Tue
Feb 25 2014 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 50

The Wheel of Time Reread A Memory of Light Robert Jordan Brandon SandersonIt’s a Wheel of Time Reread, and that’s the truth.

Today’s entry covers Part 15 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which… Oh.

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.

Also, for maximum coolness, the Wheel of Time reread is also now available as an ebook series, from your preferred ebook retailer!

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!

 

Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 15]

What Happens
Elayne tries to convince Birgitte that they should go back to the front to inspire the flagging troops, but Birgitte doesn’t think it will help at this point. Elayne, however, is determined not to give up. Then her guards are attacked by a group of mercenaries pretending to be Caemlyn refugees. She defends herself with the Power, but one of them breaks through and kills her horse. Elayne goes down and is seized.

She saw something silver glisten in the night. A foxhead medallion. Another pair of hands pressed it to her skin just above her breasts. The metal was sharply cold.

“Hello, my Queen,” Mellar said, squatting beside her. The former Guardsman — the one many people still assumed had fathered her children — leered down at her. “You’ve been very hard to track down.”

His minions drag Birgitte over, and Mellar first impales Birgitte and then beheads her. The grief and pain of the loss of her friend and Warder completely incapacitates Elayne. The mercenaries bring over the corpse of a woman dressed just like Elayne, and at his instruction raise her banner and ride off with it, crying out that the Queen is dead. Mellar tells her that he has been instructed to bring her to Shayol Ghul, as the Great Lord has “a use” for her children, but he bets that Elayne herself isn’t needed. One of the other men tells Mellar that he should be able to keep the unborn children alive for an hour or so with a weave.

Mellar sheathed his sword and pulled a hunting knife from his belt. “Good enough for me. We’ll send the children on, as the Great Lord asks. But you, my Queen… you are mine.”

Elayne flailed, but the men’s grip was tight. She clawed at saidar again and again, but the medallion worked like forkroot. She might as well have been trying to embrace saidin as reach saidar.

“No!” she screamed as Mellar knelt beside her. “NO!”

“Good,” he said. “I was hoping you’d get around to screaming.”

Rand tries to move or speak, but there is nothing all around him. The Dark One tells him this is their “accommodation”. Rand understands then that the Dark One is offering him a deal.

Rand pushed for peace, glory, love. The Dark One sought the opposite. Pain. Suffering.

This was, in a way, a balance between the two. The Dark One would agree not to reforge the Wheel to suit his grim desires. There would be no enslaving of mankind, no world without love. There would be no world at all.

Rand observes that this is what his adversary promised Elan, and the Dark One points out that this ending offers peace as well. Rand considers it, but then rejects it.

NO, Rand said. AN END TO EXISTENCE IS NOT PEACE. I MADE THIS CHOICE BEFORE. WE WILL CONTINUE.

The Dark One warns him he will not offer it again, and Rand tells him he would not expect it, and the pain begins.

Min waits with Fortuona and the rest of the Seanchan troops on a plain with strange vegetation she does not recognize. General Galgan reports to Fortuona that the battle is not going well for the Prince of the Ravens. Yulan says that the Empress’s consort is “too reckless”, and they should not return. Beslan protests that he has faith in Mat, but Yulan insists that he is losing. Yulan continues to argue against supporting Mat, growing bolder as Fortuona says nothing.

Min frowned, leaning forward. One of the images above Yulan’s head… it was so odd. A chain. Why would he have a chain above his head?

He’s a captive, she thought suddenly. Light. Someone is playing him like an instrument.

Min realizes Yulan is under Compulsion. She despairs at first of figuring out who is controlling him, but then remembers the wealth of images that always accompany channelers. She looks out into the crowd, and notices that one of the so’jhin has such a cluster of images. She stands, speaking softly to Fortuona. Tuon is uncertain whether she should listen to Yulan. Min asks her what Min’s role as Truthspeaker really means, and Tuon tells her it is her duty to censure Tuon, in public if necessary, if she does something wrong.

“However, you are untrained in the station. It would be best for you to hold yourself back until I can provide proper—”

Min turned to face the generals and the watching crowd, her heart beating frantically. “As Truthspeaker to the Empress Fortuona, I speak now the truth. She has abandoned the armies of humankind, and she withholds her strength in a time of need. Her pride will cause the destruction of all people, everywhere.”

Everyone is stunned. Galgan protests that it is more complex than that, and Min says there is a spy for the Shadow among them, and denounces Yulan loudly for acting against the interests of the Empire. Min then pulls a knife and flings it at the so’jhin. The knife stops in midair before hitting the woman, and the spy escapes through a gateway before anyone can stop her. Min announces that Yulan is under Compulsion, and that it is obvious the Shadow is desperate to keep the Seanchan from coming to Mat’s aid. She asks Tuon if, in light of that, she still hesitates. Tuon comments softly that Min plays these games well.

Tuon sighed, ever so softly. “I suppose you give me the opportunity… perhaps the mandate… to follow what my heart would choose, whether or not it is wise.” She stood. “General Galgan, gather your troops. We will return to the Field of Merrilor.”

Egwene and the Aes Sedai fight furiously, she attacking while the others defend, slowing pushing the Sharans east, but sisters keep falling, exhausted or dead. The black cracks are no longer fading, too much balefire having been used. Leilwin approaches and tells her that the Asha’man have recovered the seals, but Egwene barely has time to be relieved when a huge swath of balefire comes, vaporizing over a dozen sisters at once and erasing all their efforts backwards for hours, so that Sharans who were dead are now alive again, attacking anew.

She found M’Hael standing atop the Heights, the air warped in a bubble around him. Black tendrils — like moss or lichen — crept out of gaps in the rock around him. A spreading sickness. Darkness, nothing. It would consume them all.

The onslaught continues, wreaking utter havoc, and in desperation Egwene begins to return balefire for balefire, but stops, knowing that it would destroy everything. She thinks again of Perrin’s words—“It’s only a weave”—but her exhaustion threatens to overtake her. Leilwin yells that the Aes Sedai have broken, and they must flee. Egwene sees M’Hael see her and smile, and thinks of what will happen if she is balefired and all her efforts for the past hours are erased.

Just a weave…

No other like it.

That isn’t the way it works, she thought. Two sides to every coin. Two halves to the Power. Hot and cold, light and dark, woman and man.

If a weave exists, so must its opposite.

M’Hael attacks, and Egwene creates a weave like the one she did before but much greater, a combination of all five Powers, and a column of pure white meets Taim’s balefire and cancels it out. She feels the Pattern stabilize, and something well up in the black cracks, patching them like a scab on a wound.

The two streams of power sprayed light against one another, the ground around M’Hael cracking as the ground near Egwene rebuilt itself. She still did not know what it was she wove. The opposite of balefire. A fire of her own, a weave of light and rebuilding.

The Flame of Tar Valon.

Egwene feels a great peace descend upon her, and draws on every last bit of the Power she can. Her weave pushes past M’hael’s and impales him. He gasps as he is crystallized instantly. Egwene feels Rand’s fight to the north, and feels the land around them crumbling, the weight of the balefire forming a void that will kill them all. Egwene orders Leilwin to “watch for the light”; to find the seals and break them “the moment the light shines”. Then she shoves Leilwin through a gateway, severing their bond, and faces the Sharan channelers still before her.

She closed her eyes and drew in the power. More than a woman should be able to, more than was right. Far beyond safety, far beyond wisdom. This sa’angreal had no buffer to prevent this.

Her body was spent. She offered it up and became a column of light, releasing the Flame of Tar Valon into the ground beneath her and high into the sky. The Power left her in a quiet, beautiful explosion, washing across the Sharans and sealing the cracks created by her fight with M’Hael.

Egwene’s soul separated from her collapsing body and rested upon that wave, riding it into the Light.

Egwene died.

Rand screamed in denial, in rage, in sorrow.

“Not her! NOT HER!”

THE DEAD ARE MINE.

“Shai’tan!” Rand yelled. “Not her!”

I WILL KILL THEM ALL, ADVERSARY.

Rand bent over, squeezing his eyes shut. I will protect you, he thought. Whatever else happens, I will see you safe, I swear it. I swear it…

Oh, Light. Egwene’s name joined the list of the dead. That list continued to grow, thundering in his mind. His failures. So many failures.

He should have been able to save them.

The Dark One’s attacks persisted, trying to rip Rand apart and crush him all at once.

Oh, Light. Not Egwene.

Rand closed his eyes and collapsed, barely holding back the next attack.

Darkness enclosed him.

 

Commentary

And then:

Oh.

Right, walking away for a moment.

Maybe several moments.

Oh, Egwene. Oh, my Ooh Ooh Girl. I just.

There’s… nothing else to say. Not yet. I will do her justice later. Maybe by then I’ll actually be able to write about her without tearing up. Maybe.

That’s what I said in my original spoiler review of AMOL, and there didn’t seem to be anything to do now but repeat it, because: Oh.

Turns out, “not tearing up” is not in the cards, because here it is over a year later and it still makes me cry. But I will try to do her justice anyway.

I didn’t always agree with Egwene or what she did, and sometimes she made me want to smack her silly (though admittedly this does not actually differentiate her from pretty much any other character in WOT), but the thing is, y’all, and you know this if you’ve been following this blog at all, Egwene was my girl. I identified with her even when I didn’t want to; I often recognized myself to a nearly uncomfortable extent in her personality, in fact, both positively and negatively.

Because she was the girl who couldn’t shut up. She was the girl who, if this had been a high school AU, would have been the one in the front row of every class, shooting her hand up with explosive stiff-armed wavy glee at every question because I know the answer, ooh, ooh, look, look, call on me, I have totally got this. She was the girl who couldn’t sit down and take only what was offered her, who couldn’t be demure and complacent and quiet and inoffensive, because fuck that, she said, if in not so many words. Fuck that, she said, because how are you supposed to get anywhere being quiet? That is ridiculous, why are you even suggesting this, I mean, come on.

She was the girl who wanted to know everything, wanted to do everything, and being told she couldn’t do or couldn’t know only made her want to do or know it more. And she didn’t care in the slightest if this made other people view her as obnoxious or overbearing, because whatever, this was important shit, okay, this knowing and doing of all the things, and anyone who got in the way of that was obviously a far bigger problem than she was, because how could you not want to know all the things? How could you not want her to know all the things? Why is this a problem, why are your priorities so messed up, God.

She is the innkeeper’s daughter who became the most powerful woman in the world because, even as she may have doubted her ability to do the job, it was nevertheless her job, the job she’d been given, whether by shady means or not be damned, and damn if she wasn’t going to do the shit out of that job, and haters to the left, because ooh, ooh, call on me, I can do it, I have totally got this.

She was my Ooh Ooh Girl, and so maybe it might have hurt me even more than it should have to see her die, even as it filled me with a kind of terrible pride to see her go down in such a (literal) blaze of glory. She didn’t just take down her opposite; she also saved the world while doing it, because if I’m reading this right, if she hadn’t done what she did Rand might not have had a world left to save, so it totally counts. Her stint as Amyrlin has to be the briefest and yet most spectacular in the history of the Tower, so take that, traditionalists!

There’s possibly a debate to be had over whether her death was “called for” or not, over whether it was appropriate that she was the sole member of Our Heroes Starter Kit™ who didn’t make it out alive, but if so it’s not a debate I’m really all that interested in having. Because yeah, maybe it was going for the emotional nut-punch to kill her, but honestly, we’re in the middle of an apocalypse right now. If there aren’t at least a couple of gut-wrenching emotional nut-punches in your apocalypse, you simply aren’t doing it right, and that’s all there is to it.

And actually, if there’s a nut-punch I’m going to have a problem with in this section, it’s probably actually more what happened to Elayne and Birgitte than what happened to Egwene, odd as that may sound.

Not so much what happened to Birgitte, because while that was unquestionably shocking in the extreme when I first read it, later events have done much to mitigate that feeling. But the thing with Mellar and Elayne, on the other hand, verged nearly on the gratuitous side for me. I’m not sure, honestly, if I’m overreacting here or not, but the… well, the rape-yness of this entire scene really bugged me, and I’m not really convinced that it was necessary in the first place.

But, then again, it was definitely a shocking and terrible twist to the situation, and it can’t be denied that the conflict between Elayne and Mellar was one that needed to be resolved (though one could make a comment wondering why this end was tied up when so many more interesting ones weren’t, but anyway). And there’s also no denying that Mellar’s threat to literally cut Elayne’s kids out of her belly scores really high on the “visceral body horror” scale, so, you know, nut-punches. Gotta have ‘em… I guess.

