Apr 1 2014 1:00pm

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 55

A Memory of Light Robert Jordan Brandon Sanderson Wheel of Time rereadAnything is possible when you’re sowing the seeds of love the Wheel of Time Reread!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 42 of A Memory of Light, in which I obsessively question minor character disposition, and celebrate one of WOT’s most Kickass Chicks, because she is awesome and no one can say me different.

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!

Before we begin, scheduling note: Once again, JordanCon 6 doth approacheth, and I will be there! And as usual, I will be blogging my wacky con experiences for your enjoyment and/or befuddlement right here on Tor.com, so keep a weather eye out. I look forward to seeing a whole bunch of the Rereaders there!

As a result of that, of course, there will be a break in the Reread posting schedule. There will be no Reread post on Tuesday April 15th, but there will be a post next week (the 8th), because this one got unexpectedly truncated for reasons. Sorry ‘bout dat.

And, yeah. Onward!


Chapter 42: Impossibilities

What Happens
The world trembles as Aviendha dodges Graendal’s balefire desperately. She sees an odd mist entering the valley, and Trollocs fighting other Trollocs while others run from the mist. She sees rocks floating and the ground running like water, swallowing up horsemen, and thinks it is a bubble of evil, but on a grand scale. Amys finds Aviendha and they agree to try flanking the Forsaken from either side. She sees plants suddenly sprouting everywhere, and lightning strike and then freeze into columns of glass.

As she crept, she heard a low thrumming sound coming from the mountain. […] Above, the white and black clouds swirled together, white on black, black on white.

[…] Those clouds above formed a pattern that looked familiar. Black on white, white on black . . .

It’s the symbol, she realized with a start. The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai.

Under this sign… shall he conquer.

Aviendha held tightly to the One Power. That thrumming sound was him, somehow. The life growing was him. As the Dark One ripped the land apart, Rand stitched it back together.

If Rand fights on, she decides, so shall she. She finds Graendal dueling with Cadsuane and Alivia, but then she is attacked by an Aiel, and kills him with Fire. Amys joins the fight, but Aviendha is riveted by the corpse of the man she has just killed, who she realizes with horror is Rhuarc.

Mishraile wants to run, never having bargained on fighting against Heroes of the Horn, but Alviarin won’t have it; Mishraile is furious that she is in charge. She sends Mishraile and six others to the last location of dragonfire despite his protests, and Mishraile begins planning to kill the others and make his escape. As they search for the residues of the gateway the dragoneers had used, Donalo whispers that this is a trap, and Mishraile considers allying with him long enough to escape and then killing him as well, but then they see:

A tall man, with red-gold hair. A familiar man, scored with cuts, his clothing burned and blackened. Mishraile gaped and Donalo cursed as the Dragon Reborn himself saw them, started, then fled back across the plateau. By the time Mishraile thought to attack, al’Thor had crafted a gateway for himself and escaped through it.

Donalo shouts to Alviarin what they had seen, and says he can track the resonance of his gateway enough to know where he went. Alviarin assumes he was the one who defeated Demandred, and wonders if they should go after him, but Mishraile points out that he looked exhausted. Donalo opens a gateway to where the Dragon’s had gone, and Alviarin decides they will go after him. They emerge in a place Mishraile doesn’t recognize, and see the Dragon, who cries out and tries to run. Mishraile is triumphant, and moves to attack.

A moment later they stopped running.

It hit Mishraile like a wave of cold water — like running face-first into a waterfall. The One Power vanished. It left him, just like that.

He stumbled, panicked, trying to figure out what had happened. He’d been shielded! No. He sensed no shield. He sensed… nothing.

Then Ogier step out of the trees, and Mishraile realizes they are in a stedding. He sees that “al’Thor” is actually Androl in disguise. The others try to fight, but Mishraile doesn’t bother, overwhelmed by the loss of saidin.

Androl and Pevara warn the Ogier elder Lindsar that their prisoners are very dangerous, but Lindsar says they will not be killed, but rather kept prisoner in the stedding. She opines that perhaps “a few decades of peace” will change their outlook. Androl hopes that someday a way will be found to free Donalo and the others from their Turnings, and they leave, only to see that the ruins outside the stedding, where the Caemlyn refugees have gathered, are now being overrun with Trollocs.

Aviendha is nearly overwhelmed with grief for Rhuarc, but Rand’s determination, felt through the bond, bolsters her own, and she shakes it off. She sees that Graendal is holding her own against Cadsuane, Amys, Alivia, and Talaan. She prepares a spear of Fire, Air, and Spirit, and charges. Graendal tries to balefire her, but Aviendha cuts the weaves. Talaan and Cadsuane attack from the flanks, distracting the Forsaken, but then she erupts the earth under Aviendha as she runs forward.

So she leaped.

The ground exploded, rocks flying upward as the blast threw her forward into the air. Stones flayed her legs, carrying ribbons of blood up through the air around her. Her feet were ripped apart, bones cracking, legs burning.

She gripped the spear of fire and light in two hands amid the storm of rock, skirt rippling as it shredded. Graendal looked up, eyes widening, lips parting.

[…] Aviendha met the Shadowsouled’s eyes during that brief moment when she hung in the air, and she saw true terror therein.

The air began to warp.

Aviendha’s spear, point first, sank into Graendal’s side.

In a moment, both of them vanished.

