Tue
Mar 18 2014 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 53

The Wheel of Time reread on Tor.com: A Memory of Light, Part 53Top o’ the post queue to yeh, mo chairde! Sure, and it’s a Wheel of Time Reread you’ll be getting now!

Today’s entry covers Chapters 38 and 39 of A Memory of Light, in which Rand finally puts away his helicopter, and things take a turn for the awesome. AT LAST.

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 38: The Place That Was Not

What Happens
Rand sees Lan fall, and is almost spent, crushed under the weight of the deaths he’s seen. He hears his father’s voice say Let go. He whispers that he must save them, but the voice tells him he can’t do this alone, and it was their choice to make. Then he hears what he thinks is Egwene’s voice, calling him a fool.

Am I not allowed to be a hero, too?

“It’s not that…”

You march to your death. Yet you forbid anyone else from doing so?

“I…”

Let go, Rand. Let us die for what we believe, and do not try to steal that from us. You have embraced your death. Embrace mine.

He apologizes to her for failing, and she replies that he hasn’t failed yet. Rand screams, and then lets go of his guilt, his shame, and his need to protect his friends and allies. He goes through his list of names, that had once only been women but now was everyone who had died for him, and feels them fly away from him, leaving him lighter and lighter.

Ilyena was last. We are reborn, Rand thought, so we can do better the next time.

So do better.

He feels himself come back together from where the Dark One had almost flayed him apart, and stands once more to face the Shadow.

Shendla gazes at the body of her beloved, and shrieks to all that Bao the Wyld is dead. The battlefield seems to go still.

Rand faces the Dark One in the place that was not, and understands that the Dark One is not a being but a force that he can now see completely. The Dark One still strives against him, but Rand stands firm, relaxed now that his burdens are gone. The Dark One tells him that everything is his, now and forever, and throws images of the dead at Rand, but Rand replies softly that he will never give in. The fury of his opponent sends shockwaves across the land, but Rand feels it now as an idle buzzing, and seeks the void as Tam taught him, and feels peace.

I CONTROL THEM ALL. I BREAK THEM BEFORE ME. YOU HAVE LOST, CHILD OF HUMANKIND.

“If you think that,” Rand whispered into the darkness, “then it is because you cannot see.”

Loial reports to Mat about Lan’s fall, and it seems that Demandred’s death has stunned the foe. Mat forces away his grief, and instead raises his ashanderei to scream “Tai’shar Malkier!” His troops take up the cry, Borderlander and otherwise, and Mat leads them back into the fray.

Commentary
Of the many details of the story that I had forgotten since my first reading, this is definitely one of them: that it is Egwene’s voice that provides Rand his breakthrough turning point. I say this is only appropriate, since she is the one of the core group who has made the largest sacrifice.

It’s left somewhat ambiguous as to whether this is actually Egwene (or Egwene’s ghost) talking to Rand, or it is Rand’s mental projection of what he subconsciously knows Egwene would say if she could. I’m personally going to fail to render an opinion on which it is, because I like the ambiguity better. You don’t tend to get a lot of that in WOT, so I like to appreciate it when I see it.

What I also really like about Rand’s revelation is that it finally addresses what I’ve always considered to be Rand’s Achilles’ heel and central character flaw: his chivalry, this time in a macro-sense.

That’s reflected in his infamous list, which now (finally) includes everyone who’s died for him, not just the women. Rand’s chivalry is his flaw, because while wanting to protect/save people is of course a good thing in principle, insisting on saving people at all costs – at the expense of their own wishes or beliefs, or their need to save themselves, or even their need to not save themselves, for a greater good – doing that robs those people of agency, and endangers the good they could do if they weren’t being so saved all the time.

As possibly-Egwene points out, Rand has to accept that his people have to make their own choices and sacrifices, and to deny them that cheapens them and their suffering, both on his behalf and on their own. Basically, she’s saying that everyone put on their big boy and/or girl pants a long time ago, and Rand needs to respect that and let them be the adults they are.

The analogy here, that of a parent letting go and admitting that his kids are grown-ups that have to be allowed to make their own way in the world, mistakes and all, is both odd (considering Rand is barely an adult himself) and fitting (considering Rand is also a dude who’s been around for centuries, and had kids of his own). Plus, I suppose a Messiah figure is by definition a parental figure to some extent.

And, I know, it probably seems odd on the face of it to say that the one thing a Savior Of The World can’t do is save everyone, but that not actually what I (and, I think, the book) is saying. Rand still has to save the world; he just has to realize that the most important part of saving the world is allowing it to save itself.

And now that all permutations of the word “save” have completely lost their meaning, let’s move on!

 

Chapter 39: Those Who Fight

What Happens
Rand says to the Dark One that he cannot fathom humanity, why they continue to fight. The Dark One says he has Rand, but Rand replies that it has never been about him.

It was about a woman, torn and beaten down, cast from her throne and made a puppet— a woman who had crawled when she had to. That woman still fought.

It was about a man that love repeatedly forsook, a man who found relevance in a world that others would have let pass them by. A man who remembered stories, and who took fool boys under his wing when the smarter move would have been to keep on walking. That man still fought.

It was about a woman with a secret, a hope for the future. A woman who had hunted the truth before others could. A woman who had given her life, then had it returned. That woman still fought.

It was about a man whose family was taken from him, but who stood tall in his sorrow and protected those he could.

It was about a woman who refused to believe that she could not help, could not Heal those who had been harmed.

It was about a hero who insisted with every breath that he was anything but a hero.

It was about a woman who would not bend her back while she was beaten, and who shone with the Light for all who watched. Including Rand.

It was about them all.

Rand declares that it was never about beating him, but breaking him, making him and those who fight with him give up. But, he says, they never will. The Dark One bellows that he can still kill; he is the Lord of the Grave, and they will all be his eventually.

Rand stepped forward, hand stretched out. In his palm sat the world, and upon that world a continent, and upon that continent a battlefield, and upon that battlefield two bodies on the ground.

Mat fights furiously, bellowing in the Old Tongue, with Tam and Karede and Loial and the rest of who were left. They are outnumbered three to one, but Mat thinks that now is his chance, while the Sharans are still dazed at Demandred’s death.

THE SON OF BATTLES. I WILL TAKE HIM. I WILL TAKE THEM ALL, ADVERSARY. AS I TOOK THE KING OF NOTHING.

Blood and Bloody ashes! What was that nothingness in his head?

Arganda shouts that they will be overwhelmed, but Mat thinks to himself that he can do this, if he could only get a favorable toss of the dice.

Rand watches, and says the Dark One is wrong.

Surrounded and terrified, a boy raises a golden horn to his lips.

Mat hears Rand’s voice in his mind, telling Shai’tan he is wrong, and then everyone hears it.

That one you have tried to kill many times, Rand said, that one who lost his kingdom, that one from whom you took everything…

Lurching, bloodied from the sword strike to his side, the last king of the Malkieri stumbled to his feet. Lan thrust his hand into the air, holding by its hair the head of Demandred, general of the Shadow’s armies.

That man, Rand shouted. That man still fights!

Everyone on the field seems to freeze, and then Mat hears the pure tone of a horn, one he’d heard before.

Mellar taunts Elayne that it was a pity her little Captain-General hadn’t survived to watch what he was going to do to her. He laughs that she had really thought herself Birgitte from the legends. Elayne thinks despairingly that Birgitte had been right all along, and it was possible for Elayne to die but her babies to survive. Then Mellar goes rigid.

Elayne blinked, looking up at him. Something silvery jutted from the front of Mellar’s chest. It looked like… an arrowhead.

Then she sees Birgitte standing over her own corpse, resplendent and glowing. Birgitte shoots Mellar in the head, then his Dreadlord. Everyone else gapes at her in shock.

“I am Birgitte Silverbow,” Birgitte announced, as if to dispel doubt. “The Horn of Valere has sounded, calling all to the Last Battle. The heroes have returned!”

The armies of the Shadow stand stunned at Lan’s appearance, and Mat shouts to press forward. He wonders how the Horn of Valere could have been sounded without him, and decides that his death at Rhuidean must have broken his link to it. The sound of the Horn has disoriented the Shadow, and the Trollocs run from Lan, leaving their flank exposed. No one seems to be in charge; the Sharans still fight, but the Trollocs are beginning to fall back. Mat leads a mounted charge to rescue Lan, and reaches him just as Lan collapses. Narishma appears and gives Lan a little Healing, and then they escape back to their own side.

Behind them, mist gathered. Mat was struck with a terrible thought. He had ignored a terrible possibility. The Horn of Valere still called, a distant — yet unmistakable sound. Oh, Light, Mat thought. Oh, bloody stumps on a battlefield. Who blew it? Which side?

Then he sees the figures of legend coming out of the fog, led by Artur Hawkwing, though one breaks off and streaks away, Mat can’t see who. Mat goes to meet Hawkwing, figuring he’ll know who summoned him if Hawkwing tries to kill him. Hawkwing greets him (“Gambler”), and admonishes him to take better care of his things; he was worried they wouldn’t get summoned at all. Relieved, Mat says that the Heroes fight for them, then.

“Of course we fight for the Light,” Hawkwing said. “We would never fight for the Shadow.”

“But I was told—” Mat began.

“You were told wrong,” Hawkwing said.

Hawkwing tells him that his death at Rhuidean isn’t what broke his link to the Horn, but another moment he cannot remember, thanks to Lews Therin. Amaresu chastises him sharply for fearing Rand’s madness when he owes his life to the Dragon twice over, and Mat reflects that even dead women treat him like Nynaeve does. Mat supposes he can pull his forces back now, but Blaes of Matuchin explains that even the Heroes can be defeated, and if wounded severely enough will be forced to go back to the World of Dreams to recover. Hend adds that they can be bound, as well.

“We can fight well,” Hawkwing said to Mat. “And we will lend you our strength. This is not our war alone. We are just one part of it.”

“Bloody wonderful,” Mat said. That Horn was still sounding. “Then tell me this. If I didn’t blow that thing, and the Shadow didn’t do it… who did?”

Crying, Olver keeps blowing the Horn even as Trollocs yank him from his hiding place. He thinks an apology to Mat, thinking he is about to die, but then the Trolloc drops him, and Olver looks up to see someone standing over him, fighting a dozen Trollocs at once.

Olver caught sight of the man’s face, and his breath caught. “Noal?

Noal smiles at him, all his former weariness gone. Olver blurts that he was told Noal died. Noal says that he did, but the Pattern wasn’t finished with him yet. He tells Olver to keep sounding the Horn, and Olver does while Noal fights on.

Noal. Noal was one of the heroes of the Horn! The hooves of galloping horses announced others, come to rescue Olver from the Shadowspawn.

Suddenly, Olver felt a deep warmth. He had lost so many people, but one of them… one… had come back for him.

Commentary
Dammit, Olver, quit making me choke up.

So the sheer number of awesome and genuinely surprising things that happened in this chapter, after the relentless and endless vortex of suck that had been the stuff before it, just about made my head explode on first reading. Even now, I’m having difficulty organizing myself sufficiently to do more than make helpless gestures at it.

Because! Olver! Horn! Heroes! Undead Birgitte! Undead NOAL!! Actually-Not-Dead Lan!!!! OMGWTFBBQ!!!

See?! I’ve been reduced to multiple punctuation points, y’all! This is bad! I’m turning into a Tumblr tag set before your eyes!

Agh, I’m actually disgusting myself right now. Get a grip, self, sheesh.

In related news, you guys might as well resign yourselves now to the inevitability of massive amounts of direct quotes from the text in the summaries from this point on, because yeah.

Speaking of which, I love that on first reading I was actually stumped by a couple of the people Rand was referring to at the beginning of the chapter for a little bit, probably because I was a little startled that Morgase made the cut. I mean, I loved that, because if anyone in this story besides Rand himself (and Egwene, possibly) had more incentive than Morgase to give the hell up and yet didn’t, I can’t think of them offhand, but even so, her inclusion there was unexpected.

It’s a photo finish over which thing in this chapter surprised me more, Lan’s survival, Noal’s appearance, or Olver sounding the Horn, but it was probably the latter happening that most made me go WHAAAT. Because I will say, it never occurred to me prior to this that Mat’s link to the Horn was broken, and this is because what Hawkwing claims here to Mat is in direct contradiction to what most of fandom (or at least the parts of fandom I was keeping tabs on) has considered the final word on the matter for years.

Long before AMOL came out, there was a ton of debate in the fandom over which of the two incidents of Mat’s “death” counted as fulfilling the Snakes’ prophecy about him dying and living again: when he was hanged in Rhuidean in TSR, or when he was blasted in Caemlyn in TFOH? And did either one mean Mat was no longer linked to the Horn?

I’ll just quote the WOTFAQ’s summation here, since it’s easier:

If the Caemlyn incident is the only time Mat Died and Lived Again, then he is probably still linked to the Horn, due to the way BF [balefire] works: Mat gets toasted, the link to the Horn breaks. Rand BFs Rahvin, making Mat not-having-died, and thereby unmaking the destruction of the link to the Horn. If the Rhuidean incident counts as Mat having died and lived again, then the question of his being linked to the Horn is still up in the air – does restoring him to life restore the link?

It turns out, though, that the latter question is a moot point, because RJ has clarified the matter.

Bill Garrett's report of RJ's appearance at Balticon 30 (April 1996) mentions: “(Jordan noted that Mat's death by lightning and subsequent undoing of his death when Rand balefired Rahvin, fulfills a prophecy about living, dying, and then living again.)” Tim Kington reports that, when asked how long Mat had hung from the Tree of Life in Rhuidean, RJ replied, “Long enough to be almost dead” (emphasis mine) [post-COT signing, Dayton, OH, January 16, 2004].

So, it is the Caemlyn incident and not the Rhuidean one that fulfills the prophecy. Given that and the reasoning above, it seems that yes, Mat is still linked to the Horn.

…Except, evidently not. I’m not sure whether to call this a gaffe or not, because there’s certainly enough esoteric magical handwavy shit going on here that it’s possible to just suppose that Horn-of-Valere Linkage has an opt-out clause re: balefire effects, but I confess I’m still raising a little bit of an eyebrow at it.

But whatever, really, because allowing it means AMOL got to pull off one of the biggest and most genuinely surprising plot twists in the entire series. I’ll raise my eyebrow at it, but I’ll take it.

Also, Heroes of the Horn! FINALLY, GOD. I only spent the entirety of Chapter 37 waiting for them to show up, jeez.

