All shall fade, perhaps, WOTers, but for now, the Wheel of Time Re-read rolls on!
Today’s entry covers Chapter 6 of A Memory of Light, in which MOIRAAAAAAAAINNNNE. And LAAAAAAAAAAAN.
Previous re-read 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.
I am also thrilled to announce that the Wheel of Time Re-read is also now available as e-books, from your preferred e-book retailer! How cool is THAT, seriously.
This re-read post, and all posts henceforth, contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And now, the post!
Before we begin, scheduling note: JordanCon V is nigh, ladeez and gentleplum! And I am Toastmastering it! And getting to see quite a few of you commenter-type folk there, OMG!
And since that is going to be all kinds of fun but also all kinds of insane, the Re-read will be going on hiatus for both April 16th and April 23rd. However, be sure to watch this space, as I will no doubt have a hopefully-coherent con report to share with alla y’all. HUZZAH.
Chapter 6: A Knack
Perrin is astounded and proud that Mat actually pulled off Moiraine’s rescue, and goes to greet her, but Faile stops him as Rand, face pale, stumbles to her and falls to his knees before her. He asks how, and she smiles and tells him the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. Roedran wants to know who this woman is, and stops as someone flicks him with Air; Perrin smells Egwene’s satisfaction. Rand points out that she hasn’t answered his question.
“But I have,” Moiraine replied fondly. “It just was not the answer you wanted.”
Rand threw his head back and laughed. “Light, Moiraine! You haven’t changed, have you?”
“We all change day by day,” she replied, then smiled. “Me more than some, lately. Stand up. It is I who should be kneeling before you, Lord Dragon. We all should.”
Egwene and Moiraine greet each other, and Moiraine observes that perhaps discovering a future Amyrlin will get her off the hook for previous transgressions. Perrin is nervous when Moiraine comes to Nynaeve, and then is shocked when Nynaeve hugs her fiercely, crying and calling her “insufferable” at the same time. Egwene tells Moiraine that Rand has “decided to hold this land ransom to his whims,” and Moiraine picks up Rand’s document to peruse. Roedran again complains, and this time Grady flicks him. In answer to Egwene, Moiraine quotes the Karatheon Cycle:
“‘And it shall come to pass that what men made shall be shattered,'” Moiraine whispered. “‘The Shadow shall lie across the Pattern of the Age, and the Dark One shall once more lay his hand upon the world of man. Women shall weep and men quail as the nations of the earth are rent like rotting cloth. Neither shall anything stand nor abide.'”
[ ] “‘Yet one shall be born to face the Shadow,'” Moiraine said more loudly. “‘Born once more as he was born before and shall be born again, time without end! The Dragon shall be Reborn, and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth at his rebirth. In sackcloth and ashes shall he clothe the people, and he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind!
“‘Like the unfettered dawn shall he blind us, and burn us, yet shall the Dragon Reborn confront the Shadow at the Last Battle, and his blood shall give us the Light. Let tears flow, O ye people of the world. Weep for your salvation!'”
Darlin observes that this is very ominous, and Moiraine points out that at least there is a salvation, even if they must weep for it. Dobraine complains that the demands are unfair, and Moiraine answers, “‘He shall slay his people with the sword of peace, and destroy them with the leaf.'” Egwene says he plans to break the seals and defy the authority of the Amyrlin Seat, and Moiraine answers, “‘The unstained tower breaks and bends knee to the forgotten sign.'”
“‘There can be no health in us, nor any good thing grow,'” Moiraine quoted, “‘for the land is one with the Dragon Reborn, and he one with the land. Soul of fire, heart of stone.'”
She looked to Gregorin. “‘In pride he conquers, forcing the proud to yield.'”
To the Borderlanders. “‘He calls upon the mountains to kneel '”
To the Sea Folk. “‘ and the seas to give way '”
To Perrin, then Berelain. “‘ and the very skies to bow.'”