So a bunch of things happened here that when I first read them I almost didn’t realize they happened, and then I went back and was like, “wow, okay, I wasn’t crazy; that happened.”

First and foremost, of course, was Rhuarc’s death, the near off-handedness of which upset me, but more for narrative than visceral reasons. Because, it’s not even that I think his death should have had more space devoted to it, because we’re in the homestretch here and I get it, but it was more that I really felt like the sequence of events should have happened in the opposite order than they did. Meaning that I really wanted Aviendha to have recognized her attacker was Rhuarc before she killed him, rather than after.

This may seem like an incredibly nitpicky point, but think about it: how much more would that have upped the narrative tension and emotional resonance if Aviendha would have had to consciously decide to kill Rhuarc, as opposed to killing a random Aiel thrall and only realizing afterward who he was? It was even set up earlier with Aviendha’s thoughts about how any of the Aiel under Graendal’s Compulsion would thank her for killing them; seeing that one of those thralls was Rhuarc would have provided a perfect opportunity to put that conviction to the test on Aviendha’s part. Ergo, character development, plus the opportunity for Rhuarc’s death to actually mean something, even if only to Aviendha. Oh well.

Second was the equally offhand disposition of Alviarin. And Mishraile and so forth, but I don’t really give a crap about anyone else in this scene besides Alviarin, so whatever with them, it’s mainly Aliviarin I’m upset about. Because as far as I can recall, this is literally the first time we’re seeing Alviarin since she escaped the White Tower in TGS, and then when she does finally show up, she… does one (stupid) thing and gets captured, and is now apparently going to spend the rest of her days being tortured by Ogier lugubriousness.

Um. Cause, you know, I’m not saying that’s not a good punishment or anything, but I was really clinging to my hope that Alviarin was going to end up the female/White Tower equivalent to Taim/M’Hael (i.e. also a new Forsaken) and have some kind of significant role in the Last Battle proceedings, and that… totally didn’t happen, apparently.

It’s probably worth mentioning that at least part of my disappointment here is due to the torpedoing of one of my own personal favorite semi-looney theories. Which was, of course, that Leane was going to be the one to take Alviarin out, because symmetry. I’m not mad that that didn’t happen in AMOL, exactly, but I still am kind of wistfully disappointed that it didn’t happen. Because that would have been so cool, you guys. Oh well.

(Is Leane even still alive at this point? I have no idea, but I feel sure someone will be able to tell me in the comments whether she is or is not dead, because y’all are valuable resources like that.)

Also, FYI: Androl is super sneaky, y’all. Although I thought that reading residues was actually a pretty rare Talent to have, thus greatly reducing the chances of Androl’s ruse actually working, but maybe that’s one of the things that’s changed since it was “rediscovered”? *shrug*

Also also: anyone who doesn’t think Aviendha is seriously badass needs to have their head examined, because wow. ‘Cause, here I am thinking I have a legitimate complaint just because half of one toenail got ripped off, and here’s Aviendha being like I DON’T EVEN NEED MY ENTIRE LOWER HALF TO STAB YOU, BEEYOTCH. Step back and admire, y’all. Or cringe in sympathetic horror, whichever, because OW.

And here’s where we stop! Have a week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

David Goodhart
2. Davyd
The last I recall of Leane, she was there when Egwene (Awe... #TheFeels) made her sacrifice. I am pretty sure she survives though, and is part of the group that confronts Cadsuane at the end.

Aviendha is a Boss.
Deana Whitney
3. Braid_Tug
You know, I had forgotten the details of half of the chapter.
So much happening!
Brandon Daggerhart
4. BDaggerhart
I had to stop halfway through your Commentary to look up "Lugubriousness." Well done.

Leanne survives, she was with Egwene when she died, and saw the crystal spire.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Wait a second - Talaan was in the scene too? How did that happen? Where is Merlille?
6. R0bert
The main thing I liked about this chapter was how, we've read in the past that Dark One likes his subordinates to be like him (selfishness being a prime attribute), and how Mishraile having anything resembling a position of authority is basically the ultimate proof of that.

Dude basically becomes Taim's #2 after the demise of the Fantastic Four and every time he's seen he's either being smug to Androl or getting beat around by Taim for trying to keep that same attitude around him. And then we get into his head and find...

A guy who is terrified of anything resembling actual fighting and who was working out a foolproof plan which involved him killing every one of his allies/co-workers and figuring out a way to tell the Dark One it wasn't him. BRILLIANT!!!

When it comes to incompetent darkfriends, he joins Weiramon and Carridin as the three painted by the authors as being the most idiotic, I think.
Tabby Alleman
7. Tabbyfl55
We can't tell you if Leane is alive or dead.. that would be a spoiler.

Oh wait, wrong (re-)read.
Adam S.
I think Leane found Vorin's sa'angreal after Egwene died. I don't recall her death ever being mentioned, so I assumed she lived, just without further mention.
Rhuarc's death could have been played differently, but I think that we, the readers, had already dealt with his loss when he was compelled, so his actual death didn't need more screen time. Yes, Aviendha's response to fighting him could have added more emotional impact, but it's not like we're starving for that at this point in the story.
Once again, Androl and Pevara prove themselves worthy of their whole new story arc for these last 3 books. Pure awesomeness.
Andrew Berenson
9. AndrewHB
Leigh, another good re-read. Have fun at JordonCon.

