Sunday, February 15, 2015
A Memory of Light Read-Along, Week 5
Welcome to week 5 of our A Memory of Light Read-Along! This week we read Chapters 22-28. Remember that everything in this section as well as everything that's come before is fair game for spoilers, so read at your own risk. I'm hosting this week.
1. What do you think of the Sharans so far? You can address fashion, choices, attitude, class distinction, the fact that one of the Forsaken leads them, whatever you want, or all of the above.
Well we know what Demandred was up to all along. I thought this was a sufficiently huge twist given how bad this is for our super heroes. He's managed to integrate himself into their legends and beliefs, which means he's been working on this for a while. He's dedicated. I'll give him that. As for their culture, I thought Egwene's observation that the more intricate tattoos on the lower-class people can't be removed, so there's no upward mobility. Interesting concept. We thought the Seanchan were immoral, but obviously this culture is even worse.
The detail here smacks of something Jordan was never able to fully flesh out. I even wonder if he would have done a POV from a character in Shara and explored the culture more through their eyes, but then as the series became it's own monster, it got away from him and he just never did it. Then, of course, he wasn't around to write the final installment, but he obviously had lots of detail fleshed out for these people. I think the details are all great, and am kind of sad we didn't get more of this culture throughout the story.
|Leilwin Shipless and Bayle Domon|
2. Gawyn is actively using the Bloodknife's ring, Leilwin saves Egwene's life, and Egwene meets with Tuon, amidst the chaos of the raging battle. What do you think, what stood out to you, what do you predict will happen?
Gawyn's use of the ring does seem like another bone-headed decision on his part. I love the guy, but I wish he would think a bit more clearly at times. Leilwin saved Egwene's life. We knew, from the dreams, that she would do a service for Egwene, and we saw that in this section. Whether she'll do more service, or this was the dreams meant remains to be seen. And I thought the meeting between Egwene and Fortuona was kind of hilarious. It came dangerously close to an all out mud-wrestling match. If anyone had told Mat in book 1 that one day he would stand between the Amyrlin Seat and the Empress of the Seachan empire, he would have laughed heartily. Then run away.
|Gareth Bryne and Siuan Sanche|
3. It seems that both Agelmar and Bashere might be darkfriends. Do you think they are? If not, what is going on, and might it be connected to whatever Graendal was doing, messing with people's dreams in T'A'R?
I won't spoil too much on this, except to say that it has everything to do with what Perrin observed Graendal doing in the World of Dreams. And unfortunately it's going to get worse before it gets better. :/
4. Rand finally enters the Pit of Doom with Nynaeve and Moiraine, leaving Thom outside to witness the fight below. Rand's blood stains the rocks, we hear the DO's voice and Moridin shows up. What do you think of how this is playing out? How do you think Rand will fare?
I thought it was fitting that Thom stayed outside. Not being a channeler, he wouldn't have been much of an asset in the Pit, but it was also VERY fitting that he witness the battle below. He's a bard, after all, and where Loial will be the one to write everything down, Thom will be the one to recite the poems.
Rand's blood on the rocks is the first hope we've been given that Rand might survive. The whole dragon's-blood-on-the-rocks thing was one of the main reasons Rand believes he won't survive, but his blood is already staining the rocks and he's still alive. Not saying he'll live, but it's a possibility.
When we heard the DO's voice, my first thought was that the knife didn't work in the Pit. But then later Rand said that when the DO sensed him there, he was surprised, so it had worked. (Oh. Sweet.)
I think I've touched on this before, but I think the fact that Moridin would rather die and obtain oblivion, rather than switching sides, is really interesting.
"Now? Now you beg me to return to the Light? I have been promised oblivion." (pg. 455)
I also really liked the black hole thing in the Pit. I think it was Perrin who said he knew when he saw it that he'd never understood darkness. It's like the Nothing from The Neverending Story. "A hole would be something. No, it was...nothing." Terribly fascinating to think about. Yeah, I'm a geek.
5. Oh good heavens, Perrin! Slayer tries to kill Rand in the Pit of Doom, but Perrin heads him off. They fight, and Perrin sees phantoms from the waking world (and maybe other worlds!). The wolves want him to lead them into the Last Hunt. He sees Rand and Moridin sword-fighting, speaks to Nynaeve, though she's in the waking world, puts the dream spike around the Pit of Doom, and figures out how to defeat the red-veils (in T'A'R' at least). Um...discuss!
Perrin had so much great stuff in this section! I couldn't stop reading the parts with him (and I'd read them before). I remember reading the first time and hoping that Perrin would have a big enough part in the Last Battle. Of course I wanted to see him defeat Slayer, but that seemed like Perrin's personal problem, not on par with Rand's dilemmas. Nope. We now know what the Forsaken who met with Slayer in the Town wanted of him (I assume it was this) and Perrin stopped him. (Muah-hah-hah-hah).
We also learned a little more about Slayer.
"I'm honestly not certain another has had his skills before. The Dark One did...something to this Slayer when capturing his soul, or his souls. I suspect Semirhage might have been able to tell us more. It's a pity she's dead." (pg. 413)
The phantoms were interesting. Not only would it be chilling to see them from the battles going on in the waking world, but he saw some that looked like snakes, as though maybe the Aelfinn/Eelfinn worlds are also participating in the Last Battle, somehow. I don't know. I think Perrin summed it up well when he said the barriers between worlds had simply grown very thin. That makes sense, especially considering the dark fissures and cracks people keep seeing. The Pattern is unraveling around them.
