Spoilers for books 1-13 and A Memory of Light to the Prologue| More info and previous posts |Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 14, A Memory of Light. This post covers the prologue.
Oh boy. The final book. Here we go.
And the Shadow fell upon the Land, and the World was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon.
The first scene is from Bayrd, who it turns out is a soldier in the army of Jarid Sarand. Said army has been having a pretty bad time these past weeks, and now they’ve been stuck by a bubble of evil that turned all of their metal – armor, coins, weapons – highly malleable, kind of like clay, and so entirely useless. Jarid is also in bad shape mentally, blaming Elayne and her witches’ for the bubble of evil. He’s also really pissed and delusional. And his men have had enough of his shit. They leave, one by one, while Bayrd chills out making a spear. When he’s done, he leaves with the last of the men, leaving Lord Jarid tied up to a tree so he doesn’t make trouble. And he’s off to do his bit in the Last Battle.
Talmanes and the Band are rushing to help Caemlyn – which is mostly lost at this point, and to try and prevent the Shadowspawn from getting their hands on Aludra’s dragons. As they get close, they realise the Trollocs are about to seize the city’s gates to prevent the refugees escaping, and rush to hold the nearest one.
Isam is hanging out in an Inn, in what appears to be some sort of Darkfriend town somewhere in the Blight. It’s a profoundly un-fun place. There’re some of the red veiled men mentioned in the epilogue of Towers of Midnight, though Isam doesn’t tell much about them either, except the name – Samma N’sei. Moridin makes an appearance, but doesn’t come to Isam.
Eventually the person Isam is waiting for arrives – one of the female Forsaken. She wants him to kill Rand. She’s quite adamant about it:
“I want him gutted like an animal, his bowels spilled onto the ground, his blood a milkpan for ravens, his bones left to bleach, then gray, then crack in the heat of the sun. I want him dead, hunter.”
Another tiny tidbit about the red veiled people is dropped – it seems they’re Turned by that horrible thirteen Myrddraal with thirteen channelers procedure. So they’re just Turned male channelers? But then what’s up with the veils and the filed teeth?
Anyway, Isam agrees to kill Rand, but asks for help. Said help turns out to be two of the Samma N’Sei. So, what happened with Moridin’s order against harming Rand? Has that been lifted, or is this woman going behind his back?
Back to Talmanes, he’s managed to hold the gate and drive the Trollocs back for now. Unfortunately, Talmanes has been wounded by a Fade – which means he needs healing soon, or it could turn deadly. For now though, he has other worries. The other mercenary bands are refusing to help because there’s no one to pay them. Talmanes points out that this is the Last fucking Battle, and that if they don’t fight the world will come to a sticky end, and their lives with it. That, or they’ll be facing a lot of angry people who fought while they stood by and watched once all this is over. The mercenaries finally see sense.
Egeanin and Bayle Domon arrive at the Field of Merillor, and go looking for Nynaeve/Elayne. She’s trying to do something about the Seanchan’s stupid damane system. They run into a Warder, Sleete from the description. Leilwin spins a bullshit tale about Nynaeve owing them payment, with a fake Illianer accent. I expect Sleete to see right through it, but he doesn’t, and takes them to Nynaeve.
Turns out Sleete did catch that Egeanin’s accent was fake, but brought them to Nynaeve all the same. Nynaeve of course is really pissed that they failed to dispose of the male a’dam, letting it fall into the hands of the Seanchan, and from there, Semirhage. For a change Nynaeve’s anger is totally justified. Realising the full scope of what she did, Egeanin decides that the only way to redeem herself is to become da’covale to the White Tower, to do anything that they require of her.
It’s interesting that she sees this giving up, this bowing and scraping, not as a sign of weakness, but of strength:
“On your feet,” Nynaeve snapped. “Light, Egeanin. I remember you being so strong you could chew rocks and spit out sand.”
“It is my strength that compels me,” she said, lowering her eyes. Did Nynaeve not understand how difficult this was? It would be easier to slit her own throat, only she had not the honor left to demand such an easy end.
Nynaeve decides to take her to Egwene. Let’s hope Egwene can set up an agreement with the Seanchan, like she has with the Aiel and the Sea Folk. Now that will be a true test of her skills.
Meanwhile, Talmanes’ wound is getting steadily worse. One of the Borderlanders in the Band provides some temporary relief in the form of some herbs and hard liquor, but it’s still only a stopgap measure. He decides to push for the palace, hoping to find some resistance, and some channelers to help moving the dragons.
