Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An Ending: Rand al'Thor

This post contains spoilers for A Memory of Light

Read at your own peril.  


Rand did a lot in this book, but for me, the beginning confrontation with him, Egwene, and all the leaders went pretty much exactly how I expected. (Except for those trees growing out of nowhere. My oh my! Our little Rand is all grown up isn't he?) I loved his exchange with Mat, the two of them trying to one up each other. That was just wonderful, though I wish we had more Rand and Mat time together. Thinking back to the first three books, those two were all each other had for a very long time (even if it was crazy Dagger Mat). It would have been nice to get a longer interaction between the two.

Speaking of people I would have liked Rand to talk to: why couldn't he have told Galad himself they were brothers? I had been greatly looking forward to that interaction. But having Rand tell Gawyn who told Galad just didn't work the same for me. But I'll discuss more about Galad in a later post. 

On to the two major Rand related things:

The Battle with the Dark One

This was not what I expected, and yet I also wasn't surprised. To be clear, I totally expected that Rand would fix the Dark One's prison. The Wheel of Time is after all a Wheel. Things repeat. I knew he wouldn't be able to kill the Dark One (and I'm really unsure how one goes about killing something that's not a person in the first place) and plus the Dark One-less land vision totally underscored that.

I don't know why, but I didn't expect Rand's battle with the Dark One to be so philosophical. I guess I thought it was going to have more Moridin/Rand battle than it was. I mean Moridin has always been our personification of the Dark One. Since the beginning. The whole series started out with Lews Therin and Ishamael after all. I guess a part of me expected their last battle to be more like Falme, you know? The two of them battling in the skies, and everyone able to see it. 

But the philosophical battle made sense, which is why I wasn't surprised. Because in many ways the Dark One's entire battle against Rand has been a psychological one. So it makes sense it would culminate in yet another psychological one. And for a moment when Rand was remembering his father's advice to "Let go", I was horrified. And I was like, "NO! RAND! Absolutely do not let go." But then it all made perfect sense. Because he did have to let go of all that self blame. The Last Battle was not his fault. And it was high time he learned that.

But back to the importance of Moridin: what I didn't expect was that Callandor was a trap for Moridin. Did not see that coming at all. I should have guessed it. I can't see why I didn't. It was all set up and made perfect sense. It was almost inevitable. All of Rand's worry that Moridin would be able to use him through Callandor and instead he used Moridin! It was perfect. It was beautiful. It was right.

But....the body swap....how did that work? Rand was Rand when he carried Moridin's body out, right? The others verified that, said that. So how did they switch bodies? I mean we knew they were connected (stabbing your own hand, Moridin, very clever), but I don't get where the body swap came from. I don't understand how Rand pulled that off. It's obviously involved with that Aiel woman mentioned at the beginning of the epilogue since she told him he did right pulling out Moridin's body, but still. A little more explanation would have been nice.

Which leads me to.....

The End

Part of me feels like Rand shouldn't have lived at all. That is was a little JK Rowling of Robert Jordan to get his main character out of death. But another part of me feels like if there is anyone in that world who deserves a second shot at life, it's Rand al'Thor.

Also can I just say....Alivia helped him die, huh? That was anti-climatic. All she did was steal some clothes, horse, and money. And how the heck did she know? How did she know Rand and Moridin body swapped? I...I....just don't know.  
And holy crap! He can twist the freaking pattern? Who needs the Power when you can twist the world like it's Tel'aran'rhoid. (I totally had to look up the spelling of that. lol) 

I desperately want to know what sort of life Rand is going to live now. What name is he going to go by? Will he ever get to see his children? Because despite his thoughts otherwise, it's not likely any of his ladies will be able to follow him. Oh, I imagine they'll come to him from time to time, since they're still bonded to him and can sense him, but they all have their own duties now. They can't just throw that away and follow him on his life as a nomad.

So by that thought process Rand won't even get a normal life. He won't get to make a little home with his family in some corner of the world. He'll just be a nameless wanderer. And there is something infinitely sad about that, even sadder than if he had just died.