Also, in retrospect I was possibly dumb not to realize that Ila’s POV from earlier was the big clue that something very bad was about to go down, but you know, whatever. I observe what I want! …Yeah.

I don’t have much to say about Egwene’s anti-balefire weave, for the simple reason that it seems to make perfect sense to me, both in its existence and in its execution, if that makes sense. Balefire’s always been kind of the big hanging chad in the WOT magic system, so it seemed to me to be utterly cromulent that there is a direct counter to it. I’m not sure I would have named it “The Flame of Tar Valon”, but you know, Egwene was kind of under a lot of pressure when she came up with that, so it’s probably not cool to judge.

(Sigh. Egwene.)

Min’s POV was whatever. Tuon’s coming back! …Well, that was shocking, not.

I mean, yay and all, but compared to the rest of what’s going on it’s almost like, who cares? Except for Min being badass, of course, but otherwise I confess I was totally distracted by the other more shocking bits of this section.

As for Rand’s bit, I discussed in the last post about how I didn’t actually know whether the Dark One was going for Ishamael’s Total Annihilation scenario or the other Forsakens’ tamer (by comparison) Crapsack World version of victory. Which just proves how little I actually remember about my first read-through of AMOL, because of course right here is where the Dark One says, hey, I’ll do either, whatevs.

There’s a certain amount of irony there, methinks.

The far more interesting part of this, in my opinion, is that Rand is suddenly talking (or “talking”) in all caps, which was a thing that had previously been reserved for rather more… deity-like entities in this series. So that was definitely something which made me sit up and go, Ooookay.

But, I guess the important part is that Rand thoroughly rejected the idea of peaceful oblivion, and decided to fight for being-awake and corporeally-existing people everywhere, and that’s the kind of thing that you just can’t help but like in a person, you know?

I won’t lie, though, Rand’s reaction to Egwene’s death both deeply moved me and made me very worried about his ability to keep his shit together and fend off the Dark One.

But mostly: Egwene. Oh, my Ooh Ooh Girl. You died saving the world, and it doesn’t get any better (or any more bittersweet) than that. You were amazing, and I love you, and I’m so proud of you, silly as that may sound, and you will always be one of the fictional character deaths I will remember the most.


So, yeah. And now it’s time for me to go find a tissue, and you to discuss all the things, because you can. Enjoy, and see you next Tuesday!

104 comments
Roger Powell
1. forkroot
Leigh - from the post way back where you christened Egwene the "ooh-ooh" girl, she's always been that for me. And you nailed it again today as you summarized her.

Yup - it hurt and she wasn't even my favorite.
ACrazyReader
3. ACrazyReader
I have been reading the books (yes, all of them, and yes, all of them for the first time) over the past month and a half and just finished them about a week ago.
And now I am reading the reread and have caught up until this post.
And I was up and waiting for this post to come up. For some time, the link was present but all I got was a 404 error.
Anyway, I don't know what I am going to do until your next post.
Light help me.
ACrazyReader
2. Snowman-z
Thanks for the post. Love the whole series.
Sam Mickel
4. Samadai
I was and wasn't sad about Egwene, she went out the best way anyone can, saving everyone else. I was sad for Rand and her friends ( and Leilwin, she wasn't able to protect her)
ACrazyReader
5. olethros
For some reason, this recap had a bigger emotional impact on me than actually reading the book last year did.
ACrazyReader
6. Faculty Guy
Just a couple of disconnected comments: (1) Yes, the Elayne/Mellar thing was pretty nasty, but it wasn't like a surprise since Mellar had been lusting after Elayne all along. And it set up Birgitte's incredibly dramatic return as a Hero. (2) This "section" in the LB Chapter is, I think, where the turn-around begins to be visible. We have reached the nadir of our emotion with Birgitte's and Egwene's deaths, but the Seanchan are now coming back and Taim is gone. From here on mostly good things - and BIG good things are going to start happening!
Matthew Smith
7. Blocksmith1
Been waiting for this chapter re-read...

I was on a plane reading this section...when I read Birgitte dying and Elayne having, at a minimum, about to have her babies cut from her. I had to put the book down, get up, and use the bathroom. Maybe to throw up, but definitely to splash cold water. I could not believe that was how Birgitte and Elayne were going to end. And at the hands of Mellar...the one character I hated in the series as much as Fain. I came back and two ladies in my row (a few years older than me) asked if I was ok...guess I looked a touch pale. I explained to them it was a very intense scene in the book I was reading at which point one of them pulled out the USA Today paper (from that day) which had a review of the book in it. They couldn't believe how long the series was, the years since the first, and that it was being finished by a different auther due to RJ's untimely passing. Anyway...

During the first reading of this chapter, I thought Egwene's death was magnificent...out with a blaze of glory, saving the world, etc. Sacrificing everything to protect those she held dear and doing her part to best the Shadow. Second time through, I felt that maybe, a tiny bit, her death was forced, but no less meaningful. I had hoped she would make it; especially after she bonded Leilwin. Her memory to me remains as one of the strongest characters I have ever read. Rest in Peace Amyrlin Egwene Al'Vere.
Kimani Rogers
8. KiManiak
Thanks Leigh.

This part of the book was hard to read. I have often been one of Egwene’s stronger critics when it came to certain aspects of her personality (well-crafted by RJ and well-maintained by Sanderson). Having said all that, Egwene has been with the reader from almost the very beginning and I was very sad to see her go. I respect that she canceled out balefire and took out a Forsaken in the process, but it was still sad.

She was an incredibly memorable character, and her presence is definitely missed in the rest of the book, and the very end.

I still think naming the weave “The Flame of Tar Valon” is rather Aes-Sedai-centric and worthy of an eye-roll (or two), but it was sooo Egwene, even at the end.

RIP Egwene.

ETA: Amused by the use of "nut punch" vs the traditional "gut punch." Far more cringe worthy.
ACrazyReader
9. Misheru
I didn't just tear up the first time I read it... I broke down sobbing for like ten minutes and my husband though I was crazy, lol. God damnit that hurt. It's my second strongest reaction to a fictional characters death (you don't even wanna know how I reacted to Dumbledore's death).

It was probably the most awesome death ever though. I can't think of a single one who was so fitting for a character, and had that much meaning.
ACrazyReader
10. DougL
I didn't really mind the Egwene thing, what bothered me in this part was Mellar, it took me right out of the story. This happened, offscreen in one of Lawhead's Arthur books and this is not a GRRM novel. I actually scoffed, really when this scene came up. I mean, a lot of people died in this book, but not in this fashion if you know what I mean. Thus it was a poor piece of writing because did anyone, and I mean, anyone think it would happen?
Martin Cohn
11. arixan
For me, Elayne has always been the weakest character of the super-girls. The threat and actions of Mellar go a looong way to make up for that.

Birgitte's rather abrupt end was what really got me there, though.

As for Egwene, it is always a treat for me when one of these characters (whom I like very much, mind you) manages to pull thier respective heads from thier backside and just get something done. Just an Ah-HA and do it.
Martin Cohn
12. arixan
For me, Elayne has always been the weakest character of the super-girls. The threat and actions of Mellar go a looong way to make up for that.

Birgitte's rather abrupt end was what really got me there, though.

As for Egwene, it is always a treat for me when one of these characters (whom I like very much, mind you) manages to pull thier respective heads from thier backside and just get something done. Just an Ah-HA and do it.
ACrazyReader
13. James Spangler
Gratuitously rapey it may have been, but I kind of feel like it fits more with Elayne's character arc than anything else.

This is true in terms of Mellar's established character; in addition to being a bastard to the core, he was established very early on as having an affinity for rape (I recall a scene where he spoke to one of the Liandrin coven of Blacks, spent the entire scene musing over the possibility of getting his hands on her, then was offered a shot at Elayne as a reward for his services) so this fits how Mellar would approach such a situation to a tee. Even if actual rape was not in the cards here (kind of hard to do when your background is the LAST BATTLE), this is how he's always viewed Elayne, and I'd take a bet against Mat himself that if it was a more private setting he'd be taking his time about it. (And probably bagging Elayne for a Turning, later, too, if he thought he could manage it.)

For Elayne's case, one could argue that one of her primary failings is her tendency to go off half-cocked and get herself into situations that a ruler and leader has no business involving herself in. She has never seemed to learn her lesson in this regard despite Elayne being captured or nearly captured practically achieving running gag status at this point. This situation is not really her fault (Mellar's little trap was darned clever), but it still represents one of the first times that Elayne is faced with such a brutal situation.

Every other time, she's either managed to slip free on her own or been rescued. Every other time, she was a valued hostage, somehow who even her captors had no desire to see harmed. All she had to do was survive and wait for either rescue or a chance to escape.

Now she was helpless. Completely helpless, with her channeling bound by one of her own knockoff foxheads and in too much shock from Birgitte's death to even think clearly, much less fight back. Nobody knew, because in the chaos everyone would assume that the fake corpse was her until it was much too late. No rescue coming. And her captor had no interest in keeping her alive as anything but a plaything and no time to indulge himself in even that. She was helpless, and Mellar had a knife, and she was going to die.

Elayne's belief in her own invincibility has been one of her biggest flaws and has gotten her into a great deal of trouble on multiple occasions, but the danger has never been so real, so personal, so immediate, and so permanent. Having that illusion shattered is, in a way, the final culmination of her character arc and the last big hurdle she needed to overcome.



As for Egwene... well, after watching her magnificent character arc over the past few books, watching her grow into a leader to shake the world, this was hard to read. That said, she died like an absolute boss. Who knows how much of the knowledge she'd amassed she had time to pass down or commit to writing? Secrets she'd known that may not have been passed on? Did she leave an account of Verin's actions in the Thirteenth Depository for the next Amyrlin?

This is stuff that makes me sadder than her death on the battlefield. She went out in just about the most epic fashion possible, striking down one of the Forsaken and patching the world back together as she did. I'm sadder for the things she may not have had time to do and the things she may have left undone. One has to imagine that Egwene will be remembered for generations as the greatest Amyrlin of the age, and there was so much she didn't get to do at all.
Rob Munnelly
14. RobMRobM
I've been an Egwene fan - more than most here - so this was a tough one.

I was also shocked by the sudden Birgitte death and Elayne kidnapping. Well played by RJ/BS as far as I am concerned.

Min is fun - that is all.
ACrazyReader
15. MGP
I think the thing that bothered me most about the whole book is in this section. If you recall Cabriana Mecandes (from the prologue to book...4 I think it was...) even while she was being tortured she flipped out when her Warder died. Elayne doesn't seem to respond to Birgitte's death at all. Her reaction is completely in line her situation, with none of the typical backlash from the bond's severance. After all the hype about bond between Elayne and Birgitte, I expected more. We get no over-the-top grief, no berserker rage, nothing.
ACrazyReader
16. Kefka
@15: This isn't the first time we've seen an Aes Sedai lose a Warder during a time of stress, and not go into grief/rage until much later. It happened to Siuan, too.
Bill Siegel
17. ubxs113
Balled like a baby the first time I read Egwene's death. Balled like a baby the second time I read Egwene's death. Balled like a baby the third time I read Egwene's death. Just barely kept my shit together while reading this post at work.
Andrew Berenson
18. AndrewHB
Leigh, I think you summed up Egwene perfectly (both her positive and negative traits). It is also why I think her going out in a blaze crystal of glory was quite fitting.

I have made no secret that Egwene is one of my favorite 3 characters. Even though she died, I was not disappointed. In some ways, she was built up as this great War-time Amyrlin Seat. I sometimes wonder if she could have functioned in a peace time role. (Maybe she could have. She is certainly young enough not to be chained to the ways of the Aes Sedai (the Oath Rod notwithstanding -- and a "way" that I still maintain will be necessary after the Last Battle is over). And her plans for the Kin, Windfinders and Wise One channelers showed promise.) Nevertheless, we will not have to worry.

In many ways, she is as tied to the Last Age as Cads (Egwene's successor). Everywhere you turn, Egwene would be identified with the Third Age rather than the Fourth Age. She was discovered by Moiraine; she was from the same village as Rand, Perrin, Mat & Nynaeve; she is very good friends with Elayne (who happens to be the ruler of one of the strongest nations in the world and the mother of the Dragon Reborn's children); and she was tutored by the Aiel -- who were Rand's staunchest supports and are the enforcement arm of the Dragon's Peace).

