Wheel of Time Reread! Something witty! Yeah!
Today’s entry covers Part 13 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which I am sad, puzzled, and nauseated by turns. The nausea, admittedly, having probably more to do with the bout of food poisoning I am recovering from than the text, which is why this entry is a little short.
Previous reread 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.
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This reread post, and all posts henceforth, contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, continue at your own risk.
And now, the post!
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Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 14]
An exhausted Berelain deals with the chaos in her palace as wounded continue to arrive from all over the battlefield; she cannot help but look for one particular Whitecloak among those who are brought in. She talks to a blinded Aiel, Ronja, about why the gai’shain will not fight even at the Last Battle, and says they should be here helping carry the wounded, then. One of her maids, Kitan, comes to get her, and brings her to her own quarters, where she finds Annoura tending to a severely wounded Galad Damodred.
“I felt that I owed it to you,” Annoura said. “I located him on the battlefield after Demandred announced what he had done. I pulled him away while Demandred fought against one of the Black Tower’s men.” She sat back down on the stool beside the bed, then leaned forward, drooping. “I could not Heal him, Berelain. It was all I could do to make the gateway to bring him here. I’m sorry.”
Berelain tells her it is all right, and is shocked to see that Annoura is crying, and then the Aes Sedai passes out. Berelain realizes that Annoura’s face is no longer ageless, and that she must have burnt herself out. She feels great sorrow for Annoura, who was a friend despite their recent differences. She covers Annoura up to rest, and goes to Galad’s bedside. He wakes, and Berelain tells him that his hand is lost, but perhaps the Healers can do something about the wound to his face. Galad, however, refuses, saying they should save Healing for those who would die without it.
She hesitated. “The battle fares poorly, doesn’t it?”
“So now… we simply hope?”
He reaches for something under his shirt, but loses consciousness before he can do so.
Huddled in the darkness, Rand weeps as he is forced to watch people die as the battle rages on, the Dark One attacking him at the same time, trying to tear him apart.
Rand watched Davram Bashere die in a charge, followed quickly by his wife. Rand cried out at the fall of his friend. He wept for Davram Bashere.
Dear, faithful Hurin fell to a Trolloc attack as it struck for the top of the Heights where Mat made his stand. Rand wept for Hurin. The man with so much faith in him, the man who would have followed him anywhere.
Jori Congar lay buried beneath a Trolloc body, whimpering for help until he bled to death. Rand wept for Jori as his thread finally vanished.
Enaila, who had decided to forsake Far Dareis Mai and had laid a bridal wreath at the foot of the siswai’aman Leiran, speared through the gut by four Trollocs. Rand wept for her.
Karldin Manfor, who had followed him for so long and had been at Dumai’s Wells, died when his strength for channeling gave out and he dropped to the ground in exhaustion. Sharans fell upon him and stabbed him with their black daggers. His Aes Sedai, Beldeine, stumbled and fell moments later. Rand wept for them both.
He wept for Gareth Bryne and Siuan. He wept for Gawyn.
So many. So very many.
YOU ARE LOSING.
The Dark One entreats him to give in and stop fighting, and Rand, crushed by how very wrong his vision had gone, is tempted to obey, but holds on, barely. The Dark One tells him he has one more thing to show him, then.
Enraged by his forced retreat from “that Aes Sedai ridgecat,” M’Hael obeys Demandred’s summons to come to him. Demandred is resting, and M’Hael thinks that the sa’angreal he is using takes something more from him than just strength, and wonders if he can take advantage of that. Demandred asks for an explanation of his failure; M’Hael says she has a sa’angreal of great power, and complains that he is not allowed enough True Power to defeat the Amyrlin. Demandred tells him that he has killed the woman’s Warder, and orders him to go back and kill her, as she should be “easy meat” now. Then he offers M’Hael his own sa’angreal.
“You say she has a sa’angreal,” Demandred said. “With this, you will have one as well. I grant you Sakarnen to take from you any excuse for failure. Succeed or die in this, M’Hael. Prove yourself worthy to stand among the Chosen.”
