In this section, the penultimate confrontation is set up
Rand visits the White Tower, and sets a date for the beginning of the Last Battle. Establishing a firm time and date for an important action to be carried out has some benefits and drawbacks. It solidifies readers’ expectations more forcefully than simply laying out the order of future events. The obvious way to introduce tension is to throw off the date with some external pressure. In this case, Egwene’s reservations act as that pressure. By cementing her opposition to breaking the seals, there is an expectation that her opposition is the main pressure, and other possible ways of derailing the meeting between her and Rand in a month will not take place. Possible examples could have been Rand failing to show up, or the seals going missing, or some distraction such as the Black Tower throwing the schedule off. By making clear Egwene’s opposition to Rand’s plan, readers are more likely to believe that the plan will be carried out exactly as described. There’s some evidence this technique was successful based on the focus on the meeting at Merrilor in the numerous theories bounced around Theoryland in the last year.
From here on, Rand’s perspectives stop showing up, and we only see other characters’ perspective of Rand, which effectively keeps the details of his plan mysterious.
Egwene’s dreams are prophetic, and the one touching on the book’s title, Towers of Midnight, is obviously describing the Forsaken. Thirteen towers stand, several crumble, one begins to fall, then rises higher than the others, the Nae’blis. In the end, six stand, representing Demandred, Graendal, Moridin, Cyndane, Moghedien, and Mesaana.
The Pattern is being reworked even further, with entire villages now being cut from their location and pasted elsewhere. Is this symbolic of Rand’s personalities and past lives being integrated into one? It will certainly pose some difficulties for battle and travel later, when existing maps are no longer useful and there is no certainty about the path forward.
Perrin and Galad continue to share chapters, and a link between the plotlines is established when Byar tells Galad about Perrin’s past actions involving the Children of the Light. Byar’s biased view of Perrin acts as an effective dread inducing element, which the reader hopes will be overcome by Galad’s unswerving desire to do the right thing. Galad is a mirror image to Mordeth, each uncaring of the cost to others when they take actions to prevent their own moral discomfort.
Perrin agrees to learn how to navigate the wolf dream properly. His motivations are nebulous, resting on his discomfort with Faile since her rescue, his need to learn the tools at his disposal, his avoidance of the darker sides of his personality. These fuzzy rationales are easily overlooked by readers because of relief that they will finally learn more about this interesting ability. Let’s just get on with the wolfing already!
Egwene has become too powerful, and has a position where none question her authority, so she has a new weakness introduced in the form of her love for Gawyn. Actions she takes to pursue romance can undermine her authority, and actions to maintain her authority could cost her a romantic relationship. Take away Gawyn, and Egwene becomes a purely political entity. Using Gawyn to keep Egwene rooted in normal relationships is a good concept, particularly as it centers on them feeling out how to interact with each other given the imbalance in their rank.
Graendal reads the Dark Prophecies, and is amazed, as are readers. There is an entire book of Foretellings which only the villains have access to. Moridin also has a collection of ter’angreal which he has disregards for the most part since he has the True Power as a crutch. I could never help imagining a storyline in A Memory of Light where the heroes raid Moridin’s base. A direct confrontation between a handful of heroes and a handful of Forsaken is very appealing.
A ter’angreal, the dreamspike, is introduced. Graendal is given one, and another is already in use. Out of all the items Moridin has collected, and Graendal’s elation at being loaned this one, readers ought to be salivating at the prospect of finding out what it does. The advertised confrontation between Perrin and Graendal appears dire, since she has the element of surprise and he cannot muster enough channelers to confront her directly. Good thing she is so cautious.
Make an event more anticipated by creating expectations of the consequences to that event.