As somebody who was so young and so powerful, Egwene could not have reigned for centuries as Amyrlin Seat. She would have been seen by those outside of the Tower (especially her enemies) - via propaganda - as a despot. Inside the Tower, her reign would eventually resulyt (IMO) in Sisters engaging in schemes as a way to siphon power of Aes Sedai politics away from Egwene. Sometimes it is not a good thing of a living legend is your leader.

I thought Min was also excellent in this scene. I loved the way she worked through fact that the spy was using Complusion and who the spy was.

That said, I still maintain that Team Jordan lost an opportunity. I would have had General Tylee lead large contingent of Seanchan troops to assist the Forces of Light -- in disobedience of Tuon's decision to leave the battlefield. Obviously, Tylee would not have known that Mat and Tuan orchastrated the removal of the Seanchan from the field as part of Mat's overall despite last gambit. However, her time with Perrin should have lead her to that decision. Combine that with the notions that the omens would have approved going against the Empress' wishes and the Dragon Reborn breaking all prior bonds. Further, she could have been assisted by a small number of sul'damae (those who Rand sent back from Semirhage's failed plan to capture Rand in KoD) and maybe a few other sul'damae who those sul'damae convince to help the cause.

Oh well, what is done is done.

Rand says to the Dark One that Rand has made "this" choice before (presumably the choice was an end to his existence). If I am correct about what "this" refers to, was Rand talking about LTT's creation of Dragonmount in the prologue of TEotW? If not, then what was Rand talking about?

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
Crying now, cried my eyes out then.
Couldn't explain to husband who's not a reader why.

More to share later, but this section had be biggest punches. As you said Leigh, not only Egwene's, but the story with Elyane and Birgitte too.

@2, aCrazyReader - uh? all 14 and this blog in One Month?!?
welcome, and you picked the right name. That's impressive and scary all at the same time.
ACrazyReader
20. Kat W.
Egwene had some wonderful moments, and while she was never a favorite of mine, I cried when I read this part. It was like....um....she what now?

Crap, I feel another re-read of WoT coming on....
Nadine L.
21. travyl
After reading this section I really feared Elayne would lose her childern and might die. - Especially with all the other "major" deaths (Birgitte, Siuan, Bashere, Egwene...) happening "everywhere".
I didn't "mind" the rapey flavour of it, because it fit with her history with Mellar and it once again brought up her false conclusion of Min's viewing "nothing can happen to me, until my babies are safely born."
I agree that I thought her reaction to Birgitte's death was somewhat underplayed, but maybe that's just because I almost felt it more strongly than Elayne seemed to.

I adore Min, she is just a genius, and for now I'm happy she's stuck with the Seanchan, because I doubt they else would have returned to fight, which means, not just Egwene, but also Min had her part in saving the world.
But yes, Egwenes part was bigger and her death was hard to read.
R B
22. MasterAlThor
I have been quietly lurking for months just to get to this point.

I am not a fan of Egwene and have said so many a time. And Birgitte death hit me harder, but I was sad to see her go.

The mark of a worthy opponent is what is said about them when they are no more. I have nothing but positive things to say about Egwene. The way she was written was better than any of the others. Her character arc was the best. I think that is why she had to die. What more could she do? Anything else and she would be taking from others.

R.I.P. Egwene Al'Vere. You earned it.

Dragon
Eric Wyatt
23. SunDriedRainbow
I read this scene in my office during my conference period, and my co-teachers were suddenly confronted with my sniffling, abruptly-non-functional self, with only the explanation "a character I really really liked just died".

A bit awkward, but they were at least nice enough to basically leave me alone about it.
Valerie Varner
24. varnerv951
Just READING your recap of Egwene's death had me crying again. She wasn't my favorite but I loved her anyway.
ACrazyReader
25. Fuzzy_Dunlop
I never considered myself to be an Egwene fan. I always found her to be beyond mule headed and stubborn to fault. But turns out that I was more of fan of hers than I knew. Because when she went out I had to stop reading and compose myself before I could continue. As often as she made me roll my eyes throughout the years, she did have some epic moments.

But her end went beyond epic, if you got to go, go big, and nobody ever went as Big as Eggs.
ACrazyReader
26. Phigment
This section leads to my own personal Crackpot Theory (tm).

Remember Nakomi, who Aviendha met back in Towers of Midnight? Knows a lot about Aiel, doesn't channel, claims she's not a Wise One but cares a lot about Aiel, shows up in what may or may not be a dreamworld interlude?

I contend that, just as balefire changes the Pattern retroactively, the Flame of Tar Valon, as its opposite number, makes retroactive changes. But constructively, instead of destructively.

Thus, Nakomi is actually Egwene herself. When "Egwene’s soul separated from her collapsing body and rested upon that wave, riding it into the Light", she got blasted back far enough to go have a little heart-to-heart talk with Aviendha, her good friend, and help out the Aiel, who she has strong attachment to, but who she was pulled away from by being Amyrlin Seat. To fix things up a little, in temporally confusing fashion.

She meets all the general characteristics for being Nakomi, if we assume she was burned out by that last power stunt or hiding her channeling ability.

Obviously, this was pretty much a one-shot deal, given how much wattage she was dropping into that particular Flame of TV strike.
Tricia Irish
27. Tektonica
Egwene was not one of my faves, but she really did herself proud here. I think she could've been great, had she stuck around post Battle, but her sacrifice was worth The World. I felt her peace as her soul separated from her broken body, and flew with the Light. Well done RJ/BS.

The scene with Elayne and Mellar and Birgitte was incredibly scary! Birgitte so abruptly killed and beheaded!! Elayne facing death and completely incapacitated! And Mellar...what a complete prick. Come on back Birgitte! Olver, blow that damn horn! Quick!

Min was awesome. I so liked her sussing out Moggie and calling Tuon out. Was it planned between Tuon and Mat that she would wait to appear on the scene? I remember just being totally ticked at her for hanging back. (But then I'm generally always ticked at Tuon.)
Andy Warta
28. dragontrainer
The emotion that best described my reading of Elayne's portion here was 'relieved'. Not at what happened to Elayne (that certainly wasn't cool), but by this point in the book I kept thinking "would someone please kill Birgitte already!" Every time a portion dealt with the horn I kept hoping Birgitte would die in time to come back when they sounded it.

I'm in the camp of people (at least, I assume there is a camp) that expected more of the main characters to die during the battle. I figured Egwene was the first (or second depending on what happened with Elayne), so her dying didn't bother me much, especially since she got to go down the way she wanted. She made a conscious decision to burn herself out, and since her soul got to explicitly split away and ride to the light, I figured she was given about as kind of a death as a character could hope for. If anything, I felt Egwene's death was over-the-top happy as opposed to sad.
ACrazyReader
29. Guest77
As I was awaiting the release of AMOL, I went back to TEOTW to reread Moraine’s poignant “Weep for Manetheren” address at Edmond’s field. Thus, I plunged into AMOL confident that the ‘blood of Manetheren’ would continue to acquit itself…and sadly convinced that Egwene’s death was inevitable for the Edmond’s Fielders circle. The Wheel turns and what once was comes once more. Like Aemon, Gawyn died protecting the people (and his Aes Sedai wife) against seemingly unstoppable hordes of Trollocs, Dreadlords, and Generals of the Dark One’s armies.

And foreboding for Egwene: “…Eldrene felt Aemon die, and her heart died with him. And where her heart had been was left only a thirst for vengeance, vengeance for her love, vengeance for her people and her land. Driven by grief she reached out....”

“But the price was high…Eldrene had drawn to herself more of the One Power than any human could ever hope to wield unaided. As the enemy generals died, so did she die…” Even the stones and living rock of the mountains were destroyed, melted.

However, now we are in the Last Battle, so while Egwene begins her assault with weaves and fire as did Eldrene, it is not enough. The tension amps up to the balefire head butt and it seems fitting that Egwene surpasses Eldrene’s efforts with that beautiful, terrible healing crystal weave. Both Eldrene and Egwene destroy their opponents and respective battlefields, one collapsing from fire, the other in a healing crystalline avalanche. And both perish in the effort but when Egwene draws in the Power Overload, she does so not in vengence nor fury. She has found great peace and strikes to save and salvage the world and its people.

So, Moraine, weep not for Manetheren. Sing of the blood of Manetheren and Edmond’s field, Thorns in the Dark One’s Foot. Sing of Egwene, Nynaeve, Tam, Mat, Perrin, the archers, the channelers, and all of the simple folk who fought and served and raised their children well. Tai’shar Manetheren!
Tabby Alleman
30. Tabbyfl55
@Phigment - That's not a bad Nakomi theory.

@ubxs113 - You might want to edit your post and spell it "bawled", because the other spelling induces adolescent snickering.
ACrazyReader
31. Jonellin StoneBreaker
This was the definitely the nadir of the chapter in terms of the fortunes of the Light, but it was incredibly moving.
Unlike out fearless (but tearful) leader, I thought that the section with Mellar was very well written, and finally, finally, finally shattered Elayne's belief in her own invincibility and completed the maturation of the last member of the Scooby gang.

Egwene Al'Vere, Amyrlin for the Ages, her very own Tower of Light, and ultimate Aes Sedai; what more can be said? Any other ending to her arc would have been anticlimactic.
We can only hope that @13 James Spangler's fears weren't realized and she did make that final trip to hand her notes, diaries, and last testament to the last Brown Sister, one so weak in Power that her best contribution to the LB would be to be Brown, archiving to the end.
ACrazyReader
32. Oxford
Leigh, thank you very much for your work witht he Reread. I've followed the blog for a long time, but this is my first post. The Wheel of Time is a book series that I am very passionate about, and I thank you for allowing those of us who love this series to continue to live out one of our passions.

I've been reading The Wheel of Time for more than ten years, and I feel as if I grew up with the characters. I feel as if I know them, and Egwene is a character that I have always held in very high regard. Egwene was one of the very first characters I "met", and I have always identified with her from her desire to see the world beyond her small hometown to her thirst for knowledge to her comittment to do her duty and serve others. Her death was one of the deaths that affected me the most, but I believe that she would not have chosen to go out in any other way.
Eric Hughes
33. CireNaes
AndrewHB@18

That was a reference to Rand's ability to unravel the pattern with the Choeden Kal on Dragonmount because he was angry (or hangry since he threw up not but a little while ago). Although your first inclination with LTT has a wonderful typological element to it.

This whole section made my stomach hurt. Great job Team Jordan. I was stunned by Brigitte's brutally swift end, entirely grossed out by Mellar, and stressed by the danger the children were in. As a parent that whole segment is terrifying. Then Egwene is forced into a solution that required her death. I was proud of her and expected nothing less. A poignant end for a strong character.

I still think that her anti-balefire weave is the long ago originator of the same crystal byproduct that Callandor is made from and akin to the patch that Rand weaves to reseal the DO.
David Goodhart
34. Davyd
Every time I hear Fall Out Boy's Light 'Em Up on the radio or at work, I think of Egwene and this scene.

What a boss.
Richard Chapling
35. Chappers
After reading LB's fitting Egwene tribute, I just worked out something rather neat; it seems apropos to post this today: at her end, we shall have another look at her beginning. In particular, consider the following, taken from the first paragraph of Ravens, chronologically the earliest viewpoint we have in the Third Age, and from Egwene's PoV, no less:
Some of the girls and boys filling buckets laughed and used their wooden dippers to fling water at one another, but Egwene settled for enjoying the stir of the current on her bare legs, and her toes wriggling on the sandy bottom as she climbed back out. She was not here to play. At nine, she was carrying water for the first time, but she was going to be the best water-carrier ever.
(This is for many people the first paragraph of WoT they ever read, although most of us probably started pre-From the Two Rivers.)

So for many years I waited expectantly for this prophecy to be fulfilled; some of you may recall a post I made on this a couple of years ago. And initially upon reading AMoL, I was disappointed: this seemed to have been forgotten in the effort to finish the series in the last book.

But today it dawned on me: it's a metaphor.

Balefire is, by its very nature, a fire. Otherwise it would not be called Balefire.

And what is the opposite of fire? Water.

Therefore, since The Flame of Tar Valon is the opposite of Balefire, it is a sort of "Godwater", if you will. ("God" being from the Old English for good, no deities required.)

So you see, that Egwene would discover and weald this weave was there from the very beginning. (Well, the second very beginning RJ wrote...)

