Friday, January 18, 2013

An Ending: Egwene al'Vere

This post contains spoilers for A Memory of Light

Read at your own peril. 

Oh, Egwene.

In my mind I had a list of people I expected to live and expected to die, and Egwene was always on my list of people who would live. I expected her to live and be a great Amyrlin for the next three hundred years or so. She had so much good left to give the world, things she needed to work out for the good of the Aes Sedai, to help them change in this new age of Asha'men, Kinswomen, Aiel Wise Ones, and Windfinders. 

Instead...instead.....

STUPID GAWYN

Ok, it's not entirely his fault. Just because the Warder dies doesn't mean the Aes Sedai does. And I've never been one of those people who hated Gawyn. He's what he is. Sir Gawaine was always one of the more reckless knights. (Don't you watch Merlin?) So it makes sense that the man his legends come from would be equally reckless and brash.

Anyway, Gawyn's death didn't have to directly correlate to Egwene's. That's all I'm saying. We'll talk more about how I feel about Gawyn and his death, however, in a later post.

But back to Gawyn and his relationship to Egwene. I'm so glad they finally got married. I'm glad Egwene got a little bit of happily ever after before she died. I wish we could have seen the wedding on screen, especially since Egwene was putting off the wedding because she wanted her parents to be there, and I think a little al'Vere family reunion would have been wonderful.

I just wish Gawyn could have been more honest with Egwene. I wish he had told her about the rings. I wish he had never picked up those stupid rings. I wish he didn't have such a terrible inferiority complex. But now I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll talk more about Gawyn later.

Tuon & the Seanchan

If there is any reason why Egwene would not have made a good post-war Amyrlin, it's because of the Seanchan. Look. I know the Seanchan are bad, but I've never viewed them with the same hate that a lot of other fans have. I also didn't think the Seanchan slavery thing was going to be resolved in A Memory of Light, because you can't change an entire culture over night. 

As it is, I'm impressed that Tuon and Egwene were able to come to the understanding they did. That's a big leap for both of them as characters. It was also a huge leap for Egwene to trust any Seanchan, and the fact she bonded one after Gawyn's death is nothing short of spectacular character growth.

But maybe it's better than Egwene won't be Amyrlin in a world where there must be peace with the Seanchan. I'm not sure she could stomach it.  

Taim & the Flame of Tar Valon

I knew Egwene was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Last Battle. The Seanchan showdown at the White Tower told us that much. But man, did I read it wrong or did she take out nearly every channeler in the Last Battle including Taim?

I'm going to be honest, I thought Taim would die by Asha'man hands. I thought Logain killing Taim was going to be what brought him glory. I did not expect Egwene to kill him, but in way it's equally poetic. Egwene was the head of the White Tower, and Taim was head of the Black Tower. If the two are to be equals and work together, it's right that the head of the White Tower should be a check for the head of the Black. And it's right that Egwene was the one to kill him.

As for the Flame of Tar Valon, it makes sense that balefire should have an opposite weave, though I'm a little confused on that front. I guess it doesn't undo what balefire has done. It can only stop it and hold the pattern together. It's more of a glue than an eraser. But why the heck does it crystallize people? That doesn't make any sense to me. 

Egwene's Death

She went out in a blaze of glory. I love that she thought of Leilwin and released her from her Bond. 

The effect on Rand also brought her death close. I think in many ways, her death hurt him more than if Elayne, Aviendha, or Min had died. She was part of Rand in a way they had never been. Like a sister to him. She represented his childhood and his life, and everything he had ever known. She was a part of him. And she died. 

Oh Egwene, I didn't expect you to die, but your death was perfect for you. And the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.
  

33 comments:

  1. I didn't expect it, either. Given how much of the last book was foreshadowed, it was the one real genuine surprise.

    It stunned me.

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  2. I just read that part of the book and I was so shocked :( Egwene was one of my favorite characters, I guess she can be a spirit now however and be with Gawyn, at least until they are spun out by the pattern again.

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  3. Maybe that's why Egwene had to die, because out of all of them it was the last expected.

    But I like the thought of her and Gawyn being together now in the Wheel of Time afterlife and getting together again when they are both spun out. They deserve some happiness.

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  4. I didn't expect Egwene to die either! It was such a shock, and I'm still not sure I've accepted it yet. Like you said though, it was exactly how she should have gone; fighting against the Shadow.

    I'm a huge WoT fan and look forward to checking out more of your posts!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Sarah! I'm glad there is so much WoT love out there, and that I'm not the only person who was shocked and devastated by the death of a fictional character. Poor Egwene. And Bella. I really thought Bella would live too. :(

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  5. i was devastated, i was always angry her but i felt like i lost someone from my family. i need to read the series from start so that i can hate her again :(

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    1. I've always been fond of Egwene despite her flaws (aka self righteousness), but it's good to know that even readers who weren't fond of her were saddened by her death. I think that says something about Egwene as a character. Even when we hate her, we don't want her to die.

