A Memory of Light

A Memory of Light


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.

Okay…

here we go

Prologue

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.

Chapters 1-10

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.

Chapters 11-20

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.

Chapters 21-25

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.

Chapters 26-30

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.

Chapters 31-36

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.”

Chapters 38-45

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.

Chapters 46-49

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.

Epilogue

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.

Thank you.

Towers of Midnight

Towers of Midnight


Towers of Midnight is book thirteen in the Wheel of Time series. This is the penultimate book with Memory of Light set to wrap up the entire series. I must say that though a lot happens in this book, there is still much left to be resolved as we come to the end of this epic story. Therefore, this post will be slightly different than previous ones. I will be going through my thoughts of this installment, but I will be providing a few guesses as to how I think some things will turn out. I may throw some random, unlikely guesses in just for fun also.

So before we begin, I must provide the obligatory Spoiler Warning for the remainder of the post. If you haven’t read the series, you likely won’t know what I’m talking about at this point, but I’d hate to ruin something for you should you do decide to read it (you should because it is great). 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 previous books. I would absolutely hate to be a reason something big was spoiled for you. I was able to avoid many spoilers during my first read of this series (fingers crossed I still avoid them as I read the last book), 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 yourself without anything being ruined.

Let’s start with the prologue. As with all previous beginnings, we get several tidbits from this one. We get a short scene of Padan Fain/Mordeth who is apparently going to get yet another name sometime. He has been in the Blight making his own Trolloc army. They are almost like zombie Trollocs. He is gathering a force to face Rand during the Last Battle. I think we will get a final showdown in the next book between Fain and Rand since Fain has been chasing Rand since book one. Thought Fain has been absent for much of the last several books, he may yet play a larger role. Or he will just get killed off like Masema, but I think the showdown will be more dramatic than that. I do think Rand will need to be the one to kill him. However, I could see Perrin doing it since Fain killed Perrin’s family. I can’t imagine anyone else taking out Fain since he hasn’t had many interactions with anyone but Rand. Yeah, he has the dagger that consumed Mat in the beginning, but that wasn’t really Fain doing anything and Mat never crossed paths with him personally.

Next from the prologue is Graendal. We get to see her inside of her hideout just before Rand obliterates it with balefire. She was meeting with Halima/Aran’gar who had Delana along. Graendal has Aran’gar use Compulsion on Rand’s messenger. As the balefire approaches, Graendal is able to escape. She sacrifices Aran’gar to do so which is why Rand believes Graendal is dead afterward.

We get a short scene with Galad, who is a larger character in this book, where he gets trapped by Asunawa. Asunawa is a prime example of what is wrong with the fanatical Whitecloaks. He calls anyone who opposes him a Darkfriend, even if those people are other Whitecloaks, while he himself commits evil. That is one reason he is so easy to hate. He uses the mask of his station and organization to commit crimes and atrocities to suit his personal needs or desires all while claiming to be doing the right thing. Galad surrenders to Asunawa to save his troops from having to fight against other Whitecloaks. He saves many lives and this does not go unnoticed. More about him when we get to his storyline.

The last character we seen in the prologue is Lan. He is traveling to Tarwin’s Gap and is trying to do so incognito. Someone finds him and convinces Lan to take him along. We get small scenes of Lan’s travels throughout this book so I’ll wrap them up here. He goes from one ally, to several, to several dozen, and then an entire army. He then reluctantly announces publicly that he rides as the King of Malkier. At the end of this book, we see Lan at Tarwin’s Gap with an army of about 12,000. Before him is a Trolloc army numbering near 150,000. His battle will be one of many in the last book.

One quick side-note before we get into the thick of things. Apparently it has only been two years since the events of book one. This seems like an absolutely crazy short amount of time for everything that has happened. Then again, between the Ways and Traveling/Gateways, our characters can instantly be where they need to be without months of traveling. The fast-travel element becomes essential to the story, but at the same time, two years still seems super short. That means the majority of our main characters are only in their early twenties at most.

Moving on. Most of this book centers around Perrin and Galad so I’ll talk about their stories first. Perrin is making his way to Caemlyn but is having a hard time of it because of the large army and the landscape decaying around them. Perrin and Faile are able to make up and eliminate the awkwardness around them (thank goodness). Perrin begins learning the Wolf Dream with Hopper. He encounters Slayer again, whom we haven’t seen since book three (technically we do get a short scene with him named Isam, but he and Perrin haven’t seen each other since book three in the Two Rivers). The Wolf Dream is actually Tel’aran’rhiod. 

Galad becomes the Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks after the other Lord Captains kill Asunawa as a traitor. They knew Asunawa was wrong and that Galad was a better leader. Galad is still doing the right thing no matter the cost, but he is about to be educated.

Perrin’s army and Galad’s troops run into each other on the road toward Caemlyn. Galad meets with Perrin and too quickly decides that Perrin is what Byar and Bornhald claim him to be, a Darkfriend. I had hope for him at this point that he could turn the Whitecloaks around, but his quick judgement, though slightly twisted by Byar’s zealotry, made that hope dissolve like mist. He chooses the wrong action believing it to be right. He thinks that the Whitecloaks must kill Perrin despite the fact Perrin’s army would decimate his troops.

Perrin finally agrees to fight the Whitecloaks despite his many attempts to parley. He meets with them one last time with both armies lined up. This is when Galad sees Morgase and her identity is revealed to Perrin’s camp. Perrin convinces Galad to hold a trial of Perrin’s actions from book one. Galad agrees as long as Morgase is the judge. Morgase  agrees. Morgase finds out shortly before her identity is revealed that Gaebril was actually the Forsaken named Rahvin. She and Tallanvor have been on rocky ground because she is unsure of what her role in the world is/will be.

They hold the trial. Perrin is considered guilty of killing the two Whitecloaks. There was no evidence to determine if Perrin was a Darkfriend despite Byar’s insistence that it be part of the formal accusations. It is during the trial the Bornhald and Galad begin to see Byar is extremely biased toward Perrin and is not entirely truthful. Though Perrin is found guilty, his punishment is deferred to Galad as it was decided the altercation took place between two mercenary groups. This was determined by Morgase in accordance with a law regarding unsanctioned troops in Andor. This means that Perrin would not be executed by law, but Galad could exact that price if he chose it. Perrin convinces Galad to postpone that decision until after the Last Battle. Galad reluctantly agrees.

All this time, Galad and Berelain have been eyeing each other since first sight. I remember something stating they would end up together. Was it a viewing of Min’s? I think it was, from way back in book three when they were in the Stone of Tear. They practically become an item.

So Perrin somewhat cordially resolves the conflict with the Whitecloaks. He then goes into the Wolf Dream to determine what is wrong in the are they are staying. The Asha’man are unable to make Gateways and Perrin feels something is off. He comes to the conclusion that his encounter with the Whitecloaks was staged or at it was desired that they fight each other so a third force could come in and kill whoever was left.

Within the Wolf Dream, Perrin finds the ter’angreal that created the dome around the area his camp is. This dome is what is preventing the Gateways. He fights Slayer with a small pack of wolves. Most of the other wolves are heading north for the Last Hunt/Last Battle. He takes the ter’angreal away from his camp so the Asha’man can take his army to Whitebridge. Slayer chases him in the Wolf Dream all the way to Tar Valon where Perrin decides to confront Slayer. Perrin being in Tar Valon impacts Egwene’s story, which I will get to a little later. Perrin fights Slayer with the help of Hopper. Hopper gets killed and Perrin gets wounded, but Perrin is able to destroy the ter’angreal and stab Slayer in the gut. I’m not sure how Slayer doesn’t die from this, but he somehow escapes. I can’t remember exactly how (a lot happens okay), but if he still lives then Perrin will have to fight him one final time in the next book. We do learn that Slayer and Luc are the same person. However, is seems like they are two entirely different personalities because Slayer tells Perrin that Luc hates him with a passion.

Perrin’s acceptance of the wolf and the Wolf Dream really make him come into his own. Perrin has always been a favorite character of mine. He was on shaky ground there for a while when he was doubting himself and kind of messing things up with Faile, but now that he has accepted who he is and will lead his people despite the fact he doesn’t want to, he returns as a favorite. He is about to become even more badass too. He makes himself a new weapon. A battle hammer that he forges himself with a little help from the Asha’man Neald, who weaves the One Power into the weapon. This leads to Perrin’s army working on creating Power infused weapons for the Last Battle.

