Welcome back to this special edition of "WoT If?". Why is it special? Because we're allowed to include A Memory of Light spoilers! So, I'd like to take a look at all my past theories and cry over how far off they were from what actually happened.
SPOILER WARNING. THIS WILL INCLUDE CONTENT FROM A MEMORY OF LIGHT. PLEASE DON'T READ THIS POST IF YOU HAVEN'T COMPLETED THE BOOK.
Let's start backwards and work our way to the beginning. I'll try to organize my thoughts as best I can.
1. The Aiel
The Aiel didn't submit to the Seanchan; I was totally wrong on that one. They did give up their hatred, though. They did agree that they would have to let the collared Wise Ones go. In that, I was semi-right. Of course, with the deal Egwene made with Tuon, all the Wise Ones will be released, so the Aiel won't have to suffer the a'dam for much longer.
Moridin didn't turn out to be a double agent. None of the Forsaken returned to the Light. I thought for a moment it would be Lanfear, since Rand opened himself up to her, showing her his true feelings and intentions (A Memory of Light, Chapter 12, "A Shard of a Moment"). Instead, that made her even more bitter. Perhaps it could be argued that Moghedien or Graendal could come back to the Light. The a'dam might reform Moghedien, and Graendal's Compulsion could lead her back if Aviendha wishes it of her.
3. Gawyn and Egwene
A few of the deaths I predicted were right: Gawyn, Birgitte, Rhuarc, Tenobia, and Bashere. In all honesty, I never, ever expected Egwene to die. It was the most shocking part of the book for me, possibly even in the whole series. But, looking back, there are some hints that this will come to pass. There are dreams she has where she sees the possibility of her own death:
Chapter 10, "Unseen Eyes"
Straps at waist and shoulder held her tightly to the block, and the headsman’s axe descended, but she knew that somewhere someone was running, and if they ran fast enough, the axe would stop. If not...In that corner of her mind, she felt a chill.
Chapter 15, "A Pile of Sand"
In another he [Gawyn] began swinging a door closed on her, and she knew if that narrowing gap of light vanished, she was dead.
The first might be her trying to get to Gawyn. She ran to him and he ran to her, but neither made it in time. Because of that, the "axe" descends on her. With the loss of Gawyn, Egwene fought harder than she should have, bringing her own downfall.
The same could be said about the second dream. With Gawyn closing the door (dying), Egwene also dies.
I was wrong about Rand killing Fain. I think every theory I've seen on Fain has been wrong. I made five different predictions that were likely to happen. None of them were fulfilled in A Memory of Light. There was such a build-up for Fain, but he turned out to be a red herring of sorts. His presence—and his death—at the Last Battle were completely pointless. They added nothing, one way or the other, that I saw.
I'm on my second read-through of the book, and it's a bit more obvious to pick out the literary logic of Fain. Rand is occupied at Shayol Ghul, and there are two entities trying to kill him: Slayer and Fain. Naturally, Slayer is dealt with by Perrin, so logically Mat should handle the other. Makes sense. I'll admit, my heart lurched when Mashadar touched Mat. I had a moment of panic before I remembered Mat couldn't possibly die (because of the possibility of the outrigger novel). Though this scene felt a bit rushed and anti-climactic, I really enjoyed the irony of it.
I was wrong about Cadsuane dying as well. I guess I overanalyzed the foreshadowing on that one. I also enjoyed the irony of that scene. Cadsuane left the White Tower to avoid being raised Amyrlin (according to Robert Jordan's notes), so it's funny that they catch her off guard right after the Last Battle is finished. I believe since the words were spoken, she has no choice but to answer the summons of the Hall.
Alivia: not evil. Wow. This was a complete shock to me. I really thought all the signs were there for her to turn out to be a Darkfriend, at the very least, or some high-up Shadow Official. Not so. She turned out to be what she said she was—as far as we know. And she did "help" Rand die. Of course, there are still some ways we can speculate about Alivia. Someone did theorize that she could be part of the royal family of Seanchan. I'm sure we can continue the discussion of her as the theory blog continues in March.
