The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Eye of the World, Part 4

Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen! Willkommen, bienvenue, and welcome to Part 4 of the re-read of The Eye of the World, part of the ongoing Re-read of the Wheel of Time series.

Today we will be covering Chapters 27 through 35; previous entries can be found here. As always, spoilers for the entire series lurk below; click at your peril.

Before we get to it, IMPORTANT SCHEDULING NOTE: Next week we’re covering the end of the first book, and it turns out that a whole lot of crap happens as we lead up to the climax. Who knew, right? Correspondingly, the recapping/commentary has gotten rather out of hand, and so instead of two posts on Tuesday and Friday as we have been doing, I’m dividing it up into three posts, which will go up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Hope that’s not too confusing.

Also, I wanted to say thanks and “aw, shucks” to all y’all who have said such nice things in the comments on the previous entries. I’m really excited it’s going so well, and generating so much interest and discussion; keep it up!

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Chapter 27: Shelter From the Storm

What Happens
Perrin, Egwene and Elyas travel with the Tinkers. Perrin frets at the slow pace, and observes that Elyas seems out of place and uncomfortable among the joyous, peaceful community of the Tinkers. When he suggests moving on, though, Elyas advises him that that hard times lie ahead, and he’d do well to take rest while he has it. Elyas also says that something tells him they need to wait before leaving the Tinkers, but refuses to elaborate. Everybody dances a lot; one night some of the women do a dance that makes Perrin blush, and they are so delighted by this that they do the dance almost every night thereafter. They start teaching the dance to Egwene, and Aram is fascinated; Ila notes this with worry. Perrin asks Egwene if she’s forgotten about going to Tar Valon and being an Aes Sedai; Egwene replies that for now she’s living in the moment. Perrin has bad dreams about Trollocs and Fades slaughtering the Tinker camp, but knows these are just ordinary nightmares. His awareness of the wolves grows daily. Then one night he dreams that Ba’alzamon comes in to the Luhhans’ kitchen and sets the wolf guarding Perrin on fire, saying that will not protect him if he is the one. He says that he will mark Perrin as his, and a raven stabs Perrin’s left eye out. Perrin wakes from this to find Elyas telling him it’s time to go. The wolves are highly agitated. Elyas tells Raen they have to leave, and everyone gathers to tell them goodbye. Aram takes Egwene aside and argues with her, obviously attempting to convince her to stay, but Egwene just shakes her head. Raen ritually bids them farewell, and Elyas replies that the song will be found someday. They leave, and the wolves come and tell Elyas about what happened in Perrin’s dream, and Perrin understands them. The wolves tell him that the reason Ba’alzamon was able to do that was because he hasn’t fully accepted them, and Perrin forces them out of his head.

Commentary
Best line:

“What did you spend so much time talking about with Ila? If you weren’t dancing with that long-legged fellow, you were talking to her like it was some kind of secret.”

“Ila was giving me advice on being a woman,” Egwene replied absently. He began laughing, and she gave him a hooded, dangerous look that he failed to see.

“Advice! Nobody tells us how to be men. We just are.”

“That,” Egwene said, “is probably why you make such a bad job of it.” Up ahead, Elyas cackled loudly.

Okay, that was pretty funny.

Perrin’s still being a dumbass about the wolves. I get the problem, I really do; as various commenters have pointed out, it’s got to be scary as hell to find yourself talking to predatory animals that were stealing your livestock a few weeks before. But dude, they just told you flat out that if you don’t accept them you’ll be at Ba’alzamon’s mercy again. The wolves might be a bad thing, but you know for damn sure Crazy Flamehead Guy is!

Even leaving that aside, if it comes down to a choice between the two, call me crazy, but I say go for the option that doesn’t involve eye-stabbings. This is not rocket science, here.

Other than that, this chapter is really more of an interlude than anything else (as the chapter title suggests). I think of it as Slice O’ Life Rest Stop, With Sexy Dancing. Which is fine, really; Elyas is quite right in that none of the characters in WOT get a lot of chances to take a break, so we should probably enjoy it while we have it.

