Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A Memory of Light - Preview and Predictions

This is the fun part, where I fearlessly predict what will take place in A Memory of Light! I’ve done something similar for each of the past books, and my record is almost perfect misses, a consequence of my willingness to defend an implausible theory until the end, and beyond.
These are not spoilers, but predictions!
Based off of the research conducted over the last year, these predictions are based on a writer’s perspective, what I’ve learned about how Robert Jordan thinks and writes, and are in line with the major themes I identified. I read most of the promotional chapters, but have ignored them for the most part in this exercise. Some parts are so important to the story that despite the lack of attention they received in this reread, I had to commit to a position. So be it. Forward!
Read them before A Memory of Light as a preview, or after you’re done as a probably mostly incorrect review for further amusement. It’s quite detailed, with lots to reflect upon.

The opening scene will be Rand confronting the assembled nobles of the world at Merrilor, telling them that he should break the Seals and face the Dark One while the forces of humanity are still strong, as well as setting conditions for his participation at the Last Battle. These conditions include a peace treaty lasting beyond the Last Battle, except the Aiel.
Rand’s attempt to broker peace will fail. 
Aviendha wants the Aiel included in the peace but other Wise Ones argue against it because of the Seanchan. Egwene can't agree to the peace without getting the Seals in return, and can't abide letting the Seanchan exist or keep their damane. Elayne sides with Egwene, while Perrin sides with Rand, dividing Andor. The Seanchan Empire needs to accept as well, and Rand has no link to them which he could use to persuade even his friends.
Despondent, Rand decides to go it alone, having no other choice but to face the Dark One.
Do Rand's enemies want the seals broken? There is no clear indication they have any interest one way or the other, but they do have an interest in acquiring the Seals so that they can control the time and manner of their breaking.
So, Rand's public declarations about the meeting at Merrilor have drawn out his enemies, and they have attacked Caemlyn in order to disrupt his meeting with the Amyrlin. They may hope to distract him at a time when the Seals are less well defended.
Caemlyn is the heart of the world, the crown jewel of cities, and it is burning. Olver is lost in the chaos, and his disappearance represents the loss of the accord between Rand and the Nations. The Dragons are at risk, and they represent ingenuity and mankind’s ability to overcome obstacles on its own.
A large number of characters have links to Andor and Caemlyn, and the question is whether they will return there to save it, or leave it to its fate as the allies of Malkier and Manetheren did when they were overwhelmed by the Shadow. The locale once again mirrors the larger plot, where all that is good risks being lost because allies bicker.
The Hall of the Tower
The Hall of the Tower deposes Egwene for her utter failure to stop Rand and unite the Nations against the Dark One.
Mat realizes no one will be happy to hear he married the Empress of the forces they all oppose. He hightails it out of town, hoping to bring his wife to see that she needs to join the other nations or all is lost.
Perrin resolves to save Caemlyn and Andor. Faile insists on participating as a Saldaean wife should. She falls in the fighting, and Perrin follows soon after, having nothing to live for even if Rand should win.
The Black Tower
Once readers see the bleakness of the other locales, a glimmer of hope can be introduced, though Brandon’s rapid chapter beaks will allow this to play out over several hundred pages. Androl is a repentant Darkfriend, and Pevara is the Darkfriend hunter who should hate and destroy him, yet they find common cause. Pevara and Androl use the precision of a circle to create a Gateway where none should be possible, defeating the Dreamspike by making the Gateway of both saidar and saidin.  The union of male and female represents power, freedom and lack of constraint, and they elude their captors easily, moving through the Black Tower at will.
Lan at Tarwin’s Gap
Lan leads a valiant ill-fated charge into the Blight. He is awesome, and will fight straight through to the slopes of Shayol Ghul, though as with Caemlyn, there will be much hand-wringing over whether any help will come. Standing alone leads only to death. Help does come. With the failure to reach an accord amongst Nations, Rand will send the Borderlanders to aid in the charge, and they should arrive at Shayol Ghul in time to see the eclipse.
Rand’s death
Perrin’s death depresses Rand. Learning that Rand has no intention of destroying the Seanchan, Alivia avenges herself on Rand, killing him. The remaining heroes are aghast. Hope is dead.