Hi Talaan. When did she reach Shayol Ghul? Did she bring Merilille with her? I would love to be a fly on the wall when Talaan tells the Windfinders (including her mother and aunt) that she will not return to the Sea Folk. Instead, Talaan will go to the White Tower to become a true Aes Sedai. (Not one of the Sea Folk Sisters that are forced to go to the Tower and stay there because the Sea Folk do not want to raise the Tower's suspicions.)

Enjoyed Brandon's descriptions of Shayol Ghul at this point in the story. The floating rocks, lightning strikes, etc.

IIRC, the plan to lure the Dreadlords into the Stedding was Pevara's.

I know that Brandon was allowed to take Androl's character and run with it. But does anybody know whether RJ had intended for Pavara to assist the Logain's faction (whether in some form of Aes Sedai - Warder status or just as the lone Red Sister who was not turned)? Would somebody be willing to ask Brandon this question at JordonCon?

IMO, it was Brandon's idea to have the double bond situation. However, I do not know about the rest of Pavera's interaction with Androl and the Logain faction.

Thanks for reading my musings,
10. DougL
This was the saddest and most disappointing part of the book for me, and I was disappointed in this book overall. Rhuarc dying was sad, it's the first death that really made me sit back and take a moment. Avi's legs getting shredded was just gratuitous and did not need to happen.
John Lobello
11. johntocaelpiano
I dunno... if there had been some kind of long-term consequence to Aviendha's losing her legs. Like she might be bound to a wheelchair or something and she says to Rand, "It's okay. With the One Power I can still stand and deliver if you know what I mean." And Rand's all like, "Ooh, girl, you nasty." And then Elayne pops her head in and is all, "Damn right she nasty!" And... I better stop now...
12. Lan O Lakes
Yes , Avi is a Badass!! knowing that her landing is going to be painfull, she does'nt tuck and roll.........she goes for a kill shot.
As for Alviarin, I'm glad she lives and will probably face some WhiteTower justice
13. Wes S.
Regarding Aviendha's injury: I'm sure there's a really cruel Aiel sort of joke in there about meeting her toh by giving up a few toes or something.


...Of course, she ain't done with the whole badassedness thing quite yet...
Tricia Irish
14. Tektonica
I got all tingly at the description of the clouds swirling into the Aes Sedai symbol, and the quote, "Under this sign, he will conquer!" YES!! And Avi feeling the thrumbing. It was a nice way of tying the battle outside directly to Rand and his efforts in the cave.

Avi is one tough cookie. Agree with you about the Rhuarc death, but yes, fairly minor at this point. Loved the bit with Androl and Pevara luring the DF's into the Stedding. Brilliant.

See you next week, Leigh! And whomever else is going to JCon!
Rich Bennett
15. Neuralnet
wow, I totally blanked on what had happened to Alviarin and her crew.. I think I was just so engaged by Aviendha/Rhuarc that it barely registered.

Maybe this is a dumb question but how did Androl maintain the Rand illusion inside a stedding? I will have to go back and reread this now.

so jealous of all of you going to JordanCon, have fun!
16. Faculty Guy
Agree with MDNY that Rhuarc's Turning with, so far as we know, no hope of redemption, made his death desirable. I know that I do not want to live physically when I am no longer "myself." Perhaps Avi did not know of his forced Turning (don't remember) so her shock was enormous, but Readers did, so his death was more of a release, though admittedly it was a shame that Avi was the one.
Sean Osborn
17. feanorr
"truncated"?! *groan* Nice one, though.

Tabby Alleman
18. Tabbyfl55
"but there will be a post next week (the 8th),"
Who wants to bet that this is Leigh's April Fool's joke?
Karen Fox
19. thepupxpert
@16 - Rhuarc wasn't Turned, he was Compulsed or Compelled or whatever term is actually correct. I can't imagine Avi getting her feet blown off like that, makes me wince just to think of it. Leigh's description of the AS symbol in the clouds plus choosing to highlight that particular passage really gave me chills, and I've read the book numerous times now.
20. Faculty Guy
@19: I stand corrected. And, does Compulsion end when the compelling one dies? If so, there was hope for Rhuarc.
Valentin M
21. ValMar
Faculty Guy,

The gurus may correct me, but I don't think it does end with the death of the compeller. Also, it must be pretty heavy Compulsion, thus impossible to remove safely if Rhuarc was captured alive.
Robert Dickinson
22. ChocolateRob
Not that I'm aware of but even if it did Graendal's compulsion basically destroys who the person was, remember how Nynaeve and Rand found her at Natrim's Barrow.

Don Barkauskas
23. bad_platypus
RobMRobM @5: All it says is "Talaan, a Windfinder who had somehow made her way to the Dragonsworn."

Also, FYI: Androl is super sneaky, y’all. Although I thought that reading residues was actually a pretty rare Talent to have, thus greatly reducing the chances of Androl’s ruse actually working, but maybe that’s one of the things that’s changed since it was “rediscovered”? *shrug*
Almost certainly the plan was made knowing Donalo was there and that he could read the residues. It's certainly plausible that Androl would know, since Donalo was Turned and therefore originally on Androl's side. Otherwise, as you say, it doesn't seem like a high probability plan.
24. RoyanRannedos
On Rhuarc, you have to take Aiel battle dress into consideration. Aiel can tell clan and sept by the cut of the cadin'sor, but if veiled in battle, the face is completely covered except for the eyes. How many of us would be able to identify an aquaintance by just their eyes while fighting a Forsaken?
Jesse Nyhan
25. Evermore
I wouldn't say I was super disappointed or anything but I do think it was a little weird that Alvaiarin didn't really do anything after being marked by Shaidar Harran. It felt like kind of a big deal at the time.