And we got names for some previously unmentioned Heroes this time, it seems:

Buad of Albhain, as regal as any queen. […] Hend the Striker, dark- skinned, a hammer in one hand and a spike in the other.

Also a dude named “Blaes of Matuchin.” I presume that these guys, like Amaresu and Hawkwing and Birgitte and so on, are based on real life legends and mythology, but none of them ring a bell for me offhand except for Buad, who may be a reference to Boudicca, an ancient (and awesome) Celtic warrior queen. I hope I’m right, because Boudicca is one of my favorite historical figures.

Also, I was intrigued by Hawkwing’s claim that the Heroes would never fight for the Shadow. I liked it, because that certainly makes more sense than supposing they would just slavishly fight for whoever summoned them, but now I want to know what would have happened if the Shadow had blown the Horn? Would the Heroes have shown up and slaughtered whoever did it, or would they have just done the magical equivalent of sending the call to voicemail and ignoring it?

Elayne: oh, honey. You finally learn not to trust too-obvious interpretations of prophecies, just a little too late. Or not actually too late, thanks to Undead Birgitte (YAY!), but way later than you should’ve. Prophecies NEVER MEAN WHAT YOU THINK THEY MEAN, GIRL. It is A Rule. Learn it, know it, embrace it. Sheesh.

But, you know, congrats on not getting eviscerated and raped, possibly in that order, because Mellar was a sick fuck. No, seriously, I was so relieved at that I can’t tell you. I would have liked Mellar to suffer a bit more before he died (or, okay, a lot more), but I guess you can’t have everything.

Also, y’all, there are just not many things more awesome than the mental image of Birgitte standing over her own beheaded corpse while shooting dead the man who killed her. Things more awesome do absolutely exist (and we’ll be encountering most of them shortly), but it is definitely up there.

Lan: In retrospect, I really don’t know why I was surprised at Lan’s survival, because of COURSE he’s just too badass to die, but nevertheless I was totally all GASP! at his reappearance. Another moment which would be awesome to see on film.

The one thing that seems a little off to me re: Lan’s survival is that evidently the Dark One didn’t know Lan wasn’t dead, which seems like a really odd thing for the Lord of the Grave not to know. But I guess one can suppose the Dark One is seriously off his game by this point, what with all the Rand-defying and so on. Which I suppose is also why he threatened Mat directly and yet seemed to do nothing to follow through on the threat?

(I mean, other than the hordes of Trollocs trying to kill Mat at that moment, of course. But that was sort of a pre-existing life threat, so I declare that it doesn’t count. BECAUSE I SAID SO.)

I am still unclear, by the way, on whether Mat actually “heard” the words the Dark One said or not, because his line immediately after that (“What was that nothingness in his head?”) is… unclear. Did he just feel a “nothingness,” or did he hear the words? I guess he did, because that’s his POV and therefore if he hadn’t “heard” the words neither would we have, but if so his reaction (especially his lack of follow-up – like, he’s not going to freak out even a little bit that he just heard the Dark One directly threaten him personally, in his head?) seemed a little bizarre to me. *shrug*

Speaking of voices from nowhere, I should note as an aside that throughout both these chapters (and a couple of times before this, I think), Rand has been slipping in and out of talking in all caps. This is a topic we will be coming back to later.


Later, because I is done for the nonce, my goslings! Have a lovely week, recovering from all that green beer I bet you drank, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

133 comments
Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
And now back to the end of it All...

Edit: now having read...
Crying from the summary / quoting of these two..

“Am I not allowed to be a hero, too?” - So great in its simplicity of statement.

Never has a “Tai’shar Malkier!” been more heartfelt.

“Those Who Fight” - One of the best and most moving in all the positive ways that High Fantasy can be.
Knick
2. Knick
I note that Baud of "Albhain" can be translated as "Albion". I agree that it is Boudicca.

I forgot how heartbreaking Olver's POV is. It always gets to me.
Gary Schaper
3. Garyfury
I haven't been deep into Wheel fandom at all, but "Hend the Striker" seems likely to be an incarnation of John Henry.
Knick
4. Fuzzy_Dunlop
Re: Rand in all caps.

The old ISAM posts on the Atari boards really screwed this part up for me. Every time he went all caps, I went "NOW I HAVE THE BIG VOICE THINGY SHAI'TAN" and laughed.
S Cooper
5. SPC
I agree with @3 - Hend the Striker has got to be John Henry. And that's an awesome inclusion.
Tabby Alleman
6. Tabbyfl55
My inner lawyer bristles at the Baelfire-Horn gaffe. And why not just go with the Rhuidian death when it makes such perfect sense? I don't like it.
Knick
7. Kat W.
Olver is awesome! I always knew he'd be special, but I didn't guess it :)

Un-dead Birgitte is possibly my favorite part of this, as I flat-out bawled when she "died". Lan being alive, there was no doubt, but total awesomesauce nonetheless.
Melissa Shumake
8. cherie_2137
also agreeing that "hend the striker" is john henry.
Joseph James
9. wjames1204
I'm looking forward to Kaladin's "Rand" moment where he realizes he can't protect everyone all the time but that he can still make protecting a major part of who he is. You can definitely see Sanderson's inspirations in Stormlight.
Ron Garrison
10. Man-0-Manetheran
A few weeks ago, Randalator quoted a passage from this chapter:
"A white horse stood nearby, with a golden saddle and reins, the most magnificent animal that Olver had ever seen."
This clearly indicates that a horse can be a Hero of the Horn. So, Bela? If any horse in this story has performed heroically, then certainly Bela has. Therefore, Bela = Hero of the Horn.

BELA LIVES
Cody
11. Tarcanus
Amaresu is Amaterasu, a Japanese sun god, made publicly more visible due to the Okami franchise.
Knick
12. James Spangler
Not gonna lie, I teared up and started laughing uncontrollably out of sheer delight when Noal showed up to protect Olver. A similar reaction occurred when Birgitte saved Elayne and when Lan's sheer badassedness saved Lan, but Noal, I think, had the biggest kick.

At this point I didn't have problems with other issues, either. I'm willing to accept the Caemlyn death as having severed Mat's connection to the Horn; one thing we've got to keep in mind is that the fandom's actual knowledge of the nature of both ter'angreal (especially artifact-grade relics like the Horn) and of balefire's effects on the timestream are rather limited in some ways.

Do we know if balefire's effects in the waking world can affect the World of Dreams directly? We know that time is a tricky thing in T'A'R to begin with, and we have virtually no experience with objects that interact with both the waking world and the World of Dreams, in part because aside from the few that allow a sleeper to access the World of Dreams they seem to be extremely rare.

I think I need to reread the Fires of Heaven battle with Rahvin to be sure, but I seem to remember balefire having some odd interactions with the World of Dreams to begin with.

If the Horn is at least partly anchored to the World of Dreams (which isn't a bad bet, considering it interacts with it), then it's at least plausible that Mat's death-and-rebirth in the waking world, despite technically never occurring in the final timeline, could have still severed Mat's link to the Horn. All you have to do is allow for the possibility that an observer in T'A'R's "softer" linear flow of time might be able to perceive both the original timeline and the post-balefire timeline.

Following this line of reasoning, it's already supported here, if you accept this as intentional and not a gaffe: the Heroes clearly are able to perceive the change in the timeline.


TL:DR; I don't feel like the Horn link being broken is a gaffe, because the Horn is by nature linked to T'A'R and we haven't got much information about how T'A'R's differing flow of time interacts with the real world and balefire.
Julian Augustus
13. Alisonwonderland
Leigh,
The one thing that seems a little off to me re: Lan’s survival is that evidently the Dark One didn’t know Lan wasn’t dead, which seems like a really odd thing for the Lord of the Grave not to know.
You forget that the Dark One is the Father of Lies. At this point, the whole purpose is to break Rand psychologically and diminish his willingness to fight. Telling Rand that Lan is dead and that he (the DO) is about to go medieval on Mat's ass are all part of the psych warfare to make Rand give up.
Knick
14. Lurch Lives
Hend the Striker is John Henry. Still clinging to the last remaining vestiges of new WOT material, and dreading the day this all ends.
Knick
15. Hammerlock
Also re: Lan's being not-dead, it probably isn't a stretch to say that had Mat not fought his way over and had an Asha'man do some Healing, Lan's wounds may have done him in (even assuming an enemy trolloc/sharan didn't speed up the process).
In other words, if he wasn't rescued he was already dead--he was just too badass to acknowledge it.
Sara H
16. LadyBelaine
I concur with those who say that Buad is Boudicca and Hend is John Henry, but... Blaes of Matuchen has been around a long, long time, and she's a woman. She was the first Hero of the Horn mentioned in the saga who is female, and once, in another lifetime, she was my handle on the Prodigy Wheel of Time subforum;). She was beautiful as a rose, slender as a willow or something. Her back story was that she was marked as the Dark One's own at her birth but she would rather die than yield. I always figured she was some sort of Sleeping Beauty analogue, who was cursed in her cradle by the evil fairy queen.

I also love the shout out to Morgase, but was surprised that Elayne didn't get one... hmmm. Also, I simply swooned at the cinematic awesome return of Birgitte!!
Knick
17. neverspeakawordagain
I have to say that this section was where things started to get a little... shaky for me.

My favorite part of the series, aside from the sheer scope of everything, has always been the battle scenes and sequences. And this, right here, is where everything started to get a bit too... random.

Mat's supposed to be the Greatest General Ever... and yet the key turning points of the battle were: a) Egwene killing all the Ayyad; b) Lan killing Demandred; c) Olver blowing the Horn of Valere... all things which Mat had nothing to do with and could not have anticipated or planned for. The ONLY significant "turning point" that was actually done at Mat's direction was the re-appearance of the Seanchan; everything else was outside of his control. So, basically, the Light won this battle because the authors said so.

And that just strikes me as incredibly lazy, for a series that's always been about intricate detail and proper ordering of everything.
Nathan Martin
18. lerris
I have no issues with the Horn's tie to Mat being broken.

At least one element of the known lore which Mat had been given regarding the Horn was wrong. Why not another?

The prophecy of Mat's death is a perfect example of Chekhov's gun. And this is the scene where it is taken off the wall and fired.
Don Barkauskas
19. bad_platypus
Tabbyfl55 @6: I agree with what James Spangler @12 wrote; we just don't know enough about the mechanics of everything involved to say it's a gaffe. Plus, I would be willing to bet large sums that this was explicitly from RJ and not a BWS invention.

And Leigh, I'm sorry, but I have to go there:
Birgitte shoots Mellar in the head, then his Dreadlord.
That sounds like it would really hurt.
Knick
20. Wes S.
The best part of Birgitte's rebirth, for me was Doilin Mellar's famous last words:

--"You know, I think she really thought she was Birgitte from the stories-"

*THWIPP!*

--"I am Birgitte Silverbow."

--"Urk."

*THWIPP THWIPP THWIPP*

OK, I paraphrased a bit, but that whole sequence cracks me up. I still want to slap Elayne, though. (And for some reason I now have this image of Elayne tied to a set of train tracks - never mind that Randland has just barely discovered steam power, never mind railroads - with Mellar hovering over her as a sort of really perverted Snidely Whiplash. Not sure where that image came from. Except Elayne's entire story arc, I suppose. Sigh.)

(badplatypus @19: For my money, she should have shot Mellar's "dreadlord" first. :P )

As for Lan: As I've said before, I'm not sure whether he was all dead or just mostly dead, Princess Bride-style. Yeah, I know this sort of thing was discussed before back when Rand tried to heal a corpse with Callandor, but Rand wasn't talking with the Big Voice (heh!) then, either.

Then again, I'm also inclined to believe that it was actually Egwene who stopped by on her way out of the plot to metaphorically slap some sense into Rand when he most needed it. So, either way, it works for me...
Knick
21. Nick S.
#17

Yeah but if not for Matt being the best general ever, the light would have lost before Egwene, Lan, and Olver had their chance to do their thing. Know what I mean, Vern?
Matthew Smith
22. Blocksmith1
Perhaps it was low cabin pressure, but I did not see Birgitte's rescue of Elayne coming...but I LOVED IT!!! Yes, Mellar's death was unfortunately not agonizing enough.

Reading Olver's character through these chapters, I always thought he was somehow going to make it to Mat. I did not see him blowing the horn, but when he did and then Noal coming to save him as Hero...another thing that was very well done.

I liked that Rand put his "list" behind him, so to speak (and that Egwene in some way helped him do it....she continues to be amazing posthumously), so to speak, as a means to move on both as maturing character and to let him shed the burdens that were obscuring him from his meta-physical battle with the Dark One.

I do remember stopping and trying to remember the people he was referring to...I believe, in order, they are Morgase, Thom, Moiraine, Perrin, Nyneave, Mat, Egwene.

Lan=Awesome. No Forsaken going to keep him down. Even if he has a stupid name (Boa...really??? never liked it).

Lerris at 18...Not sure how the prophecy could be considered a Chekhov's gun...that information was given to the reader many many books ago, not sprung on us in an instant with some implausible explanation. I think you can argue the logic of whether or not Mat's resurrection via balefire "works" but the fact that his link was severed (even if he and the reader did not know it) so far in the past and the prophecy provided even further in the past, removes it as sudden and implausible, imo.
Knick
23. MisterM
Dark one going medieval against Mat:
He made Mats head go empty, probably taking away all his 'old' memories. Thats how I interpreted the scene:
DO: Son of Battles, Die!
Mat: Hmm, its not looking good, what can I do, uh my head is suddenly empty.
Knick
24. James Spangler
@17, neverspeakawordagain: The fact that the Light still had a coherent army in the first place is what makes Mat the Greatest General Ever. He outright says himself that the military situation is completely hopeless, and it's made pretty clear at every point that without the additional intervention there was no way to actually win the battle. Without Mat, though, they would have been totally crushed a long time ago.

Flash back to his cards analogy: he's been playing cautiously, doing everything he could imagine to stay in the game, in the full knowledge that it was a game he couldn't win normally. But by staying in the game, he made sure that when a winning hand did come up, in the form of Egwene/Lan/Olver, he had enough chips left on the table to walk away a winner.