Bravo, RJ. And bravo Team Jordan for putting it in...
ACrazyReader
36. RoyanRannedos
If you go with the Arthurian legend parallels, there wasn't much wiggle room for Egwene's destiny. Gwenevere is a tragic figure, which didn't match up with a long, prosperous tenure as Amyrlin.
ACrazyReader
37. MGP
@35 - A New Spring chronologically comes before Ravens.
Kelly LeBourveau
38. Kikuo
@35 Mind ***blown***. Thank you for that! Wow! Talk about a frame.

Like many people here, I cried so hard when I read Egwene's death, my husband was like, whoa, did I do something wrong? And then he was all like, honey, it's not real, it's just a book. And then I (all blubbering) was like, but it's so damn SAD!!! Waaaaah!

Also agree with many that this is Elayne's "hello, dumbass, you can't get out of every situation" moment. While extremely disturbing, it also seems fitting that she should be all growed up now - this scene seems way more real than some of her earlier escapes which seemed to good to be true - since it's the LB and all.

This post makes me want to go reread the entire series again after remembering what a powerful, emotional, and engrossing read this was.
Captain Hammer
39. Randalator
re: Egwene

She was never my favourite character, though I liked her most of the time despite many dope-slap-y moments. Nevertheless, her death hit hard. I pretty much finished the novel in one go from this infamous chapter on and I was in a very strange, melancholy mood for days after. Not for the Wheel of Time ending but for this very moment (well, and Tam's goodbye to Rand). The fact that I was going through a rough patch back then didn't exactly help, either.

Anyway, strangely enough it wasn't so much her death itself. That I could deal with quite fine in a coming-full-circle, Manetheren-saves-the-day-again, blaze-of-glory-CMOA kind of way. I'd actually pegged her as one of three characters I absolutely expected to die, Perrin being number one and Birgitte number two. But Jesus, the repercussions for her loved ones, that's what delivered the nut-punch for me. A nut-punch with a battering ram the size of a small moon.

To read Rand's immediate reaction to her death was heart wrenching. And then I started to think about Bran and Marin who hadn't seen Egwene again since Winternight, never got to say goodbye before she left and would now learn that their daughter had died two years later. I'm even choking up again now thinking about it. Man, that SUCKS!

So yeah. This scene makes me get all the sads...


re: Birgitte

This one however doesn't. I expected it (all the more since the beginning of the vanishing memories arc) and the moment it happened I knew she'd be back the instant someone got a nice catchy tune out of Ye Olde Hero Calling Saxe.


re: Tuon

Is still around. Next.


re: Mellar

Mellar has been rape-y every time he was on screen and especially so around Elayne. He even explicitly mused about having been offered a queen as reward for his duty. The way this scene played out didn't feel gratuitous, it felt inevitable. That's what Mellar was and had always been.
Ron Garrison
40. Man-0-Manetheran
Mellar – the most vulgar, disgusting character in the whole series manages to revolt me even more in this chapter: rape, forced cesarian, murder, grrrrrrrrrr.

The abrupt beheading of Birgitte was so stunning and upseting to me on my first read, I started skimming here “say it’s not so” “this can’t be” At some point I realized that I was missing the narrative altogether and put the book down. After I had collected myself I picked it back up and began again with my fingers crossed.

Then Egwene. That too was so sudden and so horrific I couldn’t believe it. I think it was this part of the Last Battle that just tore me apart. So many things were happening. So many horrible things were happening, and happening so fast.

Kudos to Brandon. This was just about the most stressful thing I’ve ever read. And letting Rand give voice to my emotions is a very skillful piece of writing. I WAS THERE!

And thanks Leigh for the beautiful eulogy of Egwene.

And nice oberservation, Chappers @ 35.
Richard Chapling
41. Chappers
MGP @37 Oh yeah. D'oh! Earliest PoV of a TR character, then. Or something like that!
Adam S.
42. MDNY
Another non-Egwene fan here, but her death was still sad. The fact is, of all the major players, she was the one I always thought most likely to die, especially once her moron boyfriend/husband got himself killed. The 3 Rand girls couldn't go, since that trick was played with Allana. Lan and Nynaeve are important for the rebuilding of the world, especially Nynaeve as I imagine a LOT of healing will be needed once the battle is over. Mat can't die, cause he's Mat. (Plus that whole luck thing). It was always gkj going to be either Perrin, Faile, or Egwene to me. With the Faile trip to the blight, that paradoxically reassured me more that she and Perrin would survive. With the Gawyn death, Egwene seemed doomed, so while I was sad at this scene, I was not as crushed as I might have been.
The Elayne scene is shudder-worthy (to understate dramatically), but right in keeping Mellar's character. Min's moment of awesome here was cool, though I kinda wish she had told a channeler or 2 to be ready so they could have captured Moghedian.
ACrazyReader
43. Herb2138
Two random thoughts on Egwene:

She is one of the rather rare, I think, examples of a female character with unrestrained ambition (and an unrestrained ambition that the narrative is solicitious to).

Her anti-balefire weave (I'll just skip right past her own self-serving name) and self-made end is also a very nice counterpart to LTT's futile gesture in the prologue/end of the 2d Age.
ACrazyReader
44. MRCHALIFAX
I'm afraid that my response to Egwene's death was a resounding 'eh, interesting.'

I enjoy Egwene as a character. I can't stand her as a person, and I haven't been able to stand her since her unrepentant sexual assault on Nynaeve in FOH. I enjoy sections with her, but I think that she's a terrible person, and I'm not shedding any tears.
Joseph James
45. wjames1204
I can't recall exactly what led my to the conclusion I had during these sequences, but I was fairly certain that Elayne had been killed. I'll have to reread it to find out. It was WAY late and I had been sitting in a chair for hours trying to read through this wonderful behemoth of a chapter, so I think it's fair that I either: 1.) was tired, 2.) was slightly delusional, 3.) wasn't picking up all the necessary words to form coherent thoughts. Probably all three. But, all I remember is thinking "Wow, so Elayne is dead? Maybe? What's the deal? That was... surprising, and brutal and not at all what I expected, but I can't tell if she is dead or if it's just a cut away from her PoV while awfullness occurs."
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
46. Lisamarie
I always liked Egwene, but - and this may be because I read the book so quickly - I just remmeber giving a little gasp when she died. I wish I'd had more of an emotional reaction, actually.

There was actually one part of the book (I don't remember when it comes up, but it hasn't come yet) that brought tears to my eyes, and I feel like it may not be a common one, but it hit me pretty hard based on life circumstances.

Still - Egwene, you rock :) Way to go out like a boss!

Oh and yeah, I didn't really believe Elayne was going to get sliced open, not deep down - as somebody else mentioned, this isn't GRRM. I was banking on somebody coming to rescue her in time.
Valentin M
47. ValMar
Yep, this was the low-point.

I too wasn't the biggest fan of Egwene but I looked at her pragmatically and always thought that she had to be the way she was in order to achieve the huge amount she did. Plus she wasn't, at least not yet, a brutal "the ends justify the means" sort of person.
So her death set me back stronger than I expected. I am sure large part of this is due to the writing and a little due to how she died. But big part is for Egwene as she was. It makes me sad that she died, however gloriously, and I am glad no one of the original people who set out of Emond's Field died. This would've made picking up the WOT again very difficult for me.

I also don't think Mellar/Elayne's scene was gratuitous. It fit Mellar's character and it had to be stronger than anything we had before. It appeared a bit stronger than we are used to in WOT but such fate wasn't that unusual for pregnant women during pillage, murder, rape depredations (e.g. city sackings) through the centuries.
I don't think I trully believed (or didn't want to!) that El was going to come a cropper but was really worried because:
1- the babies were going to survive for sure- even if cut out someone was going to saved them for 100%. This gives some leeway for the tragedy of Elayne's death to occur.
2- this was happening just as so many other people were dying, notably Egs, so it felt like anyone could die. Especially if you were reading it in one sitting with Egs' death.
3- the way the scene was written felt so immediate, like it was just about to happen and there was nothing that could stop it.
ACrazyReader
48. eep
@18 I think when Rand made the choice before was referring to the Veins of Gold sequence, on Dragonmount in The Gathering Storm, when he contemplated destroying the world to stop repeating all the same mistakes, and then realized that wasn't cool.
ACrazyReader
49. OriginalSkillr
I for one am glad Egwene died, it allowed the other characters to live on.
Her death really didnt move me at all, since she really grated on me. Of all the main characters, im glad it was her
ACrazyReader
50. moleman
Great post, Leigh!

My reaction at Egwene's death was somewhat different from others, because it was spoiled for me. It was my own fault - I couldn't resist peaking at a spoiler thread the night before the book came out. I read for about 15 seconds, saw a passing mention of "Egwene's death was..." and immediately closed the tab.

On multiple rereads of the scene in question, I think it's brilliant. There's a little bit of over-the-top language, but that's the right way, IMHO, to send off the "Ooh Ooh Girl" (I love the way you captured her in those words!). Like many others, I had a lot of problems with Eqwene, though fewer than with Elayne or Avienda (Min was always my favorite of the "Scooby Gang" girls). But I loved reading the ways she adapted to the situations she found herself in, and her triumphs over the series as a whole but especially in the last two books were legendary. I think she'll be an Amyrlin long remembered and admired.

Her death didn't phase me as much as it did others, mainly due to the spoiling. But her gift to Rand, which we'll soon see, made me weep openly.

But I'll have to wait for a new post for those moments!

Peace favor your sword!
John Massey
51. subwoofer
Hi Leigh

::waves::

Just to be clear, when several women, Aes Sedai types and others, referred to uncouth, insensitive louts... they were talking about me.

So anyways, about Egwene, well she died, but we need to see the bigger picture here, Gawyn died. Every once and a bit I do a dance of joy in memory. Sometimes I randomly break into a smile. Anyways. So when Gawyn bit it, and him being Warder bonded to Eggs, well, I says to myself- "self, this ain't gonna end happy".

And here we are.

On the bright side I do have many fond memories of Eggy. I think she spent more screen time than anyone else getting spanked. Graphically. Bare bummed. Ahhhhh memories.

Um... where was I? Right, Anyways, like Ingtar, Eggy went out in style. This is a good death.

Ahhh me, a good song and a good quote in the same comment. Good times.

The whole anti-balefire dealio. Well duh. Didn't see that coming. Mind you Ny and RJ kept on harping on anything short of death being fixed healed etc. with Stilling, so it stands to reason there is balance to this as well. Why didn't Wetlander figure this one out?!

What else? Rand- stop sniffing your armpit. Sorry, that cover just gets to me, each and every time.

'K. I'm out.

Woof™.
John Massey
52. subwoofer
::En route to bunker::

For whatever reason I always associated pillow friends with the Flame of Tar Valon....

::makes a break for it::

Woof™.
Terry McNamee
53. macster
I wondered, after seeing where Leigh left us at the end of last week's entry, whether what happened to Elayne and Egwene would both be in this week's. And I have to say that since it turned out to be the case, I am rather pleased by the results. Because even if the majority of her response is devoted to Egwene (as well it should be), what she does say about Elayne and Birgitte feels appropriate to me. I'd have liked a little more, especially about Birgitte, but as Leigh herself said, what is revealed later does rather undercut any visceral reactions to her death. (The re-read is supposed to address reactions to things as they happened at the time, not just with the benefit of hindsight, but sometimes it's very hard to separate current feelings from past ones, especially with something as meaningul and powerful as character death. And Leigh has had problems before, and justifiably so, remembering just how she felt the first time she read big events, like Moiraine's "death".) So in the end I think everything she did say about Elayne and Birgitte did feel properly emotional and given a good amount of space in comparison to the big event.

That said, I have to concur that this didn't feel gratuitous to me at all. Disgusting, horrifying, upsetting, and even a bit overwhelming, yes, but that was entirely the point. It wasn't inserted just to squick us, it was there because a) Hanlon was like this, he always was like this from Min's initial viewing of him and our first POV from him when he met Shiaine, and he had wanted to do this to Elayne all along and b) Elayne brought it on herself through her constant throwing herself in harm's way, her impulsive thoughtlessness, and her maddening dependence on Min's vision. The minute Mellar escaped in ToM, I knew there was some terrible fate in store for Elayne, that he would appear again and have to be dealt with once and for all, and that it wouldn't be pretty or easy due to the medallion he got away with; it was just a matter of when, and how bad would it be. I admit that I was a bit shocked at how far it went...but as others have pointed out, this was not only in-character for Hanlon and a natural result of Elayne's actions, it was absolutely needed to shock her out of her immature complacency and finally grow up (assuming she survived of course).

