The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 21

Unfortunately, WOTers, no one can be told what the Wheel of Time Re-read is. You have to see it for yourself!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 37 and 38 of Towers of Midnight, in which shit gets unreal, and it is pretty darn awesome.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general, including the upcoming final volume, A Memory of Light.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

Remember, y’all: there will be no Re-read post next Tuesday, October 9th. Barring disaster, the Re-read will resume the following Tuesday, October 16th. Watch this space for updates.

Onward!

 

Chapter 37: Darkness in the Tower

What Happens
Gawyn sits thinking in the Palace gardens, and realizes that Elayne is right: his hatred of al’Thor had been borne of jealousy, that al’Thor was playing the role of leader that Gawyn would have chosen for himself. He thinks that maybe he resisted Egwene’s commands because accepting them meant stepping aside and letting her lead, living in her shadow; being the follower, instead of the leader. He thinks that he had always admired men like Sleete who could do that, but never understood them until now.

Because he loved her. But also because it was for the best.

[…] And in that moment, finally, he understood. He stood up. He couldn’t go to Egwene as a prince. He had to go to her as a Warder. He had to watch over her, to serve her. See her wishes done.

It was time to return.

He goes to find Elayne, but Birgitte will not let him in. Gawyn tells her that he is leaving and wishes to say goodbye, but Birgitte tells him it will keep until morning, and reluctantly hints that Elayne’s sleep at the moment is more important than usual. Gawyn realizes she is referring to what Egwene did, walking in dreams, and suddenly remembers what the sul’dam had said about the Bloodknife assassin waiting for a time of weakness to strike. He dashes to the Traveling ground and gets the Kinswoman there to make him a gateway to the Tower. She does so, but the gateway closes almost on his heels, to Gawyn’s ire. He ignores it though, and keeps running.

Egwene, Leane and the Wise Ones appear in a room at the base of the Tower, where Saerin reports that the Black Sisters attacked in the middle of their fake meeting, using Fire with incredible Power. Shevan and Carlinya are dead, and Morvrin adds she saw Alviarin there among others. Brendas says Nynaeve is still up there fighting. Egwene tells the Wise Ones to wake Brendas up so she can wake the others and get them out of danger, leaving herself, Nynaeve, Siuan and Leane. Brendas fades out, and Egwene tells the other sisters to get out of the city. Saerin tries to obey, but cannot; Bair and Amys and Egwene quickly realize they cannot shift out of the city either, and Yukiri points to where a violet dome has appeared over the city.

“Wake if you must,” she said to the Wise Ones. “I will fight. One of the Shadowsouled is here.”

The Wise Ones fell silent. “We will go with you,” Melaine finally said.

Egwene sends the Aes Sedai to their former meeting place in the city, and instructs the Wise Ones and Leane to join her in her chambers. They do, and as the dream-Tower shakes, warns them to be careful, as their enemies know the terrain better than they. She is hesitant about keeping Leane here, but Leane assures her that she can handle herself, and the other women wink out. Egwene is troubled that they appear to be trapped here, but thinks that hopefully that means so is Mesaana.

Slayer appears where Perrin stands in Tar Valon, the ter’angreal in a pouch on his belt. Slayer comments that Perrin has grown skilled, and that he should have killed him months ago. Perrin replies that he tried that already, and asks who he is.

“A man of two worlds, Perrin Aybara. And one owned by both. I’ll need the dreamspike back.”

“Step closer, and I’ll destroy it,” Perrin said.

Slayer snorted, walking forward. “You don’t have the strength for that, boy. I don’t even have the strength to manage that.”

Slayer glances at Dragonmount then, and Perrin wonders if that means the mountain could destroy it, but thinks it might just be a ruse. Slayer demands the dreamspike back, and Perrin replies that one of them will have to die for it. Slayer says that Luc hates him, Perrin, deeply, to Perrin’s confusion, but that he hates him no more than the wolf does the stag.

“You are not a wolf,” Perrin said, growling softly.

Slayer shrugged. “Let us be done with this, then.” He dashed forward.

Gawyn charges into the Tower, and two former Younglings (Mazone and Celark) join him as he races up to Egwene’s chambers. He wonders briefly if he is messing up her plans again, but decides this time is different.

He would see her protected so that she could do great things. He would stand in her shadow and be proud. He would do as she asked—but would see her safe no matter what.

Because that was what a Warder did.

He enters cautiously, but no alarms or traps go off. Then he sees a maid struggling in the antechamber, trussed up in Air, and dashes to Egwene’s bedroom. She is not moving, but before he can see whether she is dead or asleep he senses movement behind him and barely blocks the sword aimed at his back. He sees that there are two blurs in the room instead of one, and shouts for the Younglings to get help. Mazone runs, but Celark joins the fight. Neither of them can hit the assassins, and Celark is soon fatally wounded. Gawyn can barely manage to hold them off, but thinks he only has to last until help arrives. Then he moves to the side and sees Mazone bleeding on the antechamber floor, and a third shadowy blur joins the two pressing Gawyn.

Perrin lets his wolf free, for once not worrying about the consequences, soaring over a street and landing on a roof where he becomes a man again and smashes his hammer down at Slayer. They fight back and forth, appearing and disappearing, trying to land a blow. Perrin manages to pelt Slayer with exploding masonry, but then Slayer fools him with a lifelike decoy long enough to shoot the pouch with the dreamspike off his waist and grab it. Perrin gives chase, and is surprised when Hopper joins in the fight; he had tried to keep the other wolves out of it after Oak Dancer’s death, but he knows Hopper will not listen to him. He growls and they hunt Slayer together.

Egwene sneaks down a hallway, using the anti-eavesdropping weave to silence her footsteps, and surprises Mestra and Evanellein in a room. She kills Mestra with a ball of fire, and immobilizes Evanellein by imagining her stupid. But before she can decide whether to kill or capture the Black Sister, a woman with large blue eyes and black hair appears, and Egwene is almost overwhelmed with the impulse to surrender before she shakes free and sends herself to her rooms in a panic. Nynaeve joins her there, and they move to the gardens before Nynaeve reports that she killed Notori, another Black Sister, and that Siuan and Leane are still alive last she saw. Egwene thinks of the nineteen stolen dream ter’angreal, and knows they are outnumbered, but thinks that the Black Ajah do not seem very experienced in Tel’aran’rhiod, which gives them an advantage.

“Have you seen the Wise Ones?”

“They’re up there.” Nynaeve grimaced. “They seem to be enjoying this.”

“They would,” Egwene said.

She makes a plan with Nynaeve for them to work in concert, and they go, finding and killing Sedore, a former Yellow Sitter. They move on, and Bair appears from where she was hiding to scold them for being so obvious, but then the wall explodes outward to reveal six more women attacking.

Perrin chases Slayer up the outer wall of the Tower and tries to fire an arrow at him, but Slayer jumps through a window into the Tower itself. Perrin and Hopper follow and split up to try and cut their prey off; Perrin runs into a group of Aes Sedai fighting each other, and realizes Egwene is watching them. She turns and does something to try and grab him, but he shakes it off. She recognizes him in shock, and Perrin tells her he doesn’t know how she got here, but it is dangerous and she should leave. She demands to know if he knows where Rand is, but then cuts herself off and says she doesn’t have time to deal with him, and says she’ll be back for him later. She makes ropes appear, binding him, which Perrin finds amusing; he thinks them loose and they fall off. Egwene is astounded, and then a raven-haired woman appears and aims a bar of white-hot light at them. Perrin imagines it missing, and it disappears, and then Egwene knocks the woman out with a chunk of falling masonry.

Egwene smelled amazed. She spun on him. “Balefire? You stopped balefire? Nothing should be able to do that.”

“It’s just a weave,” Perrin said, reaching out for Hopper. Where was Slayer?

“It’s not just a weave, Perrin, it’s—”

“I’m sorry, Egwene,” he said. “I will speak to you later. Be careful in this place. You probably already know that you need to be, but still. It’s more dangerous than you know.”

He turned and ran, leaving Egwene sputtering. It seemed she’d managed to become an Aes Sedai. That was good; she deserved it.

Hopper? he sent. Where are you?

His only reply was a sudden, terrifying, sending of pain.

Gawyn fights desperately against the shadowed assassins, but knows that his wounds are slowing him, and soon he will be overwhelmed. He curses himself for not rousing the entire Tower first. He manages to actually strike one assassin down, which makes the other two redouble their efforts, and Gawyn takes another hit.

Shadows. How could a man be expected to fight against shadows? It was impossible!

Where there is light, there must be shadow…

He extinguishes the lamp, plunging the room into darkness, relying only on his hearing to track his assailants. He attacks, running the second assassin through, and then freezes, listening for the final man. Deciding to bank on a low attack, he raises his blade to his neck. The assassin attacks, cutting deeply into Gawyn’s side, but Gawyn’s counter decapitates the other man. Gawyn slumps against the bed, losing blood rapidly, and loses consciousness while thinking that he still doesn’t know if Egwene is alive.

In a created space below the basements of the Tower, Katerine reports to Mesaana that they have been unable to find the dreamspike. Mesaana whips her absently while wondering where the Aes Sedai had found such a treasure, which she wants almost as badly as she does Egwene al’Vere. She decides that having Egwene will give her the location of the dreamspike as well, and instructs Katerine to concentrate everything on capturing the girl Amyrlin. She begins to place a weave on the Black Sister.

Perrin appears on the roof of the Tower, where Slayer holds a severely wounded Hopper by the scruff of the neck. Perrin begs him to leave the wolf and go, but Slayer replies that Perrin himself said that he’d follow Slayer wherever he went, and throws Hopper off the Tower. Perrin screams and leaps after, but Slayer intercepts him, and they both fall as Slayer tries to stab Perrin with his knife. Perrin blocks the blows, but his control wavers and Slayer cuts deep into his forearm. Perrin kicks away from him and wills himself to appear on the ground in time to catch the wolf.

A black-fletched arrow zipped from the sky and pierced Hopper’s back, passing all the way through the wolf and hitting Perrin in his thigh, which was bent at the knee just beneath the wolf.

Perrin yelled, feeling his own pain mix with a sudden wash of agony from Hopper. The wolf’s mind was fading.

“No!” Perrin sent, eyes wet with tears.

Young Bull… Hopper sent.

He rolls away from the next arrow, forced to drop Hopper. Slayer appears and says it looks like he kills five wolves today; he fires, but Perrin imagines himself strong and flashes behind Slayer. He swings his hammer, but Slayer blocks him casually and informs him that you can’t really heal yourself in the dream. Perrin smells terror, and realizes there is a nightmare directly behind Slayer. He snarls and slams into Slayer, hurling them both directly into it.

Commentary
Aw, Hopper.

Okay, first of all, summarizing action chapters SUCKS. Not just because a whole hell of a lot more tends to happen in shorter span of text, but also because I really do hate leaving out all the little beats and moments that make the action work. So you end up with monster recaps like this one. Oy.

But the POINT is, action! Adventure! Really wild things! Whoo!

Hokay, so much awesome, so little time. Without question, though, the best thing in this chapter was Perrin’s total dream-pwning of Egwene in the Tower, which I’m pretty sure I actually guffawed at the first time I read it. Because HA.

And this is me not being an Egwene hater at all—y’all know I love my Ooh Ooh Girl—but more that it was just so fabulous to see Perrin finally being in his element at something. He’s spent so long feeling incompetent and inadequate (even though he never really actually was either of those things), to see him being all “no, seriously, I got this,” well, it made my heart all happy.

Plus I freely admit it was nice to see Egwene get jolted out of her complacency regarding her mastery of the Dreamworld. Not because I like seeing her get humiliated, but because as she herself admits later, it’s extremely important to her own survival that she remember there is always more she doesn’t know, and that knowing you don’t know is at least less likely to get you killed than not knowing you don’t know. You know?

So, that moment was definitely made of awesome. The other most awesome thing in this chapter, to my utter shock, is Gawyn.

If you recall, I wondered a few headdesking chapters ago whether my initial reaction of “all is forgiven” regarding Gawyn would hold this time around, given how much more time I had to marinate in his idiocy, but it turns out that, no, forgiveness is still achieved. Whew.

Mainly, I suspect, not so much for his spooky super-ninja-assassin-killing-fu (though that was plenty spiffy in its own right) but for what he thinks at the beginning of the chapter, about which I can only say: FINALLY. And also: oh.

“Oh,” because I do think that his thoughts here reframed my view of him a little bit. As someone who is definitely not down as a general thing with people other than me controlling my life, I guess I can see how accepting a lifelong role which is inherently one of—well, I’ll say “of service” rather than “subservience,” because I think the latter is overstating it and also vaguely kinky-sounding—I can see how accepting a lifelong role which is inherently one of service to another could be a tough pill to swallow. Even more so in someone like Gawyn’s case than in mine; I mean, you can make a joke about me being raised to rule (heh), but it’s not literally true the way it is for Gawyn.

I think it was the point he made to himself about how he had to (paraphrased) remake his entire image of himself, his core identity, in order to accept the role that had me saying, okay, right. That shit’s hard, okay, touché.

I still say he was a douche before, though!

As an aside, I have to note how pleased I am that while I unavoidably thought about it, the point that Gawyn is a man and Egwene is a woman never once entered into his considerations regarding leader and follower roles in their relationship. That’s because it would never occur to Gawyn to do so, of course (or if anything, in his worldview him being male would count in favor of his acceptance of the subordinate role, not the opposite), but that is exactly my point. It’s just – refreshing, let’s say.

So those were the two big points of awesomeness here, but the whole thing is pretty awesome. My only real complaint is that we never got to see Nynaeve kicking ass, which is very sad-making. But, I suppose there was probably enough madness already going on that I can let it slide. JUST THIS ONCE.

Slayer: is still a giant, mean, wolf-shooting tool. But also says something fairly interesting here to Perrin:

“A man of two worlds, Perrin Aybara. And one owned by both.”

“Owned,” eh? You know, I can’t remember for sure anymore, but I think that it’s been shown that Slayer can choose to be either Luc or Isam in either the waking world or the dream, so it’s not that he can only be one person in one world and the other in the other. However, this phrasing suggests he’s tied to Tel’aran’rhiod in a way more profound than just being able to pop in and out of it in the flesh.

Also, the comment that Luc loathes Perrin but Isam doesn’t really give a crap one way or the other is similarly intriguing. We saw hints that the two of them had separate wants and personalities before this, of course, but this was a good reminder. And now makes me re-wonder all the things I’ve wondered before about how this works. Like, have they ever had major disagreements about what to do about something? What happens when they have a fight? What if Luc wants chicken and Isam wants the pork dish? Do they self-slap it out or something?

Ha ha ha, I just totally cracked myself up with that image. I may have to check whether Netflix has Innerspace now.

Other than that, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Slayer vs. Perrin scenes throughout this book, and especially here, because they finally did what the previous books really have not, and employed the reality-altering possibilities of combat in Tel’aran’rhiod to their fullest crazy extent. The result is kind of a meld of the action scenes from The Matrix and Inception, minus the guns, and really, there’s just no bad there. If they ever manage to make a film/TV series out of WOT, and if they ever manage to get this far if they do, this chapter will be seriously awesome to watch.

I won’t really venture to speculate on whether the decidedly more Matrix-y tone of the action scenes in TOM are the result of a younger hand on the reins, but let’s just say, this is one change about which I personally have no complaints.

Question about Egwene’s bedroom scene: if it was the Seanchan ninja assassins trying to kill her in the real world and not Mesaana and Co., then why was the maid in the antechamber bound with Air? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, in conclusion: yay. And we ain’t done yet!

 

Chapter 38: Wounds

What Happens
Egwene kills Evanellein, but flees when Mesaana appears, not daring to attack her directly. She sees Amys charge past in cadin’sor. She thinks of Perrin, and how his actions had reminded her that she should not rely solely on weaves here, but use her will as well. She returns to the room she’d seen Mesaana in, and is angered to see Nicola in the hall beyond. She is about to send her away when the ground blasts apart under the Accepted, killing her. Egwene curses, trying to revive her, and Melaine appears, shielding Egwene from blasts from down the hall. She sees Alviarin and Ramola down the hall, and is tempted to do the same thing she had done before, but remembers Bair’s words, and jumps into the next room, waiting instead of attacking. Mesaana appears in the room, and Egwene wills away the weaves prepared. She creates an Aiel spear and hurls it, spearing the Forsaken through the neck, but as the woman drops to the ground the Illusion fades to reveal Katerine there, not Mesaana.

No, Egwene thought, I’ve been had. She’s a—

At that moment, Egwene felt something snap around her neck. Something cold and metallic, something familiar and terrifying. The Source fled her in a moment, for she was no longer authorized to hold it.

She spun in terror. A woman with chin-length dark hair and deep blue eyes stood beside her. She did not look very imposing, but she was very strong in the Power. And her wrist held a bracelet, connected by a leash to the band around Egwene’s neck.

An a’dam.

Mesaana shifts them to a windowless room where Alviarin awaits. Egwene stands still in the throes of utter panic, flashing back to her imprisonment with the Seanchan. Mesaana gives orders to Alviarin to have the others withdraw, and that their showing was “pathetic.” Egwene claws at the collar, which amuses Mesaana. Alviarin vanishes. Mesaana wants to know where the dreamspike is, but Egwene is listening to a voice within that is deeper than her terror, telling her she is Aes Sedai.

An Aes Sedai is calmness, an Aes Sedai is control, regardless of the situation. Egwene lowered her hands from the collar. She had not gone through the testing, and she had not planned to. But if she had, what if she had been forced to face a situation like this? Would she have broken? Proven herself unworthy of the mantle she claimed to carry?

Mesaana gives her pain through the a’dam, and Egwene is tempted to give in to it, but the voice within reminds her that Aes Sedai can suffer all things, to be a servant of all. She grows calm, and tells Mesaana that Moghedien’s mistake was that she accepted the a’dam as real, when in this place it is only a piece of metal if you decide so. The a’dam falls off her neck. Mesaana does not flee, only comments that she may have practiced here, but she is still a child compared to Mesaana. She calls Egwene “an Amyrlin to children,” and Egwene observes that she is Amyrlin of a Tower that stood for thousands of years of trouble and strife.

“Yet most of your life, you lived in a time of peace, not strife. Curious, that you should think yourself so strong when much of your life was so easy.”

“Easy?” Mesaana said. “You know nothing.”

Egwene feels Mesaana’s will bending upon her. Egwene tells her that Egwene al’Vere may be young, but the Amyrlin Seat is ancient; the Amyrlin is the White Tower, and the Tower will not bend. Their contest of wills continues.

And Egwene knew that this woman, this creature, was an insignificant insect shoving against an enormous mountain. That mountain would not move. Indeed, shove against it too hard, and…

Something snapped, softly, in the room.

Egwene breathed in with a gasp as the air returned to normal. Mesaana dropped like a doll made of strips of cloth. She hit the ground with her eyes still open, and a little bit of spittle dribbled from the corner of her mouth.

Egwene sits a moment, dazed, and then wraps Mesaana in Air and shifts back up to the upper floors, finding her people all together. Melaine asks who her prisoner is, and Egwene tells them she is Mesaana. The others are astonished, and Bair comments she’s seen this before, in a Wise One Dreamer who saw something in the dream that broke her mind. Amys comments that perhaps it is time to stop thinking of Egwene as an apprentice. Nynaeve and Siuan point out that the Black Sisters couldn’t have fled far owing to the dome, but Bair declares the battle over, and Egwene agrees. She thanks the Wise Ones for their aid and tells them they have earned much ji, and she is in their debt.

Melaine eyed the Forsaken as Egwene sent herself out of the dream. “I believe it is us, and the world itself, who are in your debt, Egwene al’Vere.”

The others nodded, and as Egwene faded from Tel’aran’rhiod, she heard Bair muttering, “Such a shame she didn’t return to us.”

Perrin runs through the nightmare, in which Tar Valon is collapsing into chasms of lava and fire as Dragonmount erupts in the distance. People run and scream about Tarmon Gai’don, and Perrin reminds himself that it is not real, but realizes he will have to allow himself to be drawn in enough to find Slayer, who hopefully is not as skilled in dealing with nightmares as Perrin is. He finds Slayer in an alley, and wills the wall he’s touching to grow red-hot and a rift to open at his feet. Slayer flinches from the heat, and that second of acceptance sucks him into the nightmare, dangling off the edge of the chasm in the street. Perrin disguises himself and pretends to be part of the nightmare too, running up to offer help. Slayer grabs his arm and hauls himself up, and Perrin snags the dreamspike as he does. Slayer sees the ter’angreal in Perrin’s hands, and Perrin stabs him with the knife he’d concealed in his other hand. Slayer screams, but rights himself, furious.

