Who Killed Mrs. Trakand?

MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT for anyone who has not read, or not finished, A Memory of Light (Book 14 of the Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson!

Books Judging by the search strings which bring traffic to this blog, there is a great deal of anger out there, or at least upset, among readers of A Memory of Light about the fact that a certain Mrs. Trakand, née al’Vere, does not make it to the Fourth Age.

There is also a natural tendency for said shocked readers to want to blame the young Amyrlin’s untimely exit on Brandon Sanderson, the writer who was both fortunate enough, and maybe unfortunate enough, to be brought in by Robert Jordan’s widow, Harriet, to finish off the series. It is well known that Robert Jordan left detailed notes, outlines and completed sections of text. Still, readers of the final three books, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light, are often left guessing which plot points were taken from Robert Jordan’s notes and which were Sanderson inventions.

So should Sanderson carry the can for Egwene’s death? No, that is just wishful thinking on the part of fans who have built up a love for Jordan over the years and are in denial over his disposal of their favourite character. Recall that the Epilogue of AMoL had been written by Jordan before his death and was tacked on pretty much unchanged by Sanderson. That Epilogue includes a scene where Cadsuane is approached by a clutch of the surviving Aes Sedai wanting her to become the new Amyrlin. That pretty much dispells any doubt.

Personally, I think Sanderson was as hurt about Egwene’s death as many or most other fans.


googleplus-me

Advertisements
Posted in Books, Fantasy, Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Initial Reflections on A Memory of Light

Spoiler Check: I have completed A Memory of Light (Book 14 of the Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Books Ash Silverlock wrote a hard-hitting review of A Memory of Light in his Fabulous Realms blog. It is maybe the best and most to the point review of the book I have so far read.

My comment on his review constitutes an early mini-review of my own. It reads:

“You have zeroed in on the failings of AMoL, although I think you may have been a tad too negative.

I mostly enjoyed the book, even if I was feeling a bit battle fatigued by the end, and my feelings on listening to the final seconds (I read it on Audible) were that it had brought the series to a decent and appropriate ending.

As is often the case, the misgivings started to surface later, after some reflection. For the most part my grumbles echo yours. In fairness to Brandon Sanderson, he had the challenging task of reining in that ever sprawling jungle of plot threads and loose ends Jordan had bequeathed him, while constrained by Jordan’s now sacrosanct remaining notes, outlines and sections of finished prose. I’m guessing Jordan’s death protected his surviving text from the editing process in a way that would not have happened had he lived. I appreciate Sanderson had three large tomes to work within, but his “loose ends to be tied up” list must have been daunting and it was inevitable he would be forced into some ugly tricks to get them all crossed off by the end, if indeed he managed to nail them all.

The Egwene arc in particular shocked me. It’s not that her death was not in some way fitting or suitably heroic. It’s just that it was her heart-warming rise to power, from Wisdom’s apprentice in backwater village, to the youngest and noblest Amyrlin in White Tower history, that kept me following the series through its baggiest and most tedious phase. I had looked forward to re-reading the whole series again, from TEoTW, but the Egwene arc is now forever soured for me, knowing she doesn’t make it through. Nor do I think she is properly mourned in the book. Rand, Mat et al all had their “No, not Egwene!” moments in the immediate aftermath but she is then forgotten, almost callously.

I suspect the trouble is that Jordan’s coda, which became the Epilogue to AMoL, focused on Rand’s devious escape and none of the characters were talking or thinking about Egwene (unless you count selection of her successor), and Sanderson of course couldn’t change it. Egwene’s death itself was no doubt pre-ordained by Jordan and there was no point in the narrative to squeeze in a moment of due collective grief. Sanderson’s hands were tied in a way that Jordan’s would not have been had he survived to be involved in the final editing process.”

Actually, there is no doubt at all that Egwene’s demise was an integral part of Jordan’s outline, since the Epilogue (which we know Jordan wrote) includes the scene where Cadsuane gets tapped up as the new Amyrlin.


googleplus-me

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Memory of Light Audible Chapter Map

Spoiler Check: No spoilers here

Books A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and (latterly) Brandon Sanderson, has a Prologue, 49 Chapters and an Epilogue. So you might think the Audible version would show 51 entries on the Chapters tab when using say the Android or iOS app. But no, you will find the book divided into 116 chapters.

It appears that Audible have decided to add “chapter” boundaries at most character Point of View (POV) changes as well, and very occasionally within a POV section. Bear in mind that Chapter 37 (“The Last Battle”) alone contains the staggering total of 72 POV sections. Audible’s POV-centric approach provides more granularity and there is probably little overhead from their perspective since they were doubtless having to record in POV chunks anyway, given the frequent hand-overs between male and female narrator to match the gender of the POV characters.