In poker, it doesn't matter if you're dealt a royal flush if by the time it comes around the only thing you have left to bet is the laces on your boots.
Donna Harvey
25. snaggletoothedwoman
By the time I reached Noal saving Olver, I could hardly see the words. I think I cried through both of these chapters. I had to re read the next day to be sure I packed in all the information in my head! Awesomesauce for sure! " Those Who Fight" just blew me away!
Knick
26. Faculty Guy
Several commentors have hinted at it, and maybe someone has said it, but: when I read it the first time, I came away with the impression that Lan DID die, and was brought back when Rand overcame the DO. Lan's resurrection was, if this is correct, Rand's first "magic" after enlightenment permitted him to control reality with his will. (Whether this is by selecting from quantum probability paths, from among the portal-column worlds, or just treating reality as a higher-level TAR, I don't know.

Or maybe Lan was only "near" death. But it seems significant that between the time he SEEMED to die and the time he resuscitated, the DO boasted of his control of the grave, then was told by Rand that he is wrong.

If this is right, lighting the pipe later was just to drive home the point that Rand's ability to control reality was permanent and not just an one-time desperate act
Tricia Irish
27. Tektonica
When you quoted Mat yelling T'ai Shar Malkier in the summary above, I got a chill. Yes Yes Yes!!!

Olver! Noal! Birgitte!
So much awesome in one sitting!! It's about freaking time!
Good words, Egwene!! Do not take away our sacrifice! Excellent.

I have no problem with Mat's link to the Horn being cut. As someone above stated, the Horn must be tied to Tel'aran'riod, as that's where the Heros hang out when not called, and as we know, Time is wonky there, so the effects of Balefire might be odd as well. Anyway, I don't care...I'm just glad Olver got to blow the Horn and be rescued by Noal!
Knick
28. DougL
Well, something was going to save Elayne, or at least kill Mellar before he did anything because that was a little beyond these books in terms of on screen gore. This series is a bit more towards the Lord of the Rings and associate books in that there is an amazing amount of death, and horrible, horrible behaviour and tragedy, but it's not gory and happens in abstract. This is compared to GRRM of course.

O was also not surprised that Olver was saved because he was on screen for his impending doom. I would not have been surprised if Olver died off screen, but this is not the series to have a boy with this stature of development die on screen, I mean, he's still a little kid.

GRRM would off him.
Andrew Berenson
29. AndrewHB
I thought that the 1st portion of Chapter 39 which Leigh quotes in her recap was marvellously written. I think it much more effective than had Brandon named the characters to whom Rand referred.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Rich Bennett
30. Neuralnet
Geesh even the reread description of Olver blowing the horn gets me. It was really interesting to me that it seemed liked the heroes of the horn could choose to appear or not... Makes me think that you could have blown the horn at any time and they would have just ignored it until the right time/last battle.
Knick
31. RoyanRannedos
Upon first reading, I wondered if Amerasu was actually Egwene. Of all the heroic figures to talk to Mat like Nynaeve, she would be the most likely.
Kalvin Kingsley
32. KalvinKingsley
Rand assumed the Void once he "Let Go." That's what Mat felt in his head: "What was that emptiness?"
Nathan Martin
33. lerris
Blocksmith1@22

The point of the Chekhov's gun is not that the prophecy is sprung as a surprise. You're possibly confusing it with a deus ex machina.

The principle is that if a gun is mounted on the wall in Act I, it must be fired before the end of Act III. In the dramatic context, this means playwrights should refrain from drawing atention to elements that aren't actually significant.

Following this principle, the prophecy of Mat's death and return was introduced early. More importantly, it was fulfilled early. This is a detail that is in fact used when Olver blows the horn. This is why I say that it is a Chekhov's gun.
Knick
34. Sian
I'm very late to this reread and I'm working valiantly through the previous, but I just had to comment here.

I didn't see it at all this first time, but now I'm totally in favour of the idea that Lan was dead and Rand resurrected him. It struck me in the summary, with the "two bodies on the ground" bit. The first time I read it, I'd been pretty certain Lan was dead and found his sudden resurgence a bit jarring - like a bit too much of a turnaround. But this way it's perfect: There've been mentions all the way through the series of healing death and I generally thought, well, they'll cleanse saidin and they'll heal stilling but death is something properly finite - that'll be their limit. But it was mentioned just often enough that a corner of my mind wondered if something was being set up. And now I think it was - Lan was dead, the Dark One knew it and used it to show that he had broken them, Rand resurrected Lan to show the Dark One he could never break them. It's much more fitting.

(Unless this has been disproved in some way I have not seen, of course. But I think I prefer to see it this way.)

...Except now I've just thought that that's the opposite of Egwene's whole message, isn't it? Lan chose to go fight to his death, and Rand just had that whole realisation - so undoing that wouldn't be so great...

On a different note, I like that Perrin's description (I think it is Perrin, in any case; it's only on reading the commentary I had the Morgase revelation) is "It was about a man whose family was taken from him, but who stood tall in his sorrow and protected those he could", because, for me, that's like the massive driving factor behind his character, and it never seems fully appreciated that his entire family was killed. And that's really got to affect a person. (And if it's not Perrin that that's describing, then it really should be.)

Okay, back to the LOC reread for me now.
Richard Chapling
35. Chappers
NeuralNet@30: Yes, I can see it now: what happens when the person tied to the Horn of Valere gets bored of doing their laundry or the washing up?

It is a good question, though: when are the correct times to blow the Horn? Obviously it's not just the Last Battle. Had Mat had the Horn around more, could he have used it more often, or is its use confined to what RJ called "Pattern-level events"? (Although from occasions when I was an undergraduate, I'm fairly certain that some washing up and/or laundry could be a Pattern-level event...)

What about Ages when the Horn is not lost?
Liz J
36. Ellisande
#30 @35 It's like calling 911/emergency services to find the nearest Starbucks. Except the dispatchers are all heavily armed and in your face after you blow the Horn. And since they're not slaves to the Horn (or they'd come when the Shadow calls) Birgitte can probably shoot you dead and sever your connection with the Horn, problem solved.
Though imagining the looks on their faces to find out they've been summoned for laundry is going to get me through the end of this day... lol
Knick
37. El Fitcho
Learning of Lan's survival was the best (and most tearful) point of the book for me. Thought he was toast.

Forgive my ignorance, but who is John Henry? Is he the 'American folk figure' entry on Wikipedia, or someone else? Must confess I've ever heard of him, probably because I'm English.

Never even questioned the Horn / Balefire thing. As others have pointed out we just don't know enough about either, so I went in to this (awesome) scene with an open mind about it all.

Wonderfully enjoyable reread Leigh, thanks so much. Am really going to miss it when it's finished.
Knick
38. Rajani Isa
@28 I'm not surprised about Oliver living because they made too much about him in earlier books (combined with the information he was NOT Briggette's sweatheart reborn) for him to not do something big - and simply failing to get mat the horn wouldn't be big.
matt
39. graftonio
@30,35,36

The Dragon Banner or some stand in needs to also be present. In TGH when Mat blows the horn they have the banner.

In AMOL Mat mentions to Hawkwing that he doesn't have the banner and Hawkwing looks at the clouds which have been twisted into the shape of on the banner and says that it's okay that will do.

Also I think in TGH Hawkwing also tells Rand that he has to lead them which I am guessing him being in the process of fighting the Dark One qualifies as "leading".

So if you have Rand folding your laundry while waving the banner of the dragon and sounded the horn they would help you finish your laundry.
Knick
40. scm of 2814
I find it awesome that Rand, on a meta level, acknowledges that Mat is a pretty big badass. In his quoated list, he refers to everyone s a 'man' or a 'woman'... but MAT is referred to as a 'hero'.

Plus, I gotta love Birgitte coming back, because it sets up, for me, one of the funniest lines in the series. In an epic full of 'stubborn' jokes, Birgitte being too stubborn to stay dead was awesome.

Also, on the Heroes Fighting For the Shadow thing... I just realized Egwene had to die before they came out to preserve the dramatic impact and suspense of who they were working with. Because while Siuan is the one who told everyone in he Fal Dara search party that if the Shadow blew the horn, then the heroes would fight for the Shadow... But I'll bet you all my copies of the books she was told THAT by Verin. And Verin, as we all know, is a wonderful lying liar who lies.

Actually, a LOT of Verin's statements like how the knowledge of how to make power wrought blades being lost AFTER the breaking and such are, in hindsight, flags.

Gotta wonder though: Was the Horn ever actually MADE? Or is it a 4th Constant: TAR, Dark One, Creator, Horn?
Jesse Nyhan
41. Evermore
The horn thing totally got me. Tears for Noal and Olver.
William Carter
42. wcarter
It's been waaaaay too long since my last comment but I've been waiting for these chapters.
Noal/Jain was too cool not be a Hero and too famous by far not get chosen (Brandon and Harriet specifically said at JordanCon V was one of the requirements to become a Hero wasn't just heroism but being "known" all over).

As for the controversy of Lan's dying/not dying--gut wounds don't kill quickly. They kill--and it's a horrible, nasty way to die, but not quick (eviserations or total disembowlments obviously not widthstanding).
I've read numerous historical accounts of some gut wounds killing over a period of two to three days.
Add a lot of adrenaline and Warder mojo plus Lan's own unique brand of manliness and it's really no surprise that he got up and could live at least long enough to get healing.
Jay Dauro
43. J.Dauro
By the time we got to this chapter I was well on my way to being a total wreck. So yes, yells, cheers, crying, they all came in. No way I saw Olver blowing the horn, but I was more than pleased with Noal and Birgitte.

I was not worried about the severing of the Horn from Mat, many had discussed the possibility, although we mostly had written it off. However, we have seen many times that characters do not always know what they think they do.
Knick
44. DrewDecimal
Despite all the awesomeness that went on in these chapters, I had to take a break because y'know, previous chapter was of monstrous size and responsibilities were calling. During my little break, I actually felt a little sad for Demandred of all people. This was the guy who pretty much backed out entirely of the Forsaken game in order to focus completely on the final moment where he could fight Lew Therin mano-a-mano. For all he knew, things could have never gotten to that point but he still took a chance on the long game...and what did it get him? Never even came within a mile of Lews Therin, he wasn't even in the same theatre of operations. Demandred's obsession and drive, his entire raison d-etre amounted to...nothing. Poor deluded servant of evil.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
45. Lisamarie
So much awesome stuff in these parts! And apparently I am not the only one who cried when Noal came to rescue Olver! That was the one scene that actually choked me up a bit!

I think I've recognized all of the allusions, but I'm not sure:

-The woman torn from her throne and made a puppet - Morgase

-The man that love repeatedly forsook/remembers stories - not so sure, is this meant to be Thom? I suppose in a way he could have been said to take Mat and Rand under his wing at various times.

-A woman with a secret - no clue on this one. I'm thinking maybe Moiraine (since she was 'hunting' for the Dragon before anybody else), if her going through the Finn doorway counts as giving her life.

-I definitely agree that the man who had his family taken from him was Perrin. I actually think about that quite a bit. That whole thing is pretty dark for WOT, especially given that he had a very young little brother :(

-A woman who refused to believe she could not help - Nyneave, wooo!!!

-A hero who insisted he was not a hero - Mat, obviously

-A woman who shone with Light for all who watched - is this Egwene?

I realize that, Morgase aside, they mostly match up with the original Two Rivers party that left in Eye of the World. Lan gets his own little description later on when he's revealed to still be alive.
Terry McNamee
46. macster
I am suffering such Mood Whiplash here...laughing hysterically at Leigh's reactions (both in and of themseves and because they match mine to a great extent), and in so many tears of minged sorrow and joy for all the tragic and awesome things happening in these chapters.

Right upfront of course was Egwene's voice to Rand (and especially what she said), and him finally letting go of the list, as well as referencing back to the other great Tear Jerker of the last three books, Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount. But oddly I was even saddened by Shendla's reaction to Demandred's death, and that has only been increased now that I've seen "River of Souls". (Or rather, read the entry on it last week. I still haven't been able to get hold of the anthology, and I don't when or even if I ever will, hence why I went ahead and spoiled myself on it.) Then of course there was Lan not being dead (natch, he's too badass for that) and presenting Demandred's head. (So now it seems confirmed from the phrasing here that Min's vision of two men lying on a battlefield surrounded by Trollocs was of Lan and Demandred.)

And by the Light, that recitation of all those who fight. I loved it to itty bitty pieces when I first read it, and I still do now--it's probably the best and most justified version of And This Is For that I've ever seen, and by the time I got to Nynaeve and Mat, I was in tears again. I mentioned before that I am not sure how Rand knows of some of these things, but then I recalled that while he didn't witness Morgase's travails, he would have been told about them by Perrin after they met up at the start of this book (or if not him, then Elayne later). Less justification on how he knows exactly what Egwene went through in the Tower but at this point the whole thing is so perfect, emotional, and powerful that I give it a pass. Besides, being where he is right now, outside the Pattern, probably gives Rand insight and knowledge into everyone's lives he otherwise would never have had. We are talking about the guy who keeps slipping into all-caps, after all.

Mat still standing and fighting despite everything is just as emotional, though to be expected at this point. (And Leigh, he could simply be referencing the nothingness he sees/feels in his head because of his link to Rand--as long as Rand is in that darkness, that's all Mat will see when he thinks of him, and we already saw such a moment earlier. So he may not necessarily have heard the Dark One or his threat. Which makes sense to me, because I too can't see him not reacting or thinking about it if he did hear it, and that's too big a gaffe for Sanderson or Team Jordan to have missed it.)

I think I have to agree that Olver being the new Hornsounder because Mat's link was broken has to be the most shocking and awesome twist of the series, let alone the book. And no, I don't think it's due to any retconning or dodgy logic or deception on Jordan's part. As is often the case, the reason we didn't see this coming is because we all made a huge assumption that, while reasonable, still remained an assumption--and no one called us on it, we all just kept accepting it, and Jordan allowed us to because it played into his clever authorial hands. Because as that quote in the FAQ says, Jordan confirmed which instance of Mat's "death" was the one which fulfilled the prophecy, but he did not confirm that the nature of that death (i.e. due to balefire) meant he was still linked to the Horn. That was something we decided ourselves.

I'm not sure if this is because we all assumed Jordan's confirmation of the Caemlyn death as the prophesied one also confirmed our theories about the Horn linkage, or if it just seemed natural balefire could undo everything. But I think it makes sense something mystical like a link to the Horn could not just be reinstated like that--that the only way to do so is by blowing it again. Which, since it was hidden in the Tower since before either of Mat's deaths, couldn't be tested until now. So for everyone who complained about the Horn being locked away and forgotten, looks like it's a good thing it was, eh? Though not for the reason we feared since the Shadow really couldn't have blown the Horn. (Another thing which misled us, but again recall that it was only Aes Sedai in-story who though the Shadow might be able to do so, and all Hawkwing said was that he had fought Lews Therin before, in other incarnations, not while he was a Hero.) Still, if it had been known sooner that someone else could blow it, the wrong one could have done so, or Olver could have been killed before he could do so.