Chapter 28: Footprints in Air

What Happens
Nynaeve, Moiraine and Lan arrive at Whitebridge. Nynaeve is fuming over the way Moiraine had evaded her questions during the trip there, and Moiraine’s insistence that Nynaeve needs to go to Tar Valon to be trained. Nynaeve is even angrier with herself when she catches herself thinking of all the good she could do as a Wisdom if she could truly use the One Power. Lan is annoying her too, though she thinks to herself she wouldn’t mind if Lan was there without Moiraine. All three of them are feeling the tension building in the air; Moiraine says the tension is the Dark One’s focus on the world sharpening. Once over the bridge, they see burned out buildings and uneasy townfolk. Most of the people lie about what happened, but they hear that a boat had left the dock right before it was stormed by angry villagers, and that a gleeman might have been on board. Nynaeve asks if the boys might have been on the boat, but Moiraine is doubtful of this. They eat at Bartim’s inn, and Moiraine says she can tell that the two boys who have lost their coins were in the room less than three days ago, and that they left alive. She wants to go find the one who still has his coin first, though, reasoning that she can’t be sure which way the other two went from there, and that they will end up in Caemlyn eventually.

Commentary
Best Line:

[Moiraine:] “Part of the training you will receive in Tar Valon, Wisdom, will teach you to control your temper. You can do nothing with the One Power when emotion rules your mind.”

Well, you can’t be right all the time.

This is another transitional chapter, about which there is little to say except that I’m still finding myself in an unexpected amount of sympathy with Nynaeve. Nobody likes to be treated like a child and kept in the dark by an arrogant manipulator.

And yet, I can also see Moiraine’s side as well; nobody likes to be shouted at and questioned every six seconds by an ignorant bumpkin.

All this sympathy! I’m losing my edge.

Chapter 29: Eyes Without Pity

What Happens
Perrin, Egwene and Elyas travel across the Caralain Grass towards Caemlyn. Elyas is setting a hard pace, and Perrin and Egwene are exhausted. Neither they nor the wolves understand what has Elyas so on edge, until he and Perrin are hidden just below a ridge and see a large flock of ravens burst out of a copse of trees. Perrin feels Elyas warn the wolves to watch the sky, and Elyas says they will have to travel by night to avoid the ravens from now on. There is a place that’s “safe” that Elyas wants to reach. They see the ravens chase down a fox and devour it to the bones in moments. The three run, and a lone raven sees them, but Egwene takes it down with her sling. They continue to run, barely avoiding the huge flock time and again. Behind them, the wolves are attacked by the flock and are badly wounded before driving them off. Elyas watches Perrin, knowing he sensed it, and finally Perrin says there are ravens behind them too.

“He was right,” Egwene breathed. “You can talk to them.”

Perrin’s feet felt like lumps of iron on the ends of wooden posts, but he tried to make them move faster. If he could outrun their eyes, outrun the ravens, outrun the wolves, but above all Egwene’s eyes, that knew him now for what he was. What are you? Tainted, the Light blind me! Cursed!

They run, the ravens behind getting closer and closer, and Perrin resolves that if they are overtaken, he will kill Egwene himself with the axe rather than let the ravens do to her what they did to the fox. Then suddenly he feels a chill run through him that seems to take away some of his tiredness, and Elyas stops. Egwene says she feels like she lost something, and Elyas laughs and says they are safe; they are in a stedding, and no creature of the Dark One will willingly follow them here, and the One Power won’t work here either, even though no Ogier have been in this stedding since the Breaking. They move further in, and set up camp; Egwene is cheerful at the respite, but Perrin is beating himself up, wondering if he would really have been able to kill Egwene. Egwene realizes the rock they are sitting on looks like an eye, and Elyas tells them that is all that’s left of a giant statue of Artur Hawkwing; this was to have been the place where his capital city would have been built, in a stedding where no Aes Sedai could channel, but Hawkwing died before it could be built, and his empire fell apart as his heirs squabbled over it. Only the statue was left, and eventually someone pulled it down. Perrin wishes they were sleeping somewhere else.

Commentary
Jeez, I totally forgot about this whole raven hunt thing. Which is amazing, because it’s really well done; it’s like Jordan took that scene from Fellowship of the Ring and stretched it into a Hitchcock movie.

And ugh, the poor fox! That is disturbing, y’all. Ravens beat Trollocs on my personal Creep Factor Meter any day.

