Thursday, September 20, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #52: Chapter 46—To Awaken

By Linda

So much tension: the chapter ends on multiple cliffhangers.

Rand POV

Mere minutes have passed since the three entered Shayol Ghul, so the total eclipse is barely over at the Pit of Doom, despite days of battle having passed at Thakan’dar and weeks elsewhere. Rand feels more powerful than Moridin and tells him he’s unimportant, but Moridin laughs and knifes Alanna, his wounded hostage.

Nynaeve POV

Nynaeve can’t stop the knife because Rand has control of her channelling. It is fortuitous that herbs (and the application of mundane knowledge) rather than Healing save the day—and the world. They bring Alanna to consciousness and she releases the Warder bond before dying. On the whole, Aes Sedai consider herbs beneath them, but these plants have changed the course of events repeatedly in the series including for the Aes Sedai themselves. Jordan’s herbs often have real world parallels (see Herbs article for these and part they’ve played in series).

While rightly vilified for being made without consent, Alanna’s Warder bond was not all bad for Rand: it gave him great strength and endurance from Lord of Chaos until Winter’s Heart, when Elayne and Aviendha bonded him. (Min was included). It also was a major motivator for Rand, because of the distrust and suspicion it invoked.

When his first attack doesn’t work, Moridin does the unexpected again in stabbing his hand so Rand feels it and drops Callandor. There’s power in cleverness and determination.

Perrin POV

As Rand let go of his crushing sense of responsibility and pain, so Perrin lets go of his anger and pain. Concentrating on his task—his duty—he is not worried about whether he is wolf or man. In fact, he is truly in between, a liminal being on the thresholds of animal/human and awake/dreaming. All three ta’veren are liminal beings: Mat is liminal between the physical world and the underworld, and Rand between heaven and hell.

As a result, Perrin, who represents the Strength tarot card, is at full strength.

The fall of his hammer was like claps of thunder, the flashing of his eyes like lightning bolts. Wolves howled alongside the wind.

A Memory of Light, To Awaken

These lines also refer to Perrin’s sky god parallels, notably the Norse god Thor and the Slavic god Perun. The instinctual craftsman dodges in and out of Tel’aran’rhiod and the waking world as he concentrates on his prey, and they flicker between multiple worlds when he deals the killing blow. This is reminiscent of the Portal Stone trap/malfunction in The Great Hunt. Perrin sees various mirror and If worlds, notably one with soldiers that are a combination of Aiel and Seanchan.

When Perrin follows him from Tel’aran’rhiod to waking world and back, Slayer finally feels the terror he gave to others. Most of Jordan’s Darkfriends get their just deserts (see Darkfriends article).

Perrin’s expert eye assesses that the Light has lost the battle at Thakan’dar even though they won elsewhere. Where the Shadow has concentrated its attack, all three ta’veren are needed there to win. One or two are not enough. Perrin hears the Horn of Valere sound—not Olver’s first call, though—to summon the Heroes to Thakan’dar, including Hero wolves. The Last Hunt counters the Darkhounds’ Wild Hunt.


Olver and the Heroes are at the base of Shayol Ghul. Unfortunately, Shaisam’s mist is nearly at the path leading up the volcano. Mashadar touches Mat at the end of the chapter. More anon.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #51: Chapter 45—Tendrils of Mist

By Linda


“Blood stained the rocks” after the battles on the Heights is a reference to the prophecy of Rand’s blood sacrifice for salvation and that Rand is one with the Land. Mat carries Rand’s banner with the Aes Sedai symbol to fight under at Thakan’dar to ensure that the prophecy of “under this sign he (Rand) will conquer” is fulfilled.

Gateways won’t open at Thakan’dar because reality is breaking up there. Mat praises Grady for his efforts at the rather alarming battle at the Ford involving people who are trapped in a different kind of broken reality.

Trickster Mat reiterates that he won’t be bound to the Horn, or anyone. Yet, ironically Mat is bound—to Rand, and objects to this strongly all through the series.

Shaisam POV

Shaisan consumes souls rather like the Machin Shin infestation of the Ways, that was “friendly”—professional courtesy, Jordan called it—to Padan Fain/Mordeth in The Great Hunt. Shaisam’s drones have dead eyes rather than the wrong ones of those Turned to the Shadow. He hides his body among these zombies. Shaisam is still bound to a body but can transcend this dependence; he is on the verge of being a deity, but needs a place to “infest” (again like the Black Wind and like vermin or disease). This sets up the next chapter.

So powerful is Shaisam now, that he is able to convert Myrddraal, whereas before he used to just kill them. His protective mist is the part of Mashadar that was carried out of Shadar Logoth in the dagger by Mat. Once Fain/Mordeth was reunited with dagger, he was able to unite Mashadar with him, control it, grow it and become Shaisam. It seems that with his usual luck Mat chose to steal Mordeth’s most potent item.

