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A Memory of Light; or, The End.


So, A Memory of Light, the last book in the Wheel of Time series, came out 8.1. and now, instead of preparing for an exam resit on Tuesday, I of course decided that this weekend was the perfect time to read it. I finished around 2 AM last night and then had a very random dream about a zombie apocalypse (completely unrelated to the book, I might add, but nonetheless entertaining).

I was right; I should have left the reread until closer to the release of this book. Now, with some characters, I didn't instantly remember where they had been by the end of Towers of Midnight. But, anyway, I think I'll just get to the point. You know the drill, spoilers under the cut.

(Also, like all of my book posts, this is public for a reason - anyone who happens across this and wants to discuss the book is more than welcome to comment or send a message; I don't know that many people who read WoT and am dying for someone to share it all with.)

IT'S OVER. Well I mean, of course I'd love more books, as many more as possible, but I'm glad we now have... closure, I guess. The Last Battle has been fought, and all the crap "this is how the Tarmon Gai'don will go" fanfiction can be declared outdated/AU. Of course, this will spawn a new generation of "this is how it should have/could have/would have gone if" fanfiction (not that I'm planning any myself *cough*) but you know. It's done. We finally have a canon Tarmon Gai'don to base all our post-TG fics on!

Where do I even start...

Well, how about the beginning? The prologue already destroyed me. Talmanes. Dreadbane. <3 That guy could teach a lot of characters a thing or two about badassery.

And Taim... I may have cursed out loud when I read that scene. Okay, I was resigned to his fate - what else could I possibly do? He was as good as confirmed Darkfriend a long time ago, and this series may allow for relatively minor characters to find redemption at the hour of their death (Ingtar, for example) but I knew Taim was doomed. But one of the Forsaken? I did not see that coming, I was not prepared, I did not like it.

One thing I think I picked up, though... Demandred thinks at one point that it was him who offered Taim a chance to join the Shadow. So this means that Taim wasn't always a Darkfriend, probably not even when he first came to Rand. Which would make it precisely as I always thought; Rand, with his frankly shitty treatment of the (admittedly proud & arrogant) man, made Taim turn to the Shadow. You will not convince me otherwise. Thank you. I can live with this. (His death is going to present something of a challenge, though... More on this later.)

Heh, a funny thing regarding Taim and Demandred. I first started reading the series before RJ officially discredited the Taimandred theory, and thus I was in the fandom at a time when a lot of people believed that Taim was Demandred. I never believed it (more because I didn't want Taim to turn out to be one of the Forsaken [lolcakes] than because of any rational reasoning), but the whole thing left me with the unfounded (y'know, black hair and a "hooked" nose doesn't make two men identical) impression that Taim and Demandred looked alike. And so I somehow keep expecting characters who have interacted with both to note the likeness. Especially in that scene in the prologue, when Taim is introduced as a new Chosen, I expected the PoV character (Moghedien I believe) to note that the newcomer looked like Demandred. But of course she didn't, because he didn't.

Demandred himself, then. He was always one of the more interesting Forsaken/Chosen, and this book only made him more so. I especially loved the Rand PoV passage where he realises that Lews Therin's arrogance was a great factor in turning Barid Bel Medar into Demandred the Forsaken. That if only Lews Therin had offered friendship instead of eternal competition and scorn... (Now, if only Rand had been given a similar epiphany [am I using the word right?] regarding Taim, I'd be over the fucking moon.) I liked the inner struggle, the Sharan woman whose name I forget, vs. his hatred for Lews Therin. Well you know me, I'm a sucker for redemption stories, but this being WoT and not, say, Malazan, of course nobody on the level of the Forsaken could actually be redeemed. (I also believe that this part was Sanderson, not RJ. But I suspect I'll never know.) Of course the hate won out. And it was a bit... inelegant, how it did. Lacking subtlety. I don't know how to make it more subtle, but it had the kind of "let me spell this out to you: Forsaken = beyond redemption" feel to it. You know? No? Well ok, maybe it was just me then. *shrug*

Demandred's death was rather satisfying, though. (One of the few truly satisfying deaths in this book. Thankfully, there were fewer major deaths than I had expected.) I enjoyed both Gawyn and Galad's duels with him, but Lan... Lan! It was amazing. It was perfect. "I am the man who will kill you." Lan had sought death time and again but just failed to die and he had to go up against one of the Forsaken to find it-- Except that then he didn't. (That was something of a cheap trick, maybe. Fully letting the reader believe that Lan had died, when he didn't. But it's okay because the "death" was so perfect and he took Demandred down and then that he didn't die was also perfect because he's Lan motherfucking Mandragoran, the Uncrowned King of Malkier except that now he's got a crown too and asdf. That man still fights. Oh God, I think I cried more at that line than when he "died" in the first place.)