What was Avis rational for charging in with a spear? I mean it's cool and all but it seems like a bolt of lightning would have gotten the job done with less foot flaying.

I do love the absolutely chaotic nature of this battle. Reality crumbling and reforming, darkhounds slaughtering everyone, weather battle in the sky, Graendal, and the arrival of Fain? Last battle or not I'd be hiding in the nearest ditch.
Ron Garrison
26. Man-0-Manetheran
“Aviendha’s spear, point first, sank into Graendal’s side.
In a moment, both of them vanished.”
When I first read this, I understood that both Graendal and the spear vanished. Imagine my confusion in the next chapter when she was “not dead yet.”
27. indi
How Androl maintained the illusion inside the stedding: Perhaps he didn't cast it on himself and someone else who didn't enter the stedding cast it... Would the stedding cancel out channeling tied off and put in place before entering if the channeler remained outside? Good question, since it seems that a channeler couldn't send lightning bolts into a stedding, for example.
Mike I
28. MikeyRocks
Lugubrious is in the top 20% of searched words on merriam webster online, coincidence? I think not.
Roger Powell
29. forkroot
I think it would have been much more difficult if Amys had been the one to kill Rhuarc and I don't understand why Brandon didn't write it that way - or at least have Amys see what happened. A missed opportunity for some more gut-wrenching (just in case we didn't have enough already.)

As for Alviarin - she gets off lightly for an uber-villain. I would have preferred that she shared Galina's fate or maybe Moghedien's. I am happy though that Sandomere ends up this way - maybe Nynaeve will figure out a way to heal Turning in the future.
Randall Trussell
30. Randalthor1966
I don't think Androl did maintain the illusion inside the stedding, in fact I don't think he could - no one could (not even from outside the stedding). I think he maintained it long enough for them to run head-long into the stedding, following where he ran though not seeing him the whole time.

@23: That was my take on it also, the plan was made knowing who they were trying to trap.

Yes, Avi is a badass, that was well established, and I actually like her throwback to being a Maiden of the Spear to attack Graendal.

Thanks for increasing my vocabulary Leigh.

Great re-read as always.
Captain Hammer
31. Randalator
re: Alviarin

I never pegged her as a Forsaken candidate, she was nowhere near powerful enough. The other Forsaken would have walked all over her in 3 seconds flat...

@25 Evermore

What was Avis rational for charging in with a spear? I mean it's cool and all but it seems like a bolt of lightning would have gotten the job done with less foot flaying.

How often have you seen Forsaken be surprised by an attack with the Power? If there is something this series has shown ever since Nynaeve punched Moggy in the noggin', it's that the one thing Forsaken don't expect and are completely flummoxed by most of the time is a conventional attack by a channeler. They rely so much on the Power that they can barely process the idea of choosing pedestrian punchy-stabby action over OP BBQ-ing...

@15 Neuralnet
@27 indi

re: How did Androl maintain the Mask of Mirrors in a stedding?

The answer is simple: He didn't.

You can't channel in a stedding (unless you have a Well), you can't channel INTO a stedding from outside. Androl simply relied on his pursuers not realizing the change before they entered the stedding themselves...

@20 Faculty Guy

does Compulsion end when the compelling one dies?

No, Compulsion is not an actively maintained weave. Killing the Compulsifier doesn't remove the Compulsion any more than killing a Healer would reverse the effects of the Healing.

Obvious exemption would be balefire, but yeah...probably not the best of options.
32. unluguburious
@31. Compulsion does end on killing the compulsor. Remember how Rand relied on the removed compulsion after balefiring Natrim's Barrow to conclude that Graendal was dead. The compulsion was cast by Aran'gar and Delana who died and as a result the weave vanished. I think this is because compulsion IS a tied weave.

So, Rhuarc did have a chance of being relieved of the compulsion on him had Graendal died, but that wouldn't have meant much since the people on whom Graendal works her compulsion loose their self.
Captain Hammer
33. Randalator
@32 unluguburious

No, the compulsion disappeared because of the causality-screwy backward burning balefire. The death of the Compulsificationer is a necessary side effect of the balefire but not the cause of the vanishing Compulsion.

That was the whole point of balefiring Natrim's Barrow in the first place. With the Choedan Kal, Rand easily could have burnt the whole structure into a glob of molten rock in the blink of an eye, thereby still killing Graendal but avoiding all the bad Pattern destroying mojo. However, he specifically used balefire because he wanted to use its thread burning nature to make the Compulsion disappear as a means of confirming the kill.

epically balefired -> no Compulsion
conventionally BBQ-ed -> still compulsified
Jesse Nyhan
34. Evermore
Oh I get the surprise physical attacks thing has worked before. Its just that she channeled to make the spear anyway so it's not like she wasn't using the power already. Of course doing it her way got her a slave Graendal so what do I know.

The compulsion at Natrims Barrow was removed because of the balefires effects, not due to the deaths themselves. We see a little later with Perrin, and much earlier with Morgase and Carridin, that death itself doesn't destroy a compulsion.
Captain Hammer
35. Randalator
@34 Evermore

re: Aviendha/Graendal

Aviendha made the spear with th OP but she still used it conventionally which left Graendal more vulnerable, especially since Aviendha was channeling which meant Graendal would clearly expect a OP attack.

re: Compulsion

Yep, Morgase is a prime example. The effects of Rahvin's Compulsion remain long after his death. He was even balefired, but not with enough Power to retroactively erase his actions all the way back to his Compelling of Morgase..
Bill Reamy
36. BillinHI
Davyd @ 2, MDNY @ 8: Leane is there when Egwene makes her sacrifice (or immediately after) and sees Vora's sa'angreal in the crystal column but I would assume that it would not be retrieveable, at least not at this point. However, Leane was not in the group of 4 that shanghai'ed Cadsuane into the Amyrlin Seat at Rand's "funeral". That was Saerin, Yukiri, Lyrelle, and Rubinde and no more than Cadsuane deserved.
37. R0bert
RE: Alvierin

I was surprised she was so minor in this book after being marked by Shaidar Haran, although with the way the entire White Tower branch ended, it's understandable why she became a rank-and-file Dreadlord.

She can probably rest assured during her eternity in the Stedding that she's only about the 534345 character in the series to be able to blame Elaida for things going bad.

She has White Tower under her control. For whatever reasons, Mesanna has her leave to do something (at least I think she was following orders when she left). While she's gone, Elaida re-discovers her spine and makes it her purpose to humiliate Alviarin, destroying her dark influence. Egwene then takes over during the Seanchen attack.

It's sort of one of those situations where she did everything correctly on her end, but got bad instructions from her superior that led to her work being undone. But the Dark Lord doesn't seem to be the sort of forgiving and understanding sort of boss.

Then again, her "marking" may have just had her placed in charge of a group of Dreadlords, since she had taken over leadership of that group. Then again, with said group being turned people, a couple non-entities (Rianna, making a cameo appearance for the first time since her last cameo appearance roughly 56 books ago) and, of course, Mishraile, you wouldn't have to be a five-star general to be arbitrarily placed in charge of that lot.

Speaking of that loser, one of the more interesting bits from his POV was simply that the effects of turning someone not only gives them some tint to their eyes that unnerves light-siders, but it also seems to freak out bad guys, too, judging by his internal monologue re: Donalo. You have to take it with a few grains of salt, since every thing about his POV basically slams you over the head with how he's a coward, but it is sort of interesting to get those little insights into how some of the Dark One's tactics effect the mentality of his natural subordinates. The sort of "not all on the same page" thing we've gotten from the forces of Darkness throughout the series, but a bit more subtle.
Christopher Smith
38. nerdalert
I've been a little disappointed with the outcomes of the villains but I like seeing the eye for an eye retaliation taken to more of several body parts slowly removed for a fingernail scratch.

Personal vocab +1 - lugubrious. (Even comes up on my android auto-spell).

Love the chapters about Aviendha (add to android dictionary, thank you). Only Rand is man enough for that super duper chick. Wow. She's like Demi Moore in GI Jane only keeping her femininity. Can you be a Navy Seal in a skirt? Aviendha could and look good doing it.
Walter Jones
39. wjones42
Am I the only one fooled by Aviendha's trip thru the way forward machine and thinking Rhuarc survived the battle because of the scene where his son tells him the Car-A-Carn didn't know what to do with the Aiel?
On the plus side, this could mean their future is changed for the better...
Walter Jones
41. wjones42
@ 37 Re: Alvierin
I thought her marking was so the forsaken would know not to mess with her. Mesanna messed up the plans she was working on by co-opting her, which brought Shadar Haran in to teach said forsaken a lesson, IIRC. After said education of said forsaken, Shadar Haran had her come out of hiding and gave her the mark, which only increased her USDA Freak-out level to the point she was scared shitless that anyone could see the mark. The woman was competency+ and Mesanna not so much.
Terry McNamee
42. macster
I have to give a nod of amused approval at the title for this chapter which, as direct as it seems on the surface, also comes across to me as a snarky nod regarding things in the chapter which come across as odd or puzzling to the reader--Talaan's reapparance with Merilille, us getting cheated of a proper death or combat from Alviarin, the out-of-order revelation of Rhuarc's Compulsion and his death, Sarene getting burned out (and dying?), how Androl could seemingly still be channeling in the stedding...

The imagery at Shayol Ghul is rather incredible, I'd forgotten how intense, eye-popping, and truly apocalyptic it was becoming there. It's also telling that this occurs because, according to Aviendha, the Windfinders are no longer using the Bowl--this is what it would have been like at Shayol Ghul all the time, at least as far as the storm goes, if not for the Sea Folk. More proof of their worth. Seeing the Trollocs fighting each other, of course, is because some are under Fain's control--everything is so chaotic and confused that hasn't become clearly evident yet.

The sudden return of Talaan to the narrative was a bit baffling to me, I'll admit, but in retrospect it makes sense--with her and Merilille on the run, it wouldn't have been hard for them to end up meeting any of the groups of Dragonsworn that were everywhere, particularly those near Caemlyn or perhaps Almen Bunt's group. And they certainly wouldn't have gone anywhere near Aes Sedai or the Sea Folk. We're likely meant to assume that Merilille is with the Dragonsworn too--since Teslyn ended up there as well, I wonder if they met up? Lots of implied stories here we'll never get to see, but I find them intriguing to think about regardless. Another is Aviendha's offhand mention that she hasn't yet gotten to use her Talent to identify Cadsuane's paralis-net--nice detail to bring back, I wonder what she may discover about the ones whose uses Cadsuane didn't know? Hopefully this will happen sometime after the battle!

What does bug me a bit is that Aviendha was in Caemlyn when Talaan and Merilille ran away, so surely she should have had more to think about Talaan than just that she was "a Windfinder who had somehow made her way to the Dragonsworn". Ah well.

Seeing the Aes Sedai symbol form like that, and hearing Aviendha urging Rand as the shade of her heart to fight on were both rather choking-up moments. I also felt sorry for poor Sarene. (I do wonder if, considering what all happens at Shayol Ghul in the next few chapters, she died or if she simply was burned out. I'd suggest that maybe it was the latter, and this would explain how she could still have the love affair Min foresaw--what better way to find a reason to keep on living than her former Warder?--except it's likely the Compulsion destroyed her mind. At least she did get to express her love to her Warder before the end, or so it was implied to me through her poetry-writing.) Poor Sashalle too. And of course Rhuarc's death is unquestionably a tear jerker. The fact he made it all the way to the last book had me very worried he'd die in the Last Battle, but to have it be like this...

I will say, though, that I don't see a problem with the order of events. Aside from the reasoning Leigh gave (time is at a premium here), it seems to me that if Aviendha had gotten to see and identify him before she killed him, then even if she did eventually keep her own oath and fulfill the foreshadowing by doing so to give Rhuarc the mercy he would want, the delay in doing so as she struggled with herself might have made her too late in her later actions. So that Graendal would have gotten away, or would have succeeded in killing Amys and the others. And while having Aviendha's mettle tested would have been quite character developing, I again point to Jordan's understanding that events in war, in real life, rarely ever go smoothly, that things are chaotic and out-of-control, people die suddenly and in ignominious ways, and you often don't have time to make the choices and get the endings you'd like to. To accidentally kill one of your former allies without realizing that's who they were until it was too late...I bet that happened a great deal in Vietnam. Regardless, having her only see who it was after the fact just adds to the tragedy of it all.

I do regret the fact we never got to see Amys's reaction, but I suspect that despite their love it would been have anticlimactic. She's Aiel, they rarely express deep emotions like grief in an overt, outside manner, and in any event they all knew going into this that they might and probably would die--aside from the general deadly killingness nature of Tarmon Gai'don, remember: "only a remnant of a remnant shall survive".

As for Alviarin...I'm glad she showed up again and we got closure, considering how long she was with us and how relatively important in the scheme of things. Her ending would have been rather cool if it did involve Leane (she was indeed last seen finding Vora's sa'angreal in the crystal column, but since all the Sharan channelers there were killed by Egwene's final gambit, I'm pretty she got away with the other Aes Sedai). But having her be denied anything more crucial than being leader of one small band of Dreadlords (and recall her feelings about men who could channel--now she's surrounded by them!), and then screwing up yet again and getting dragged away into a stedding for the rest of her life...I find that deliciously humiliating. And hey, being denied the Power may be terrible in her mind, but at least she isn't stilled or burned out, nor did she suffer Jarna Malari's fate.

Maybe it's too good an ending for her after what all she's done...but I like the idea of her wailing and gnashing her teeth at being denied the chance to become Chosen or do anything more of note. On the other hand, I do hope Donalo and the others can eventually be brought back out once Nynaeve has figured out how to cure Turning. Not Mishraile though, he's just a cowardly douche. (Interesting side note though, that people who willingly went to the Shadow like him can still be as bothered by the Turned people as the Lightsiders are.)

Anyone else reminded of LOTR again, this time of the trees which Treebeard and the other Ents brought to Helm's Deep? Except here those who went heedlessly charging in just got deprived of their power and held prisoner forever, instead of killed. Though I suspect many would rather be dead.

And yes, Aviendha is absolutely badass in taking on Graendal the way she did. Hardcore to the max. The call back to her having been a Maiden was also wonderful. As for what happened to her--horrible, and painful, but only an Aiel could survive that and keep going with such strength and determination. I didn't find it gratuitous at all--people had to be hurt or die in the Last Battle, major characters included, and since we knew she couldn't die yet because Min foresaw her having four of Rand's babies...
Terry McNamee
43. macster
@2 Davyd: No, the ones confronting Cadsuane include Lyrelle (maybe that's who you were thinking of), Yukiri, Rubinde, and Saerin. I'm sure Leane made it though, because again Team Jordan told us anyone we weren't specifically told died can be assumed to be alive.

@9 AndrewHB: I think I'd like to see that conversation as well.

@12 Lan O Lakes: I never thought of that. Egwene knew she was Black due to Verin's book, and assuming she left that or instructions to finding it with someone she trusted (Silviana? The Black Ajah Hunters?), they'd be able to easily know she led the Black and manipulated Elaida in everything she did. (Though actually I think we can assume everything in Verin's book was shared off-screen; no one confronting Black Ajah during the fighting seemed surprised that they were Black.) Anyway, point is, between knowing she's Black (and led the Ajah) and what she did to the Tower, I'm sure Cadsuane would want to get her hands on her. Whether the Ogier would let them have her is another matter.

@15 Neuralnet: Note that we know Androl started outside the stedding: a gate can't be woven into one, and he was sitting on a stump which no Ogier would ever allow inside a stedding (unless the tree died and had to be removed, I suppose). Then he gets up and runs into the stedding--but his back is to Mishraile, so when the disguise vanished he wouldn't have seen it. Also we get Mishraile noting who followed him among his allies, which means he must have been glancing back fairly often and so could also have missed Androl's appearance change for that reason.

