Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Along, Week 7


Welcome to week 6 of our A Memory of Light Read-Along! This week we read Chapters 37 (That's right: only one chapter this week, but it was double the number of pages we usually cover in a week. I know, right?!). 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. Eivind Fonn is hosting this week and will probably post his answers over at Dab of Darkness. Hop over and check out his answers there!

1.  What did you think of the structure?  That is, one huge chapter with no breathers.  Was it appropriate for the battle, or did you find the difference from before jarring?


I didn't mind the structure. For most stories/books it wouldn't have worked, but given the frenzied, epic nature of this battle, and how long we've been hearing about the looming Last Battle, I think it was a great way to put the reader inside the story. All the characters are surrounded on all sides by the battle, totally mired in it with no way out. Doing the chapter this way kind of gave the same feeling to the reader as we experienced the battle with them.

2. 
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Tuon orchestrates a fight with Mat, and decides to return only after some careful deliberations.  Ice-cold gamble or foolhardy move by Mat?  Am I the only one who thinks the Seanchan have gotten away with very little fighting so far?


Definitely a gamble, but I think if it pays off, it will pay off big. Militarily, I think it was genius, but because he isn't entirely sure of where he stands with Tuon, that makes it a little scary. Will she come to his rescue or leave him to his battle? So yeah, definitely a gamble.

As for the Seanchan, I agree that they've done very little fighting, though the Forces of the Light have made good use of some of the sul'dam/damane pairs on different fronts. Let's hope with Tuon heading for the battlefield once more that they live up to their reputation as Artur Hawkwing's descendants.

3. 
Androl and Pevara (Don't they look super-excited! :D)
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Androl and Pevara spends much of the battle behind enemy lines to recover the seals, practicing telepathy and other fascinating effects.  Why not another lava trick?  Logain also challenge Demandred.  What do you think of his motivations?  Where will his glory come from?


I love these two! They're so great. I love how one of them will gasp or feel a spike of panic, and the other one goes, "What?! What's wrong!" That would be so hard to get useful, but it's also kind of charming. (I think these two need a couples name. Peverol? Andra?) Myself, I'd totally be down for another lava trick. I also loved when he would open a gateway to the trolloc army whenever anyone sent balefire his way. That's totally genius. If only he could have taught Egwene that trick. :(  

I believe it was said last week that Logain is still nursing quite an ego. I think his glory and his humility may end up going hand in hand. I won't say more (and I only vaguely remember the details anyway) but I remember really liking Logain's story line here. 

4.
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  In the meantime, Rand and the Dark One exchange visions for the future.  What do you think of all these?  Can Rand really kill the Dark One now?


I thought this was really interesting and well-written. I know that most of the very end of this book was actually written by Jordan before he passed. (Sanderson did some re-writes and editing, but the most of the ending was already written.) I don't know the details of what was and wasn't written by Jordan, but I think this part may have been. When he said he'd had the ending figured out for years, I think this is what he was referring to. It was never going to be a straight forward slaying of the DO by Rand. It was way more complicated than that. 

Basically, Jordan understood that their had to be opposition in all things and people have to have free will (and something to choose between) or else they cease to be human. Despite Rand's heroic intentions, his way of thinking was flawed. He wants to defeat the DO (and we want that too) but he has to find a way to do it that doesn't mess with free will. Hmm...

5. 
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Some choose not to fight for various reasons.  What do you think of Ila's thoughts on violence, now, at the Last Battle?  Did you expect the gai'shain to fight?  Any difference between them and the reluctant mercenaries from the prologue?


I have really mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, if someone really can't or doesn't want to fight, I don't judge them for that. There are other ways to contribute and as long as they are doing something to contribute to war effort, I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is them judging others for deciding to fight, especially if those people are keeping them alive. When Ila's husband even looked at a weapon, she went into this I-can't-believe-he's-even-considering-this mode, as though she might decide not to love him anymore if he did. Really? I was a little bugged by that.

With the gai'shain, I'm not surprised they won't fight, given their history and how rigid they are in their traditions. Because Rand has more or less fulfilled their toh and changed the need for that kind of servitude, I think it would be perfectly okay for them to shed the white and take up weapons without losing honor, but the Last Battle will probably be over by the time you explain that to all the gai'shain, so you might as well just let them contribute in another way. 

The mercenaries are worse, in my opinion, because they have been fighters of some sort their entire life. They don't have any beliefs or religion that would keep them from it. Which means they're just being lazy.

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Faile and Co. make it to the battle, only to be betrayed by Aravine.  Do you think anyone other than Olver made it out (Faile, especially)?  What did you think of Bela's heroic death?  Where does the Horn go from here?


The Aravine thing was pretty sad. I felt for Faile and how hard she took it. Poor Olver is trapped beneath a trolloc talon, and everything's pretty much gone to hell. (What else is new?) And poor Bela! I'm so glad they gave her a part in the Last Battle, given that she's been with one or another of our heroes since book 1. I loved that she rode like the wind to help save her rider before her heart gave out. I think it was a fitting (if tragic) end for the loyal, shaggy little mare. Loved her! Will totally miss her. (While Nynaeve is my fave character and I disagreed with the results, I must say I had to smile when I saw a pole for 'your favorite WoT character' where Bela actually got more votes than Nynaeve. :D)


7. 
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Gawyn, Galad and Lan all decide to challenge Demandred.  Gawyn pays the ultimate price: foolish move, or a reasonable gamble to remove the most dangerous enemy on the field?  Galad tries to avenge him, and fails, only for Lan to do the deed and finally fulfil his series-long death wish.  What do you think of these events?

Oh this whole thing was so sad! It may not have been the best decision on Gawyn's part, but I thought he was heroic all the same for trying. Then Galad tried and failed as well. I remember reading it the first time and thinking, I can't believe Demandred got both of them. Both brothers! So. Stinkin'. Sad! 




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The part where Lan runs up there is probably my favorite moment of the entire book, and quite possibly the entire series. I loved that Loial had to go bear witness to it. I loved that before heading toward his death, he sent Nynaeve his love through the bond. I loved his line: "I didn't come here to win. I came here to kill you." Only someone who wanted to kill him more than he wanted to live could have prevailed. Gawyn, and also to some (if a lesser) extent Galad, were in it for the glory as well as the triumph over a Forsaken. Lan wasn't. The evil needed to be killed, even if he died trying. End of story. Lan is just a freakin' BAMF! 

Best. Part. Ever!






8.
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  Egwene, having lost her warder and husband, slays M'Hael (WITH a sa'angreal) and then lays waste to the Sharans, and kills herself, Lews Therin style.  Did you expect Egwene to be the first out of the original crew?  Was her fate sealed already when Gawyn died?  What will her legacy be, as Amyrlin?  And what of this new weave---the Flame of Tar Valon?


I was SO shocked by this the first time I read it. It was always implied that she would be a legendary Amyrlin that would take the world into the next Age of Legends. Legendary? Yes. Survive the Last Battle? I guess not. This is the second time I've read this and I cried both times. It was so epic and inspiring and sad and just... *sigh*

I actually do think her fate was sealed, not when Gawyn died, per se, but when he decided to leave her. One of the dreams she had was of a kind of door closing on her. Gawyn was on the other side of it and she knew the interpretation: that if Gawyn let that door close, she was dead. I didn't even remember that reading this final book the first time, but re-reading it, I read that dream and went, "Omg. The door's gonna close! That's why she dies!" But of course I didn't want to say that back then. So yeah, really sad. 

I think the new weave will be a big part of her legacy. She will always be the Amyrlin that healed the schismed Tower, saw the world into the Last Battle, killed the M'Hael (thank goodness! Somebody needed to! I so wanted to smack him when he did the whole how-dare-the-Amyrlin-defeat-me thing. What a doofus!) and discovered this weave, which pushed back the darkness, perhaps just long enough to allow Rand to succeed? I mean, because of the balefire, the Pattern was actually unraveling and she stopped it! She found the opposite of balefire which will be a way to counter it from now on. Go Egwene! 

This will always be a very sad twist for me, even if it was very inspiring. I so wanted Egwene to survive! I also thought it was tremendously sad when Rand felt her die, relived some of things he said to her back in book 1 when he still thought he'd marry her, then xxxxxxxxxxxxx. (Yeah, I wrote something there but it was from a later chapter. I read ahead one chapter so I deleted what I said. I'll put it in next week. :D) Like I said, I cry over this part a lot. 

9. 
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Elayne, having suffered huge losses for the whole battle, is taken by Mellar, threatening to cut her babies out.  What will come of this?  Is Birgitte now permanently dead, or is she just waiting on the other side for the Horn to blow?


Holy World War II-level war atrocities! Somebody kill Mellor! There isn't a name bad enough for a guy who threatens to cut babies out of the womb. And Brigitte! I was so shocked by this when it happened. As we near the end, I suppose we ought to expect things like this to happen, but it happens so suddenly, after we're so used to having Brigitte around, that it totally takes your breath away. I won't say anything else about this story line, but keep in mind that Brigitte was a hero for the Horn before she was Elayne's warder, and Olver is trying desperately to get that horn to Mat...

10. Anything else you feel I missed?  Ogier?  Dragons?  The beautiful Shendla?  Demandred's approach to the battle?  All the minor deaths: Hurin, Mr. and Mrs. Bashere, Bryne and, dare I say Siuan?  Min's spy-hunting?  Leilwin?