Rand, in Summary

For a long time reading this series, I hated Rand. On my first read through I was very young, and I didn't understand his choices, why he made the decisions he did. And slowly he got darker and darker, not helping me like him one bit. 

On my second read through, I liked him much better. I understood better the forces that were trying to manipulate him and the struggle he was going through. And his growing dark hurt me more than it infuriated me.  

And in the end, I think he proved a worthy hero. He proved himself worthy of the faith the world had put in him. And in the end, I liked him as a character, as a person. 

He came so far from being that boy walking beside his father's wagon. It was a rough road. 

I wish Rand the best of luck at his second, anonymous shot at life, but I worry for him. (Silly to worry for a fictional character I know). Because his life must have a certain level of anonymity. Will his life be a lonely one? I hope not. 

Maybe he'll become a gleeman and tell the great stories of his age. He did apprentice as a gleeman after all. He can find a flute, and maybe Moridin can sing well. And he'll be able to travel and see the world, while telling the tales of the end of the Third Age. 

Good luck, Rand al'Thor. May you find peace for the rest of  this life. Because we all know the Wheel repeats, and someday you'll be Lews Therin again, and...well both happy and unhappy things lie in your future/past. 

And sheesh, now I'm all sad again.  

26 comments:

  1. I completely understand how you feel, this was completely bittersweet. In terms of Rand carrying out Moridin's body, no one actually saw rand pulling out Moridin's body, they found the two like that. Rand as Moridin was probably the one Who carried his old body out (occupied by Moridin) and then collapsed to be found by others. The switch probably occurred right away after the Dark One was sealed.
    P.s i'm 22, I've been reading these books since i was fifteen, i was very sad at the end.

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  2. Anon, after reading a couple of theorists' opinions on the matter, I believe I agree with you. After all, a person probably needs two hands to carry someone else's body. And since Callandor allowed a person to completely hijack someone else's power, it seems to follow that it would also allow Rand to completely hijack Moridin's body, especially considering that Elan/Ishamael/Moridin was just tired of existing. So I think I agree.

    And it is sad that it is over. I'm 26 (well will be in a month) and have been reading these books since I was 11. It's been over half of my life. I'm going to miss having new books and new adventures in the Wheel of Time.

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    1. I've been reading for 20 years - when I started there were only 3 books published. This is the end of an epic saga for me and extremely bittersweet.

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    2. I burned through them in about six months..(audio) and the gap left after such an epic can only be filled by another... Give the whole Shannara Series a whirl or even Better King's Dark Tower.. Or for true enjoyment Pratchett's Discworld.. Funny stuff that Discworld and clever..

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    3. I have been reading for about 20 years too and the books change. In every reading I find something different, something resonating with where I am at that time. I ques that is what makes a great book.

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    4. If you want another Great completed series to rival WoT, i strongly suggest reading the Magician series by Feist all 24 books are great.

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    5. If you want another Great completed series to rival WoT, i strongly suggest reading the Magician series by Feist all 24 books are great.

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  3. Cool thoughts, thanks for sharing. About the bodyswap, my *complete guess* was that Rand did one-arm drag Moridin out and as he got up the older Aiel lady he saw was Nakomi (that mysterious Aiel woman Aviendha saw out in the Waste): a sort of arbiter of the Creator who then switched the bodies for him. Just what I've pieced together.

    I'm really happy for Rand, he's finally found a way to "let go". I'm sure he won't be too lonely and will make friends (and hopefully to a lesser extent enemies) in his journeys. I'd also hope he's going to spend extended periods of time with his ladies as well (especially Min since she'll be dying sooner than the others) and may even visit other people like Tam and Nynaeve to say hi. I thought it was really weird how in the Epilogue Mat just made some jokes and ran off though, w/o saying any last words to Rand.

    I'm 23 now, but I started at 11 (wow, just realized its been half of my life as well it seems) and this has been my favorite series ever since, so any ending was going to be bittersweet to me. This, however, was just about perfect.