The downside is that it is far harder to zero in on a particular section if you want to re-read it, and Light knows there are plenty of key moments I would like to revisit even this soon after finishing the book. You can look up the chapters on say Encyclopaedia-WoT, and even see the various POVs listed out, but it is rather harder to get to the corresponding Audible app chapter number.

So, for both my own benefit and yours, I have compiled the following mapping between the book’s published Chapters, broken down by POV sections, and the corresponding Audible app chapter numbers. The chapter titles below link to the corresponding chapter summaries on Encyclopaedia-WoT, noting that for now most of the latter are still “under construction”.

PROLOGUE: By Grace and Banners Fallen

Bayrd 1
Talmanes 2
Isam
Talmanes 3
Leilwin 4
Talmanes 5
Aviendha 6
Talmanes 7
Androl 8
Talmanes
Moghedien 9
Talmanes 10

CHAPTER 1: Eastward the Wind Blew

Rand 11
Egwene 12
Rand 13

CHAPTER 2: The Choice of an Ajah

Pevara 14
Aviendha 15

CHAPTER 3: A Dangerous Place

Androl 16
Rand
Pevara 17

CHAPTER 4: Advantages to a Bond

Androl 18
Rand
Pevara 19

CHAPTER 5: To Require a Boon

Rand 20
Egwene 21, 22

CHAPTER 6: A Knack

Perrin 23
Lan

CHAPTER 7: Into the Thick of It

Elayne 24
Lan 25

CHAPTER 8: That Smoldering City

Elayne 26
Androl 27

CHAPTER 9: To Die Well

Lan 28
Egwene 29
Rand

CHAPTER 10: The Use of Dragons

Perrin 30
Elayne 31
Androl
Lan
Elayne

CHAPTER 11: Just Another Sell-sword

Egwene 32
Mat 33
Rand

CHAPTER 12: A Shard of a Moment

Birgitte 34
Rand
Perrin

CHAPTER 13: What Must Be Done

Egwene 35
Elayne
Perrin

CHAPTER 14: Doses of Forkroot

Perrin 36
Androl
Perrin 37
Androl

CHAPTER 15: Your Neck in a Cord

Mat 38
Rand 39
Mat 40

CHAPTER 16: A Silence Like Screaming

Loial 41
Galad
Rand
Moiraine
Lan 42

CHAPTER 17: Older, More Weathered

Mat 43

CHAPTER 18: To Feel Wasted

Gawyn 44
Rand 45
Lan

CHAPTER 19: The Choice of a Patch

Elayne 46
Egwene
Mat 47

CHAPTER 20: Into Thakan’dar

Egwene 48
Aviendha 49

CHAPTER 21: Not a Mistake to Ignore

Siuan 50
Lyrelle 51
Pevara

CHAPTER 22: The Wyld

Egwene 52
Perrin 53

CHAPTER 23: At the Edge of Time

Gawyn 54
Egwene
Aviendha 55
Rand

CHAPTER 24: To Ignore the Omens

Fortuona 56
Lan
Elayne 57
Rodel Ituralde 58

CHAPTER 25: Quick Fragments

Siuan 59
Rand
Lan
Perrin 60

CHAPTER 26: Considerations

Egwene 61, 62
Elayne

CHAPTER 27: Friendly Fire

Gareth Bryne 63
Min 64

CHAPTER 28: Too Many Men

Lan 65
Loial
Mat

CHAPTER 29: The Loss of a Hill

Egwene 66
Lan
Mat 67

CHAPTER 30: The Way of the Predator

Perrin 68
Rand
Elayne 69

CHAPTER 31: A Tempest of Water

Egwene 70
Rodel Ituralde
Egwene 71

CHAPTER 32: A Yellow Flower-Spider

Mat 72, 73
Galad

CHAPTER 33: The Prince’s Tabac

Perrin 74
Faile 75
Aviendha 76

CHAPTER 34: Drifting

Rand 77
Perrin
Faile
Aviendha

CHAPTER 35: A Practiced Grin

Olver 78
Cadsuane
Faile

CHAPTER 36: Unchangeable Things

Nynaeve 79
Mat 80
Perrin

CHAPTER 37: The Last Battle

Lan 81
Elayne
Uno 82
Logain
Gawyn
Tam 83
Pevara
Mat 84
Galad
Rand 85
Egwene
Gawyn 86
Faile
Perrin 87
Androl
Rhuarc 88
Rand
Silviana
Elayne
Mat 89
Min
Egwene
Demandred 90
Rand
Juilin
Pevara 91
Galad
Egwene
Tam 92
Fortuona
Rand
Mat 93
Tam
Elayne
Galad
Nynaeve
Mat 94
Egwene
Galad 95
Androl
Arganda
Rand 96
Mat
Olver
Leane 97
Talmanes
Faile
Logain
Egwene 98
Ila
Olver
Logain
Egwene
Hurin 99
Berelain
Rand
Mazrim Taim
Elayne 100
Rand
Min
Egwene 101
Rand
Leane
Berelain
Mat 102
Olver
Loial
Tam
Lan
Min
Rand
Lan

CHAPTER 38: The Place That Was Not

Rand 103
Shendla
Rand
Loial

CHAPTER 39: Those Who Fight

Rand 104
Mat
Rand
Mat
Rand
Olver
Mat
Elayne
Mat
Olver

CHAPTER 40: Wolfbrother

