On the 8th of January, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, will be released. It has been completed by Brandon Sanderson who was tasked with the commission after Robert Jordan's untimely passing. This is the third such book written by Sanderson.
I should preface this entry by noting that, while I am a big fan of the series, I am not a superfan who has analysed each and every word. I should also note that there may be some minor spoilers here based on the already published prologue and first chapters of the book, and also from Tor's "Memories of Light" snippets. I'm also assuming you have read all of the preceding books!
As at the end of Towers of Midnight, the Last Battle is imminent. I believe the LB will be fought on three levels: the physical, in the dream world Tel'aran'rhiod and with the One Power. This matches up well with the unique skills of our six heroes. For the physical we have Mat Cauthon, with the skills and knowledge of the best generals of the Age, Elayne with her political power as Queen of Andor and Cairhien. For Tel'aran'rhiod we have Egwene, the first Dreamer in many centuries and Perrin, Wolfbrother with extensive experience in the Wolf Dream. For the One Power we have Rand and Nynaeve, two of the strongest channellers of the Age. I am expecting the forces of the light to be under attack in all three areas. We have already seen hordes of Trollocs begin to attack and Taim has been preparing the Dreadlords to fight with the One Power for the dark side. We have not seen the dark side achieve much in Tel'aran'rhiod yet, but I imagine that will come; moreover, Perrin's nemesis Slayer lurks there still. There are still multiple prophecies left to be fulfilled, and while I hope we see their fulfilment, I hope Team Jordan also has a few surprises up its sleeve. I will try to gather my thoughts by character.
Rand has a Date with Fate at Shayol Ghul. Prior to this, he has to win the support of Team Light for his decision to break the Seals to the Dark One's prison. One thing to which I am looking forward is the conference at the Fields of Merrilor. One of the major gripes of the series is that the characters don't communicate vital information. I would hope that this conference will allow for good information sharing. That is a major advantage of Team Light; they actually trust and like one another. This is contrasted with the backstabbing and treachery of the Forsaken amongst one another. In this same vein, I believe that Team Light's ability to form circles will give them a decided edge over Team Dark. I hope that the spilt in Team Light to destroy or not to destroy the Seals will not last too long. It is also a tempting target for any Team Dark assault… Rand must also try to broker a deal with the Seanchan – the Dragon's Peace referred to in Aviendha's future vision. One aspect I'm keen to see unfold is the discrepancy between the Randland and Seanchan prophecies about whether Rand will bow to the Empress or vice versa. I feel that will be key plot point, but I have no clue how this will be resolved. RaFO as Robert Jordan used to say.
Rand is also fated to die at Shayol Ghul. Several prophecies, Dreams and Viewings seem to indicate this. Rand/The Dragon is portrayed almost as a Christlike Redeemer figure, dying at Shayol Ghul. I believe that Rand will indeed die, but that in keeping with the theme and the foreshadowing of Nynaeve's Healing someone "three days dead" I don't believe he'll remain dead for good. The Prophecies of the Dragon say Light is held before the maw of the infinite void, and all that he is can be seized. I believe this could imply that Rand will be 13×13'd at Shayol Ghul and Alivia will have to kill him.
In the mythology of the Wheel of Time, time is circular. in each turning, Aes Sedai drill through the Dark One's prison in search of a new power source and the Dragon has to reseal the Bore to reimprison the Dark One in his prison. As Robert Jordan chose to write about this particular turning, we can probably assume this one will be different. Rand has spoken of attempting to kill the Dark One this turning. At this point I have no clue how he intends to achieve that, although Callandor being used in a circle with Moiraine and Nynaeve would be a reasonable guess.
Perrin's main plot point seems to be with the Wolf Dream and dealing with Slayer. In the Great Hunt Min has a viewing about Perrin that twice he would have to be there for Rand or something bad would happen. The first was clearly his assistance in rescuing Rand from his kidnapping by the Tower Aes Sedai at the Battle of Dumai's Wells. From the Memories of Light spoiler series we have this quote: "We must spread the word to all of our allies," Amys said. "We must not use this weave." and "Nobody travels the Ways," Ituralde said, aghast. I believe the first refers to the weave for Traveling: Male channelers describe the forming of a gateway with saidin as "boring a hole in the Pattern" to the channeler's destination. Forming a gateway with saidar is done by creating a similarity in the Pattern, then stepping through the gateway to the channeler's destination. It could be they discover that Traveling damages the already frail Pattern and cannot risk using it again. One property of Tel'aran'rhiod is that it is possible to enter it in the flesh to move quickly from place to place. This is precedented in Egwene's journey to Salidar to become the Amyrlin Seat for the rebel Aes Sedai. It seems very possible that Rand will feel obliged to use Tel'aran'rhiod to travel to Shayol Ghul or somewhere else and will be in grave danger. This could very well be the second time that Perrin has to be there for Rand.
Mat seems to have a busy time ahead of him. He has to deliver Moraine to Rand, fetch and presumably blow the Horn of Valere and act as Team Light's General in Chief and according to the synopsis, meet with Tuon again. Nicola Foretold The great battle done, but the world not done with battle. The land divided by the return, and the guardians balance the servants. The future teeters on the edge of a blade. This would suggest that even after the Dark One is defeated, there will still be battle especially with the Seanchan. This seems to tie in with Aviendha's harsh vision of the future. One of the key turning points of that vision is the death of Tuon. "The edge of a blade" would fit in with Mat's learning of assassination plots against her in the rereleased excerpt from chapter 11 of A Memory of Light. I expect then that part of Mat's plot line in AMoL will be attempting to defeat the assassins.
