The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.
Thus we enter A Memory of Light. The final installment to the Wheel of Time. I’m going to hop right into this one because so much happens. I will be changing the format for this final post. Instead of covering each character, I’m going to go through the book in order of events. Mainly because this is the end of it all.
Before we begin; one, last, obligatory Spoiler Warning. If you haven’t read the series, do not read further. I encourage you to read the series and experience this all yourself as it is a wonderful journey. I would hate to be the one to ruin something for you. The same goes for anyone who is currently reading the series but hasn’t yet made it to this book. If you fall in this category, go check out my thoughts on the books you have read. I was able to avoid many spoilers during my first read-through of this series, but I did end up having a few things spoiled. Luckily, they turned out to be different than what I thought they would lead to and some were not terribly surprising, but spoilers are just not fun for anyone. It’s best to experience everything yourself without anything being ruined.
One final, longish prologue. We see Isam/Luc/Slayer in a town in the Blight near Shayol Ghul. He was born here. Survived in this ruthless place and developed a unique skill. Since almost all Shadowspawn are creatures of evil, and all Darkfriends were lured or forced to serve the Shadow, I never even thought that there would have been a town or anything living in the Blasted Lands where life would be allowed to continue. This almost makes Slayer’s story a bit tragic because all he knows is the Shadow. Almost.
Talmanes is defending Caemlyn. He gets cut by a Myrddrall blade and is certain he will die, but he persists. He meets up with Guybon and they do what they can. He is determined not to let the dragon cannons fall into enemy hands.
Aviendha tells the Wise Ones of the visions she saw in Rhuidean. Bair decides to go to Rhuidean to see if she has a similar experience.
Mazrim Taim has, for some time apparently, been using 13 channelers and 13 Myrrdraal to Turn Asha’man to the Shadow creating Dreadlords.
We get one last meeting of the remaining Forsaken. Graendal was killed and reborn as Hessalam. She is reborn in a hideous body as punishment. Taim has become a Chosen under the name M’Hael, for his work for the Shadow. I had originally thought Demandred may have been Taim because we never know what Demandred is doing (though we find out soon enough), but I was wrong. I was right, in a way, knowing that he did serve the enemy.
Nynaeve is able to Heal Talmanes and Elayne, Egwene, Rand, and Perrin learn that Caemlyn is under attack. Caemlyn is officially lost, as is Kandor which is also under attack from an immense Trolloc force.
Taim has Logain captured and plans to Turn him into a Dreadlord, but his loyal Asha’man plan to save him. Pevara and Androl bond each other and create a new type of bond where they can communicate telepathically. They are the ones who are going to lead the resistance against Taim in the Black Tower. They decide to save Logain from Taim even though they are not certain, at this point, that Logain is held captive. They search for him and find him beneath the Black Tower is a secret area Taim had built. He hasn’t been Turned yet. He has been fighting it and holding out. They get trapped then captured during their attempt.
Aviendha and Rand hook up on the eve of the meeting at Merrilor. Min saw that she would have quadruplets and this was basically the last chance for her to get pregnant, so I’m assuming she does. Rand visits Elan/Moridin in the dreamworld again. He tells Moridin to tell the Dark One that he is going to finish things.
Rand holds his meeting on the Field of Merrilor. He thinks King Roedran is someone else for some reason and I don’t think this is ever explained. Rand presents his Peace document and asks everyone to sign it or he won’t fight the Dark One. The negotiations start to break down when Moiraine walks in. She helps convince the leaders to sign the agreement. He makes additions before everyone signs that the Aiel will be the peacekeepers, so they are in the agreement now at Aviendha’s behest (to avoid her visions from coming true thought technically that future could still happen with how they are included). Rand hands over the Seals to Egwene during the meeting after Moiraine helps her realize she would be the one to break them. They all agree to sign it, but it wouldn’t be valid unless the Seanchan sign it.