What of Elaida's "The Royal line of Andor would be the key to defeating the Dark One in the Last Battle" (The Shadow Rising, Chapter 1, "Seeds of Shadow")? You could say it was Rand all along, but what about the efforts of Galad? He was given the copied foxhead medallion and went to fight Demandred. He didn't win, but he was responsible for the ter'angreal finding its way into the hands of Lan, who did defeat Demandred, causing the battle at Merrilor to be won. It's arguable.
Mat's role in the Last Battle was probably expected of most people, but not me. I really expected him to do no more than sound the Horn. That whole plotline smacked me right in the face! Mat almost single-handedly won the battle at Merrilor. And it was an incredible battle! It was right for Mat to be in charge. Having the Great Captains lead, like I assumed they would, lead to near defeat. I guess the Shadow thinks like I do.
Also in regards to Mat, I never expected that he wasn't still bound to the Horn (and I gave some proof as to why). Still, I loved the way it played out, especially Olver's sweetly sad reunion with Jain:
A Memory of Light
Chapter 39, "Those Who Fight"
"Noal, they said you died!" Olver cried.
"I did," Noal said, then laughed. "The Pattern was not finished with me, son. Sound that Horn! Sound it proudly, Hornsounder!"
Olver did so, blowing the Horn as Noal fought the Trollocs back in a small circle around Olver. Noal. Noal was one of the heroes of the Horn! The hooves of galloping horses announced others, come to rescue Olver from the Shadowspawn.
Suddenly, Olver felt a deep warmth. He had lost so many people, but one of them…one…had come back for him.
This scene is what The Wheel of Time is all about. Touching and emotional and just perfect. One of my favorites in the whole book.
So, what did we learn about the voice at the end of The Eye of the World? I guess the answer was it belonged to the Creator. Looking at the return of that voice, Rand seems to think that's who it was.
A Memory of Light
Chapter 23, "At the Edge of Time"
He did want to do this right. He had to do this right. Was it the right time? Had he planned well enough?
IT IS TIME. LET THE TASK BE UNDERTAKEN.
The voice spoke with the inevitability of an earthquake, the words vibrating through him. More than sound in the air, far more, the words spoke as if from one soul to another. Moiraine gasped, eyes opening wide.
Rand was not surprised. He had heard this voice once before, and he realized that he had been expecting it. Hoping for it, at least.
"Thank you," Rand whispered, then stepped forward into the Dark One's realm, leaving footprints of blood behind.
Rand, because of his thanks and his hope, assumes it is the Creator, that the Creator is giving him permission to continue. It makes sense. I don't know if the Dark One would really welcome the Dragon Reborn into his lair. He knows Rand must come, but he probably wouldn't give consent to the timing.
However, here, the capital voice isn't italicized too, like it is in The Eye of the World. That's a bit curious.
Besides that answer about Rand's encounters at the Eye, no more is revealed. We are still left wondering about the true power of the Eye and what effect it did have on Rand.
For the blog I wrote about Nicola's "The Dragon Reborn will do nine impossible things" (Crossroads of Twilight, Chapter 17, "Secrets"), only one prediction was correct! He survived the Last Battle, which most of us knew he would do anyway. I wonder if there are other impossible things he did that would count, rather than the ones I came up with.
I will admit to total failure in my prediction about everything related to Logain and the Black Tower. The Asha'man never came to Caemlyn's aid, nor did Logain go off on a secret recruiting mission. I'm so glad that the resolution in the Black Tower was able to be squeezed into this book, and I love Logian's character development and flaws, despite that nothing happened the way I thought it would.
And one of my biggest predictions, the one I thought had to be right, Nynaeve Healing death: WRONG. While I really liked the idea of Nynaeve accomplishing this feat, I understand it wouldn't work in the context of this world. If she did it once, she could do it again, and would do it again. A world full of immortals isn't a good thing.
Am I embarrassed that I got so much wrong? A bit. But at the same time, I'm glad I tried to think outside the box (and outside of theories that had already been circulating). I think this just shows that Robert Jordan was a genius. Look how much he kept us guessing. Look how much we still got wrong! There's no denying he was a master storyteller and a very skilled writer. A Memory of Light is a fitting end to his legacy.
That's all for this special edition. Join us in March for new theories. I kept a notebook beside me and jotted down tons of notes. There are still many topics we can discuss as the Wheel keeps turning. Thanks for reading!