Tue
Mar 4 2014 2:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 51

A Memory of Light Wheel of Time reread Robert Jordan Brandon SandersonHappy Mardi Gras, Tor.com! Have a Wheel of Time Reread to celebrate!

Today’s entry covers Part 16 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which we have a nadir, a sacrifice, and the beginning of the end.

Previous reread entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general. The index for all things specifically related to the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, is here.

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

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

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 16]

What Happens
Leane recovers from the blinding light to see the Sharans and the earth alike covered in crystal; the crystal fills the cracks from which blackness had been oozing. She creeps to the epicenter of the where the light had come from, and sees there a column of crystal wide as a tree and fifty feet high, with Vora’s sa’angreal frozen in its center.

There was no sign of the Amyrlin herself, but Leane knew.

“The Amyrlin Seat has fallen,” a nearby Aes Sedai cried amid the crystallized Sharans. “The Amyrlin Seat has fallen!”

Berelain watches the growing storm outside, wondering whether anyone would come to Heal Galad. She sees that he has a foxhead medallion around his neck.

“…back to Cauthon…” Galad whispered, eyes closed. “…Hope…”

Berelain considers, and then leaves, taking the medallion with her.

Mat is stunned by Arganda’s report of Egwene’s death and the total exhaustion of the surviving Aes Sedai, but forces himself to concentrate on the good news, which is that all the Sharan channelers fighting the Aes Sedai are now dead. He thinks that his own situation is dire, though; he has gathered all remaining forces to him on the Heights, but the Trollocs have broken through on the east and they have been forced to retreat before them and the Sharans almost to the edge of the plateau.

This would be the last push. The end of the battle. With the Sharan channelers gone, Mat would not be wiped out immediately, but Light… there were still so many bloody Trollocs left. Mat had danced this dance well. He knew he had. But there was only so much a man could do. Even Tuon’s return might not be enough, if it came.

Mat tells Lan to get ready for the next wave and to check with Mayene for hopefully returning Healed soldiers, and then pulls out Rand’s banner with the ancient sign of the Aes Sedai. Dannil hoists it up, and Mat entreats his luck to kick in already. Then Arganda returns to report that the Queen of Andor is dead, along with Bashere and his wife and six Aiel clan chiefs, leaving the troops at the riverbend leaderless.

“This is the end!” Demandred’s augmented voice washed across Mat from the other end of the plateau. “Lews Therin has abandoned you! Cry out to him as you die. Let him feel your pain.”

Mat sends for the Aes Sedai, exhausted or not. Naeff and Neald arrive via gateway to report that “it is done” and Tuon found the spy and is waiting for his signal to return. Mat tells Naeff to send for her. Then he tells Neald to go to Talmanes and have him “move forward with the plan”.

“Will it be enough?” Arganda asked.

“No,” Mat said.

“Then why?”

“Because I’ll be a Darkfriend before I’ll let this battle go without trying everything, Arganda.”

Demandred continues to call for Lews Therin, and Mat growls that he is getting very tired of him. He asks where Lan is, as the Trollocs prepare to attack, but then sees a lone horseman on a black stallion charging past the Trolloc line, toward Demandred’s position.

Lan had gone to fight a war on his own.

Trollocs dig in the soil, trying to pry Olver free of his hiding place. Olver shakes and cries, and can’t move.

Weary beyond belief, Loial thinks that for all he left the stedding to experience new things, war is one experience he could have done without. He takes comfort in comforting Erith beside him, as bloodstained and exhausted as he, and pretends that he will survive to write this story down later. Then he sees Lan’s solo charge toward the enemy. He stands and tells Erith he must go.

“Go?”

“I need to witness this,” Loial said. The fall of the last king of the Malkieri. He would need to include it in his book.

Tam sees Lan’s charge as well, and realizes he is going for Demandred, but there is a host of Trollocs in the way. He shouts for fire arrows. A mercenary laughs that at a hundred paces they’ll probably only shoot Lan, and Tam ignores him.

“First rank, on my signal!” Tam yelled, ignoring the other orders that came down the line.

“Let’s give Lord Mandragoran a little something to guide his way!”

Tam drew in a fluid motion, the burning rag warming his fingers, and loosed.

Lan charges, the medallion Berelain had given him to give Cauthon around his own neck instead.

Some men would call it brash, foolhardy, suicidal. The world was rarely changed by men who were unwilling to try being at least one of the three.

He charges the line of Trollocs, knowing it won’t work, but out of nowhere a hail of flaming arrows comes down before him, breaking up the line, and Lan crashes through the opening, sending a mental thank you to Tam, and continues on to where Demandred stands. Lan plows through the Sharans between him and the Forsaken and jumps down, rushing to the attack on foot. Demandred is contemptuous up until Lan wounds him within the first three strokes.

Demandred felt at the wound in his cheek, and his eyes opened wider. “Who are you?” Demandred asked.

“I am the man who will kill you.”

Min rides a torm toward the gateway leading back to Merrilor and a last desperate stand, and feels Rand trembling, far to the north.

The Pattern spun around Rand, forcing him to watch. He looked through eyes streaming with tears. He saw the people struggle. He saw them fall. He saw Elayne, captive and alone, a Dreadlord preparing to rip their children from her womb. He saw Rhuarc, his mind forfeit, now a pawn of one of the Forsaken.

He saw Mat, desperate, facing down horrible odds.

He saw Lan riding to his death.

Demandred’s words dug at him. The Dark One’s pressure continued to tear at him.

Rand had failed.

But in the back of his mind, a voice. Frail, almost forgotten.

Let go.

Lan fights, holding nothing back, not daring to let his opponent think enough to use indirect effects of the Power against him.

“You are… good…” Demandred said with a grunt, falling back before Wind and Rain, a line of blood dripping from his chin. Lan’s sword flashed in the air, reflecting the red light of a bonfire nearby.

Demandred gains enough ground to fling rocks at him, but Lan uses the man’s tells to dodge them. Demandred says no mortal could have such skill, and wonders aloud whether he is Asmodean, or Lews Therin in disguise. Lan replies that he is just a man. Lan knows that Demandred is in fact the better swordsman, and is relatively fresh where Lan is exhausted. Demandred presses his advantage, abandoning attempts at channeling for pure swordplay, delivering Lan several wounds.

I’ve only time for one last lesson…

“I have you,” Demandred finally growled, breathing heavily. “Whoever you are, I have you. You cannot win.”

“You didn’t listen to me,” Lan whispered.

One last lesson. The hardest…

Demandred struck, and Lan saw his opening. Lan lunged forward, placing Demandred’s sword point against his own side and ramming himself forward onto it.

“I did not come here to win,” Lan whispered, smiling. “I came here to kill you. Death is lighter than a feather.”

Demandred’s eyes opened wide, and he tried to pull back. Too late. Lan’s sword took him straight through the throat.

The world grew dark as Lan slipped backward off the sword. He felt Nynaeve’s fear and pain as he did, and he sent his love to her.

Commentary
Okay, before I say anything else: holy crap, you guys, I finished Chapter 37.

Hot damn. Only took four months’ worth of posts!

(!!!)

So, whatever other issues I may have had with AMOL in general and The Chapter of (Literal) DOOOOOM in particular, one thing I totally and utterly did not have a problem with was how it ended.

There’s probably a more eloquent and dignified (and coherent) way to convey how I feel about Lan’s duel with Demandred than jumping around going Whoo! Yeah! Whoo! Yeah!,but at the moment I really couldn’t care less about coming up with one, because Whoo! Yeah! Whoo! Yeah!

As Crowning Moments of Awesome go (don’t click that), I rather feel that this one might be one of the textbook examples of the phenomenon.