I knew she couldn't die, because if she did Rand would go into Warder rage (unless she somehow severed the bond before dying--but wouldn't that have unbound Min and Aviendha too, since she's the one who wove it?) and that threat was already being addressed with Alanna, but that didn't stop me from being afraid and wondering how she'd be saved. Because yes, while the possibility had always existed (and more and more of us were hoping for it) that Birgitte could be called back by the Horn as a Hero with her memories restored (but probably only if she died), there was the little wrinkle that at this point the Horn was with Olver, trapped in that crevice as the Trollocs tried to get at him. Since like so many others (everyone?) it had never occurred to me Mat might no longer be the Hornsounder (since Jordan kept misdirecting us by telling us that Mat had only been "almost dead" at Rhuidean and that Rand's balefire undid everything Rahvin did), then at this point short of Mat suddenly stumbling upon Olver and saving him I didn't see how the Horn could be blown to bring back Birgitte or how Elayne could generally be saved. So the scene remained tense for me nevertheless, as well as foreshadowed and well-written. Never have I been so satisfied by a villain's fate as with what happens to Hanlon (except Demandred, Moghedien, and Fain, but we haven't gotten there yet).

The one part I do wish Leigh could have commented on more was the Min scene, since it absolutely justifies why she was put with the Seanchan, explains where Moghedien was and how she was helping Demandred with the battle (although to be fair we don't learn she was the so'jhin until her POV scene later), and shows Min being both clever and badass. But you can't have everything, and the rest of this section definitely deserves the focus. But I think it bears repeating: Min was awesome here, especially how she stood up to Tuon. What happens next may not be quite as critical as it seemed (the Seanchan do help a great deal when they return but the real turning points are the deaths of Demandred, Taim, and the Sharans, and the various things Mat, Talmanes, and Grady do), but it does foreshadow what Min will do in the future to help change the Seanchan, which is absolutely essential for the Dragon's Peace and a good Fourth Age.

And then...there's Egwene.

I hadn't had her pegged at all for one who would die, although obviously one with her Power level and role would be a prime target. Mostly it's because I had already selected for myself who I thought the likely candidates would be--Rand (barring the "blood on the rocks" not being fatal and/or the body switch with Moridin which did end up happening), Perrin, and Elayne. Despite the dangling plot thread with Mellar I hadn't thought Elayne's death to be as likely as the other two, so I had prepared myself emotionally for them, or as well as could be expected, though I knew if it was Perrin I would have bawled like a baby. (He's always been my favorite character, although admittedly it's only by a slight margin above the other Emond's Fielders.) So when this happened to Egwene it hit me like a mack truck. Even though I should have seen it coming what with how reckless and impulsive, but also brave and heroic she was, and the foreshadowing from long ago that she might push herself too hard and too far into burnout or worse. And the Dream that Gawyn would break her neck. (I.e. something he did/his death would lead to her death.) And even the parallel between her and Latra Posae--the latter refused to work with Lews Therin, so he went on his own which eventually led to his madness and death, while she chose to work with Rand and ends up giving her life instead of him. It wasn't a case of me not wanting to consider Egwene dying (although since I always liked and defended her, even as there were times I too wanted to smack her, I didn't want to) but that I just hadn't sat down to think through all the implications and foreshadowing.

I didn't cry at the moment of her death. I was simply stunned, shocked, and horrified (even if the manner of it was absolutely badass and a huge blow for the Shadow), and had to set the book aside for that. It wasn't until I read Leane and especially Rand's reactions that I started crying. (It was his repetition of his oath to her way back in TEotW that did it for me.) But in the end I absolutely agree it had to happen--not just that one of the six had to die, but that she might not have worked well as an Amrylin in a time of peace (especially one where Aes Sedai and Seanchan had to work together) and that something absolutely had to be done to stop Taim and to repair the Pattern. At this point there was no other channeler, male or female, available who was powerful enough to stop one of Taim (so close to Rand)'s level with such a powerful sa'angreal, and she was the only one who had even an inkling how to stop balefire thanks to examining the cracks earlier and Perrin's statement. (I certainly had no idea at the time how those words would be so important and resonate beyond the fight with Mesaana!)

That all being said...what she did was incredible, and I agree with the interpretation she actually did save the world, since the Pattern was in danger of completely unraveling before she discovered the Flame. Finding the counterweave was beautiful and stunning (and how appropriate, after her thinking of balance and the two sides to every coin, that her weave was white to counter the darkness in the cracks, suggesting the old Aes Sedai symbol and the seals themselves). And she got rid of Taim, FINALLY, as well as turned the tide of battle by destroying all of the Sharan channelers (as we will find out in Mat's next scene). So...Leigh, your eulogy for her was so beautiful, and perfect, and absolutely accurate. And I have to consider this one of the most moving and powerful scenes in AMoL, if not all of WOT. May the Creator's palm shelter you, and may you be blessed in the Light, Egwene al'Vere, Watcher of the Seals, Amyrlin Seat, Flame of Tar Valon.

Two minor side notes: while it's another good resolution of her role in the Last Battle to have Egwene figure out when to break the seals, and pass it on before her death, since she had finally been given custody of them (they thought), I'm not quite sure exactly how she came to this epiphany. Was it by seeing the darkness in the cracks, radiating through the Heights, and realizing intuitively that light would be the answer? Was it the specific discovery that a weave of light, the Flame, was what undid the cracks and held the land/Pattern together--and this suggested to her that light would also be associated with breaking the seals, something else that held something together (in their case, the Dark One's prison)? I'm all for sudden epiphanies, but this one didn't seem to be set up in any way or have an explanation other than the ones I've posited.

Secondly and related, I am a bit puzzled as to how/when news of the seals being recovered could have been brought to the Aes Sedai. The last time we saw Logain with them (before his attack on Demandred), there was no mention of any message to the Aes Sedai's forces. Did Pevara or Gabrelle send one? I know when the Black Tower showed up at Merrilor Mat told Logain to support the Aes Sedai, which would require some working together and interacting, and there were times when the Aes Sedai retreated from fighting the Sharans that such a message could have been sent, but I am still a bit curious how and when it happened. That Leilwin as Egwene's Warder would be the one to come tell her makes sense, however.

Oh, and nothing to say further about Rand, except that it was great to see him stick to his guns regarding the decision he made on Dragonmount, and that seeing him talk in all-caps was indeed interesting and shocking in what it implied. Not just that it suggests Rand is (or has the power levels of, or is in the role of, or can affect all of creation like) a deity, but that it shows he's overcoming the Dark One's taunts and power and his attempts to break him, that he is seeing himself (and effectively becoming) on a level with the Dark One. That's critical to his success, and says a lot about his strength of heart and character even before he lets go of the list and starts drawing on the examples of all the other heroes of the Light to bring him down.

@10 DougL: While the exact circumstances were not ones I'd have guessed, as I mentioned above Mellar's past actions and thoughts, and what he always intended for Elayne, made it clear something of this nature was at least in the cards. So while I didn't expect it to happen, I wasn't surprised in the least. Or do you mean the way he killed Birgitte? If so, while I didn't expect him to kill her that way, or at all, it was also perfectly in character for him too.

@13 James Spangler: Actually it is Elayne's fault, at least tangentially, as it was her attempt to interrogate the Black Ajah that led to Mellar both escaping and getting away with one of the medallions. But that only underscores the importance of this happening to her to teach her the lesson, finally, so she can mature. So otherwise I completely agree with you on how important this scene was and what it did for Elayne's arc. As for Egwene, since she did tell Nynaeve and Elayne (and Siuan, and the Black Ajah Hunters) about a number of things in Verin's book, I am fairly sure she did leave it or the information in it for the other sisters in the Tower. As arrogant as she often was, I don't think Egwene believed it impossible she might die facing the Shadow, so just in case she'd have ensured someone received everything she knew. If nothing else, she was determined everyone would know about Verin's sacrifice, so I don't think she'd have left a chance that her book could be lost and her death be in vain.

@15 MGP: Like what happened with Siuan, Elayne was most certainly caught up in a traumatic and emotional situation where she couldn't focus on or react to Birgitte's death--unlike Egwene, who was simply on the move with the Aes Sedai army and not in the thick of fighting or anything, Elayne was being kidnapped, assaulted, and threatened with both the removal of her babies and rape/death. I think those are pretty good justifications for her not having more of a reaction. Besides, she did have one--freezing in place, feeling terrible pain, and unable to think. And when we see them again later, after Birgitte is summoned back and kills Mellar, she is in tears and refers again to the pain of the broken bond. So there is a reaction, just delayed by events as others have stated.

@18 AndrewHB: I still agree that Tylee should have been used that way, especially once the subplot with Perrin and the Caemlyn Waygate was written out--the only other time she could have been involved, if the Seanchan had allied with the rest at that point. Too bad indeed she didn't have such a role.

@26 Phigment: That's a very cool theory, and I like it, but there's one slight problem with it--Nakomi appears again to Rand as he's escaping from Shayol Ghul with Moridin, well after this scene. So unless having her soul ripped free made her Nakomi permanently, or the Flame works in affecting the future as well as the past, Egwene couldn't be her.

@29 Guest77: Oh wow...what a wonderful parallel and foreshadowing, something I didn't even correlate with this. And how emotional, powerful, and beautiful. You've written something as insightful and meaningful in Egwene's honor as Leigh and the others have, if not more so.

More to add to your points: recall Egwene on pages 773 and 774, screaming in fury as she thinks about Gawyn's death, how it "haunted her thoughts like an assassin in black" (nice reference to the Bloodknives!) and "set her jaw and stoked her anger"--a good parallel to Eldrene.

@32 Oxford: Well said.

@33 CireNaes: Still a very interesting idea. I do hope the encyclopedia will shed some light on Callandor's creation.

@35 Chappers: Another amazing insight, but I expect nothing else from you.

@39 Randalator: I had the same thoughts about Bran and Marin. But then think of how proud they would be to know what she became and what she did for the world.

@40 Man-o-Manetheren: Agreed. I read most of the Last Battle while I was in the hospital, before and after gallbladder surgery, but it would have hit me hard and overwhelmed with its stress and suspense and hopeless anguish regardless.

@43 Herb: I noticed the same thing, in comparing her actions and fate vs. Rand's, to Latra Posae's vs. Lews Therin's.

@50 moleman: Yes. That whole scene made me weep too. "Can't I be a hero too?" indeed.
Rob Munnelly
54. RobMRobM
mac@53. Gall bladder surgery. Been there, done that. Ouch.
Captain Hammer
55. Randalator
@53 macster

re: Elayne in danger

I wasn't afraid for Elayne in that scene, at least not for her life. Apart from the warder rage issue there were also Min's viewings of Rand's three ladies post-TG, so I was fairly certain that she would survive.

I was, however, very worried about her physical and emotional well-being. As has been brought up time and time again re: Elayne's overconfidence, not dying doesn't exclude horrible mutilation and severe emotional trauma due to for (completely random) example rape.


re: Bran & Marin

Granted, Egwene didn't die in vain which is some consolation in the grieving process, I guess. Doesn't make the death of their 18-year old daughter any less devastating, though.


re: seal delivery

My memory is very sketchy on this, but wasn't there a scene with Logain sending them off to the Aes Sedai? Could be completely mistaken, though.
ACrazyReader
56. Phigment
@53 macster

Eh. Rand meets some old mysterious Aiel woman. She doesn't give a name. Could be anyone! That was, um, Shirley. Shirley the Aiel woman, notorious for her lack of punctuality. She was supposed to be helping in the Last Battle, but she arrived late, and it was all over but the partying when she showed up!

Actually, I just wave my hands and chalk it up to general timey-wimeyness in the world at that point. Between balefile, Dark One related time distortion, the apocalypse mucking around with the World of Dreams, there's a lot of room for rationalizing away complications. That's what makes for a good crackpot theory. Minimal firm evidence for or against.
Tricia Irish
57. Tektonica
Guest 77@29: Excellent parallel! Thank you!!
Kelly LeBourveau
58. Kikuo
@44 "her unrepentant sexual assault on Nynaeve in FOH ..." was light-years ago as far as Egwene's development as a character, and there was quite a discussion of how many people thought it was sick/wrong/awful what she did to Nynaeve. Which maybe it was. See this post.

Egwene did have control of the dream though, and she stopped it before any "sexual" assault happened, although a few scratches illustrated to Nynaeve exactly how perilous Tel’aran’rhiod could actually be.