Though Perrin and Galad reach an agreement, they are not rid of each other yet. Perrin knew that Slayer being there was part of a bigger plan. He has his army readied and Travels to outside of where the Whitecloaks are. Galad thinks that Perrin is going to attack them but eventually sees that Perrin is there to defend the Whitecloaks against a Trolloc army. The battle ensues. Perrin fights with his new hammer that is ridiculously awesome (it burns Shadowspawn on contact!). Perrin then rides down into the Whitecloak camp to save Galad and his troops. While Perrin saves Galad, Galad tells Perrin he will deliver his verdict then and there, which is to pay a sum to the families of each Whitecloak he killed and to fight in the Last Battle. After saving their lives, Byar tries to stab Perrin from behind but is prevented from doing so by a sword is the back himself by Bornhald. Bornhald knew it was the right thing to do. He realizes that Byar was not telling the truth and that Perrin did not kill his father.

After the fighting, Perrin convinces Galad to swear an oath to follow him in the Last Battle. Morgase and Tallanvor get married and Perrin, as officiant because he is a lord, holds a very short ceremony for them.

Perrin then catches up with Mat and Thom in Caemlyn. He meets with Elayne as well and comes to an agreement that makes Perrin practically lord of the Two Rivers. Morgase reunites and then stays with Elayne. The last we see of Perrin is him Traveling to the field of Merrilor where the other armies are gathering to meet with Rand.

A final scene with Perrin is during the epilogue where he discovers the wolf Boundless within the Wolf Dream is actually Noam, the man he met when traveling with Moiraine. Noam had been locked up and had lost all of his humanity. He had been consumed by being a wolf. Perrin learns that Noam had a tragic life. He lost his family and was being abused. Noam chose to fully become a wolf as an escape. This helps Perrin come to terms with his decision or balance he had reached.

Next I will talk about Egwene since she and Perrin have a slight interaction. She reveals to the Wise Ones that Rand plans to break the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison. This is why the armies gather in the field of Merrilor. To try and talk Rand out of doing this. Rand hinted that this decision would be a huge conflict between him and Egwene.

Egwene convinces Nynaeve to return to the White Tower after they meet, with Elayne, in Tel’aran’rhiod and they discover Alviarin and another Black Sister were spying on them. Egwene is convinced Mesaana is still in the Tower and begins a hunt to find her. Several Aes Sedai have been killed alone in their rooms, which Egwene attributes to Mesaana’s work.

We find out later that it is actually the Seanchan assassins who stayed behind after the attack on the White Tower to cause maximum damage. We find this out through Gawyn, who is a nuisance to Egwene at first because he disrupts her trap to capture the murderer in the Tower. He goes to Caemlyn and has a heart-to-heart with Elayne and then speaks with a former sul’dam to get answers about the dagger he kept after fighting off the assassin the first time. He rushes back to Egwene just in time to get cornered by three of the assassins as they attempt to kill Egwene while she is in Tel’aran’rhiod. He fights off all three despite the fact they have ter’angreal that make them more lethal (at the cost of their lives). He defeats them but is dying when Egwene returns and heals him by bonding him as her Warder.

The reason Egwene was in Tel’aran’rhiod was two-fold. She holds a meeting with the Wise Ones and the Sea Folk and strike a deal that they each would trade apprentices so they could all learn from each other while maintaining their autonomy. She then has the Wise Ones stay with her after this meeting as she had laid a trap for the Black Ajah. The trap is sprung and they go to fight the Black Sisters and hopefully capture Mesaana. It is here that we see the Wise Ones’ mastery of the dream world. They are absolutely lethal in the fight as they manipulate their surroundings.

It is also during this fight that Perrin and Egwene cross paths. Egwene is battling it out when Perrin brings the ter’angreal, called a Dreamspike, into Tar Valon. This prevents the Black Ajah or anyone else from leaving the dream world or traveling outside of the city while in the dream world. Perrin runs into Egwene in the Tower and he is able to assist her with his mastery of the dream world as well. In probably the most impressive feats by Perrin, he deflects a shot of balefire with his hand like it was nothing. This proves that the dream world can be fully adjusted to the will of the person. Egwene believes what Perrin did was impossible. Perrin didn’t really know it was balefire and believed it was just another attack. Therefore, he was able to deflect it. If he believed he couldn’t deflect balefire, he would have died instantly.

The Dreamspike proves essential to Egwene’s victory because she does get captured by Mesaana. She and Mesaana have a mental standoff, or battle of wills, and Egwene wins. The result breaks Mesaana’s mind and she goes into a vegetative state. A few Black Ajah escape, but many are killed and only a few Aes Sedai are killed.

We last see Egwene in the field of Merrilor as she goes to meet Rand. Gawyn is with her and is full Warder now, but he does nearly break down when he sees his mother is alive.

Somewhat tied to Egwene is Nynaeve. When she first returns to the Tower, she tests for the shawl properly, mainly as a formality, and it does not go well. Those conducting the test are extremely hard on her and almost do not let her pass, but when put to a vote, they do let her become full Aes Sedai. She goes straight to Myrelle, who is outside the Black Tower, and demands she transfer Lan’s bond, which she does. So Nynaeve has Lan’s bond before Lan gets to Tarwin’s Gap and before the other big event in this book (which centers around Mat and I will get to soon).

I’ve covered enough now to talk about the few Forsaken we see in this book. First, of course, is Graendal. She had chose Perrin as her target. Moridin shows her a book of prophecies that states Perrin will die. The Forsaken apparently have their own prophecies. So many prophecies. I am again questioning which ones are valid and will come true, while uncertain if they all may come true. The Seanchan have their own, the Aiel, the Sea Folk; nearly every society has their own foretelling of the world. Certainly they can’t all be accurate or come true.

Anyway, Graendal was using Slayer to help her try and destroy Perrin. Moridin apparently lent Slayer to her for this purpose. Her failure to kill Perrin, via Slayer and the Trolloc forces, leads Shaidar Haran to speak with her. He blames her for Mesaana’s death as well since the Dreamspike she used prevented Mesaana from getting away. Shaidar Haran takes Graendal away to be punished.

Things aren’t going well within the Black Tower. Mazrim is building his own army while there are forces loyal to Logain thus causing a rift similar to the splitting of the White Tower. The weaves for Traveling no longer work within or near the Black Tower. Is a Dreamspike being used here now? Those loyal Logain are trying to get information and not fight back against Mazrim without Logain present. I don’t know if we know where Logain is at this time. He is missing. He isn’t with Rand and he has been away too long for the comfort of his men. One thing his men do find out is that Mazrim has been turning the Asha’man loyal to him somehow. Either through Compulsion or, possibly, melding the Asha’man with a past life that was loyal to Mazrim, who I’m fairly certain is Demandred. With Mesaana and Aran’gar dead, and Graendal practically imprisoned, Demandred is the last “free” Forsaken besides Moridin and his two lackeys Moghedien and reborn Lanfear. Unless I am missing one. I don’t think I am.

The issue in the Black Tower will need to be resolved prior to the Last Battle. Unless it takes place at the same time. Technically, if Mazrim is Demandred, then he would be fighting on the Dark One’s side and the Black Tower can just be another battlefront during the Last Battle.

I’m going to save Mat’s story for last and talk about Rand next. We last saw Rand on top of Dragonmount. We get an insight from Perrin’s storyline that shows Perrin had approached Rand while he was up there, but it was in the Wolf Dream. The wolves had gathered at the mountain to see if they would join the Last Hunt. It was during Perrin’s visit that Rand finally melded with Lews Therin. The first scene we get of Rand is him walking down from Dragonmount and is a new man. He is happy. He knows exactly what he needs to do. He can fend of the Dark One’s touch on the world and can control his surroundings. He is no longer the emotionless weapon he was forging himself to be. He is now the figure of a savior. He, like Perrin, has finally come into his own. His joining with Lews Therin gives him memories of his past life/lives which will help him in the trials to come. This melding was due to Cadsuane supposedly but it was really Tam who did this for Rand. Rand goes to Tear and makes up with Tam. He is doing everything right. Correcting past mistakes, but it will take time to correct everything. Another cool ability he has now is he can find Darkfriends simply by looking at them. He does this with Weiramon and Anaiyella in Tear while he is their. Weiramon was kind of a tool anyway so I’m not terribly surprised.

Rand visits the White Tower and speaks to Egwene. He tells her he will attack Shayol Ghul after breaking the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison. He tells her to prepare to join him and meet him on the Field of Merrilor on a specific day.