Because seriously, there was literally nothing about it that was not awesome. From the crazy/suicidal charge, to the Tam rally/rescue from said crazy charge, to the hilariously perfect badass entrance (swish swish flick, yeah I just cut you in three moves, Mr. Forsaken, SUCK IT), to the deliciousness of Lan being able to do what the supposed finest swordsmen in the land AND a world-class channeler couldn’t do (because he’s “just a man”, a one-man war against the Shadow, because he is Aan’allein, which is Old Tongue for “HE’S THE MAN” and you can’t convince me otherwise, yo), to the wonderfully apropos callback to that so-long-ago sword lesson in TGH, where Lan taught Rand the ultimate undefeatable final strike and ultimate sacrifice all in one: if there’s no other way to win, then take your enemy with you.

Just, ugh. It was so perfect I basically don’t even know what to do with it except kind of flail at it forever and make incoherent noises of ZOMG ILU.

At this point, on first reading, I honestly almost wasn’t concerned with whether Lan had survived or not; in fact, I’m pretty sure I assumed he was dead, but I wasn’t even all that upset about it, because what a insanely perfect way for him to go, you know? If nothing else, to be the only non-channeler to ever take down a Forsaken single-handedly is enough badassery for fifty people, and the most completely fitting legacy for Lan I could think of off the top of my head. If you’ve got to go, that is the way to do it.

Yeah, that was kickass. *happy sigh*

As for everything else, I was initially a bit bemused that the chapter entitled “The Last Battle” ended before the actual battle did. But in retrospect it’s clear that the intent was to have the chapter bring it all to its utter nadir, where everything was most desperate and dire for the Good Guys, and then break right as it began to turn around, and that makes sense to me.

Because there can’t possibly be a bigger break than getting rid of Demandred, who not only was the WMD of the Shadow at the battle, but his death will utterly demoralize the Sharans to boot. So Lan also provided the turning point for the entire physical battle (if not the metaphorical one, since that’s all Rand), just in case he needed any more awesomeness points on his resume.

Rand, on the other hand, is not doing so hot with his own battle, but the last line of his last POV in this chapter is a pretty strong indicator that that’s about to turn around too. The link between the success (or failure) of Rand’s battle and that of the physical one is not so explicitly defined as it was in TGH at Falme, but I have to assume that the same idea applies in both cases. It would certainly make sense to do it that way, in any case.

Also, thanks, Rand, for the reminder about Rhuarc, which makes me all sad and furious about what happened to him all over again. Grr.

Also also: Egwene. Sigh.

I can’t remember if anything is said in the aftermath about what happened to the crystal spire that marked Egwene’s own version of a Final Strike (in its way just as badass as Lan’s, and that’s a fact), but I would hope that it would become a monument to her, and preserved for as long as magically-created anti-balefire crystals last. Forever, probably. (Hopefully.)

And… well. Everything else here is set-up for what comes next, so while I feel bad that I don’t have more to say about it for now, I… don’t have more to say about it for now, really, so I’m going to stop here.


FOR NOW. Happy Fat Tuesday, and see you next week!

74 comments
Faculty Guy
1. Faculty Guy
HOLY CRAP is right! I had counted the POVs remaining in the chapter and was hoping you could/would do it in two more installments. But ONE! I'm impressed.

Now to actually read your post.
Faculty Guy
2. Fuzzy_Dunlop
al'Lan Mandragoran!

Nothing more needs to be said... ever
Ron Garrison
3. Man-0-Manetheran
I absolutely LOVED the way Brandon wrote this last part of the chapter. Masterful. He managed to give us a quick recap of nearly every major character and what was happening with them at the moment. He then strengthened us in-the-moment by having Mat, Tam, Loial, Rand, the Two Rivers archers all seeing Lan charging toward Demandred, the archers creating a path of fire to carry him forward. The masterful swordplay and the final sacrifice. It just couldn't have been done any better. And, I too, did not feel sad at Lan's death. It was just the perfect Lan. Yeah, I cried. I cried "Tears for the Hero."
Faculty Guy
4. Kat. W
I cried the first time I read this part, cus I thought Lan was dead, and just no. Like I couldn't even.

Ugh. But the badassery involved was of course epic and fitting. Still. I cried. Yeah.
Faculty Guy
6. Eyeless621
Perhaps I'm remembering wrong, but Egwene's shockwave only killed the Sharan channelers, and everyone on her side was just fine, and somehow she just knew that her people would be ok? Correct me if I'm wrong on that... but I remember not reacting at all to Egwene's death because I was trying to figure out why it would make sense that only the bad guys died, and how she would "just know" that. It's been so long since I read that part that I feel like I have to be remembering the details wrong even though I remember how I felt after reading it, because none of that makes sense to me. If I'm right, then it feels a little too convenient for me.

Lan of course is awesome, and I really liked how he ended up killing Demandred. And I liked how Tam stepped up with the archers to clear a path... that whole scene was perfect.
Roger Powell
5. forkroot
OK - so after disclaiming that there could never really be a WOT movie that would do the story justice ... If a movie is made, then the scene I want to see most is Lan charging through the Trollocs with the flaming arrows clearing the way. It would be breathtaking. In the meantime, the one in my mind is so good I linger over it like a fine chocolate.

Leigh - I must stop now and pick a nit ... Lan isn't the first non-channeler to take down a Forsaken, That honor belongs to Someshta (the Green Man) who took out Balthamel in TEoTW.

None of which changes the fact that Lan is, was and always will be the very definition of "bad ass"!
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
Even reading this SUMMARY gave me chills. Maybe even more than it did when I first read it...in some ways I read it way too fast.

You know what just occurred to me? I don't think this occurred to me (at least not in the visceral way it just occurred to me now) - that when Rand is seeing Elyane threatened by Mellar, it's not just his wife being threatened, it's HIS children that are about to be ripped from her.

I remember being so pumped about Lan's duel. In fact, it bugged me just a bit that he ended up suriving it because it seems like this chapter went for a powerful emotional punch, and then renegs on it. BUT, since Nyneave is one of my all time favorite characters, I'm glad for her sake.

The short scene with Olver and the Trollocs was actually one of the most intense for me - I was reading this book while on maternity leave with my younger son and I kept imagining my little boys in that kind of danger, or thinking about what would happen if something happened to me and my husband.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
8. Lisamarie
PS - Happy Mardi Gras!

Although, since you live in the area, is it fun for you, or just an annoying tourist thing? I would really love to visit New Orleans, but I actually don't think I'd want to come for Mardi Gras. Not a big crowd person.
Andrew Berenson
9. AndrewHB
I would love to see the scene where Lan charges through the Trolloc lines while the flaming arrows kill the Trollocs as Lan rides up the hill.

(Apparently, I am not the only one who would like to see this scene on the big/small screen. See Forkroot @5)

Leigh, earlier in the re-read, you told us which scene you most wanted to see in a movie/TV (Unfortunately, I cannot recall which scene it actually was). Now that this scene exists (or any other scene from the last 3 books), do you have a new scene that you would most like to see in a movie/TV?

Lan's "I am just a man -- nothing more" {this is a paraphrase, not a direct quote} is one of my favorite lines in the series. It is right up there with Birgitte's line about mounting the gallows and Mat's quote about honor for the swords when he fights the gholam in ToM.

In my opinion, this quote personifies Lan to a "T".

As an aside, why would Demandred have ever thought the Lan was Asmodean in disguise. I understand that he thought that non non-Age of Legender should have that much sword skill. Yet, I thought that Asmodean was not all that with the sword. If I were in Demandred's shoes, I might have wanted to believe that Lan was somebody in disguise. However, I would never have thought my oponent was Asmodean in disguise.

Leigh, you statement above regarding Lan is incorrect. He is not the only non-channeler to kill a Foresaken. Someshta (aka the Green Man) killed Balthamel in TEotW. Granted Someshta is not human, but he is also not a channeler.

