Though the world is so full of a number of things, I know we should all be as happy as the Wheel of Time Reread. But are we? No. Definitely no! Positively no! Decidedly no!
Today’s entry covers Part 12 of Chapter 37 of A Memory of Light, in which Faile kicks all the ass regionally available, Logain gets his douche on, and Talmanes displays epic fail at (a) GM-ing and (b) stand-up.
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!
Chapter 37: The Last Battle [Part 12]
Having recovered from her encounter with Demandred, Leane fights in a group of Aes Sedai led by Doesine, using her lessened strength as efficiently as possible. The bulwark they are sheltering behind explodes, and Doesine is killed. Leane looks around and sees Aes Sedai corpses everywhere, and thinks they never imagined being faced with an entire army of channelers, but still feels pride that the Aes Sedai have refused to give up. She finds another group of sisters; one, a Red named Raechin Connoral, banters with her about learning the Domani arts, much to Leane’s bemusement.
“Those Sharans…” the Red growled. “Look at that!”
Leane gasped. Many of the Sharan troops in this quarter had withdrawn earlier in the fight — something seemed to have drawn them away — but the channelers had replaced them with a large group of frightened-looking people and were herding them at the front of their line to absorb attacks. Many carried sticks or tools of some sort for fighting, but they bunched together, holding the weapons timidly.
Raechin and Leane try to avoid aiming for the cannon fodder, but many of them are hit anyway, and Leane feels sick. They are joined by a Green, Manda Wan, who says they may have to retreat, but Leane points out there is nowhere to retreat to. Manda replies that they need a rallying point, but have none. Then Leane senses powerful channeling nearby, and sees Egwene al’Vere stride up, holding more Power than Leane had ever seen in one woman. Egwene spins a dozen weaves of Fire at once, blasting the Sharans into the air.
“Manda,” Leane said, “I think we have found you a better rallying point.”
Deep underground, in a cavern only accessible by gateway, Talmanes oversees the Band as they work on helping Aludra repair the dragons. He has only a vague idea of how the battle up above is going. Dennel tries to make a joke about the one he is working on. Talmanes tells him not to be discouraged because he didn’t laugh.
“Nor let it bother you that we are fighting at the end of the world, that our armies our grossly outnumbered, and that if we lose, our very souls will be destroyed by the Dark Lord of all evil.”
“Sorry, my Lord.”
“That was a joke.”
Dennel blinked. “That?”
“That was a joke.”
“You have an interesting sense of humor, my Lord,” Dennel said.
“So I have been told.”
Dennel says the dragons are barely functional, and they need more time. Talmanes points out they may not have that time before Mat calls on them. Dennel points out that that’s only if Mat and the others are still alive. Talmanes contemplates being trapped in the cave until they all starve to death, but resolves he will have them blast their way out before he lets that happen. Dennel watches the shadows on the wall, and comments it’s like being watched “by old Jak himself”. Talmanes agrees, and then yells at the men to start singing “Jak O’ the Shadows”. After a moment, they do.
“We’ll give a yell with a bloody curse,
And hug the maids, it could be worse,
As we ride away with the Dark One’s purse,
To dance with Jak o’ the Shadows!”
Faile lunges for Aravine as soon as she gets free, but Aravine jumps on a horse and gallops for the Heights, carrying the Horn. Faile sees Bela and mounts her, begging the mare to run with all her strength. Bela does, but then their path is blocked by Trollocs. Two horsemen appear and kill the Trollocs, and Faile sees with amazement that it is Harnan and Vanin. As they chase Aravine, the men explain that they’d thought they were stealing Mat’s tabac, not the Horn, and Faile groans at the misunderstanding.
Demandred. Aravine had said she would take the Horn to one of the Forsaken. Faile growled softly, leaning down further, and amazingly, Bela pulled ahead of Vanin and Harnan. She didn’t ask where they’d found the horses. She directed her entire attention toward Aravine.
She gains on Aravine slowly, Harnan and Vanin flanking her and guarding her against attacks. She gauges the moment, and while Bela is in midair in a jump, flings a knife at Aravine, burying it in the Darkfriend’s back. Aravine falls, and Faile jumps down, grabbing the sack with the Horn. Aravine whispers that she’s sorry, and Faile tells her to pray for the Creator’s mercy, not hers. She jumps back on Bela and runs back the way she came, but by now the whole camp is hunting her, shouting that she has the Horn. Faile realizes she can’t escape, and leads Bela behind cover, where she finds Olver. She gives Olver the Horn, keeping the sack, and tells him to hide, and get it to Mat Cauthon when he can get away. She plans to kill herself once they catch up to her so that she cannot be tortured for information on the Horn.
She gripped Olver by the arm. “I’m sorry to place this upon you, little one. There is no one else. You did well earlier; you can do this. Take the Horn to Mat or all is lost.”
She runs out into the open, making sure her pursuers see her, and mounts another horse, galloping away and leaving Olver behind.
Logain examines one of the seals and asks why Taim didn’t break them. Androl speculates that he was waiting for the right time, or rather the wrong one. Emarin asks how they will know when is the right time to do it so that it will help the Dragon, but no one knows the answer. Logain contemplates Pevara, a Red, and thinks of his hatred and need for vengeance against those who gentled him, but now that need seemed hollow.
Once, he had named himself the Dragon Reborn. Once, he had prepared himself to dominate the world. To make it heel. He fingered the seal to the Dark One’s prison while standing at the periphery of the battle.