Before Nynaeve leaves Rand to go to the White Tower, she finds a way to cure the madness caused by the taint on saidin. She Delves and sees the madness like thorns stuck in the mind. She can remove them. She does this for an Asha’man who was helping her respond to a bubble of evil, which is where she learns how to do it. She Delves Rand and sees his mind is filled with these thorns, but there is a web of light underneath that is protecting him from them now.

Ituralde has been fighting off the Trollocs from the Blight. He is doing a phenomenal job of defending the border of Saldaea, but he is doing it alone. The Saldaeans refuse to help until there is a minor civil war inside the capital. We later learn the one in charge of the city while Queen Tenobia was away was a Darkfriend. The fighting moves into the city after a wall gets destroyed by the One Power. Someone on the Shadowspawn side can use the One Power. Ituralde fights in the city with the Saldaeans. They are about to abandon the city when forces arrive. Rand and Bashere are with them. They save Ituralde and the city. Rand goes out into the field and wipes out thousands of Shadowspawn single-handedly and forces them back into the Blight. Rand had gone back to Bandar Eban prior to saving Ituralde. I was glad to see him right this particular wrong because Ituralde trusted Rand and agreed to fight believing it would save his homeland.

Rand meets with the Borderland rulers. They each slap the shit out of him when they first meet him. Apparently they had their own Foretelling/prophecy (so many) that stated how Rand would react to them beating him up. If he had met with them a few weeks earlier, they would have all died and the world would have been lost. Instead, Rand is doing things right and convinces them to return to the Borderlands to fight the Last Battle. Rand even asks to meet with Hurin to apologize.

Elayne is in Caemlyn doing what she does best: putting herself in harms way without help or contingency plans. Her luck is just a hare behind Mat’s. Seriously. She disguises herself as a Forsaken and visits one of the Black Ajah she has imprisoned in the palace. She does so to get information, but during her visit two Black Sisters come to free the one she is interrogating along with Mellar. Elayne fights off a few because she has Mat’s medallion with her. She made a deal with Mat which I will discuss in a moment. She lucks out and is able to escape with a broken collar bone and a stab wound to the side by Mellar. Luckily, her babies are harmed in this attack. Mellar kills the three Black Ajah when they become incapacitated. He does this to prevent them being recaptured and because he is evil. He then escapes with one of the copies of Mat’s medallion that Elayne had made. Elayne is rescued and Healed.

She had Mat’s medallion because she struck a deal with him. She gave him access to Andor’s resources to build the dragons, which are canons, and in return he let her borrow the medallion to study for a few days. She tried replicating it, but couldn’t get an exact duplicate. She plans to make enough of the lesser version to give to all her troops because this lesser version protects the wearer from minor weaves of the One Power. It also prevents anyone who wears it from using the One Power.

Some information Elayne got from the Black Ajah before her ruse was discovered included the plan of a large scale attack on Caemlyn. This leads Elayne to increase the speed of production for the dragon canons. When Perrin arrives to the city, Elayne is reunited with Galad and Morgase. Morgase then becomes an important advisor to her.

Lastly for Elayne, she delicately maneuvers in a risky way, but is rewarded a somewhat easy ascension to the Sun Throne in Cairhein. We last see her going to the Field of Merrilor to meet with Rand and all the other armies.

Next to last is Aviendha. She doesn’t have much in this book, but what little she has is important. She goes to Rhuidean to become a full Wise One. While there, she contemplates the future of the Aiel since she already knew what to expect when going through the glass pillar ter’angreal. She does what no others have done, and goes through the glass pillars a second time. This time it shows her not the Aiel’s past, but the future. She sees generations of her people from the distant future moving backwards to her own children she will eventually have with Rand. What she sees breaks her heart. The Aiel lose themselves as a people and face extinction. All of this is caused by a war with the Seanchan. Rand apparently calls all nations to have a peace with the Seanchan, but the Aiel are exempt. They fight the Seanchan alone and are slowly destroyed by the war. The Seanchan continue to expand and destroy. They continue to collar anyone who can use the One Power. Even the White Tower eventually falls to them.

Will this vision come to pass? Will Aviendha be able to avoid it? Will Mat or Tuon or Rand be able to prevent it?

This shows the future of the Aiel, but of other nations as well. This is the world after Rand defeats the Dark One, but it is still full of strife. People still fight each other and fail to unite. The Seanchan need to be dealt with before or after the Last Battle. Is Rand going to kneel before Tuon as the Seanchan prophecy states? Will he be blind when it happens? I honestly hope not, but I’ll have to find out.

Okay. Mat is the last character left. He is waiting outside of Caemlyn as per his agreement with Verin. He finds out the gholam is there too and has been tracking him. It attacks him and reveals it has a new owner that gave it free reign to kill those close to Mat. He sleeps in different places each night to avoid the gholam.

Mat strikes the bargain with Elayne and goes without his medallion for a few days. Thom and Elayne have a nice reunion and Elayne gives Thom a request to become the official court bard. It includes a pardon for all past crimes and his exile (which we still don’t know what he did).

Mat gets the medallion back, with a few of the replicas Elayne made, and decides to face the gholam head on. He manages to lure it out and “kill” it by kicking it off of a Skimming platform and into the supposedly endless void. The Skimming was created by one of the Kin from the palace. Mat decides he wants to give the two replica medallions to Tuon and Olver. The fight with the gholam was a little anti-climactic considering the gholam was a continued nuisance and hard to kill. I was hoping Mat would kill it outright using the medallion or some other item. I wonder who the new owner had been. Presumably Moridin.

In the final chapters, Mat, Thom, and Noal finally leave for the Tower of Ghenjei. They enter and use Mat’s surreal luck to navigate the place. They find Moiraine and Mat makes a bargain to help them escape. The Eelfinn take one of Mat’s eyes. He has now almost the spitting image of Odin. He has had many similar events happen to him that happen to Odin the Norse myths. Even with the bargain they have to fight their way out. Noal sacrifices himself to help them escape. He reveals himself as Jain Farstrider. This was hinted throughout the last few books so it wasn’t a surprise, but he does say something interesting. He tells Mat that if he ever sees a Malkieri, he should tell them that Jain Farstrider died with his hands clean. What could that mean? Was Jain Malkieri? Did he have anything to do with the fall of that kingdom?

Thom, Mat, and Moiraine escape the tower. Thom and Moiraine then reveal that they love each other and decide to get married and that Thom will be her new Warder. Like Mat, I completely missed this pairing. I mean, Moiraine has been gone since book five, and therefore most of the series, but I did not see her and Thom becoming and item. I thought Moiraine was possibly related to Thom somehow., like a lost daughter or something, but I guess I misread Moiraine’s age. Isn’t she in her forties? What is Thom, sixties, fifties? Maybe they are closer in age than I thought. I knew she would return since we didn’t see her die. Now she is back just in time for the final events.

In the epilogue, Olver and Talmanes are playing Snakes and Foxes. This is the first time we get Olver’s point of view. He seems to be more aware and intelligent than we were led to believe. He opens Verin’s letter to Mat and Talmanes gets mad, but he reads it too. The letter reveals that a large force of Shadowspawn were sent to attack Caemlyn through the Waygate there. Verin explains that she assumed Mat would open it after a few days if she didn’t return. Mat refrained from opening it so he wouldn’t be tied by more Aes Sedai plots. Talmanes rushes out and raises the Band after he sees Caemlyn is under attack. The Shadowspawn have arrived and it was exactly one month as Verin predicted. Of course, Elayne and her army are gone when the attack happens. Hopefully Talmanes and the dragon canons can fend off the attack. We will see this battle, or its aftermath, in the final book.

That wraps up Towers of Midnight. With only A Memory of Light remaining, I am excited to see how this epic ends.

We haven’t see Loial, but I think he will show up somewhere in the next book. Maybe even with an army of Ogier, which would be awesome. Loial is still one of my favorites even though he has been absent of late.

I think Mat will pull off some crazy stuff during the Last Battle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his luck finally runs out and he gets killed. I only think this because I think Aviendha’s vision would not happen if Mat was with Tuon. If Mat is allowed to be with Tuon and help her rule the Seanchan, I think he would be able to stop her from collaring users of the One Power and to not continue conquering lands. He may even get killed because he lost his eye. He’ll miss an attack on his left side. Maybe.

Something has to happen with the Seanchan. Will they fight in the Last Battle? Or will they stay behind and try to conquer whoever survives that battle? I still don’t like them. I’d be okay if they get forced back across the ocean, assimilate to other kingdoms, or just remains as its own country in Altara.

I hope Perrin survives. I think he will, but we are in the endgame now and many people could die. We almost know with some certainty that Rand will die. But will Rand’s death be permanent? I think Egwene will survive as well. The White Tower will endure, but they may take heavy losses during the Last Battle. They will be essential to win that battle though.

