Remember, there is such a thing as the Wheel of Time Reread. (And it is definitely not the shortest distance between two points.)
Today’s entry covers Part 5 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which Gawyn gets his superhero name, Rhuarc makes me incredibly sad and mad and feeling bad, and Rand should watch out for creepily coordinated children at play.
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.
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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, Hopefully Self-Evident Scheduling Note: The holidays are once again upon us, my dumplings, and ergo your regularly scheduled Reread will be a bit irregularly scheduled for a bit. As both Christmas Eve (December 24th, duh) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st, duh) fall on a Tuesday this year, I trust that no one will be shocked when I say there will be no Reread posts on either of those days. Because there won’t be. Eggnog and champagne, respectively! Whoo!
Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 5]
After their escape from the incredibly powerful channeling attacks on the Heights, Androl and Pevara agree that it must have been Demandred, not Taim, behind it. Pevara Heals Emarin, and Theodrin Heals Jonneth, and Pevara remarks mentally to Androl that Theodrin will have Jonneth bonded before much longer.
What if he bonds her back? Androl sent.
Then we’ll see if what you and I have is unique or not. Pevara hesitated. We are stumbling upon things that have never been known.
He met her eyes. She was referring to what ever had happened during their linking this last time. She had opened a gateway, but had done it as he would have.
We’re going to need to try that again, he sent her.
Emarin Heals Pevara in turn, though Androl senses she still has reservations about it. He creates a tiny gateway to fill his cup with mountain spring water, and Pevara asks how he does that without even knowing the area first. Androl is baffled, and replies that it is his Talent. He is upset to realize he has lost his sword; Pevara points out he has better weapons, but Androl replies that it reminds him he is a soldier. He makes her tea from supplies back at his workshop, to Pevara’s delight, and he thinks of how long it’s been since he felt this way about a woman. Pevara partially senses his train of thought comparing her to seasoned leather, to his embarrassment and her amusement, and she confesses that she compares him to her family.
He was reminded, suddenly, of the empty fields below. The dead trees. The growling thunder. This was not a time for mirth, not a time for love. For some reason, though, he found himself clinging to both precisely because of that.
They discuss how to find Taim, and agree their current approach will only get them killed, and that they must use stealth instead. Androl wonders how they will do that, though.
“That depends. How crazy can you be, if the situation warrants?”
Rhuarc stalks through the smoke-filled valley of Thakan’dar with two other Aiel, Trask and Baelder. The battle broke down into chaos once the defensive line at the mouth of the pass was breached, and Rhuarc thinks that Rand al’Thor had better win his battle soon. The trio joins another group of Aiel fighting red-veils, and Trask goes down, though he takes a red-veil with him. After, the other three Aiel join Rhuarc and Baelder to check on the defenders at the path up to the mountain, who are mostly common farmers, unskilled in weapons.
They fought like cornered wolves against the Trollocs. Rhuarc shook his head. If the treekillers had fought so savagely, perhaps Laman would still have his throne.
A lightning bolt strikes, killing a swath of defenders, and Rhuarc marks the place it came from and moves stealthily toward the channeling red-veil who sent it. He doesn’t know why some channeling red-veils have teeth filed to points and others do not. He creeps up on the red-veil and slits his throat, then kills two Trollocs before retreating. He passes a group of wolves killing Trollocs, who let him pass unmolested. Rhuarc thinks to himself that he does not know how much longer their forces can hold.
Something hit him. He gasped, falling to his knees. He looked up, and someone beautiful stepped through the storm to inspect him. She had wonderful eyes, though the two were offset from one another. He’d never before realized how horribly balanced everyone else’s eyes were. Thinking of it nauseated him. And all other women had too much hair on their heads. This creature, with thinning hair, was far more marvelous.
The woman calls him her pet, and bids him join the others with her. Rhuarc growls jealously at them, which makes the woman laugh. She remarks that Moridin thought her face a punishment, but her pets don’t care, and soon no one including Moridin himself will think her anything but beautiful.
“Just like you, pet. Just like you.”
She patted Rhuarc. He joined her and the others and moved through the valley, leaving behind the men he had called brothers.
Rand steps onto the road leading to a beautiful and vibrant version of Emond’s Field amid throngs of happy, prosperous travelers. In this version of the Fourth Age Rand knows that the closest thing to “war” in years had wounded only three people and killed no one. Rand smiles and walks to the square, but when he sees familiar faces in the crowd, he turns away, his confidence in his creation suddenly shaken.
He knew the Last Battle wasn’t a failure. But people were dying. Did he think to stop all death, all pain?
This should be my fight, he thought. They shouldn’t have to die. Wasn’t his sacrifice enough?
So he’d asked time and time again.