Morgase is still in Caemlyn and finds Olver, keeping the lowest born of Andorans safe through the destruction, preserving the heart and essence of the Nation in the form of a child, as the women of Manetheren did. Olver keeps her safe as well.
The White Tower
Assaulted by the Seanchan and their newfound command of Gateways, the White Tower is attacked yet again, this time more successfully. Few Aes Sedai escape being collared, including Egwene.
Aviendha, Min, and Elayne
The women burn Rand’s body.
Mat tells Tuon that Rand is dead, softening her stance.
Moiraine reveals that since Rand used the True Power, the Dark One is able to resurrect him. The world has a three-day reprieve before a suitable body is found and the transmigration completed. After that, Rand will be the Dark One’s captive and will turn, believing the world has forsaken him. Then, the balefire will be unleashed, undoing reality. Rand’s death and the hope of his resurrection are the catalyst for the rulers and heroes to make concessions.
Pevara and Androl locate and free Logain, adding him to their circle. Logain’s followers are added as well, and they become powerful enough to stand against and overthrow Mazrim Taim, destroying the Black Tower with no outside help. Logain’s victory is one of character, for his judgment raised Androl and gave him back his self-worth when no one else would. Logain leads the Asha’man to glory, and with his Asha’man and Aes Sedai followers, he commands the only force capable of creating a 72-channeler circle.
Trapped as damane, Elaida and Egwene work together to escape. They succeed with Egeanin’s help. Egwene and Elaida and Egeanin confront Tuon and Mat. They decide they can work together.
Perrin lives on in the World of Dreams. He and the wolves in Tel’aran’rhiod lead an assault on Moridin’s otherworldly lair to free a newly-resurrected Rand. Amongst Moridin’s treasures is the Horn of Valere.
Rand’s resurrection
Rand returns to find the nations gathered together, committed to protecting each other or dying in the doing. When he breaks the Seals, Rand has acknowledged the Dark One may briefly become more powerful, and during that time is when Rand is most at risk of losing.
Min tells Rand the secret to using Callandor is that it forces him to work with women. She later dies. No one knows what the future holds.
Knife of Dreams
Rand wears the Knife of Dreams, so the Dark One can’t see him coming. He is accompanied by Egwene and Nynaeve, and Gawyn.
Joline and Teslyn
Joline and Teslyn sway the Hall to support peace with the Seanchan, in part due to Mat’s rank as Prince of the Ravens. Egwene is appointed to accompany Rand on behalf of the Hall.
The Crystal Throne
Mat and Rand Travel to Seanchan, where the Seanchan prophecies are corrected and Tuon kneels while Rand sits upon the Crystal Throne.
Demandred’s forces of Black Ajah and the remaining Asha’man Travel the world, balefiring whatever most damages the Pattern. Reality wavers.
The Last Battle
The armies of mankind Travel to Shayol Ghul for the Last Battle. Darkhounds, Sea Folk, Jumara, Whitecloaks, Trollocs, Asha’man, Black Ajah, Aludra’s cannons, red-veiled Aiel, Ogier, Heroes of the Horn, and so much more!
Slayer escapes Lan in the waking world only to be killed by Perrin when he appears in Tel’aran’rhiod.
Cadsuane still represents the Light itself, and she will die in the battle at Shayol Ghul to symbolize how badly events are going.
The Forsaken
Each of the Forsaken played a specific role or represented a specific philosophy. Graendal’s hedonism, Be’lal’s envy, Sammael’s competitive nature, Semirhage’s indifference to the spiritual, Rahvin’s vanity, all of them stood for something. Each of the five survivors has a role to play, and that role will determine if they live or die.
Ishamael represented doubt, which Rand overcame with willpower. Moridin now represents a nihilistic philosophy, in which nothing matters and there is no purpose, for everything dies in the end. Rand’s epiphany disproves that philosophy, showing redemptive purpose to the cycle of birth and rebirth, and that knowledge will destroy Moridin. His identity blown to dust, Rand defeats him in the penultimate confrontation in Tel’aran’rhiod, but he’ll get another chance to get it right when the Wheel next turns.
Lanfear was lust, for power, knowledge, and lust itself. Her selfish act which released the Dark One will be redeemed. Her sincere plea for help will be heeded, for Rand knows she drilled the Bore and can explain its nature so he can repair the Dark One’s prison. The entire purpose of marching to Shayol Ghul is to save Mierin, for Rand needs to save all of humanity, even the awful people, perhaps especially them. She is no longer forsaken by mankind, they are coming to give her a last chance. She dies, happily, at Rand’s side and in his aid.