Anyway, the only mystical thing associated with Mat which did "come back" after Rand balefired Rahvin was his memories, and since they came from the Finn who are outside the Pattern, I think they'd be exempt--while the Horn and the Heroes, for all their power, are still inextricably bound up with the Pattern. Not to mention, who's to say that balefire actually could undo the loss of the Horn linkage, but the Wheel didn't allow it...because it had already woven the Pattern to not only take the breakage into account, but also to take advantage of everyone thinking Mat was still linked so no one would bother with Olver until it was too late? I.e., the breakage and Olver becoming the new Hornsounder was intended all along. All in all, quite brilliant I think.

Then we end things with the utterly awesome moment of Birgitte standing over her own corpse and killing Mellar (I cheered SO loud when that happened!), the appearance of the rest of the Heroes (I caught the Boudicca reference, and was grinning from ear to ear, but I don't recognize the others either), and of course Noal's return to save Olver. (I still love the idea that his horse is Bela.) *sniffles* So many feels...

@3 Garyfury: That's a great theory. Something was tickling at the back of my mind about hammers and nails, and now it's obvious in retrospect especially with the name.

@6 Tabby: Like I said, it's not a gaffe. We just all assumed something mystical like the link to the Horn could be reinstated by balefire when there was no proof it could be. Jordan did say that there are "strange effects" associated with balefire. This must be one of them. Or, like I said, the Pattern made it not work this time for the sake of a surprise Hornsounder.

@10 Man-o-Manetheren: Indubitably.

@12 James Spangler: Agreed. And the effects you're referencing are ones like what happened to the Caemlyn palace, and to the Stone in TDR, where things which had been balefired kept flickering in and out of existence--I'm guessing the malleable nature of TAR fighting against the unmaking nature of balefire. Since the Horn and the Heroes are tied to TAR too (and Rahvin was balefired in TAR), then I think it makes sense that even though Mat was killed in the real world, his link to the Horn would flicker in and out in the same way. Whether that was enough to sever it, or after flickering for a while it settled into nonexistence, who knows.

@13 Alison: Good point!

@15 LadyBelaine: I had completely forgotten she was mentioned before or that that was her backstory (where was it revealed?). Her being a Sleeping Beauty analogue is quite cool.

@17 neverspeakaword: Except you forget what Mat told Elayne: that the only way he could win the Last Battle was to just keep fighting, keep trying to trick or mislead the Shadow, while he watched and waited for the right moment to make his move and take the pot with his one winning hand. I.e., he knew there were things he couldn't predict or plan for, and when they happened he'd be ready to take advantage of them. Also, indirectly it was because Berelain was trying to get the medallion back to Mat that Lan ended up with it and could take out Demandred, and because Egwene and Faile had been trying to get the Horn to Mat that it ended up with Olver. So it's not like Mat had no role at all. Also don't forget about his plans with the people of Hinderstap (which we'll see in the next chapter) and with the dragons (which we'll see in the one after that).

@19 bad_platypus: I think it's practically guaranteed it came from Jordan.

@20 Wes: I wonder myself if Rand could possibly have brought Lan back, the thought actually crossed my mind when I first read this scene. Aside from the greater power he gained when he re-integrated, there's the fact he's now outside Time and, apparently, has god-like powers (because he's the Creator's champion?). It's left very ambiguous, as was surely intentional.

@22 Blocksmith: You're right abour the order of the people Rand is referencing. However you seem to have confused Chekhov's Gun with Deus ex Machina. A Chekhov's Gun is a form of foreshadowing, where something is introduced in the narrative and then its meaning/importance/role is fulfilled much later, not something introduced suddenly and without a plausible explanation. Whether the explanation for the breaking of the link is believable or is an asspull/deus ex machina to allow for this result is a different matter, but the prophecy itself is most certainly a Chekhov's Gun. (And I see Lerris addressed this too, but I'm leaving it in since I had a few other points he/she didn't.)

@24 James Spangler: This.

@26 Faculty Guy: Interesting...I didn't even think of that wrinkle but it makes a lot of sense, both that this moment, when Rand is enlightened and able to stand up to the Dark One, is how he got the ability to alter reality as an extension of what they were doing outside the Pattern, and that him bringing Lan back (if he did) is the first example of the power which affects the real world. Great analysis!

@29 AndrewHB: Agreed.

@30 Neuralnet: Isn't that an interesting implication?

@32 KalvinKingsley: Another good point.

@34 Sian: Hmmm. Good point about Rand undoing Lan's sacrifice, but that doesn't necessrily abrogate Egwene's point or Rand's acceptance of it--since he brought him back, not to try and save him, but in order to demoralize the Dark One and undermine his power, to show him they could still fight and always would continue to do so. (And of course because he knew what it would do to Nynaeve to lose him.) So, the theory is still viable.

You're also right about that bit about the one who lost his family being Perrin. It was dealt with with the proper gravity at the time but sadly allowed to fall by the wayside for a while. That's probably why the truth about Fain being the one to kill them being revealed by Bornhald was included, to remind us of what Perrin has overcome and how this galvanizes him to be even more a protector--as he is for Rand in the end, for the second time he would need him.

@35, 36, 39: LOL!!

@40 scm: Good point re: Egwene and Verin (thanks, I had forgotten which Aes Sedai said the Shadow could blow the Horn). And you're right, in hindsight the way Verin knew things that happened after the Breaking had to be because the Forsaken told her, though it could just as easily have been something buried in the Tower library, which is what most people assumed at the time. As for the Horn, Jordan said in one of the Tor Q&As way back when that the Horn was an artifact from an earlier Age but known in the Age of Legends. It could be possible it wasn't actually made in that Age and was truly a constant, but I think the implication is it was made at some point. When and how is a mystery, considering it ties into both TAR and the fabric of the Pattern itself. (Ter'angreal can be used to get one into TAR of course, but something which connects threads of the Pattern to TAR so they can be summoned and constantly reborn is an order of magnitude much greater.)

@42 wcarter: Darn...that would seem to preclude Bela since she wasn't known all over. :( (And for that matter, Verin.)

@43 J.Dauro: "However, we have seen many times that characters do not always know what they think they do." Nor do readers. ;)

@44 DrewDecimal: I know what you mean and I feel the same way. Though not just for the reasons you describe, but because of how he truly could have been great and a hero if not for his pride. It's such a sad waste, really, that instead of focusing on the good he had done and was capable of, the accolades and praise he did get, he let his jealousy get the better of him...and even here at the end, when he had a chance for something better and different with Shendla, he still threw it all away. I hate Demandred (the Forsaken he became) but I feel sorry for Barid Bel.
Knick
47. Thx2593
Leigh, I just caught on to these posts 6 wks ago and have been reading voraciously from the beginning to catch up which I managed to do this past Sunday (twiddles thumbs while watching computer screen waiting for today). Hmm- not the longest of run-on sentences- DARN IT!!!! And I probably need to get a life, but, what the heck I'm retired now. Anyway, it's been fun!

Too bad I caught on so late in the game. I would have enjoyed taking on a rebuttal of many of your posted thoughts had I been encountering them mor instanter than I did- hmm, scratches beard, - close enuff. ;D>

I do want to thank you though. Reading your posted musings on PROFOUND SUBJECTS has had the (probably generally intended) result that I came to re- examine much of my own value and belief systems with regard to questions of love and tolerance. Your thoughtful and (mostly) sensitive approach caught my attention and opened avenues of thought I had not considered. Again, thank you.
I suspect that you know God better than you think you do. No disrespect or insult intended.

Note to all: John Henry as Hend the Stiker works for me. It would be some Serious Double Awsomeness to see Hend and Perrin get to work together...
Randall Trussell
48. Randalthor1966
Therefore, Bela = Hero of the Horn.

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times YES!
Randall Trussell
49. Randalthor1966
#30 @35 It's like calling 911/emergency services to find the nearest Starbucks. Except the dispatchers are all heavily armed and in your face after you blow the Horn. And since they're not slaves to the Horn (or they'd come when the Shadow calls) Birgitte can probably shoot you dead and sever your connection with the Horn, problem solved.

I would say, more like calling the Marines to help you get a cat out of a tree.

Though imagining the looks on their faces to find out they've been summoned for laundry is going to get me through the end of this day... lol

OK, someone with skill and talent really needs to write this up. I would, but the aforementioned "skill and talent" part trips me up. I just imagine Artur with a mouthfull of closepins trying to organize the other heroes of the horn - like Gaidal Cain - in the proper way to hang laundry. Dang that would be a funny scene.
Jesse
50. elezar
I had a lot of problems with AMoL, but "Those Who Fight" almost makes up for them all. Rand's descriptions of how everyone's still fighting is a perfect "Hell Yeah" speech. Mat using the "Tai'shar Malkier" call to rally the troops was a great, succinct way to remind us that Mat DOES know how to lead an army, remind us that Lan was a beloved badass, and also bring back in an element from the early books. And scenes like Noal saving Olver are pretty much THE reason I read epic fantasy.

As as far as Lan being resurrected or not, does anyone remember what Nynaeve thinks about it? Surely she would know if he had died or not. I know we have some of her pov sections coming up, but don't remember her thinking about Lan dying or being mortally wounded, either way.

LadyBelaine @16: I think Elayne had to be left out, because she wasn't exactly an emblem of "still fighting" at that point, considering she was captured, and her rape/torture/death seemed imminent. Min is the one that I'm wondering about. Every other main character that's been around since EotW and still fighting got a mention except for her.

Blocksmith @22: The name he took was actually Bao, not Boa. I'm not sure if that makes it any less stupid to you, but thought I'd point that out, in case you've been misreading it.

El Fitcho @37: Yes, the folk hero John Henry is who they're talking about. It's interesting that you asked about that because it made me think about how I know who he is. I definitely know the stories about him, but I have absolutely no clue where or when I heard those stories. It's one of those things that's just part of the American cultural fabric, I guess.

Lisamarie @45: Yep, you got the right characters. The second one was definitely Thom. Remember that the reason he even went with the group that left Emond's Field was to protect the boys from the manipulations of the White Tower. The third one is Moiraine. She didn't literally give her life and have it returned, but she definitely did metaphorically. But the biggest clue on hers is that she hunted for the dragon in secret, which was the only hope for the future. And of course the last one is Egwene, who literally shone with the Light in her death blow!
Tane Aikman
51. Greyshade
I was meh about Lan surviving - it would have been a really good death, and his cutting off Demandred's head and staggering upright tipped him over from awesome badass to ridiculous.

Rand's listing of those who fight and much of the other stuff to do with his turning the tide against the Dark One was too melodramatic and rather overwritten for my taste - obviously I hadn't bought into the story as much as many here. There is some cool stuff in these chapters though, particularly with the Horn.

"Horns, horns, horns, in dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the north wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.”

Yay Tolkien. Olver being the Hornsounder was a total, and cool, surprise to me, Birgitte coming back was predictable, given her sudden demise, but still very satisfying. Like someone else earlier Noal coming back to save Olver was the one time I felt a bit choked up in the whole book.

A grumble with the otherwise fabulously liberal Leigh and all those who think Boudica's great - yes, feminist/British icon who stuck it to the (Ro)Man, but also someone who massacred thousands of civilians - mainly those not able enough to flee (the old, children, the ill). From the Wikipedia entry: " In the three settlements destroyed, between seventy and eighty thousand people are said to have been killed. Tacitus says that the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross".

Some hero.

Oh, and I now have Johnny Cash's "Legend of John Henry's Hammer" running through my head. Cool to see a black guy in there and an Asian woman. I wonder if Maui from Polynesian mythology made it in. Guy did lift the North Island of New Zealand out of the sea with his grandmother's jawbone.
Knick
52. Sian
@46 macster - I'm with you. Having thought on it more, just because someone is willing to sacrifice themselves doesn't mean they have to if there's any other way. (Which, actually, I think is part of the point of Lan's whole deal about riding into the Blight/fighting his personal war and then realising that was stupid. To really drastically sum that up.) So I'm back on board with the Lan resurrection theory.

Except for the wise words @50 elezar. If he died, his bond with Nynaeve would have broken. And it didn't. Unless it also was resurrected and Nynaeve just didn't think about it... Well, that is a technical issue, and I may just overlook it...
lake sidey
53. lakesidey
If someone from the dark side blew the horn, perhaps there is a set of "antiheroes of the horn" who would pop up instead of Hawkwing and co? There must be other badass folks like Demandred on the dark side as well?

~lakesidey
Peter Willard
54. Bladrak
@38, where did it say that Olver was NOT Gaidal Cain reborn? If you notice Cain was conspicuously absent when listing the heroes who were summoned, even though he and Birgitte are supposed to always be together. And while Olver was alive the last time the Horn was blown and Cain did appear, I took that to mean that since Olver blew the horn he couldn't summon himself. The timing works out too with Birgitte about to be born and Cain always being older than her.
Gerd K
55. Kah-thurak
@54 Bladrak
where did it say that Olver was NOT Gaidal Cain reborn?
Robert Jordan said so...
Maiane Bakroeva
56. Isilel
Not gonna lie, I shed a tear for Olver's scene - his whole sequence leading to that moment was brilliant and unexpected and that "one... came back for him" is just so gut-wrenching and uplifting.
Appearance by the Voice of Egwene was great too, and a very satisfying way to ensure that the notion of people having a right to chose their lives and their deaths finally, finally, got through to Rand.
Great catharsis with this one.
And his lithany of people who continued to fight no matter what or sacrificed themselves so that fight could continue was very effective and touching.

Brigitte!!! That was such a brilliant comeback, heh. And yet not cheap, because she got to save Elayne, yes, but it is an ending of a beautiful friendship or several of them.

Not a fan of Lan's survival, any more than I am of the other fake deaths. His sacrifice was poignant and noble, this felt like cheap cheating, whether he survived on his own or Rand ressurected him. Nynaeve could have used some real drama in AMoL for a change, too.

Also, was kinda disappointed that it was still stressed how there are more men than women among the Heroes of the Horn - I used to think that it was because due to the circumstances more female heroes were running around incarnate and now that some have died we'll see a more even distribution, but nope.
And as corollary to that, I really expected Verin and/or Siuan and/or Egwene to show up as Heroes, but again, nope.
I mean, the latter was otherwise occupied in this segment, but she didn't show up later either, which was a definite let-down, since she clearly had a personality of a great adventurer. As did Verin and, maybe to a lesser degree Siuan. Oh, well...