Elayne is given command of all forces. There are four battlefronts: Caemlyn, Kandor, Tarwin’s Gap, and Shayol Ghul. They plan to retake Caemlyn first to reduce the fronts to three and get rid of the enemy behind them. They put a Great Captain at each battlefront: Bashere goes with Elayne to Caemlyn, Agelmar goes to the Gap to help Lan, Gareth Bryne goes with the Aes Sedai to hold off the forces in Kandor, and poor Ituralde gets to go to Shayol Ghul with Rand. This guy can’t catch a break.
Lan is about to lose the Gap when the Borderland forces show up and help turn the tide so they can hold the area. Faile is given charge of the supply logistics with a secret mission to get the Horn of Valere from the White Tower to the Field of Merrilor where they will need it. Mat is on his way to Ebou Dar at this point. Loial, my man, shows up with a force of Ogier to help fight the Shadow.
Elayne is having trouble with the Trollocs in Caemlyn. She tries to draw the Trollocs out so she can set off her trap in the Braem Wood. Eventually it works and that fight begins. They use the dragon cannons here to help funnel the Trollocs. Dreadlords show up at the Gap making Lan retreat from the area.
Mat arrives in Ebou Dar. He sneaks into the palace and is almost killed by Selucia, who is playing bait for assassins. She tells him where to find Tuon. He goes to her and sits in some bushes while she practices kung fu surrounded by Deathwatch guards. He is the only one to see the Gray Man and flings a knife at him. Tuon sees the knife but shows her trust in Mat by looking backward trusting that Mat is not throwing the dagger at her even though it is close. Mat and Tuon hook up right in the courtyard (lots of baby-making before the Last Battle, which I believe is common). Tuon believes the omens that she will have Mat’s baby. We find out much later that she succeeds from this attempt.
Moiraine goes with Rand. Rand begins his visits to each battlefield to keep his location random to the enemy. He goes to fend of the forces at the Gap but is pushed back by the Dreadlords. These are presumably led by Taim (which turns out to be true). Rand decides he can’t openly fight on the battlefields because they will track him and try to capture or kill him. He later goes into the dreamworld and ends up speaking with Lanfear. She seems like she is going to end up helping Rand, possibly, but she still only cares for herself and holds a grudge against whoever is punishing her, which I think is technically Moridin and not the Dark One.
Perrin enters the Wolf Dream in the flesh to go kill Slayer. Gaul goes with him and quickly learns the basics of the transitory nature of the place. Perrin discovers there is another Dreamspike and it is what is preventing Traveling around the Black Tower. It is in the dream at the Black Tower where Perrin meets Lanfear. She decides to help him. She claims she lost her title as Forsaken because the Dark One discovered she was going to help Rand at the Last Battle. She helps Perrin locate the Dreamspike and even shows him how to turn it on and off.
Graendal was with Taim when he tries to Turn Logain. Androl gets free from his bonds and is able to fend them off and free Logain mainly because Perrin removes the Dreamspike so Androl can use his Talent with gateways. Taim and Graendal escape. This leads to Logain retaking the Black Tower. All Darkfriends get removed. Taim goes to fight at the Gap.
Loial fights with Elayne near Caemlyn and his force of Ogier are absolutely insane. They are a force to be reckoned with and completely destroy some Trollocs.
Rand makes peace with Tuon. He does kneel before her, but he isn’t blinded like the Seanchan prophecies stated he would be. I was curious if the “blinded” part of the prophecy referred to Mat since he lost his eye. Or did it refer to a different, possible future that didn’t come to pass?
Rand then goes to Egwene and discovers that the Seals are fake. Someone stole the Seals from him before he gave them to Egwene.
Sharans show up and ambush Egwene’s army. Out of nowhere. They Travel right behind their lines and take over their camp and they have to retreat while losing many forces. Egwene gets trapped in the area with Gawyn. The Sharans have One Power users aplenty. Where did they come from? Why are they fighting for the Shadow? Who recruited them? All we know about the Sharans is that they stay fairly isolated on the other side of the Spine of the World.