Moghedien’s fearful identity was destroyed, as exemplified by her statement that she would never be afraid again. She could say or do anything, but she will most likely take a chance that she never would have before, even a slim one, in order to be free of the mindtrap. She’ll die in the attempt, having unwittingly aided the heroes, but she’ll be happy to have overcome the cringing caution that she personified.
Graendal has been remade, we learned in the prologue, giving her a new identity as well. She will be unrepentant, and succeed where she failed last time, killing Perrin. She shall be restored to her original form as a reward, and with all her sneaky undercutting deviousness, she will be Nae’blis at last, just in time for the Dark One’s defeat. She will have sacrificed all to advance to the pinnacle, to find she is in command of absolutely nothing. She lives and will be brought to justice in the White Tower.
Demandred is a gambler, and he gambles his immortal soul that eternal life is better than constant rebirth. He is an atheist playing the safe probable odds that the Dark One wins, and therefore forsaking the Light. He’ll get one last chance to change his bet before it’s too late. He won’t get a chance to face Rand though, as Mat will defeat him in single combat after his army defeats Demandred’s in the field. Demandred’s death will be representative of life without the Light, either tumbling through blackness forever like the gholam, or death by balefire so that he neither lives forever nor can get resurrected. 
Breaking the Seals
The Dark One's only known weakness is his inability to step outside of time; he is bound to linear time as much as any other character. If Rand balefires the Seals, they will have been destroyed at an earlier time, but the Dark One will neither have perceived the opening of his prison, or acted upon it. Rand can have his allies weaving the new Seals before he acts with balefire, so that they are ready to place them immediately after the balefire has been used. The Dark One's window of opportunity will have been missed.
This means that Rand should either wield the balefire, or weave the Seals, but not both. Whichever role he takes, his chances of success are higher if he and his allies are in different locations, keeping the Shadow uncertain which group they should dedicate forces to attacking. Rand communicates with his allies, using the ta'veren ability to 'see' what each other are doing so the timing is perfectly coordinated.
Padan Fain
Padan Fain interferes at the Pit of Doom, and the Dark One is free to touch the world. Fain gleefully wants to destroy everything out of unbridled hate for Rand and the Shadow. He represents the nuclear victory option, cutting off the nose to spite the face.
Nynaeve, as always acting as Rand’s conscience, crushes Padan Fain. Rand will not destroy himself to win.
Shaidar Haran
Rand battles Moridin, then Shaidar Haran, finally standing before the Pit of Doom.
The Dark One
The Dark One brags that he has destroyed everything outside of the Pit of Doom, only Rand and Nynaeve still stand. Reality is a dissipating fog, the people tenuously hold to existence through their belief in Rand. All depends on his willpower, his identity, his dedication not to give in to the Dark One even when all is lost. Every bit of True Power is exerted at Rand, trying to bend or break him. Using the power of Tel’aran’rhiod, the True Power, Rand rejects the Dark One, forcing reality back into existence, drawing on the strength of Nynaeve, then Perrin, Logain, and others who stand together, in an ever expanding circle, until all is set right. The Dark One’s prison is reconstructed better than new thanks to Lanfear’s guidance.
Mat is believed dead, but he’s a tricksy one. Olver is safe.
Tel’aran’rhiod is a realm where what you will becomes reality, which is the situation the world finds itself in. A tenuous peace rests on the faith each person has with their neighbour. Ill thoughts breed ill acts, but faith, tolerance and acceptance breed a world where self-reliance is supported by community.
Aviendha gives new purpose to the Aiel by bringing them back to their roots as singers that make the barren world fertile again. They are no longer killers, but creators. They even let the Tinkers join. This new identity allows them to maintain a lasting peace with Seanchan, who now also use the glass columns to learn their history and atone for their mistakes.

While I’d love to have nailed every facet of the book, I am pretty satisfied that these predictions fulfill major known prophecies, fill in oft-theorized gaps, and reflect the themes accurately. In about nine hours, I buy A Memory of Light and start reading to see how close or far I was.
Writing Lessons:
Take a Stand. Defend it. Don’t be wishy-washy.

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