(Once again, forkroot @5 beats me to the point)

Also, the field of crystal cannot be a lasting monument to Egwene. Later on the entire Plateau plunged into the ground -- presumably under the weight of the crystals and all other destruction wrought over its grounds.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Faculty Guy
10. GeorgeVictor
I don't understand why some posters go on and on about words such as "pants" or "lava". If we go back a few books Leigh addressed this subject. The people on Randland do not speak English. Just like the Odyssey you are reading a translation. In my fantasy mind these manuscripts were written by a committee of Aes Sedai and Wise Women who wanted to write the history of when and how the youngest Amyrlim became the Flame of Tar Valon. They sat around a table in the White Tower and read old scripts and dairies to piece everything together. Robert and Brandon are translatiog those manuscripts into English.
Amey Chinchorkar
11. ameyc
@5 and @9 - Yes, please. Any "brash, foolhardy, suicidal" charges always make for a great visual. And adding flaming arrows to it, visual paradise!

And if we could get "Dance with Jak o' the Shadows" as the background music to that scene (or is that too lighthearted for Lan?), my decade is made.
Faculty Guy
12. neverspeakawordagain
I've been a bit obsessive throughout my life with the Wheel of Time, re-reading the series before every new book came out, re-reading the series at least four separate times between Knife of Dreams and The Gathering Storm, re-reading twice before A Memory of Light came out and then re-reading the series again over the past few months -- all told, I've probably read the first few books at least 25 times on my various re-reads -- but I can honestly say that Lan's fight with Demandred is, indisputably, my single favorite scene in the entire series.

Um, except for one part. Lan traps Demandred's sword in his own body, and then:

“I did not come here to win,” Lan whispered, smiling. “I came here to kill you. Death is lighter than a feather.”

Before striking. during which time Demandred would have withdrawn his sword and decapitated Lan while he was still getting his quip out. If Lan had said that after killing Demandred, or before sheathing the sword, fine, just part of the duel. But the time between sheathing the sword and killing Demandred should have been an eyeblink, and throwing in all that talking just sort of removed me from the moment.
Faculty Guy
13. RohanV
I'm somewhat surprised at the reaction to Lan's move compared to Gwayne's. Everyone considered Gwayne a fool because his death damages Egwene through the warder bond. But Lan's death would damage Nynaeve, and she is supporting Rand himself at the "real" Last Battle. Kicking out one of Rand's (two) supports seems much worse than losing Egwene.

The only difference between Lan and Gwayne is that Lan was successful at killing Demandred, and that is entirely authorial choice.
Deana Whitney
14. Braid_Tug
At this point on my first read, it was around midnight, and my eyes were stinging with tears. But they end I think an entire box of tissues were gone.
Tam's "escort" of arrows and Loial’s “witness” had me making happy noises.

Lan's last words thoughts just made me cry out "No!!! He can't be dead!!!"

But, Thank you Leigh! For getting it done, and even getting it posted on Mardi Gras.
More thoughts later. Between work and trying to read WoR, I’m not giving the end of this chapter the attention it deserves.
Faculty Guy
15. Insomnia333
@13 In a word...timing. Gawyn's charge happened during an earlier part of the battle where, while things weren't going great they weren't on the edge of defeat either. The battle was still going to be going on for some time, so affecting the leader of one of the most important factions with your death was definately a bonehead move.

Lan's charge came when both sides were lining up for a final charge with the lightside pretty much knowing they were done for. Him failing wouldn't have affected things very much as far as the battle was concerned.

You could also argue intent. Both Galad and Gawyn were both trying to survive their encounter with Demandred. Lan on the other hand knew this was a one way trip. He was going down, but he was taking that a-hole with him.
Faculty Guy
16. TBGH
@13 Hear hear

I've contended that Gawyn has been judged way too harshly for several books and it's comforting to hear someone else that shares that view.

@15 C'mon, affecting the Amyrlin in the early stages of the physical last battle is more critical than affecting someone involved in directly confronting the Dark One?

Gawyn and Galad were also fighting alone surrounded by Sharans. I don't think either expected to survive after killing Demandred. They didn't have the plan that Lan concocted which is why he's awesome. But they were just as willing to sacrifice and had just as much a view on the big picture.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
17. Lisamarie
I think at least part of the frustration is that, being in Gawyn's head, some of his motives are still more about himself and his own insecurities. Not that I can't understand that but...Lan just doesn't have that ego here.

In terms of practical effect on their bonded Aes Sedai, that doesn't really make a difference. But I think that's why, in general, Gawyn doesn't get the same love.
lake sidey
18. lakesidey
Lan *sigh* he gets all the best lines. Ever since "I will hate the man you choose because he is not me, and love him if he makes you smile", Lan has pretty much been my favourite character in WoT. And while I got irritated with almost everyone else at some point or other, he just kept getting better with age.

He is indeed"the One" as they say in the Matrix Aiel waste.

~lakesidey
Faculty Guy
19. IrsihJake
I was at the gym on the elliptical reading this scene for the first time. I was crying, full tears, while pumping my fist in the air and yelling smack talk at Demandred. All in full view of at least a dozen other people at my gym. Not one of my finest personal moments, but a great one in the series. Lan is just such a ridiculous bad ass. A great way to end such a long painful chapter
Faculty Guy
20. Wes S.
I'd call it two back-to-back Crowning Moments of Awesome, actually.

IIRC, it was the sacrifice of both Lan and Egwene that turned the tide for the Light. It was the eqivalent of a boxer's one-two punch: Egwene's destruction of most of the Dark's channelers as a byproduct of her duel with Taim was a brutal body blow to the Shadow, followed immediately by Lan literally cutting the head off the serpent by killing Demandred. (Although the actual decapitation doesn't happen until the next chapter, but nevermind.)

Arguably the Shadow could have survived one or the other - given the precarious state of the Light's forces at this point - but not both of them together. At the very least the fight would have been even more of a near-run thing than it already was.

Not to mention that what Lan and Egwene both did gave not only the Light's armies, but Rand himself, a rallying point when they most desperately needed one.

So well done, guys. I'm still not sure whether Lan was actually dead at this point or just "mostly dead," Princess Bride-style - he sure looked like a goner to me right before Rand used his new Godlike Big Voice to tell the world "That man still fights!" - but I guess that's a topic for next week...?
Eric Hughes
21. CireNaes
neverspeakawordagain@12
Before striking. during which time Demandred would have withdrawn his sword and decapitated Lan while he was still getting his quip out. If Lan had said that after killing Demandred, or before sheathing the sword, fine, just part of the duel. But the time between sheathing the sword and killing Demandred should have been an eyeblink, and throwing in all that talking just sort of removed me from the moment.
I agree that the line should have been delivered after Lan's blade had gone through Demandred's throat. Film wise we could see Demandred's eyes widen and hear him gurgling as blood fills his lungs while Lan explains his methdology. Then they both fall to the ground as Lan's strength gives out. Or something like that. Ah well, that's the way the authorial cookie crumbled. Still a great sequence.
Faculty Guy
22. mrivers
I thought it was fitting that this monster of a chapter began and ended with the man, Lan.
Andrew Berenson
23. AndrewHB
RohanV @13. Another difference. I do not think it is clear if Lan knew how signficant a role that Nynaeve was playing in Rand's fight with the Dark One. I think at best, Lan may have known that it was Nynaeve's intent to accompany Rand to the Pit of Doom. However, I do not think that Lan had any clue that Nynaeve (and Moiraine) were linked to Rand while he fought the Dark One.

If Lan knew the how this, then Lan's actions were as reckless as Gawyn's actions.

As an aside, do we know whether Nynaeve would have felt the effects of the death of her Warder while she was linked to Rand -- assuming for a moment that Lan had actually died.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
So so awesome. Lan IS THE MAN. The ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate victory.

Happy Fat Tuesday, y'all.
Sydo Zandstra
25. Fiddler
AndrewHB @9:

As an aside, why would Demandred have ever thought the Lan was Asmodean in disguise. I understand that he thought that non non-Age of Legender should have that much sword skill. Yet, I thought that Asmodean was not all that with the sword. If I were in Demandred's shoes, I might have wanted to believe that Lan was somebody in disguise. However, I would never have thought my oponent was Asmodean in disguise.