And -- you know, this series is just full of such badass characters. Next I want to take a moment to talk about Tam al'Thor. He's just so... reliable. Steady. I'm not sure whether I'd rather have him as my father or freaking marry him. (Not sure what that says about me, but whatever.) He's a rock. And so, so, so completely awesome. That sparring scene with Rand. He impressed Lan motherfucking Mandragoran with his swordsmanship. And the wonders he works with a Two Rivers longbow. And... he lived! I never dared to expect him to survive. Like, he's the sort of character that is completely expendable but whose death will make an emotional impact because he's just such a sympathetic character. So while I of course hoped... I never expected him to live. But I guess, speaking of emotional impact - him lighting Rand's pyre kind of even more so... yeah, works. (Even if it wasn't really Rand. But. He doesn't know it. Which is all kinds of sad & fucked up, but. Yeah. But that hug with Abell freaking melted my heart, or the shards that were left of it at that point, resulting in a very messy puddle of heart-- eh. I'll just shut up mkay.)

The next case of badassery incarnate: Logain Ablar. I always liked him, but only on the last read-through did I start fully fangirling over him. I... am not actually sure what to think of most of his PoV passages in this book, to be honest. Sure, he's got one of the roughest deals in the series - the guy was freaking gentled, held prisoner, used as a pawn in White Tower politics, and when he by a miracle got his powers back and got into the Black Tower, he was only thrown into another shitty situation with Taim, Rand treats him like shit (honestly, we're lucky the idiot didn't manage to turn two of the most powerful male channelers against him instead of just one), and then he has to endure the process of force-turning to the Shadow (which, thank the Light, didn't work, but still). He's got every fucking right to be pissed off. But somehow I'd always thought him above the... well, the kind of emorage. "Bwah bwah must make people fear me." Eh, nope. Expected better of you honey. But - again, thank the Light - it ended well, he realised that it's better to be loved & admired than feared & hated, and he saved the children. Mmm, cheeeese. x') But he survived too and that's what ultimately matters because I was fully prepared to see that much-anticipated "glory" of his to turn out along the lines of "going out in a blaze of glory" and blah.

And actually - unless I missed something because I was reading at such a crazy pace - a whole lot more Asha'man survived than I ever dared hope for. Damer Flinn - I know this one did, because he was there at the end, trying to Heal "Rand". Jahar Narishma - didn't spot a mention of him dying, at least? Atal Mishraile - my favourite baddie Asha'man (after Taim obviously) didn't get slaughtered like the goat-kissing Darkfriend that he is, but was instead left captive in a stedding. (I'll assume that this was a Sanderson decision as well, because Mishraile wasn't an important enough character for RJ to have paid much thought to whether he lived or died, probably.) Androl-- well, actually a whole lot of Logain's faction actually lived. I like this.

And while we're (almost) on the subject, I'll just commend Sanderson for including the first two officially gay characters in the series - and they weren't even gay together! In fact they didn't even know each other. Sure, before this book there was the whole "pillow friends" thing among the novices/Accepted in the White Tower, and this has been generally interpreted as lesbian relationships, but I don't think they're taken that seriously in the canon. I think, in the RJ-written canon, the "pillow friends" thing is "just a phase" or something they do out of loneliness/boredom/for entertainment. In one of the Elaida PoV chapters in the earlier books she quite explicitly thinks that it's fair enough for novices/Accepted to be "pillow friends" but that such things are left behind once one is raised to full Aes Sedai status; it's beneath their dignity. And while this is just one woman's perspective on the matter, it sorta does give the idea that being "pillow friends" is not considered a serious relationship. And, indeed, Siuan Sanche, who was "pillow friends" with Moiraine, ends up together with Gareth Bryne, a man, later in the series (and even later, Moiraine with Thom Merrilin, also a man). I mean she could be bisexual, sure, but she certainly doesn't think of Moiraine as ever having been anything other than a regular friend. RJ was almost 30 years older than Sanderson, though, and I guess he never found it relevant. (And why was this "almost on the subject", you wonder? Well, because one of those two gay characters was an Asha'man loyal to Logain.)