I went back and reread that part of FOH to get more of a feel for it and I don't think I was as angry as you sound - and it did not change the way I felt about Egwene's death or her character in general.
Rich Bennett
59. Neuralnet
Egwene was never my favorite character probably because I was never a big fan of all the white tower politics that went with her storyline and I hate how she seeemd to just suddenly discover age of legend powers etc. rather than showing us some trial and error cleverness. However, the end game for Egwene really was an awesome ride. I loved how she reunited the white tower and her death was very moving in the book. I really liked that the anti-balefire weave was called the Flame of Tar Valon... very symbolic.

I am not sure I buy the notion that every weave has an opposite. this seems like something they pulled out of thin air to me, but maybe it has just been too long since I have really read the series. what are some other examples of weaves and their opposites that we have seen?
Maiane Bakroeva
60. Isilel
Yep, there are some good death scenes here. I have been known to grouse about perfunctory manner of deaths of various somewhat important/familiar characters, but stuff in this chapter and Gawyn's death, as well as Faile's, Galad's and Lan's fake-outs prior to the reveals of their eventual survival are what all the others should have aspired to IMHO.

I have always liked Egwene - she was a refreshing change from the triple helping of a "reluctant hero/chosen one (because that's what ta'veren is in the end)" archetype we got with the superboys. Which was just too much of it, if you ask me. Nor did I find said reluctance endearing in most cases, but selfish and short-sighted. Ahem.

Egwene was somebody who delighted in developing her talents, learning new things and was always ready to try to fix the problems she encountered. Up to and including the imminent end of the world.
Unlike Mat and Perrin, who were carried to the heights of political and military power despite themselves and for the most part regardless of their actions, Egwene had to work and fight for her prominence and personally I like her all the more for it.
Yes, she had her unpleasant and grating sides, which is why she never was one of my top favorites, but I was always fond of her.

OTOH, I love her poignant and heroic death.
Which was also closing of the circle cosmologically in WoT universe - Egwene held the reality together while Rand was fighting the DO and created a new patch on DO's prison, while Rand with all the advantages of being the Dragon, was able to re-create the rest of the prison perfectly.
I also find it very thematically appropriate that the leader of the White Tower took out the corrupt leader of the Black Tower. Much better than the expected showdown between Taim and Logain, IMHO.

No, I have no problem with Egwene's death in isolation, but where it grows iffy for me is that RJ chickened out with reprecussions of an apocalyptic battle on the main cast and she was the only one to die, while everybody else not only survived, but was even protected from loss of a partner.

And yea, in this context it seems a bit like a punishment for the one member of the original Duopotamian gang who from the beginning dared to have aspirations and ambitions beyond their village and chose to enter the wide world, instead of being forced into it.

Brigitte's death was also good, I thought, which goes to show that one doesn't need to devote much space to make deaths emotionally satisfying. That's even before and independantly of her triumphant return.
I was seriously afraid for Elayne for a bit there, even though Min's vision promised that the babies would be born _healthy_, which this scenario couldn't provide.
Oh, and since Mellar was last seen near Morgase's position before popping up here, does this mean that he used _Morgase's_ body for the "queen is dead" ruse? We never heard from her again, after all.

Aes Sedai being decimated by balefire... sigh. It isn't like they didn't have means and time to make large sheets/shields of cuendillar to help against such an eventuality, right?

Oh, and how dumb are these Seanchan? Do they honestly believe that they'd have even a sliver of a chance to stop the apocalypse after everybody on the side of Light dies due to their betrayal? I mean, huh? Good that Min was there, but this mindset doesn't fill me with confidence for the future of post-TG Randland. Particularly since thanks to Mat's "brilliant" plan everybody else bore the brunt of battle losses.
Brandi Carrier
61. Brandi
My day so far-Came to work, looked up the reread forgetting what part we were on, teared up at my desk, needed a break.

I read the book so fast the first time I honestly don't remember what my reaction was, I'm sure I cried.

I think I had forgotten or glossed over in my mind how stressful this whole chapter was. It is kind of surprising to me how stressful/tiring/tense it was given that I felt 100% sure the good guys would win and that probably only a couple of main characters would die. The sense of everything going to hell and not knowing what the next "nut punch" would be kept me on the edge of my seat, and I was as relieved as anyone when things started turning around for the light side. I think it's pretty impressive the sense of tension and foreboding that was created in this chapter given the general assumption that the story would have a "happy" ending.
Roger Powell
62. forkroot
Isilel@60
Nice points about Egwene's active embracing of her destiny as a counterpoint to Perrin, Mat, and (initially) Nynaeve. I'm also in agreement that the major characters did get off lightly for a true apocalypse although the excerpt from this chapter does help drive home that many cared-for characters did indeed pay the price.

I can't swear to it, but I thought I saw it mentioned somewhere that Team Jordan confirmed that Morgase survived - so no (thankfully) on the "Queen is Dead" substitute. ::shudders:: That would have been icky.
ACrazyReader
63. 1rio1
@4 I was basically of the same mind - I wasn't as sad for Egwene as I was for her friends and the post-last battle world (as I think she would have been a kick ass Amrylin). She went out on her terms being a complete a badass. Like she later tells Rand, it was her choice and that is all that really matters in the end - you live and die by your own agency.

For her friends it sucks though, especially the Aes Sedai's who live a long time and miss her the entire time. I kept thinking she couldn't die because she was too important to the post-last battle world to heal old wounds and bring about the new age. I think the loss of that youth and poential long term leadership hurts more than the actual death.
Karen Fox
64. thepupxpert
I was basically in shock mode all through this chapter, I think I was reading so fast that Egwene's death just blew right over me. But combining her incredibly well-written and beautifully described death scene vs. the short and brutal death we witnessed for Brigitte, I honestly thought Elayne was going to die at that moment. I didn't find that scene gratuitous at all, in fact, I felt like of all the horrible deaths one could suffer during the LB that this was the worst for me.

And then to have Rand's POV just simply "Egwene died", that was brutal.

I was definitely more emotional in the remembering of these scenes, and especially discussing here with the group, than I was at the time I was reading the book, but like nearly everyone else, I was just racing through page after page to see who lived and who died. I slowed down during my 2nd reread but it's here on this re-read and with these discussions that the depth of destruction is really kicking in.
Glen V
65. Ways
Birgitte dies.
Elayne is in trouble, again, with no clear possibility of rescue.
Min has an awesome MOA.
The Empress (may She live forever) makes the right call.
Egwene dies HEROCIALLY.
Rand is in trouble.

This was the most emotional, well-written and plot-worthy section of the entire book, if not the entire series for me. Had to stop and re-read the section again just after Egwene died my first time through--because I couldn't believe it was really happening. And it was yet another occasion when I wondered if the LB had finally reached the turning point. Well done, Brandon and Team Jordan.

James Spangler @13 - nicely put!

Phigment @26 - nifty loonie theory.
ACrazyReader
66. Wes S.
Over the past month I've re-read the entire WoT series, and just finished up with AMoL last week. I've found that I still have the same reaction to Egwene's death this time around that I did when I first read it: Damn, girl, what a way to go. A Crowning Moment of Awesome, indeed.

(As it happens, while reading Leigh's recap my iTunes - which I have running on random play in the background - served up some awesomly appropriate mood music for Egwene's blaze-of-glory finale: Xandria's "Forevermore" and Nightwish's "Last Ride Of The Day." OT: Has anyone suggested a WoT-appropriate playlist? Just curious.)

And as somebody back up the thread suggested, her death was probably inevitable once that blithering royal idiot Gawyn got himself killed.

Speaking of blithering royal idiots: Elayne. Sigh. Even seeing Birgitte being decapitated (yikes!) and then nearly being disempregnated by Mellar (ugh) wasn't enough to teach her a damned bit of caution...because practically the next thing she does after Birgitte gets resurrected (Rescued just in the nick of time! Again! Still!) is singlehandedly attack a Trolloc with a sword because that's supposedly the best way she can find to rally her troops. What is it with the Andoran royal line, anyway?

If Egwene is the Ooh Ooh Girl, Elayne is the Randland equivalent of Kim Bauer. Why, oh why, couldn't she have gotten some of Egwene's spankings? Elayne clearly needed them worse...

Oh well, at least next week we (probably) have the last words of Doilin Mellar to look forward to: "I think she thought she was really Birgitte from the stories, heh heh..." *THWACK* "...urk."

Min: still awesome. That is all.
John Massey
67. subwoofer
I dunno, I think Eggy had to die, not only because the usual bat$#!t crazy omg my Warder died stuff, but I also think that was fuel for Rand vs. THE ALL CAPS VOICE. I think that litany Rand has going on keeps him from completely losing it.

The Birgitte thingy was fairly graphic and kinda caught me with my pants down, but thinking of Elayne being Elayne, at some point somebody had to cash the bad checks Elayne had been writing. Figures it would be anybody but her. I am still baffled by how Mellar has made it this far., he's a complete douche and should have been accidentally stepped on by an elephant type thing, or one of those giant Seanchan type creatures.

On a side note, we are going through a protracted "Dispicable Me" phase and I know I have seen that movie at least 40 times this week alone. When Leigh talked about Mellar's "minions", my mind went right there to the little yellow dudes. It makes the picture of beheading Birgitte easier to swallow.

Min. She did good. Tuon finally made the right call, but just for once, I'd like to see somebody dummy slap some sense into her.

I can't remember this, but at some point does Eggy's parents find out about her being the Amyrlin? Is there a reunion? Does she see her folks on the battlefield? I feel kinda gyped that we get see Perrin come home and Rand with Tam, but Eggs had family and Mat does too. My memory is poo, but did that come full circle?

Woof™.
Captain Hammer
68. Randalator
@67 subwoofer

re: Egwene

There's no mention of Bran & Marin being among the Duopotamian Last Battle Commando. Honestly, I wouldn't expect them to be there as they're probably not the most capable fighters and would most likely be occupied with "governing" Emond's Field in Perrin's absence. There's still thousands of people there that need to be looked after.

About her becoming Amyrlin, again no word of god, but I'm pretty sure they knew. Egwene wrote them a letter before she left Emond's Field, I think it was mentioned later around the time of Mat's badass upgrade that she wrote them from the White Tower, too. It would be reasonable to assume that she kept that up.

So, they were probably on the up and up regarding her career, but the last time they saw her was Winternight. Did I mention how much that sucks?
ACrazyReader
69. Indravan
Just a quick note- Egwenes parents are likely to have met her during her off screen marraige to the royal idiot. I recall Egwene being scandlised that Gawyn hadnt asked her parents blessings and so on. I'm sure her parents would have had an off screen meeting with Egwene. She had a great ending and more importantly later on allowed Rand to let go of everything and fight the dark one full on.
Birgit
70. birgit
Two minor side notes: while it's another good resolution of her role in the Last Battle to have Egwene figure out when to break the seals, and pass it on before her death, since she had finally been given custody of them (they thought), I'm not quite sure exactly how she came to this epiphany.

It was an annotation in a book, maybe by someone with Foretelling.

My memory is very sketchy on this, but wasn't there a scene with Logain sending them off to the Aes Sedai?

Logain keeps the seals himself and refuses to send them to the AS. He is the one who breaks them.
Captain Hammer
71. Randalator
@70 birgit

re: Logain

Uh...that's totally what I meant to say. For realsies. Pinky swear. Yeah. ... BEHIND YOU, A THREE-HEADED MONKEY! *slinks away*
Maiane Bakroeva
72. Isilel
Wes.S@66:
And as somebody back up the thread suggested, her death was probably inevitable once that blithering royal idiot Gawyn got himself killed.
Eh, death of a warder hasn't been presented as a death sentence, so I am not really sure why it was inevitable. Retroactively, it only seems so because of the really contrived choice on the part of RJ to keep couples together, in life or death.

Mind, I expected either Egwene's or Nynaeve's death (Avi and Elayne really couldn't have died short of DO's victory because of Min's visions) as well as Rand's or Perrin's.

And I have to speak up in defense of Elayne - really, for the most part she didn't act any more recklessly and impulsively than the Superboys routinely did.
Only _they_ don't get criticized for it because they either get away with it (due to ta'veren probability-twisting allowing them to win regardless) or when they don't, they always get the "Pattern made them do it" defense because ditto.