The answer is Demandred. This is where he has been the whole time. He practically became king of the Sharans and brought them here for the Last Battle. He takes over as the commander for the forces of the Shadow. He senses and captures Leane who is also hiding in the camp. He sends her as a messenger to tell Rand to come fight him. Egwene watches this interaction before going with Gawyn to escape the area. Gawyn, being the dumbass he is, has activated one of the Seanchan rings. He uses it to get out of the Sharan camp, which is a legit reason, but by activating it he will be killed by it.
Perrin faces Graendal/Hessalam in the wolf dream. She escapes. Lanfear speaks with him again and tells him he can learn to enter and exit the dream whenever he wants, like Slayer. She also tells him that Graendal was peeking into Davrim Bashere’s dreams. Perrin fights Slayer and Slayer escapes. Perrin places the Dreamspike within the Bore near Rand so no one can Travel into the area and interfere. Including Slayer.
Rand enters Shayol Ghul and his forces take control of the area. Aviendha goes with him and leads a small for of One Power users. Ituralde begins a defense of the valley into Shayol Ghul. He uses walls of thorns to slow and slaughter the Trolloc forces. Impressive.
The Seanchan prepare to help Egwene’s forces. They are still questionable at this point since Tuon states she can break the treaty any time she wants because she is Empress. She starts to rub me the wrong way at this point. I liked her when she was with Mat, but without him, I don’t really care for her. She reminds me a lot of Elayne in the way they both think more about securing and expanding their influence/rule instead of doing what is right. This is understandable considering the positions, but they could both be great rulers without making poor, selfish decisions.
Elayne falls back to Cairhein as the never-ending Trollocs keep attacking. They got a lot of forces through the Ways and into Caemlyn. Which reminds me of one thing that never gets resolved. What is the Black Wind/Machin Shin? We never really know and it never comes back into play. Anyway, Elayne’s forces are doing okay for now and the dragon cannons are wreaking havoc.
Lan and Agelmar begin their retreat across Shienar. They burn all cities and farms to deny resources to the enemy. Lan is concerned Agelmar is making mistakes.
Rand goes into the Bore with Moiraine and Nynaeve. He confronts Moridin there. The corpse of Shaidar Haran is behind him. Apparently Shaidar Haran was the Dark One and he has been released from that particular vessel. He is now just a wall of darkness behind Moridin.
Elayne, through Tam’s insights, discovers Davrim Bashere is a Darkfriend. I was skeptical of this and was later rewarded with the discovery that Bashere was under Compulsion to make minor mistakes that would eventually let the Trolloc forces win. I was not sure about Agelmar, but I knew for certain that Bryne and Ituralde couldn’t be Darkfriends. It eventually all comes out that the Great Captains were all under subtle Compulsion to make them lose. Loial is fighting like a beast but Elayne’s forces are losing. It was around this time that I started to wonder where Logain is since we haven’t seen him in a while. He then shows up to help Elayne’s forces. He was deciphering Taim’s notes about the enemy’s plan. He came to Elayne first with his Asha’man. Androl leads a large circle of men and women to make a giant gateway that spills a river of lava into the Trolloc forces which then lets Elayne’s forces regroup and rest as the Trollocs have to regroup.
Lan is still doubting Agelmar at this point. He sets up an order to find out for sure. His order eventually shows that Agelmar is acting in a way that would help the enemy, so he assumes command. He suspects Agelmar is under Compulsion because Agelmar wants to do the right thing but cannot act on it. Agelmar tries to take his own life but Lan prevents him because he knows Agelmar is still good.
Egwene and Tuon form a shaky alliance to fight the Sharans and Trollocs. Tuon “claims” Min after she learns of Min’s viewings. I never liked the Seanchan as a people, but I thought I could like Tuon. However, her simply taking Min was a deciding factor for me. She is ignorant and hypocritical (as a lot of ruler can be). She believes she can do whatever she pleases and can act like a spoiled rotten child. I understand Min could be valuable asset, but Tuon is too quick to “take” her and basically claim her as property.
