The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 34

It’s the Wheel of Time Reread, can I get a WUT WUT

Today’s entry covers Chapter 34 and 35 of A Memory of Light, in which I enjoy having two short(ish) chapters to recap, because wow is THAT not going to happen again soon.

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 e-book series, from your preferred e-book 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!

Small note thingy before we start: if you missed it, I did a little tribute piece last week to Robert Jordan on the occasion of his birthday. Check it out if you haven’t already!

Onward!

 

Chapter 34: Drifting

What Happens
Rand stands outside the Pattern, barely able to comprehend what he is seeing of it, but uses it to resist the pull of the blackness around it. He remarks that Moridin would have had him believe that the deciding battle would be a sword duel.

HE IS OF ME. BUT HIS EYES ARE SMALL.

“Yes,” Rand said. “I have noticed the same.”

SMALL TOOLS CAN BE EFFECTIVE. THE THINNEST OF KNIVES CAN STOP A HEART. HE HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE, ADVERSARY.

Rand thinks that this never happened to him as Lews Therin, and chooses to view that as a good sign. Then the Dark One attacks.

Reeling from his wound, Perrin cannot figure out where he’d leaped to after Slayer shot him. He tries to make the arrow vanish, but is too dizzy and weak to do it. He reaches for wolves, but has evidently jumped far enough away that the wolves nearby do not know him, and fear him. He is weakening rapidly from blood loss when Lanfear appears, and calls his defeat by Slayer “disappointing,” and that she would rather have chosen him than Slayer. Perrin is ashamed of having failed her, and pleads for another chance, but she refuses, and leaves.

Faile, a piece of his mind said. Don’t worry about Lanfear. You have to go to Faile.

Yes… Yes, he could go to her, couldn’t he? Where was she? The Field of Merrilor. That was where he’d left her. It was where she would be.

He manages to shift there somehow, but no one is there. He collapses, and thinks to himself that at least he had been there for Rand, and hopes that the wolves at Shayol Ghul can hold without him.

In the Blight, Faile sees sickly green lights pass in the distance, and holds her breath until they disappear. Two of their company have already died, from touching a twig and stepping in acid mud, respectively. Faile knows they won’t survive here long, but doesn’t know whether any of the Aes Sedai even know they are missing. Setalle Anan tells them she knows “a little” about channeling, and has not heard of a weave going awry from a wound like Berisha Sedai’s did. Harnan points out that that might mean Berisha had intended to send them here. Faile counters that she might have just been disoriented, but Setalle replies that Aes Sedai are trained to channel under extreme pressure.

“Then do we assume that this is some kind of trap?” Aravine sounded confused. “That Berisha was some kind of Darkfriend? Surely the Shadow has greater things to misdirect than a simple supply train.”

Faile said nothing. The Horn was safe; the chest it was in now sat in her small tent nearby.

[…] If the Shadow had planned a trap for her caravan, it meant the Shadow knew about the Horn. In that case, they were in very serious danger. More serious, even, than being in the Blight itself.

Setalle then says that the Shadow could not have counted on the bubble of evil driving them through the gateway without looking first. Faile thinks that she could have taken advantage of it, though, and also that Berisha had died from a mysterious gut wound, not the crystal through her foot. She asks Setalle if the Aes Sedai can tell where they were sent. Setalle says the ability to read weave residues exists, but is a rare talent. Faile declares that they will wait one day, but then they must head south and try to escape the Blight. Harnan points out that that could take months, though, and they would be lucky to last more than a couple of days. Setalle says there is another option.

“That peak you see to the east of us,” Setalle said, speaking with obvious reluctance. “That is Shayol Ghul.”

[…] “That is where the Dragon Reborn is making war against the Shadow,” Faile said. “One of our armies will be there. With channelers who could get us out.”

Arrela points out that the Blasted Lands around Shayol Ghul are supposed to be worse than the Blight itself, but Faile speculates that perhaps the Shadow will be focused on the battle there, letting them slip by. She sends the others off to bed while she considers. She concludes that even if the gateway had been an accident, someone must have killed Berisha at the gateway, which means there is a Darkfriend in the caravan. She calls Setalle over and asks if she is capable of making a gateway, having trained in the Tower. Setalle tells her she was burned out years ago. Faile considers whether Setalle is being truthful, or is Black Ajah, and whether her suggestion to go to Shayol Ghul might be a trap.