Okay so what haven't I written about yet? Had a few hours' break because of a GV rehearsal... Humm...

Well. I think I mentioned somewhere that the death count wasn't as high as I might have expected. And this is true. But obviously there were still some major deaths.

Egwene al'Vere. You were a damn badass Amyrlin, girl. Go in the Light.
Gawyn Trakand. You were a right idiot at times, but you had your moments. Go in the Light.
Davram Bashere (& Deira). You were by far my favourite of the great generals. And nope, I have no idea how long it takes to dig graves for forty oak trees. Go in the Light.
Rhuarc. You were one of my favourite Aiel, if not even the favourite. Life is a dream and all dreams end. Go in the Light.
Alanna Mosvani (and presumably Ihvon, although he wasn't given an on-screen death or even a mention). I think I was one of a very small minority in the fandom who actually liked you. Go in the Light.
Siuan Sanche. You were one of my favourite characters, when you weren't bitching about people not obeying you. Go in the Light.
Gareth Bryne. You were a damn badass general. Go in the Light.
King Alsalam of Arad Doman. I didn't know you well (you didn't get too much screen time) but you were a friend of Rodel Ituralde. Go in the Light.

Unexpectedly, I actually liked Mat's Seanchan-interaction in this book. Mat has always been my least favourite of the ta'veren trio; least often up to anything particularly interesting and most often being bloody annoying. *dodges rotten tomatoes and other flying objects* ...Yes. Not a fan of Mat Cauthon. Sorry. But here he was actually quite cool.

Perrin... Well, he has his moments, and when they happen he's really awesome, but the rest of the time he's quite boring. The chase for Slayer was a bit boring. The scenes with Lanfear... Well, I never really expected Lanfear to get the whole redemption deal, so it didn't come as a surprise when she yeah. I liked that Perrin killed her; doing what Rand never could. The wolf communication was cool as always. (And speaking of wolves-- Why should all heroes be human? The wolves bound to the Wheel and to the call of the Horn of Valere! *flails* How awesome was that?!)

Well while we're on the trio I might as well take Rand next. He's been pretty awesome ever since that Dragonmount scene, that is the last two books. And he didn't disappoint here either. I liked the deal with the Seals (although yes, it involved more people than just Rand). And I liked the scenes with him and Moridin. And the duel with the Dark One - the different possible futures and the implications... That Rand realised that a world without Shadow - a world with the Dark One dead - wouldn't be everything he thought. It wouldn't be perfect. That we can be good because we have the choice to be evil. It's a part of humanity. And the end was great, too... I'd been wondering how that would go. The Dragon Reborn can hardly live through the Last Battle, he's such a colossal figure that he completely wrecks the political balance of the world. And just killing him off would have been, well, the logical choice and therefore very predictable. But this... This was a perfect solution. RJ, I salute you, sir.

It does make me wonder, though... At which point exactly did Rand and Moridin shift bodies? Or was Rand in both of them when he walked out of that cave? o_O Like I said somewhere before, I read this all quite fast and this particular part quite late at night after reading all day, so I may have missed several very obvious things. But anyway! This was not what I was trying to say. What I was actually wondering, was... The other folks see Rand come out, carrying this dude they know must be one of the Forsaken even if they don't know precisely who. And they just, what? Proceed to take care of them both? And some merely comment on "the other one" getting better while "Rand" weakens and dies. Am I the only one who finds this a rather absurd reaction? Hello? Most of these people (or in face everyone bar Min/Elayne/Aviendha, and in the very end Cadsuane) believe it's one of the Forsaken. Even if the Dragon Reborn himself carried him out of the Pit of Doom, would they just nurse him to health? What the heck happened there, like, for reals guise?

And speaking of Moridin - Ishamael - Elan Morin Tedronai... I hope he finally found the oblivion that he sought. My favourite Forsaken deserves no less. (Or wait, did I earlier call Demandred my favourite Forsaken? Ok nope, didn't.)

So what else? Oh holy shit, this is kiiiind of long already, but but but..! There's just "so many feels" to put it in Tumblrish (a language in which I'm increasingly fluent, to my great dismay). Oh yeah. Galad lived. I was sure he was dead, until he showed up in Mayene. I mean damn. He's got potential to be a very cool character, and he did deserve to live (like many who died, but it is not within our power to give them life-- oh go away, Gandalf), and now what with the whole Berelain-treatment coming his way, I suspect he'll be well on his way to getting rid of that stick up his arse. Which is great. Pity we won't be seeing the results - in canon, at least. I'm sure someone will write fanfiction about them. Mildly tempted myself.

