All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot SeeAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was published in 2014 and won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This was one of those books I had seen on bookshelves the year it came out and a few subsequent years where the title caught my interest but I never picked it up. Since it had caught my interest, once a colleague recommended it to me stating it was “the best book he had read last year,” I picked it. I finished it yesterday.

This book is beautifully written. Hands down, it is one of the best-written books I’ve read in a long time. The use of language alone is enough to recommend it, but the story is also compelling. Two young lives impacted by the eruption of war. A young girl, blind and led by her father as they flee their familiar home in Paris. A young boy, orphaned in a mining town and left to fend for his younger sister until his curiosity and aptitude with radio leads him into the German forces as the war progresses. Their lives are connected by invisible waves dancing in the air as their lives careen into the unknown. Despite the interesting characters, I found I was kept at arms length from really getting to know them. I think it was the formatting of the book that led to this. The book is over 500 pages long, but broken into chapters averaging three pages in length. The changes in perspective and the story spanning a decade made it seem more like watching a play than getting into the heads of the characters and experiencing their story alongside them. We are bystanders. Perhaps this is best considering the situations they are in, but I almost felt like I wanted more of a connection with them. The main characters at least.

Doerr definitely did his research. History, locations, technology, and even biological studies of specimens, everything is brought together to bring a rich experience. I think one thing that captured my attention was the descriptions of the radio. We all likely use radios every day, or phones, without knowing a single thing about how they actually work. We take it for granted and because of this I think Doerr is able to bring a magic to it within this novel. Of course, this was before television and the rapid growth of technology that we all have known nearly our entire lives.

Though this is a work of fiction, I think it does a great job of showing how the war changed the lives of the citizens of Europe. Outside of losing loved ones and friends, and living in uncertainty not knowing if they would eat each day, the story is a glimpse inside what it would have been like for both sides during the occupation of France and beyond. It also briefly shows how those changes influenced their lives after the war.

The story feeds off of, and in turn contributes to, the nostalgic time before the technology we know so well. Even though the conflicts of the second world war were horrendous and attribute to some of the worst things in the history of humanity, there is still a sense of simplicity during the first half of the recent century. This could easily be the distance of time between now and then. Daily hardships are also hardly mentioned in history lessons and it is impossible to know how life really was before our own experience.

Yes, the war is a topic many people don’t find interesting because of the terrible things that happen, but this book focuses on our two young characters. I can’t name either a protagonist or antagonist because this is not a story with plain right or wrong (despite us knowing much about the war itself and having our own sense of good and bad). This is a story about life, the wonders it contains, the difficulty of existence, and the choices we make. It is about survival and how to live after the danger passes. It demonstrates the fickleness of life and how unfortunate things happen to good people, and how good people can combat the ill-intentions of others.

I spoke with the colleague who recommended this book to me last week and told him I was about halfway through. He carefully told me that he thought the ending was “appropriate,” and now that I have finished the book I must agree with him. The ending is appropriate. I will leave you to take that as you will.

Happy Reading.

On Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le GuinUrsula K. Le Guin was an influential writer and advocate for the progression of science fiction and fantasy into the realms of mainstream literature. She was also a strong advocate for female writers and did what she could to promote equity in publishing. Needless to say, she was a strong-minded and socially aware individual and she has been praised and criticized for these very reasons. To me, she is an inspiration and encourages me to improve myself.

I hate to say I have only recently discovered Le Guin, but what I have read so far has already impacted my own views of writing and the field of writing. I can’t recall when I first discovered who she was (I believe I discovered her from Neil Gaiman), but I do remember when I read her work for the first time. It was The Left Hand of Darkness and I finished it roughly two years ago. She died three weeks later on January 22nd, 2018. I have since read a collection of non-fiction The Language of the Night and watched a documentary titled The Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.* The documentary was well-one and worth the watch.

Within The Language of the Night, Le Guin discusses much of what the world of science fiction looked like from a writer’s perspective during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was at this time when the publication of science fiction and fantasy was changing. These two genres, which are often paired together, were looked down upon as a secondary form of writing or considered childish stories. There were a lot of terrible stories written during the first half the 20th century (and the second half as well), but something happened during the second half which changed societies views about these topics. I believe J.R.R. Tolkien was a big influence (mainly on the view of fantasy as a legitimate form of storytelling) primarily with his essay “On Fairy-Stories.” These areas of entertainment still face some resistance today but it is hard to deny that stories written within the classification of either genre are influential and have merit. This is not just because they are extremely popular across the globe, but because they are lasting.

