Spoilers for books 1-13 and A Memory of Light to Chapter 36| 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 chapter 30-36.
The Way of the Predator
Perrin and Gaul arrive at Egwene’s camp in Tel’aran’rhiod, but Graendal is already gone. Perrin finally has the brilliant idea to warn others that Graendal is up to something – though he still hasn’t figured out what she’s doing. He thinks she’s communicating with Darkfriends in the camp.
Eventually the WolfNet warns him of Graendal’s presence in Shayol Ghul, so he shifts there with Gaul, just in time to see Graendal make a gateway to the real world and step out. Perrin wants to follow, but decides he’s needed here more to protect Rand from Slayer. He also runs into Elyas, a.k.a Long Tooth. He and the other wolves have been helping Ituralde hold the valley. At last, Perrin realises exactly what Graendal is up to, but before he can do much about it, he’s alerted that Slayer is attacking again, so he rushes to help the wolves, leaving Elyas to warn someone, anyone, of what Graendal is doing.
Rand and Moridin are having a very literal duel, and surprisingly, Rand is managing to hold his own despite Moridin having twice the hands that Rand does. But then he stumbles due to the ground shifting beneath him, and he touches the pool of darkness, the very essence of the Dark One. Everything goes black. Oh dear.
Meanwhile in Andor, Elayne’s forces are at the end of their strength, and defeat is imminent, but then Logain and the Asha’man arrive. Logain asks Androl to hold off the Trollocs until Elayne’s people can regroup. And so Androl, linked with a bazillion channelers, wielding saidin and saidar, creates a huge gateway that pours frigging lava on the Trollocs, forcing them back.
A Tempest of Water
After hours of channeling to hold off the Shadow’s advance, Egwene returns to camp, and Min arrives to tell her about Mat’s belief that Bryne is a Darkfriend. Egwene and Gawyn are skeptical.
In Thakan’dar, Ituralde is still holding the pass, though the stress – not to mentions Graendal’s meddling – is beginning to affect him. And then, the Trollocs pull back to reveal an army of Myrddraal attacking his forces. The soldiers, who had been holding strong, now break formation in terror. Something in him is forcing him to pull back his forces, and Ituralde is resisting. Good man. And then, wolves appear, and Elyas knocks him unconscious. Ituralde does not resist.
Damn, if there was any doubt before, now I’m sure that Ituralde is the best of the Great Captains. He’s the only one who manages to resist Graendal’s whatever to any great extent. Bryne, Bashere, Agelmar – all the rest could not.
Egwene is pondering Mat’s message. She goes into flashback mode, remembering how once Mat tried to save someone who wasn’t drowning and was made fun of, grumbled about it all the while, but then some time later he jumped in again to save the same person when they were drowning for real. Moral of the story is that Egwene decides to take Mat’s warning a bit more seriously. The flashback felt awkward though – WoT doesn’t really have much of this sort of thing.
Anyway, she meets the Hall and Bryne. Gawyn arrives with news that Bashere is (allegedly!) a Darkfriend. Then Egwene forces Bryne to realise the blunders he’s made, and Bryne eventually admits that something is wrong with him. Egwene jumps to the right conclusion, or close enough – Compulsion. Well that’s the lot of them. Notably, Elayne was the only one who jumped straight to branding her General a Darkfriend. Lan and Egwene were smart enough to note that something was up. Actually Mat assumed wrong too.
Now, the question is who should lead? Some of the Aes Sedai want to lead themselves, but that won’t work because they don’t have experience with battle tactics. But there is one man, who is good – rather, excellent – at war, and is proof to being tampered with the Power. Mat 🙂
A Yellow Flower-Spider
Mat is observing the battle through a gateway in the floor (floorway?). He and Galgan decide that althoug they’re holding for now, their position is not a good one, and they need to pull back. He asks for a meeting with Egwene and co, through a gateway.
Meanwhile, Tuon is chatting with Min, asking her for the omens she sees on people’s heads, then the interpretations. Tuon being Tuon, she’s using this information. For instance, learning that a man will be married soon, she has him moved to the front lines and forbidden to marry until the war is over. Min is grumpy about this, but goes along with it. Until, that is, Tuon wants a soldier executed based on what Min saw. At this, she puts her foot down.
By the way, comments on the last post turned up a really interesting theory – that there was someone like Min way back when in Seanchan, and that person was the source of all these stupid “omens” that Tuon sees all over the place. This also explains Tuon’s reaction to Min. People also speculated that that person might have been Min herself, woven again and again into the Pattern like the heroes of the horn. I don’t know whether this is officially correct, but it is my headcanon now.
The meeting begins. Elayne joins in too. There’s a lot of talk. The gist is that the four way fight plan has been rekt by Graendal, and Mat proposes that they all fall back to a good position, and they make one last unified stand. The rest agree after a bit of arguing, and Mat decides to make mankind’s last stand at Merrilor. Nicely symmetric, it all ending where it began.
A POV from Galad, in the aftermath of the battle at Cairhien. They won, but the cost was so high there’s not much in the way of joy in him. Reminds me of that saying : “War doesn’t determine who is right, war determines who is left”. It’s actually not that apt here, but whatever.
The Prince’s Tabac
Perrin and Slayer have another of the their Matrix/DragonballZ style fights, and this time, despite being in the dream world in the flesh just like Slayer, Perrin still loses and is forced to flee. Maybe he’s too tired after spending all this time here with no sleep.