@16 Faculty Guy: No one knew of it--everyone with Rhuarc at the time either died or was also Compelled. Some of the other Aiel might have gotten away, but I doubt they or Aviendha had time to talk and compare notes, nor do we know that they saw what happened to Rhuarc amid all that chaotic fighting and weather.

@25 Evermore: Graendal had been continually severing every weave being sent at her. Avi probably had more hope that she could possibly get close enough to hurt her with the spear by dodging and blocking Graendal's weaves, then surprising her with a physical assault--it's the same way Moiraine took Lanfear by surprise in Cairhien. They did everything with the Power back in the AoL.

@26 Man-o-Manetheren: While the sentence does have lexical ambiguity, I read it pretty quickly as saying both Graendal and Aviendha vanished. Not only was Avi probably trying to get through the "gate" before it closed (if she failed to kill Graendal), but if the spear got pulled through because it was in Graendal's side, then Avi would have been pulled through by her hands on the spear.

@32 unlububrious and 33 Randalator: Also, even if the reasoning re: Ramshalan had been correct, we don't know for sure that Graendal completely ruined his mind with her Compulsion as she most likely did with Rhuarc. So regardless the reason for the Compulsion disappearing, Ramshalan still being all right afterward still wouldn't tell us for certain if regular vs. Graendal-level Compulsion can be undone harmlessly.

@34 Evermore: Point, but again, maybe by turning the weave into the shape of a weapon she felt she could take Graendal more by surprise, and that it'd be harder for Graendal to slice it than a weave of lightning.

@37 Robert: Gah, I knew I forgot something. Hi Rianna indeed! I wonder if it'll ever be confirmed in the encyclopedia that she and Berylla were manipulating Masema until now...considering how that plot ended, that'd be a pretty good reason for her to be stuck in a rank-and-file Darkfriend group. (That and the condition of her former controller, Moghedien.)

Also it's nice to see I wasn't the only one to notice that intriguing thought from Mishraile about the Turned people. It also puts him in the interesting company of Lanfear, who while she only showed disdain for the practice as being wasteful (because she prefers her Shadow converts to be willing), she did at least show she didn't like the practice either.

@39 wjones: Actually the minute the Aiel were made part of the Dragon's Peace that future was abrogated, since them not being part of it was what made Oncala's subterfuge and instigation of a vengeance war against the Seanchan possible. But you're also right that Rhuarc dying instead is another sign of that future being changed. (Though I suppose he and Amys could have had a child already, or she could be pregnant, but we've never been informed of either.)
Glen V
44. Ways
WoK is leaking through.
Birgit F
45. birgit
I'd suggest that maybe it was the latter, and this would explain how she could still have the love affair Min foresaw--what better way to find a reason to keep on living than her former Warder?--except it's likely the Compulsion destroyed her mind.

The "love affair" could be the Compulsion. Graendal likes to make her pets adore her.
Captain Hammer
46. Randalator
@45 birgit

re: love affair

that would horribly devious. Or deviously horrible. I can't make up my mind...
Karen Fox
47. thepupxpert
@33 and others re Compulsion - also, wouldn't balefire have nullified the person Compelled anyway since it was burning back in time regardless of who placed the Compulsion on him? So I'm not sure whether balefire as a means to determine whether Compulsion was removed was actually a good hypothesis on Rand's part. I also didn't get the sense that he was using balefire to keep that guy alive, just to see if whoever compelled him was dead. But that goes back to my original question, which is since balfire burns back in time, wouldn't he show up as un-Compelled anyway? Unless I'm just not understanding the physics of Compulsion correctly!
Tabby Alleman
48. Tabbyfl55
Not sure if I'm following your question, but here's my take:

A compells B.
C balefires A, undoing everything A did for the past x minutes.
B is no longer compelled by A.
Captain Hammer
49. Randalator
@47 the pupexpert

Bwuh, huh? I seriously have no idea what you're even trying to say.

Rand's plan was this: Go to Graendal hiding place. Send in dude. Dude comes back Graendal-Compelled because Graendal is the great, compulsive Compulsifier. Balefire Graendal hiding place! If dude gets deCompelled -> Graendal is toast, because Graendal's actions have been erased.

I don't know where you got that live saving thing from...
50. mikeinphoenix
@47. You're not misunderstanding the mechanics of Compulsion; you're misunderstanding the mechanics of balefire. It doesn't "back up time" in general in the affected area; it burns the balefired out of the pattern, thus undoing what they, but only they, have done.
Karen Simley
51. Simka
@3 Braid_Tug
Just got my Leigh's Loonies T-shirt. I'd like to PM you, but I don't know how. Can you tell me?
Walter Jones
52. wjones42
@43 macster. just an FYI, Rhuarc and Amys's son was young when Rand first came to the Waste. I forgot about the Aiel being included in the Peace was the major game changer. I just wanted Rhuarc to survive. His character made Rand's success in Carhien possible, he was faithful as long as his will was free.
Nadine L.
53. travyl
@51 Simka: you could click on her name and in her profile you can leave a message in the messagebox (with the option PRIVATE), so no one else sees it.
Robert Crawley
54. Alphaleonis
Let's see - Nyneave about equal in power to Moghegian. Alivia is stronger than Nyneave. Cadsuane with the paralis net stronger than Nyneave. Amys is not super strong, but not weak either. Talaan, I do not know her strength. But in this section, Graendel being able to handle all four of them at the same time was very jarring to me. Is Graendel 4 or 5 times as strong as Moghegian? I doubt it. Yet she would have to be to handle all four of these at once.
Aimee Hand
55. achand94
Graendal didn't actually perform the compulsion on Ramshalan, correct? She had the black sister do it, who consequently got balefired so the compulsion disappeared due to the "it never happened" effect.