Bryne makes a mistake on his battlefield. Mat gets into the battle, literally, and realizes that Bryne is losing. He suspects Bryne is a Darkfriend because he can see the subtle mistakes that are leading the battle to ruin. Mat takes over command of these forces.
Perrin spies Graendal leaving Ituralde’s tent in the dreamworld. He figures out she is doing something to the captains. Elyas, in wolf form, is the one who helped Perrin track her to Ituralde’s tent. Perrin sends Elyas to warn everyone the captains are compromised. He then goes to fight Slayer.
Ituralde is resisting the Compulsion placed on him because he knows his objective is to defend at all costs. He isn’t trying to defeat the enemy, just hold them off. He is about to make a vital mistake when Elyas shows up and takes him away. Ituralde is relieved to have been stopped.
Egwene relieves Bryne from command and requests they let Mat take over. Bryne is also happy to be relieved from command. He sensed something was off. Egwene guesses it is Compulsion and sends warning to the other battlefronts.
Mat suggests a unified, final fight. Elayne has won her battle outside of Cairhein thanks to the Asha’man. She was going to reinforce Lan at the Gap but Mat convinces everyone to make a stand at the Field of Merrilor. Elayne agrees and gives/shares Mat command of the entire operation.
Faile gets the Horn of Valere from Tar Valon, but gets hit by a bubble of evil before she can Travel to Merrilor. They enter a gateway to escape the bubble and end up in the Blight. She starts making her way to Shayol Ghul, which is nearby and has friendly forces that can help her Travel back to Merrilor, when someone tries to take the Horn. It turns out to be Vanin and Harnin. They take off and Faile thinks they are Darkfriends. Egwene learns that Faile is missing and has people searching for the Horn.
Aviendha senses channeling and goes to see who it is. She finds three Blight Aiel with the red veils. One could channel and captures her, but Cadsuane saves her (likely because of her ter’angreal that let’s her sense saidin). The Blight Aiel may have originated from the tradition that Aiel male channelers were sent into the Blight alone to fight the Dark One as a means to die with honor before going mad. The person Aviendha sensed was Graendal who escapes. I thought she escapes into Tel’aran’rhiod like Slayer does, but she is apparently Traveling using the True Power instead of the One Power.
Rand, while fighting Moridin, backsteps and his foot goes into the darkness that is the essence of the Dark One. He and Moridin become frozen as Rand confronts the Dark One in the void outside of the Pattern. Nynaeve finds Alanna chained inside the Bore. She is stabbed and is bleeding out. Nynaeve works to save her. She cannot Heal her because she is in a circle with Rand. If Alanna dies, Rand will go mad from the Warder bond.
Perrin fights Slayer in the dreamworld but gets an arrow in the shoulder. He is bleeding out when he awakes/travels out of the dreamworld. Gaul is still in the dreamworld guarding the entrance to the Bore with some wolves.
The Trolloc forces arrive to fight Mat and everyone else. They momentary respite is over.
Chapter 37: The Last Battle
The Last Battle begins and it is incredible. The chapter is nearly 200 pages long in the hardback addition I have. It is ~81,200 words and is popularly compared in length to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone which is ~78,000 words. Therefore, this one chapter is longer than that entire first book.
Anyway, let’s get into it.
Demandred is running around linked in a full circle of 72 One Power users. He is also using a sa’angreal and hurling balefire at random. He keeps calling for Rand to come face him one vs. one.
Logain has orders from Rand to find the seals. They believe Taim has them, so they don’t necessarily join in the battle plans and instead hunt for Taim and other Dreadlords.
Rand is facing the Dark One in the void. They are showing each other alternate futures.
Gawyn makes another, final, dumb decision and walks off to fight Demandred alone. He puts on all three Seanchan Bloodknive rings. He fights Demandred and, although doing okay because of the rings, gets stabbed through the middle and left to die. He is able to find a horse and sneak away. This was such a dumbass move. What did he think would happen? He was too busy trying to play a hero while convincing himself that is was actually for Egwene’s benefit. His recklessness will impact Egwene negatively.
Perrin is found and brought to Mayene for healing. He passes out for a bit and actually gets some rest after being in the dreamworld for so long.
Androl reveals that he knows Jain Farstrider/Noal as some point, which I thought was interesting. This is never explained outside the fact that Androl has let a varied past.
Rhuarc gets Compulsion placed on him by Graendal. She gathers a small force on the battlefield at Shayol Ghul. If only she could get killed so her Compulsion will dissipate from all those affected (this unfortunately does not happen).
Mat gives Logain the go ahead to fight Demandred whenever he wants to. Mat’s command tent is attacked. He has already realized there is a spy nearby and plans to use them. Min saves Tuon during this attack and Mat gets them out, but Siuan was there and gets killed. She saves Min at the beginning of the attack and Min tells her to get back to Bryne since her viewing still showed they would both die if they didn’t stick together. Suian then gets killed “off-screen” since we don’t see what happens. Min then knows Bryne will die. He will go mad because of the Warder bond. I liked Siuan and am saddened she dies. I wish we could have seen her fight though. It would have been tragic to see her last stand, and have it revealed she loses because she is not as strong in the One Power as she once was. It would have solidified that fact that her misfortune led her to that moment. I don’t know. I just wanted a little more before she was gone.
Demandred “beastmasters” into a falcon to survey the battlefield. Taim was with the forces blocking off the river upstream. He Travels to Demandred using the True Power. Demandred shields him from both sources and settles a small dispute. Apparently Demandred is the one who convinced Taim to join the Shadow.
Androl learns where Taim is by accident. He is disguised as a Turned Asha’man and is brought to Demandred.
Mat sends Galad hunting Sharan channelers after giving him one of the replicas of his medallion. Mat is using gateways creatively and sometimes with comic relief to provide orders. Galad goes hunting and this is where he discovers Gawyn. He tries to get Gawyn to safety and to be Healed. Gawyn reveals to Galad that Rand is his brother. Then Gawyn dies.
Mat and Tuon have a little fake fight to fool the spy in their ranks. Tuon withdraws from the battle taking her Seanchan forces.
Rand continues his battle of wills with the Dark One. The Dark One shows him a world without compassion. Rand shows him a world without the Dark One.
Tam holds off forces near the dry riverbed until Lan can come in and finish the Trollocs off there. Berelain then shows up by gateway with a bunch of refugees who want to help. They can’t do much, but they can help a little. Like gathering arrows for Tam’s archers who just ran out. We later see that Aram’s parents are among these refugees along with many other Tinkers.
Elayne finds Gareth Bryne’s body. She knows Siuan is dead because the descriptions of Bryne’s behavior before he died. We don’t see how Bryne dies either. I think they both deserved to have their final stands described on the page. Gawyn gets an on-page death. And Egwene becomes incapacitated because of it. She gets taken to Mayene.
Elayne takes command of the battle since Mat goes missing after his command tent is destroyed. He actually goes to fight and get a feel of the battle with Furyk Karede and the other Deathwatch guards ordered to go fight the front lines for “failing to prevent the attack on the command tent.” Elayne retreats from the front lines to avoid being killed by Demandred’s balefire. Demandred is trying to attack her to draw out Rand. She doesn’t do much when in command because Mat really never loses the command.
Galad then goes to face Demandred one vs. one. He calls out Demandred and they fight. Galad has the medallion that protects him from the One Power so they fight mainly swordsman to swordsman.
Mat runs into Davrim Bashere on the battlefield. Davrim agreed to relinquish command and fight as a soldier. Apparently Tenobia had died earlier sometime between the fight at the Gap and the fight at Merrilor, so Davrim technically could become king. Mat then gathers Loial and the Ogier forces, along with the Dragonsworn and some of his Band of the Red Hand, to attack Demandred’s forces to prevent the forces of good from being surrounded.