Wes S. @20:
I still want to slap Elayne, though.
Must be a reflex, because she really hasn't done anything slapworthy to get into these dire straits. On the contrary, she listened to Birgitte's voice of caution and went to a place that should have been comparatively safe.

And I have to boringly point out yet again that Elayne didn't do anything that the Superboys haven't routinely done also. It is just that they either get away with it (Mat and Perrin) or don't and get "It was foretold, it had to happen, it was not his fault" defense (Rand).

P.S. Greyshade @51:

Well, consider the source. There is bound to be some enemy propaganda included re: Boudicca. And also, King Arthur was supposed to have ordered murders of some babies, trying to get rid of Mordred.
WoT's very own Artur Hawkwing is known to have ordered unjustified mass killings towards the end of his reign, including particularly cruel ones, like stakings.
So, yea, they are heroes, but hardly completely unblemished ones.
Rob Munnelly
57. RobMRobM
I've not been attentive recently but I wanted to say that this is really good stuff, both the chapters and Leigh's re-read analysis. Bravo. I was shocked by the Olver reveal, Noal coming back, Birgitte coming back, etc.

What about Hurin - wasn't he identified as a potential hero back in book 2?
Rafael
58. Ryamano
@56

I might be wrong, but isn't there a rule that channelers can't be heroes of the horn? Arthur Hawkwing recognizes Lews Therin Telamon/Dragon/Rand, but doesn't say that he was a hero of the horn in any other incarnation.

We don't see Eldrene, queen of Manetheren that destroyed armies of trollocs, for example, among the heroes.
Bill Reamy
59. BillinHI
I must admit that I missed identifying Thom as one of Those Who Fight, but I did guess the rest okay.

Olver blowing the Horn and then being rescued by Noal choked me up the most, but Birgitte and Lan's "resurrection" are very close behind those two moments.

Bladrak @ 54: In addition to RJ's having said that Olver is not Gaidal Cain, he and Birgitte are (presumably) always spun out of TAR into real life together, not necessarily recalled by the Horn together, although they were together at Falme. In TFoH, Chap 14, Birgitte tells Nynaeve (while in TAR) that she has not seen Gaidal for some time and thinks he has been spun out again.
Knick
60. eep
@51 You will have a hard time finding military heroes from any time in history before perhaps 1800 if you disqualify Boudicia on those grounds. She was in line with the standards of warfare of the time. The civilians she killed were Roman invaders. Yes, her culture was that of a barbarian tribe and Rome was more civilized, but Roman civilization is not above mass execution, rape, sowing the ground with salt to completely eradicate a culture's ability to continue to exist, etc. The Greeks, generally considered a light of early civilization, routinely executed all men and enslaved all women and children in a conquered city. It's not really instructive to judge the goodness, badness, or heroism of these people by our cultural standards.
Knick
61. Clomer
I was a little disappointed that Egwene was not one of the Heroes of the Horn. Even if she hadn't been one previously, surely her actions in the last 3 books would have earned her that place. I would have absolutely loved to see Egwene show up, riding Bela, as a Hero.

Some have said that channelers cannot be heroes of the horn. I suppose this is possible, but I'm not sure if it's ever been revealed for sure one way or the other. If anyone has a source that says so, I'd like to know about it.
Knick
62. JackMyDog
This question I should have asked last week. Was Vora's sa'angreal ever mentioned in any prophesy? It occured to me that it has a unique property, being unlimited and could it have been necessary that it took that artifact meeting the scepter sa'angreal D'jedt to create the weave Egwene created to cure Balefire's effects?
Deana Whitney
63. Braid_Tug
@51, did you see the part of the article where it said:
Boudica was flogged, her daughters were raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans.
She had some serious justifiable anger. The loans were called after the Romans had taken her kingdom away. How was she to pay these loans?


Because Roman law already had male inheritance laws, but the Iceni people did not. So when her husband died, Rome treated them like slaves.

You could say "Some hero" of many "heros."

I also agress with @60, eep
Knick
64. Faculty Guy
It would seem that having "non-channeler" as a condition for being a HotH is problematic, since channeling is not really an off/on thing. One can be a marginal channeler, e.g., Morgase. And what about stilled, gentled, or burned-out former channelers. The rules just get too complex.

That said, I don't think any Hero has been identified as a channeler, which must be significant. OBVIOUSLY there have been channelers in the past whose heroism should have qualified them. I wonder if there is a separate "club" for heroes who were channelers. Come to think of it, do channelers always get reincarnated with channeling ability? LTT seems to. But if channeling can be "bred out" by weeding out male channelers, the fractional channeling population is not fixed, which seems to imply that channeling ability does not survive death/reincarnation.

I wonder if RJ had all this figured out.
Knick
65. JackMyDog
Queen Alliandre has failed to get mentioned in these posts. In ToM we are led to be a little suspicious of her, easedropping and the scene with the blue fabric she hid for herself out of the bandages. Yet in battle she rides bravely with her troops often near the front as does Elayne, encouraging them with her own courage. Go Alliandre.
Karen Fox
66. thepupxpert
@10 re BELA LIVES - I asked Brandon that question directly when he was in Huntington Beach: "Is Bela a Hero" - and he gave me a quick smile and said "I'd like to think she is." That's good enough for me!
Jesse
67. elezar
RJ has confirmed that LTT/Rand is a Hero, and obviously he can channel, so channelers can be Heroes. http://www.theoryland.com/intvmain.php?i=86#3

Its possible that there were channelers among the heroes at Falme and/or the LB, and they just weren't mentioned. There probably wouldn't be very many. There are about 100 Heroes that come when he horn is sounded in both cases. According to the BWB, only 2-3% of the population can channel. There's no reason to think that percentage would be higher among the Heroes, so we're only talking about a few people. It's also possible that all the channeling Heroes had been spun out before the LB.

Of course, this means that we still don't have a reason that Egwene wouldn't be a Hero. Someone should ask Brandon about that. Narratively, I think her storyline is better off without her coming back after her death. But, it would be nice to have an answer that makes sense in-world.
Peter Willard
68. Bladrak
@ 55, 59 I hadn't known about RJ's statement before. I just seemed like a good explanation to me.
Karen Fox
69. thepupxpert
Various re Lan's "death" - We never read that Lan died, he "fell" or other some such. I do have to admit I was bawling like a baby because I couldn't believe he was offed, and I truly did believe he was dead. So that made his "return" that much more amazing for me, I think I remember just jumping out of my chair and hyperventilating, my son thought I was just completely nuts.
Karen Fox
70. thepupxpert
@58 - There's a lot of speculation that Egwene is/was Eldrene reborn.
Knick
71. Sian
I'd like to believe Egwene's a Hero of the Horn; her spirit was just otherwise occupied during this battle. She'd already given her lovely speech to Rand; perhaps she was still up there keeping an eye on him. Or off in Tel'aran'rhiod being inducted in the precepts.

Birgitte's immediate return was great for dramatic effect, but Egwene's return so soon would have lessened the impact of her death.

(I'd like to believe she was the person in the tunnel at the end, but there are numerous issues with that, I know, and I do not have the knowledge to make that theory work! I'm sure there's plenty discussion out there about that I've not seen.)
Alice Arneson
72. Wetlandernw
FWIW, RJ specifically said that Rand's soul was tied to the Horn...

Re: Gaidal Cain, he can't be more than a year old at most, given when he was last seen in TAR.

(I know who he is, though.... :P)
Knick
73. Faculty Guy
Wetlandernw: of course time in TAR is a hard to compare with outside time, so . . .

But if you know that he is very young, the choices are very limited. There just aren't many newborns in the story. The obvious guess is one of Elayne's expected kids . . . no other candidates come quickly to mind. Whom am I overlooking?
Knick
74. Wes S.
Slightly off topic: Does anyone have a link to those "ISAM" posts that Fuzzy mentioned @ 4 above?
If they're what I think they are, I stumbled across them years ago - and found them hilarious; I remember the "Big Voice" shtick - but haven't been able to find them again.
Valentin M
75. ValMar
Faculty Guy,

We are looking for one ugly baby! Good luck ;)
Alice Arneson
76. Wetlandernw
Faculty Guy @73 - My theory has always been that he's Gadren Grady's little brother.
Jeff Schweer
77. JeffS.
Wetlander @ 76
The letter that Grady is carrying that we have discussed in the past prompted me to ask Brandon that at the book signing. At which time the rest of the memory keepers started laughing as you had already talked about it before I got there.

Good times, good times.
Knick
79. El Fitcho
Wes S - not the original location but I found them here: http://softandonly.com/tag/isams-wheel-of-time-summaries

So, so funny.

There's also a ToM summary by a different person that's worth a read. http://www.dragonmount.com/forums/topic/61167-towers-of-midnight-the-abridged-version/

I'd love for someone, ideally Isam, to do the others...
Knick
80. alreadymadwithHeroes
Leigh, I wouldn't exactly categorize Rand's issue as chivalry. MOre like a massive case of survivor's guilt. One amplified by PTSD and not a little bit of (at least at certain points) Taint induced madness.

It was about time somebody in the book chastised Mat for his paranoia regarding Rand's channeling.

Frankly, I consider any speculation on who Gaidal ends up being to be a waste of time. It's not like we're ever gonna get another book.

Faculty Guy @64
Thing is, channeling can't be bred out, not until the Wheel of Time turns to an Age where it does not exist. Until then, male potential channelers will just keep popping up, with the usual smattering of sparkers.
Also, the Dragon when he is spun out, is always the strongest channeler of his time. So that's at least one case, where the channeling ability is always retained. Frankly, I agree with elezar @67, it's entirely possible that all channeling Heroes were spun out so they could participate in the Last Battle. Since the end of the Age seems to call for a revival in channeling.
Knick
81. AlexF
I don't think I buy the "Rand resurrected Lan" idea. I think it's supposed to show that the DO just doesn't understand humanity. The DO counted Lan as dead, or close enough not to matter anymore. The DO couldn't understand how driven Lan was or how much he inspired others. Rand noticed that Lan wasn't dead and realized the potential impact of Lan standing back up. I don't think Rand did anything to Lan; it was just more of a "You think you've defeated humanity? Watch this:"-moment.
Knick
82. Planeswalker
So are we still correct to assume that Brandon just missed to mention about removing the medallion first when Narishma had to heal Lan?
Captain Hammer
83. Randalator
re: Mat, broken bond

Like many others I wouldn't call it a gaffe. For one we don't know enough about the mechanics behind that bond and it's ties to the pattern, balefire effects, etc. Balefire in and of itself is a veritable paradox-creating weave the way it makes cause and effect go all topsy-turvy.

Also, for all we know, the bond could have survived the balefire incident. Remember Lan's warder bond to Moiraine which was snapped when the doorframe ter'angreal she fell through was destroyed. During the rescue of Moiraine the doorframe ter'angreal in *finnland was also destroyed.

Maybe that was what broke the bond in this case, too.
Knick
84. Wes S.
El Fitcho @79: thanks for the links. I'm still laughing.

... In addition to the Dark One, Demandred and Moghedien fighting over the Big Voice amp, I also now have the images of a chest-baring Uno, Mandarb's braided tail and nine thousand breakdancing Saldeans firmly stuck in my head. Priceless.
Knick
85. eep
It's the Aiel way! And the Aes Sedai way, and the Ebu Dar way, and the Sea Folk way...
Julian Augustus
86. Alisonwonderland
Isilel @56:

I am with you with respect to Siuan. It seems to me that Siuan's contribution to the cause of the Light is seriously underrated by both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. After all, Siuan was Moiraine's partner in the 20 year search for the reborn Dragon, and she protected Moiraine from Tower politics to allow Moiraine to carry out the search.

Second, the fact that the Salidar AS remained an effective cohesive force for the Light was largely due to Siuan, who kept the AS from splintering into various factions, and guided Egwene to take control of the AS instead of becoming a mere puppet as the Shadow had intended.

Finally, she also satisfies the requirement of being world-famous, and certainly deserved to join the Heroes of the Horn as well as a mention alongside Moiraine on Rand's list of people who still fought (I'm not sure Rand would have known that she had died in the fighting, and even so it shouldn't have mattered as he listed Egwene as still fighting when he knew she was dead). She lost just as much as (or perhaps even more than) Morgase in terms of being cast down from a high position due to machinations by the Shadow, and even when deposed and stilled, managed to do more to advance the cause of the Light than Morgase ever did.

One of my beefs with aMoL is the lack of recognition for Siuan's contributions to the cause of the Light.
Knick
87. Maiden of the ButterKnife
Hola peeps! Wow, quite a nice discussion here.

Ahh yes, the good ole' scene with Lan. He's dead and a hero! Sad, but wow, what a way to go out. Wait..he's not actually dead? Or is he? No? Ok, but I thought he "sheathed the sword" and "came here to die"??

Bleh. For me, this was all poorly written: pulpy and overblown.
Lan dying felt right to me, and actually made sense in terms of him getting a mortal wound past Demandred's defenses. But as others have said, to have Lan not really mortally wounded, and even standing, decapitating Dem's head, and holding it above his own, feels very cheap and pulpy to me.

As with much of the latter parts of A Memory of Light, for me, the writing and resolution of this whole scene lacked verisimilude and sullied the story.
Alice Arneson
88. Wetlandernw
Alisonwonderland @86 - FWIW, Rand did not say that Egwene still fought.
It was about a woman who would not bend her back while she was beaten, and who shone with the Light for all who watched. Including Rand.
For that matter, nor did he claim that for Perrin, Nynaeve or Mat. It was about them - but he didn't say that they "still fought."

Maiden @87 - Nowhere did Lan say he came here to die.
"You didn't listen to me," Lan whispered. "I did not come here to win. I came here to kill you. Death is lighter than a feather."
You weren't listening either. He placed Demandred's sword point in his own side (rather effectively keeping it from doing anything else), while his blade took Demandred in the throat. That should have told a careful reader that he might not, in fact, be dead.
Nadine L.
89. travyl
@ 86. Alisonwonderland
I disagree that Siuan was world-famous. The Amyril seat was, but her as a person wasn't. I'm not saying she doesn't deserve acknowledgement for her involment in the events leading to the last battle, but she isn't world famous.

