ve added a quote.

Brandon, I’m talking about some hints later in the book. These were expanded on in the short story River of Souls, that Brandon Sanderson wrote.

Shendla was a bit like Ingtar in helping the Shadow so that her people would have a place in the world the Dark One makes.

"You said some would call your actions evil," she said. "But I do not see them as such. Our path is clear. Once you are victorious, you will remake the world, and our people will be preserved."

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

Mintel, Demandred’s mentor also believes that what the Sharans did was necessary. Not good or bad, just required of the Pattern.

Our lives have been chosen for us up until this moment, this time. From today, fate will no longer be decided.

River of Souls

That’s one way they have been trapped by it. They have slaves who never escape their position. The Seanchan ones can rise again (apart from damane). The rulers have 14 year reigns – 7 as junior and 7 as senior ruler. It’s been this way for 3000 years.

Shendla also said that

"You have come to save us," she said. "You break us free of fate's chains…
He will try to destroy the world, and only you can stop him. There is a reason you have done what you did. The Tapestry... shall I call it by your word? The Pattern? It has brought you, and once you step into that cavern below, we will be freed from fate and be made our own people again."

River of Souls

Demandred freed the male channellers, lessened the hold of the female channellers. This started the breaking up of Sharan society. The Sharans, like the Aiel, have been largely unchanged in their countries since the Breaking. However, they were far more trapped, far less able to make choices than the Aiel were. They felt unable to change, or choose a different way.

I’ll make more comments as the chapters come up in the read-through.

Unknown said...

I and others always thought that it was indeed the Creator who spoke at the Eye of the World. I found it interesting that what Rand saw, the light destroying the army, before he entered Moridins layer was in fact himself, and I wondered whether it wasn't the Creator that spoke, but was in fact himself again. But I think you are right and this indeed lays it to rest once and for all.

Brandon said...

Thanks Linda! I haven't read River of Souls. I'll have to pick up Unfettered so I can catch up on my Sharan lore.

I now recall the pieces that were hinted at in MoL but I hadn't taken them to mean they were actually trapped by the Pattern. Instead, I had viewed it as a reason to excuse their actions and remove any guilt for the evil that they were doing. The Pattern seems to dictate specific events that WILL happen but doesn't dictate HOW it will happen. Perhaps the Sharans could have fulfilled prophecy in another way if they had taken accountability rather than blaming the Pattern. That was my take on my first read through.

Thanks for taking the time to answer!


Linda said...

I recommend River of Souls! Very interesting. I have a review/discussion of it on the blog. I contains spoilers, though.

The Sharans aren't the only ones that feel trapped by the Pattern. So does Rand until his epiphany helps him accept it. Moridin too felt trapped.