If this is your first time stumbling upon my readthrough, you can start at the beginning by going here.
This was a long one, or it certainly felt that way in terms of the content it packed. I actually didn’t finish it until after the New Year, and then I needed a few days to digest (and reread certain bits) before starting in on the next one. A lot happens in this book. A lot. Makes sense, there were a lot of loose plot threads and they all needed to be resolved so the Last Battle could be a more focused endeavor. I don’t think I can properly summarize everything in this book without an article as long as the book itself, but broad strokes.
The Whitecloaks spend their time in the book playing “Can we be good guys now or do we end the series as secondary antagonists.” Asunawa is killed, and under Galad it looks like they’re set on the right path. Then Byar/Bornhald are like, “Hey, did we ever tell you how much we hate this Perrin Ayabara guy?” And so secondary antagonists it is, at least until Morgase reveals herself to be alive, Galad learns life isn’t necessarily black and white, and a trolloc attack is thrown in for good measure.
On the protagonist side of things, Perrin is busy preparing for a trial, of all things (see Whitecloak shenanigans, above), while also training his wolf-dream powers to confront Slayer. He rediscovers the lost art of making Power-wrought weapons, accepts his wolf side, accepts the burden of leadership, makes good with Faile…really, he gets like his entire series worth of character development all in one book. He ends the book as Lord Perrin, Steward to the Dragon Reborn for the Two Rivers, and also total badass.
Egwene and Gawyn deal with assassins in the tower and mutual stubbornness. I almost forgot about the weird invisible Seanchan assassins they left there. Bryne killed one by instinct last book, and I guess I assumed the others had met similar fates.
Eventually these two plots intersect in a pretty amazing multi-sided confrontation, with Perrin fighting slayer and Egwene fighting Mesaana in the dreams while Gawyn confronts the assassins in the waking world. It also leads to what is perhaps my favorite Perrin moment: Him appearing next to Egwene and casually blocking balefire to prove who is the real badass of the dream world.
And of course, Mat and his insane plot which grants the book its title. I had been waiting for this one for a while, answers to what the hell these snake and fox people are. Well..we don’t really get any solid answers. There’s another world of some kind in that tower, and those things that live there have an ancient pact with the Aes Sedai, and they’re also dicks. That’s about what we get in terms of answers. I thought our heroes were going to badass their way through there, considering they had super-Bard Thom with them, and one of the snake/fox people’s weaknesses was music. But that only worked on like…one of them, and the rest of the time the heroes spent running. Sometimes, when me and my friends play video games, we will attempt to get the end of dungeon that is much, much higher level than us in order to get an item at the end; we spend the entire time trying to run, jump, and generally get away from enemies any way we can. That was the impression I got out of this. At least Mat is going to get to wear a badass eye patch from now on.
There’s more, of course: Aviendha and her prediction of the destruction of the Aiel, the Black Tower growing more and more fucked, the leaders of the world gathering in one place cause, you know, Last Battle, the Borderlands being invaded, Lan riding to his death in the Gap, and so on.
Also, Rand running around in full Jesus mode. The clouds part around him, things start to grow, food that was spoiled becomes good again, and he speaks with command but also empathy. It’s a complete 180 from crazy-Rand, which is good for the world, but I will kind of miss that crazy sonofabitch. We don’t get a Rand POV this book, possibly because that would detract from the aura of godliness that he’s giving off.
Some of Mat’s funnier moments have gotten a chuckle out of me in the past, but his letter to Elayne was the first time since picking up this series that I laughed loud enough to get the people around me to look at me strangely.
Elayne stupidly puts herself in danger yet again, nearly gets captured, lets one of the foxhead duplicates into the hands of a Darkfriend, and for her effort she learns the Shadow is plotting an assault on Camelyn, sooner rather than later. This warning she promptly ignores. At the end of the book, Camelyn is burning. That’s some good queening there, Elayne. I think she has become my most disliked character, and there’s some strong competition there.
How Graendal managed to not be dead was pretty clever. I had a feeling that someone as seemingly important as her wasn’t about to just die offscreen like that. Not so true for Aran’gar, it seems. Of course, by the end of this book Graendal has Failed the Great Lord for the Last Time, so that’s not good for her.
Speaking of Forsaken, Lanfear does not seem like she’s having a good time lately, based on the sending she sent to Rand’s dream. ‘Tis the eventual fate of every Starscream type character, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she had one last “Fuck You” moment in the last book.
What the hell is Demandred up to? The plots of all the other Forsaken have been revealed (and, for the most part, foiled) but we’re at the last book and we’ve got nothing of what he is up to. We haven’t seen him get punished for incompetence, so obviously whatever he is up to is working. He’s an interesting character, whenever we learn a bit about him. I suspect he’ll be one of the last (if not the last) Forsaken standing in the Last Battle.
Of all the secondary antagonists to make it to the last book, I really did not expect Padan Fain, the Darkfriend turned hound turned…crazy ass representation of evil. I like to make prediction, but I really have no idea how he is going to the play into the last book.
Is there a limit to the number of times the Horn can be used? Cause it seems like they should start spamming it now. Trollocs are everywhere. Course they need Mat for that.
It might be slightly…ageist, I guess, of me, but Thom and Moiraine’s relationship makes me uncomfortable. Thom’s description paints him as pretty freaking old, like…I imagine an active grandpa type, and the picture of him on the cover isn’t exactly flattering. Moiraine isn’t exactly young herself, however the agelessness works, but based on her youth in the prequel, she’s probably still half his age. It’s added creepiness that we know in at least one alternate world, Moiraine tried to get control of Rand by bedding him (with disastrous results). Anyway, I just don’t know what it is about the old man that has made so many younger women swoon.
Moiraine’s back, so I guess she’s going the join Nynaeve as one of the two women Rand needs to help use the crystal sword. I don’t really have much more to say on her return…she’s been out of the series for a while now.
All these prophecies about Perrin dying are making me kind of nervous. The plot armor in this series has been pretty thick so far, but I think the author(s) will try and make the Last Battle more…impactful by bleeding the cast, and that’s going to mean the loss of at least one protagonist, and its looking like Perrin is the likely candidate. Rand is also unlikely to survive, but we’ve known that for a while, and even have a character around just to “help him die,” whatever that means. There’s hinting at a way he can live, but I don’t think they mean ‘live’ as in continuing to be around as he is, but perhaps as a force, or as a part of the Pattern…or, if they go super philosophical with it, as an idea, though that would kind of piss me off. I could be wrong, perhaps the plot armor will hold, but it seems unlikely all three ta’varen are getting through this in one piece.
Speaking of bleeding the cast, looks like Talmanes has volunteered himself to start, considering he’s charging a trolloc infested Camelyn with only a portion of the Band and no Mat.
Only one book left. I can’t say when my last post will be up, cause either I’m going to pace myself to draw out ending the series or I’m going to suddenly absorb the book in desperation to see the end. So…it’ll be done when it’s done.