Friday, November 27, 2009

The Wheel of Time: Speculations and Observations

Another piece of evidence that Brandon Sanderson has done a wonderful job with the latest volume of the Wheel of Time is that it's gotten me thinking, just like the old days of WoT, or just like I do a lot whenever I read a Song of Ice and Fire book. Obviously, the ultimate destination of the series is the Last Battle Tarmon Gai'don, but it has something like 1500 pages' worth of plots to resolve and characters to develop before it gets there. Here are some stray thoughts and observations, not necessarily connected to each other, on where the series is going.

--I don't know who made the decision to name the last book A Memory of Light. Maybe it was Jordan, less likely Sanderson, possibly Middle Managing Editor At Tor. But whoever it was, the fan base ought to give him or her a hug for not calling it something mind-numbingly uncreative like Tarmon Gai'don or The Last Battle. Take, for counterexample, the Left Behind series. Essentially the Christian apocalyptic eschatological equivalent of the Wheel of Time, it concerns the end of days, the last battle Armageddon, and the glorious appearing of Jesus to rule His new kingdom. Their titles were just fine until they got to the end of the series, which ended with--I'm not making this up--Armageddon and Glorious Appearing.

--Almost an afterthought since the middle of the series, Callandor got a few nods in The Gathering Storm, with the promise that "three will become one" in order for Rand to wield it again. We know that a circle of three channelers, one male and two female, is necessary to use it safely, which is ostensibly what the "three become one" passage is referring to. My best guess as to who these three might be are Rand plus the two of his girls that can channel, Elayne and Aviendha. It could just as easily be something like Rand, Egwene, and Tuon. But don't forget that there's "something" Min and Cadsuane are missing about the sa'angreal. One theory that I like but can't take credit for is that the "three" represent saidar, saidin, and the True Power.

--The Tower of Ghenjei showdown is coming up, and soon. I'm a sucker for mysterious, "what's really going on here?" sorts of stories, which makes this the single most exciting upcoming plot in the Wheel of Time to me. I can't wait to see how the Tower, the 'elfinn, and the red mirrors are all related, and how exactly one does win the game of Snakes and Foxes. Moiraine's rescue is somehow going to be more important to the rest of the books than simply "cool, now we have another ally to fight on our side", but it's impossible to say how yet. However, I am more or less certain that it's going to happen in the next book, where Ghenjei will be one of the "Towers of Midnight".

--Another Mat plot is the one I'm looking second-most forward to in the entire series: the culmination of the Illuminators/gunpowder story. Mat rolling into the Last Battle with the Band armed with cannons is going to be fantastic. Here's a long shot speculation, but we know that Rand wants to defeat the Dark One without having to touch him--because touching him with the Power last time led to the taint--so what if Rand ends up defeating the Dark One by blasting him with cannons?

--The White Tower reunification plot line is almost finished, but not quite: the Black Ajah purge still isn't complete. Mesaana is still alive, presumably with the Blacks somewhere, and Alviarin is still out there too. I think in the next book, Egwene will use the strength of the unified White Tower (perhaps another of the "Towers of Midnight"?) to get this done.

--A little Forsaken speculation: Moridin (né Ishamael), Cyndane (née Lanfear), and Moghedien are all bound together, the latter two by Moridin's mindtrap. Moridin is obviously a book-14 issue; Rand's battle with him will be one of the climaxes of Tarmon Gai'don. And it's not like Cyndane or Moghedien or making any plans of their own these days. I think during the last battle, it's going to take a good guy dream team of Rand (to fight Moridin), Moiraine (who has quite the history with Lanfear), and Nynaeve (who has history of her own with Moghedien) to take them down. Maybe these are the three who will end up using Callandor.

--More on the Forsaken: Mesaana and Aran'gar (née Balthamel) are the two Forsaken most closely tied to the Aes Sedai; if Egwene finished the Black Ajah purge in the next book, then Mesaana and Aran'gar are going down in the next book rather than the finale. And then there's Demandred, whose identity and plans probably won't be revealed until the very end.

--Perrin needs to do something with his wolf abilities. Don't know what.

--Finally, several pairs or groups of characters still need to reunite: Rand and his three girls; Lan and Nynaeve; Moiraine and Lan; Mat and Tuon; and perhaps most important to the story, Rand, Mat, and Perrin. Rand, Mat, and Perrin won't reunite until the very end, but when they do, stuff is going down.

Currently listening: "Dear Valentine", Guster, from Ganging Up on the Sun

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