Maybe an intended pun by Brandon to the longtime readership with all the theories about who Demandred was and who killed Asmodean over the decades.

I'm not saying it is a good one if so.
Deana Whitney
26. Braid_Tug
Oh, while everyone is here and checking the links.

Tomorrow there will be a new JordanCon IV and Re-Read T-shirt designs up at the Zazzle Braid_Tug store. (Committee, double check your emails).
Will post link once they are ready.

Thank You!

And as @22, it was great that Lan, who had been fighting the Shadow longer than any of the main POV characters had been alive, delivered the first and last punch of the chapter.
Valentin M
27. ValMar
forkroot @ 5, AndrewHB @ 9, Leigh

Not really to nitpick but to add- Moiraine, whilst a channeler, is the first human (i.e. not a shrub) to take out a Forsaken without using the Power or any weapon: when she rugby tackled Lanfear in Cairhien :)

Lan's scene with Demandred was awesome, despite the cornily mistimed punchline. This whole section was brilliant.

And lastly, Leigh, four months to finish a single chapter! Jeez, you've got the productivity of a Polish dock worker... Common woman, while we are young! ;)
Faculty Guy
28. Aqualung
I loved the way this Chapter ended and it honestly would have been the perfect death for Lan. I actually think it was a huge mistake bringing him back after this, it cheapened his sacrifice in my eyes and the emotional impact, especially on re-reads. I also feel that, despite the death of Egwene, not enough prime-time players died for the Forces of Light to really cause a lasting emotional impact. War is bloody for all sides and even the winners should have meaningful losses. One of the Supergirls fell and I personally believed that an equally prominent, well loved male character needed to die as well. If the Big three were untouchable, then one of either Lan, Thom or Tam needed to die for some semblance of honest loss. Had Lan have actually died here it would have been perfect.
Erdrick Farseer
29. Erdrick
neverspeakawordagain @12: Exactly! That one part reminded me of comic book fight scene dialogue, where they're either fighting in super slow motion, or speaking too fast to be understood by normal humans.

CireNaes @21: That's a good fix. I imagine it in three parts now; the "I did not come here to win" just before Demandred's final attack, the "I came here to kill you" an instant later when Demandred is choking on his own blood, and the "Death is lighter than a feather" as we fade to black.
Erik
30. gadget
I guess I'm out of place, but despite Lan being one of my favorite characters and a total rock, I found it a bit over the top. Especially the whole fire arrows clearing the way bit. I think it was a combination of that, plus the previous Demendred encounters in the battle that did it for me; it just gave the comical impression of half the Army lining up to take on D in one big line with D crying out "Next!" every few minutes.

Strangely, I don't feel that way about Egwene's final scene, which had more emotional impact with me. To answer a question about this from above, I got the impression that most of the AS had retreated from Egwene's position before her final blast, so they were not in the blast zone, in addition to being less vulnerable to the weave than those serving the shadow. After the blast, they moved in to investigate and found the results.
Faculty Guy
31. Crusader75
As I see it, Lan impaling himself on Demandred's sword, speaking his line, and then killing Demandred happens a lot faster and smoother than it takes to read. A lot of what makes it seem slow and choppy was the description of Lan working himself into the mental state to take the pain and Demandred realizing Lan may be mortally wounded but is not incapacited while his own sword is trapped in Lan's body. Also, because of the selfishness inherent in a Forsaken's personality, I think Demandred may be confused that someone would deliberately self-sacrifice this way as a tactic. So, I don't have much issue with the flow of this scene. However, while I realize Rand used that technique earlier in the series, in Lan's case that may be the longest realtime for a Chekhov's Gun to be hanging out unused in a story. So, Egwene's grave, as it were, is surrounded by many Sharans encased in crystal for a very long time. That's going to be a rather macabre sight for future generations.
Faculty Guy
32. KingofFlames
Of all the people to confront Demandred, Gawyn is the only one to actually have a good plan, and yet he gets all the abuse. Galad, Logain, and Lan all attack directly with very imperfect protection and the only possible way they can even get to Demandred without being pulverised is because the author wants them to.

. Gawyn actually had a damn good plan (use his magical shadow field to kill Demandred before he knows he's there), and it only fails because he's incredibly unlucky that his ter' angreal is powered by saidin and Demandred could detect it, something which he had absolutely no way of knowing about beforehand.

He is bonded to Egwene, yes, but Lan is bonded to Nynaeve.

Worst case scenario, Egwene is incapacitated, the light loses a leader. An important leader, yes, but a replaceable person. She could easily have passed his bond to Silviana, and she was actually able to fight on in spite of it. His timing was better than Lan's, as in the early stages, Egwene had time to be sad, recover, and fight on. Losing the last battle on the field is far less important than what happens at Shayol Ghul.

For Lan, if he dies, the world goes boom. Worst case, Gawyn risks losing the battle. His timing was actually better than Lan's insofar as in the early stages of the battle, Egwene had an opportunity to recover and continue fighting. Worst case Lan risks all of existence, and yet Gawyn gets the abuse. I'm sorry, folks, that is not justified.

Lan is rather unlikely not to know Nynaeve is pivotal at Shayol Ghul. He knows she's an epic level channeler who was Rand's go to gal for linking during the cleansing, and he knows that the greatest use of the power is always both sides working together. He may well have known about her intended role -Rand didn't know everything when he left, but he's known for a long time he would need saidar at Shayol Ghul.
Faculty Guy
33. Andyc
I was a bit bummed that Mat didn't get to defeat Demandred on the battle field. I really wanted to see Demandred's reaction as a general when Matt orchestrated his turnaround out in the next couple of chapters with the Seanchan, re-appearance of the Dragons, and the sounding of the Horn. I wanted him to know that he had been out-generalled, and I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that Mat had out-played him on the battlefield. The way it is written, it is a bit unsatisfying that the victory at Merrilor turns on the death of the enemy general.

In general, I guess, the story line of the arrogant bad guy having his minions stand in a circle while he duels a challenger was kind of a bummer, particularly when it happened 3 different times. When I first read this, I defintely had the thought, "Really, after reading that whole chapter, the good guys win by killing the enemy general?"

Even with that, Lan's moment is awesome.
Faculty Guy
34. scm of 2814
I now have this bizarre image of Egwene's spirit singing "Let (It) Go" to Rand...

Elsanna forever!
Heidi Byrd
35. sweetlilflower
Teared up again reading the recap. I'm guessing there are not going to be a lot of comments today since WoR was just released today.
Faculty Guy
36. alreadymadwithLan
AndrewHB @9
Yes. This is where we find that Asmodean was a badass swordsman after all. Why didn't he tell or teach Rand? Why the hell should he?
That wasn't his purpose for being there. And Rand already had competent teachers for that.

RohanV @13
Except Nynaeve wasn't really doing much beyond supplying Power through a Circle, which can be done regardless of mental/emotional state. Whereas Egwene had an army to manage and a battle to fight.

ValMar @27
We find out later that Lanfear did not actually die at that point. Though her ability to effect events had been curtailed.

On the last line..

Let go Luke Rand.
Faculty Guy
37. tormz
What I always found really nice about Lan's defeat over Demandred was how it brings the whole sheathing the sword full circle. It was the last lesson Lan taught to Rand way 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. "

To think that not only was it foreshadowing to Rand's battle at Falme but to also this moment 12 books later is pretty cool.
Terry McNamee
38. macster
And we get at the start of this section the fulfillment of Egwene's Dream about the crystal just before the meeting at Merrilor, which Leign wondered about. It is indeed a shame it didn't get to survive as a monument, but then with how battered and fragile the Heights had become thanks to all the balefire it makes sense it couldn't stay together. And the later destruction made Logain's sacrifice to do the right thing more meaningful, and got rid of the temptaton of Sakarnen.

Also something I forgot to mention last week: remember how Min saw a white flame around Egwene way back in TEotW? And we all thought it just meant the White Tower? How much you want to bet it actually called forward to this moment and her Flame weave?