Nor do I see how Elayne's prior actions in particular resulted in this attempt on her. If it hadn't been Mellar, it would have been somebody else, as there is no way that the DO wouldn't have tried to exploit the kids angle versus Rand.
Generally, during the TG Elayne didn't do anything that seemed stupid to me, she listened to Brigitte and only took action when it was necessary. And it _was_ the _Last_ battle, so as one of the more powerful and skilled channelers of Light Elayne had to participate, pregnant or no.
BTW, weren't they in the place where Mellar and Co. could make their move because of Brigitte's insistence? IIRC, they were.
Valentin M
73. ValMar
sub @ 51

You should post more often mate. You say outloud what most of us wouldn't dare- I don't mean about Egs' spanking, honestly ;)

Wes S @ 66

I think it's impossible to suggest a general playlist, tastes vary enormously. If you haven't already, check out Blind Guardian's Wheel of Time, especially during a Rand POV. Epic.

Re: Elayne's recklessness. I am surprised that she has been attacked for being too reckless in this occasion, again. Must be an automatic reaction. Indeed- in this instance Elayne was doing what everyone wanted and stayed at the very back. And this is why Mellar got to her. Simples.
ACrazyReader
74. JimF
Yes, this brought tears and shocks to me. Yes, I'm a bit teary now, but I have to confess, I was never an Egwene fan from the very git go of this epic (I was the guy who sat next to Ms. Ooh Ooh in Eng. Lit. and Am. History, and who also had his hand raised at every question. Except Ms. OOH wasn't there in trig and physics and...). I despise her treatment of Nynaeve and Mat and Rand, and her shadiness with the Aiel. She stepped on whomever she had to step on.

That said, she died with grace, purpose and honor and will be revered in that world for cause. It would be hard to do better, and so I end up respecting her. I think 29. Guest77TUESDAY FEBRUARY 25, 2014 02:39PM EST gives her a great eulogy, and I agree with it wholeheartedly.

Mellar is one of those people who "need killing". Elayne is a great favorite of mine, and he needs killing twice over for his thoughts and actions toward her. I don't recall how it ends, but I hope Heroic Birgitte chops him into hamburger.
Heidi Byrd
75. sweetlilflower
Ah, Leigh, you have exactly captured what I love most about Egwene. I, too, saw a lot of myself in her story and choices and never really understood how anyone could not like her. I teared up reading your recap, because it was like losing a little part of myself and one of my best friends t the same time. I started reading these books when I was a sophmore in high school, in 1995, and she has always been the one I most identified with. It was truly like reading the death scene of a long time friend; I just kept murmuring the word no the entire time.
Tane Aikman
76. Greyshade
Thanks Leigh - excellent entry, even by your standards.

I'm critical of a lot in AMoL but this bit really is very good - tense as hell, Min is cool and clever and all, there's a really horrible and inventive way of getting Elayne in mortal danger but keeping her babies alive ... and Egwene.

I took a while to warm up to Egwene, she was as annoying as Elayne and Nynaeve for the first few books but I started liking her once she got separated from them in TSR. Her intelligence really shone through once she became Amyrlin and by the time she took on the Seanchan during the raid on the Tower she was my second-favourite character in the series (after Perrin).

It did come as a surprise when she died, as I thought she'd been set up to be the healer who would bring all the female channeler factions together after the Last Battle to form a new White Tower. I would have put money on Cadsuane, whose life probably doesn't have long to go anyway, to be the one going out in a blaze of glory and taking out a Forsaken with her. I really dislike Cadsuane, so that would have been fine by me. Sigh.

Still, I guess that would have been obvious and I do like how a lot of obvious plot points were avoided in this book. It's not Logain that kills Taim, it's not one of Rand's women that kills Lanfear, it's not the Seanchan who are weakened in the Last Battle, it's not Rand that kills Fain (though his end is lame - but we'll get to that later).
Captain Hammer
77. Randalator
I would have put money on Cadsuane, whose life probably doesn't have long to go anyway, to be the one going out in a blaze of glory and taking out a Forsaken with her.

Well, at least you can take solace in the fact that she got stuck in her personal brand of hell post TG by being made Amyrlin and being successor to the most legendary, most badass, most saviour-of-the-world, most un-live-up-to-able Amyrlin in the history of ever...
ACrazyReader
78. Faculty Guy
Randalator et al. - Your pointing out Cadsuane's come-uppance makes me reflect on one of the things about this series that frustrates me greatly. (And, to be clear: I love these books.) The characters SELDOM REACT to a come-uppance the way I want them to. In fact, most of the time they seem to just blame someone else or shrug it off to chance, then continue without learning from the experiene.

The best example that comes to mind right now is Gawyn meeting his mother on the Fields of Merrilor after having thought for months that she was dead at the hands of Rand. (And this in spite of having been told repeatedly by his lover, his sister, and his former mentor that this was false.) Yes, he reacted emotionally in greeting her, but there is no evidence that he repented for his stupidity and intense hatred built on such ridiculously thin evidence: a rumor reported to him by a wandering peddler!

There are many other instances, frequently involving Aes Sedai, whose arrogance just will NOT let them be chagrined or blame themselves for mistakes.

This is consistent through the series, so it is not just a quirk of RJ or BWS. I think it is intentional. Maybe the writing of scenes describing realization/chagrin/self-correction is considered too slapstick. But it does seem to lead to the characters being really slow to learn.

This trait, together with the almost neurotic tendency for every single character to NOT share information unless absolutely forced by circumstances, creates on-going frustration throughout the books. Maybe it leads to the tension that makes things interesting. I've never even fantacized writing fiction such as this; maybe a story where everyone was open, honest, and learned from mistakes would be boring. But living with such people in real life would be hell, IMHO.
John Massey
79. subwoofer
@Randalator... It's the Last Battle. Kitchen sink time- that's why I'm here. Everybody and their dog(woof) should be marching with anti-douchebag/DarkOne signs at the ready, Bran et al. included. Hoes into swords and such, Two Rivers folk did good in the TR battle, and if this goes south, there will not be a TR.

@Val, yeah, well, my wife is my filter, and she isn't here so I get to blunder along, somewhere along the way I managed to bind and gag my inner voice that tells me what not to say..... Truth be told, I tried to get my wife to wear a white shift with colored stripes at the bottom, and she was game, until I brought out the paddle.... And there went any hope of getting her to read the series.

Cadsuane. Well, I dunno, I think she's always been the right person for the job, it's just that most geezers are also cagey and wily and remarkably slippery despite arthritis. And most of the characters that are thrust into positions of greatness always say "why me?" Cad's is no exception, she is like the crotchety old person that found out they've been voting for the wrong party all their life- she'll get used to it eventually.

About the Warder bond thingy. Nobody's saying death is certain, but let's look at Lan in all his Lanness. When the bond with Moiraine was severed, Lan had to go to rehab for a while to make sure he didn't start eating the furniture and perhaps making terrible travel plans. And that was Lan. In all his Lanness. After all the drek Eggy was put through in the battle with Channeling to the extreme, injuries, crazy women around her, and the constant presence of a nut job in her head, well, Eggy was bound to crack. Heh.

Just sayin'.

Woof™.
Bill Reamy
80. BillinHI
My 2 cents on Egwene: She definitely went out in a blaze of glory, a CMOA for sure . . . BUT, I have the feeling that if I put her good moments and bad moments in separate columns, for me, at least, the bad would outnumber the good. Her treatment of Nynaeve and Mat was despicable in many cases. She lied whenever she thought she had to. Outside of the Wise Ones, did she ever apologize to anyone for her actions? Even Nynaeve apologized, and more than once as I recall!!

I also have to agree that she would not have made the best Amyrlin post-TG, although I'm not at all sure that Cadsuane was a good choice, even if she did deserve it for all of her wrong-headed actions in the past.
Captain Hammer
81. Randalator
@79 subwoofer

re: Everyone grab your weapons

I'd say (especially older or very young) people with no fighting prowess and military training whatsoever wouldn't be of any use here. Even in high numbers they wouldn't have an impact on Team Dark while still being extremely difficult to coordinate for Team Light. They would actually be detrimental to the effort. Room on the battlefield is limited, as are resources. So it makes sense that some people would stay behind and that means that you also need people to keep things going back home.


re: the warder bond thingy

Remember that the effects of a severed bond are different for warders and Aes Sedai. AS go into super-grief mode but remain functional if handicapped by the emotional turmoil. Warders on the other hand switch to suicidal rage if they don't fall over dead from shock immediately. Personally, I don't think that the Gawyn situation actually contributed all that much to Egwene's death as it eventually played out.

As for the "Lanness", even Lan wouldn't have survived this if not for two unusual external factors. His bond wasn't just severed but on severing also transferred to Myrelle: That new bond provided some buffer, allowing him to avoid the rage and not seek out death immediately. And on top of that he was actually COMPELLED by Moraine via the bond to seek out Myrelle once the bond was transferred, again preventing him seeking death on the spot.

Even so, he barely survived.
John Massey
82. subwoofer
@Randalator....
Even so, he barely survived.
Yeah, I hear Myrelle provides quite the workout... She is bonded to 3-4 Warders at one go:)

Question: have you ever known a woman who is functional despite being handicapped by emotional turmoil?

::ducks::

Honestly, who keeps rotten fruit around these days?

About the other thing.... I see you have not heard of cannon fodder. It doesn't matter if they suck. They could make arrows, stoke a forge, mend clothes, help the injured, carry the injured, bury the dead, dig a trench, ride the women, rape the horses... you get the picture. The baddies have sounded the call to arms and even the peg legged and short and stumpy Trollocs have shown up. I figure Team Light can do the same.

Woof™.
Valentin M
83. ValMar
@sub

You can tell Mrs Subwoofer the paddle was for real tennis- they played it back in Tudor times, very plausable.

@Randalator

I agree that Gawyn's death didn't change directly Egwene's faith. She could've done what she did with Taim without being somewhat suicidal. It had to be done. IIRC, indirectly, Gawyn's death led to Egs' death by making her lead the reckless charge which led to the specific circumstance of facing Taim. Hm, I don't know what conclusion I just reached...
ACrazyReader
84. Aqli
I definitely have aproblem with the "Flame of Tar Valon". Ever since Balefire was introduced, it was a big deal: irrevocable damage to the Pattern itself. For those channelers strong enoough to generate it, Balefire leveled the playing field between stronger and weaker channelers. Whenever a character decided to use it, it was a meaningful weighty decision. Now that it can be countered, then it loses it's effectiveness in what's left of this narrative.

If anything, I'd have thought that both sides'excessive use of Balefire might have made for a nice way of accounting for the rupture between Ages 3 and 4. It might account for Thom's theory that Elayne would be better remembered that Rand in the future. Instead of a Breaking of the World, we might have had a Breaking of History.
Walter Jones
85. wjones42
When I read Egg's death scene, my only thought was "WOW! What a way to go." Her character arc achieved the one thing that is so difficult to find in much of fiction: leave the readers wanting more. I didn't care much for her character after she drink a bit too deeply of the Aes Sedai Kool-Aid; I liked her better when she questioned things like the oath rod. But, I fear the Aes Sedai giving up the oath rod would be like the Aeil giving up Jei e Toh (pardon massacre of term. Books not available). Taking Taim out was great here were two people who were running their towers, nearly evenly matched and both believed they were in charge of their destinies when they were giving up ground to their predecessors. Siuan in Egwene's case and Demandred in Taim's. If Egwene hadn't whipped Taim and the Sharans, Rand's victory would have been that much more difficult. Unlike most, I don't think Egwene saved the world. The pattern was weak at Merrillor; but, it was still there where the real battle was going on, outside of the pattern. By this stage, even if the pattern had dissolved, Rand knew enough to repair the damage. What Egwene's victory did was stabilize the pattern so Rand had * A LOT * less to deal with.
ACrazyReader
86. Maiden of the ButterKnife
Hello!

I'm a big Egwene supporter, and have loved her character arc. I also enjoyed the first half of A Memory of Light but found the back half sorely lacking, and just "off", leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth concerning most character resolutions.

I LOVE that Egwene was able to sacrifice herself, and I believe that's something she would have done. That said, I have a big problem with the set-up and execution of this sacrifice. First off, as Aqli above hit on, and others have as well, this is the first time we've seen that weaves have explicit "counters", such as "The Flame of Tar Valon" is to balefire. For me, this sudden realization and execution of an anti-balefire weave didn't ring true for The Wheel of Time universe, or for Egwene's character.