I think Egwene's storyline in AMoL will be connected to the Seanchan. She has had visions of being aided by a Seanchan, and now Eaganin has turned up in her entourage. Coincidence? I think not. I don't think Egwene will have anything to do with the Battle at Shayol Ghul but rather the Seanchan. She could have to try to work with the Seanchan to achieve the Dragon's Peace that so far Rand has failed to do. This would be a great character development for Egwene – ever since her imprisonment as a damane in The Great Hunt she has had an extreme hatred of the Seanchan. Overcoming that might be a greater challenge for her than undermining Elaida or fighting the Seanchan. As I mentioned above, her skill in Tel'aran'rhiod could well involve her working with Perrin to protect Rand in the World of Dreams.
Nynaeve clearly has to go to Shayol Ghul with Rand. The cover art says so, so there! Presumably she is one of the two women who link with Rand to use Callandor. There has been too much foreshadowing of her Healing death for her not do undertake this in AMoL, and I believe it will be for Rand.
I'm not sure what Elayne's role will be in AMoL other than to help convince the other rulers of Rand's plan at the Fields of Merrilor and use her political power to co-ordinate the defence against the physical threats of the Last Battle – the hordes of Trollocs etc. She also has to give birth to her twins, although I'm not certain that the timeline will go on that long. Elaida Foretold that someone in House Trakand will be key to winning the Last Battle, so either Gawyn or Elayne must play a critical role. I'm not certain what that might be though.
She will be the second woman to go with Rand to Shayol Ghul. She has to be the second woman to link with Rand to use Callandor. Whether or not this is enough to justify her description as "the woman without whom Rand would fail" and the "woman who will save the world" I'm not certain. Up until Gathering Storm I had thought it might be her role to bring Rand back from his self-imposed emotional exile, but that seems to have been accomplished by his epiphany on Dragonmount. I have no clue what other part she might play. I also have no clue on how Callandor will function as a key to winning the Last Battle.
Her major plot line has to be her attempt to prevent her vision of the Aiels' humiliation and destruction. Her initial thought is that that she needs to change the name of one of her kids as a start. I don't think she'll leave it at that. Of course she will need to have some alone time with Rand first to become pregnant in the first place… A second key point in the vision is the Aiel's not being committed to the Dragon's Peace. I imagine Aviendha will be instrumental in working with the Aiel to get their full commitment to their Car 'a Carn.
Demandred and the other Foresaken
Ah. Our old friend Demandred. He has been hiding in the background for all of the last few books and has generated much speculation as to his alias. I have no idea who he is hiding as, but I really hope he kicks some ass. Not that I'm on Team Dark, but given the incompetence of many of the other Forsaken and the long build up he'll need to really up the game to justify his existence. At this point, Team Light seems to be in a reasonably good position. Rand has got over his emotional issues, Egwene has reunited the split White Tower and purged many of the Black Ajah. Mat has rescued Moraine who is considered a key to winning the Last Battle. Team Light has plans to sit down and hold a conference to decide how to proceed. Of the Forsaken, only Demandred, M'Hael, Lanfear, Moghedien and Moridin are still alive and of whom Lanfear and Moghedien are under mind control and not able to act. I fully expect Demandred and Moghedien to come up with real and unexpected obstacles for Team Light in AMoL, although I'm a little concerned that there is already a lot to cover without new threats.
Taim and The Black Tower
This is another thread I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out. This appears to be one of the big chinks in Team Light's armour. I still cannot believe they are unaware that Taim has turned it into a Dreadlord factory with the use of 13 Dreadlords channelling through 13 Myrddraal. I'm sure Pevara and Androl and their double Warder bond will play a big part in this. I am concerned for Logain based on the early release chapters of AMoL. He appears to have been 13×13'd and although Min has predicted future glory for him, that doesn't necessarily mean glory for Team Light… Also, Egwene once had a dream in which Logain steps over what she believes to be Rand's corpse, sits on a throne and laughs maniacally, while Rand's corpse collapses into leaves. This would tend to suggest that Logain will not work for Team Light. I fully anticipate the Battle for the Black Tower will take up a fair chunk of the first part of the book. Androl for head Asha'man anyone?
The Gollum Wlldcard aka Padan Fain
Padan Fain has been described by Robert Jordan as something new to this turning of the Wheel and has been likened to Gollum of The Lord of the Rings. Brandon Sanderson has personally assured Jason Denzel of Dragonmount that Fain will NOT bite off Rand's finger and fall into a fiery chasm. One thing that struck me about Aviendha's future vision is that her sons and daughters are described as permanently connected to the Source, and there is no mention of any taint for wielders of saidin. I believe that Fain's role will be to absorb the Dark One's backlash as the Dark One is destroyed or reimprisoned thereby preventing the taint from corrupting saidin and/or saidar and avoiding a new Breaking of the world. The evil of Mashadar's negating the Dark One's touch has been precedented by the Cleansing of saidin and also of the sealing of Rand's wounds.
There are so many other characters who will have a part to play. The Aiel Wise Ones, Lan, Cadsuane, Alivia, Galad, Gawyn. I have no idea though what part they will play. I guess I'll have to RaFO.
There are strong hints to the way some story lines may play out but I believe Jordan and Sanderson will have a few surprises in store. I can't wait to read it (or actually, listen to it as I've pre-ordered it on Audible)