I don't know about anyone else, but I was quite surprised Berelain of all people turned out to be crucial in helping save the day by getting the medallion back to Mat and Lan. Nice bit of subtlety, having Mat wonder about Healed men from Mayene, and Lan going to check for him, to explain how he suddenly has the medallion in his next scene.

The fact Demandred was calling out to everyone to die so Rand could feel their pain makes me wonder just how much the Dark One had passed on through Moridin...since that's exactly what Rand is going through right now, courtesy of the Dark One's visions. I also have to laugh at Mat thinking what we all were about Demandred: "Somebody kill him and shut him up already!"

I have to say I admit to being rather ashamed I didn't guess where things were going with Olver. There really was no other reason to keep showing him than to have him suddenly blow the Horn, but I must have still been deluded by Jordan's clever misdirection about Mat's death and his link to the Horn. Or maybe I thought in the upcoming battle Mat or somebody could still come upon Olver and rescue him.

I had to be amused, if in a bitter gallows way, that Loial was the one who was to witness "the fall of the last king of the Malkieri", since that line seems to parallel to me Treebeard's line about "the last march of the Ents"...and the Ogier are the WOT equivalent of the Ents. I also remember being rather worried for poor Erith, and very much afraid Loial was going to die too. (If that had happened, I'd have cried as much as I would have for Perrin if he'd died.)

And people are still deriding the amazing skills of Two Rivers bowmen. But I guess in his defense, he's just a mercenary so would have no way of knowing, and the things they can do are as seemingly impossible in-universe as out.

Detail of note: in Min's tiny POV, as she is riding toward the battlefield, she sees "bonfires and torches shone in the distance, fireflies illuminating scenes of valor and determination. She watched the lights flicker, the last embers of a fire that would soon be extinguished." This is not only a sadly beautiful literal fulfillment of her vision of fireflies in the darkness around Rand and the others from way back in TEotW, it makes it come true in an even more meaningful way--it turns out it isn't just Rand and the others from the Two Rivers, or Thom, or Lan and Moiraine, it's ALL the forces of the Light coming together to fight the Shadow. Which as we're about to see when Rand completely tears down the Dark One with his Reason You Suck Speech is exactly why the good guys can win--because they won't ever give up, and because when the chips are done they finally can unite and fight as one. Awesome.

And of course the most badass awesomeness of all is Lan. I have to give a shout-out to Mandarb rearing and kicking the Sharan lines apart so his master could get to Demandred--between this and Bela it seems someone wanted to show how even the horses of Randland are great heroes. Now all we need is Aldieb to round it off. But then she was never described as much of a fighter. I also love how Lan starts off thinking to himself that he's doing exactly what he told Rand not to do. It not only makes us worry about whether he'll suffer the fate everyone else who's gone up against Demandred has, it shows how desperate and dire things are. And in the end it shows that sometimes, breaking the rules or doing things differently than they are taught in the books is an effective way to win.

I know a lot of people were annoyed with the number of people lining up to try and take Demandred out. And I admit I would have been quite happy with any of the previous combatants winning--Gawyn to redeem himself; Galad because of the dream of him wrapping himself in his own shroud and because it would be truly noble and heroic, showing he really could do the right thing (not to mention a Whitecloak doing it!); Logain because of his prophesied glory. On the other hand Gawyn's failure and what it does to Egwene is almost inevitable due to the mythological parallel to Sir Gawain at Camlaan, while what Logain's glory turns out to be is in my opinion just as awesome, emotional, and powerful, albeit of a quieter nature--not the glory of battle, but the glory of redemption, kindness, and morality.

And in the end, it really does make sense the medallion would help the greatest swordsman most, and the fact Lan had been fighting the Shadow for so long, that he has more reason for vengeance than most because of the fall of Malkier, makes his victory here sweeter and all the more fitting. I especially adored his line about coming to kill him rather than to win, and of course the call back to Sheathing the Sword was perfect.

Part of me agrees he should have actually died to make it a true sacrifice and show the Light losing a major male figure to go along with Egwene (and in fact I'm not even sure how he survived other than his sheer willpower and determination--Rand didn't yet have the power to make things happen just by willing them). I actually thought, despite the timing not working, that him getting up again was because the Horn had summoned him. But her great strength aside, I'm not sure Nynaeve could have survived his death--which is why, despite the foolish danger of Lan's charge which so many others have pointed out, they didn't kill him off. That and the readers would have rioted. And, well, if one of the others had killed Demandred, that wouldn't have left Lan much to do.

In the end I can only say I thought the fight was still badass and awesome, incredibly cathartic...and that him getting to live not only allows for the return of Malkier, but it provides him with happiness and a reward he never had or dreamed of, something the readers would surely want him to have. And having "just a man/One Man" defeat the greatest of the remaining Forsaken (and second only to Rand and Moridin in Power) was a delicious irony indeed. His death would have been acceptable as "what a way to go", but I'm happy he got to live.

While more subtle, I'd actually suggest the link between Rand and the battle actually is there. It becomes more apparent a little later when his voice is heard on the battlefield at the same time Lan rises again and the Horn is sounded, but the beginning of the link is forged here, or at least made more prominent.

@6 Eyeless: Actually it makes perfect sense to me that Egwene, as in tune with the Pattern and the Power as she was when she created the Flame of Tar Valon, would be able to understand and intuit what it could do. Also keep in mind the weave was meant to counter balefire, something that destroys the Pattern (the work of the Creator, who is good) in such a way that it causes terrible darkness to ooze out and everything to fall into chaos and dissolution. It makes sense that the opposite weave, if it could undo the evil of balefire and the encroaching Shadow it enabled by letting more of the Dark One's touch into the Pattern, would also have such an effect on any who were made of evil (Shadowspawn) or had totally given themselves to the Shadow (the Forsaken). Not so sure why that applies to the Sharans, unless it was because they had sworn to Demandred... Anyway, remember that not long before Egwene's final attack on Taim, he had wiped out a huge amount of Aes Sedai with balefire, bringing back the Sharans they'd killed. So there weren't any Aes Sedai nearby to be blasted and turned to crystal even if they weren't as vulnerable to it as Taim and the Sharans were (note Egwene thought it would have "much less effect", not no effect). Also, right before she destroyed Taim, Leilwin told her "the Aes Sedai have broken" implying any who were left had retreated (like Leane).

@9 AndrewHB: The mention of Asmodean is not as random an insertion as it seems. Way back in LoC when we first met Demandred, he didn't know where Asmodean was or that he had died, a piece of evidence always cited to prove he didn't kill him. Having Demandred reference him now just proves that, like Rand, he still doesn't know Asmodean is dead--which I find utterly hilarious, that even in the lead-up to the Last Battle Moridin and the Dark One didn't bother telling their top general everything. (Though his being so weak in the Power wouldn't have made much of a threat, so they probably figured, like Jordan himself did, that his death was only a footnote. And if not knowing he was dead still kept Demandred on his toes, so much the better.) But there's also an in-story reason why he would think of Asmodean. Not only is Demandred desperate at this point (and we know he's become completely unhinged), but as you yourself noted, he'd be likely to think Lan was someone in disguise, someone from his time period since of course no Third Ager could possibly defeat him. But at this point, other than Lews Therin, there's no one else left--the only male Forsaken still alive from the Second Age is Moridin, and he's obviously elsewhere, so short of Lews Therin Asmodean is the only one he could have thought of. And note he does immediately dismiss him as a possibility because "he couldn't have fought me like this".

@12 neverspeakaword: There's a trope for this, it's called Talking is a Free Action. Obviously its use here broke your willing suspension of disbelief, and it could have been written more smoothly and believably, but the fact the trope exists at all shows there is, sadly, precedence.

@19 IrishJake: I cheered myself. It was only slightly less embarrassing for me, since I was in the hospital at the time.

