Sunday, June 14, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #65: Epilogue - And After

By Linda

Graendal POV

How surprised Graendal was that the prophecy did not work as she assumed, although Moridin warned her that prophecies can be tricky:

"What is this book?" she finally managed to force out. "Where did these prophecies come from?"
"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen. The women and men who spoke these were isolated and held alone. The Light must never know of these words. We know of their prophecies, but they will never know all of ours."
"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand."

Towers of Midnight, Writings

Mind you, he said himself that the prophecy indicated that the Shadow would kill Perrin. And then again, earlier in the scene he said that Perrin would escape Graendal. The latter judgment was correct; not the misplaced confidence in their interpretation of the prophecy.

Apart from the death of hundreds of “living dead” (Compelled slaves), Graendal lost a lot when Rand balefired her palace. She is about to lose even more. As a parallel of Aphrodite, who was born in the sea, Graendal has two hideaways near the ocean – her palace at Ebou Dar and her cave on an island in the middle of the Aryth Ocean in Towers of Midnight, Writings.

If Graendal had not stopped to pack, she might have escaped punishment…but she likes her conveniences too much. At this point it is indirectly revealed that Graendal killed Asmodean. For those disinclined to accept this, it was openly stated in the Towers of Midnight glossary.

Graendal was forced to take responsibility for the failed missions, but still argued and persuaded. Shaidar Haran assaulted and killed her, then the Dark One gave her an ugly body. In her former incarnation, her most prominent mythological parallels were alluring Aphrodite and Circe; now she is Grendel of the Anglo Saxon saga, monstrous in appearance as well as character.

The opportunity to wreak havoc while believed dead has gone to Lanfear/Cyndane, as we shall see later in this chapter.

Perrin POV

The Wrongness, the Dark One’s breaking of the Pattern, has now reached the stage where it is in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin tries to dispel it and replace it with health/rightness, but it is too large a scale for him to undo. This makes him reflect on how there are always limits and should be limits. Extremes are dangerous or wrong. Perrin went too far trying to bring back Hopper in Tel’aran’rhiod, as well as undo wrongness.

Then Perrin remembers the wolf with the name of Boundless – without limits, in one sense, free, in another. Hopper thought Perrin had found his answer for the man/animal balance or dichotomy but did not understand it. (Because Perrin thought it was a dichotomy, when actually it was a balance.) Boundless flees from Perrin when he asks for information. Perrin has to learn that Noam didn’t lose his humanity. He rejected it.

In the early stages of adjusting to being a Wolfbrother, Perrin unfortunately received misleading information from Moiraine:

“Is that what I can expect?” he asked. “To end like that?”
“Perhaps…Perrin, even in the Age of Legends, they knew little of this. Whoever wrote it seemed uncertain whether it was truth or legend. And I only saw a fragment, remember. She said that some who talked to wolves lost themselves, that what was human was swallowed up by wolf. Some. Whether she meant one in ten, or five, or nine, I do not know.”
“I can shut them out. I don’t know how I do it, but I can refuse to listen to them. I can refuse to hear them. Will that help?” “It may.” She studied him, seeming to choose her words carefully. “Mostly, she wrote of dreams. Dreams can be dangerous for you, Perrin.’

The Dragon Reborn, Wolf Dreams

and made wrong assumptions himself. False or incorrect knowledge is an important theme in The Wheel of Time. Perrin saw Noam in the early days of being a Wolfbrother when Noam hadn’t made his choice or found an equilibrium, a new state of mental health. Noam’s problem is that he saw too truly and too deeply and abandoned the human world for the lupine one. Everyone has their own balance, their own choices to make. What is right for one is not necessarily so for another. Each must take responsibility and understand what they are doing. Noam did. (There is an interesting parallel behind his name). This scene completes Perrin’s growth just in time for the Last Battle.

Olver POV

Olver quotes Mat’s Old Tongue saying: "Dovie'andi se tovya sagain," (It’s time to roll the dice). I guess he’s heard it enough times. In this scene, Olver has Mat’s luck too. He wins the game without cheating. Olver had no idea the game, based on a real world game of unequal forces, “can’t be won”, ie has a very low probability of victory. His game parallels Mat’s visit to Sindhol. The boy had been starting to lose his faith in the game, just as Mat began to doubt he would win against the *Finns.

