(SPOILERS ahead for A Memory of Light!)
Finishing A Memory of Light, and The Wheel of Time series, was a very satisfying experience.
At DragonCon in September 2012 I had heard Brandon Sanderson say that when you reached the end of the book there was “a kind of serenity” that arrived as the Last Battle faded away and Robert Jordan re-asserted himself to close the narrative he had spent the last half of his life building. Brandon was absolutely right about that. Once I had finished A Memory of Light I felt that all my questions had been answered, that all the scenes and reunions and clashes I had wanted to see were a matter of memory now, and that the 14-book epic felt well and truly finished.
And then I couldn’t stop thinking of what I wanted next.
Isn’t that a marvelous trick? As if 15 books weren’t enough, Robert Jordan still managed to conclude The Wheel of Time in a way that made me want to stay in his world.
To that end, here’s a list of the 5 characters and situations I immediately wanted to keep following after A Memory of Light:
1.) The Seanchan Empire Rebuilds.
The larger issue of the aggressive intolerance of the Seanchan Empire is tabled at the end of the series, and honestly, I was really happy about that. I have never been a fan of the Seanchan storyline, as it often felt like a different narrative trying to push its way into the story of The Wheel of Time. To me, Seanchan characters are also predominantly antagonistic and unlikeable, and even Mat’s prevailing presence was never enough to make them interesting.
So now that I don’t have to actually read about them anymore, why do I want to read about them some more? Because thanks to the events of A Memory of Light, anything about the Seanchan now has to include Min and a captive Moghedien.
Seanchan is also now forced to deal with change that they haven’t implemented. The Dragon’s Peace, while it doesn’t free the damane, at least forces them to limit their number to “homegrown” channelers (so to speak). Channelers that will most likely be hard to come by thanks to the Seanchan continent being in a state of rebellious ruin.
Will Tuon take advantage of Moghedien, one of the only fonts of Age of Legends information left in the world, to rebuild Seanchan? Most definitely. Did Artur Hawking get a chance to speak with Tuon? We don’t know. Even if he did, would anything result from that? Maybe! Would it be awesome to read about Mat, Tuon, and Min trying to help each other while simultaneously working against each other? You bet!
Suddenly there are a lot of directions the Seanchan story can go. And even if that direction is for the worse, we now have more of our favorite characters with which to view it through.
2.) The Adventures of Rand.
Um, YEAH. So there’s this guy? He saved the world? Went through some serious crap? And now gets to ramble around the countryside with weird new powers that essentially allow him to think anything into existence?
I expected Rand to survive the events of The Wheel of Time and most likely a lot of the fanbase did, as well. (And I’m actually pretty okay with that, despite it feeling like a bit of a dramatic cop-out.) What I did not expect was for him to walk off into the sunset with the ability to do anything he wanted. The mere fact that Rand is still in the world and able to enact change makes me want to read about his further adventures. (He certainly seemed in an adventuring mindset at the end there.) And the unexpected gift of Creator-y powers makes it seem like Rand still has a role to play in world events, if only to nudge those events back on the right track every now and then.
And this doesn’t even take into account his forthcoming families via Elayne and Aviendha. Or that his other girlfriend is probably going to get spirited half a world away. Is he going to try and raise his kids? Could he?
3.) A… Grey Tower, if you will.
The White Tower is now without the leader who managed to unite and inspire them and stands once again diminished in number and spirit. At the same time, there’s still a desperate need for the Black Tower, now that saidin is clean and the Last Battle over. The need for Aes Sedai of either gender is still great, but the task of rebuilding is absolutely daunting. How will these organizations deal with that?
And this barely touches the “offer” made to Cadsuane at the end of the book. Will she take the reins and become Amyrlin? Or will she flee? If the former, will she be a better leader, perhaps thanks to Rand chastening her stubborn nature a little? If the latter, would she consider herself a failure for not taking what may be her last opportunity to change the world for the better?
With Logain seemingly the obvious choice for M’Hael (or Tamyrlin, as they might now call it), it would be interesting to see him and Cadsuane come to blows on a number of subjects, with Androl and Pevara perhaps representing a more united opinion in contrast.