To Darlin. “‘Pray that the heart of stone remembers tears '”
Then, finally, to Elayne. “‘ and the soul of fire, love.’ You cannot fight this. None of you can. I am sorry. You think he came to this on his own?” She held up the document. “The Pattern is balance. It is not good nor evil, not wisdom nor foolishness. To the Pattern, these things matter not, yet it will find balance. The last Age ended with a Breaking, and so the next one will begin with peace—even if it must be shoved down your throats like medicine given to a screaming babe.”
One of the Brown Sitters steps forward, to point out that the document is meaningless unless the Seanchan also sign it. Elayne adds that it also provides no way to settle disputes short of all-out war, and is destined to fall apart eventually. Rand replies that he will make peace with the Seanchan, but Aviendha interrupts to say that there is a larger issue, and Rand has toh for leaving the Aiel out of the treaty. She demands her boon of Rand: place the Aiel in his “Dragon’s Peace,” or they will leave. The other Wise Ones step up and add their agreement, and Rand protests that this will forbid them from fighting—their whole purpose. Rhuarc answers that their purpose was to prepare for the Last Battle, but they will need another purpose after. Rand agrees reluctantly to add the Aiel in. Perrin pulls him aside to point out that the other monarchs will never sign it now without the Aiel, but Rand thinks it will end in disaster given the Aiel’s warlike ways.
“Rand, don’t you see?” Perrin said. “The solution.”
Rand frowned at him.
“The Aiel,” Perrin said. “The tool that needs to be used. A treaty that needs to be enforced ”
Rand hesitated, then grinned widely. “You’re a genius, Perrin.”
Rand orders two provisions added to the treaty: that it is void unless the Seanchan also countersign, and that the Aiel are to be added as autonomous “enforcers of the peace and mediators of disputes between nations.” Elayne glares at Rand, but Perrin notes she smells proud, and so does Cadsuane. The Aiel go aside to confer, and Moiraine changes the subject to ask why he is insisting on commanding the armies. Rand replies that he has a responsibility to see the people cared for, and Moiraine counters that that is a poor reason to lead a battle, and it should not be Rand. Rand insists that someone should be the ultimate commander, to prevent chaos, and Romanda pushes forward to suggest the White Tower. Egwene remains silent, though, and Darlin says it should be someone here. Egwene wants to know if he still intends to break the seals.
“Do not worry, Egwene,” Moiraine said, smiling. “He is not going to break the seals.”
Rand’s face darkened.
“You are going to break them,” Moiraine said to Egwene.
“What? Of course I’m not!”
“You are the Watcher of the Seals, Mother,” Moiraine said. “Did you not hear what I said earlier? ‘It shall come to pass that what men made shall be shattered, and the Shadow shall lie across the Pattern of the Age, and the Dark One shall once more lay his hand upon the world of man . . .’ It must happen.”
Moiraine asks what Egwene has seen in her dreams, and Egwene reluctantly admits of her Dream of Rand stepping over shards of the Dark One’s prison. Moiraine tells Rand that he must give the seals to Egwene, and at length Rand relents and takes the three unbroken seals from his pocket to give to Egwene. He asks how Egwene will know when to break them, and Moiraine assures him she will know; Egwene looks skeptical, but accepts the seals. Rand asks if she will sign the treaty, then, and Egwene agrees. She signs, and Rand turns to the other monarchs to sign as well. As they watch them all sign, Faile whispers to Perrin of how clever Rand was, to let Egwene bring the coalition of nations together against him, for then all he had to do was convince her, and the others perforce must follow. She is concerned, however, about the Seanchan.
“If Rand persuades them, does that allow them to keep the countries they have now? The women who are damane? Are they allowed to slap one of those collars on any woman who passes their border?”
Rand says he will deal with the Seanchan; they will sign, or he will destroy them, though he worries that such a thing would drain him dangerously at the worst possible time. The others are unnerved, but finish signing the treaty until it comes to Elayne, who is still not happy with the situation. Rand offers her something in return: the war. He asks the others if they will accept the Queen of Andor to lead the armies of the Light. There are some token protests, but the others all accept. Elayne warns him he’d better deal with the Seanchan, and Rhuarc and Egwene both are very concerned about the damane problem, but Aviendha whispers that if the Aiel fight the Seanchan they will lose, and Amys agrees, to Rhuarc’s startlement. Rand agrees about the horrific practice of collaring women, but thinks they have larger concerns for now. Elayne hesitates, but signs the treaty. Rand says he will leave them to their battle preparations, but he has a favor to ask first.
