First, I have to say I was IMMENSELY relieved to see that Roedran was just Roedran, and that the Sharans would be part of the story after all. It just seemed strange that an entire continent/Empire would be able to sit out the Last Battle.
And yet, I was torn. I found Demandred to be a pretty compelling, if monomaniacal character. He may even have believed some of what he was saying about being the savior of the world, that he would remake the Pattern and rule for the Sharans. A kind of reflection of Aridhol, that would use the Shadow to achieve justice for a single nation. He seems to have convinced at least some of the Ayyad (Shendla, in particular) that the Dragon was a Westland hero who would doom Shara. Are we supposed to believe that there were actual prophecies about Bao the Wyld? If so, were they really about Demandred? I think there was a lot in that moment when Demandred asks Shendla why she still stayed with him after it was clear they fought for the Shadow, and she says so he can save their people. In the end, it looks like even the Shadow didn't really recognize Demandred, that he had begun to take his rivalry with Lews Therin much more personally and that he had begun to actually fight for the Sharans, to actually be the world's savior.
Still, I can't decide whether it makes sense (and is not perhaps a little orientalist) to assume that an entire Empire would side with the Shadow, and continue to fight even after seeing exactly who their allies were. The Sharan Empire seems to be a deeply religious, authoritarian, propagandistic theocracy run by the Ayyad. There is also considerable evidence that they were fiercely hostile to outsiders, concerned with pure bloodlines, and a pure kingdom. All recipe for a genocidal war against the Westlands if the proper religious figure were to lead them. It's not that I doubt the capacity for organized evil... perhaps it just bothered me that it was the East, with strong African and Middle-Eastern overtones who turned out to betray the Light behind a figure who seemed to represent the power of savage hordes (Bao the Wyld, He Who Is Owned Only by the Land).
I was certainly impressed by his skills in battle and (to a lesser extent) with the Power. And his character had more depth than most of the Forsaken. The book did an excellent job of setting up his match with Mat and the futility of his monomaniacal drive to best the Dragon. On the blademaster front, I could have done with maybe one fewer duel (although it looked like Demandred was finding it tiresome too by the time Lan showed up). I know a lot of people were irritated with Gawyn, but I actually enjoyed his story-arc and thought that it was bizarre that a bloodknife-enhanced Gawyn was considered less of a match than Galad. Why did Demandred have to be a blademaster anyways? Why him?
And why in the world are we led to believe that the 10 yrs of war he had known in the War of Power, when they were learning everything from scratch, would somehow make Demandred or other AOLers into such obviously (at least to Demandred) unsurpassed blademasters and battle tacticians? Since the Breaking, the world had known 3000 years of mostly uninterrupted war and a tradition with the sword. Maybe the sport-dueling with swords practiced by an AOL channeler over a few centuries could explain such skill with the blade... but I wasn't under the impression that they actually practiced killing this way. I am perfectly happy to believe that Demandred and maybe some other Forsaken were crazy genius battle tacticians, with a natural flair, but it seems incongruous that Demandred's skill (or Lews Therin's, as he believed) was the product of decades or centuries of practice:
Since when had the War of Power gone on for centuries?
Considering how long the build-up for Demandred's character and reveal was, I am sure there will be much more to discuss. Just thought I'd get the ball rolling.