While all these crazy end times shenanigans are going on, Vanin and others are just chilling, guarding supplies. Faile is preparing to get the Horn to Mat in Merrilor. They exit Tar Valon with a caravan, and get to nearby travelling grounds. Just as they’re about to depart via gateway though, a bubble of evil strikes, creating deadly sharp spikes through the ground. They hasten through the gateway made by a wounded Aes Sedai, and find themselves not in Merrilor. In the Blight. Well damn.
Though I don’t get the importance of the Horn in all this. All it seems to do is create a bunch of admittedly good immortal warriors, but that while significant at Falme, is unlikely to help much in a battle as large as this one is going to be. There’s the motivational factor, but do soldiers really need more motivation than the fact that if they don’t win they’re all done for?
Aviendha is having a snack. They still hold the pass – fortunately once Ituralde went down, she rallied the defenders against the Fades. Suddenly, she notices channeling, and goes to check it out, which leads her to Darlin’s tent, who is now the commander of the defenders. And runs into three Red Veils, who take her by surprise. Fortunately Cadsuane turns up, and though they hide the bound Aviendha, manages to recognise them for what they are, and kill them like that. How did she know? All Cadsuane says to that is she’s no half-trained wilder. I’m guessing it has less to do with training and more to do with her ter’angreals. In all this, the female channeler – presumably Graendal – has managed to slip away.
Soon after, another Trolloc attack happens, and Cadsuane senses dozens of men channeling among them. The Red Veils, posing as Aiel, have managed to slip in. She organises the channelers into three circles and sets to finding the Red Veils, and also warns Darlin that someone might be messing with him now.
Rand finds himself in some weird place, outside the pattern. Maybe inside the Dark One, in some way? The vast blackness around him might be that. He and the Dark One trade words, and then the Dark One attacks him somehow. I’m not entirely clear what sort of struggle is happening. Maybe like a battle of wills?
Perrin, exhausted and wounded, returns to Merrilor to wait for the portal back to the real world, and falls unconscious.
Faile and co. are hanging out in the Blight. Things are pretty unfun. They’ve lost people to the weird deadly things. They discuss whether the Aes Sedai that sent them here was a Darkfriend or it was an accident. Either way, it’s a moot point now. They decide that getting back to the south lands is nigh impossible, and decide to head to nearby Shayol Ghul instead, where they know they’ve got channelers to help them get out. Plus that area is empty of life, so there’s actually less danger.
As Aviendha is battling the Red Veils, members of her circle start dropping out. She rushes to them to find two dead and the third Aes Sedai compulsioned by Graendal, who vanishes, traveling with the True Power.
A Practiced Grin
A POV from Olver, who is with Faile in the Blight. Riding Bela. And complaining about it! Kids these days…
He’s busy daydreaming about his planned revenge against the Shaido, this time planning to train amongst the Aiel to learn their ways. But the Blight is getting to him as well.
Cadsuane and Aviendha have a little chat about Graendal. Cadsuane tells Aviendha about the True Power. I’m surprised Aviendha is not aware of its existence by now.
Faile is getting worried for the Horn’s safety. She’s found signs that someone’s tried to open the chest in which it’s being carried. I initially dismissed Faile’s slight suspicion of Vanin, but now… I mean, the guy is known to be a really great thief. I hope he’s not up to something, but I’m afraid he is. Faile’s trying to catch whoever it was, feigning sleep. She’s also hidden the Horn outside her tent just in case.
But then she hears a scream from where she did hide the Horn, and rushing out, she finds Vanin with the Horn, who throws it and runs away at her cries. Meanwhile, the cause of the scream – some random Blight animals, attack the party. They manage to survive the onslaught and decide to ride off into the night, before Vanin or some other danger can find them again.
Damn. Vanin too. Bloody everyone is a Darkfriend. I hate how they’re so unexpected at times. Like Sheriam.
The pit of blackness in Shayol Ghul is behaving even more like a blackhole – apart from blackness and time dilation, it is now exerting a strong pull, and has already stolen Nynaeve’s shawl, who’s holding on for dear life. While on the outside all sorts of crazy stuff has happened, in Nynaeve’s timeline, only an hour has passed.
Nynaeve spots a woman in the cave, and going to her, finds that it’s Alanna, bleeding to death. It’s a trap for Rand! When Alanna dies, Rand’s going to go crazy and so vulnerable. Nynaeve can’t heal her because Rand is taking all her power. Well you’re a wisdom! Figure it out!!
Mat’s preparing the battlefield and his men for the coming fight. He’s teaching a group to fight with a quarterstaff. Egwene comes to talk to him. He asks her where the Horn is, but of course Egwene doesn’t know it’s in the Blight, on its way to Shayol Ghul. He tells her that there is no option to retreat this time. They are running out of resources, and the longer this fight stretches, the stronger the shadow is going to get. And then Mat senses the enemies coming, and so it is about to begin.
Perrin, weak and almost delirious, finally figures how to get back to the real world. How do you get out of a dream? You wake up. I love it. Makes so much sense!
Well, that’s it. This post is a bit rushed, and late – for good reason. My first nice little draft of it got lost! Now my college internet is going down, so better post this fast! Next post is going to be just one chapter. You know which one.