“There is a dear friend who needs us ”
Lan rests with a wounded Andere against a rock, and admits to him that he was selfish to try and keep others from the privilege of dying for Malkier, even as he regrets those lost. Prince Kaisel approaches to tell Lan that the Trollocs are forming up again. Lan’s army has been forced back to within a hundred feet of the mouth of Tarwin’s Gap, and each push by the Trollocs had reduced their numbers; Kaisel tells him they have maybe six thousand left still able to ride. Lan tells him to mount them up, and Kaisel thinks he means for them to retreat; Lan says they will fall back, and then attack until they are overrun.
Lan knew an ending when he saw one.
He is impressed at Kaisel’s poise when he realizes what Lan means, and goes off to implement the orders. Lan tries to convince Andere to go to the wounded camp, but Andere waves him off.
“We’ve already moved the mountain, Lan. Let’s budge this feather and be through with it.”
Lan’s meager forces form up beyond the Gap, and the Trollocs charge. Andere and Bulen both agree that it is better to go this way than to wither away slowly. The men raise their swords in silent salute, and Lan leads the charge. He tries to project love and pride to Nynaeve, and repeats to himself the oath a Malkieri soldier takes on his first posting to the Border.
Al Chalidholara Malkier. For my sweet land Malkier.
Then he turns and sees that his six thousand men have somehow become ten thousand. Then a huge gateway opens to his left, and cavalry bearing the standard of Arafel come charging out.
More gateways. Three, then four, then a dozen. Each broke the field in coordination, charging horse men bursting forth with lances leveled, flying the flags of Saldaea, Arafel, Kandor. In seconds, his charge of six thousand had become a hundred thousand.
The Trollocs break rank in panic, and then they begin to explode as Asha’man to the rear begin their work. As they fight, Lan shouts at Andere to go back now, but Andere yells back that he wants to see Lan smile for once.
Lan looked at the battle he’d never thought to win, seeing a last stand instead become a promising fi ght, and couldn’t help himself. He didn’t just smile, he laughed.
[ ] “Jophil,” Lan called. “Raise my banner high! Malkier lives on this day!”
Okay, seriously, the chapters in this book are ridiculous.
So, a million years ago or thereabouts (okay, fine, in ACOS), Min thought of her viewing that Rand would fail without Moiraine even though Moiraine was dead and gone (or so she thought!), and while I don’t think I pictured the fulfillment of that viewing going quite this way, I think I liked it very much. The way Moiraine walked in that tent and basically pwned everyone in there was unquestionably (if quietly) awesome. Even without the reader’s knowledge of Min’s viewing beforehand, it’s pretty obvious that the whole deal would have completely fallen apart without her intervention—and even if the meeting hadn’t gone south, it’s pretty obvious that the treaty would have devolved into total suckage sooner or later anyway.
So Moiraine most definitely saved the day (and/or the world), and you kind of have to love that she did it in total Scripture-quoting preacher style—or the WOT equivalent, at least. Because while in general I am not the hugest fan of Scripture-quoting preacher demagoguery, I do have to admit that if there’s ever a place for it, it’s on the eve of an actual real apocalypse. Heh. Good times.
(And how cool was it to see that icon after so very long?)
I do think it’s a little bit of a shame that we couldn’t have had this from Rand’s point of view, considering his list of self-flagellation and her position at the top of it, and how his brain must have nigh on exploded when he saw Moiraine standing there, but you can’t have everything, I guess.
I still have some issues with this treaty overall—the major one, of course, being Rand’s decision not to deal with the whole Seanchan slavery issue, which is a thing we will be coming back to—but Moiraine’s intervention (and Aviendha’s) definitely addressed most of the other problems I had with it at the outset, so in general I was quite pleased with the outcome. And I also quite liked the symmetry in Moiraine’s observation that as the last apocalypse ended in war, this one should end in peace. I have an instinctive cynical skepticism of it, but I like it.