@20 Wes S. You're absolutely right, both were indeed necessary. Notice the balance elements to--a man and a woman, a channeler and a non-channeler, a mage and a fighter. There's even the fact they both came from lands that the Shadow had destroyed or tried to destroy (Malkier/Manetheren), and while one came from the land of the main heroes, the other was one of those who came into said land to find and save them. Lots of wonderful plot parallels here.

@30 gadget: You're absolutely right about the Aes Sedai.

@31 Crusader: Demandred believed a great swordsman had to become his sword. He didn't follow this logic through to the conclusion that sometimes the only way to win is to sacrifice your weapon--which in this case would include yourself.

@32 KingOfFlames: You make many good points but you missed one important thing Insomnia mentioned above--at this point everyone (both Rand and the Light's forces on the field) believes they are going to lose and die. If that is the case, it doesn't matter what Lan's death might do to Nynaeve because they're all about to die anyway. And if he succeeded in killing Demandred, that morale booster would be enough to rally both the armies and Rand, while Nynaeve herself is incredibly strong and Lan knows this. Not to mention she'd already been given a vision by Min of herself bent weeping over someone's corpse, so she had to have known the possibility was there and had steeled herself against it (she'd have done that since she sent him on his journey across the Borderlands, actually). Egwene, despite Gawyn's history of foolhardy thoughts and actions and her own Dreams, hadn't prepared herself for the possibility he might die.

@33 Andyc: I admit Demandred getting to find out just how Mat had outmaneuvered him and won the battle would have been delicious, not to mention just plain seeing more of Mat fighting an awesome one-on-one battle. (His fight with the gholam was great but too short, and we never got to see the Couladin battle.) But getting defeated by another 'normal' fighter, and this one aided only by the medallion rather than Pattern-enhanced luck, was still pretty ignominious for him. Also of course while killing Demandred was critical to victory, this is neither the end of the battle nor even how they win--there's the death of Taim and wiping out the Sharan channelers as was pointed out above by Wes, Perrin killing Slayer and Lanfear, Mat killing Fain, Olver blowing the Horn, Elayne rallying everyone, what Aviendha does to Graendal, the return of the Seanchan, and of course everything Rand does. It was a decisive moment, but not "how they win". "How they win" was...by everyone having a role, everyone doing something to bring down the Shadow.

@34 scm of 2814: LOL! The same thought actually crossed my mind.

@36 alreadymad: Good points re: Nynaeve vs. Egwene. Also, the Obi-Wan parallel came to my mind too.
Faculty Guy
39. ellanora
I think its difficult to argue that Lan didn't know Nynaeve had an important role with Rand. We know Rand and Moiraine had time to visit Lan before going to SG so I'm sure Nynaeve did too. I can't believe that one of them at least wouldn't have told Lan as much as they knew at that point of what they were doing, so be will have known that they will have been linked to wield Callandor. As much as I love Lan and that he got to kill Demanded I would also say that Rand, Nynaeve's and Moiraine's battle was more important than what was going on at the heights and that it wasn't necessarily worth risking Nynaeve to get a chance at killing Demandred. The battle at merrilor could have been lost, Demandred could have carried on fighting and Rand might still have won the ultimate battle.

I also think that from what the characters knew at the point of their attacks on Demandred, Gawyn was less foolish than Lan. He had a plan to get to Demandred while Lan basicLly assumed he was going to die in a pack of trollocs without even reaching Demandred. Additionally, Gawyn had no way of knowing that Egwene would come up with the Flame of Tar Valon weave. At the point he attacked she was completely replaceable - any other female channeler could have used Vora's wand and followed Mat's instructions for the Aes Sedai. Lan on the other hand knew that Rand had no replacement for Nynaeve with him at SG. But to be fair, we do have word of God that Nynaeve would survive Lan's death (not that Rand knew this!)
Birgit
40. birgit
Lan's duel with Demandred is parallel to NS. Demandred/Ryne was better, but Lan won anyway because killing the enemy was more important to him than his own life.
Faculty Guy
41. KingofFlames
@38

The last battle on the field is secondary to the last battle at Shayol Ghul. If Rand loses, existence goes poof. If Mat loses, there are still peoploe that can fight Demmy's army. Egwene is not mentally weak, if anyone could overcome loss, she could. She passed her Aes Sedai test, Nynaeve didn't, because she valued Lan's life over the Tower. Also, a link transmits emotions, so Nynaeve's grief is Rand's grief, and she's also be inhibited in helping Alanna. Rand suffers Nynaeve's warder grief and his own warder rage from losing Alanna. Could he take both blasts and keep focused?
Valentin M
42. ValMar
alreadymad @ 36

I know, that's why I wrote "take out". I think it counts, absolutely. Moiraine was acting on the future visions she got from Rhuidean and she did what was going to achieve the best result for the good guys. Otherwise she could've kept a little knife in preparation for this showdown and instead of pushing Lanfear into la-la land, she could've stabbed her. IMO she didn't do that because of the possible futures she had seen.
Not very current but interesting, I think.
Faculty Guy
43. naath
@10 surely if it *is* to be presented as an in-world book "translated" into the English then it is Loial who wrote it (obviously he talks to people to get the parts he wasn't there for)? This very chapter has Loial thinking about the book he is going to write (so meta!).

I don't think it is though, some of the scenes are clearly not available to Loial (or any other Light Side author) ; perhaps chapters where the Forsaken get together and have arguments are supposed to have come from some other source?

It's certainly less clear than with There And Back Again (aka the Hobbit).
Andrew Berenson
44. AndrewHB
KingofFlames @41.

Two minor corrections. First, Nynaeve passed her Aes Sedai Test (4-3). Second, Egwene never took her Aes Sedai test. Once she was elected Amyrlin, she became "Aes Sedai" without the need to take the test. She said that if she has the time, she may learn the 100 weaves. However, due to her mastery of the World of Dreams, she will not take the Aes Sedai test.

Thanks for reading my musings,
AndrewB
Faculty Guy
45. Dr Hoo
One point to raise about the contests against Demandred and the sheathing the sword re: it's effect on bonded Aes Sedai, you also need to remember that they are in a world where healing (at least for major characters) can be accomplished relatively easily. So all Lan (or Gawyn, etc) needs to do is win and not get killed instantly. Fine to take a mortal wound even, as long as you have a bit of time to get rescued and healed up. Note that Lan takes the sword in the side, which is likely mortal, but could take several hours or days to kill him, during which time he is likely to be rescued (if a bunch of by-standing Sharans don't chop him to pieces, which seems unlikely in a fantasy novel!). So not as bad a decision as it can be portrayed.
Sean Dowell
46. qbe_64
And so Demandred comes to an end.

At the end, I felt like Demandred was too many things to too many people. Progressively ranking the greatest swordsmen in the world while at the same being the gauge for all male channelers to measure themselves and the greatest general of an era to challenge Mat in his greatest battle yet.
It honestly felt like after burning through Forsaken (even with recycling), in the earlier novels they just ran out of characters.

That being said, FUCK YEAH Lan! great scene, especially with Tam chipping in.

Demandred's death immediately reminded me of the last episode of the TV series "Angel". Where Lorn kills Lindsey. "You?!? you don't kill me! Angel kills me!". Insert LTT for Angel and you have what I picture Demandreds last words to be if he didn't have a sword through his throat.
Faculty Guy
47. Faculty Guy
Apologies if I'm having a senior moment here but . . . is there clarity about whether a "bound" DO can resurrect/reincarnate dead Forsaken who are not offed via balefire and, if not, is it possible that Demandred will be back in another body? If I recall correctly, the DO was still bound when he was bringing back Forsaken early in the series - but maybe that was due to the flaw in the prison caused by Lews Therin in the Breaking. If that is the case, presumably Rand's new sealing removes the DO's ability to reincarnate souls. I guess I need to re-read the next few chapters to see if it is spelled out exactly what the DO's access to the world is post-AMOL.
Valentin M
48. ValMar
I am pretty sure that after the end of AMOL the DO can't ressurect/reincarnate anything, not even a cockroach.
John Massey
49. subwoofer
Erm, hi Leigh.