Still, Shaisam is played for laughs at times in the last book, which prevents us from taking him seriously and lessens the surprise and daring of Mat killing him. Shaisam has imbued himself in Mashadar and plans to find a suitable place in the world to imbue himself in, too—as the Black Wind did in the Ways. The sun can still burn Shaisam and Mashadar away, but the clouds are too thick for that right now.

Gaul POV

Gaul and the wolves in Tel’aran’rhiod are working together very well to counter Slayer. Slayer tricks the wolves, but not Gaul. However, the Stone Dog honourably reveals himself to protect the wolves and is injured as a result.

Perrin stands with his face toward the sun (a symbol of life, the Creator, and Rand), even though it can’t be seen. Slayer reminds us of the foretelling that Luc will be important in the Last Battle. Luc and Isam both wanted to be part of something important, so this foretelling was a major inspiration for them. Isam wanted the ability to channel but the Dark One gave him other gifts instead, including the ability to enter Tel’aran’rhiod without channelling, which requires a dual-souled nature.

Some have theorised that Moridin channels only the True Power because his body can’t channel saidin even though his mind can. But the Dark One can’t grant the ability to channel, according to Slayer in this chapter. Moridin certainly felt when Rand channelled saidin and he wouldn’t have been able to sense it if he couldn’t channel it. He used only the True Power because he was addicted to it and it showed his status as favoured one. Plus, this intimidated the other Forsaken, who would never dare to use the True Power so boldly because it is lethal. (Tough guy Demandred, for instance, flinches, at Moridin’s saa.) The clincher is that Moridin channels through Callandor with saidin first, then, when he found to his surprise that it could do so, the True Power.


Olver loves flying on to’raken, but poor Mat is terrified. From his aerial viewpoint, Mat is appalled to realise that Fain and Mashadar are in Thakan’dar—and even the Shadar Logoth dagger also. He rightly doesn’t think the Light will be so lucky that the Darkhounds and Mashadar destroy one another, which means he will have to do something about one of them, at least.

Mat sees the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai forming overhead from white and dark clouds. The clouds are a good substitute for Rand’s banner which is lost when the to’raken crashes. No need to consciously fulfil prophecy this time.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #50: Chapter 44—Two Craftsmen

By Linda

Perrin POV

The hospital in Mayene is well-informed about how the battles are going. By recognising Chiad, Perrin reminds of her potential dishonour as a gaishain in visiting the battlefield to retrieve the injured and tend them. Perrin tells her it’s an exceptional time and what use is honour if the Dark One wins? She says it is everything, and he privately agrees. Otherwise the society ends up like Shadar Logoth or dark Rand, both of which had to be undone to save the world. Perrin convinces Chiad to find him an Aes Sedai that will lessen his fatigue by saying that he has to save Rand and Gaul. (She actually crept in to him to ask about Gaul, which is against tradition, and shows the extent of her love.)

Perrin and Master Luhhan acknowledge each other’s master’s pieces. And Master Luhhan is brilliant: the Whitecloak Byar doubted that the axe he made was indeed made by a village blacksmith. Both craftsmen agree that killing is never beautiful, even if the tools made for it are beautiful.

Perrin saw a vision of Mat talking with Seanchan (to arrange his transportation to Thakan’dar). And like Mat, he feels Rand pulling him to come and help. Perrin thinks he used himself up too early, but Master Luhhan says no, he’s still alive and must keep fighting because it’s an exceptional day. (A variant of what Perrin just told Chiad). It’s so typical of their characters that Mat would object to Rand’s pull because it’s an imposition, whereas Perrin would doubt that he is capable of undertaking it.

Perrin tests Masuri for trustworthiness before he will let her restore him. After all, an Aes Sedai cannot lie and neither does Perrin’s sense of smell. She grudgingly admits she was wrong to try and use Masema and has learned better—especially how excellent Perrin is. The Brown sister says that all the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones with Perrin learned this. Once Masuri washes away his fatigue, she gasps as he vanishes physically into Tel’aran’rhiod. Yep, he’s even better than they know.

Thom POV

The gleeman is another underestimated character. At first Thom appears to be a spectator of the battles recording the events as an epic ballad. But that is only one thing he is doing here. He gives as an accurate view of what’s happening. The Windfinders and the Dark One fighting over control of the weather. The last steamwagon fallen. The mist on one side of Thakan’dar unaffected by either the Windfinders or the Dark One; this is probably Shaisam. Thom muses on how one must do the unexpected to perform well, and in fact, that is what he is doing: being the unexpected last defence of Shayol Ghul in the waking world.