She knew that she was being overly suspicious. But how else was she to be, considering the circumstances?

Light, she thought. The Horn of Valere, lost in the Blight. A nightmare.

Aviendha examines the corpse of a red-veil, and tells Sarene that she thinks she knew him before he went off to the Blight. Flinn points out some flashes, and the circle moves toward them. Aviendha can see in the dawning light that Darlin’s forces still hold the mouth of the valley, but there are too many Trollocs and red-veils both in the fighting there, and around the pathway leading to the mountain. She leaves the circle behind and scouts forward alone.

Aviendha understood why the Aiel kept going. These red-veils were an affront, a crime. The Seanchan, who would dare take Wise Ones captive, were not as disgusting as these. Somehow, the Shadow had taken the bravest of the Aiel and made them into these… these things.

She attacks two red-veils with an avalanche of weaves and dispatches them both, then Heals one of the Aiel they had been pressing. Then she feels two of the channelers in her circle wink out, and dashes back to where she’d left them, to find Kiruna and Faeldrin dead, and the hideous woman she’d seen earlier standing over them, smiling.

The horrid woman had her hand on Sarene’s shoulder; the slender White stood with her head turned toward the Forsaken, staring at her with vapid, adoring eyes. Sarene’s Warder lay dead at her feet.

The woman and Sarene vanish, and Aviendha curses and tries to Heal Damer Flinn, whose entire arm has been burnt off. Aviendha suddenly feels very alone.

Commentary
When doing these recaps, I always get most dissatisfied by them when I am obliged to summarize things like Rand’s scene here, of the type which I am poetically choosing to categorize as When Shit Gets Metaphorical.

You laugh, but I’m sort of serious, because that’s precisely what summarizing scenes like this does: bleed the poetry from them, and thus the impact of the imagery therein. I am continually tempted to just slap a big sticker on those parts saying “just go read the original text, seriously,” because to me recapping them is sort of like killing the joke by explaining it. I do not like it, Sam I Am!

…And given what Rand’s about to spend most of the rest of the book doing, I foresee some significant recap-related headaches in my future.

Sigh.

But my bloggery woes aside, ZOMG Rand is finally toe-to-toe with the Dark One! Finally! After two-plus decades!

THIS SHOULD GO WELL… thought precisely no one when they first got to this chapter. And boy was everyone right.

But more on that later.

Perrin: Okay, did anyone honestly think on first reading that maybe Perrin would really die here? Because I have to say it never even occurred to me to worry that he wouldn’t get rescued at the last moment. Because obviously none of the Superboys would actually die.

This is sort of ironic considering what happens later with Egwene… except for how it isn’t, because if someone had asked me before I started reading, “If someone from the original Two Rivers crew dies in the Last Battle, who would you predict it would be?” my answer wouldn’t necessarily have been Egwene, but it definitely would have been one of the girls as opposed to one of the boys. Which is a little bit sad.

However, that said, IF one of the Superboys were to bite it (other than in the “dead three days and then resurrected” format, which totally doesn’t count, Rand), Perrin would have been the only viable choice, if for no other reason than that the projected existence of the “outrigger” novels set in Seanchan, that Jordan had planned to write after WOT was finished, inadvertently confirmed that Mat would survive the Last Battle.

So, okay. But even so, I never doubted for a moment that Perrin would pull through. Make of that what you will.

In other Perrin news, I really don’t understand how I missed the first time around the fact that Lanfear was totally using Compulsion on Perrin until the actual attempted assassination scene coming up. I mean, it was blatant in this chapter, and yet I sailed right by it. I think I might have just been reading too fast by this point. Speedreading is an awesome thing in certain circumstances, but it can be a real problem when it comes to appreciating nuance and subtle details.