In his grief, Olver focusses on avenging his father’s death. He has plans of going to the *Finns to get information on the Aiel man who killed his father. Grudgingly he acknowledges that he needs some fighting practice first. This war and the Blight change his mind – show him the reality. Not surprisingly, the boy was sadly traumatised by the Shaido’s predations in Cairhien and has supplied himself with a weapon, so he is not defenceless. Olver is a bit behind in his reading due to lack of education while a refugee.

Mat rightly thinks Olver can’t take care of himself well without help. He lied to the boy so he wouldn’t feel left out, which was futile, since Olver eavesdrops far more than Mat is aware.

Olver does what Mat and his men refused to do: find out what task Verin wanted done. This leads to the unwelcome discovery that the Last Battle has begun and that Shadowspawn are in Caemlyn.

Verin’s reliance on Mat’s curiosity was flawed – she underestimated his fear of the Power and dislike of Aes Sedai. As we saw in the previous chapter, even when in bad pain and with an Aes Sedai he respects, Mat won’t accept Healing. Without Olver’s innocent reading of other people’s correspondence, the cannon would be lost to the Shadow. They made a difference in the war, and also will to channeller/non-channeller relations.


Barriga was a merchant seen at the beginning of Towers of Midnight. Then, he was a prosperous merchant, now he is wounded and dazed in the Blight. The dark-eyed Aiel he describes confused readers, since dark eyes are very rare among Aiel. Perhaps he mis-saw because of the mistaken saying “black-eyed” Aiel. They have red veils, not black, and we now know they hide whether their teeth filed or not. Filed teeth mean the “Aiel” was Turned to the Shadow and must therefore be a channeller, yet this one uses a knife. He takes down his veil to kill, as Isam’s POV explains. These are all a reversal of Aiel ways, so Barriga was right that they are not Aiel. They are reverse Aiel.

The scene is a cliffhanger and teaser to A Memory of Light, where many questions are answered in Isam’s POV.

Rand POV

Rand counted on Egwene uniting those opposed to his plants to break the Seals. Like Moridin, he is playing on the reputation for being dangerously irrational to intimidate people into obedience or cooperation, and had no firm plan B if his conditions were refused. He more or less thought they wouldn’t feel able to refuse, because he was scary and the alternative – no sacrifice – was unthinkable. It all hinged on his bluff not being called.

He has learned (via Lews Therin) how to control his own dreams and uses them to meditate. He recreated the valley where he sheltered for a while after he made decision to declare himself, and where he fled those close to him, because of what he was, to go to Tear on his own.

Lanfear is the one that given task of manipulating Rand instead of Graendal, and considering the residual feelings he still has for her, more likely to succeed. She breaks through his dreams, showing her skill in Dreamwalking: as the Wise Ones said, it’s not easy or safe because when you enter another’s dream they control all there. In Rand’s dream, Lanfear influenced him and was not under his control. She relied on his protectiveness and her own womanly wiles to manipulate him. Her hangout is an underworld, a cavern of light-sucking, life-sucking blackness, with walls of bone-white. It reminds him of death.

Rand falls for her act even though he recognises her, or perhaps because of it. Since Rand recognises her in a different body when he had thought her dead, he didn’t create her in his mind. He calls her Mierin – as if she had never joined the Shadow, or he overlooks her apostasy. At this stage, there is still some lingering feeling for her that has to be settled in his mind before he is ready to face the Dark One.

She may be being tortured, but she is also exaggerating. Lanfear is dragged into a pit (of hell), yet she is a hell goddess. Her claims that

”He grinds my bones and snaps them like twigs, then leaves me to die before Healing me just enough to keep me alive.“

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

are suspect. They imply her bones would be not knitted properly or fully. Yet she moves freely; she is Healed a lot better than that.

Here we have the hell goddess suffering hell. Her comments to Perrin suggest that she is a hell goddess because of her suffering, not for what she does to others:

"I've suffered for my decisions. I've borne pain, agony, excruciating sorrow because of what I've done in my life. My suffering goes beyond what you could conceive."

A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot

Or that’s what she’d like to believe. More misunderstood than bad, apparently. Not her fault she went to the Shadow. She was driven to it.

Lanfear’s act aimed to destroy Rand’s hard-won peace and equilibrium on the day before his publicly announced meeting with the nations. This is hardly a coincidence.

"No!" she screamed. "He comes! The Shadow in every man's mind, the murderer of truth. No!"

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

is overdone. All Forsaken are liars on this scale, not just one of them. As Jordan said, Lanfear was always a drama queen.