Aviendha meets with the Wise Ones and recounts the horrors the columns showed her in Rhuidean. The question rises whether this future is fixed or they can fix it, but as Sorilea says, it’s a moot point. Either way, they won’t just sit back and accept it. They will try to avert this fate. As the others leave to spread the news to the rest of the Wise Ones, Bair asks Aviendha to make her a gateway to Rhuidean so she can see the visions for herself. She also gives Aviendha an excellent piece of advice – change the names of her children from what she saw in the columns. If it works, that will imply that the rest of the future can be changed as well.
Talmanes and his men are still trying to fight towards the Palace, but it’s not working. There are Trollocs behind her, cutting off retreat, while they’re losing a lot of men as they push through the hordes in their way. Just as Talmanes gives up and decides to try to split up and retreat, they’re joined by a force of Andoran soldiers from the palace, led by Guybon. Turns out they haven’t been able to inform since Darkfriens in the palace killed two of the Kinswomen left behind, and the remaining two can’t form a gateway, even linked.
Fortunately, Elayne also ordered them to send regular reports, and when those don’t arrive, she is bound to send people to investigate. So, Guybon wants to hold on to the palace, but Talmanes tells him there’s no point – the city is lost, and the palace is bound to fall eventually. As for informing Elayne, it won’t take a genius to figure out what’s happened when they come. Makes sense. So Guybon and his men go to hold the gate from the Trollocs, while Talmanes leads the band to the dragons.
And will someone get the Kin to look at Talmanes’ wound?!
Androl and Pevara are meeting. An unlikely alliance, but they’re both trapped and desperate. Their conversation is pretty fun to read:
“I came on my own, as I believe Evin told you yesterday, when you asked him about me.”
“Hmm,” she said. “I’m being monitored, I see.”
He looked toward her, lowering the leather. “Is that something they teach you?”
“What?” Pevara asked innocently.
“To twist a conversation about. There you sit, all but accusing me of spying on you—when you were the one interrogating my friends about me.”
“I want to know what my resources are.”
Maybe these two will end up together as well. Two other Asha’man come, and the lot of them decide that they need to do something about Taim, maybe start a rebellion of sorts. Also, turns out what’s been happening to the people here is Turning – more confirmation of Taim’s loyalty, as if we needed any.
One of the Kin does end up checking out Talmanes’ wound, but unfortunately she’s not a good enough healer. Uh oh. He decides to push on to Aludra’s warehouse. Fortunately the Trollocs have pulled back to the city wall, letting the city burn, so they have a relatively easy time of it. They get to the warehouse, only to find it a burned out husk, and the dragons gone. But then they hear explosions from another place, hoping to find an Aes Sedai. They find a force of Trollocs ahead of them, Talmanes taking down another Myrddraal in a superb display of not giving a fuck. It’s nice to see him getting some limelight, although I’m getting increasingly worried about his wound.
They find Aludra past the Trollocs, with a bunch of refugees with her, and the dragons. Now, with retreat cut off, it’s time for a desperate rush for the city gates.
Moghedien arrives at a Forsaken meeting. Moghedien’s mindtrap has been returned to her. She also confirms that it was Moridin who rescued Lanfear from the foxes, killing her in the process. An unfamiliar woman also comes, Hessalam. Who’s actual Graendal, minus her old name and her beauty. Moridin says that there’s too few of them left now, and introduces the newest member of the Forsaken. Taim. Or rather, M’Hael. Wow. I knew Taim was shady, but this is next level. A new Forsaken – the first of this age. And this is the guy in charge of male Hogwarts.
Talmanes is in really bad shape now, to the point he has trouble standing and thinking. The rest of the men are going to be in even worse state soon – that is, dead. The Trollocs have cornered them, and are preparing for a final rush to overwhelm them and seize the Dragons. But then Talmanes has an epiphany – what do you do when you have your backs to the wall? You blow the wall! And so they turn the dragons around, and blow up Caemlyn’s wall, giving them the way out at last, just as Talmanes falls unconscious.
Wow. That was quite the Prologue. I feel like the entirety of Talmanes’ POVs don’t belong in a Prologue – they’re not fringe stuff like Bayrd or Isam in the Blight. Maybe it was since Talmanes is generally not a POV character. In any case, so much respect for all his perseverance in rescuing the Dragons.
I’ll have to cut the post short here, since it’s 1 am here, and the internet is about to go down for the night. So it’s either this prologue only post, or you guys in the west wait another day.