(Which I suppose is one way in which doing recapping like this is a bit of a blessing, because it forces me to read the material much more carefully and thoroughly than I might otherwise have done. Everything has its pros and cons, no?)

As for Aviendha’s scene: wow, I was kind of surprised at how upset I got about Sarene. Even more so than Kiruna and Faeldrin, which is a little nonsensical on the surface of it, since Kiruna and Faeldrin are dead. But I think this goes to my extreme squick reaction to the entire concept of Compulsion, which is slavery but even worse than mundane slavery, which at least theoretically leaves your mind free.

Ugh. Just awful.

I can’t remember what happens to Sarene after this, but I’m thinking she must get away somehow, because Min had a viewing of her in TPOD which said she was going to have a “tempestuous love affair,” and unless I seriously missed something, that hasn’t happened yet. Or it happened on the downlow and no one else noticed it. Or Team Jordan forgot about this viewing and she dies anyway. WHO KNOWS.

Also, totally with Aviendha on the rage re: the red-veils. I can only imagine what it would be like to have your own people… perverted like that, and turned against you, and you being forced to fight them. Again, like Compulsion, Turning is a horrifying violation of a person on the most basic level, and it makes me shudder every time I think about it in depth. Again: ugh.

 

Chapter 35: A Practiced Grin

What Happens
Olver is upset that Bela is so slow and placid. One of the caravan drivers steps too close to a tree and is killed by strangling vines, and the company watches in horror as the tree appears to eat the corpse. Faile reminds everyone to stay away from the plants, and they move on. Olver hears Sandip mutter that the driver was the fifteenth person they’d lost, and they were never getting out of here. Olver thinks that at least you can fight Trollocs.

Everyone thought Olver was fragile, but he wasn’t. They hadn’t seen what he had, growing up.

[…] Anyway, he was used to fighting people bigger than he was. It was the Last Battle. They kept saying everyone would be needed. Well, why not him?

Olver plans how he will demand the Aiel train him so that he can kill them more effectively, and find out from the Snakes and Foxes who had killed his father. He thinks Noal could be his guide, but then he remembers Noal is dead. He thinks that everyone seems to be dying or going away, and wonders why he is always left alone. He wonders if Mat will die, too. He notes that Lady Faile has Mat’s chest of tabac tied to her horse, but had heard that she’d put her own stuff in it, which angers him. He overhears Vanin tell Lady Faile that they are getting closer to the Blasted Lands, and if they’re lucky the terrible things that reside there will be elsewhere, fighting for the Shadow.

Olver squinted at the approaching mountain peak.

That’s where the bloody Dark One lives, Olver thought. And that’s probably where Mat is, not Merrilor. Mat talked about staying away from danger, but he always found his way to it anyway. Olver figured that Mat was just trying to be humble, but was bad at it. Why else would you say you don’t want to be a hero, then always bloody end up charging right into danger?

Faile points out that the trail they’re using looks recently traveled, and Vanin and Aravine agree; neither are sure whether that’s a good thing or not. Vanin suggests they could hide out for a while, but Faile replies that they can’t afford to wait; they must get to Merrilor. Vanin groans, but Olver is pleased at the idea of being reunited with Mat, because maybe that means Mat won’t leave him like everyone else.

After all he’d learned training with the Band, he was certain nobody would push him around. And nobody would take those he loved from him ever again.

Cadsuane explains to Aviendha and the other Wise Ones that the ugly woman had likely been using the True Power to Travel, which is why the weaves were not visible, and from Aviendha’s account of what had happened to Sarene, that the woman was most likely a disguised Graendal. Sorilea points out that she gave herself away, then, and Cadsuane replies that she probably had no choice in order to escape quickly. She and Sorilea silently resolve that they will not let the Forsaken get to Rand al’Thor; Cadsuane reflects that her certainty that the Forsaken would come here is why she had come as well. Aviendha voices her guilt that she had left Sarene and the others vulnerable, and Cadsuane tells her to learn from her mistake. Sorilea exhorts Aviendha to call on the others if she meets the Forsaken again.

“There is no shame in admitting that another is too strong to face alone. We will defeat this woman together and protect the Car’a’carn.”