On the other hand there are about 80 unnamed heroes, so who is to say she wasn't riding somewhere in the rear (Siuan had trouble riding, so if you choose to, you could pretend that she is trying to mount a horse, maybe the complacent Bela and therefore she isn't at the front meeting Mat).
Richard Hunt
90. WOTman
Well, as far as I'm concerned. this chapter could be the end of the book, I was on cloud 9 hitting the up button and I smiled for a week. I was so glad Noal made it on the A team and I was so happy for Olver, I felt he got the short end of the stick, pretty much throughout the book and to turn out to be a hero, well, it just don't get any better.

I always knew Lan wouldn't die, because it said he turned and took it on his side, just like he told Rand how to do it many books ago. I was happy Erith was with Loil too because a couple who battles together stays together, that is what I always say, well, maybe not. As when the DO said Lan was dead, I mean, really you believe everything he says? He was just throwing a little salt on the wound so he could get Rand to throw in the towel.

I was kind of ticked when Hawkwing said they would never fight for the Dark One, he could have told them that the firsst time they blew the horn. I'm sure he would say, "You never asked me".
Knick
91. XLCR
I'm Baaack! I doubt any here missed me, I haven't posted or even followed for quite a while. In fact, not since I finished the last book. For some strange reason, something about the end of the story made me very uncomfortable and dissatisfied. I haven't reread the book again or even looked directly at it, though it's in view from my bed. I almost had to force myself to come back here. I've been telling myself I'm missing being here with the rest of you and our gracious reviewer for the end of the great adventure, but something has soured in my gut about the way it all ends. Maybe it's just the fact that it is ending.

Maybe it's just that after 14 books and 22 years of waiting there was no human way that anyone could have come up with an ending that wasn't anti-climatic or, at least in some elements, too trivial. Maybe it's just that the story IS over, and there is nothing left to look forward to. As long as the story was unfinished, it was in a sense, still alive, still evolving. But now it's fixed, forever frozen in time, with no do overs possible. We will never really know how it would have ended had Jordan survived, and I suppose we should be grateful that some way to end it was found.

Maybe I just need more time to let it settle in. The fact that I am back and writing this shows that my mind is finally moving forward and I am at least thinking about it again. For the last several months I haven't really been able to. I'm sure some here may think I'm over-reacting, but this story has been a part of my life for a long time. It was a life-saver, something to hang on to, in the long years of my father's illness and death. I can't explain the intensity of my reaction, or why I've needed not to think about it for a while. I'm wondering if anyone else out there has experienced anything similar.
Jeff Schweer
92. JeffS.
Yes, although I read it twice in the first few weeks and couldn't pick it up again until Our gracious leader got to the Last Battle chapter. When you mention how it's now over, that resonates with me and makes me sad.
Julian Augustus
93. Alisonwonderland
XLCR @91. I had a reaction very similar to yours.

The post @86 above was my first post on the WoT re-read after aMoL. I don't know what caused your negative reaction, but for me it was the resolution (or lack thereof) of the Seanchan storyline.

I remember that the overwhelming feeling I had when I turned the last page was a crushing sense of disappointment. Perhaps I should have expected it from Aviendha's experience in the way forward terangreal at Rhuidean, but I couln'd believe that at the end of the story the Seanchan would be left essentially in the supreme position, with their forces largely intact while the rest of the nations were almost shattered, with their empire built on the enslavement of chanelling women intact, and with a dubious commitment to the oaths they had sworn to the other nations in the Dragon's Peace compact (notice Tuon's own thoughts about keeping her oaths if it suits her, and the enslavement of Moghedien at the end of the battle in direct contravention of the oaths).

I was crushed that a story I had followed and lived with for 18 years will end with the worst possible culture in the world as far as I was concerned, the one built on slavery, in prime position, and that Jordan was telling us it was a good resolution by co-opting my (and I believe two of many fans') favorite characters, Min and Mat, into high positions in that culture.

I admit I had the rather unworthy and uncharitable feeling that perhaps Mr Rigney, being a southern gentleman, did not appreciate enough how truly abhorrent was the enslavement of channeling women (or any other group of people for that matter) by the Seanchan. I know, it was wrong to associate his southern roots with the way the story ended, and I recognize my own prejudice in linking his roots in the South to what I considered to be a lack of understanding of the evil of slavery. I don't think that was the case, and I only mention it to illustrate the depth of my feeling on that point and the disappointment I felt.

My two children, with whom I had shared the series in endless discussions as each book came out over the years, both finished aMoL and were, like me, too disappointed to engage in our usual dissection of the book. We still haven't been able to bring ourselves to discuss it much, and I doubt we ever will. And it is a shame, because that shared experience we had had reading the Wheel of Time together was one of the joys we had shared as a family.

As the months have passed, I have gradually persuaded myself that Jordan perhaps intended to eliminate the Seanchan's slave culture in the planned Seanchan trilogy sequel after aMoL, but that is scant consolation to me as the published story will forever end as it did, with slavery enshrined in the dominant empire in the world.

Similar to yourself, I still have not managed to even open aMoL again since I closed the last page a year or so ago. I have managed to catch up on Leigh's re-read, and I hope to engage in a discussion of some of these questions later with other posters, perhaps at the end of the series.

Do you feel able to elaborate on the nature of your disappointment with the end of the series?
Knick
94. Faculty Guy
XLCR@91: Yes. Your description of reacting to the ending fits mine pretty closely and, in fact, I lost two parents during the interval, though not tragically or after lingering illness. I've tried to describe my let-down in prior posts earlier this year, referring primarily to the many now-forever-unresolved puzzles (Nakomi comes to mind) and wondering if RJ had planned resolutions in his mind as he went to the grave. But maybe it's just the fact that it's over, and very likely NO ending could have lived up to the wonder and expectation that built up over so many years, words, characters, and plot-lines.
Captain Hammer
95. Randalator
Did you guys actually expect that everything would be wrapped up nicely at the end? RJ himself had already said well in advance that there would be unresolved plotlines. And I really can't see how a fundamental societal change like abolishing damane could have been pulled off without a total Deus Ex Machina, ass-pull, handwave triple whammy.

Just take a look at the real world example in the US. That was one hell of a long, painful and bloody process even without the slight distraction of the world ending. I think it would have really taken away from the book if we'd had this we-only-got-three-chapters-left-everybody-be-happy-and-non-slave-y-"YAY!" moment just for the sake of wishfulfillment.

RJ created a living, breathing world with a past and a future. The book/series ends, but like in real life not everything gets tied up in the end. Anything else would have been a huge disappointment...
Knick
96. Faculty Guy
Randalator@95: Well, I suspect the reality is that each of us had a few favorite plotlines and we hoped that, while not ALL plotlines would be resolved, our favorite one(s) would.

And many of these were just pretty minor things that would not have taken whole chapters to resolve. Who WAS Nakomi? What WERE those notes Verin distributed? What DID happen with Isam/Luk in the blight? And so forth.

And a point I consider relevant is that many of these small puzzles were dangled in front of readers to create questions. We didn't really NEED Nakomi to make the story of Aviendha's trip to Rhuidean work. But she was inserted, caused endless speculation, and there was never any follow-up.

I'm not angry or bitter, but I do think there are grounds for being disappointed.
Nadine L.
97. travyl
I agree with Alisonwonderland that I war really upset how the Seanchan thing was handled. I acknowledge that it was impossible to "conjur" a realistic plot for the Seanchan to abandon their slavery, but why did their forces get largely spared in the Last Battle? Why not devise a stragetgy where the Seanchan's forces are at least as engaged as the other Randlander armies and thereby maybe you could have devised a plot by which over the years the Seanchan would change their culture (maybe a need to release the damane from the sul'dam bond and the culture seening that these women aren't mindless beasts, not to be trusted...)

So yes I agree. Even if RJ had planned the sequels to adress said problems, those sequels will never exist, and there should have been some indication in this book (besides Hawking's talk to Tuon) that there is hope for the future...
Valentin M
98. ValMar
Faculty Guy @ 96

Good points.

travyl @ 97

My thoughts on the "Seanchan" issue are exactly the same.
Indeed, once it became relatively clear that the sequels won't be written a slight change could've been made to give a more hopefull outlook for the future regarding the Seanchan. Simply solving the "demane/slavery" thing in AMOL was impossible.
I have an extremely slight hope that the upcomming Encyclopedia may address this. Unfortunately, IIRC RJ had left just a sentense or two on the sequels which isn't enough even for a short entry. We'll see.
Maiane Bakroeva
99. Isilel
Randalator @95:
And I really can't see how a fundamental societal change like abolishing damane could have been pulled off without a total Deus Ex Machina, ass-pull, handwave triple whammy.
And yet, RJ was never afraid of Deus Ex Machina ass-pulls. I mean, invention of cannon and reaching of effectiveness we saw should have taken far longer than abolition of slavery, if we are talking "realistic". Not to mention invention of steam-powered conveyances!
Or blitz integration and emancipation of male channelers - stigma associated with them was as strong as anything, and large influx of male Dreadlords prior and during the TG shouldn't have helped their case, yet they save some refugees and now are going to be totally accepted by Randlanders! Not only that, but they don't have to join existing channeling structures and work from within to achieve trust and equality (as would be, you know, realistic), but instead get to create their own, parallel hierarchy!

Changes to Aiel, Tearan, Sea Folk and Cahirienin societies were also quite drastic.
Advances in "magic" of various stripes were all Deus Ex Machina. Etc, etc.

A drastic change to Seanchan society would have fit right in, particularly since the whole damane thing rests on supposedly perfectly irresistible device. Yet the series drummed in again and again, that nothing is impossible and nothing is perfect. A'dam remaining this perfect instrument of subjugation goes against everything else that happened in the series, IMHO. Not to mention that Randlanders' ready acceptance of "normal" Seanchan slavery feels weird as well.
I mean, this is a continent where slavery didn't exist for thousands of years and was justifiedly seen as something depraved.

Oh, and I'd say that change in the tone of description of Seanchan was very noticeable to me. I mean, they were never described as completely evil, but certainly their repugnant aspects were demonstrated quite thoroughly and not sugar-coated at all. And it was heavily implied that they would have to change for Seanchan to join other forces of Light.
And then, in KoD I think, there was a sudden left turn where even their worst customs were suddenly presented as not so bad. Coincidentally, it was after RJ decided to write his Outrigger novels about Mat and Tuon instead of envisioning a future series in a _Seanchan-like_ society, as he originally intended.
IMHO, this intention harmed the actual WoT series quite a bit, because it really changed Jordan's approach to Seanchan pretty much at 11th hour.

Re: Heroes of the Horn needing to be famous, we had it from Birgitte herself that some of her lives were completely ordinary and unremarkable. So, neither Siuan nor Verin should have been excluded on these grounds, particularly since they both end up pretty notorious, in Verin's case posthumously. Leave alone Egwene. Oh, well...
Valentin M
100. ValMar
Victory is mine! The hunny!

Ehm, anyway, carry on...

Isilel @ 99

Actually, because of the many too quick developments (for me the examples are the artillery and steam powered vehicles) I welcome one less such thing. But it would've been nice to end it with more of a glimmer of hope than it actually did.
Alice Arneson
101. Wetlandernw
Come on, people. RJ had fully intended to create the sequels that (IMO, probably) required Mat and Tuon to return to Seanchan with a reasonable portion of their army functioning. What if, in the desire to get the basics of his intended endings recorded, he didn't think to make notes about a different ending for that army? Or what if he didn't think it should matter that much to the ending he intended for the core series? Would you have had Team Jordan rewrite it to suit your fancy? Sure, maybe they could have done some adjusting so that the Seanchan returned to battle sooner... but what effect would that have had on other parts of the battle? It's not like you can take a honking great lot of soldiers and shove them in somewhere without risking a major domino effect. What are you going to do? Create another army of Trollocs to come out of nowhere, and then leave readers to complain that it was just too convenient that that particular bunch showed up just in time to interfere with the Seanchan?

The whole thing works as written (though of course there are plenty of readers complaining about this or that purported error in this or that scenario). I can't help thinking that the complaints about the Seanchan army surviving is more a matter of disliking the Seanchan and wishing they'd gotten pounded harder, rather than any actual quibble with how it was done.

As far as Nakomi, she's a little like the "Who killed Asmodean?" question: she was never intended to evoke such a big mystery. She was simply a means to give Aviendha some things to think about, a way to argue it out and come to important conclusions, in a fairly short scene, and in a way that would be believable for Aviendha to reach those conclusions. She couldn't have that particular talk with other Wise Ones, because they would have no reason to make the points Nakomi did. She couldn't have it with Elayne or any other wetlander, because a) they don't really understand enough to make those points, and b) Aviendha would dismiss them as ignorant wetlanders if they did. The argument could only come from an Aiel, but at the same time no (existing) Aiel could possibly make it. So... Nakomi. Dream woman? Jenn time-traveler? Who knows? Does it matter?
Deana Whitney
102. Braid_Tug
Much as I dislike the Seanchan and slavery aspect of their culture, if they had hand waved it away in one chapter of this book, I would cry foul. That's just not human nature. The ridged cast system established in the Seanchan culture is not going to change with a simple hand wave. Even if that hand wave is the Empresses’.

Yes, we can all hold the hope that if the Mat outriggers had been written, things would change. But Tuon’s mindset was not altered enough by the proof she had seen in the wholly RJ written novels.

@93. Alison: I firmly believe RJ was not drawing a parallel or trying to connect US slavery history to the Seanchan slavery system. I’m sure as a solider, he saw children being sold into slavery by parents and was appalled by it. Yes, we can all hope for a wish for no slavery to be shown in our fantasy books. I’m glad you are aware of your prejudice when you said your statement. I just feel you are being unfair to him, and to southerners in general.
Knick
103. Faculty Guy
Wetlander@101: I hesitate to challenge you on any WOT issue because I don't consider myself in your league, but, really, Nakomi was "not intended to evoke such a big mystery"?

A character with a name from Native American mythology who appears out of nowhere and disappears mysteriously. While present she prepares food that has "enhanced" quality, similar to what only post-enlightenment Rand has done to that point.

And what is her effect? She raises the question of Aiel purpose post-LB, but that question was inevitable and, in fact, is one of the unresolved plot-lines. (I don't think anyone believes that Aiel as peace-keepers in a Dragon's-Peace world is going to last long, with the Seanchan not party to it - or party only so long as they see it in their interest!)

Anyway: I'm willing to believe that RJ had intended to resolve some of these things in his outrigger or post-LB writing. No one plans to die! It's just a bloody shame he never got the chance. And I do see that BWS and Harriet were hesitant to very much change an ending that RJ had outlined.