(Also Egwene should get a friggin’ statue. But that’s just me.)
4.) The Court of the Sun.
Elayne now stands poised to create an Empire in opposition to Seanchan-held lands. She holds the rule of Andor and Cairhien, two of the continent’s most powerful nations. She is allied with the nations to the north and south through treaty and in some cases through friendship. She is a prominent Aes Sedai. She holds the key to advanced, non-magical weapons technology. And she’s about to give birth to the children of the world’s known savior in what could very well be the start of a dynasty.
Oh, also she’s going to live a few hundred more years and is kind of already a living legend.
If we wanted to see a large-scale story of how the world moves on after the Last Battle, Elayne would certainly be the character to watch. She holds the world in her hands and could very well become the next Artur Hawkwing.
The non-Aiel events we saw when Aviendha went through the Way-Forward ter’angreal were also centered largely around Elayne and her descendants, and even though some aspects of that future have been changed, will the general shape of it still play out?
5.) Moiraine and Thom: Free Agents!
One of the biggest bummers about A Memory of Light was the lack of Moiraine Sedai screentime. Here she was, skipped to the very end of a fight she had dedicated her life to, and we barely got a notion of how that felt for her.
Now that she and Thom have survived the Last Battle, what will they do? Thom has ballads to compose, I guess, but Moiraine needs a new mission. Would she aid recovery efforts? Would she head to Shara because probably no one else is going to think to do so? Would she tail Rand to make sure he stays safe? Would she hunt down the few remaining Darkfriends/shadowspawn? All of the above?
While Moiraine was a pretty cool customer in the series, she was nevertheless a consistent inciting agent, so wherever she goes, trouble will result. And I want to see that.
These are just the stories I’m curious about. Here are 4 other scenarios that were sort of left hanging by the end of the series:
1.) Malkier Reborn.
This is a no-brainer. It’s got to happen. The Blight is vanishing and Lan not only survived the Last Battle, he sent Demandred off for eternal hugs with the Dark One.
Nynaeve and Lan seem like they’ll rebuild his nation, maybe unite the Borderlands under them… but other than that it doesn’t seem like they have all that much intrigue left to their story. (Nynaeve has some serious Healing Knowledge to drop on the Aes Sedai, but Nynaeve teaching/browbeating people isn’t really a story.) It’s hard to imagine anything than a Happily Ever After for these two.
2.) He Has a Book to Finish.
If Jordan and/or Sanderson had really wanted to gut us, they would have killed Loial in A Memory of Light. Thankfully, they didn’t, because Loial is adorbs and also… he has a book to finish!
While this is cool, a story about someone writing the story we just read isn’t anything I’d want to follow. The only angle of interest to this would be if the Elders told Loial that the Ogier have served their purpose and are leaving this reality once he’s finished writing. That would put Loial in an interesting conundrum, considering how deeply connected he feels to this world, this fight, and his friends.
But that would also be a really sad story to give to one of the few cheery, unsullied characters in the series. And who wants to see Loial be sad?
3.) Aviendha and the Aiel.
The continued progression of the Aiel and Aviendha, while it produced the most devastating chapter in Towers of Midnight, seems intimately tied to the progression of Elayne’s power and not really a story that would strike out on its own.
But what if it did? Aviendha will most likely rise to a position of leadership, and she definitely needs to figure out what to do with Hessalam/Graendel. It would be interesting to see Aviendha’s treatment of Hessalam juxtaposed with Tuon’s treatment of Moghedien. Especially if it’s through the eyes of Rand, jumping back and forth to visit Min and Avi. Would he see Avi grow into a more rigid, demanding leader, like Tuon? Like himself?
4.) Perrin and Faile.
Perrin and Faile seem set on roosting back in the Two Rivers, or rebuilding Saldaea, but aside from some domestic conflicts between Faile and Perrin, and some difficulty adjusting to Elayne’s reign, there doesn’t seem to be a continuing story on the horizon for these two. Maybe I’m wrong?
So that’s what swirled around in my head after reading A Memory of Light. What did you want to see after finishing the series?
Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and was Gaidal Cain this whole time. Weird, right? Very meta of Jordan.