M’hael asks, what if the Dragon comes, and Demandred scoffs that he would never use it then, as their strengths must be matched to show he is the better. M’Hael thinks he has gone quite mad, and that his time in Shara had weakened him, and thinks the proof is that he would give such a powerful item to a rival. He draws Power through Sakarnen, preparing to destroy the Forsaken.
“Take care,” Demandred said. His voice sounded pathetic, weak. The squeaking of a mouse. “Do not channel through that toward me. I have bonded Sakarnen to me. If you try to use it against me, it will burn you from the Pattern.”
Did Demandred lie? Could a sa’angreal be attuned to a specific person? He did not know. He considered, then lowered Sakarnen, bitter despite the power surging through him.
“I am not a fool, M’Hael,” Demandred said dryly. “I will not hand you the noose in which to hang me.”
He orders M’Hael to go and destroy the Amyrlin, and to use balefire to do it, as the world “must be unraveled before we reweave it to our vision.” M’Hael snarls, but obeys, deciding to deal with Demandred later.
Whoa, I forgot that Annoura burnt herself out to save Galad—just because she knew what he meant to Berelain. That’s… that’s some serious friendship there. Or serious guilt, over the Masema thing. Or both.
Actually, that entire scene is stuffed to the gills with Noble Acts—of which I certainly include Galad’s insistence that Healing his face was not important. I mean, it’s obviously The Right Thing To Do, which meant that Galad was always going to say that, but he didn’t even hesitate. And you know, I think most of us would have, even those of us who don’t have freakishly beautiful faces. ‘Cause, you know, it’s not like he’s getting another one. At least not until they invent plastic surgery, and even then it’s not a guarantee.
I’m not entirely sure that made sense, but never mind. My point is, everyone is terribly noble and self-sacrificing and it’s making my heart hurt.
Not nearly as much as did the next scene, though.
Because, ow, my feels.
I’m being a little flippant, but this passage, where Rand just rattles off a laundry list of people who died, really hit me hard, and remains one of the clearest things I remembered about the book when I finished it for the first time. And I think it was not just who died, but the way we were told about them: one blow right after another, no pausing. Just, really, ow.
Especially cruel was finding out about Hurin’s death literally minutes (in reader time) after having a POV from him. I might contend, though, that the description of Jori Congar’s death was the worst of the bunch. Because the others at least went down fighting, but Jori could have been saved, and wasn’t. It was just such a pointless, unfair, stupid way to die that it upset me more than the others’ did. Which probably doesn’t make sense, because it’s not like the other described deaths were so much more pleasant. And yet. I’m tearing up all over again right now, thinking about it. Because I am apparently a giant sap.
So let’s move on to more cheerful things, like Taim getting a super powerful sa’angreal to unravel the world with!
…Which, seriously, I don’t get the logic on Demandred’s part on this. Unlike Moridin, Demandred doesn’t actually want to obliterate the universe, so does he not get that that’s what will happen if they keep balefiring everything? He says to M’Hael that they’re going to break it down so they can rebuild it the way they want, but unless I’m wrong, that’s not what the Dark One is going for at all. So have none of the other Forsaken besides Moridin figured this out?
…Actually, now that I think about it I’m not clear which scenario is the real endgame. Moridin wants total annihilation of the world, while Demandred and (presumably) all the rest of the Forsaken just want total domination of the world (you know, just that), but which one is the Dark One actually going for?
I’ve been assuming that he wanted the “Rocks fall, everyone dies” Moridin version, but then he’s been sitting there showing Rand all these dystopian visions of how the world will be after he’s won, which indicates that (a) total obliteration is not the goal, and thus (b) it’s actually Moridin and not Demandred et al who’s deluded about what the purpose here is. Which is actually counter to what I’d been assuming all this time.
Weird. Well, silly me, I guess.
So does that mean balefire wouldn’t totally destroy the Pattern? …Or maybe, it might or might not do so, and the Dark One doesn’t actually care one way or the other. Like, either Moridin’s version or Demandred’s is fine with him?
*shrug* Dunno. What do you think?
And here’s where we stop for now! Each to our tasks: me to chug down more Alka-Seltzer, and never eat anything again ever, and you to discuss things that… aren’t that! Or something! See you next Tuesday!