I think I caught a couple of errors along the line. For one, I'm certain Pevara lied in that scene when they're interrogating the Turned Asha'man. Which is, of course, something an Aes Sedai isn't supposed to be able to do. Like - she has just made sure that the Asha'man in question can hear (and made it look like the ward blocking his hearing just accidentally failed), and then she's asked that "he can't hear us right?" or something to that effect, and she verbally confirms that he can't hear. She shouldn't be able to do that, right? Right. Also, Narishma was somewhere called Kandori while I'm fairly sure he's been Arafellin in the previous books? Yup, Arafellin, at least according to the WoT wiki page. And something that was not necessarily a mistake but made me chuckle was the description of Talmanes "standing tall"... Dude, he's Cairhienin, and never ever been described as a particularly tall one so we must assume that he's a short-arse like the rest of them. And - this is even less major, but I just felt like Logain being described as a fellow of "medium build" was somewhat off, because throughout the series up until now we've been basically been hit atop the head with how big he is, his height and broad shoulders are mentioned pretty much every scene he's in, in the RJ-written books. So okay I get it that he's not in prime condition after his captivity and the torture and stuff, but still.

Also - well, with this one I've no way of knowing for sure whether it's an oversight or just considered unimportant, but it bothered me. Okay, Sanderson had a humongous character cast to work with, and if someone's presence in a given scene wasn't significant to the events or a character involved in the events, they probably went unmentioned. But I just felt a bit funny when in scenes, actual fighting action scenes, where for example Narishma was involved, his Aes Sedai didn't even get mentioned (she did eventually, but not until like the third such scene or so). Or when Damer Flinn was attempting to Heal Rand and Corele's presence isn't even hinted at. In fact I don't think Corele was mentioned in the whole book? Sure, Flinn didn't have a particularly prominent role either but still. And Ihvon - I'm not even sure whether we were told anything about Ihvon's whereabouts after Alanna vanished from Tear, like, in the previous book.

Anyway - was this all? Probably not, but my mind isn't operating at full capacity right now so this will have to do.

It's been a hell of a ride.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
marcillac
Feb. 25th, 2013 03:10 pm (UTC)
A memory of light
What an end ! I agree with you ! I felt pretty bad when I read the passage of Siuan death , I did not liked her at first but then when she was not an Amarylin anymore I started to like her and again more when she started to be involved in a romance with Bryne , said that they wanted to get marriage after the Last Battle ! It's a again a little painful thinking of it ... I would have liked Bryne point of view of Siuan's death ...

felt so sad for Rhuac who had been a really good commander and like a father for Rand in the Aiel 'world' . Sad for Bashere , too . Egewene's death made my eyes water a little , even if she was nor my favorite

Gawyn and Galad have been such fools to try to kill Demandred like this ! I would have liked to know about the future of Galad (with Berelain)

Rand was totally a badass , in the beginning of the saga I found it boring and then little by little he became a true warrior (like say Aviendha) and badass . He became a true leader and just awesome !

Perrin was pretty cool , personnaly my least favorite of the three buddies but here I liked follow him . Glad Gaul survived , always liked the man

Matrim , him , was my favorite and the book didn't deny it from me ! Loved his moments with Tuon , oh he came back with the Seachan just because of her ! Does he realize this ? I wonder how the Seachan will fare with the others nations ?

Loved how Lan killed Demandred , I would have loved to see more Lan & Nynaeve moments , though

Liked Logain but Androl & Pevara again more ,such a good team . Such they ended up lovers those two

I , too , liked that Sanderson mentioned two gays in the book , and not sissy boys but regular and good soldiers .

Thinking of it , the Last Battle lasted really long but like I read it little by little it was okay . I was happy happy when Olver used the Horn and the heroes arrived

Sad sad sad that the saga has ended , a really good endings which is not such an easy thing to do . Jordan/Sanderson achieved it . I'll propably read some passages in the future .

Oh is it really the end ?

Edited at 2013-02-25 03:17 pm (UTC)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
If my soaring presence threatens to break your neck, then so be it; you should dread my name!
~Ihsahn

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