The ground trembled. A rift opened in the ground next to him, steaming with heat and lava, like…

Perrin started. Like Dragonmount. He looked down at the ter’angreal in his fingers. The fear-dreams of people are strong, Hopper’s voice whispered in Perrin’s mind. So very strong…

As Slayer advanced on him, Perrin gritted his teeth and hurled the ter’angreal into the river of lava.

“No!” Slayer screamed, reality returning around him. The nightmare burst, its last vestiges vanishing. Perrin was left kneeling on the cold tiled floor of a small hallway.

A short distance to his right, a melted lump of metal lay on the ground. Perrin smiled.

Like Slayer, the ter’angreal was here from the real world. And like a person, it could be broken and destroyed here. Above them, the violet dome had vanished.

Slayer kicks Perrin in the stomach repeatedly, and Perrin is too wounded to stop him. Hopper sends weakly that Young Bull must go.

I can’t leave you!

And yet… I must leave you.

No!

You have found your answer. Seek Boundless. He will… explain… that answer.

Perrin screams as Hopper’s voice fades from his mind, and flees the wolf dream.

Egwene awakes in her dark bedroom with a splitting headache, already making plans to find Mesaana’s broken shell in the real world, and mourning Shevan, Carlinya and Nicola. She notices a strange smell, and creates a ball of light, and is stunned to see blood everywhere, and five bodies strewn about the room. Then she realizes one of them is Gawyn, and hurls herself to him. He is still breathing, but has a gaping wound in his side. Egwene weaves Healing, but knows her poor skill is not enough. She screams for help. Gawyn rouses and mumbles about lamps, and then tells her he loves her.

“Lie still,” she said. Light! She was crying.

“The assassins weren’t your Forsaken, though,” he said, words slurring. “I was right.”

And he had been; what were those unfamiliar black uniforms? Seanchan?

I should be dead, she realized. If Gawyn hadn’t stopped these assassins, she’d have been murdered in her sleep and would have vanished from Tel’aran’rhiod. She’d never have defeated Mesaana.

Suddenly, she felt a fool, any sense of victory completely evaporating.

Gawyn apologizes to her for disobeying, and she tells him it’s all right, and she is going to bond him now. He doesn’t want her to do that just to save him, and she tells him he is a fool; of course she wants him as her Warder.

“Swear it.”

“I swear it. I swear that I want you as my Warder, and as my husband.” She rested her hand on his forehead and laid the weave on him. “I love you.”

He gasped. Suddenly, she could feel his emotions, and his pain, as if they were her own. And, in return, she knew that he could feel the truth of her words.

Perrin is crying when he awakes in his tent, and Masuri Heals him immediately; Edarra had kept them from trying while he was in the dream, saying it wouldn’t work. Faile tells him gateways are working again, and all but a few thousand soldiers remain, mostly Aiel and the Two Rivers men, who didn’t want to leave Perrin. Perrin tells them they have to get away, as Slayer will not have been working alone, and they are likely to be ambushed at any moment. He is weak, but manages to get up. He thinks of Hopper with anguish, and wonders where his soul would go after dying in the dream. Faile asks him what happened.

“I lost a friend,” Perrin said softly. “For the second time.”

“Hopper?” She smelled fearful.

“Yes.”

“Oh, Perrin, I’m sorry.”

The Two Rivers men cheer and the Maidens bang their spears on bucklers when they see him, but Perrin is distracted when he realizes that the smell of wrongness has not left with the dreamspike. He has Grady make them a gateway, anxious the whole time the rest of the army are going through to Whitebridge, and sighs with relief when the gateway closes behind them and the smell is gone. His army cheers to see him, and Perrin thinks that they escaped.

Graendal sits in state, the servant Moridin had loaned her (who she think is too arrogant by half, owing to his uniqueness) kneeling before her, only barely deferential. They both know his failure will come down on her, not him. She tells him to spring the trap anyway. She thinks that she still has one carefully positioned tool left to her, but it would have to be deployed carefully, owing to Aybara’s ta’veren nature. The attack could not be during a time of calm.

She needed a tempest with him at the center of it. And then, the blade would fall. This is not done yet, Fallen Blacksmith. Not by an inch or by a league.

Commentary
Dun!