Elayne 105
Aviendha
Elayne
Mat
Jur Grady

CHAPTER 41: A Smile

Pevara 106
Moghedien
Talmanes

CHAPTER 42: Impossibilities

Aviendha 107
Atal Mishraile
Pevara
Aviendha

CHAPTER 43: A Field of Glass

Logain 108
Mat
Rand
Aviendha

CHAPTER 44: Two Craftsmen

Perrin 109
Thom

CHAPTER 45: Tendrils of Mist

Matt 110
Shaisam
Gaul
Rand

CHAPTER 46: To Awaken

Rand 111
Nynaeve
Perrin
Mat

CHAPTER 47: Watching the Flow Writhe

Aviendha 112
Shaisam
Perrin
Rand

CHAPTER 48: A Brilliant Lance

Elayne 113
Thom
Min
Aviendha
Logain

CHAPTER 49: Light and Shadow

Perrin 114
Rand
Moiraine

EPILOGUE: To See the Answer

Rand 115
Mat
Perrin
Loial
Mat
Perrin
Moghedien
Nynaeve
Perrin 116
Birgitte
Tam
Min
Rand
Cadsuane
Rand

googleplus-me

Posted in Android, Books, Fantasy, Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wheel Grinds to a Halt

Spoiler Check: I have (just) completed A Memory of Light (Book 14 of the Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Books I now have a backlog of 84 audio podcasts and 6 video podcasts to catch up on.

Reading A Memory of Light (as an audiobook) has taken me 14 days, at normal speed, taking it all in properly.

I now feel like I have personally been fighting in the Last Battle for two weeks.

Blood and bloody ashes!


googleplus-me

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

No Time for Podcasts – It’s Wheel of Time Time

Spoiler Check: I am part way through Chapter 33 of A Memory of Light (Book 14 of the Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Books In general, I do my audiobook reading in the gaps between podcasts.  I listen to quite a number of the latter so my Audible books tend to get most airtime over weekends and in the early part of the week. A lot of the longer podcasts seem to come out on Thursdays and Fridays so there tends to be a backlog towards the end of the week.

The normal weekly cycle doesn’t however begin to compare with the podcast backlog I have right now on Doggcatcher. Some 50 podcasts, equivalent to something like 20 hours of listening time (at 1.5 x speed). This has come about because of the release of A Memory of Light, the final book in the long-running Wheel of Time series, on 8 January. I decided I was going to enjoy AMoL and focus on it, rather than allow the experience to be fragmented and drawn out by sharing my available listening time with podcasts. So the podcasts are all on hold and piling up royally. They can wait. When I have done with AMoL I will catch up with them before restarting audiobook consumption.

I often listen to audiobooks with the narration speed dialled up to 1.25 x or 1.5 x. Not this time. I am well and truly into WoT, even though I came to the series late, and fully intend to savour AMoL. So far I am 26.5 hours in, at normal speed, with 15.25 to go. And I am loving it. Sanderson has done very well with it so far. There is a good mix of battles, character interactions and tension-generating plot twists (theft of the seals, Gawyn activating the Bloodknife ring, etc). He switches character viewpoint often enough to give all the plot threads enough air, but not so often as to make the reader dizzy. He has this very well judged. And he keeps dropping in some excellent pay-offs. The appearance of Moiraine at the Dragon’s Peace negotiations on the Field of Merrilor was well handled. I also enjoyed Egwene giving Fortuona a piece of her mind. And I am finally enjoying Mat as a character. Sanderson actively plays him for laughs, more than Jordan ever did, and for the most part it comes off delightfully. Mat and Rand’s one-upmanship competition in the garden of the Tarasin Palace was particularly memorable.

