The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 6

Pull up a chair, mon frère, and have yourself a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 3 and 4 of A Memory of Light, in which we discuss the efficacy and/or appropriateness of telepathy, soul laundry, and foursomes. Like you do.

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. The index for all things specifically related to the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, is here.

This re-read post, and all posts henceforth, contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 3: A Dangerous Place

What Happens
Androl and Pevara listen with a large group of other Asha’man and villagers in the inn’s common room as Welyn tells them how Logain and Taim have made amends. Androl thinks that the thing talking to them might have Welyn’s face, but it wasn’t him. Jonneth Dowtry demands of Welyn why Logain hasn’t returned, then, and Androl mentally wills him to shut up and let Welyn think they believe him. He is alarmed to realize he can sense Pevara considering trussing Jonneth in Air to silence him, and assumes the void, an old soldier’s trick.

“What did you do?” Pevara whispered. “I can feel you there, but sensing your thoughts is harder.”

Well, that was something at least.

The innkeeper, Lind Taglien, gets Jonneth to lay off, and the crowd breaks up. Lind approaches Androl and opines that she doesn’t believe Welyn about Logain, and wants to have her husband Frask follow him. Alarmed, Androl nixes this idea urgently, and warns Lind that they are in great danger, and that she should lock up the inn tightly that night. He goes to leave with Pevara, Nalaam and Canler in tow, but Atal Mishraile and Mezar stop them at the door. Mezar’s eyes have the dead hollow look like Welyn’s, but Androl thinks Mishraile’s evil is all his own. Mezar tries to convince them to stay at the inn and tell stories, but Androl says he has work to do. Coteren enters and shoves Androl aside, making a mocking remark that now he can’t even be a pageboy anymore. Androl seizes saidin.

Shadows immediately started moving in the room. Lengthening.

There weren’t enough lights! Why didn’t they light more lamps? The darkness invited those shadows in, and he could see them. These were real, each one a tendril of blackness, reaching for him. To pull him into them, to destroy him.

Oh, Light. I’m mad. I’m mad…

He loses the Source, shaking, and feels Pevara’s concern. Then Coteren remarks, casually, that Taim has ordered Androl demoted from Dedicated to soldier; Welyn adds that the Lord Dragon approved the demotion. Androl thinks that it shouldn’t matter to him so much, but he seizes saidin again and faces Coteren, as does Nalaam and Canler, and there is a tense standoff. Coteren taunts him to try something, and Androl tries desperately to make a gateway, but fails. He tears off his sword pin instead and drops it before Coteren before pushing outside. Nalaam ventures that perhaps they should have fought, but Androl answers harshly that they would have been slaughtered. He says that Taim must have Logain for his minions to be making the promises they have.

“Everything dies— our rebellion, our chances at a unified Black Tower— if we lose him.”

“So…”

“So we’re going to rescue him,” Androl said, continuing forward. “Tonight.”

Rand works on a very important document in his tent, recalling with pleasure how he had dined with his father earlier. He wonders if he is being too careful in not letting anyone else see the document. He is having trouble concentrating, as he can sense that Min, Aviendha and Elayne have been near each other most of the night, planning something. Then he feels Aviendha split off and approach his tent, and goes to meet her at the entrance; as he does, the Maidens nearby begin screaming insults and threats at him, which Aviendha explains is a ritual regarding him taking her away from them. She says he should know this already, but she intends to continue his training.

“Aviendha,” he said. “I love you, I truly do. But that’s a problem, burn it! I love all three of you. I don’t think I could accept this and choose—”

Suddenly, she was laughing. “You are a fool, aren’t you, Rand al’Thor?”

“Often. But what—”

“We are first-sisters, Rand al’Thor, Elayne and I. When we get to know her better, Min will join us. We three will share in all things.”

Aviendha asks if it is so terrible an idea to him, and Rand tells her it is not his pain he fears, but theirs. She asks if he thinks they are so weak that they cannot bear the same pain he does, and Rand says of course not, but he still doesn’t want them to have to bear it. Aviendha replies that “the pain is ours to accept,” and tells him to take them together, or not at all. Rand kisses her, and calls all three of them bloody fools. Aviendha demands to get on with it; Rand is taken aback at her forwardness, and she blushes and confesses she is not very good at this.

“You three decided this, didn’t you? Which of you came to me?”

She hesitated, then nodded.

“I’m never going to get to choose, am I?”

She shook her head.

He laughed and pulled her close.

He is relieved to learn that he doesn’t have to fight the Maidens for her. They banter for a few more moments before Aviendha tells him to stop rambling, and pulls him into the tent.

Hidden in a storeroom, waiting for their trap for Dobser to be sprung, Pevara and Androl discuss what could be preventing gateways. Pevara thinks it is a ter’angreal of some kind, perhaps obtained from the Forsaken. Androl says they must find it, then, and she senses that he really wants to be able to make gateways. He confesses that it is his Talent; despite having so little strength in the Power, he can make gateways as large as thirty feet across. Pevara is astounded by this claim, and wonders if perhaps his madness is influencing him. Androl tells her she can ask the others if she doesn’t believe him. She asks why he wants to make gateways so badly if he does not intend to escape the Black Tower, and he answers that he’s been experimenting with some… alternate uses for the weave.

“You really think one [of the Forsaken] might be involved here?”

“Why not?” she asked. “If you were preparing for the Last Battle and wanted to make certain your enemies couldn’t resist you, would you let a crop of channelers train together, teach one another and become strong?”

“Yes,” he said softly. “I would, and then I’d steal them.”

They argue over whose fault this “unnatural” double bond is, and she can feel that he is both impressed and amused by her use of rhetoric. They are interrupted by Leish, Canler’s wife, who nods to indicate half an hour has passed and leaves again. Pevara knows Leish is bonded to Canler, and thinks it far too mundane a use for such a thing.

Such an odd man, this Androl Genhald. How did he so fully mix determination and diffidence, like two threads woven together? He did what needed to be done, all the while worrying that he shouldn’t be the one doing it.

“I don’t understand myself either,” he said.

He was also infuriating. How had he grown so good at understanding what she was thinking? She still had to fish to figure out his thoughts.

“Can you think that again?” he asked. “I didn’t catch it.”

“Idiot,” Pevara muttered.

Androl smiled, then peeked up over the windowsill again.

Pevara refuses to link with him again, but denies that it is out of fear, arguing that it makes more sense for them to be separate. Eventually, Dobser arrives, lured by rumors of unsecured wine; he has the darkness of Welyn and the others, but as he was a lukewarm ally at best of the Light, they’re theorizing that he will be a similarly lackluster Darkfriend, and thus easier to break. Pevara shields and binds him easily, but it all almost falls apart when Welyn and Leems enter behind Dobser. There is a short but fierce battle between Pevara and the two men; she evades their weaves and shields Leems, but Welyn throws her into the wall with Air. She manages to trip him before he can escape, though, and Androl knocks both men out with a cudgel.

Androl looked at Pevara. “Light!” he said. “Pevara, that was incredible. You brought down two Asha’man, practically by yourself!”

She smiled in satisfaction and woozily took Androl’s hand, letting him help her to her feet. “What did you think the Red Ajah does with its time, Androl? Sit around and complain about men? We train to fight other channelers.”

He checks her for a concussion; she is amused at his concern for her, and skeptical when he claims to have trained with a Wise Woman. She insists he tell the story while they wait for the others to return, and Androl obliges.

Commentary
The Androl and Pevara Show continues to please. Snarky banter, yay! I was totally shipping them by this point.

(If you don’t know what “shipping” means, hi, welcome to the Internet, we’re all mad here. Google at your own risk.)

Also, Pevara gets to fly her own Badass flag here, which is never a bad thing. For some reason I was absurdly startled when she brought up the point that Red sisters train specifically to defeat channelers whose weaves they cannot see (i.e. men). This is something which is extremely obvious in retrospect, but which I had somehow never really thought about before this.

In my defense, though, this is possibly because before this (as far as I recall) we’d never actually seen a Red sister engage in straight combat with a male channeler. We’ve either only ever heard of it by proxy (such as with Logain’s capture), or seen it accomplished by means of trickery (such as when Galina and Co. captured Rand in Cairhien). So there’s that. It’s kind of a shame really, because if that aspect of the Red Ajah had been brought to my attention before this, I think in a perverse way I might have respected them a little more.

(Not to mention the missed opportunities in, say, having Reds be the only ones who can hold their own against female Forsaken who are inverting their weaves….)

The scene where Mishraile et al demand Androl’s pin was both tense as hell and genuinely upsetting. It’s a nice example of the payoff (in terms of good story conflict) when you’ve properly set up beforehand the goals and insecurities of the character involved. We know very well by now both the strength of Androl’s devotion to the concept of the Black Tower, and his own self-doubts regarding his fitness to be there, and that knowledge is what makes that scene so resonant. Not to mention how well we’ve all been brought to care about and root for Androl, as well. So well done, there.

Three shoutouts that I caught in this chapter: Leish (who despite the one-letter difference is not me; I already got mine), and Lind and Frask Taglien, who most of you probably know. Linda’s shoutout was quite the lovely (and deserved) compliment, I must say.

I still find the whole Rand + three women thing vaguely hilarious. For mostly naughty and inappropriate reasons, perhaps, but hey, there’s no way on earth that I am the only person to have gone there mentally, so I’m hardly going to waste much time feeling guilty about it. I’m just saying, there’s a very obvious way to fix that “whose turn is it” problem. I’m mostly joking when I say it, though, since I’m not even remotely interested in castigating anyone, fictional or otherwise, for not being into batting for both teams, because that shit is not cool.

Given that, if we must follow the “serial polyamory only” model (as we evidently must), I think it’s actually only appropriate that it’s the women who get to call the shots on who, er, goes when, because otherwise there’s no way I could regard the situation as equitable. I don’t have a problem with polygamy on principle (though I don’t tend to think it’s very logistically practical, usually), but I do have a very large problem with it when it’s in the form of harems. Because that shit is also not cool, for reasons which I devoutly hope should be apparent.

I do have to wonder whether Aviendha won the next turn by explaining how she needed to get those quadruplets going while she still had the chance. I think she actually could have, since both Min and Elayne know about Min’s viewing, but that leads to wondering whether Aviendha also explained about the whole Wayforward Ter’angreal and the things she saw there too, and how odd it is if she didn’t.

I honestly can’t remember whether Elayne or Min ever make any further reference to any of it in AMOL, and you’d think they would if they knew, so I tend to think that Aviendha didn’t tell them about it, but then you have to wonder, if not, why not? Elayne surely should know about how her kids contribute to that whole disaster, and if I were Aviendha I’d find it ominous that Min apparently never showed up in that future at all. Wouldn’t she want them to help her avert that future?

I dunno, maybe I’m just not remembering something here. We’ll see.

 

Chapter 4: Advantages to a Bond

What Happens
As they wait for Emarin, Pevara tells Androl the story of how her family was murdered by Darkfriends, and confesses she rarely speaks of it. In return, Androl finds himself telling her how his father killed himself when he realized he could channel and was going mad, in order to protect his family, and how learning that was the reason why Androl came to the Black Tower himself. Emarin enters, and tells them he thinks their time is running short. Pevara expresses concern that they will be able to make Dobser talk, but Emarin is confident. Androl is still having trouble believing someone can be made to serve the Dark One.

The idea made Androl want to sick up. Forcing someone to be evil? That shouldn’t be possible. Fate moved people about, put them in terrible positions, cost them their lives, sometimes their sanity. But the choice to serve the Dark One or the Light… surely that one choice could not be taken from a person.

The shadow he saw behind Dobser’s eyes was enough proof for Androl. The man he’d known was gone, killed, and something else—something evil—had been put into his body. A new soul. It had to be that.

Emarin asks Pevara to partially remove the weaves blocking Dobser’s ears, to make them seem like they are failing, and transforms into the persona of an arrogant lord, talking at Pevara and Androl of his plans to create a rival “Gray Tower,” separate from the other two. He then instructs Pevara to release Dobser completely, and offers him money in apology for the way he’s been treated, claiming he meant for Androl to request Dobser’s aid, not kidnap him. Androl and Pevara play along with his implication that he is really a High Lord of Tear, and that that is why he was hiding himself from Taim. Dobser buys the whole story, and tells Emarin that pretending to follow Logain won’t work for him any longer. Emarin muses aloud that Taim has him, then.

“Yeah,” Dobser said, letting Androl refill his cup again. “Logain is a strong one, though. Takes a lot of work to Turn a man like him. Willpower, you know? It will be a day or two to Turn him. Anyway, you might as well come out to Taim, explain what you’re up to. He’ll understand, and he keeps saying men are more useful to him if he doesn’t have to Turn them. Don’t know why. No choice but to Turn Logain, though. Awful process.” Dobser shivered.

Emarin casually asks where they’re keeping Logain, and Dobser tells him about the hidden rooms in the foundations of the still-unbuilt Tower. Pevara trusses Dobser up again, and Androl observes that Turning someone to the Shadow evidently doesn’t make them any less stupid. Pevara asks what they are to do now. Androl answers: they will drug the prisoners, gather Nalaam, Canler, Evin and Jonneth, break into the hidden rooms, rescue Logain and seize the Tower back from the Shadow.

“Well,” Pevara said, “so long as it’s not a difficult task you’re proposing, Androl…”

Rand falls asleep and finds himself in a dreamshard that isn’t his, of a dead meadow under a stormy sky. Then Moridin is walking next to him, and Rand greets him calmly, and asks how he got past Rand’s wards. Moridin answers that he doesn’t know, but that the Pattern demands that they are drawn together, time after time. Rand comments that he’s “let Mierin off her leash,” and Moridin reacts with rage to learn that she came to Rand.

Thinking of her made him think of Moiraine, made him hope for things he shouldn’t hope for.

If Lanfear still lives… might Moiraine as well?

Rand tells Moridin that Mierin no longer has any hold over him. Moridin answers that he believes that, but Mierin does not, but he thinks she hates Rand now for what happened to her. Rand asks if the waking nightmares he had while traveling to Tear so long ago were accomplished via dreamshard, but Moridin doesn’t answer. Rand comments Moridin was mad in those days, and supposes he must be still.

“You hate yourself,” Rand whispered. “I can feel it in you, Elan. Once you served him for power; now you do it because his victory—and an end to all things—is the only release you’ll ever know. You’d rather not exist than continue to be you. You must know that he will not release you. Not ever. Not you.”

Moridin sneers and threatens him, and Rand refutes his assertion that this is a fight between the two of them; this time, he says, he has a greater battle to fight. He takes control of the dreamshard from Moridin and makes the sun shine and the land green and alive. Moridin is unable to hide his shock.

“Tell your master!” Rand commanded. “Tell him this fight is not like the others. Tell him I’ve tired of minions, that I’m finished with his petty movement of pawns. Tell him that I’m coming for HIM!”

Moridin disappears, shaken. Rand lets the shard go, exhausted, and returns to his own dreams to rest as much as he can.

From their hiding place, Pevara notes the Asha’man standing in the rain near the tower foundations, and tries to send the thought warning Androl that they are guards directly to him. To their surprise it works. Pevara is shocked when Androl’s men kill the guards outright rather than subdue them, as the Aes Sedai try not to kill even false Dragons, and Androl observes aloud that gentling kills too, just slower. Pevara thinks that there are both advantages and disadvantages to this double bond. Androl, Pevara, Emarin, Nalaam and Jonneth slide down into the foundation pits and begin sneaking into the rooms below. Pevara reflects on Androl’s migratory life, and the difference between that and his feeling of loyalty to the Black Tower.

This wasn’t just about a loyalty to Logain. Yes, Androl and the others respected Logain, but to them, he represented something far greater. A place where men like them were accepted.

[…] “They teach you to analyze people like that in the White Tower?” Androl whispered to her as he stopped beside a doorway and moved his globe of light in, then waved the others to follow.

No, she sent back, trying to practice this method of communicating, to make her thoughts more smooth. Is something a woman picks up after her first century of life.

He sent back tense amusement.

As they head deeper into the tunnels, Jonneth kills someone with his bow before he can see them, who turns out to be Coteren. They go through the door he was guarding, and find Logain in one of the tiny cells beyond. Androl looks him in the eyes, and thinks with relief to Pevara that Logain is still himself, but this could still be a trap. Logain greets them, noting Pevara with surprise, and Androl tells him they will explain how they found him later. But then they hear shouting from outside, and Jonneth says someone is channeling. They see that Logain is either drugged or too exhausted to channel. The door bursts open; Pevara tries to fill the hall beyond with fire, but is blocked and almost shielded. Jonneth hears that one of the men outside is Taim.

“We cannot stand here,” Logain said. “Androl. A gateway.”

“I’m trying,” Androl said. “Light, I’m trying!”

The others hold off the Darkfriends as Androl tries to force his way past the gateway block. Just when Androl thinks he almost has it, someone collapses the roof of the room on them all.

Commentary
Dun!

Ha ha, funny thing: when I first read the Androl-Pevara sections of this chapter I was all ready to point and go “Ahh! POV switch in mid-stream! Bad!”, and then I remembered: oh, yeah, they can hear each other’s thoughts. Oops?

Except, I still think there was a little bit of cheating/mess-up on that front anyway. For example, this line from the end of the chapter:

Androl yelled, and he neared the top of that wall in his mind. He was almost there! He could—

This is from the part of the chapter that’s supposed to be from Pevara’s POV. And yes, they’ve gotten pretty cozy with the telepathy by then, but still, that bit really doesn’t read as secondhand to me. Oh well.

(ETA: The wonderful Peter Ahlstrom, assistant to one Brandon Sanderson, has let us know in the comments that this was indeed a gaffe, and was corrected in the print edition.)

In any case, “advantages of a bond,” indeed. I’m sort of a little bit torn by the introduction of actual straight-up telepathy into WOT. I adore it as a trope in fiction as a general thing (seriously, I find mind-to-mind communication in stories nearly universally fascinating, even when it’s executed badly), and as the chapter title points out, the tactical advantages alone are pretty badass, but for some reason it strikes me as being a tad… I dunno, ill-fitting in the WOT cosmos overall.

I’m not really sure why I feel that way, since we already have precognition and retrocognition and clairvoyance and empathy and soulbonds and astral projection (depending on how you define that, of course) and just about every other form of the “psychic phenomena” trope in the series already, but, well, I dunno. Telepathy just seems a little too… definite to me. I’m probably just crazy. Or maybe I’m reacting to the fact that it only turned up in the very last book. *shrug*

Androl’s theory that the Turned channelers were not being turned evil so much as actually being—er, I guess “soul-murdered” would be the best way to put it—and then replaced with another, eviler soul is… interesting, but very wonky-sounding to me. Did we ever get confirmation from Team Jordan that Androl has the right of it, or is Sheriam’s explanation of it the official right theory? Or has the whole thing been left deliberately vague?

I tend to hope for the latter, actually, but I do suppose it’s true that the Dark One apparently has all these souls of dead Darkfriends just lying around. So, um, I guess that would be an efficient use of resources, if nothing else. Still sounds weird to me, though.

But then, Rand has got me acclimated to the notion that souls come with (very distracting) memories attached, so maybe that’s why I find it odd that the Turned people have (apparently) no conflicting memories or bleed-over to deal with from these new evil souls. Maybe the Dark One has like a really efficient soul-scrubber that he uses before sending them out. No pesky memories, just squeaky-clean evil for your new host!

I… may be overthinking this. I may also need to get more sleep.

As for Rand and Moridin, I’m pretty sure I had a firm picture of Moridin as the ultimate nihilist before I read this scene, but if I didn’t, I certainly would now. Or maybe describing him as the ultimate solipsist is the better term, in the sense of how ego-centric do you have to be, that you’d be willing to destroy the entire universe just to make sure you stay dead too?

“Selfish” isn’t nearly strong enough a word for that. I’m not sure there is a word strong enough for that. Jeez.

Also, to say Rand has a flair for the dramatic is probably the understatement of the Age. Goodness, honey. Of course, most people don’t have stuff this momentous to be dramatic about, so maybe he can be forgiven a little. Heh.

“I remember one time…” Rand said. “Sitting up by the fire, surrounded by nightmares that felt like Tel’aran’rhiod. You would not have been able to pull someone fully into the World of Dreams, yet I’m no dreamwalker, able to enter on my own.”

[…] Moridin gave no clue as to what had happened on that night. Rand remembered those days faintly, traveling toward Tear. He remembered visions in the night, visions of his friends or family that would try to kill him. Moridin… Ishamael… had been pulling him against his will into dreams intersecting Tel’aran’rhiod.

Speaking of wonky psychic phenomena. I found this conversation kind of fourth-wall-nudgy, since I think a lot of what happened to Rand in TEOTW and TGH was frequently pointed out by fans as being very odd and esoteric, especially compared to how sharply defined the rules of Tel’aran’rhiod and so forth became later, so having Rand himself point it out here was amusing, if a little startling. I will not venture to speculate on this overmuch, but I do note that one of the concepts Brandon is most interested in as a writer is magic systems and the rules thereof, and specifically of the importance of those magic systems to adhere to their own internal consistency. Just saying.


Okay, there may be more but I am done. Smell ya later, peeps!

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