I love the Ogier! I love that Loial and Erith are fighting side by side. It was so sad when he said he was still deluding himself that he would get to write his book. He totally thinks he's going to die. Poor Loial! The dragons are holding up better than anyone had any right to expect. (Go Aludra!) 


The Last Battle (Source)


The beautiful Shendla smacks of another aspect that Jordan wanted to expound on more, but obviously didn't get the chance. She's interesting, but very brief. 

I thought all the minor deaths were terribly sad too, but I liked the way they were handled. It would have been too wordy (already an 800 page book!) to go through each death in individual detail. Having Rand see them from afar and pass over them quickly might have actually packed a heavier punch in a way. I loved that. Siuan and Bryne were super-sad too. Like Egwene and Gawyn, if one of them had to go, I'm glad they went together. 

Two of the four Great Generals are gone. I think the fate of the battle rests squarely on Mat's shoulders now. 

And Leilwin. She's already done great service to Egwene, but now Egwene has left her in charge of breaking the seals at the right moment. (No pressure or anything.) Obviously keeping Leilwin close was not only a smart decision, but absolutely necessary.


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Extras:

Don't have much to say here. (Shocking, I know.) But I think we covered everything pretty well. Just, I loved this whole chapter and cried. A lot.

What other bloggers thought:     Dab of Darkness     Coffee, Cookies & Chili Peppers

What did everyone else think of this gargantuan chapter?

6 comments :

  1. I agree with everything you said. I love the "Bella the Badass" image! I felt Bella's death more than so many others. She was such a great example of giving her life in the service of others. I also loved the image of Lan carrying Demandred's head. I thought it was so cool that he had the strength to stand and lift the head for everyone to see. Lan's triumph showcases something that is so important. The dark side cannot comprehend self service and self sacrifice. We see this in Rand's dealings with the DO. To me that means the the Light will always win. So much sadness which again involves self sacrifice of those we love in this story. In real life it is the same. Unfortunately some have to sacrifice so much in order to get and keep true freedom.

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    1. I agree! Love Bela and Lan! The Light will always win because it blinds itself to universal truths. There was definitely a lot of sadness for me in these chapters, but I loved them anyway. :D

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  2. 2. I have no doubt that Tuon will get back into the fight, but persuading her generals might be a challenge.

    3. I love the gushy looks on their faces! Instalove for the win!!!!!! :D

    As a woman facing my silver wedding anniversary this year I find this pair delightfully normal. I want an entire series about their further adventures! Perhaps we should start a campaign . . .

    4. I can understand why Mr Jordan would see the ending as a massive priority when he knew that he could not finish the series himself. Interesting that there did not seem to be a jarring change in tone, even if he wrote most of it. Damn, that Brandon is good at editing!

    Agreed: Rand sticks sword through Dark One would have been the worst ending ever! :D

    5. I agree that I have very mixed thoughts about this. Part of me wants to shout “Fight, you idiots!” but I am also saddened that they may lose their ancient beliefs because of this incident.

    6. I’m still struggling to come to terms with Bela’s death – it affected me so much more than Egwene’s . . . tearing up again just thinking about it! :(

    7. I suppose they did accomplish something in that they stopped Demandred massacring even more of the armies . . . but very sad, I agree.

    8. I guess that it is much easier to become a legend if you die young (I keep thinking of Marilyn Monroe). Interesting interpretation of the Dream . . . stupid Gawyn . . . grumble, grumble . . .

    9. What a shame that the Flame of Tar Valon didn’t take out all the Darkfriends as well . . . but it was a little too clean for Mellar . . .

    10. Loial’s thoughts were heartbreaking: if he doesn’t survive I will seriously lose my mind . . . Bela was bad enough!

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    1. We should definitely campaign for Androl and Pevara books! :D Yeah, Loial and Bela are about on par for belovedness among characters. :D Thanks Sue!

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  3. I would think that many of Tuon's generals and such would be gnashing their teeth, wanting to get into the battle. After all, as you say, they are supposedly Artur Hawkwing's descendants and need to prove it!

    You put it quite well about the non-combatants. As long as they are contributing, I think I can not judge them harshly....though this is the last battle, so if it came to their doorstep, I would hope they would reconsider. And, yes, Ila's harsh judgement of the combatants was annoying. Her life is preserved by their blood.

    In a pole of favorite characters, I would vote for Bela too.

    On one hand, I expected Birgitte to die at some point because we have the Horn in play and she has to ride with the heroes) but then here she dies so swiftly and not in some epic fight. I was surprised. But now I am hoping the Horn is blown and she returns to kick Mellor's ass.

    I like your final fan art pic, especially that Perrin & Mat aren't whitewashed.

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    1. Gotta love Bela! Yeah Brigitte's death was definitely fast and shocking. I loved that fan art too. I saw it and had to post it. Thanks Susan! :D

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