::waves::

Lan. In all his Laness, was awesome. Bags of awesome.

And.

If ever there is a cage match again, and crazy talk of Gleemen chucking daggers or silliness about certain Trakand prettyboys, once and fur all, shush! Lan is slicing mosquitos with his sword. Revel in the awesomenecity.

Woof™.
Faculty Guy
50. Knotaibynature
This was easily my favorite portion of this book, if not series. Lan is quite simply, Da Man
Question - why does Berelain take the medallion and what does she do with it? I cannot remember.
Faculty Guy
51. Ellanora
@50: I wondered that about Berelain too. How does she know what the medallion is? But I presume she gives it to Lan when he comes to check up on the wounded-reinforcements for Berelain (albeit that seems like a slightly contrived job for Lan to be doing).
Tane Aikman
52. Greyshade
Lan. Awesome. That is all.

Well, not quite. How he gets to Demandred is a bit ridiculous and it really would have been more poignant if he had died. And now that it has been pointed out, the timing of thats final line to Demandred is also a bit ridiculous. But still, great scene.

A few random comments:

I agree with those who think Gawyn got a raw deal with the criticism.

I love the little revelation that Asmodean was a blademaster, nice, surprising and rather amusing touch. As Leigh said way back when Natael was killed, that was a waste of a good character. Nice he got a mention though.

Bye Demandred, you were one of my favourite Forsaken. I look forward to reading River of Souls sometime.
Eric Hughes
53. CireNaes
Say what you will about Asmodean and his distaste for the mundane, but the man did earn an AoL third name and showed some very inventive weaves while retreating from Rand in TSR. I think that's where Demandred is coming from in his thought process.

http://encyclopaedia-wot.org/characters/a/asmodean.html
Faculty Guy
54. alreadymadwithlanshands
Knotaibynature @50

Ellanora @51
Galad told Berelain to get it to....
He never completed the instruction. She handed it off, and offscreen it made its way to Lan's hands. IIRC.
Amanda Martino
55. isismaat
@50, 51, 54 - Didn't Galad say to take it to Mat? Or did he just say Mat's name and Berelain inferred the rest (and then maybe ran into Lan, who offered to take it to Mat or something like that)?
Faculty Guy
56. DrewDecimal
Lan's supposed death here didn't hit quite as hard as Egwene's or even Bela's. Why? First, I was pretty numb at this point...if so many secondary characters can die (Bryne, Siuan, Hurin etc) as well as Egwene they why not Lan? Just the icing on the cake. Secondly, much like Leigh, it was such a great way for Lan to go out. The man who ever since the beginning was telling people (ok, just Nynaeve really) that he was going to die fighting the Shadow, actually went and died fighting the Shadow's great general. Very fitting and not disappointing at all. Getting back up later made the cake much tastier.
Faculty Guy
57. Faculty Guy
@56 et al. - Agreed that Lan's death would have been a natural here, whereas Egwene's was jarring. Lan's purpose in life was to defeat the DO and he planned to die. One has to wonder what his reason for living will be after the LB. (Yeah, I know he has a wife now, but still.) Egwene, by contrast, had lots left to do: one big one was to unify the factions of women channelers (AS, Wise Ones, Windfinders, Kin, damane). Just unifying the AS Ajahs would a feat. And, after fighting her way to the top, she deserved a time of holding power during relative calm. And there's the coming probable war between the Seanchan and the Aiel. Egwene's political and negotiating skills are NEEDED, but are lost.

Of course, the authors are being true to real life in that what "needs" to happen doesn't always happen. But I must admit being stunned by Egwene's death and just a little let down (rather than uplifted) by Lan's survival.
Faculty Guy
58. alreadymadwithambiguity
isismaat @55
There was a lot of ambiguity.
Randall Trussell
59. Randalthor1966
Not rain on Lan's parade - because he should totally get one - but I rather thought that his character arc was more about learning and accepting that he was not alone in his battle. At the beginning of the series, while he was with Moiraine, he was still sort of seperate from her in this; still the last Malkeiri (sp?) king fighting the encroaching Shadow. But, as the story progresses he falls in love, gets married, becomes leader of an army and towards the end he was like 3rd in line from total control of all the armies of Light. (Something like 3rd, right?) All of that tells me, that the RJ was all about Lan moving away from his suicidal mission, moving to the point where he would realize that such a stance was stupid - and very, very selfish, as selfish as Gawyn. (Not to mention childish.)

I actually did not like the 3 men in a row single-battle thing, it was silly. Gawyn was the only one with a viable plan in that arena, so I agree with those above who say we shouldn't heap scorn upon him for doing what he did.

Also, how in the heck is Demandred a better swordsman than any of them?!? That doesn't make any kind of sense. Listen, anyone from the Age of Legends, a time in which peace reigned with very little exception, should not be able to become a better fighter with any sorts of primitive weapon than someone born in the 3rd Age, a time of great strife. Going from living in peace to war is not going to generate great fighters as much as being born in a time of war, when you are learning to fight from a very early age. Demandred was probably well past 100 years old by the time he (and Lew Therin) decided to turn a "game" into something deadly. I think he was probably past 200, actually. Sorry, but Demandreds should have just been kept to being the "big-bad channeler" and enemy general, not a personally bad-ass with a sword. Any one of the three (along with thousands of other no-names) should have been able to hand him his ass in melee combat - barring channeling. In other words: Lan was too much of a bad-ass to waste on Demandred.

And yes, Matt should have been able to out-general him because Matt, besides being lucky, was the greatest general to ever walk the face of the planet, so far. OK, a point could be made that the forces of the DO were just too much in terms of sheer numbers, but still Matt should have been able to defeat Demandred's armies and actually capture him, making sure Demandred realized that he was beaten by a "nobody" (in Demandred's eyes, anyway).
Heidi Byrd
60. sweetlilflower
The War of the Shadow went on for over 100 years so Demandred had plenty of time to learn how to be a general. Also, they had sword fighting in the AoL, but it was used as a sport like fencing is today.
Randall Trussell
61. Randalthor1966
100 years? That's all?!? There has to be several hundred hears of accumulated military history stored up in Matt's noggin.

I imagine that if you take a modern fencer and put them up against a fencer from the (what the era of history where they in again?!? 1600-1800's?!?), most* of the time, the ancient fencer would win because he learned it as an actual marial-art not as a way to stay in shape and/or a sport where you scored points and knew you were not in a life-or-death match.


*There are always exceptions to the rule - except to that rule. ;-)
Gerd K
62. Kah-thurak
@Randalthor
I completely agree - a person that pretty much spent his entire life beeing a swordfighter and prevailing in real fights should be much better at it that someone who learned sword fighting as a "hobby" and did most of his real fighting with Saidin, thus never having to depend on his "real" fighting skills.
Heidi Byrd
63. sweetlilflower
They are both in their 20's. You really think either of them could beat someone with centuries of experience?
Valentin M
64. ValMar
Randalthor,

Interesting thoughts.
Regarding fencing, on the one hand Demandred has had a lot of time to practice but little real fighting experience. On the other, the good guys have had more "real" experience. I don't have any experience at fencing (excluding the hours spent as a child fighting the trees in the woods outside my grandparents house with a stick) so I have to stay on the fence on this.

Regarding Mat vs Demandred, we need to remember that Demandred had huge superiority in numbers and in Channelling, incl himself.

I also wish Demandred had lived enough to see it all unravel before his eyes. One of my pet peeves in fiction (film, books, etc) is when bad characters- especially particularly sadistic, arrogant ones who delight in making elaborate plans and causing misery- die suddenly without having time to comprehend their defeat.
That's why, for example, I was pleased by Galina's faith, even though part of me felt sorry for her (I'm glad to say).
Gerd K
65. Kah-thurak
@Sweetlilflower
Experiance at what? Beeing imprisoned with the Dark One? Channeling? How much time would someone like Demandred really spend on Sword Fighting? How many REAL fights to the death without channeling do you think he actually had?
For Lan, Gawyn and Galad sword fighting is one of the most important parts of their life and all of them have faced death only wielding a sword to fend it off.
Faculty Guy
66. Judy Sonnenberg
Hey Leigh,

You've done a wonderful job with this entire re-read; I've read every last post and then some but never felt the need to post a comment. But, you're coming to the end and I just had to give you mad props, yo.