Poor Ruharc was toast, anyway, I hated to see him die but he was already gone. Graendal dying wouldn't have reversed it, and a balefire blast big enough to reverse it would have really messed up an already crazy battlefield.
Birgit F
56. birgit
Graendal was linked to several compelled AS, and fighting is not only about absolute power, skill is also important.
Captain Hammer
57. Randalator
@55 achand94

Yep, Rand's balefire plan backfired on him, because he underestimated Graendal's paranoia.
Don Barkauskas
58. bad_platypus
macster @43:
Then he gets up and runs into the stedding--but his back is to Mishraile, so when the disguise vanished he wouldn't have seen it.
But Rand is 6'6" with red hair, so if the disguise vanished while Mishraile could see it, surely he would notice something. Androl would have had to make sure he wasn't visible when the illusion vanished. (He couldn't have counted on his pursuers not looking at that point.)
Sam Mickel
59. Samadai
Why can't Androl have run into the stedding while someone else ran a mask of mirrors illusion showing Rand running into the trees. solves both problems
Captain Hammer
60. Randalator
@59 Samadai

Because you can't channel into a stedding from the outside.
Sam Mickel
61. Samadai
it is an illusion. it doesn't need to go inside the stedding. they only need to "see" Androl (fake Rand) going on into the trees
Don Barkauskas
62. bad_platypus
But it needs to be believable that "Rand" went into the stedding because the whole point is to have the pursuers unexpectedly run into the stedding.
Terry McNamee
63. macster
@45 birgit: I've seen that interpretation before...and it makes a nasty twisted sense, particularly in light of how Carlinya, Beldeine, and Sheriam's visions turned out. But I still like the idea she already had the love affair off-screen with her Warder, with the poetry being the only sign of it because she was a White.

@52 wjones: Wow, so they really did have a (young) son? I need to re-read TSR it seems... Well then that kid could still be around just as he was in the Rhuidean vision, regardless whether Rhuarc lived or died. But the vision was abrogated by the Aiel being in the Peace, yes. And I wanted Rhuarc to live too, but after how long he lasted in the series I was already fearing he wouldn't make it.

@54 Alphaleonis: Talaan was supposed to be superstrong--she was able to shield Nynaeve. But actually Moghedien is not supposed to be superstrong among the Forsaken--for sure Ishamael, Lanfear, Demandred, and Graendal were always ranked higher, or at least implied to be, possibly more. So it didn't surprise or jar me at all. Though yes the fact she was linked to a number of Compelled Aes Sedai and is also very good at simply evading and slicing weaves rather than simply being stronger also factor in.

@58 bad_platypus: Are we ever told how tall Androl is? Also for some reason I kept picturing it being night in this scene, or at least dark under the trees of the stedding. And as I said, if the disguise disappeared while Mishraile was looking behind him, and by the time he looked forward again Androl had ducked out of sight...
William McDaniel
64. willmcd
Nice comment by macster @42 that the trollocs are fighting each other because Padan Fain is now in the area, and some of them are under his control; that passage confused me just a bit. Aviendha's thought of "But what was that odd mist?" now makes some sense as well; the "mist" is Mashadar, which one recalls (from the ToM Prologue) that Fain can now summon and control like a faithful dog.

For me, this chapter resonates with the remants of plotlines that RJ developed during his "expanding universe" writing phase of books 7-10: the mention of Talaan, the fate of Alviarin (whose marking by Shaidar Haran, as others have pointed out, now seems quite pointless in the greater narrative), even Fain himself. We can only wonder what may have happened with them had he been with us for long enough to write another few volumes.

While I agree with Leigh's notion that Aviendha identifying Rhuarc before killing him would have added drama and meaning to the event, it also would have opened up a lot of ethical ambiguity about her actions. With the possibility that Graendal's Compulsion might eventually be Healed, can we absolutely say that it would be right to kill a onetime friend under those circumstances? Perhaps BWS and Team Jordan chose to write it the way they did to avoid those questions.

I also have to wonder if Rhuarc and Amys is the only case in WoT of the author being willing to kill off only one-half of a romantic couple (an observation frequently made about Harry Potter as well).
65. alcarinque
Alviarin did show up in the Tel'aran'rhiod fight in ToM, did she not? Even gave Egwene a run for her money fight-wise, and more can be said of her having survived that debacle than many of the darksiders (here's looking at you, Mesaana). While I do see merit in Leigh's assertion that Alviarin had the potential to rise to be a new-school Chosen, I just can't see past the series of failures post-Elaida-raising that are on her resume, which presumably the Dark One also saw too. I mean, obviously the mark he gave her is a showing of some favor towards her, probably due to the invaluable work with the Black Ajah she did over the many years she served at its head, but I just can't see her in the ranks of the Chosen, personally. As leader of the female faction of M'Hael's dreadlords though, that role is more befitting one of her current standing and favor in the Dark One's eyes, methinks.

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