He wonders if he can use the seal somehow, and feels Gabrelle’s dissatisfaction through the bond. He mocks himself for ever thinking he’d tamed her, and puts the seals away. He gives his own dragon pin to Androl, raising him to full Asha’man, which Androl accepts with reverence. Pevara points out that the seals belong to the Amyrlin, as their Watcher, but Logain replies that the Amyrlin is as good as dead, and he is a fitting steward in her absence. He takes them all back to the Heights via gateway, and tells them he is going to fight Demandred, and orders them to kill every Darkfriend male channeler they can find. Logain knows Demandred cannot be as powerful as he seems alone, and that he must have a sa’angreal close or equal in strength to Callandor itself.
With that in Logain’s hands, many things in this world would change. The world would know of him and the Black Tower, and they would tremble before him as they never had for the Amyrlin Seat.
Oh, so Leane is still alive. Good to know!
Seriously, it’s kind of sad, but I can’t even remember at this point whether she ultimately survives or not. I am pretty sure that she didn’t fulfill my fantasy of being the one to kick Alviarin’s ass, though, since I’d think I would remember if that had happened, but I’m at least pleased that she is not (yet) dead, anyway.
(And I guess she doesn’t know that Siuan’s dead? Because I would think that would have rated at least a moment’s thought from Leane if she did know.)
Her buddies Raechin and Manda in this scene are fan names, and wow I have a distinct feeling I’ve said something like this before, so at risk of repeating myself: I have no problem with the whole fan shoutout thing in general, I think it was very nicely done for the most part, but it grated here a little bit. Possibly because these two once-off Aes Sedai got more screen time and lines than many of the already-established Aes Sedai characters have or will get in AMOL. Like Doesine, for instance, who as one of the original Black Ajah Hunters I kind of feel deserved a tiny bit more than one line before she gets decapitated. But, you know. It is what it is.
I’m vaguely curious as to whether the Sharans only started using civilians as cannon fodder after Demandred took over, or if that was always a thing for them. Because wow, that’s pretty evil. I suppose I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, more or less, and assume it was the influence of being ruled by a Forsaken.
To say Talmanes has an “interesting” sense of humor is being really generous, in my opinion, because… yeah, that wasn’t even remotely funny. And not because it was macabre, because gallows humor is frequently hilarious, but because it just… wasn’t funny.
Oh well. Writing humor is hard, y’all, and writing humor in a style not your own is ridiculously hard. I’ve always thought that it is so strange that critics seem to inherently value “serious” dramatic works over comedic ones, and in fact deride humorous works as lowbrow and cheap, when if you ask me comedy is by far the more difficult art to master. But no, Tom Hanks wins an Oscar for Philadelphia and not for Big. *shrug*
Anyway, I’m not even particularly claustrophobic, but the idea of being trapped in a cave with no exit is MORE than enough to give me the screaming meemies. Some of those soldiers are probably very sorry that no one’s invented Xanax yet. And I love Talmanes’s idea to blast their way out, because that doesn’t have disaster written all over it or anything. Even assuming that you have the firepower to blast through hundreds or thousands of feet of solid rock, dude, how do you expect to do it without collapsing the cave on top of you in the process?
Ugh. Well, I suppose “rocks fall, everyone dies” is a marginally nicer way to go than “food runs out, everyone slowly starves to death.” Marginally. (Don’t click that.)
Meanwhile, Faile + Bela apparently equals EPIC BADASSERY. Because, okay, do you know how hard it is to accurately throw a knife into a moving target while standing still, much less from a galloping horse? That was like the throw of the century, and Faile barely even noted it as anything special. Not to mention the way she so calmly accepted that she was going to have to kill herself to protect the Horn (and Olver). Faile has not always been my favorite character, but I kind of totally love her right now.
(Bela! Ow, my precognitive feels!)
Also, I completely forgot that Harnan and Vanin found the Horn by accident. For some reason I’d remembered it as them getting suspicious that Faile was a Darkfriend, and checking out the chest for that reason. But no, apparently they’d just wanted to toke up. Hah.
Also also, no pressure, Olver! (Eek.)
In other news, Logain is, apparently, a big ol’ douche. I’m not sure, but I think this may be the first POV we’ve ever gotten from him. I think that because I feel like I would have remembered him whinging ad nauseum about ME ME I AM THE DOMINATOR I HAVE THE BIGGEST DICK ME ME if I’d encountered it before this.
I could be wrong, but either way this POV kind of startled me, because I really hadn’t gotten the impression that Logain was this much of a glory hog from the outside views of him. He’d wanted vengeance, yes, and he’s always been arrogant, but – I dunno, this seemed like a step beyond that. I mean, he’s even only going after Demandred because he wants the Forsaken’s sa’angreal, instead of for the purpose of, oh, I don’t know, stopping the apocalypse.
I suppose, though, that you aren’t the kind of person to declare yourself the Dragon in the first place without having a certain thirst for power. And of course there’s still Min’s viewing about his coming glory… but the selfishness he displays here seems really at odds with the reverence his followers (like Androl) show him. It hasn’t been my experience that selfish people excel at inspiring loyalty in others; how can they, when they are so unlikely to reciprocate that loyalty?
Unless they’re really good at hiding that selfishness, of course. Which I guess Logain must be. Bah.
Yeah, I think I liked that “glory” prophecy a lot better when I didn’t know how assiduously the man was chasing it.
And on that rather sour note, we stop! Have a week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!