Egwene convinces Silviana and Rosil, the Yellow in Mayene attending her, to let her return to battle. She bonds Leilwin as her new Warder to help relieve the pain from her recently lost Warder bond and to keep an eye on her in the battle. Rosil advises using stronger emotions to overwhelm the emotions of loss so she won’t be hindered by the loss of the bond. Egwene uses anger and hatred for the Shadow.
Galad scores a hit on Demandred after taking a hit himself. Demandred cuts off Galad’s arm and we are led to believe he kills Galad. We later find out Demandred leaves Galad to bleed out as another attempt to draw Rand out since Galad is Rand’s brother. Galad fought (and almost dies) as he lived. Honorably and with a purpose doing what he believed to be right. Though he was annoying in the beginning, he grew on me as he grew as a person. He fought well.
Androl finds Taim. He is still disguised as a Turned Asha’man. Taim disguises Androl’s disguise so that Androl looks like Androl. The irony. He then orders Androl to go kill Logain. Androl is able to pickpocket the Seals from Taim before leaving.
Rand shows the Dark One a world without Shadow, but it is slightly off. There is no fear or conflict. Everything is perfect, but that takes away from who the people are. The Dark One states that he would win if Rand chose this future as it would be similar to the world without empathy.
Faile impersonates an enemy caravan outside of the town in the Blasted Lands so they can travel through a gateway to the battlefield at Merrilor. Once they get through, she discovers Aravine was a Darkfriend and betrays her. Olver stabs the Black Ajah who captures Faile and the other soldiers. Doing so puts the area into chaos as the other prisoners are released. Faile chases down Aravine and gets the Horn back with the help from Vanin and Harnen, who had impersonated other prisoners to go through the same gateway but a little earlier. They orchestrated the release of prisoners for when Faile came through. They thought they were stealing Mat’s tabac and were surprised to find the Horn when they finally got hands on it. This doesn’t explain why the ran off though after being accused of being Darkfriends. They get separated in the chase. Faile gets the Horn, but then gives it to Olver as he hides and tells him to get the Horn to Mat. She then draws the Trollocs away from Olver knowing she won’t make it to safety. Olver tries to escape riding Bela. Bela goes down and Olver hides in a crack in the landscape. Trollocs try grabbing at him.
Egwene returns to the battlefield like a boss and ends up facing down Taim. She almost shields him but he uses the True Power to escape.
Then Logain confronts Demandred and quickly gets his ass handed to him. He escapes via gateway and gives up on his dream of killing a Forsaken.
Taim goes to Demandred and Demandred gives him the sa’angreal he was using so Taim can go kill Egwene. It is apparently tied to Demandred some way so Taim can’t use it against him.
Annoura burns herself out of the One Power after saving Galad from the battlefield. She takes him to Mayene and to Berelain.
Rand sees everyone dying on the battlefield. Davrim Bashere, Hurin, and many others. He wants it all to end, but he doesn’t give up.
Elayne is commanding her forces when she is attacked and captured by Mellar and other Darkfriends who were disguised as refugees. Mellar kills Birgitte, which totally sucked because I like Birgitte. She had lost all of her previous memories at this point so I think that her death was actually okay as she could then return to the weave of the pattern and be with Gaidal. Mellar is about to cut the babies out of Elayne (wtf?) when the Horn of Valere is sounded.
Egwene finds a way to make a weave opposite of balefire, which she uses to kill Taim. She then realizes she is spent. She tells Leilwin to break the seals when she sees “the light,” then Egwene severs her bond with her new Warder and sends her to safety through a gateway. Egwene then uses the remaining strength she has to kill the remaining Sharan channelers. She dies, but is still within the Pattern. Her body is never found but the sa’angreal she was using is encased in the crystals her anti-balefire weave creates. Egwene became one of my favorite characters in this series. Outside of her poor choice of a husband, she was admirable and strong. She did what she had to for the good of the world.