The Aiel being put in place as autonomous enforcers of the peace is one of those things that sounds awesome in theory, but which I am instinctively extremely leery of in practice, because it sounds like a proposition just ripe for corruption. Not to mention how I am on record as being very not approving of military bodies which answer to no authority but themselves (see Whitecloaks, The).
But then, I can’t immediately see any other option to address the issues Elayne and the other monarchs raised re: redress of wrongs and/or violation of the treaty, so I suppose it’s a matter of a choice between having a semi-shitty solution, and having no solution at all. So okay, but I sincerely hope that after all this apocalypse stuff someone thinks to go back and hammer out exactly how all that autonomous enforcer shit works, because otherwise I foresee disaster.
And while I said a sincere THANK YOU, EXACTLY to Moiraine on her pointing out that Rand being the Head Dragon In Charge (HDIC!) was an absolutely terrible idea, I have to say I was honestly surprised that Rand decided to put Elayne in charge of the war. Not least because I was all, uh, dude, what about Mat?, but also because Elayne was really not the obvious choice, in my opinion.
She’s the most powerful ruler at the table, true, and she’s a generally smart and savvy leader-type person, but as an actual military commander she’s got precisely one major battle under her belt—the siege of Caemlyn during the Succession. Which she won and all, so great, but still. I would have thought that everyone else would have at least suggested giving that role to one of the great captains instead.
But, I guess it’s sort of a “the Commander-in-Chief is a civilian” thing—you have your great military leaders, but they all ultimately answer to an essentially non-military authority. And Rand knows that Elayne will definitely listen very closely to Gareth Bryne at the very least, so it’s not like she’s going to go crazy and declare everyone spin in circles till they get dizzy or something.
So, okay. I would have liked to see Elayne have a bit of a shock moment at the offer, though. She didn’t even blink at the notion! Because, wouldn’t you at least have a slight holy crap moment to be put in command of the ultimate battle between good and evil? I mean, I’m just saying.
Also, I said it already in the spoiler review but it bears repeating: your POCKETS, dude? Really? Really. The only remaining (fragile) magical thingamajigs keeping ultimate evil from busting out all over, and you’ve stuck them in your pants? My mind, she boggles. Bad Messiah! Bad!
Randomly from this bit:
“This is a thing of the women,” Sarinde added. “We will not be satisfied until we are treated equally with the wetlanders.”
Um. What I don’t even know what this means. Is this a typo?
I mean, I guess she could be saying that the Wise Ones (who are all female, last I checked) decided this on their own, which is why Rhuarc was a bit thrown by the whole thing (even though he fell in with it real quick), but yeah, that’s just a really strange way to phrase it. Not least because even if only women decided it, it’s still all the Aiel, male and female, who are affected by it, so how is it “a thing of the women,” at the end of the day?
Then again, if I counted up all the times in real life that men decided what we’re all going to do without consulting the women first, I’d basically have to go get a sledgehammer and smash the fuck out of my calculator, sooooo yeah.
As for the Lan scene, I basically have very little to say about it because it was friggin’ perfect as is and that’s about all there is to it. I could see it all in my head clear as day as described, and I think I listed this as one of the destined-to-be-many but pride-of-place-as-first times I got choked up reading this book.
Even though I knew there was going to be a last-minute reprieve, from Rand’s last line in the previous scene if nothing else, that doesn’t change in the slightest that Lan and his men’s bravery in the face of certain death was horribly, terribly beautiful. Hopeless last stands, man. All it needed was Billy Boyd singing a haunting dirge over it and I would have been a sobbing mess.
And the reprieve, when it did come, was gorgeous. Even if I kind of had some qualms about the idea of opening unexpected razor-sharp gateways near a large body of charging cavalry, I’m perfectly willing to ignore that in order to enjoy how fundamentally awesome the imagery was, there. One of the many scenes to look forward to if this thing ever manages to get put on a screen.
And that’s the story, morning glories! Come back next Tuesday for more!