I am very curious how Moiraine’s return will affect things. Obviously, she will cause a stir with those she knew well, especially Rand, but how else will be essential to the ending of this story? She has to play a big role since she was brought back and considering the heavy cost of bring her back. I wonder how Lan will react if he survives to see her.

So much left to discover. I’m hoping to fly through this final installment and learn everything I can. It is strange drawing near the end. It is series like this, that you stick with for so long and follow characters through so much, that make you pause near or after it is over. Perhaps it is because we don’t want it to be over, but I think it is because we know that even after it has ended, it has changed us. It is like we lived an entire life within these pages and now we must go on again. Perhaps this is how Rand felt as he melded with Lews Therin. Remembering the past lives he once had while continuing the life before him.

This was a very long post. I want to thank you for taking the time to read it. I will of course be posting my thoughts on the final book once I finish it. I hope to do so soon.

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm


The Gathering Storm is book twelve in the Wheel of Time series. This book was published in 2009, four years after book eleven was published and two years after Robert Jordan passed away. Brandon Sanderson, who was brought in to finish this series after Jordan’s passing, provides an endearing forward to this book in the form of a letter. This letter briefly explains how he was asked to take on the project and how he approached the work. I will admit that I had some concern about how Sanderson was going to finish the story. Jordan had much of it planned out so the story if very much Jordan’s to the end. He even requested the story be finished so the fans would not be left wanting.

My concerns about another author finishing the series have been alleviated. I think I could pick out a few chapters that were written solely by Sanderson, but this may be because I have a keener eye for the writing as I am a writer myself and often pick up on structure, word choice, format, etc. I think most readers will simply be able to enjoy it as any other Wheel of Time book without any concerns about the writing.

And now we come to the obligatory Spoiler Warning for the remainder of the post. If you haven’t read the series, you likely won’t know what I’m talking about at this point, but I’d hate to ruin something for you should you do decide to read it (you should because it is great). 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 previous books.

First, of course, we will cover the prologue. There are four main events here. The first is Moridin telling the other Forsaken that they are not allowed to save Semirhage. Demandred and Mesaana had requested they rescue her from Rand, but Moridin forbids it. Next, we get a scene of Rand releasing the Seanchan he captured alongside Semirhage. He does this so they can go tell Tuon that he still wants to meet with her despite Semirhage’s attack. Then we get a scene with Ituralde. He is still fighting the Seanchan in Arad Doman and he proves to be an extremely skilled tactician.

The last part of the prologue is the scene of Masema’s death. He is running through a forest after the battle with the Aiel. Faile is the one who catches up to him and kills him. She claims that she had to do what her husband couldn’t. She intends to keep Masema’s death a secret from Perrin. I thought Perrin had no qualms about killing Masema and actually hoped that he would be able to kill Masema during the attack on the Shaido. My questions are: Why did Faile do it? Why did Masema die in the prologue instead of during or shortly after the battle with the Shaido in book eleven? It seems strange that he dies in a short scene during the prologue of this book since he had been traveling with Perrin this whole time and was a character from early on in book two. I guess I felt like his character was going to have a bigger impact or at least a bigger confrontation. Perhaps I only feel this way because the same thing happens with Aram. A character from way back in the beginning dying quickly and without much closure. Not that I need it (for Masema especially), but I think it would be easier to have an easy death such as this for more of a minor character or one who wasn’t in the story for as long. For example, I felt like Rolan’s death was not abrupt. I mean, it was literally, but he was a recent character who was only in the last few books. I was okay with him going out in that way (though I did like him). Masema’s death in this book seemed a little to quick and easy.

Regardless, Masema is no longer a concern. We get very little of Perrin in this book. He remains one of my favorites though I do have a new favorite which I will reveal a little later. We don’t seen any of Elayne, or Loial (my favorite character), or several others. We get a little of Aviendha and absolutely nothing from Padan Fain. Where has he been? He has to come back eventually for a confrontation with Rand. I think we last saw him in book nine(?) when he attacked Rand in Far Madding. Anyway, we get a little of Mat, but most of this book is about Rand and Egwene.

I already covered most of what happens with Perrin actually, so let’s talk about Mat. He is having concerns about being a newlywed, which is absolutely understandable considering his situation. He just got married, unceremoniously, to the person who is about to become the leader of people he considers his enemy. Mat is traveling north. Away from the Seanchan. Two interesting things happen to Mat in this book. The first is that he comes across a town that is caught in a violent loop. The town goes insane and they all kill each other at night, but then they wake up the next day as if nothing happened. No memories. No wounds. Anyone who dies is alive again. Any travelers who die in the town and die at night then get caught up in the loop and wake up the next day. This scene best describes one of the big themes of this book. The Pattern is coming undone. The Dark One’s touch on the world is not only making the food spoil and the dead walk again, but it is causing the fabric of reality to become altered or at risk of falling apart.

The second event with Mat is shortly after his visit to this town. Someone had been distributing drawings of Mat and Perrin and offering good money for information. This turns out to be Verin. She agrees to Travel Mat and his forces directly to Caemlyn, saving them a twenty day march and risk of low supplies, but only if he agrees to one of two things. He either opens a letter Verin gives him after ten days in Caemlyn or he waits in Caemlyn a full twenty (or was it thirty?) days after they get to Caemlyn. The letter would have instructions for him and he would only need to open it if Verin did not return to him. Mat will either have to open the letter or wait the full time agreed upon because Verin has a major scene later in the book which we will get to toward the end of this post.

On to Rand. We learn early in this book that it was one of Cadsuane’s ter’angreal that disrupted Semirhage’s disguise when she tried to meet Rand as Tuon. This was one of the main reasons they were able to capture her. We also learn that only the saidar statue was destroyed when Rand and Nynaeve cleansed saidin. That means the male statue is still intact, but Cadsuane has taken it into her safekeeping along with the male a’dam Semirhage tried to use to capture Rand. Cadsuane also has Callandor, but she is having a few retired Aes Sedai studying it. So it is out of play at the moment.

Rand is planning to secure Arad Doman. He approaches Rodel Ituralde alone and convinces the general to join him. He plans to have Ituralde defend the Borderlands since the Borderland armies are still in the south looking for Rand. I’m not sure why he hasn’t approached the Borderland armies at this point and just Travels them all back to where they came from, but it does come up a bit later.

Min has been reading a lot trying to find information that can help Rand. She discovers that the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison must be broken before he can seal the prison a second time. Or attempt to kill the Dark One for good, which is what I think will be ultimate outcome. We will see. It could be kind of interesting to have the ending “turn the wheel” and lead us as readers to re-read the series, but I think that would not be a satisfactory ending for most fans.

Rand enters the dreamworld, or some version of it, and meets Moridin. He realizes that it was Moridin who saved him at Shadar Logoth when he was fighting Sammael. Moridin was formerly Ishamael/Ba’alzamon, who was in the very beginning of the series when Lews Therin kills himself after finding out what he did. Moridin’s true name is Elam. This short scene shows a connection between Rand/Lews Therin and Moridin. Moridin seems tired and asks Rand to leave since Rand somehow entered Moridin’s dream unknowingly. Rand had been seeing Moridin’s face from time to time in the same way he sees Perrin’s and Mat’s. I’m curious to see how this connection plays out in the remaining two books.

This big scene with Rand is when Shaidar Haran, whom we haven’t seen for a bit and still don’t know who/what he really is, shows up and frees Semirhage. Semirhage then is able to take the male a’dam, apparently called a Domination Band, and is able to capture Rand with it. She gets a little help from Elza, the Black Ajah who has been with Rand. Semirhage then makes Rand torture Min before ordering him to kill her. He is squeezing the life from her when he suddenly gets access to the True Power. With the True Power, he is able to destroy the Domination Band and kill Semirhage and Elza with balefire.

Rand had forbidden Cadsuane and the other Aes Sedai from torturing Semirhage while they questioned her. He held onto his resolve not to kill women. He dismissed that when he kills Semirhage and he no longer will hesitate to kill anyone. He is slowly becoming a cold, deadly, heartless shell of a person. Cadsuane sees this but doesn’t know what to do. Rand exiles Cadsuane from his sight after the incident with Semirhage. Mainly because the Domination Band was in her safekeeping and Semirhage was able to get ahold of it.