I think I'm repeating myself from year-old comments . . . but, then, I still feel the same way . . .
Knick
104. JeffS.
Well, even though it wasn't intended, I'm glad I helped reignite the conversations. I only wanted to relate how the last book made me sad that it was over. There used to be threads of hundreds of comments and now it's exceptional that we get past the "hunny" during any week.

As far as the cannons. IMO, Aludra had the thought of the dragons for a long period of time, possibly before our introduction to this world which spans at most 3 years for the main story. She already had the ability to make the sling sticks and dragon eggs earlier but did not have a patron, cue the Queen of Andor, with the manufacturing abilities or the power to make every bellfounder within 20 miles work on one task.

I don't call that Deus Ex Machina, I call it the out come of finding the right patron with the right resources. The establishment of the schools in Carhein and other places made the ground work for the steam wagons, so again, right patron, right resources and the crazy idea becomes reality.

Now for the Seanchan. I disagree that social change comes quicker than technological change. If anything Technology drives social change. Let's use the example of the Great Britain from the invention of the steam engine to 1900. They went from a mostly rural farming nation to a major manufacturer with most of the population in cities rather than in the country in 100 years, give or take.

I will agree with those above that feel that the outriggers with Mat and Tuon going back to Seanchan proper would have brought about the change needed but it would be decades before it was completed.

Here in the U.S. the slaves were freed by the end of 1865. But we needed the civil rights act and Brown vs the Board of Education a hundred years later to continue the social change. WE are now 60 years later and we're still working on it.
So social change right here in the states that has already taken 160 years and not done yet.
We flew a plane in the early 1900's and landed on the moon in 1969. Technology moves faster than social structures my friends. Much faster.
JeffS.
I am only an egg
Alice Arneson
105. Wetlandernw
Faculty Guy @103 - It's not a matter of league, it's a matter of one exceptional opportunity to actually talk with Brandon about this subject. :) Unfortunately, most of that conversation was officially Off The Record, so I can't give you the details, but this much is no secret:

He honestly didn't expect everyone to jump all over Nakomi that way. Perhaps that was naive of him, but he truly was surprised by the fan reaction to her. Something in RJ's notes made Brandon feel that this conversation ought to happen, and he invented Nakomi to make it work. Part of the reason he wouldn't answer questions about her was that the very little more about her that even existed would only lead us into futile speculations, irrelevant to the story RJ wanted to tell, and for which there simply are no canonical answers.
Knick
106. eep
I agree that "fixing" the Seanchan problem in the last couple of chapters of the last book wouldn't work. But their society could have started going through uphevals books ago due to people finding out Sul'dam could channel, as was heavilly implied would happen if people found out, and could have been well on it's way through a cultural shift by this time. That would have been pretty interesting. Most cultures in the story went through a major upheval like the Aes Sedai schism, and had to work through it, and get their act together just in time to fight the Last Battle. The Seanchan could have had riots and such due to people finding out about the Sul'dam, perhaps some people rounding up Sul'dam and killing them or slapping a'dam on them, perhaps some Sul'dam going rogue, stealing damane, going AWOL, fighting with regular channelers still following the regular hierarchy, etc. All this would begin around The Gathering Storm, perhaps. The raid on the White Tower would then have taken place with Tuon all stressed out and worried about holding her society together, putting down riots and such; it't be like a last ditch effort to capture channelers because all hell is breaking loose. Then she might just barely manage to pull together a group of Sul'dam and damane large enough to matter just in time for the Last Battle, perhaps in the face of armageddon allowing some of the rogue Sul'dam who are now channeling on their own, and perhaps in some cases freeing their damane out of their new-found empathy to their situation, to return to the ranks for the battle. Something like this would, while not completely remaking a whole slavery based society overnight, at least show the beginning of large-scale change.

Obviously I'm not suggesting the books be re-written to fit with our suggestions, I'm just saying a plot line similar to this could have accomplished showing us a trajectory the Seanchan could take toward a better place, without it being too much like pulling a rabbit from a hat.
Valentin M
107. ValMar
Wetlander @ 101

"Would you have had Team Jordan rewrite it to suit your fancy?"
That's putting it a little harshly.
From my POV the issue is as follows- RJ intended a certain path/story/development for the Seanchan within the world of WOT. Their development was to continue into the sequels and take some more time. Thus their position at the end of AMOL feels to some like neither here nor there, or worse- the Seanchan are in pole position.

That's why it could've been nice to alter things a little to bring the Seanchan into what those in the know thought the Seanchan will be like at the end of the Mat/Tuon sequels by the end of AMOL.
But how? E.g. at the start of the battle the Seanchan were in the fight. At this stage they could've been bloodied more, even shocked out of the battle- giving Mat extra cover for his plan. At the end Tuon could've been shown to be more affected by her talk with Hawking and be a little "warmer" towards Mat instead of saving this development for the sequels. A little nuggets like this. Showing some green shoots in the barren Seanchan garden.

I personally, knowing of the planned sequels, accept that the Seanchan story is well unfinished and have general outline in my head how it will end. So for me is not much of an issue.

"I can't help thinking that the complaints about the Seanchan army
surviving is more a matter of disliking the Seanchan and wishing they'd gotten pounded harder,"

I thought this was obvious! ;) Even I share this, despite matching your defense of Cadsuane with mine of the Seanchan, at least in perseverance.
Glen V
108. Ways
Waaaay late to the party here 'cause I was at the WoR signing Mar. 18, then real life got in the way.

Is anyone still tuned in?

Anyway, here's my brief input before bed...

Man-o @10 (and thepupxpert @66)
I asked Brandon at the aforementioned signing if the horse Noal rode when the Heroes were summoned was Bela, with upgrades like we saw in the wolf heroes.

WoB (somewhat paraphrased): I always imagined that to be the case, but thought it too much of a fan shout-out to put it in print.

So there you have it. Bela lives. And yes, I was wearing my Bela Lives button at the time.
Alice Arneson
109. Wetlandernw
ValMar @107 - The thing is, everyone has a different assumption as to what RJ "would have done" - and some of those assumptions are WAY different than even what we can KNOW he intended. I still say that to "alter things a little to bring the Seanchan into what those in the know thought the Seanchan will be like at the end of the Mat/Tuon sequels by the end of AMOL" is pretty much the same as "rewrite it to suit your fancy." For one thing, who are "those in the know" on this subject? And what would they have "thought the Seanchan will be like at the end of the Mat/Tuon sequels?" RJ didn't leave much information on what was going to happen in the outriggers. Who is going to decide just where they "ought" to be, and rewrite AMoL to shoehorn them into it? Obviously, Team Jordan didn't think it was a good idea - at least in part because there was so little in the notes about what RJ intended to do.

"At the end Tuon could've been shown to be more affected by her talk with Hawking..." Yeah, but no. When someone asked Brandon about that talk, here's what he said:
I can tell you that it did take place, and that Hawkwing is more inclined to agree with what's going on in Seanchan than I think what fans expect him to be. Now, remember that Hawking was not fond of Aes Sedai. Part of that was not his fault, but he was not fond of them. He is not just King Arthur, he is Alexander the Great. King Arthur ruled through justice. Artur Hawkwing ruled through justice and ruthlessness. It will certainly be a conversation filled with emotion and passion, but I don't think everyone expecting Hawkwing to take their side is understanding who Artur Hawkwing is.
At another point he also said that the reason he didn't show the conversation is because that and the fall out was supposed to be part of the outriggers that we won't see, and so he wanted to leave that open the way Jordan would have.

As much as it irritates some people that the Seanchan issues weren't "corrected," Team Jordan made the deliberate choice to leave the series where RJ had intended to leave it. The question is, would all those people be just as irritated with the ending, had RJ written it? Or is the fact that RJ died and someone else finished it for him an easy excuse to complain about everything that didn't go the way they expected?
Valentin M
110. ValMar
Ways @ 108

This is great! Brandon's reasoning is very interesting as well. I think he is right about the "fan shout-out". For many, if not most, readers it would've looked strange to see Bela among the Heroes. I only found out her cult status in Leigh's re-read on Tor.

Wetlander @ 109

Let me reiterate first that I am not bothered about this. I understand why it is as it is and have in my own head a vague idea of how it would've ended (positively overall).

I phrased it with "those in the know" on purpose, because RJ left so little info on the outriggers officially. He may have said more about them in verbal conversations with Team Jordan, most likely. Thus giving them an idea of how the Seanchan would've ended up. It's pretty likely scenario.
Of course, even if RJ did impart more about the sequels informally, it still may not have been enough for the purpose of what I advocated. Or there may be many other good reasons not to change things.

About Tuon and Hawking, "facepalm"! I had forgotten about this quote. I remember when I first saw it how interesting I found it. That's that then.

I belive it is very reasonable to assume that RJ wouldn't left it like this as far as the Seanchan are conserned. Had he not died he would've written the outriggers. I am pretty certain that's why the Seanchan story ended in AMOL as it did. It had "to be continued..." written all over it (no pun intended).
Lastly, for me it's not about Brandon finishing the series at all. Not the least because this issue looks like one where the whole Team (or rather Harriet) would've been involved. And because the if whether RJ said more about the outriggers in a useful way is a very big IF so I wouldn't feel I have any solid ground to expect anything out of it. And most importantly, Team Jordan are in the best position to decide what is best to do.
Brian Cavanaugh
111. jagahanas
I didn't think this upon first reading, but upon reading the re-read, does Rand bring Lan back to life here?
Captain Hammer
112. Randalator
@107 ValMar

the Seanchan are in pole position

How are they in pole position exactly? The entire Seanchan continent is burning due to the biggest civil war ever. There's no way Tuon is going to give up Seanchan, so she'll be forced to take every last soldier she can possibly spare back home to secure her throne. The Randland foothold she has gained now might very well be all but gone by the time she has secured her position in Seanchan.

At the end, I don't think Tuon has enough military might to hold both places, Seanchan and the Randland "colonies". Maybe she would have had before Semirhage's reign of destruction, but not anymore. She'll have to chose one and give up the other.
Alice Arneson
113. Wetlandernw
Randalator @112 - That's a very good point. I wonder just how much that had to do with the introduction of the "Seanchan is burning" thing, now that I think about it. If the home continent was all stable and happy (for a certain definition of happy, anyway), there would have been nothing to stop the Seanchan pretty much taking over Randland once the LB was won, other than their forces being pretty much wiped out. Even if everyone suffered more-or-less-equal military losses, Tuon already held a good chunk of the contintent and would be in a pretty good position to expand. The northern/northeastern half of the continent is reeling from the destruction of their cities and populations; the middle and west were never very stable anyway, and the Seanchan hold the southwest, spreading east and north all the time.

With the chaos back home, though, Tuon has to either abandon the old Empire and try to start a new one, or she has to up anchor and return to the home continent to reclaim her throne. Aviendha's Way-Forward vision notwithstanding, I don't really think Tuon would leave more than a token force behind; she'd rather acquire all the damane she can and beat feet (sails? oars?) back home to take care of the housekeeping. She'd expect her holdings in Randland to remain hers, of course, but she wouldn't stick around to enforce it for long.

There's also the point that, without Tuon's involvement with Mat, there would really be very little reason for the Seanchan army to even have gotten involved in the great battle. Logically, they would probably have waited for everything else to shake out, and then either killed off or subjugated the "winners" of the battle. (Which doesn't, of course, take into account Rand's actual battle against the DO, but the Seanchan didn't entirely believe all that was going down anyway. Silly superstitions and all that.)

So in one sense, you can look at it as though the Seanchan were unfairly spared; on the other, you can look at it as though they rightly (by their lights) stayed minimally involved in a war that didn't affect their home. And a good thing for their home, too, since they're going to have to go back and reconquer it.

Not sure that really made as much sense when I wrote it as it does in my head... but I can't take the time right now to massage it into a more organized form. Sorry... :/
Valentin M
114. ValMar
Randalator,

The Seanchan are in pole position in Randland as of the end of AMOL. This is how things stand.
Indeed, it depends what they'll do with their advantage in the time after the LB. I.e. will they stick to the agreement with Rand. As was noted by others, there is cause for concern about this. Hence, the discussion that followed.
And for me personally it is simply a discussion over an issue in the series we love over which I don't really hold a side. I simply find it interesting and like talking it over. After all, I got reminded by Wet of Brandon's quote re: Tuon/Hawking's meeting. Good stuff.
I don't hold a side here simply because I think Tuon will not violate the agreement. She will dot the i's cross the t's in Randland (where the Seanchan will continue to hold very large territory) and then deal with the Seanchan mainland with Mat and Min. We have Aviendha's visions of the future to give us confidence of Tuon being true to the treaty and RJ's plans for the outriggers for the rest.

PS
Wetlander,

I think the Seanchan will not have too much problems with their holdings in Randland despite their efforts back in Seanchan. They will have plenty of local auxilliaries and the other Randlanders are too weak and I assume too honest to break the treaty too.

But if the bulk of the Seanchan troops sail back home this may lead to lighter touch on the ground by them. This could cause quicker and further integration of the many Seanchan civilians/beaurocrats/nobility with the Randland locals.
Bill Reamy
115. BillinHI
On the Seanchan slavery: To my mind there are actually two kinds of slavery going on: dacovale and damane. While the damane are treated as animals, the dacovale don't seem to be. Still not a good situation, but dacovale (and sojhin) have a chance, albeit small IMO, of advancement and the damane have nothing to look forward to.

Having said that, given the situation in Seanchan with Aes Sedai running wild, some form of restraint was needed. BTW, I don't recall, but were the Seanchan channelers actually Aes Sedai from (or associated with) Randland before the Breaking? They obviously didn't have an organization like the White Tower to keep them in line.

I have re-arranged this list more than once, but to me the groups of people that need to change the most are: 1 - the Seanchan, 2 - the Sea Folk, 3 - the Aes Sedai, 4 - the Aiel. I think the why's are fairly self-evident but comments are welcome ;)
Valentin M
116. ValMar
BillinHI,

Your point is correct re: Dacovale vs Damane, IMO. Of course, we must keep it in mind that the experiences of dacovale varied hugely.

I think the AS from Randland and Seanchan were the same bunch, originally. They got separated from each other by the changed geography after the Breaking. The Randland AS formed the WT and all that. The Seanchan AS apparently became a little naughty, if we believe the Imperial sources.

I think 1- the Seanchan, 2- the AS, followed very closely by 3- the Aiel, 4- the Sea Folk.
Tane Aikman
117. Greyshade
So late replying. That what I get for letting silly things like a wedding and operation get in the way of WoT Reread!