Yes, we are lucky because most of the not-so-great science fiction and fantasy stories written in the 1900’s have been culled by time thus leaving us with the better stories still standing, but there are some hidden gems still out there and I hope they do not fall into obscurity or disappear altogether. I don’t believe Le Guin’s works are at any risk of disappearing. I still need to read many of her books, but the one’s I hear most about are her Earthsea series and the Hainish Cycle (this later series consists of standalone novels and includes The Left Hand of Darkness). My lovely wife bought me the illustrated Earthsea series for our one-year anniversary. I hope to read it this year.

Le Guin is known as one of many essential science fiction authors. She was advocating for the field around the time that these types of books were first being taught in schools. Many people today, myself included, grew up reading fantasy and science fiction in school alongside the other “classic” books. I read The Hobbit in middle school and again in high school (though I had already read it before it was “required”). I read Fahrenheit 451 in high school and loved it. Science fiction and fantasy have become part of the norm. They remain popular and are growing fields. At the time Le Guin was becoming a popular writer of these genres, it was a somewhat niche field. She wanted it to grow and grow it did. In the 1970’s, Le Guin stated that only 1 in 30 writers of science fiction were female. She was a rarity. She worked to encourage women writers and urged them to resist the use of male pseudonyms which was still common at that time. I’m glad that the times have changed and the world of writing is more inclusive than the past, but we still have a ways to go. I, like Le Guin, will advocate however I can to promote diversity and inclusion in all areas of life.

Though many readers believe her work can be a little too political, primarily her non-fiction, I find it mostly reassuring and encouraging. Her writing was her form of learning her social environment and saying what she wanted to say. She wrote stories of worlds where certain aspects of our society were dismissed or exaggerated in order to explore what those fictional societies would look like. This is what I believe makes them so interesting to read. Many of the aspects she writes about are still very much relevant today, nearly fifty years later, and will likely remain for a long time. I think her writing will endure because most of her stories are simply other worlds we can enjoy. Oftentimes they are, but they still hold a gem which we can either discover or ignore depending on what we want from the book. That gem is much like a flag to be raised toward a cause we may wish to stand behind.

Le Guin has influenced many writers who are popular today. I hope she continues to influence writers and others, much like she has influenced me. I may not love all of her works, but I will respect her for who she was and what she believed. Her words survive her and will continue to influence the world to persevere and improve itself. That is the best that any writer can hope for.

 


*Link was available at the time of writing. If the link is unavailable, I recommend searching the web or checking your local library for a copy of this film.

A Monster Calls

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls was written by Patrick Ness and was inspired by an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd. I believe this story holds a power that can help many people. It follows a young boy named Conor O’Malley who must face a harsh truth; that his mother’s illness is not going away. His mother’s illness has impacted his entire world from his own relationship with his mother to how he is treated by teachers and other kids at school. A “monster” visits Conor to tell him three important stories, and in return Conor must tell the monster his own story. It is the journey of these stories that force Conor to re-evaluate his view of the world and ultimately face his own truth.

What I believe is so powerful about this book is not the “monster” or Conor’s gradual understanding, it isn’t even the power of stories (though I will always argue that stories have power, as this one does), this book holds a power to help those experiencing grief. Especially anyone who must face the gradual decline of someone they love. Anyone who is in a position where they feel powerless and can do nothing but hope. That limbo between sickness and death. The power of this book is how it helps those stuck in that limbo. I believe most people feel helpless and unsure of how to help others who are in that particular situation.

That may not make it seem like a particularly uplifting book. Any discussion of death is not particularly uplifting, but this book faces it with strength and makes the reader evaluate not only how they would react to such a situation but how others react when they must face it as well. This book is not just for anyone who has faced the grief of a loved one’s passing. It is for everyone because I believe we all have, in some way, experienced grief.

This book was adapted into a movie in 2016. I have not yet seen the movie, but I think I will watch it eventually. I hear it was well-adapted and it does have a great cast. Liam Neeson voices the monster. I usually prefer the book to the movie in most cases. However, I think this story would do well on screen accompanied by that always emotion-inducing medium of music.

I am recommending this book because I believe it has the power to heal beyond just those who are grieving. It has the power to help us understand and better accept ourselves as human beings. We all have emotions and sometimes they get the better of us. This story reassures us that sometimes that is okay. Sometimes that is best. That it doesn’t make us lesser people because we cannot fully comprehend our own feelings.