“Very well,” Aviendha said. “But you will do the same for me. All of you.”

She waited. Cadsuane reluctantly agreed, as did Sorilea.

Faile waits in a tent. She’s left the chest holding the Horn poking out of the flap. Two nights ago she’d found that someone had tried to break into the chest while she was away, and is convinced there is a Darkfriend among them waiting for his or her chance to steal the Horn, so she’s set up this trap. The Horn itself is hidden elsewhere, and Cha Faile set to scout away from the camp. Hours pass, and Faile remains vigilant. Then there is a scream from outside, and Faile realizes it came from near where she’d hidden the Horn. She runs toward it as a screech comes from the same location, and finds Vanin holding the Horn while Harnan fights a furred beast.

Vanin looked at Faile and grew as pale as a Whitecloak’s shirt.

“Thief!” Faile shouted. “Stop him! He has stolen the Horn of Valere!”

Vanin tosses the Horn away and dashes off, pulling Harnan with him; Faile grabs the Horn as other screeches echo from nearby. The beast rips the head off of one of Cha Faile (who have also run up), and Faile flings a dagger at it. Then another beast appears, and she throws another knife, hitting it in the eye. Mandevwin arrives and yells to the other Redarms to protect Faile.

Faile fell back as Cha Faile organized around her, then looked down at what she held. The Horn of Valere itself, pulled from the sack in which she’d hidden it. She could blow it…

No, she thought. It is bound to Cauthon. To her, it would be just an ordinary horn.

The Redarms fight the beasts, and Mandevwin is wounded. Faile grabs a torch and sets one of the beasts on fire, and then calls for a retreat. The others look astounded by what she is carrying, but obey. She hopes that Vanin and Harnan have fled for good, and hopes they did not have the foresight to switch the Horn out for a decoy.

She’d reach the Last Battle with a fake Horn, and perhaps doom them all. That possibility haunted her as the caravan’s members hastily moved into the darkness, hoping in Light and luck to escape the dangers of the night.

Commentary
I honestly can’t remember for sure whether I was buying the misdirection here that Vanin was a Darkfriend, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t. Not really sure why, except perhaps for my overly genre-savvy suspicion that that was far too simple an explanation. That I turned out to be right was nice, though.

In any case, very good tension-filled scene with the beasts and the fighting and all. And a tease re: the Horn that I never noticed before now, with the benefit of hindsight. Because of course we now know that Faile could totally have blown the Horn and called the Heroes of the Horn to her aid, but on first reading it never occurred to me to think Faile was wrong in that she couldn’t.

There is more to say on this subject, but I think I will save it for when we actually get to that scene with Olver later, as it is more germane at that point. For now, I will content myself with chuckling over the irony that Faile was literally sitting on the answer to her predicament the whole time and didn’t know it. Although I have to wonder what the reaction of the Heroes would have been to be called to help one little caravan in the Blight instead of the actual Last Battle. Though of course this one little caravan does happen to be the only thing standing between the Heroes and them being forced to fight for the Shadow instead, so there’s admittedly some vested self-interest here on the Heroes’ part.

(Though I never quite understood that; the Heroes always seemed to be perfectly well-equipped with free will to me. If they were summoned by a bad guy, couldn’t they have just refused to fight? *shrug*)

Olver’s POV was sad-making, in that it was a sharp reminder of how much this kid has actually lost and the effect it’s had on him. It’s really kind of a miracle that he’s not ten times more annoying (and damaged) than he is. Not to mention, his desperate attachment to Mat as a surrogate parental figure combined with his nevertheless deft understanding of Mat’s character idiosyncrasies is quite endearing, in my opinion.

Also: Bela! I HAVE ALL THE HINDSIGHT SADS RIGHT NOW.

*sniffle*

Of Cadsuane’s scene, I have… er, nothing to say, really, since it is pretty much nothing but an infodump. One, I might add, the readers themselves didn’t actually need. I suppose it’s nice to know that everyone in Aviendha’s camp knows that Ugly = Graendal, but I’m not sure we needed a whole scene to tell us that. Oh well.


And that is about the size of it, chirren. Have a week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

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