@)60: That's my point, Boudicca gets a big statue by the Thames and the admiration of Leigh and many others, but she should not be considered a hero by today's more civilised standards.

@63: yes, her anger was justified but slaughtering innocents was not. Like Aileen Wournos you can sympathise with her for her rage and the horrible things done to her, but not for the atrocities.

Re the Seanchan, this also left a bad taste in my moutth. Given Team Jordan knew the outriggers were not going to be written more hints of what would have happened to make the Seanchan nicer, as we assume was intended, would have been good. I appreciate wanting to stick to Jordan's plan but it should not have been treated like the Gospel.

Finally, Wetlander, I hate to preach, but you can be needlessly harsh on people critical of the BS books. It is almost like you, with your vast knowledge of WoT, take it personally.
Deana Whitney
118. Braid_Tug
@111: Jagahansen,
Re: Lan being dead.

It's a debate. As many will tell you, gut shots are not instant death. So he could be bleeding out and dying at the end of the LB chapter.
Without Healing, he would be dead. There is no debate there.
So my take is like someone above in the comments, he was only "Mostly dead."
Captain Hammer
119. Randalator
@118 Braid_Tug

Oh, he was dead alright, he just told death to bugger off because he still had stuff to do, places to be, Nynaeves to grow old with. And death knew that he would lose in a battle of awesomes, so he did as he was told...
Alice Arneson
120. Wetlandernw
Greyshade @117 - Preach all you want. Just don't expect me to stop.

I argue passionately when I feel strongly about something, and I assume other people are capable of doing the same thing. (It has nothing to do with my "vast knowledge of WoT" - though I usually do look things up before I go stating facts.) I just have a low tolerance for people who couldn't begin to write at this level but still think their way would be better than that chosen by Team Jordan - especially when they clearly haven't taken into account the extensive ramifications of their supposed "improvements."
Valentin M
121. ValMar
Wetlander,

Quote
"I just have a low tolerance for people who couldn't begin to write at this level but still think their way would be better than that chosen by Team Jordan"

I'd like to make a general point of principal on this. I deeply disagree with the premise/rule that you have to be acknowledged as as good as or superior to the subject of the discussion in order to give a critical opinion on anything outside hard science.
Actually, my opinion doesn't matter anyway because whatever the merits of such a premise/rule it isn't practised in reality by anyone.

So I'll continue to criticise team selections of Manchester City, laugh at those of Manchester United, insist that The Lord of the Rings should've been longer (the book!), think that pickled cows aren't art worth millions, a music band I like played poorly at a gig I saw them in, Robert Jordan was overindulgent in his prose in the middle books, Brandon struggled with Mat's humour early on, etc.
Also, I'll continue to praise the above too (except Man Utd & modern art ;) ). Despite not being qualified to do so.
I'll be one of billions of readers, sports fans, art and music lovers, etc., praising, criticising, thinking of "what ifs".

Of course, we should never lose sight of the fact that we aren't top experts on most of the things we discuss in life nor have spent as much time considering all the angles and ramifications of alternatives we wish for. Nor are privy to the info with which decisions are being made.

I am sorry if this seems like a rant. Recently I've noticed people frequently resort to this ploy. "Know your place" sort of thing. It's either due to lazyness or due to lack of arguments.
Obviously you aren't lazy. And, as you yourself have shown, Team Jordan and Brandon have plenty of things to be said for them before one has to throw in the towel and say "you aren't a top writer so you have no right to offer an opinion".
Now, if someone makes ad hominem attacks on, e.g. Brandon, makes general comments like "he is crap writer", etc., IMO it's perfectly fine to point out whose book is on top of the charts, and the rave reviews, without wasting your time with specifics.
Alice Arneson
122. Wetlandernw
I didn't say you have to be a highly qualified writer to criticize something... I just have a low tolerance for it. :P

(Specifically, it drives me nuts when someone goes on about something they dislike and then says, "it would have been easy to fix it this way" - when an only slightly deeper consideration of the situation shows that the "fix" would have created all kinds of problems for the scenario, which would then also have to be "fixed" to make the whole book work at all. When you're at the end of a series, it seems to me that you have to be pretty careful not to throw in fan-satisfying "fixes" that will destroy something that's been set up for a dozen books. Just sayin')
Valentin M
123. ValMar
Meh, same difference ;)
I've noticed you get a bit tetchy about it, maybe folks in the forum are doing it as a bit of bear-baiting ;)
Personally, I think it's part of the fun, especially if done in good spirits and grace. Plus, it's better to offer reasoning and/or alternatives when you bitch about something than not. This allows those who disagree with you to respond better. What I have low tolerance for is people offering unsubstantiated criticism...

BTW, love the whole paragraph in brackets! I am trying to get rid off this habit (totally unsuccessfully) but maybe I should embrace it :D
Knick
124. Maiden of the ButterKnife
Hola peeps! Wow, great commentary on this one. :)

Hmm, looks like I got a response...

"Maiden @87 - Nowhere did Lan say he came here to die."You didn't listen to me," Lan whispered. "I did not come here to win. I came here to kill you. Death is lighter than a feather."You weren't listening either. He placed Demandred's sword point in his ownside (rather effectively keeping it from doing anything else), while his blade took Demandred in the throat. That should have told a careful reader that he might not, in fact, be dead."

Wow, ye be the King of Assumptions! Well mis-assumed friend. :)

No, I was actually /reading/ (not "listening"), just fine, and saw that somehow, miraculously, Lan was able to "place" the sword in his side, meaning that Demandred miraculously allowed this to happen, instead of skewering Lan and impaling him. Again, for me, an example of bad writing, and lacking in verisimilitude. Lan suddenly, can do anything and is INVINCIBLE! Superhero Lan > mere ole' Demandred. LOL

Sarcasm: Yes, you are right, Lan riding single-handedly into a horde of Trollocs speaks to a man expecting to live *rolls eyes*. LOL.

No, Lan clearly attacked on his own expecting to die, and he had for most of the entire series (save for recently ironically, but he apparently forgot everything he had just learned). Lan didn't know that the Two Rivers boy would stand there (unmolested by the enemy, natch) and fire flaming arrow after flaming arrow into this Trolloc horde, felling each one by one just as Lan approached, forming at veritable tunnel for him to ride Mandarb through (quite eye-rollingly).

Additionally, Lan said he didn't come "to win". So he came expecting to lose. One cannot expect to lose to Demandred and expect to live. One cannot also execpt to be injured, live, and kill Demandred, and not consider that "winning". So, again, Lan came to die...

I appreciate your response, but think you are incorrect, and do not consider myself corrected or chastened in the least. Again, for me, this is just another scene in AMOL that is poorly written, pulply and overblown, and sorely lacking in versimilitude.

Carry on fair peeps!

Cheers and Beers.
Knick
125. Maiden of the ButterKnife
@ XLCR #91

Ahh, you are not alone friend. I feel the same way.
Knick
126. Maiden of the ButterKnife
@ #93,

Yeah, I know what you mean. The end of AMOL was a huge letdown for me and my friends as well, and as long-time fans of the series, just left us with a bad taste in our mouths. You can do what we did, and just don't consider AMOL, or really, anything written after Jordan to be canon. ;)

We are actually devising our own character and plot resolutions to our own personal satisfactions since Mr. Rigney was not able to do it for us.
Knick
127. Maiden of the ButterKnife
@ Valmar #121
"I'd like to make a general point of principal on this. I deeply disagree with the premise/rule that you have to be acknowledged as as good as or superior to the subject of the discussion in order to give a critical opinion on anything outside hard science. Actually, my opinion doesn't matter anyway because whatever the merits of such a premise/rule it isn't practised in reality by anyone."

Hear here!

Wow, if one had to be as financially as accomplished at something in order to be able to critique it in any way, well...there comes most of our formal education in this country, as well, as 99.9999 of internet discussions. :)

As well, technically, Wetlander or anyone else doesn't know whether or not anyone here could have written the last three books as well as or better than they ended up being written. Just because one doesn't do something for a vocation does not mean one is not talented in that thing. :)

Cheers friends!
Alice Arneson
128. Wetlandernw
I need more mistletoe. Anyone? Freelancer? Bueller?
Alice Arneson
129. Wetlandernw
Maiden of the Butter Knife - two quick points.

One, you can't paraphrase something according to your interpretation, and then expect that paraphrase to be accepted as an argument to support your interpretation. It's certain that Lan went into the fight with Demandred willing to die, and perhaps even expecting to do so; that much should be obvious from the introduction of "Sheathing the Sword" back in TGH:
"There will come a time when you must achieve a goal at all costs. It may come in attack or in defense. And the only way will be to allow the sword to be sheathed in your own body.
"...when the price is worth the gain, and there is no other choice left to you. That is called Sheathing the Sword. Remember it."
That doesn't mean it was his intent to die; his sole intent was to kill Demandred no matter the cost to himself. Dying was irrelevant. "Winning" and "losing" were meaningless. All that mattered was to stop Demandred.


Two, foreshadowing doesn't have anything to do with the character's intent or meaning; it has to do with the actual words the author gives the character to speak or think. Hence, if you're looking at that a little harder, you remember that when Lan was clearly bested by Ryne, he still survived because "you surrender after you're dead." You remember that the only time we've seen anyone use Sheathing the Sword before, he survived it. And when you read that "Lan lunged forward, placing Demandred’s sword point against his own side and ramming himself forward onto it" you remember "Rand screamed as he felt it pierce his side, burning like a white-hot poker. The void trembled, but he held on with the last of his strength, and drove the heron-mark blade into Ba'alzamon's heart." All the clues were there, to tell the careful reader, not that Lan didn't expect to die, but that he would survive against incredible odds - because only mostly dead isn't all dead.

Whether the reader likes that authorial decision or not is a matter of individual preference, of course.
Knick
130. Maiden of the ButterKnife
@ #129 Wetlander

Hola compadre!

"One, you can't paraphrase something according to your interpretation, and then expect that paraphrase to be accepted as an argument to support your interpretation."

Oh, I never said I /expected/ anything at all to be /accepted/. I'm merely stating my opinions. As well, this isn't some legal document we are talking about, where we delve into the nuances and legislative intent behind every single word. It's a fantasy book, and paraphrasing is fine, especially considering that (for the last three books), many of the decisions made in terms of character and story weren't made by the original author of said story.

Nothing is gospel in the last three books for me. :)

Well, here's my take. At this point in the book, Lan pretty much thought the Light side forces were down and out. He had somehow forgotten the lessons the books showed us he had recently learned about not having to go it on his own, and rode out...alone...against a horde of trollocs in order to try to reach Demandred.

This fact alone, using nothing other than common sense, shows us that he expected to die. Of course, he didn't hope to, but he was resigned to his fate.

And...again...Lan himself said he didn't come to win.
1) If you don't come to win, then you come to lose or draw (Lan clearly didn't come to "tie" Demandred)
a) If you don't beat Demandred and therefore "win", you can't expect to kill him
2) Killing Demandred and surviving the ordeal cannot be thought of as anything other than a "win", thus, it's not something Lan "came here to {do}"

This isn't me using some CRAZY personal interpretation. It's just logic. One man, riding against hundreds, if not thousands, of Trollocs, is certifiably insane, and said man clearly has a death wish. This fits with Lan (other than the lessons he recently learned but apparently forgot).

There is no way he could have reasonably assumed he would even reach Demandred.

Again, he didn't know that the Two Rivers boys would stand there (unmolested by the enemy of course *rolls eyes), and fire flaming arrow after flaming arrow, conveniently having every shot clear a trolloc out of his way, and forming this arrow tunnel to allow him to reach Demandred.

Then, of course, once Lan reaches Dem, and engages him, Lan is able to miraculously dodge...every...single...rock Dem launches at him with the one power, until such time as Lan can "sheathe the (damn) sword".

It was awesome that he used the sheathing the sword technique, and appropos, that he would die to defeat Demandred in my mind (and those of everyone I have personally spoken with in person who read it), but super cheesy and eye-rolling, to me, when not only did Lan live, but:

*stands raising Dem's decapitated head despite nearly being mortally wounded

*isn't immediately cut down by another Dark-side fighter, and somehow escapes from behind enemy lines

The reason Lan survived was become of Team Jordan choice-IMO cheesily written scenes and uber-conveniences- nothing more. There is nothing in the previous writing which would /mandate/ that Lan live. It's all authorial discretion, and again, /to me/, the discretion here led to a poorly-written, ham-handed, overblown, pulpy, super-cheesy, eye-rolling scene.

I take comfort though that this scene was far from alone in its eye-rolling nature in AMOL...for me. :)

Cheers and beers!
Alice Arneson
131. Wetlandernw
Oh, so sorry. I didn't realize you had already determined that no word which might have had Sanderson's touch would ever be acceptable.

It's a pity, really, considering the amount of effort Robert Jordan spent in his final illness, trying to leave as much as he possibly could for someone else to work with. From all accounts, he wrote while he could, left notes when he couldn't write much, and recorded what he was thinking when he couldn't write at all.

Then there's the amount of work his wife and his assistants put into keeping it accurate and true to Jordan's intent, constantly considering whether each little thing fit with what they knew he wanted and what they knew of how he might likely have changed it. They spent countless hours poring through millions of words worth of notes and files, digging out everything they thought would be useful and informative in writing the final volumes.

Of course, you prefer to discount the work Sanderson put into reading what Jordan left on every subject, researching and collaborating with experts in much the same way Jordan had done, and pulling a lot of miscellaneous notes into a cohesive tale. He, too, spend many hours writing and rewriting; not trying to imitate Jordan, but to tell the story in a way that would honor his legacy.

It does seem a pity, that fans who read thousands of pages of Jordan's work would so easily dismiss the work done not only by Jordan himself, but the team who worked so hard to finish the story for all of us. But... that's your choice. It's a free(ish) country.
Bridget McGovern
132. BMcGovern
It seems like this conversation is getting a bit bogged down in a difference of opinion that's probably not going to resolved to anyone's satisfaction. It's clear that these opinions are deeply held, and I appreciate the civility of the arguments expressed, but perhaps it's time to agree to disagree and move on to other areas of discussion...
Knick
133. königr
Concerning Mat and the DO voice: it could have been telepathy again. He could be tuning into Rand now (before, the connection was bad but things have changed enough for that to not be an issue anymore maybe), in which case the nothingness would be the the appropriate substitute for the swirling colors (earlier called black but there is not necessarily a contradiction here); notice that Mat hears Rand before the others.

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