AMoL The Last Battle

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In this post I talk abuot Chapter 37 of AMoL, the Last Battle.

Don't read this post. It's just horrible. I've got an index of other posts here.
What Happens
There is a big battle. Lots of people die.

This chapter is almost 200 pages long, it would be crazy to try and summarise it. And I don't want to re-live it in that way. It is soul crushingly terrible. Just when you think we've reached the bottom, that things are as bad as they can get, it gets worse. Now let me be clear, the writing is good, it's just the storyline that is horrible.

So many characters die. Not just minor ones, but characters that have been influencing me since my adolescence. This series has had a reputation for not killing off characters, so this change, within one chapter (admittedly one very large chapter) was in some ways unexpected.

Some of them die unexpectedly, and there deaths seem completely un-meaningful, like Siuan and Bryne's deaths, and Hurin. Some die striving to end the battle sooner (like Gawyn and Lan). Elayne doesn't die, but is captured and everyone (except for Rand) thinks she is dead, and I don't even want to talk about why they have captured her and what they are going to do to her, because that is truly evil.

It's so sad when Birgitte tells Elayne that she's lost all her memories of previous lives. We don't have much time to dwell on that, because then she's killed. We don't know if she's been tide back onto the wheel, she's just dead all of a sudden.

I guess I have to talk about Demandred. We've only seen him very briefly in the rest of the series, at meetings of the forsaken. He's always been calm, collected and ready to fight the bad fight. But now we find out he's a raving lunatic. He keeps calling across the entire battle field for Lewis Therin to duel him. I mean, come on. A duel? He must be crazy. He causes such problems for the light side forces that not one, not two or three, but four light side champions go and try to sort him out.

I mentioned earlier that Gawyn dies. He dies after trying to be the first challenger to Demandred. And even though he does it in his normal I'm-a-git manner, this time it actually makes sense to me. He's got the bloodrings, he's a really good swordsman, surely that would give him a chance. But as it turns out, he still can't channel, and Demandred is an amazing blademaster. So he dies. This was actually a surprise. We'd known for a while that Gawyn was dying, due to the poison of the bloodrings. We'd seen Egwene note that he was pale. It seemed likely that Egwene would eventually ask him what was wrong, and send him off for heeling, after telling him that he's a git. But no, he dies, and Egwene looses her shit in Warder-death grief (and love of her life grief).

Next up to challenge is Galad. He's got Mat's ter'angreal that stops channeling weaves from touching him. And he's probably a better swords man than Gawyn, but he only fairs slightly better. He doesn't die (through almost no fault of his own) but he does lose an arm. Annoura burns herself out taking him from the battlefield to the Maine hospital. Seems like Annoura might just have a crush on Berelain if she's willing to do that.

Logain has a go, and doesn't really achieve much. We get a few scenes that are written from Logain's point of view. We can see that he is more than a little crazy, and the shadow's efforts to Turn him have made him quite bitter. Or perhaps he already was bitter, as his reflections on his motivations over the last two years suggests. Min re-iterates that Logains 'glory' incident is still in his future, so I guess he's going to do something useful. Perhaps it involves the seals.

Speaking of seals, Androl is very clever, and manages to steal them from Taim (who doesn't even realise). He hands them to Logain. Egwene finds out, but only pretty much as she is confronting Taim. She realises that she probably won't survive, so she pushes her new warder (Leilwin) through a gateway with instructions to break them when they see the light. This instruction confuses me, because almost straight away Egwene creates 'the light' when she works out a successful counter to Taim's balefire, a weave that patches the damage to the pattern that balefire does. Unfortunately I don't think she teaches anyone this new weave she discovers, and I'm not sure there is anyone close enough (and with enough time) to learn it. Fortunately it kills Taim and _all_ the remaining Sharan channelers. Unfortunately it also kills herself. I've got a vague hope that Egwene has an inkling about what this new weave will do in the future, that there is some other kind of 'light' that will somehow unkill a bunch of Lightside people. Though that seems very unlikely. She's probably just refering to a prophecy that speaks about the light.

And then the chapter closes, with another challenger having a go at Demandred. This time it's Lan (who is awesome). Lan doesn' t have any fancy channeling, or ter'angreals, he is just awesome. Demandred (because he's crazy) doesn't just balefire him away, he sword fights him. Demandred tries to throw rocks at Lan, but because Lan is awesome, he dodges them, having become 'one with the sword' (as Demandred taunted Gawyn earlier). Lan sacrifices his life to slay Demandred, straight through the throat. Yeah, so Lan was awesome. He is less awesome now that he's dead. Just like everyone else.

At least we know have an objective chapter in the book to compare the blade masters. Definitely Lan is the best, then Galad, and then Gawyn.

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