Also, though, I needed to make a point about Egwene which I don't think anyone else has ever made in re her sometimes highly annoying trait of pushing her training--that is, she did what the pattern needed her to do. Just think, if she had learned at the normal learning pace of WoT, she would never have accomplished what she did in the story. I believe she felt the need of the pattern for her, which was why in POVs she was always feeling she needed to learn as much as possible right now. IMHO of course.
Randall Trussell
67. Randalthor1966
Excellent point Judy, we always look to the 3 boys when talking about the Pattern and Ta'veren, but it had to affect many more than just them.

ValMar, I will give my theory this caveat: I don't know how long the War of Shadow was and I don't know how many (if any) individual swordfights Demandred got into, so my theory is just that, a theory only. I am just coming at if from a what I have been shown/told point of view: Matt was specifically shown to best both Galad and Gawyn - at the same time. (Who were the first two to go after Demandred, again?) Also, we know the Pattern specifically made Matt out to be the best Captain the world has seen by shoving the memories and experiences of hundreds of other great Captains into his noggin. Now doesn't it just track, in a literary way, for him to beat Demandred on the battlefield and personally? It would have also made more sense - if we are talking about a level of realism here (not too concerned with that myself, but some are) - that Matt would have been able to maneuver the battle to a point where his unit would have met with Demandreds unit, thusly giving him the chance to fight the Forsaken one-on-one. (Trusting in his Fox-Head Medallion of "you can't touch this (with the One Power)", of course. Alright, I know you want to, so go ahead and write those lyrics.)

Personal experience: Taking Tae Kwon Do as a civilian was a far cry from the hand-to-hand instruction I got while in the Marine Corps.

Lan's character growth in the series, to me, was supposed to be about his learning that he is not alone, that he is just a part of the greater battle and that he should not treat it like he is alone, but rely upon others to help. I think that the individual fight - as cool as it was, and it was - actually detracted from this. In fact, I think it would have been better if, while Matt was dealing with Demandred, Lan had to take charge of the Armies of Light to conduct the rest of the battle; pushing aside his personal feelings to get the job done.
Maiane Bakroeva
68. Isilel
Well, I could agree that Demandred should have been a worse swordsman than those who have lived and died by heir blades... but conversely he and all of the Forsaken should have been just so much better at channeling and channeling-based warfare that it isn't even funny. By the same logic they have been channelers for hundreds of years and have fought a 10-year-war where channeling was seamlessly integrated into warfare.
While Mat only has memories of mundane warfare and has agressively resisted even the notion of of learning anything about channeling. He shouldn't have been even close to matching Demandred as a general with such a handicap. But RJ willed it so and it happened (in a rather contrived fashion).

As to Mat beating Demandred in a duel - it would be meaningless. Mat's luck is such that all his victories in personal combat are essentially cheating. It wouldn't be being beaten by a nobody, but by a ta'veren again, a super-lucky one to boot.
It doesn't matter how good Mat really is, his luck will provide. I mean, the dude never ever trained during the whole series, etc.
Which was the reason for Demandred's chip on the shoulder in the first place - he thought that without the Pattern backing LTT, he would have been better.

Lan is very much preferrable as the eventual victor over Demandred, because the dude has truly payed his dues and _earned_ his level of excellence. Nor is he a ta'veren, so Demandred has been beaten fair and square. But yea, Lan should have stayed dead.

Though, honestly, I think that people lining up to fight Demandred and he actually obliging them was somewhat ridiculuous. I guess, we'll have to attribute it to his mad hope that Rand/LTT would come to duel him eventually, possibly in disguise.

Re: Gawyn having the best plan, I don't agree at all. If he had shown the rings to channelers, he might have _known_ that Demandred would be able to detect him. If he had warned Egwene, she would have been braced for what was happening and not as much in danger of being fatally distracted. Etc. etc.
Though, it would have been nice if somebody had an actual plan, rather than an emotionally-fuelled suicidal charge (TM).
Randall Trussell
69. Randalthor1966
Considering warfare was a new concept, a 10-year war certainly was not enough time for channeling to become "seamlessly" integrated.

I think the thing to remember here, was that the people of the 3rd Age had built up the people of the AoL as so superior, particularly in the arena of channeling, but the story showed us that wasn't the case. There were several times where one Forsaken or another would comment on the things "these primitives" have accomplished, usually about the One Power. Please remember that the entire world was at peace, that means everything they did for a long time did not have any sort of military use. Not that it was a perfectly peaceful paradise (though we today would probably think so if we found ourselves there), they did have some violence and stuff, just nothing on a scale to be considered war. Not until the DO's prison was breached, anyway. But, as it pertains to large-scale battles, I would give the edge to the Forsaken, though not by much - and only until the Seanchan arrived: they have had over 1,000 years of warfare experience using channelers (on both sides of the conflict). Matt, while not liking channeling all that much, did have his share of experience with it prior to the Last Battle, so he wouldn't be a total nube. And he is smart enough to listen to his officers (and others), a quality I do not think Demandred shares.

While Matt beating Demandred in one-on-one combat mught seem meaningless to you, it certainly wouldn't to Demandred. He thinks of himself as the end-all beat-all, so some "trumped up peasant" (you know that is what he would think of Matt) beating him would cause him no end of torment. That is why it would be cool for the reader; we get to see Demandred "knocked off his pedestal". And matt did train, he did it prior to The Eye of the World. They mention it a few times how he was almost as good as his dad with the staff, and only Tam al'Thor regularly beat Matt's dad. Now, during the series, no he did not "train" he just got into lots of fights, gaining a lot of practical application to the skills he developed as a child.
Heidi Byrd
70. sweetlilflower
Demandred had hundreds of years to perfect sword forms, the royal brothers had, at most, 10. Demandred fought in, and led, a war which lasted over 100 years and destroyed every major city that existed at the time. Gawayn and Galad have been in actual fighting situations for 2 to 3 years. Demandred is an Evil Dude who has committed heinous acts and has no problem killing anyone. The brothers, while capable of killing, are deep down Good Guys. Tell me again why it is not believable that these two were totally schooled?
Gerd K
71. Kah-thurak
@sweetlilflower
Perfecting forms and fighting are entirely different things. And just because Demandred had hundreds of years to learn "sword forms" does not mean that he actually did it. He learned sword fighting as a sport. He may have used a sword now and then in concert with his channeling skills though the latter would allways have been his major weapons. Compaired to someone like Lan, who focusses his life on beeing a good sword fighter he should have been an amateur.
Birgit
72. birgit
Even non-channelers in the AoL had weapons like shocklances. It is strange that they learned swordfighting in battle at all.
Heidi Byrd
73. sweetlilflower
I'm not questioning that Lan beat him, I'm wondering why you think two men in their 20's could beat him. We know from the books that both LTT and Demandred were considered Master Swordsmen, so he obviously has the skills. He has hundreds of years of experience, and since there are ter'angreals that cancel out Channeling, it makes sense that Mister Perfectionist would make sure he was Awesome with blades.

i'm also kind of wondering if you remember that in this section, LAN the Man admits that Demandred is the better swordsman. So, obviously, Demandred did fight with his sword quite often, and has maintained that skill.
Faculty Guy
74. KingofFlames
@68 If he had warned Egwene, she would not have let him leave. But once he was gone, she knew where he was, and had the opportunity to spare herself the pain when Silviana offered to take her bond. And who would he have shown it to? They wouldn't have known it could be detected unless he was wearing the thing, which leeches your life force, and the White Tower has a thing about Asha'man, they're not going to let him near one.

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