Rand has pretty much lost it by this point. He keeps trying to harden himself so he can do what he thinks needs to be done for the Last Battle. He thinks he must become a mythical figure and is bound by the prophecies and has no free will. He hones himself to be unemotional and after he gains access to the True Power alongside access to saidin or the One Power, he has a dark aura about him. Cadsuane and a few others are able to notice it but only out of the corner of their eye and they can’t actually pinpoint what it is or if it is really there. Rand becomes so hardened that many people back down simply when he looks them in the eye.

When Rand actually meets with Tuon, she feels an overwhelming sense to agree to his demands. But she is able to refuse him. He leaves once she denies the alliance. Apparently there is a Seanchan prophecy that states the Dragon Reborn will go blind and Tuon, as Empress, will be the one to guide Rand to attack the Dark One. Another Seachan prophecy states that Rand will kneel before the Empress. This leads me to ask the question of whether all “prophecies” will be fulfilled. Will they? Or will only some of them come to pass? Since there are several from different societies and lands, are the prophecies guiding the characters’ actions or are they foreshadowing to us readers of what is going to happen? Tidbits to keep us enticed? I’m not sure, but most “prophecies” seem to fall in that final category. Tuon does two things after her meeting with Rand. She claims herself as Empress and then declares an assault on the White Tower.

Rand, with some help from Nynaeve, discovers where Graendal is likely to be hiding. A fortress in the mountains. He takes Min and Nynaeve with him. He uses one of the nobles from Bandar Eban as a pawn and sends him to meet with Graendal. Once he returns and Nynaeve confirms the noble has Graendal’s Compulsion in him, Rand uses the statue (Choedan Kal) to summon enough balefire to eliminate the entire fortification. Every person inside is wiped from the Pattern. Rand confirms Graendal is killed by having Nynaeve confirm the Compulsion is no longer on the noble he used. This act, a mass killing, frightens Min and Nynaeve enough to go help Cadsuane and the Wise Ones with their plans to help Rand. Cadsuane has Nynaeve find out where Perrin is. Someone in Perrin’s camp is essential to her plan.

Rand abandons Arad Doman after he fails to create an alliance with the Seanchan. I think this is going to backfire because he promised Ituralde that Arad Doman would be secured and safe if he fought in the Borderlands. Ituralde only agreed to help Rand because he believed Rand would defend his homeland. Rand goes to Tear where he has had Darlin recruiting an army. While here, he agrees to meet the Borderland leaders. he goes to meet them but only meets Hurin, whom we have not seen since book two (or early on in book three). Hurin was with Rand when they tracked down Padan Fain to recover the dagger for Mat and the Horn of Valere. He was the thief-taker in Sheinar who could smell evil. Hurin is meant to meet with Rand to schedule a meeting with the Borderland leaders. Rand gets pissed and Travels outside of Far Madding where the Borderlanders are. They intended to meet him within the area where he wouldn’t be able to channel. This riles him up so he sends Hurin to give them a message. Either they can agree to join Rand and he will Travel them back to the Borderlands immediately, or they can sit down in the south while the Last Battle takes place in their homelands and they can live with their shame.

Before that though, Hurin notices something strange about Rand but he can’t quite place what it is. Obviously, it is related to the dark aura Rand inherits after he gains access to the True Source. But what does Hurin notice? He doesn’t seem put off by it entirely like he would if he came across a murder. He holds Rand in high regard still from their previous travels. His questioning does make Rand consider a few things later on.

He is considering those things when he decides to go attack the Seanchan directly. He is getting ready to leave when he finds Tam in his room. Tam was the important person from Perrin’s camp. This is the first time Tam has seen Rand since he left with Moraine back in book one. They have an uneasy but good interaction up until Tam mentions Cadsuane. Rand loses it after hearing her name and almost kills Tam with balefire. He is able to stop himself but he Travels to Ebou Dar alone seconds afterward. Tam is pissed and confronts Cadsuane about what she has been doing to Rand and how much Rand has changed. He is obviously concerned and angry at how she has mishandled her station as Rand’s adviser. He is absolutely correct in his accusations. Cadsuane has not only bungled her job of trying to assist Rand, but she has become tiresome as a character. She treats everyone like a child and has a superiority complex. It was okay for a while when she was actually being smart and handling some situations well, but she has lost her edge and is unwilling to change. That unwillingness is why I think she is failing. She needs to be humbled and shown that she must change before she is able to succeed. I hope this happens or else she needs to pull off something incredibly clever for it to have merit.

Rand is in Ebou Dar and is going to destroy the palace with balefire, but when he takes hold of saidin, he is so sickened that he draws a crowd who wants to help him. He Travels before a Seanchan patrol gets to him and he finds himself on the peak of Dragonmount. He remains there for a long time contemplating himself and his recent actions. He recalls prophecies and asks why he is doing everything that he does. This is a reference to his conversation with Tam. In the end, Rand decides to destroy the access key ter’angreal that links to the Choedan Kal. Now both statues are destroyed.

The second half of this book centers on Egwene. Egwene has become one of my favorite characters in this series. Almost out of nowhere. Her handling of the division within the White Tower, and her resolve to see it mended, are nothing short of admirable. I wish we could make Egwene President. Honestly, we need people like her to make a better world.

Anyway, a lot happens with Egwene, including the big surprise in this book. We will get to that in a brief moment. First, Leane almost dies in her cell when the room starts to melt. Another bubble of evil/unraveling of the Pattern is the cause. Then Egwene discovers the group of Aes Sedai who are hunting the Black Ajah in the Tower, which is the only good thing Elaida has done. Egwene is able to gain them as allies. She makes huge progress with other Sitters and many influential people in the Tower. She even confronts Elaida in front of five Sitters. She destroys Elaida’s arguments and calls her out until Elaida loses her shit and starts beating Egwene with the One Power. Elaida yells “I am Tower Law” during her rampage, which reminded me so much of a scene is Star Wars Episode III when Palpatine declares himself the senate thus claiming himself the emperor (pic for funsies). I am the senateElaida shows her true madness here. She believes her word is law and that everyone should obey her. This is ridiculous, but it is up to the Sitters and other Aes Sedai to decide if they will let it continue (eerily relevant to the political climate right now). Elaida is a tyrant. She locks Egwene up after this but Egwene tells Siuan not to rescue her. We learn that Sheriam is Black Ajah when she is visited by someone, possibly Mesaana, who gives her the task of stealing all the dream ter’angreal. I thought Sheriam was simply being used by Halima/Aran’gar and that she may eventually regain her composure once Halima was gone. Nope, she is actually Black Ajah. My only question to this is: How long has she been Black Ajah?

Egwene gets released from her cell and learns that Silviana defended her in front of Elaida shortly before requesting, in front of a full Hall, that Elaida be removed. Elaida plans to execute Silviana for this and Egwene’s first action is to prevent this. Upon getting to her room after being freed from her cell, Egwene discovers Verin is waiting for her. We learn that Verin can lie. She can lie!

This is the big event of this book in my opinion. This calls everything Verin has done or said, since the beginning of the series, into question. However, what happens next may be the greatest thing any Aes Sedai has done. Yes, Verin reveals herself to be Black Ajah, but confesses she chose to become Black because it was a join or die situation. She decided to join the Black Ajah so she could study them from the inside and learn more about the Dark One. She compiles all of her knowledge into one volume which is encrypted. She gives this volume, and the cipher, to Egwene and shows her how to make the books turn invisible by using the ter’angreal bookmarks. Verin explains that she is only able to betray the Black Ajah and the Dark One because of a small loophole in the oaths she had to take. She could not betray the Dark One until the hour of her death. She is able to betray her information to Egwene because she poisons herself and will die within the hour. The whole volume includes detailed information about the enemy, including a list of Black Ajah in the back, which Egwene quickly deciphers.

Egwene is about to tell Siuan about Verin’s visit when the Seanchan attack the White Tower. Egwene is able to gather many Novices and a few Aes Sedai and leads a defense. She is able to take out several of the to’raken and practically fights herself to exhaustion. Siuan and Gawyn mount a rescue mission to get Egwene back, despite her orders not to, during this attack. Siuan convinces Gareth Bryne to help them. He agrees on two conditions. The first is that Siuan make him her Warder. The second is revealed later that she marry him if they are able to live somewhere peacefully after the world has been saved. She agrees to the first instantaneously and the second later one once it is revealed. It’s good to see them finally reveal their feelings to each other. They go in and fight some Seanchan and do rescue Egwene. She is unable to tell them not to because she is literally a rag doll from exhaustion when they find her. The raid ends with approximately 40 Aes Sedai or Novices/Accepted captured by the Seanchan. Elaida is one of those captured. I felt like that was inevitable once the attack began though I would have almost preferred seeing the Tower depose her.