Secondly, I personally never felt a big threat from the cracks brought on by the use of balefire. Yes, they were mentioned, but for me, the writing never gave me a sense of urgency that they need IMMEDIATELY be taken care of in the vicinity of Egwene. So in this sense, I don't think Egwene's sacrifice makes sense. I don't believe she would die to heal cracks within a certain radius of herself, knowing that balefire could still be used by other Forsaken, etc. well outside that radius, and that therefore, the world could still be broken.

Personally, I would have liked her sacrifice to be for something which felt much more necessary and urgent. Yes, it helped "stablize the pattern", but for me, the writing never demonstrated the urgent necessity of this in order for the Light-side forces to win...not by a longshot.

So I'm conflicted. I love that Egwene got to go out in a literal blaze of glory (although "The Flame of Tar Valon" is a super-cheesy name), but the manner of stated reasons for that sacrifice didn't ring true to me personally.
ACrazyReader
87. Richard F
One thing that I didn't like about the whole Flame Of Tar Valon weave was that it wasn't a perfect opposite of Balefire.

Before her final moments Egwene is having a Perrin-inspired monologue over opposites and how they balance (hot and cold, night and dark, man and woman etc), and if a weave exists there must be an opposite.

The thing that bugs me is that Balefire has the ability to retcon people and their actions. Sure the Flame Of Tar Valon weave patched up the cracks that where holes in the Pattern due to the severing/burning of the threads that were people's lives.

If we have the balance dichotomy, where was the oppostie effect that The Flame should have for Balefire?

In addition it was obvious to me that Egwene was going to die when Bela died earlier in the chapter. I felt this to be obvious as Egwene left Emonds Feild on her, and she wouldn't then be returning on her.
ACrazyReader
88. Guest 77
@87 Richard F
Good thoughts. Bella gave such superlative service to others throughout the series, from Rand and Tam to Faile and Oliver, that I did not see Bella’s death as foreshadowing Egwene’s. But I like it.

Do you see a disconnect between The Flame of Tar Valon (TFoTV) as the ‘exact opposite’ of balefire regarding the threads of lives that were burnt from the pattern? The balefire retconning was deconstructing what had occurred and reconstructing continuity – and the process was tearing existence apart. Of the myriad possibilities for an opposite of retconning, I thought was prudent to choose stasis and stability. Egwene’s weave neutralized M’Hael’s balefire but also flooded a sealant into the cracks. I find it fitting that her last words were a message regarding the breaking of the Seals of the Dark One because her last action was to weave a Mega-Seal into the pattern.

I also believed it was important that the anti-balefire weave did not create threads in the pattern as a part of being ‘opposite’ of the retconning. Nearly anyone or anything can destroy. The power of creation is far more precious, and the creation (or recreation) of threads/lives in this pattern should remain the realm of The Creator. Just my thoughts...
Glen V
89. Ways
subwoofer
It's great to have your wit back in play. C U in the Bunker.

BillinHI
Good to hear from you also. ::Waves::

Re: TFoTV not being the exact opposite of Balefire, etc.
That bothered me too. I still haven't come up with (what I consider to be) a viable opposite effect to thread-burning retconning. Creating new threads in the Pattern just doesn't work. But who said TFoTV had to be the exact opposite of Balefire?

Guest 77 may have the right of it with respect to application of super glue to the entire Pattern-rupture thus far, not just the cracks in the local vicinity (provided I'm interpreting @88 correctly). However, the text strongly implies the crack-sealing was only a local effect: "...sealing the cracks created by her fight with M’Hael." Perhaps Egwene grokked the overarching effect, if there really was one, in her epiphany and that partially explains why she went out in a blaze of glory.

The other impetus for Egwene's blaze-of-glory-exit™ is that M'Hael's insanely wanton use of Balefire while in possession of the uber-sa'angreal, Sakarnen, had to be stopped, as did the Sharan channelers. I've always believed the DO was the darkness seen in the cracks; leaking through into Randland, as it were, and this can't be a good thing. M'Hael was stopped, Sakarnen was at least temporarily immobilized and kept from falling back into Demandred's hands until the LB was concluded, and the Sharans were taken out. All positive, worthwhile outcomes to Egwene's sacrifice, IMO.

Finally, I don't have a problem with Egwene coming up with a new weave on-the-spot in a time of need. It isn't the only time something like that has happened in the series (Rand, Nynaeve).
Maiane Bakroeva
90. Isilel
Aqli@84:
I definitely have aproblem with the "Flame of Tar Valon". Ever since Balefire was introduced, it was a big deal: irrevocable damage to the Pattern itself.
But this is wholly consistent with WoT's general MO - something is introduced as a "big deal" and impossible to achieve/counteract and then Our Heroes would do it, in the nick of time, by the seat of their pants, usually without wholly understanding what they are doing.

Frankly, this has always irritated me in WoT, somewhat, since it was really overdone, IMHO.
Not everything that's supposed to be impossible/fatal should be entirely doable as long as a main character heedlessly and mostly cluelessly jumps into it with both feet ;). But there is no call to single out The Flame of Tar Valon specifically. It is par for the course.
Glen V
91. Ways
Different topic:
Is anyone here going to JordanCon this year whose name is not on the list in the re-readers Facebook group?


The hunny is in sight and subwoofer will surely need some for his stint in the Bunker.
ACrazyReader
92. DrewDecimal
This was the only scene where I took a break from reading. Not a "let's get a drink, use the restroom," kind of break, but rather the sobbing like a child for 15 minutes kind of break. I think I was still caught up in the idea that main characters in WoT don't die. After my fit of sobbing I went back to reading because I was literally thinking, 'Things have to get better now, they just have to."
Stefan Mitev
93. Bergmaniac
Elayne's capture here is one of the dumbest scenes in the series. As if a band of losers lead by a moron like Hanlon would'be able to capture a a powerful channeller holding the Source, guarded by a Hero of the Horn, right in a middle of her army. But Jordan was obsessed with getting his female characters captured, alas (I have no doubt whatsoever this scene was all him).

Egwene's death didn't affect me much, not sure why. She had her good points, I admired her hard-working nature and ambition, but she's too much of a hypocrite and a pretty terrible friend IMO to like her. But not just that, this here felt "too epic" somehow. Maybe on reread it will improve for me, I was honestly too pissed about Elayne being captured again and in such a contrived way and Birgitte's death out of nowhere when I read Egwene's death scene.
Deana Whitney
94. Braid_Tug
But remember, every time Birgitte led or pick up a sword , rather than her bow, bad things happened. According to her pre-memory loss. She grabbed her sword first.

And those complaining about Elyane "not reacting" enough. There was about a minute or two between Birgitte's death and the end of scene. She has a longer reaction later.
The thought of having my 6-7 month featus cut from my body and kept alive "for an hour" would also be pretty damn distracting. Shock can play weird tricks on your mind.

I first rolled my eyes when she suggested going to the front of the line at first. Then this.

Closer to to the hunny.
ACrazyReader
95. alreadymadwithlastbattle
I thought Rand's "I MADE THIS CHOICE BEFORE" statement was a reference to his previous incarnations as the Dragon.

On Egwene...
Egwene Al'vere
The Child Amyrlin
The Amyrlin of the Last Battle
Meh. Make no mistake, it was a CMOA. It was also unexpected. But only up to a certain point. Bad things tend to happen if you lead from the front. Mat said so. Understandably because of how Channelers operate and how their hierarchy works she wouldn't have had much choice. But I agree, the moment Gawyn died, the moment she charged onto the front to rescue, then failing that to avenge him, there weren't a lot of other ways she could go. Pity. She really bloomed as Amyrlin. Far better than the zig-zag up-down path she was on for most of the series.

Elayne..
Where the heck was her much touted all female bodyguard? Did she let herself be separated from them? Again? This was a lesson that was a long time in coming. And I agree. It was the last lesson she had to learn to make her character arc complete. Nevermind the disgusting implications.

Birgit..
Her death was quick. I didn't really have much of a reaction to it beyond the fact that her death left Elayne helpless. Maybe it was because she was already a Hero of the Horn. Maybe it was because she seemed to have been in a holding pattern recently as she slowly lost her memories of previous lives.

Ways @91
I will unfortunately not be able to make it to Jordan Con. So yeah. Bunker for me. I'll bring beer.
Rob Munnelly
96. RobMRobM
@91 - Woof just stole the hunny in the latest ASOIF blog post. He might be full now (but probably not).
ACrazyReader
98. Faculty Guy
I'll chip in; it's only minutes till Leigh's next post. If we don't get to a hundred before a new post, does the HUNNY still count?

If so, we could back up and comment like crazy on lots of old posts . . . I'm leaning toward saying that milestones only count between posts.

Other opinions?
Valentin M
100. ValMar
Victory is mine! As long as it's on the same day it counts, I say. And I am not biased.
Richard Hunt
101. WOTman
Well. LB, you summed up Egwene pretty well. I never really cared for her but I did have to hand it to her, she always tried to do it right and I would have welcomed her on my team any time. I had an intuition that she wasn't going to make it ever since she separated from the others in station and goals. and when Gawyn (LOSER) got the poisoned rings/super power, that sealed it. That said, the Author(s) I believe this might have been Jordan's spot and he did it right, she would have done it in my mind without even thinking.
One aside, what happened to all the sangreals and siblings that were stored in the tower, why weren't they distributed to the greens? I know that Egwene had one, they should have had the one the blacks had after the fight in lthe tower and they should have doubled their efforts to find the good ones especially knowing the Last Battle was just around the corner.

I was kind of shocked to think (after Mat and Tuon had worked out the plan) that there should have been no doubt that she would come back. While I know a lot of people have their doubts about if she even cared about Mat, I never doubted that she loved him and was very proud of him and if things continued, he would have changed the empire forever.

One thing about Mellar, he had too much screen time, he should have been easily killed off and to put him right there in that situation, is too much, it made for me, anywho, a cheap scare in a cheap movie. It was totally in your face when Birgitte got offed, but afterwards, I can see why it had to be done that way.

I agree, it was a shame that Cads didn't bite it, she was real old anyway and with the turning of the wheel into another age, she should have dissolved. But, I didn't write the book (darn it).

People talking about the Flame of Tar Valon and crack sealing, and I was laughing about all those people when first they were balefired, and the dead sprang back from that one, and then another balefire took out more and those others came back and I could just see everyone dropping dead and then healed and then dropping dead again and then popping back up and I'm pretty sure the term "Fog of War" took on new meaning!
Kim Jordan
102. kjordan
I cried for Egwene - I refused to see it coming. :(

I chalked up Elayne's initial lack of reaction to the loss of Birgitte as Warder to her being blocked from the One Power via the foxhead medallion at the time. Siuan didn't have the big reaction to the loss of her Warder Alric until her link to the One Power was restored in Salidar, long after the event, so I assumed that the Warder-loss reaction was linked to having One Power access at hand, since that is what fueled the bond - no One Power, no backlash.

Mellar/Hanlon's disturbing attack on Elayne seemed totally in character - that was his plan for Elayne throughout, so no surprise in the direction it took here.

And I actually cheered when Birgitte died, because it meant she was dead in time to be called back via the Horn!! 'Cause that totally had to happen.
ACrazyReader
103. Ellie_Oh-Angel
I felt betrayed when Egwene died, especially since none of the other first book characters did. I see structurally why it was done, but I felt she above all others had demonstrated her ability to change and grow and I'll never be okay with her buying it, or the way we don't really see the other main characters reacting to it all that much. It should have been devastating.

END OF BOOK SPOILERS:

I also hate how the book ended with Rand all, "oh, I'm going to blithly run off and see the world in this new body" and not say goodbye or tell his Dad or anything. It felt like an ending that might have worked when I was a teen 20 years ago and just makes me think "you irresponsible asshole" now. His fate in light of Egwene's sacrifice is just fucking nauseating. It ruins the series for me.


End spoilery stuff.
ACrazyReader
104. fanatic mr fox
I cried hard over the death of Egwene. I felt despair at her passing like the loss of an immediate family member. But then about three days after I shut aMoL, 'HE' came with the dawn... I see you al'Lan.

If Rand is the blazing white saa with the Dark One clutched in his fist, then Egwene's Flame of Tar Valon is its majestic counterpart. Under the ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai, he conquered us all.

There is no coincidence that Egwene left the Two Rivers on Bela's back, or that she becomes... Amyrlin.

Think about the story you have read good people!

Thank you Leigh for the balm of the reread, and if it was you who slipped that pipe into his pocket, then bless you as well. Hug Harriet for me if you can.

From one of the foxy folk, dazzled by the Soul of Fire, Thank you.

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