I must admit that I sighed at this act and Rand falling for it. I thought: “here we go again…” But she was artistically dragged away a little too soon and Rand does see the histrionics after a while, as we see in their next encounter.


Kaisel – a prince and heir – prods Lan into declaring himself. Until now, Lan has been a hidden monarch figure. Their charge is a parallel of the charge of the Light Brigade, who bravely carried out their mistaken orders to make a frontal assault on a Russian artillery battery at the Battle of Balaclava, as described in Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!

The poem emphasised their patriotism and dutifulness despite Rand’s long-delayed support. Lan’s forces are at the jaws of the Bight, where is located Hell, and the shadow of Death.

The Borderlander forces feel just as doomed. Lan thinks they are. The charge represents the Land fighting back, attacking rather than defending, even though they have not the numbers for it.

Now that Nynaeve has Lan’s Bond – a recent change - he doesn’t feel “One Man Alone” physically or emotionally. All Malkier rides with him. They have done a lot to help Lan, as have the noble Borderlanders with him, but Nynaeve most of all.

Dark Prophecy

The book closes with an excerpt from Moridin’s book of dark prophecy:

Lo, it shall come upon the world that the prison of the Greatest One shall grow weak, like the limbs of those who crafted it. Once again, His glorious cloak shall smother the Pattern of all things, and the Great Lord shall stretch forth His hand to claim what is His. The rebellious nations shall be laid barren, their children caused to weep.
There shall be none but Him, and those who have turned their eyes to His majesty.
In that day, when the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy, the last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come. Yea, and the Broken Wolf, the one whom Death has known, shall fall and be consumed by the Midnight Towers. And his destruction shall bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men, and shall shake their very will itself.
And then, shall the Lord of the Evening come. And He shall take our eyes, for our souls shall bow before Him, and He shall take our skin, for our flesh shall serve Him, and He shall take our lips, for only Him will we praise. And the Lord of the Evening shall face the Broken Champion, and shall spill his blood and bring us the Darkness so beautiful. Let the screams begin, O followers of the Shadow. Beg for your destruction!

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

perhaps the very one which misled Graendal to believe she would kill Perrin:

"What is this book?" she finally managed to force out. "Where did these prophecies come from?"
"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen. The women and men who spoke these were isolated and held alone. The Light must never know of these words. We know of their prophecies, but they will never know all of ours."
"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand.”

Towers of Midnight, Writings

Interesting that this is the first prophecy she saw.

The One-Eyed Fool is Mat. He has been a Fool and Joker figure from the beginning. The halls of mourning he walks may be the Tower of Ghenjei where Thom played his dirge and so many have died, including Noal, but it is even more applicable to the battlefields Mat will soon roam.

The First Among Vermin – Rand – frees the Dark One, by opening his prison. The Seals weakened on the prison so that the Dark One corrupted and weakened the Pattern. People felt abandoned by the Creator and despaired so that there was “None but Him”, none but the Dark One in the world.

The Fallen Blacksmith is Perrin, but these are not his last days, just those of his pride. He now accepts his nature and his responsibilities.

The Broken Wolf who has known death is Hopper. The Midnight Towers are a negative reflection of the White Tower riddled as it was with Black sisters controlled by Mesaana—or how it appeared in Tel’aran’rhiod. Hopper was consumed by the Midnight Towers; he died forever there in the dark reflection of Tar Valon in Tel’aran’rhiod. The wolf fell in battle against Isam and the Black Ajah, a battle that shook people. He is now always in the afterlife, and cannot be reborn, which made Perrin grief-stricken and also shaken to lose his mentor.

Ultimately, Darkness was not brought – except for the Dark One, who was locked way, and for the Forsaken and Darkfriends killed. Many who walked in the Light sacrificed themselves to turn back the Darkness.

This prophecy of the Dark One stretching forth his hand to take over the world parallels the prophecy of Rand stretching out his hand to catch the Shadow and prevent it choking the land:

The Shadow shall rise across the world, and darken every land, even to the smallest corner, and there shall be neither Light nor safety. And he who shall be born of the Dawn, born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy, he shall stretch forth his hands to catch the Shadow, and the world shall scream in the pain of salvation. All Glory be to the Creator, and to the Light, and to he who shall be born again. May the Light save us from him.

The Shadow Rising, Prologue

Neither prophecy is for the faint-hearted, being a warning of misery and terror.