The vision begins to collapse in on itself, and the Dark One taunts Rand that his dream is weak. Rand reasserts his will and the vision stabilizes. The Dark One tells him these people are his now, but Rand counters that darkness only prevails where light fails, and he will not fail.
“You cannot win so long as I bar your path, Shai’tan.”
WE SHALL SEE.
Rand walks to the school, in front of which Perrin and Faile’s granddaughter Lady Adora is giving a speech commemorating a hundred years of peace, and slips inside, admiring it, but the Dark One tells him his paradise is flawed, and that hunger and crime and corruption still happen in this version of the world. Rand protests it is still better, and the Dark One replies it is not enough, and that he is “THE ONLY HONESTY YOUR WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN.” He attacks, and tears the vision apart.
Silviana hurls Fire at the Sharans on the Heights as Chubain calls for the heavy cavalry to advance. She prepares to follow up with lightning, but Chubain draws her attention to Egwene, who is pale and trembling. Before Silviana can determine the problem, Sharan channelers attack from above, and she hastens to weave a gateway and get Egwene through it, with help from the Seanchan woman always shadowing the Amyrlin. Silviana assumes Demandred is attacking Egwene personally in some way, but Egwene tells her it is Gawyn.
“He’s been hurt. Badly. He’s dying, Silviana.”
Oh, Light, Silviana thought. Warders! She had feared something like this from the moment she’d seen that fool boy.
Egwene wants to go find him on the Heights, but Silviana points out that is madness. Then she urges Egwene to pass Gawyn’s bond to her before Gawyn dies. Egwene is shocked, and Silviana says Egwene knows his death could destroy her. Egwene says she will not give that pain to Silviana. Silviana points out that she is not the Amyrlin, but Egwene refuses still, and says that if Gawyn dies, she will survive it and keep fighting, and in the meantime they will fight their way up to Gawyn’s position by force. Silviana agrees, but inside she is furious.
Fool man! If he died, Egwene would have a very difficult time continuing to fight.
The Shadow didn’t need to fell the Amyrlin herself to stop her. It just had to kill one idiot boy.
Preach it, Silviana. “Idiot boy” just about sums it up, doesn’t it? We will also accept “fool boy” and “Fool man,” but I like “Idiot Boy” best. Has that certain je ne sais quoi.
But aside from what’s coming up with that storyline, I’m pretty sure what happened to Rhuarc here was one of the things that most deeply upset and/or pissed me off in the entire book. Seriously, I’m pretty sure I cursed out loud when I initially read it.
My feelings on Compulsion and its foulness—that it is equivalent to, or really, worse than rape in my estimation—are on record, and obviously no one on Team Light deserves to have it happen to them, but to me there was something especially disgusting about seeing it happen to Rhuarc in particular. It was so outrageous that it happened to him, in fact, that at first I couldn’t even believe it had happened.
Really, Team Jordan. Let him go down fighting, fine, but this? This is just… mean.
Sigh. However, we are moving into the backstretch of the Last Battle at this point, and we ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to “mean,” so I guess I’d better shut up and buckle in.
(Why do some channeling red veils have filed teeth and others don’t? Do we ever find out? I have no idea why this is bugging me, since it’s ultimately completely unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but it is.)
Well, at least we have Androl and Pevara, who continue to be adorable, and just about the sole spot of brightness in the growing amount of mean going on in this chapter at this point. I mostly left out of the summary Androl’s hilariously ill-advised mental comparisons re: Pevara, but they were highly amusing.
Also, am I the only one who thought about what havoc a thieving type could wreak with Androl’s micro-gateway Talent? …Of course, any Traveling ability automatically makes one capable of being an unstoppable thief, now that I think about it, but Androl’s teeny gateways are sneaky. I’m just saying.
Do we ever see whether Theodrin and Jonneth (or anyone else) try and repeat Androl and Pevara’s doubled bond experiment? I can’t remember (which tends to make me think we never got to see it, though I could be wrong), but I would be extremely curious to see what happens if they did.
For one thing, if the effects are consistently the same, it would mean that Androl and Pevara have accidentally invented telepathy, which is kind of hilarious if you think about it. Not to mention the obvious tactical advantages for the bondees. Of course, many people may not be all that enthused about having their innermost thoughts and emotions constantly on display, even to just one person they trust absolutely.
I’m sort of on the fence about it myself. On the one hand, it would be nice to know that at least one person completely understands you, but on the other, I am very fond of my privacy, and that arrangement means none. What do you think? Would you go for the double bond if you had the option?
As for Rand’s scene, I don’t want to get too into this at this point because the issue at hand is just getting started and I don’t want to, er, blow my wad on it yet, but I will say that even before knowing what was coming, this entire project of Rand’s of creating “the perfect world” made me highly uneasy. And that’s because I read A Wrinkle in Time as a child, and I know what comes of that.
And that’s all for now, O my Peeps. Share and Enjoy, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!