Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Along, Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of our A Memory of Light Read-Along! This week we read Chapters 8-14. 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 and will probably post over at Dab of Darkness. Hop on over to check out his answers as well.

1.  Rand is traveling around, giving precious gifts to Elayne and Lan (so far.)  Is this his way of saying goodbye, his final will? Do you think he is being unnecessarily fatalistic?

Fatalistic? Definitely. We know he believes he won't survive the Last Battle. Whether it's unnecessary or not remains to be seen. I think he's giving these gifts for many reasons, though. Partly they're tokens of thanks for those who've always stood by him. Since having his epiphany and gaining all the wisdom and insight at the end of ToM, he's more sentimental than he used to be. But yes it's also a way of saying goodbye. Just in case. I think the idea of a final will is interesting as well.

I really liked that he gave one to Lan. The obvious recipients will be his three ladies, but I was glad he remembered his old, loyal friend. He's known Lan longer than the others, and I thought it was sweet that he included a crown for Nynaeve. That shows a glimmer of hope from him, despite his fatalism concerning his own fate.

Egwene holding Vora's sa'angreal. (Source)
2.  Egwene stands strong in Kandor, but the other two battlefields are suffering setbacks.  Do you think the Light has to do something drastic, or will they be able to weather the storm with the current plan?

Chances are the current plan will only last so long. From the history we have of what happened before, prior to Lews Therin going into Shayol Ghul to seal the Bore, we are seeing a pretty decent parallel so far. Back then, the shadow gained ground and gained ground and gained ground, until Lews Therin felt he had no choice but to do something drastic or the shadow would win. We're seeing that again so far, so let's hope Rand and the forces of the light can do something transcendent on the battle field. :D

Then again, they may be willing to sacrifice everything on the battlefield just to give Rand the time to face the DO. It's kind of a scary prospect because everyone and everything else will be in jeopardy while Rand conducts his epic duel.

Mat joins the story, on his way to Tuon in Ebou Dar.  Will the “Seanchan Question” finally be resolved?  Rand seems to be hesitating, too...

Well, Mat's done just about everything the prophecies foretold he would...except deal with the Seanchan. I can't imagine he's got much else left to do. Given that Tuon still plans to dominate the White Tower, though, he has quite a task on his hands. Let's hope his luck is with him.

4.  Rand takes his turn on the battlefield, but is turned back.  Do you expect him to try again, or is this the last we see of him on the field before the invasion of Shayol Ghul?

I don't remember if he tries again before going to Shayol Ghul. There is the Black Tower to deal with, but for the most part, he seems to be focused on Shayol Ghul and the Dark One, so I think the majority of his attention will go there for the time being.

Perrin + Hammer (Source)
Perrin leaves and takes the battle to the World of Dreams... in the flesh.  Do you think it is as evil as it's claimed?  Did you like his speech?  Was it wise to bring Gaul, untrained, to this fight?

I think it might be a bit like the Tower of Genji--not evil as the Shadow is evil, but so different from the way humans experience the world that it seems evil to us. That said, the Tower of Genji seemed pretty evil there at the end. I think the Wise Ones think it's evil because the dangers are just not worth the risk. The risk to one's life and soul are just too great. Think of it like hard drugs in our world. Is every junkie out there evil to their core? Of course not. But why risk something with so much potential to endanger you on every level. This is how I think of entering T'A'R in the flesh. Plus Slayer does it regularly, which doesn't much recommend it either. 

On the flip side, Perrin said it wasn't evil, and I trust him. He made a good point about how he could smell evil, and it wasn't that. So obviously, it's very dangerous, but not evil. Perrin feels he has little choice at this point. It's the final installment and Slayer STILL hasn't been taken care of. 
"The good options are gone, Rand. Better to do something desperate than to do nothing at all." (pg. 281)
Word, Perrin. Word.

I LOVED his speech. This final installment is so full of amazing speeches and deeds. I'll be just reading along, ho-hum, and then one of them will pop up and I'll be in tears. I loved the whole part where he and Rand said goodbye. I can totally see a film version of it, intercut with 1-second flashbacks to them as lads in the Two Rivers. You can't help but think of how far they've come, both together and as individuals. 

Best line EVER: 
"We'll remember those who fell, and we'll tell our children how we stood when the clouds turned turned black and the world started to die. We'll tell them we stood shoulder to shoulder, and there was just no space for the shadow to squeeze through." (pg. 278)
*wipes tears* Geez, Perrin! When did you become a poet!