After the attack, Egwene reveals to her rebel Hall that she has a list of over 200 Black Ajah members and there are 70 Black Ajah within their camp. This includes Sheriam and one of the Sitters, Moria. Egwene captures, stills, and executes more than 50 of them. The other 20 escape.

The cleansing was in the morning and in the afternoon Egwene marches on Tar Valon. She waits as long as she can, and right before she orders an attack, the White Tower Aes Sedai come out to request Egwene be raised as Amyrlin in the Tower. She accepts and goes through the ceremony. She releases Silviana from her cell and raises her as Keeper. She does this to help heal the tower and not exclude the Red Ajah. She also does it because Silviana is possibly the most capable Aes Sedai in the Tower.

Egwene reprimands pretty much every Aes Sedai stating that they failed to prevent the Tower from being broken and divided by Elaida. Unfortunately, the Black Ajah within the Tower escape before they can be captured. However, Egwene has all Aes Sedai retake the Oaths to prove they are not Black Ajah. This effectively rids the Tower of the Black Ajah and unifies the Tower without any doubts among who might be a Darkfriend. Once she accepts the rebel Aes Sedai back into the Tower, the unification is complete and the Tower is full of initiates/Novices. They can now work toward strengthening the Tower and preparing for the Last Battle.

Even though there is so much more we need to see, and this book primarily followed Egwene and Rand, I really liked it and am excited for the next one. Towers of Midnight is a bit longer than this one and from the cover I believe Mat, Thom, and Noal are going to go find Moraine, who has been gone since book five (but I knew she wasn’t gone for good). We haven’t seen anything from the Black Tower either so I’m hoping we get something about that in book thirteen. The end is nigh. I’ll likely speed through these last two books. I’ll post about them as I get through them.

 

Exhalation

 

The universe began as an enormous breath being held.

 

ExhalationExhalation by Ted Chiang is a collection of nine stories ranging from 4 pages in length to 111. Therefore, I would not consider this a short story collection. Simply a collection of stories. This is Chiang’s second collection with the first being The Story of Your Life and Others, where the title story was the basis for the film Arrival.

Several of these stories have been published previously but a few make their debut in this collection. The story I was most looking forward to reading was “The Lifecycle of Software Objects.” I remembered seeing it was published as a novella back when I looked into Chiang’s bibliography after reading his first collection. I can’t remember why I didn’t pick it up at the time, but it added to my desire to get my hands on this collection.

Though I will admit that my favorite story in this collection ended up being either the title story “Exhalation” or “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” with “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” and “Omphalos” as close seconds, all of the stories in this collection are worth a read.

I feel compelled to compare Chiang’s work to Philip K. Dick’s. Not because they both write science fiction, but because both of them write stories that linger. Stories that keep you thinking after you have read them. I think this is because they frame a story around a larger question. A story that provides glimpses of the question as you read. Their writing encourages me to ponder questions I haven’t considered. They often make me see something in a new way. And best of all, they inspire me to write stories of my own that may tackle bigger questions and hopefully keep the reader thinking after they finish the last page.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that “Exhalation” was partly inspired by Dick’s story “The Electric Ant,” which Chiang states he had read as a teenager. I am a big fan of Dick’s work and I have become a fan of Chiang’s. I very much look forward to following his career and reading everything he produces.

I couldn’t help but notice a theme to this collection though. One I can’t quite explain with accuracy. The best I can do is say that many of the stories include some form of fatalism. They either question free will or question the reasoning behind our choices. None of this is done directly, which may be the genius of Chiang’s writing, but these might hint at the larger questions I mentioned earlier. There are story notes in the back of this collection that give brief insights into what inspired each story. It’s fun to see where he got some of these ideas, especially since some of them came from unexpected sources.

I hope you read one or two of Chiang’s stories to see if they interest you. I was hooked after the first one.

Happy Reading.

Knife of Dreams



Knife of Dreams


Knife of Dreams is book eleven in the Wheel of Time series. This book was originally published in 2005 and, unfortunately, was the last book in the series to be written entirely by Robert Jordan. He passed away in 2007. The remainder of the Wheel of Time was completed by Brandon Sanderson. I do recall reading somewhere that Jordan had intended to finish the series with book twelve. He had so much written though that they decided to turn that twelfth book into three books resulting in the total of fourteen in the series. “They” being, I assume, the publishers, etc.

Because the remaining books were finished by someone else, I do hold some reservations about how the series will end. However, I’ve heard from many fans that Brandon Sanderson does an excellent job writing these final books so readers hardly notice it was not Jordan himself who finished them. I’ll just have to dive in and see how I feel about them. I will say that Knife of Dreams is my favorite of the series so far.

And now we come to the obligatory Spoiler Warning for the remainder of the post. If you haven’t read the series, you likely won’t know what I’m talking about at this point, but I’d hate to ruin something for you should you do decide to read it (you should because it is great). The same goes for anyone who is currently reading the series but isn’t this far yet. If you fall in this category, go check out my thoughts on the previous books.

Okay, here we go. Another long prologue but it opens up with an amazing confrontation between Galad and Valda. Valda is still leading the Whitecloaks but has aligned with the Seanchan. Galad accuses Valda of forcing himself on Morgase, who is technically his step-mom. This accusation results in him fighting a duel with Valda where he eventually is able to win and kill Valda. We don’t see Galad the rest of the book unfortunately, but I think he may now be the leader of the Whitecloaks, especially since Asunawa runs away during the fight presumably to join the Seanchan.

Many of the Whitecloaks seem glad that Valda dies. Including Dain Bornhald and Byar who are with Galad at this point and seem to be loyal to him. This will be interesting considering Galad’s always does what he thinks is right no matter the cost to himself or others. If I have the lineage correct, Galad is technically Rand’s half-brother since they have the same mother. I wonder if this will come into play later. It would be nice to see Galad bring the Whitecloaks out of fanaticism and actually a force for good. I will consider it a major achievement since I’ve hated the Whitecloaks since day one.

Also in the prologue is a small update on Liandrin. I don’t think we have seen her since Moghedien shielded her and tied off the weave a long time ago. We do get a small update on the other Black Ajah who fled the White Tower later in this book and I’ll talk about them when I get to that. Liandrin is now a servant of Suroth. We learn that Suroth is actually a Darkfriend, and that the Seanchan have their own name, and punishments, for Darkfriends. Suroth gets a visit from Semirhage who tells her that the Empress and the entire imperial family, except Tuon, have been killed back in Seandar. She suggests that Suroth try to become Empress. In order for her to achieve this, she will need to kill Tuon. The Seanchan as a people are apparently in a chaotic civil war with many people trying to claim the throne. This means that no more Seanchan are coming from across the sea and that their forces will be weakened.

We learn two other things in the prologue. The first is Beslan has become king in Ebou Dar after his mother Tylin was killed. The second being Alviarin was originally ordered to shatter the White Tower from within. That wraps up most of what was in the prologue.

Next, I’ll discuss the events around Egwene. She is still in the Tower as a “captive” only in the sense that she is continually fed small amounts of forkroot to keep her from being able to channel her full strength. Elaida claimed she was used and won’t be punished for claiming to be Amyrlin. She instead demotes Egwene to Novice status. Egwene continues to claim she is Amyrlin which gets her continuous visits to the Mistress of Novices for beatings, but her resolve is admirable. She tells the Mistress of Novices that she is a Dreamer and she had a dream foretelling the Seanchan were going to attack the White Tower. She isn’t believed at first, but she slowly begins to convince those around her that her intentions are for the White Tower and that she has the qualities to be the Amyrlin as she claims.

Leane was also captured after turning only half of the south harbor chain into cuendillar. Egwene was able to turn the north chain completely. Their plan didn’t work 100%, but it was enough to hinder supplied getting into the city to a point where it will cause major problems.

We learn that Beonin is the one who betrayed Egwene. She apparently took advantage of Siuan’s removal as well in some way. She Travels into the White Tower and gets herself to Elaida by disguising herself. Supposedly she has been a spy for Elaida the whole time (bitch) with the task of sowing dissent among the rebels until the eventually quit and return to the Tower. For some reason, Elaida has Beonin only teach her the weaves for Traveling. She goes as far as having Beonin swear not to teach others without her permission.

Merise and Jahar show up with a few others to the rebel camp. They make the offer from Rand that the Aes Sedai can bond 47 Asha’man. Only 47 because that would then equal the number of Aes Sedai who were bonded by Asha’man, since the few Asha’man who were in Cairhein were bonded. That mean 51 Aes Sedai were bonded when going to the Black Tower. We know Logain bonded two of them.