I ain’t gonna lie, I shed real tears at Hopper’s death here. I think this is partially because I am in general a big giant ball of weepy mush anytime anything bad happens to animals (seriously, I have to change the channel whenever that animal rescue shelter commercial comes on, because Sarah MacLachlan is apparently trying to KILL ME WITH SADNESS), but it’s also just because Hopper was an awesome person as well. And it sucks when awesome people die.

Also, it’s probably worth noting that Hopper is one of the few (possibly, the only) characters who had two separate deaths, in the same series, each unrelated to the other, and each of which I found equally upsetting/moving as the other. Because, wow.

And I too wonder, along with Perrin, about the conundrum of what happens to wolves who die “the final death” in the Dreamworld. I know life (and death) are fundamentally unfair (if less in the WOTverse than in some—I mean, at least Randlanders know for sure that their souls do mostly get to go on/get recycled after death), but surely the sheer amount of karma Hopper’s built up, just for sticking with Perrin’s emo ass for umpty-million books—well, surely that’s worth some consideration, Pattern? Eh? Eh?

Actually it’s not really clear to me how it works for wolves in general, now that I think about it. I know they go to Tel’aran’rhiod when they die, but does that mean that the dream world is basically wolf heaven? And does that therefore mean that wolf souls are not reincarnated like humans’ souls are? And if so, how much does it suck that you can basically get kicked out of heaven and erased from existence by anyone who decides to be a giant wolf-killing tool?

I’ll tell you how much it sucks: it sucks a LOT. What did wolves ever do to you, Pattern and/or Creator? Jeez. I call existential party foul, for real.

So, bye, Hopper. Sniffle. I hope I turn out to be wrong, and your saintly Perrin-putting-up-with-ness earns you a do-over, ‘cause you totally deserve it.

Nicola: well, that was… abrupt. I mean, I’m not saying I think every speaking role that bites it in WOT should get a Shakespearian-length death scene or anything, but that still made me blink. I would have thought she’d at least have gotten to cack a Black sister or get in one last Foretelling or something before being shuffled off this mortal coil, but apparently Nicola’s demise falls under the category of “sometimes fiction remembers that deaths are pointless more often than they aren’t.” Enh. Oh well.

Speaking of ambiguously anticlimactic things: Mesaana, and the cheese that has now been knocked off her cracker.

Okay, so, I was kind of conflicted initially about this confrontation and its outcome, but I think on reflection I like it. I kind of like that after all this build-up, it really was that simple, like Egwene was confronted with some impossibly complex machine, but she finally has the knowledge and skill to reach in and pull out the one little cog that makes the whole thing fall apart. There was a certain kind of elegance to it, I think.

Plus, you know, it’s nice that at another Forsaken was defeated without being balefired, because that has SO been done to death, ha ha, pun. And the fact that Mesaana is the first to be irrevocably taken out without actually dying is definitely a first. (Although, I think at this point Balthamel still holds the title of Most Original Demise/Defeat among the Forsaken. You have to admit, death by shrubbery is pretty hard to beat on the originality scale.)

So, approval for Mesaana going down, with a nice side helping of character-arc resolution for Egwene, for whom the a’dam was very nearly her sole remaining bugaboo to overcome. I have no doubt that getting past her debilitating fear of the thing will play a significant role in answering my earlier question of how the Lightside channeler groups are going to make themselves work with the Seanchan. I hear lack of panic attacks helps with that kind of thing. I know, crazy, right?

Also, I loved the scene with Egwene and the Wise Ones, where she’s all “hey, look who I broke” and they’re all “uh, girl may possibly need an upgrade from the kiddie table” and we’re all “you think?” Good times.

Also also, Katerine Alruddin is dead. Whoo!

Also also also, Wardering of Gawyn: achieved! About damn time, sez me. I’m assuming this fulfills most or all of the various Dreams/viewings of Gawyn making a decision that either kills Egwene or saves her. So yay for savings, yes?

Speaking of prophecies, since I’m also assuming the wedding is to follow the Wardering at some point, I’m guessing that we’ll get to see what the outcome of Egwene’s other Dream about Gawyn from forever ago will be: does marriage to Egwene equal long life and a death in bed for him, or a shortly arriving bloody demise?

Gotta say, at the moment I’d say the odds are pretty heavily in favor of the latter. Yikes?


And that’s our virtual reality for the nonce, kids! Please remember to take the BLUE pill, and come on back in two weeks for Moar!

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