Berelain realizes Galad is telling her to take the medallion back to Mat. She does so at the same time Mat asks Lan to check if any soldier in Mayene are healed enough to return to the fight.
Lan charges the enemy line alone in his now typical suicidal behavior. Loial goes to witness his charge. Lan is wearing the medallion from Galad. He goes straight for Demandred. He fights him one vs. one and is able to kill him by “sheathing the sword.”
Lan is mortally wounded but he holds Demandred’s head on the battlefield as Mat fights his way to Lan. Mat gets to him and has Narishma heal him.
Olver blows the Horn of Valere. Apparently, not sure how, Mat’s death in Rhuidean broke his link to the Horn. I guess it makes sense since he actually “dies.” So Olver is now linked to the Horn but likes it. Noal actually shows up as a Hero of the Horn and saves Olver.
Birgitte is reborn with the Horn and kills Mellar, thus saving Elayne one last time.
Darkhounds show up at the fight at Shayol Ghul. The wolves are fighting there too, but they can’t do much against the Hounds. No one can.
Aviendha finds Graendal and calls for Cadsuane and Amys to help fight her. She kills Rhuarc who was still under Compulsion. She then turns her anger onto Graendal. She is able to land a hit with a spear made of the Power as Graendal tries to Travel using the True Power. Aviendha is hurt badly when she charged Graendal. Her feet are basically destroyed. Which means she can’t move much when she gets to the ledge Graendal Travels them to where they continue their fight. Both wounded.
Androl tricks some of the remaining Turned Asha’man and Dreadlords into chasing him through a gateway into a Stedding, where they are captured by Ogier and help prisoner. Alviarin was among this group of Darkfriends.
Moghedien ends up being the spy in the Seanchan camp. Min finds her out from her viewings. Moghendien then travels to Merrilor where she disguises herself as Demandred and tries to take the command that was lost. She then gets blasted by the dragon cannons which are now firing from gateways. Talmanes is leading the dragon canons with Aludra pointing out targets.
The Seachan return to the battle at Merrilor and start squeezing the Shadow’s army. The soldiers Mat sent to defend the river from being dammed were from Hinderstap. Mat gave Grady orders to open at gateway to Hinderstap at dawn, which he does, and all the people who had died at the river come storming out and continue the fight. I thought this was a really cool move. Using the Shadow’s evil as an asset. Grady then releases the river which will split the Trolloc forces down below.
Logain is looking for the sa’angreal Taim was using when he died. Logain hasn’t done much during this battle honestly and now he just wants to gain power so he can rule when the battle is over, which makes me not like him. He kept out of the danger, except when getting whipped by Demandred, despite being a powerful user of the One Power. He does end up listening to Androl though when Androl asks him to go help the refugees who were now being attacked by Trollocs at Moghedien’s command.
The Sharans retreat and Mat cleans up the Trollocs. The Battle of Merrilor is over. Mat feels the pull to Rand and he asks Artur Hawkwing to go talk to Tuon before he leaves for Shayol Ghul.
Perrin returns to the fight, shifting to the Wolf Dream in the flesh again. He goes to hunt Slayer. Gaul has been defending the Bore with the wolves. They prevent Slayer from entering and attacking Rand. Gaul retreats after Perrin shows up.
Thom has been defending the entrance to the Bore this whole time. He kills five Black Ajah who try to impersonate other Aes Sedai.
Padan Fain shows up to Shayol Ghul under the name Shaisam.
Mat arrives via raken to the battle ensuing at Shayol Ghul. He takes Olver with him. Olver blows the Horn again.
Rand returns from his battle of wills with the Dark One and he continues his fight with Elan/Moridin. Elan throws a dagger at Alanna to kill her. Alanna is able to release the bond with Rand before she dies. Moridin does something to Rand. He stabs his own hand but it hurts Rand too. I’m not sure what that is about, but it causes Rand to drop Callandor. Moridin picks it up and Nynaeve and Moiraine use the flaw in the sword to take control of Moridin. Callandor is apparently a sa’angreal for the True Power. Rand then pulls immense amounts of the True Power from Moridin, saidar from Nynaeve and Moiraine, and saidin from himself. He turns that power against the Dark One. He effectively reaches through the void/Bore and grabs the Dark One by the throat. This energy also releases a bar of light into the sky that can be seen from everywhere. Logain is helping the refugees when he sees it. He then breaks the Seals.