My hope is, yet again, that we can all go into this new year with a goal to better understand and accept ourselves as well as others.

Happy Reading.

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 firsthand 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 there would have been a town or anything living in the Blasted Lands. 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 Myrddraal 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 Myrddraal 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 Taim 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 the Asha’man loyal to Logain 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 Aviendha 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, then Moiraine walks in. She helps convince the leaders to sign the agreement. Rand makes additions before everyone signs, stating 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 though technically that future could still happen with how they are included). Rand hands the Seals over to Egwene during the meeting after Moiraine helps Egwene 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 he 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 with war). 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 preventing Traveling around the Black Tower. It is in the dream world 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 force 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 Cairhien 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 rulers can be). She believes she can do whatever she pleases and can act like a spoiled-rotten child. I understand Min could be a 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 Cairhien 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 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 escaped 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. There is a momentary respite. A calm before the final storm.

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 of the Harry Potter series. Crazy.

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 it 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 knew Jain Farstrider/Noal as some point, which I thought was interesting. This is never explained outside the fact that Androl has led 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 the 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 of Saldaea. Mat then gathers Loial and the Ogier forces, along with the Dragonsworn and some of his Band of the Red Hand soldiers, to attack Demandred’s forces to prevent the forces of good from being surrounded.

Egwene convinces Silviana and Rosil, the Yellow Sister 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 captured Faile and the other soldiers in the caravan. 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 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 they ran off after being accused of being Darkfriends though. 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 by 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 sucks 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 that 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 created. 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 soldiers 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 as he always wanted to be important. Noal actually shows up as a Hero of the Horn and saves Olver.

Birgitte is reborn via the Horn and kills Mellar, thus saving Elayne one last time.

Darkhounds show up to 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. Aviendha 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 One 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 after Graendal Travels them to a ledge higher on the mountain where they continue their fight. Both are fighting while 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 held 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 command. She then gets blasted by the dragon cannons which are now firing through gateways. Talmanes is leading the dragon canons with Aludra pointing out targets.

The Seanchan 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 a 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 into the Wolf Dream 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 as well. 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 (I forgot to mention that Logain got 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 as 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 get better.

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 by his death.

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 and 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 also throw some random, unlikely guesses in just for fun.

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-through 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 things 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. I thought Fain had been absent for much of the last several books, but 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 story-line.

The last character we see in the prologue is Lan. He is traveling to Tarwin’s Gap and is trying to do so incognito. Someone finds 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 close to 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 four (technically we do get a short scene with him when he was named Isam, but he and Perrin haven’t seen each other since book four in the Two Rivers). The Wolf Dream is actually Tel’aran’rhiod or at least they are within the same plane of reality(?).

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 in the morning sun. 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 that Bornhald and Galad begin to see Byar is extremely biased against 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 up and down since they first saw each other. 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 area they are staying. The Asha’man are unable to make Gateways and Perrin senses something is off. He comes to the conclusion that his encounter with the Whitecloaks was staged or 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 in. This dome is what is preventing the Gateways. He fights Slayer with a small pack of wolves while 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 his wolf abilities 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 in his own back from his buddy 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, or enter the Wolf Dream entirely, as an escape. This helps Perrin come to terms with his decision, or balance, he has 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 there in the dream world. 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 (while also poisoning them or sapping their life energy?). He defeats them but is dying when Egwene returns to the waking world 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 feat 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 that soon).

I’ve covered enough now to talk about the few Forsaken we see in this book. First, of course, is Graendal. She had chosen 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. Perhaps they are all just potential futures.

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 had used ended up preventing 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 to 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 Logain to his side 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 story-line 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 basically 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 that 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 Black Ajah simply because she has Mat’s medallion with her protecting her from their attacks. 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 not harmed in this attack. Mellar kills the three Black Ajah when they become incapacitated. He does this to prevent them from 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 in the city, Elayne is reunited with Galad and Morgase. Morgase then becomes an important adviser to her.

Lastly for Elayne, she delicately maneuvers with high risk but is rewarded a somewhat easy ascension to the Sun Throne in Cairhien. 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 presence 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 and the 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 read and 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, who 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 is now almost the spitting image of Odin when he travels anonymously. He has had many similar events happen to him that happen to Odin the Norse myths. But 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 an 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 seen 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 remain 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 she be essential to the ending of this story? She has to play a big role since she was brought back and the cost was heavy in order to 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 the end or after it is over to contemplate the entire story. 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 set 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, A Memory of Light, once I finish it. I hope to do so soon.