I think it's interesting that the wolves want Perrin to lead them. That they need someone like him--a liaison between wolves and humans--to lead them, or maybe they wouldn't go? I love the idea of him leading them into battle, though.
I thought it was way cool that Perrin was able to communicate with Nynaeve, and more than that, that she believed it was him. I half-worried she might think she was going crazy just from being so close to the DO or something. But no! Go Nynaeve!
Oh, and Perrin defeated the red veils by thinking they were idiots. Whoa. If that worked in real life, so many people I've crossed paths with would be in mental institutes! :D
|Fortuona at court (Source)|
6. Fortuona has developed some interesting thoughts about Mat. She names him Rodholder. When she hears of Min's talent, she names her a Doomseer and suddenly Min is as important (and trapped) as Mat is in the Seanchan court. Mat throws away his "emperor's clothes" and heads for the battlefield. Were you surprised by the twist with Min? Are you excited to see Mat on the battlefield? Discuss!
"Fortuona represented order, and she had married chaos himself." (pg. 434)
I liked when she said he was chaos personified, where she herself is all about order. In a way, that shows why they're perfect for one another. Polar opposites, perhaps, but they balance one another perfectly.
As for Min, on the one hand, poor girl. On the other hand, it's kind of cool and fitting that her talents be used to their greatest extent. Besides, if Rand does die, she's going to need some other task to occupy her mind. Never thought she and Mat would end up living in the same court, but hey, why not? And thank goodness Mat finally threw away those frivolous clothes. Can't wait to see him on the battlefield with all the other great generals.
|Moiraine and Nynaeve in the Pit of Doom|
7. Perhaps comment on some (or all) of the more minor events, such as why Moiraine and Nynaeve are getting along so well, while Moiraine and Lan aren't, why Nynaeve would actually seem older without her braid, Elayne's war speech before her troops, the darkness that shadowed the sun for a time, or the fact that Aviendha has officially joined Team Badass.
I think Moiraine and Nynaeve have just reached a comfortable truce. They're actually a lot alike, even in temperament, which is why the jealousy raged so savagely. Now that Moiraine is with Thom and Nynaeve holds Lan's bond, there's no reason they can't be friends. I do think it's sad that Moiraine and Lan are distant from one another now, but maybe it's better that way. They can focus on their respective partners and not be worried so much about one another.
I just thought the comment about Nynaeve seeming older without the braid, even though it should be the other way around for people from the Two Rivers, was interesting. To me, it just shows that Nynaeve has completely outgrown her old life. If her braid had been sheared at the beginning of the series, she might have accepted it (because what else could she do) but she would have been self-conscious about it. Now, she's really not. She's moved so far beyond her simple life in Emmond's Field that it doesn't bother her, and she seems older to those around her because she's achieved a kind of mature transcendence. In a way, I think she needed something like that in order to be worthy to be Lan's queen. (Again, assuming that he survives and Rand prevails.)
Elayne's speech was awesomesauce. Am I the only one that gets teary-eyed every time one of our superheroes or heroins starts spewing inspiring war speeches? I really liked not only the speech but the affect it had on the soldiers:
"They ignored the darkness in the sky and turned eyes on the goal." (pg. 442)
The shadow that darkened the sun. Whoa. I still remember reading this the first time. This line took my breath away:
Aviendha felt a chill and found herself trembling as the light slipped away. Darkness, true darkness, fell. Soldiers across the field looked up in awe, and even fear. The light went out. The end of the world had come... Even the trollocs looked awestruck. (pg. 425)
Finally, I know Aviendha was a badass before this, and some people will probably call me on that. But freak!
Aviendha's vision cleared just enough to make out the woman's features--a long face and dark hair--as her weave struck the woman. The woman's limbs ripped from her body. A smoldering arm spun in the air, creating a swirl of black smoke before hitting nearby. (pg. 427).
Geez, Aviendha. I think you got her!
Other lines I loved:
"They stood at the edge of time itself, and still Thom Merrilin found a smile." (pg. 429)
Holcom paled. "Those Seanchan women are channeling like they've got red-hot irons up...I mean, they're giving the Sharans a hard time, my Lord." (pg. 485)
"Use me?" [Min] asked."Make use of you," Mat said. "That's what I meant. I've had trouble with the words coming out of my mouth lately. Only the stupid ones seem to make it. Anyway..." (pg. 491)
By the Light, [Loial] had a book to finish before he went! (pg. 500)
I feel your pain, Loial!
|Imagine this Ogier in battle! (Source)|
Images I loved:
Rand led the way, Nynaeve at his left, Moiraine at his right. (pg. 453)
Yeah, that image of them entering the Pit of Doom, should be a movie poster or something.
Scores of wolves coming to Perrin's call, and appearing on the slopes of Shayol Ghul. (pg. 460)
Perrin and Slayer fighting through the phantoms and them exploding like sand. (pg. 461)
Loial chucking trollocs around like their kindling, and singing war songs while he does it. (pg. 500)
What did everyone else think of this section?