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  4. I think it was Nakomi too. That's the only thing that makes sense to me. Though I wish we had gotten a little more explanation or something on her. Is she an avatar of the Creator? A ghost of a Jenn Aiel? Something else completely? We may never know.

    I thought it was weird too, that Mat didn't stick around. I really wanted a last meeting with all of our superboys together. But alas, I guess it wasn't meant to be.

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  5. If it still matters to anyone as to how they knew there was a body swap.
    Remember Rand's soul was still bound with Min, Elayne and aviendha. I thought they brought both Moridan and Rand out and one of the three probably mentioned that the soul they were bound to is now in a different body.
    Remember that Moridan and Rand were connected due to that...time ages back when they had the balefire connect. I assumed either it was dumb luck that they switched bodies or that Rand with his power to rewrite reality switched them. But they were connected...so its not a huge stretch.

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  6. The one thing I don't get is how rand lived. I know It was something in "A Crown of Swords" but what did he do that book so that he could body swap?

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    1. After the encounter with the Dark One, he could impose his will on the world like in the World of Dreams. This can be seen when he lights his pipe without channeling. I find it very possible that after bringing Moridin out of the cave he very well could have imposed his will that they switch bodies. Also, that mysterious Aiel woman could have had something to do with it as well.

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  7. The "Aiel woman" was Alivia in Aiel clothes. And she made the bodyswap, "helping him die"

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    1. Rand was familiar enough with Alivia that he would have recognized her. I think that since that passage was in Rand's pov, the text would have said it was her. Instead it was an anonymous woman, which leads me to believe it was the old woman Avienda met in the waste.

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  8. I think, had Jordan lived, the ending would have been more "thorough". It almost seemed as though Sanderson was in a hurry to end MOL. I under stand he had to work from notes; another person's (Jordan's) entire story, but I didn't get the feeling that it was as clearly thought out at the end. We waited twenty years to see Siuan die; Aviendha become mutilated and no resolution to Graendel, among others. Wouldn't Nynaeve heal Annoura? A lot of loose strings that Jordan didn't usually leave.

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    1. Though the final books would obviously be different if Robert Jordan had lived to write them himself, I don't think the difference would be as marked as you're assuming. I don't know how much you know about the process, but I've been to lots of panels and other events where Brandon Sanderson and Harriet McDougal have spoken about it. He didn't just receive some notes; he received boxes of character sketches, backstories, outlines, world details, and even entire scenes! Harriet McDougal seems to believe that Robert Jordan would have been satisfied with how the series ended; as his wife and editor, I guess she would know! (And yes, Brandon did have a bit of trouble with Mat in TGS and TOM, but both he and Harriet have acknowledged that.) Besides that, Brandon was able to pick Harriet's brain any time there was a question about any of it, and had access to RJ's assistants, Maria and Alan. And Robert Jordan went to great lengths to record everything he possibly could about the story and the universe he created, including lots of discussions with those three.

      So I think what we have is substantially what RJ would have given us. The Epilogue, in fact, is completely Robert Jordan's, except for a few minor tweaks by Brandon and Harriet. That is one of the things he worked hard to complete before his death.

      On the subject of Annoura's burning herself out, we can't assume Nynaeve would have healed her. It's never been verified that burning out can be healed. My theory is that it can't, or that if it can, it would require a different process. The result of stilling and gentling, as it's described in the books, is sort of like all the wires being sliced. What Nynaeve and Flinn had to do was figure out how to reconnect them. I think that burning out might be different. As it's described in the book, I think it's more than simply cutting a connection. I think it's closer to completely frying all the circuitry. Is it even possible to regrow it? I don't know, and the question hasn't been answered since the book release, to my knowledge.

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  9. Today I finish A Memory of light, This las five months, almos six have been filled with this vast and amazing adventure. An emptyness has been left in me, Hours after hours burned, living the lives of this people(they are more than characters for me) and I have to tell you, its been one of the best if not the most dear and amazing stories I've ever lie my eyes on. I still remember several months ago, wondering how much time I was going to spend reading this story, now I know, and it was all worh it.
    When he light that pipe with his will, twisting the pattern, when The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai'don, when Aviendhas visions, and an infinity of moments of pure epicness, I do not regret a single bit, fouding this universe, the only thing I regret is not doing so sooner. Thank you, for this incredible times.