I'm loving Gaul more and more too. He's such a loyal guy! He went with Perrin, even knowing the dangers of entering T'A'R in the flesh; even after hearing Perrin ask the Wise One about it. He still went. And he's awesome. Love Gaul! 

Lanfear makes another plea to Rand, and he lets her into his mind to prove he is over her.  She then appears in the World of Dreams to pester Perrin.  What game is she really playing at?

Yeah it was pretty cool that Rand could open his mind to her without fear. He could show her that he didn't love her--never had--and that she couldn't use him. Obviously when the truth of that became undeniable to her, she had to find someone else to latch onto. And who better than ta'veren #2, who also can and currently IS navigating the World of Dreams, a domain she has often made great use of?

So what's her game? I think whatever she wanted from Rand when she first started the damsel-in-distress routine, she's now trying to get from Perrin. Good luck, honey. Perrin's got bigger fish to fry. I mean, uh, wolves to avenge.

7.  We find out how people are turned to the Shadow.  What do you think of this mechanism?  Are the turned really turned, or just taken over, as Androl seems to think?

Hard to say for sure at this juncture. We all want to think that maybe they're just trapped in there and can be saved. Poor Androl and his men. They shouldn't be forced to do the DO's bidding, as Androl said. But this is something that has been touted as really, REALLY evil time and again, which doesn't bode well for a potential reversal. Still, the taint is cleansed and Nynaeve healed madness (we really need to get her and Androl a dinner date) so you never know. Maybe Taim's victims can be redeemed.

Asha'man in battle (Source)
It appears Taim and his cronies are finally ejected from the Black Tower, although Taim is still alive.  What do you think of how this went down?  Will we now see the good Asha'man lend their strength to the fight?  Could that turn the tide of the war?

I'm super-excited for this story line. I remember reading this first bit about Androl the first time and being a bit annoyed. I couldn't understand why they'd introduced this eleventh-hour character and then were giving him so much POV time. As it goes on, though, it just gets better and better. Now it's one of my favorite story lines in this book, not least because of the unlikely pairing of mad Asha'man and Red Sister. We'll see Androl and Pevarra work together more and their relationship progress, in often hilarious ways. 

As for the rest, I won't spoil. Can't wait, though! :D


Poor Lan! Having to the leave the Gap to the Shadow was so hard for him. Despite knowing that it was the right and only thing to do, talk about having to abandon his homeland for the second time was super-sad. The grief and guilt of that, especially for someone as honor-heavy as Lan, must really suck.

Is anyone else super-depressed at the cities they're losing? First it was Caemlyn--Caemlyn!!!--and now the Borderlands are going under. There's so much history there. Not just in terms of ancient Randland history, but also of the series. In book 1, our super heroes visited Fal Dara, where they first learned of Lan's origins and the truth of Padan Fain's depravity. Faile's homeland is, of course, Saldea. And the Borderlands at large have always been very admirable. Now their very cities are falling to the shadow. It always strikes me as supremely sad. 

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  1. Yep, I think Rand's closest buddies are willing to sacrifice anything in order to save the world at this point. As the circle widens, people are willing to sacrifice various things to save the world. I think as time goes on and more and more folks realize how freaking serious this is, then more and more will be willing to sacrifice all to give Rand his chance to take out the DO.

    I love that image of Mat & Tuon. So much going on there!

    Now that Perrin has fought his inner fears, he is the most stable, most rock solid of all the characters. I expect that his efforts will be instrumental in saving the world. I just hope it doesn't cost him his life.

    Oh yes. It is terribly sad to see Lan give up the Gap and to see so many cities and lands falling to the Shadow. But this is THE Last Battle, so it's going to be crappy. Plus, we still have a few leaders who are more interested in their own gains than in saving the world, so maybe seeing and experiencing these losses will motivate them to join Rand and his merry band.

    1. I agree, on all counts. The Last Battle is bound to get crappier, and hopefully as things get darker, more people will step up and do the honorable, rather than the selfish thing. At this point, all of our characters have work to do after the Last Battle (Perrin in the Two Rivers, Mat in Seanchan, Egwene in the White Tower, etc.) so it's hard to imagine ANY of them dying. Let's hope none of them have to. :D