At the very end of this book, in the epilogue, we see Pevara and five other Red sisters go to the Black Tower to meet with Mazrim. We get a look into what he has been doing. Mainly building a fortress for himself and recruiting Asha’man for his own purposes. He effectively has an army of saidin users. When he meets with the Red sisters, he does agree to letting them bond up to 47 Asha’man, but they must agree to be bonded and cannot be bonded against their will. He then basically reveals himself as one of the Forsaken, at least to the reader, by saying “let the lord of chaos rule” which we know is in relation to the Dark One. I talked about the possibility of Mazrim being Forsaken in a previous book and how I thought it wasn’t likely unless that Forsaken member, I assume is Damandred, had killed the original Mazrim. I could be wrong, but then I could be right with that guess.

Back to the rebel camp. Jahar is given time to speak to the Hall in the rebel camp where he explains that saidin has been cleansed. He also reveals how and that they fought the Forsaken, which leads to his disclosure of one of the Forsaken being a woman who can channel saidin. Romanda immediately calls for Delana and Halima to be taken into custody, but they have already fled. The camp finally figures out that who has been behind the murders, which I can’t help but wonder about since Sheriam has been losing her composure and has likely been manipulated in some way by Halima. What is happening with Sheriam? Has she turned Darkfriend? Is she going to regain her composure and become good again? Is she just going to fall into the background and we never see her again? All are possible and the answer is waiting in the remaining books.

Last few things about Egwene. She is making strides in the White Tower by planting seeds among the Aes Sedai and Novices. Seeds that will grow and eventually bring about Elaida’s removal. Egwene is appalled at how divided and unkempt the Tower has become. Sisters don’t roam the halls as they normally had. They keep only to their own Ajahs. They are suspicious of each other. Egwene sees this and it only increases her resolve. I believe it was the chapter “Honey in the Tea” that shows Egwene’s progress in the Tower. Going from “prisoner” to a respected woman who shows the qualities of Amyrlin. Many of the Novices go from shunning her to viewing her as a full Aes Sedai if not Amyrlin. Egwene still calls herself Amyrlin too. Not only the Novices see this. Many Aes Sedai actually begin to respect her and see her quality. It was a longer chapter, but it shows much character growth and progress. More than I think we have seen about Egwene in a long time if ever. She has become the definition of what an Amyrlin should be, and with what she is doing in her current situation, she will easily be able to mend the Tower once Elaida is removed.

Short aside on Elaida. She has been studying Tarmon Gai’don. Apparently the ghosts we have seen in the past few books are a sign of the Dark One touching the world and is a reference to the Last Battle approaching. I’m not sure if her information in this area will keep her as a viable character after she is removed as Amyrlin or not. I’d just as likely see her removed and gone for good. We will see.

This book is filled with great scenes. I couldn’t help but notice that most of this book seemed to be gearing up for Tarmon Gai’don. We knew this was coming, and since we are nearing the end of the series, this makes a lot of sense. A few other things that hint that the Last Battle is approaching is now many of the larger cities/palaces are changing unexpectedly. The palace in Caemlyn and even the White Tower randomly have hallways and rooms move or change. Of course the unnatural spoiling of food is also a sign. I’m curious how bad things will get before Rand faces down the Dark One. We are in the endgame now.

Next up is the Forsaken. For being such major characters, especially in the beginning, they have been in the background for a long time while our characters have faced off against the Seachan and Shaido. We do get a few tidbits in this book however. One already mentioned is that Mazrim might be Demandred. We get a seen of the Forsaken meeting. Aran’gar is Halima, which I can’t remember if we knew that already or not. Either way, Aran’gar and Mesaana apparently had been planning both sides of the Aes Sedai rift. Influencing both sides to bring down the White Tower prior to Tarmon Gai’don. Had they succeeded, it would have been a huge blow to Rand’s chances of winning. They reveal that only three seals on the Dark One’s prison are remaining and Rand apparently has all of them. The Forsaken are tasked with finding the seals. Moridin claims Rand as his alone and that no other Forsaken can fight him. He then orders the others to find and kill Perrin and Mat.

Speaking of Perrin and Mat, we will talk about them next. Perrin (still one of my favorites) is now carrying the hammer and has given up the ax. When he meets with the Seanchan to form a temporary alliance to fight the Shaido, a Seanchan prophecy is revealed alluding to Perrin and Mat. Part of the prophecy states that Perrin carrying the hammer is a hint that the Last Battle is near. Anyway, the main reason Perrin gets into communication with the Seanchan is because of Tallanvor, whom we have not seen since just after Morgase was captured by the Shaido at the end of book eight. Tallanvor brings Perrin and a Seanchan commander together. They make an elaborate plan, which involved putting forkroot into the Shaido water supply to prevent the Wise Ones from using the One Power as weapon when they attack. Perrin finally attacks the Shaido 54 days after Faile was taken.

Faile has been in the camp and has had many of the gai’shain swear loyalty to her. They all see her as a leader and want to help her escape so she can come back to rescue them. She eventually gets the Oath Rod from Therava because of one of these followers. This puts her plan into motion with Galina as a pivotal piece in their escape. Faile has a secondary escape plan as well, but it includes leaving with one of the mera’din, or Brotherless, Aiel who are not Shaido. His name is Rolan and he hopes to convince Faile to be with him. He mentions he and the other mera’din have discussed going back to the Three-Fold Land. He is the one who took Faile originally and made her gai’shain. A lot goes on with Faile and Rolan but she never crosses any lines and only flirts with Rolan at times in response to his affections. Though she does consider crossing a line toward the end if it was her only way of escape. It luckily doesn’t come to that.

We do learn that the Shaido Wise Ones have sent someone to Rhuidean to become the new clan chief, thus removing Sevanna from her role as leader. Therava had been asking questions to find out which Wise Ones let Couladin go to Rhuidean, but she can’t find any. She likely suspects that Couladin never went and therefore would never have been legitimately the clan chief.

Before we get to the battle, a few things to discuss. Tam al’thor arrives to command the Two Rivers men for Perrin during the battle. We haven’t seen Tam in a long time and it was nice to see him back and showing off his battle skills. Then comes Aram and Masema. Masema is still traveling with Perrin and was Perrin’s main reason for leaving Rand in Cairhein so long ago. Faile being taken prevents him from taking Masema to Rand so Rand can figure out what to do with him. Anyway, Aram has been slipping. He has been meeting with Masema and spending too much time with his fanatical people. Masema still is not seen much in the book, but his influence leads to a confrontation between Aram and Perrin. This confrontation happens during the fight against the Shaido where Aram tries to kill Perrin! I knew Aram was losing it, but I wasn’t sure it was that bad until this happens. Aram and Perrin have known each other since book one when Aram was a Tinker. They have a long history and Aram became extremely loyal to Perrin after he picks up the sword, so I’m surprised he was able to be corrupted by Masema to the point where he betrays Perrin. He attacks Perrin inside the Shaido camp and Perrin defends himself. The encounter is brief and Aram is killed by Shaido arrows. I thought this was a poor conclusion to Aram’s character since he has been around for so long. I thought the betrayal and fight with Perrin could have been so much more heartbreaking, but I guess that was just a missed opportunity. Aram somehow believed Masema when he said Perrin was a Darkfriend and uses his yellow eyes as the only proof. Aram should have known better. Maybe we could have gotten a scene with Masema and Aram to show how he was corrupted to make Aram’s doubt of Perrin more believable. Honestly, I didn’t care much for Aram to begin with, but I still was left wanting a bit more in this instance.

Perrin fights his way through the Shaido and finally gets to Faile, who was just rescued by Rolan and his friends. Galina had trapped Faile and the others who were originally captured with her after Faile gives her the Oath Rod. Faile figures out that Galina is Black Ajah because of this. Anyway, Perrin shows up right after Rolan frees Faile and they go to fight each other not knowing who they are or that they likely could have quickly bartered a truce. Rolan goes to meet Perrin and hesitates when Faile calls out Perrin’s name. That hesitation is what caused Perrin to easily kill Rolan in one hit. I feel bad about Rolan because he was a good man who was doing what he thought was right. I was hoping he could have survived and maybe joined Perrin’s party like Gaul or maybe even just had an amicable parting of ways. It’s weird feeling worse about such a minor character than I did about Aram, but sometimes that happens.