    And its a relief that Rand get to live, I hope he can alter the pattern and not let Min die so soon, and get to live as long as Elayne and Aviendha, to see how his sacrifice, (because he did everything not knowing that he will live), gave the world a turn for the best.

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  10. I enjoyed this write up. I've read a lot of series and this one affected me the most at its close. I miss Matt the most as he most resonated with me through the series.

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  11. I thought with the body swap, Moridin was helping out. He desired death and with their unexplained connection it might be possible that they could switch bodies. Rand was dying of mysterious, unhealable wounds, maybe they had something more to do with the soul than the physical body? Maybe they can't heal Moridin's desire to die?

    I don't know, it's all speculation but that's all we were given to work with, so..

    On a different note I was incredibly disappointed with Egwenne, Gowan, and Galad's deaths. Gowan was made out to be this insanely good swordsman, killing Bloodknives 3 at a time and being a monster on the battlefield. Then he puts 3 (THREE) of those super rings on, is given three times the speed/strength enhancements, and still loses hard, dying in vain in the end, and hurting Egwenne.
    Then Galad jumps in and is somehow better without all the enhancements, thus putting him at some god-like level, and loses as well. With his disenchantment with the White Cloaks he expresses around the end, he is now a disabled swordmaster in charge of a fanatic-to-the-end group with almost nobody left alive in it and a tenuous girlfriend.
    And then Egwenne dies fighting M'hail, leaving the White Tower to bully-loser Cadswain. Most disappointingly, I might add, not even teaching anyone else her special Baelfire-repair weave and essentially losing to who I consider a weaker character, if not a weaker channeler.

    Hers and Her warder and his brother deaths and failures left the biggest gap in me and I'm still sad/disappointed about it. Out of all the characters they got molded and screwed by the wheel the hardest.

    Just my thoughts, though.

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  12. Kind of late to the discussion here, I just finished reading/rereading the series & a memory of light last night. I've got so many questions & I have tried googling answers to them as best as I could. Is there anything actually documented in regards to:
    1. Why did Rand not tell anyone else he was still alive?
    2. Is Aviendha physically challenged now, will she be able to walk again & I still wonder if she will be having Rand's babies or was that changed due to events?
    Any input or links on this would be greatly appreciated! Cheers!

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  13. 1 - Even though Rand didn't tell anyone (yet) he´s still alive, his three lovers knows that due to their bond with him.
    2 - Through the books Mind is the one lover who has stand by his side at almost all times, so I believe once they meet she'll keep following and staying with him while sharing him form time to time with the other two.
    3 - As Rand can alter the pattern, he'll probably heal Aviendha and she will most likely have four of Rand's babies, since all of Mind's predictions become true.

    As a matter of fact is due to this prediction that I don't agree with the BitterSweet Fountain's idea that he´ll have an anonymous nomadic life, buuut with an ending like that we can imagine whatever we want hahaha.

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  14. What about the freaking Tinkers song that was suppose to help in the last battle...huh?!...yeah you thought I forgot, lol.

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  15. It is not quite fantasy, more a mix of fantasy and science fiction, but I think you may enjoy reading The Commonwealth Saga and its follow-up (1000 years later), The Void Trilogy, by Peter F. Hamilton.

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  16. I have read and enjoyed Jordan's epic through the years and have felt that sense of lost at its end. Those of you looking to fill the gap may enjoy another epic story line by Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont Malazan books of the fallen.

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  17. I felt it was the Creator who did the transfer to Moridin's body. The Dark One reincarnates his champions over and over, and the Creator did it for Rand at the very end. Fitting.

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  18. Such mixed feelings about the ending, it was great! But I still feel I need more of a conclusion of what is going to happen to the characters I love. I feel Rand deserves better than just switching bodies and wondering off. It is all very bittersweet and I don't know how I feel about it all HAHA!

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