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  6. After her death, I kept thinking the Horn of Valere would call her out... but it didn't.

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    1. Strangely, that thought never crossed my mind, but from the other reviews I read, you're not at all alone in thinking she would be called by the Horn. But several other readers have also pointed out that none of the Heroes we know of are channelers, so it's possible that only non-channeling Heroes can be bound to the Horn.

      It's a only a theory, but it certainly explains why someone as obviously heroic as Egwene wouldn't be called.

      Also thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting!!

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    2. Never said that she wasn't called out by the horn... But yeah, I'm just grabbing at straws. I was really hoping she'd appear again too :(

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    3. This was my problem too. It was foreshadowed throughout the whole series that new heroes could be bound to the horn; Egwene was obsessed with the old stories; she went out in a blaze of glory against the shadow.

      What more does it take? I honestly think RJ would have bound her to the horn and that this was something that was missed.

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  7. I loved Egwene so much, I cried like a baby when she died. I still get tears in my eyes when I read it listen to that part on the audio book.
    And i think the flame of Tar Canon weave she used, the book said she felt like it wouldn't have effected them as much.. Them being turned to crystal.. If they hadn't turned to the shadow. It's all 5 powers weaved together to protect against the shadow and destruction, thusly a weave opposite of balefire.
    Least that's what I thought when I read that.

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  8. I loved Egwene- I was secretly hoping she would be called back with the Horn...and was disappointed when she wasn't

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  9. I have read and listened to all the books but my question is why did min not foresee egwene and Gawain's death. And I guess the dram egwene had of Gawain in the the form by the road was by marry egwene was is death sentence .

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  10. When Min had her viewing of Gawyn to Tuon, it didn't seem like his death, more of a feigning than anything else and he would return. But yea, Egwene really shocked me, like the other poster said, why didn't Min see it?

    But I am glad that Rand named all those that died Heroes and will therefore be reborn. Made me think of Steven Erickson's Malazan books, where one may die, but might not truly die (since he killed off LOTS of characters in every book)

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  11. It's not whether or not Min saw it - she very well might have. However, since it wasn't a bloody death - more of a balance to counteract the evil being committed, it could be the viewing just didn't outshine the hundreds of others that apparently surround Aes Sedai.

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  12. I cried so hard when I was reading her death. I still tear up when I think about it. Egwene was one of my favorite characters, and she was very inspirational for me.

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  13. Even 6 months later, I can't fathom the pattern not "needing" Egwene. The Seanchan, though despicable or at the the lies they built their empire on are, now will crumble under their own weight, and even though Egwene was irrational wrt to them, they will fall or evolve regardless.

    The tower seeking Cadsuane as Amrylin is only proof of Egwene's need. Up until the very end, Cadsuane was using her hair net as a way of deceiving everyone. Look to her exchange with Aviendha on seeing the male channeling and you know the tower is not in the best hands as it heads into a new age.

    Cadsuane and her arrogance when it's time to deal with issues as they arise with wise ones, the sea folk, the truth of the Seanchan as it comes out, what's left of Shara, and most importantly, Logain and his men when we all know Logain will never trust an Amrylin with so many gentles under her personal belt, you close the book uneasy about the role of the Tower as it enters a new age with so much potential for disaster under an arrogant wench like Cadsuane and wonder why the pattern didn't demand leadership like Egwene's given the long recurring message that death is lighter than a feather and responsibility heavier than a mountain?

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  14. I blame Gawyn, always reckless, always ignorant. I knew there was a reason i didn't like him from the beginning, always lead astray, never bending to reason.. Egwene would have done better without him.. she should have hooked up with Aram.. or Galad even, why Gawyn..

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  15. You remember when they were in school-- and to pass their tests they had to hold tons of weaves all at once-- there was no practical purpose for the weaves. I like to think that those weaves were the Flame.

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  16. Hello strangers,

    I went to a Brandon Sanderson book signing and asked him a couple of questions. So don't read any further if you don't want to know the answers.

    Now I'm just typing a random sentence that doesn't mean anything to give you all time to stop reading...ok so the Flame of Tar Valon 'spell' had never been used in the Age of Legends, otherwise we would have known about it. But he did hint that it could have been used before the AoL. Also, he said that Logain's glory (the crown that Min sees) is gained by some future event not covered in this story.

    That is all.

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  17. Egwene's death was by far the hardest for me to cope with. All the other characters who died? I could accept those deaths. Egwene's, though...it was tough, very tough. Though her self-righteousness and pigheadedness could, at times, grate on my nerves, I still loved Egwene. She was an awesome Amyrlin. She was the Amyrlin that the Tower needed. She worked hard. She did so many terrific, wonderful things, and made changes where changes desperately had to be made.

    I admit, it's going to be hard to re-read the books again knowing that Egwene is going to die at the end. I've come to terms with it, though, because of one thing...she went out with one HECK of a bang! She single-handedly did more to save the world and bring an end to the Last Battle in that one action than anyone else, even Rand (in my humble opinion, though he most certainly did not have it easy). As such, it's going to be okay. Though she may be gone in body, her spirit, her legacy, and her inspiration will last forever.

    Though I do wish Egwene had survived, I'll always hold her as one of my favorites.

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  18. Why did Egwene have to die... I have that thought alot, she next to Rand had to go through the most to get where she was.
    Collared - Apprentice to the Aiel - A Puppet - Beaten by Aes Sedais everyday.

    She deserved to live and become an Amyrlin that age never had seen before.

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  19. I'm surprised that everyone was so surprised by her death. I saw it coming from books back, as Egwene is the epitome of a Green, and the best way for a Green to die is in a burst of glory. I knew it was coming, but it still shocked me. Why did she have to be the one selfless enough to sacrifice herself?

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  20. I've never cried when a fictional character died before Egwene. It surprised me even more because she wasn't a "favorite" to me, even while she was clearly changing the world.
    She was raised a puppet Amyrlin, and confounded everyone by being the strongest in an Age. Captured and confined, she turned the Tower. She earned her Green stripes leading the battle against the Seanchan at the White Tower. She was fierce.
    In the end, she knew what was coming and she didn't flinch. Leader of the Battle Ajah she went where no other would, conquered what no other could and gave her life to achieve it.
    I've never cried before at the death of a fictional character. I cried my eyes out when I first read Egwene's death. I'm crying right now typing this.
    She was Fierce. She was a Warrior. I'd bet that even Warders bow to her memory. Tai Shar Manetheren.

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    1. Best comment. Totally sums up my feelings at reading this part. I freaking wept to the point that I couldn't see the page. Tai shar Manetheren indeed ��

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  21. Before you crack on Gawyn, apart from his intercession Egwene never sees the last battle. Think Seanchan assassins and being bonded to survive after being discarded like a sock.

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  22. Finished the series (again) last night and I still don't like Egwene. Respect what she accomplished, sure, like no way. I'd like to put my perspective on a few of the points made above:

    Gawyn: His life was always meant to be one of service. He wouldn't rule Andor he would serve the Queen. Warder and Gareth Bryne trained he had to align with Elaida during the revolt in the Tower because technically Elaida had been legally raised. It's not surprising he may have chafed at the yolk of responsibility and duty.

    Egwene sacrifice. I didn't read her death as a sacrifice at all. It was mentioned repeatedly that she would succumb to the loss of her warder and emotions. She did. She was on a vendetta out to kill, period. She knew she had over taxed herself using the sa'angreal and had to counter the balefire to save herself. There's nothing written that states she knew she would be killed when she released it. I thought she had physically gone into the world of dreams physically to escape.

    Whit tower. She was the Amyrlin they needed to reforge them together and would have been poorly suited to continue. She leaves a legacy of a huge class of novices, the Kin, exchanging students with other channeling peoples in place. She will be remembered for those acts as dealing with the Black Ajah.

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  23. I was OK with Egwene dying. What bothered me is that she didn't return when the horn was blown. She should have. I think RJ would have had it happen that way - it would have been perfect.

    She was obsessed with the old stories, she was friends with a hero of the horn, new heroes being bound to the horn was foreshadowed frequently, and her sacrifice at the end definitely earned it. I think the ball was dropped in not having her bound to the horn at the end.

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  24. actually, what kind of made me angry was that no one else knows how to use the anti-Balefire, and when she dies...no one else will know how to use it...i know,stupid thing to get angry over, but well...maybe she will teach it to someone in the wolfdream.

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    1. Leane sees it maybe she remembers it. She isnt a second rate Aes Sedai afterall :P

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  25. God FUCKING DAMMIT I just finished the second half of that book in one sitting and am sooo frustrated. I kept hoping Rand would revive her. Of all the deaths, Egwene and Bela man. Come on. They should have done in Cadsuane instead. Similar climactic narrative, less negative emotion.

    And really...why Bela? I mean, just why? At least Egwene can be tied in with other events/characters like Gawyn's death to create a cohesive narrative, but Bela had ZERO reason to die that couldn't have been obtained in other ways. Imagine if instead Rand had ridden Bela on his way out to begin his adventure at the end. That would have been a perfect full circle, beginning and ending with Bela, a second chance to do his adventure right. Come on not Bela Sandersen, what the heck.

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