After this battle, Sevanna is captured by the Seanchan. The Seanchan also capture nearly all the Wise Ones and collar them with a’dam. Part of Perrin’s agreement with the Seanchan was that they would also kill Masema and his men. They succeed in destroying most of Masema’s forces, but Masema gets away with about 100 men, so he is still going to be an issue later. Galina is trying to escape when Therava finds her with a large group of surviving Shaido. Therava recaptures her and Galina knows that she will be Therava’s pet for the rest of her life. Therava claims she is taking the remaining Shaido back to the Three-fold Land to rebuild their clan even though it will take generations.

That wraps up Perrin’s progress in this book. Now let’s move on to Mat. Mat purchases a rare horse that he eventually gives to Tuon. He also buys a piece of good wood that he turns into a good Two Rivers bow. We learn that Noal claims to be a cousin of Jain Farstrider, but he seems to know a bit more about Jain as if he could be Jain himself. I have a feeling Noal will become a much bigger character. Especially after Mat reads the letter Thom keeps rereading. The letter he gets from Moraine right after she dies. The letter reveals that she is not dead and can be saved, but only by Mat, Thom, and one other person she did not know. This person turns out to be Noal. Mat agrees to go with Thom and some of the dice in his head stop upon agreeing to go. I’m sure we still have a lot to learn about Thom still too. I knew Moraine was not gone for good. She “dies” back in book five, and we learn she is possibly alive in book eleven. If she is going to come back, it won’t be for too long since we are nearing the end.

We also learn that Mistress Anan, the innkeeper from Ebou Dar, used to be Aes Sedai. Presumably stilled, she is following Mat for her own reasons which she says are to aid him. Who could she really be? What are her reasons? Maybe she will turn out to be a bigger character too.

We get a chapter from Tuon’s perspective, which is very interesting because she is still very much all about the Seanchan and doing what is best for the Empire. This makes Mat and her relationship much more problematic because they are on completely opposite sides of a larger conflict. But this doesn’t stop them from having their relationship either. Tuon states that Mat his her husband three times and by doing so makes that a fact by Seanchan custom since Mat already stated she was his wife three times. She “marries” him shortly after Furyk shows up. Furyk is the Deathwatch guard who went looking for Tuon back in the prologue of book ten. He was able to catch up and see through Mat’s plans before Mat could escape beyond Seanchan controlled territory. He was extremely outmatched and believed he would likely die, but when he meets with Mat, Mat tells him he could take Tuon back only if Tuon trusted him and he could be sure she was safe. Tuon trusts him because Furyk had served her in the past.

We then get a battle between Mat and the Seanchan soldiers who were following Furyk. They were following him to find out where Tuon was so they could kill her. The battle is meant to give Tuon time to escape, but the soldiers he fights were promised a large reward and they never surrender or retreat so they all end up dying in the field with very few losses on Mat’s side. The soldiers were all from local countries and led by one Seanchan commander. Furyk’s men, who stayed to fight with Mat before catching up to guard Tuon, recognize the Seanchan man and take his head to show Tuon. In the epilogue, we see Tuon returning to Ebou Dar and confronting Suroth. She shows Suroth the head because it was one of her loyal people which reveals Suroth was behind the attempt on Tuon’s life. Tuon makes Suroth da’covale and will be sold. News of the Empress’s death reached Ebou Dar by this time so Tuon knows she will be Empress.

A lot happens in this book and we are nearing the end. Thanks for hanging in this far. Next, I’m going to talk about Elayne’s story. She is still in Caemlyn trying to secure the Lion Throne. Aviendha leaves with the Aiel Wise Ones. The Wise Ones leave apparently from an order by Rand. Elayne is having Mellar followed because she doesn’t trust him. There are hints that some of the mercenary companies under Elayne may turn on her once Arymilla pays them upfront.

Elayne learns that Mellar has been visiting a few of the Black Ajah in the city. The same Black Ajah she left the White Tower to pursue with Egwene and Nynaeve way back in book two or three (or four?). Elayne goes to capture the Black Ajah with the other Aes Sedai with her. The three Aes Sedai are all killed when the rest of the Black Ajah show up. It was not only two, but all remaining (I think eight?) of them. We find out which one of the Aes Sedai with Elayne killed Vandene’s sister. Vandene gets her revenge just before dying. Elayne gets captured and is being taken out of the city. Birgitte hastily forms a rescue party that includes the Windfinders still in the palace due to Elayne’s agreement with Zaida. They Travel outside the city and attack the Black Sisters. One of which has the rod that shoots balefire. Birgitte convinces the Windfinders to use the One Power as a weapon. They kill the one using the balefire and capture the others, thus rescuing Elayne. Of course, Elayne then goes straight to the fighting with Arymilla where she is able to surround them and make them surrender. The other Houses show up in Caemlyn and most of them claim for her so she gains the throne. Now she knows she has to prepare for Tarmon Gai’don. She does all of this while being pregnant with twins. I’m curious how far along she is though. I’m assuming only a few months since it hasn’t been long since Rand was in the palace. She did take Min’s viewing, that she would be perfectly okay until the children were born, a little to far in assuming nothing bad would happen to her.

And now we finally get to the last topic for this book. Rand. And Loial since he is one of my favorite characters and he has finally come back into the story.  Loial is with Rand when his mother shows up with Eldar Haran and Erith. He gets married to Erith. Hurray! And what better way to celebrate a marriage than to be attacked by 100,000 Trollocs led by several Myrddraal? Yep. A large force attacks the manor Rand is hiding out in. Luckily, it was right after Logain returns with some Asha’man because without them they would have all died. Rand goes to reach for saidin and Lew Therin actually gains control and starts weaving crazy things like Death Gates and Blossoms of Fire and Arrows of Fire. The other Asha’man quickly learn the weaves and use them. This allows them to win against such a large force. Only a group of Saldaeans die in the battle. Rand has to fight Lews Therin and convince him not to die until after the Last Battle. Lews Therin reluctantly agrees.

Quick return to Loial. We learn that the Great Stump, or gathering of Ogier, is meeting to decide whether or not the Ogier are going to leave the world and return when “The Wheel Turns.” I guess they have done this before. They go to an alternate world or dimension and return when a conflict is over. Loial’s mother is for leaving. Loial is not because the conflict happening is the Last Battle. Loial is going to go speak at the Great Stump to try and convince the Ogier to remain and help in the last fight.

Quick return to Logain. He goes to the Atha’an Miere and tells them they need to ferry supplies to Bandar Ebon for over one million people in preparation for Tarmon Gai’don. It is in this scene we learn that the people of Tremalking have abandoned their island and any who couldn’t leave took poison. They had a prophecy that signaled when it was their time to “wake from the illusion.” This signal was the sa’angreal on the island melting, which was caused by Rand and Nynaeve when they used it to cleanse saidin.

Nynaeve convinces Lan to go to Shienar to prepare for the Last Battle. He has been feeling a pull back to the Blight. She agrees to take him there only after he swears an oath to let anyone who wanted to join him do so on his march to Tarwin’s gap. She Travels with him to the coast of the Borderlands and leaves him there so he has to travel across the continent to get to Shienar (such a Nynaeve thing to do). She then visits several villages along that route telling them that Lan is marching toward Tarmon Gai’don so they will rally to him. She does all this before returning to Rand.

And finally we get to the end. Or my last point I think important. Rand goes to meet with who believes it Tuon to strike a truce with the Seanchan before going to the Last Battle. We as readers know that it isn’t Tuon since she is with Mat, but I was surprised to find out who it actually is. The person who comes out of the manor house that is the meeting location looks like Tuon but her disguise falters and we learn it is Semirhage. She had brought along several damane and they have a brief battle. The very start of the battle has Rand reaching for saidin and fighting over it with Lew Therin. The result being that he gets hit by an attack from Semirhage and loses his left hand. Semirhage and the Seanchan damane and sul’dam are captured. They were all fooled by Semirhage and believed they were being honored by Tuon. Inside the manor house is a box containing several male a’dam they had planned to use to capture Rand. Nynaeve sees these and realizes Egeanin broke her promise to drop the a’dam they found in Tanchico into the ocean. Instead, the Seanchan have the male a’dam and have made more of them. Semirhage was masquerading as Suroth’s Truthspeaker this whole time apparently, but now she is captured by Rand. We will see what information he gets from her. I assume the remaining Forsaken will be coming out to play soon as we start to wrap things up, which leads me to wonder where Asmodean has been this whole time. We haven’t seen Padan Fain either and he is still on the loose after Rand fought him in Far Madding back in book nine.

Here is to hoping Brandon Sanderson does indeed to a great job in wrapping up the amazing story Robert Jordan has given us. Next is The Gathering Storm. I’m still planning to finish the series by the end of the year so you can expect my thoughts on the remaining books by December.