How glad he is to be there to protect Moiraine as much as Rand. Despite his ruminations he is alert and kills Jeane Caide, who was disguised as Cadsuane, but did not walk like her—the fifth Aes Sedai he has despatched. We never do learn what Jeane was doing between Tanchico and now. Nor do we know the names of the other four sisters that Thom killed. Robert Jordan doesn’t want the reader to know everything. But how bold is Thom to calmly knife channellers.

Because he is a very experienced and skilled performer, Thom is an accurate judge of a disguise, and is not fooled by an outer semblance or a faked voice. Thom has some aspects of the Fool in him—as a wandering but wise fool gleeman with his tall tales containing elements of truth—and also some aspects of the Magician, the next tarot card. The magician card originally represented an itinerant performer at fairs and was later developed by the occultists into a magus, and Thom is certainly both of these, as was his most important pupil, Rand, who started out performing at inns and houses on the way to Caemlyn and Tear and probably will again as he wanders the world after the Last Battle. Full circle.

As so often is the case, the chapter title refers to more than one situation. The two craftsmen in the series ostensibly are Perrin and Haral Luhhan, but they also could be Perrin and Thom (the POVs of the chapter) or even Perrin and Masuri, who is so skilled in removing fatigue.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Memory of Light Read-through #49: Chapter 43—A Field of Glass

By Linda

Logain POV

Logain is half-Turned—traumatised by mental torture but with Turning attempts on top of stilling. There’s enough of his old self left to know that he has gone wrong. (This is part of the Wrongness theme prevalent in the last three books to show the Shadow’s corruption of the world.) The new head of the Black Tower wants to make sure he can never be abused again; he wants to be feared so much that no one will even think of being a threat to him. Hence, he is ignoring the battle and looking for the sa’angreal Sakharnen.

Gabrelle is trying to save him from himself. Much to his frustration, Logain can tell that she has genuine concern for him and so can’t pass her efforts off as Aes Sedai manipulation. This starts his redemption, just as Nynaeve’s genuine concern started Rand’s. Further, as the Tinkers and Ebou Dari/Seanchan pulled Rand up short, so do Logain’s faction and the refugees Logain.

Sakharnen was not crystallised by the Flame of Tar Valon weave as Taim and the Land were. The crystals resist Logain’s cutting weaves so he determines to use balefire to get the sa’angreal. At this point—which would have damaged the Land and been his ruination—he is distracted by a completely exhausted Androl begging him to save the refugees from Trollocs.


Mat is semi-adopted by the Heroes of the Horn because he was Hornsounder once. He’s delighted that he is not a Hero because Tricksters must be free to act as their whims take them. For the same reason, he’s also delighted that he’s no longer linked to the Horn as the Hornsounder. I guess from his Trickster theme alone we should have realised that he would not stay bound to it.

The Sharans have fled the battlefield by gateway—they have contributed enough to earn their freedom from the Pattern. That was the reward for their help; they don’t feel any allegiance to the Shadow, which ties in neatly with Rand’s scene in this chapter. Interestingly, the Sharans have lost most of their channellers in the Last Battle, which means they cannot be controlled by channellers as they were for over three thousand years. They truly lived in the type of society that the Seanchan dreaded and mistakenly claimed that the mainlanders had. The Light’s armies are set up for victory and this, in turn, helps Rand, who is one with the Land.

Seanchan “monsters” easily outfight the Trollocs. These beasts were brought from parallel worlds to do so The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and they are so effective that one can see why there are so few Shadowspawn in Seanchan. So much so that even someone as well educated as Tuon thought Trollocs a myth.

Mat feels pulled toward Rand and is peeved because he thinks he’s done enough for Rand already. He grudgingly admits that he’s been distant to his old friend because he channels, and, in fact, never gave Rand a formal and fond farewell like Perrin did.

Now that the battlefield fighting is largely done, Mat asks Hawkwing to have a few words with Tuon and also tell her that Mat sent him (to earn credit with her for arranging such an honour). Unfortunately, we are not privy to that conversation, but Sanderson says:

Brent Holmes: What happened in the conversation between Tuon and Arthur Hawkwing?!?!

Brandon Sanderson: It was interesting, I'll tell you that much.

Melissa Houghton: Did Hawkwing talk with Tuon?

Brandon Sanderson: Yes.

Nick: How do you think Fortuona reacted to speaking with Hawking?

Brandon Sanderson: With great consternation.

- Twitter exchange January 2013

Rand POV

The Shadow loses because its followers are not noble enough to sacrifice themselves as so many have done for the Light. They only have selfish interests and “selfishness must be preserved” as Verin said in The Gathering Storm. The Dark One can rant and threaten but inspires no one. Even Ishamael wants out.