Perrin chases down Slayer and kills him. It was an epic rundown as he shifted between man, wolf, and the real world and dreamworld. He then gathers some Aiel and fights to defend the Bore from the Darkhounds. The Horn of Valere calls back the hero wolves this time and they help Perrin fight the Darkhounds. Perrin is able to kill Darkhounds with his Power-wrought hammer. Perrin gets Gaul out of the wolf dream and takes him to Merrilor for Healing. He also wants to try and find Faile, but he knows he needs to return to Rand.
Mat gets speared by a tendril of mist from Padan Fain/Mashadar/whatever-he/it-is called. He goes down, but uses it as a fake to draw Padan Fain to him. Mat then is able to kill Padan Fain with his own dagger. The dagger from book one that had consumed Mat.
Aviendha pulls apart her gateway to try and kill Graendal. She does so and Graendal weaves Compulsion. The gateway explodes but not in a big way. It somehow reversed Graendal’s weave so she now has Compulsion toward Aviendha.
Perrin goes to Rand by traveling in the wolf dream. He finds Lanfear sitting inside the Dreamspike barrier. She guides Perrin to where Rand is unleashing power on the Dark One with Moiraine, Nynaeve, and Moridin. She wants to kill Nynaeve and Moiraine to take control of Rand. She is still loyal to the Dark One. She had somehow used a little Compulsion on Perrin as well because he reaches toward Moiraine to do as Lanfear wants. he is able to break the Compulsion in time and he kills Lanfear.
Rand reforges the Dark One’s prison. He doesn’t kill the Dark One or seal him away again. He reforges the prison so he cannot directly touch or influence the world. Rand sees that the Dark One isn’t really an enemy and let’s it live imprisoned where the Creator originally put it.
Rand gets out of the cave. He hauls Moridin with him. Rand is then in a recovery tent for a while but he is dying and can’t be healed. Elan lies next to him and eventually starts to mend.
The dice stop rolling in Mat’s head when he kills Padan Fain. The dagger melts away. Mat returns to Tuon to learn she is pregnant. Confirmed via Min’s viewing.
Perrin starts to believe Faile is dead, but he finds her through the wolf dream. A falcon leads him to a spot on the battlefield, where he goes to in the real world to find Faile barely alive beneath a few bodies. She lives.
Nynaeve and Lan are reunited.
Ituralde is alive and is asked to be king of Arad Doman.
Moghedien somehow survives but is quickly captured in a Seanchan a’dam.
A funeral pyre is created for Rand when he dies. Nynaeve guesses that Min, Elayne, and Aviendha know something because they all are not saddened after he dies.
Cadsuane guesses at the funeral that Rand is still alive somehow. She is then confronted by a few Aes Sedai and requested to become the new Amyrlin. I thought this was hilarious.
Rand isn’t dead. He, somehow, gets body-swapped with Elan. He survives. Alivia, who was supposed to help him die, prepared his new body and gave him resources to start his new life. His bond with Min, Elayne, and Aviendha remains intact. New Rand, as I call him, cannot channel the One Power or the True Power (which shouldn’t exist now with the Dark One fully imprisoned). However, he can make things happen as if the real world were Tel’aran’rhiod. He thinks it and it can happen. New Rand rides south in his new body. He plans to travel the world.
And that is the end of this incredible, epic, journey. I was satisfied with this ending. I am okay with how things wrapped up. I may re-read the series, but it will be long time before I do. It will likely be a while before I read another series. I’ve spent the past 9-10 months living in this world and, though I’m sad to leave it, I’m grateful for the experience and for everyone who welcomed me as a fellow fan who I can now share this world with.