I had expected Rand’s descent into Shayol Ghul to come right at the end of the book, as the final climax, so was surprised when he entered the cave less than halfway through. But Sanderson was being cute about this. He has had time move much more slowly in Shayol Ghul than in the rest of the world, so we get snippets of Rand’s progress there interspersed with events in the wider Last Battle which span weeks. This gives the book a far better balance than back-loading the Rand vs Moridin/Dark One thread.

I know things will get darker before the end, and we are probably going to be seeing the ultimate sacrifice from some major characters, but so far the book has more than lived up to expectations.

I have pretty much avoided spoilers and will continue to take care to do so. That was part of the rationale for reading on without interruption.


googleplus-me

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Audible Sigh of Relief

Books A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson was finally published today, as both hardcover and audiobook, certainly in the US and the UK and probably lots of other places too. But the eBook is not available until 9 April.

Anyone in the US intending to read the audiobook version has known for months that it would be available from today on Audible.com, because it was listed as a pre-order item on their website. The situation for users of Audible.co.uk was quite different. There is no pre-order system and no news about upcoming releases on the site either. I had no specific reason to worry that the UK would be left out in the audiobook stakes, but I have learned to take nothing for granted in the publishing world. Neal Stephenson’s latest novel Reamde and most of his older novels are available from Audible.co.uk, but not his penultimate book, Anathem, although it has been on the US Audible site from the off. No rhyme nor reason, it is all down to the whim of who owns the specific rights to the specific formats of specific books in different territories.

So it was with trepidation that I eschewed sleep at midnight last night, checking on my phone to see if AMoL had appeared on the listings. Of course, it hadn’t. It was still the 7th in the US. What was I thinking? In the event the key moment turned out to be midnight USA West Coast time, corresponding to 8am UK time.

I had the book downloading a matter of a couple of minutes past the turn of the hour and was reading it on my morning walk with the dog not long after that. So all is well and I can enjoy the final instalment of the Wheel of Time at the same time as everyone else. But seriously, Audible UK really does need to get its act together. Having major new releases appear out of the blue, unannounced is just not good enough.


googleplus-me

Posted in Books, Robert Jordan, Science Fiction | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Redshirts Lemmed!

Spoiler Check: I have completed Chapter 9 of Redshirts by John Scalzi, and that’s as far as I’m going with it

Books It just isn’t for me. I managed a bit over two hours of Redshirts and decided to call it a day. I have “lemmed” it, in other words abandoned it part way through. The verb to “lem” has been used with that meaning by Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont on the Sword & Laser podcast/YouTube show ever since Veronica gave up on one of the S & L book-picks, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem.

My main problem with Redshirts was that I just did not find it very funny. I laughed once, when Q’eeng mispronounced some greeting in an obscure language known to the main protagonist, Andy Dahl. That was it. I got the “redshirts” joke, a reference to the Star Trek trope where Kirk, Spock, McCoy etc would get beamed onto some dangerous planet along with a couple of unknown low-ranking crew members, generally in red shirts, who were only there so they could be killed off to prove how dangerous the planet was. Well we couldn’t have any of the main characters killed off, could we? After a number of episodes, the expendable role of the red shirt characters became obvious to the extent viewers could confidently predict their imminent demise.

In Redshirts, Scalzi runs with this one idea and takes it to extremes, attempting to play it for laughs. Sorry – it may work for a lot of people but fell flat with me.

So I have moved swiftly on to a series of Free first Chapters offered by Audible some weeks ago, hoping some will find favour and lead to full purchases. I started with Andrew Marr’s The History of the World, which sounded ambitious to say the least. The sample first chapter only takes us as far as the first migration of Homo Sapiens out of Africa, but it was well described and I learned quite a bit from it. Maybe one to come back to if I get fed up with SF/Fantasy and get hungry for some meaty non-fiction.

The next was Jojo Moyes’s The Girl You Left Behind which is certainly fiction but neither SF nor Fantasy. I’m not sure how I came to pick it now. It appears to be “women’s fiction” set in occupied France in 1916. Having said that it was very well written, well narrated and I found myself taking to it. Not that I intend to read the whole book. I’m sure it is a great dramatic tale of wartime stoicism, bravery and romance but that’s really not my bag either.

Next up is Miranda Hart’s Is It Just Me? Made me wonder about Redshirts. Is it just me?

googleplus-me

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment