A Memory of Light
|A Memory of Light|
Official book cover
|Author||Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson|
|Cover artist||Michael Whelan|
|Series||The Wheel of Time|
|Publisher||Tor Books, Orbit Books|
|January 8, 2013|
|Preceded by||Towers of Midnight|
A Memory of Light is the 14th and final book of the fantasy series The Wheel of Time, written by American authors Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. A Memory of Light was originally expected to be published around March 2012. On December 21, 2011, Sanderson announced on Twitter that "A Memory of Light—the final book in The Wheel of Time—has been finished". That same day, Sanderson also announced on Twitter that revisions would take "a good six months" and that the book would probably be released in Autumn 2012. Tor released the hardcover book on January 8, 2013, although the e-book was not released until April 8, 2013. On January 16 it was announced that the hardcover book reached number 1 on multiple best seller lists.
Original plans for the book title
The title A Memory of Light was previously intended to apply to a book containing the material in what are now books 12, 13 and 14. The original book was incomplete at the time of Jordan's death on September 16, 2007, from cardiac amyloidosis[disambiguation needed]; his widow Harriet McDougal and publisher Tom Doherty chose to publish the book posthumously. Tor Books announced that Brandon Sanderson had been chosen to finish writing the book.
The unfinished book was split into three volumes because it was believed a single volume would be too large to print. Initially it was planned that all three would be titled A Memory of Light, with distinct subtitles; eventually this plan was dropped, and the three volumes were titled The Gathering Storm (published October 27, 2009), Towers of Midnight (published November 2, 2010), and A Memory of Light (published January 8, 2013).
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (February 2013)|
In the prologue, the armies of the Westlands assemble in preparation for Tarmon Gai'don, as do the forces of the Shadow. The Forsaken Demandred stages a raid on the city of Caemlyn, sending Trollocs to capture the world's first cannons, developed jointly by Matrim Cauthon, Queen Elayne Trakand and the Illuminator Aludra. Talmanes Delovinde and the Band of the Red Hand launch their own counter-attack and successfully exfiltrate the cannon out of the city, but Caemlyn is lost.
The Light is bolstered by people coming from all over the world to fight, sensing the end of all things, while the Shadow welcomes a new Forsaken/Chosen to their ranks in thanks for his service in turning many channelers to the Shadow: Mazrim Taim, now called "M'Hael".
The Field of Merrilor
Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, prepares to host a meeting of all the nations of the West on the Field of Merrilor, where he will attempt to persuade them to fight in Tarmon Gai'don. In the meanwhile, Mat returns to Ebou Dar on a mission to locate Tuon, only to find the city crawling with assassins sent by one of her generals. At the Black Tower, the cold war between Taim and Logain Ablar has boiled over into open conflict, with Logain missing and Taim forcibly "Turning" people to the Shadow. The few Asha'man still loyal to Logain, led primarily by Androl Genhald and Aes Sedai ambassador Pevara Tazanovni, stage a rescue attempt.
Rand hosts his meeting, with many rulers in favor of his plan and others, particularly Amyrlin Seat Egwene al'Vere, in opposition. However, his "price"—a treaty called "The Dragon's Peace" in which borders are fixed and war is outlawed—and his plan, to shatter the remaining seals on the Dark One's prison, lead to widespread argument. It is only when Moiraine Damodred shows up and not only quotes from the Prophecies of the Dragon to convince all the nations to fight but also convinces Egwene to not only go along with the plan but to break the seals herself, that the leaders become willing to sign. The Aiel, spurred on, unbeknowest to Rand, by Aviendha's post-apocalyptic Rhuidean visions during Towers of Midnight, demand to be subject to the treaty, and are written in as arbiters of any dispute. After Elayne Trakand points out that peace cannot be maintained if the Seanchan are exempt, Rand agrees to get the Seanchan to sign it before it is put into effect, and he appoints Elayne commander-in-chief of the forces of the Light.
Elayne dispatches her forces to four different campaigns: Caemlyn is to be retaken by Andoran and Cairheinen troops, as it provides the Shadow a central location from which to strike most of the west. In the Borderlands, Kandor and Tarwin's Gap are both being overrun by Trollocs. Egwene commands an army of Aes Sedai to reinforce Kandor, whilst Lan Mandragoran and the resurrected nation of Malkier try to hold Tarwin's Gap with the support of the remaining Borderland armies. Finally, Rand himself will be leading a force, consisting primarily of Aiel, into Shayol Ghul itself, there to face The Dark One. Additionally, the four remaining "Great Captains"—the finest military commanders in the Westlands—are available to serve, and Elayne attaches one to each campaign: Gareth Bryne in Kandor, Agelmar Jagad at Tarwin's Gap, Rodel Ituralde to Shayol Ghul and Davram Bashere to serve Elayne directly during the Caemlyn campaign.
The fighting on all sides is desperate, but Elayne's is most so: her mission is to strike quickly and decisively at Caemlyn and, upon victory, reassign her forces to the delaying actions in Kandor and at Tarwin's Gap. Humanity's campaign turns to disaster as all four commanding generals begin making mistakes that prolong each campaign: Graendal, now reincarnated into an exceptionally ugly body and renamed Hessalam, uses Compulsion on them, leading them to inadvertently compromise their own armies. However, Rand manages to secure the support of the Seanchan by visiting Tuon in Ebou Dar and convinces her that although she is a descendant of Artur Hawkwing, who once ruled the whole land partway through the Third Age, he as Lews Therin ruled the entire world during the Second Age and his authority supersedes hers. Thus he secures their agreement to fight, and to the peace treaty offered to the other nations (with a few provisions on captured channelers, and who may be captured in future). The Seanchan march to battle with Mat as one of their generals.
Rand now moves to the Pit of Doom with his force, whose orders are to defend the canyon until he has finished his business. Taking only Moiraine, Nynaeve al'Meara and the powerful sa'angreal Callandor, he enters the Pit of Doom to find the Dark One's champion, Moridin. The two begin to duel, interrupted only when Rand steps too close to the hole in the Pattern and makes contact with the Dark One itself. Meanwhile, Perrin Aybara enters Tel'aran'rhiod in order to protect Rand from the depredations of Slayer, his personal nemesis. In this he meets with an unlikely ally: Lanfear, who evidently sees much in him of what she liked in Lews Therin. Despite having bested him in Towers of Midnight, Perrin is gravely wounded by Slayer and is forced to retreat. Finally, Rand's grand plan to break the seals on the Dark One's prison are stymied when he and Egwene become aware that they do not have the remaining seals: agents of the Shadow have successfully switched the seals for replicas, giving them the power to free the Dark One on their own terms.
Elayne's forces put Caemlyn to the torch to force the Trollocs to pursue. However, partially due to Bashere's "mistakes," they become pinned outside Cairhein, pursued by not only the Caemlyn Trollocs but a new force brought up from the north. Only the unexpected intervention of Logain and his loyal Asha'man are able to save them. The battle at Tarwin's Gap becomes a rout as the defenders are pushed back into Shienar, while in Kandor, Egwene and the Aes Sedai are able to hold their own against the Trollocs until they are unexpectedly outflanked: the nation of Shara—mentioned as early as The Eye of the World but so far not a main focus in the series—open hostilities, killing a significant number of Aes Sedai. At their head is "Bao, the Wyld," a charismatic leader who reveals himself to be Demandred, the sole Forsaken whose plans were thus far unrevealed. Mat and the Seanchan ride to their rescue, but the matter is exacerbated by Bryne's not-yet-revealed Compulsion. Realizing that Mat's foxhead medallion makes him the only competent general immune to Compulsion, Egwene decides to put him in operational command of their forces. Taking stock of their losses, Mat decides to gather their remaining troops at the Field of Merrilor for Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle.
The Last Battle
With perhaps a week to fortify, Mat is as prepared as he will get, but his forces are already tired and depleted from weeks of gruelling battle. Demandred, one of the greatest generals of the Age of Legends, leads the opposition, consisting of hundreds of battle-trained channelers of both genders—some Sharan and some from M'Hael and his Turned followers—and a seemingly-inexhaustible supply of Trollocs.
The battle rages back and forth, with Mat sending out orders from his command post. It becomes quickly apparent that the Shadow have a spy embedded in his command structure, forcing him to discard the battle plan and improvise against superior forces. Demandred arrives in power, at the head of a full circle of seventy-two linked channelers and bearing a Power-amplifying sa'angreal, and begins tearing apart the forces of the Light, starting with the "Dragon" cannons that Mat had placed on the high ground. To lure Demandred into over-committing, Mat stages a public falling-out with Tuon, and the Seanchan depart the field. Perrin, though exhausted, receives Healing and returns to the World of Dreams to continue his pursuit of Slayer. At Shayol Ghul, Aviendha and the other Aiel defenders find their lives complicated when Graendal takes the field against them. And a critical piece of cargo—the Horn of Valere, currently in care of Faile Aybara with orders to deliver it to Mat—accidentally goes astray in the Blight, forcing Faile to improvise.
Demandred and the M'Hael cause widespread devastation with their channeling, and Demandred continues to bellow that Rand must come out and face him. Gawyn Trakand, Egwene's Warder and husband [they were married by Silviana], correctly identifies him as the linchpin of the Shadow's forces and attacks him directly. Despite his skill and a ter'angreal he carries, he is no match for one of the Forsaken and is mortally wounded. A short time later his elder half-brother Galad Damodred, Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks, is severely wounded trying the same. Unlike Gawyn however, he manages to slightly wound Demandred before being evacuated from the battlefield. Mat's command post is attacked directly by Sharan forces, providing a useful impetus for his fake argument with Tuon, and Siuan Sanche is killed in the defense. Gareth Bryne loses reason and, in accordance with Min's prophecy, dies in battle soon after. Elayne is waylaid by several Darkfriend Guardsmen led by Doilin Mellar, who kill Birgitte and arrange for a duplicate of Elayne to be seen dead at her horse. Faile's contingent arrive at Merrilor by disguising themselves as a supply convoy for the Shadow, but are almost immediately betrayed from within. Faile manages to obtain the Horn then rides away as a distraction after passing the Horn to Olver with orders to carry it to Mat's banner. Olver desperately rides Bela in order to reach Mat, but Bela is killed and Olver finds himself cornered by Trollocs.
Androl and Pevara, working through disguises, manage to track down M'Hael and steal from him the remaining seals on the Dark One's prison. Egwene, though emotionally traumatized by the loss of Gawyn, her Warder, and exhausted from wielding a sa'angreal of her own, then asks Leilwin Shipless to be her warder and takes the fight to M'Hael. M'Hael, who was lent a sa'angreal from Demandred for the purpose of defeating Egwene, uses balefire to sweep a number of Aes Sedai from the field, instantly reviving many of the Sharan channelers who had been killed by Aes Sedai in the preceding hours. Egwene, in the midst of her fight with M'Hael, discovers a new weave, named semi-symbolically "the Flame of Tar Valon," that can counter balefire and restore the holes in the Pattern it makes. Egwene causes her own death by overchanneling this new weave, but is able to take with her M'Hael and most of the Sharan channelers. Galad passes to Lan one of the copies of Mat's foxhead medallion, which protects the wearer from channeling, and Lan is able to slay Demandred in single combat by throwing his own torso into Demandred's sword, gravely wounding himself but leaving the Forsaken defenseless to Lan's fatal thrust. Olver, in desperation, sounds the Horn of Valere, summoning Birgitte and the other Heroes of the Horn, allowing her to kill Mellar and rescue Elayne. Mat uses the Heroes and reinforcements from the Seanchan that return after Min Farshaw exposes Moghedien's infiltration to sweep the field.
Outside the Pattern, Shai'tan and Rand duel by constructing their visions of what reality could be after Tarmon Gai'don to break the other's will. Shai'tan shows Rand a blighted world that fits the nightmare vision that most people have when asked to imagine a world ruled by the Shadow. Rand responds with a world where humanity has defeated the Shadow and flourished. Shai'tan then shows Rand a world that at first appears quite prosperous, but upon closer examination, Rand discovers that the people there have no compassion or conscience at all. Finally, Rand shows Shai'tan a world where the Shadow is entirely absent. This world appears to be a utopia, but when he meets Elayne's counterpart there he realises she is "broken" in some way; while she is good she appears "hollow". He asks Shai'tan what it has done to this world, and Shai'tan confronts him with the truth: he has done nothing to it. Whether Shai'tan removes the capacity to be good, or Rand removes the capacity to be evil, in both cases free will is destroyed.
As Mat scrambles to get to Shayol Ghul with Olver and the Horn at his side, Perrin continues to pursue Slayer in the dream, despite having learned that Faile is missing in action. The two find each other at the Pit of Doom, where Perrin finally succeeds in killing Slayer. He also almost falls to Compulsion from Lanfear, who attempts to kill Rand and the others from within the dream to seize control over Callandor and free the Dark One in his most vulnerable state, restoring her as "highest of the highest". Perrin's command over the World of Dreams allows him to weaken the compulsion and strengthen his love for Faile, and he snaps Lanfear's neck, bearing the burden of killing a woman in Rand's stead. Mat also faces off against Padan Fain, discovering that his recovery from the corruption that tainted Fain has made him immune to it. He kills Fain with his own dagger. Olver, via the Horn, helps see off the remaining forces of the Shadow, while a wounded Aviendha is cornered by Graendal and under imminent threat of Compulsion, manages to reverse the Forsaken's weaves, inadvertently making Graendal her mind-controlled servant.
Rand is then returned to the Pattern and resumes his duel with Moridin. During the fight, Moridin is able to take control of Callandor, and realizes that it can amplify the True Power. However, Rand had anticipated this, and Callandor's flaw—that women can control a man who uses it—is exploited. Rand, Moiraine and Nynaeve take control of Moridin and use his power to create a huge weave of saidar, saidin and True Power combined. Seeing this signal, Logain, following posthumous instructions from Egwene, shatters the remaining seals. This breaks open the Dark One's prison, and Rand uses the huge weave of three powers to drag Shai'tan into the Pattern with the intention of killing him. However, he realizes that the final reality—where people are good but "hollow"—will come to pass without Shai'tan. He banishes Shai'tan back outside of the Pattern and repairs the Bore itself, so that the hole in the Pattern, made three thousand years earlier, no longer exists.
Bereft of the Dark One's influence, the Blight dissolves. Mat reunites with Tuon, who reveals that she was with child and was confirmed by Min, the Doomseer. Perrin, wracked with guilt over his decision to help Rand and abandon his wife, continues to search for her through the Wolf Dream, eventually finding her buried under Trolloc corpses, but still alive. Due to the deaths of Davram Bashere and his wife, they are next in line for the throne of Saldaea. Loial attempts to track down the two of them to get statements for his book. Cadsuane Melaidhrin is favoured to be elected the new Amyrlin Seat, to her horror, while Moghedien, now the only free Forsaken, is captured by a sul'dam who is exploiting loopholes in the Dragon's Peace. Thom and Moiraine, Lan and Nynaeve, have all come to wait attendance on Rand, who is slowly dying of his wounds even after Nynaeve and Moiraine pulled him and Moridin out of the Bore, and Perrin suggests summoning Elayne, Min and Aviendha as well to pay their last respects.
Rand dies from his wounds and a funeral pyre is held for him, but it is revealed that Rand manipulated a phenomenon established in A Crown of Swords and further demonstrated with Pevara and Androl's double-bond to merge his soul into Moridin's body, and Moridin into his own. The world believes that the Dragon Reborn perished in Tarmon Gai'don, but by way of their bond, Elayne, Min and Aviendha know otherwise as does Cadsuane, who deduces it independently as 'Moridin' leaves during the funeral. Finally free of his duty as the Dragon Reborn, and no longer able to channel the One Power, Rand rides away from Shayol Ghul thinking about the three women he loves who might follow him in exploring the world then looking forward to the Fourth Age. He now has the ability to manipulate the pattern directly, without the One Power, though it is unclear to what extent. (There is only one incident at the end when he thinks of his pipe being lit, and it happens.) "...riding down south and smoking his impossible pipe."
Criticism over e-book release
There has been public backlash  against the publisher, Tor, for delaying the electronic release. Backlash includes the review bombing of the title on Amazon and other book seller websites. Brandon Sanderson has stated that the decision was that of Robert Jordan's wife, Harriet. Harriet was concerned that the book may not reach the top of the bestseller lists, as all the previous Wheel of Time books have done, if purchases were divided between e-book and hardcover. She felt that this would harm her husband's legacy; Sanderson claims that she had originally pushed for a one-year delay. Various end users have threatened to download a pirated ebook unless the official e-book was available at launch.
Harriet McDougal clarified her reasoning for the late ebook release of A Memory of Light in a March 18, 2013 interview with Tor publisher Tom Doherty. McDougal, the widow of James Oliver Rigney Jr. aka Robert Jordan, explained that "the brick‑and‑mortar bookstores were very good to Robert Jordan throughout his career. They are having a hard time now. This was a chance for Robert Jordan to give back to people who had been very good to him for 20 years. That was really the main reason for the windowing."
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