Artur Hawkwing: Though a lot of him is obviously based on Arthurian legend, his life and achievements much more closely parallel that of Alexander the Great, especially the way he died (a fever which some suspect was from poisoning) and how the vast empire he built fell apart after his death. I don’t think the story about Hawkwing dying the very day his monument was completed comes from Alexander, but it definitely rings a bell. Anyone know if that has a real-life or mythological parallel?

(Overall, though, I would bet that this scene was inspired by Shelley’s poem Ozymandias, which is about Ramses II.)

Chapter 30: Children of Shadow

What Happens
A little apart from the camp, Perrin broods over his axe, and Elyas, guessing what he’s agonizing over, tells him that Egwene would have preferred a clean death and he shouldn’t beat himself up over it. Perrin laughs bitterly at how proud he was of the axe before, but now he hates it. He goes to throw it in the pond, but Elyas stops him:

“You’ll use it, boy, and as long as you hate using it, you will use it more wisely than most men would. Wait. If ever you don’t hate it any longer, then will be the time to throw it as far as you can and run the other way.”

Perrin hefted the axe in his hands, still tempted to leave it in the pool. Easy for him to say wait. What if I wait and then can’t throw it away?

Then an urgent sending from the wolves hits them both, and Elyas and Perrin leap up and run back to the fire. They start dismantling the camp as Egwene demands to know what’s happening. Elyas tells Perrin to find a place to hide before running off. As Perrin and Egwene look for a hiding place, he tells her that a large party of men on horseback is heading for the pond, and Dapple (the wolves’ pack leader) says they smell wrong, like a rabid dog. Perrin sees an outcropping of rock, which he realizes is the hand of the Hawkwing statue, and decides to hide there. He tells Egwene, and she asks how he can see anything; Perrin realizes that he shouldn’t be able to see in the darkness, and lies to Egwene that he found it by touch. From their hiding place, Perrin follows the wolves in his mind as the men hunt them with torches. Then the men surround the clearing where they are hiding, and Perrin sees they are Children of the Light. One of them demands that whoever is hiding come out or be killed. Perrin comes out, but before he can surrender Hopper charges into the clearing and attacks the Whitecloak threatening Perrin. The wolf tears out the Whitecloak’s throat, but then the others kill him. Perrin screams, feeling Hopper’s death, and attacks. Something hits his head and he loses consciousness.

He wakes in a tent with Egwene, both of them elaborately bound, and meets Lord Captain Geofram Bornhald and Child Byar. Byar tallies up the casualties from the Whitecloaks’ wolf hunt (nine dead, twenty-three injured), and suggests making the pelt of the wolf that was with Perrin into a rug. Perrin snarls at him — literally — and Bornhald rebukes Byar mildly. Perrin and Egwene try to convince Bornhald that they are not Darkfriends, but everything they say only convinces him further that they are lying. He tells them that they will be coming along with the Children to Caemlyn, and from there to Amador, where they will be given to the Questioners. Byar objects to this, saying they should be executed immediately, and Bornhald tells him that they must be given the chance to walk in the Light. Or Egwene will be given a chance, rather; Bornhald tells Perrin that he killed two of the Children, and will therefore be hung once they reach Amador.

Commentary
Perrin became my favorite character for a while here. The Wolfbrother thing may be a big ol’ fantasy cliché, but oh, my geeky heart loves it so.

This chapter is… interesting, I guess, in that it combines the total awesomeness of Perrin gaining his wolf senses, etc. , with the complete teeth-gnashing horribleness of the Whitecloaks. God, I hate them. Smug, self-righteous… gah.

Dapple’s assessment of them as “rabid dogs” is an insult to rabid dogs, if you ask me. At least the dog didn’t decide to be a slavering loony menace to society.

Hopper’s death still chokes me up. But then, I am always a friggin’ mess anytime animals are harmed in a story; Bambi and Old Yeller remain traumatic events of my childhood. THANKS, DISNEY.

Chapter 31: Play For Your Supper

What Happens
Rand and Mat are on the road, looking for a place to hide while the approaching horsemen go by. Rand touches the scarf wrapped around his nose and throat, and thinks of the farmer who gave them the scarves — one of the few kindnesses they’d received since leaving Whitebridge. Rand thinks back to the days immediately after they’d left the town. They’d slept in bushes more often than not, with little or no food. Once Rand suggested they sell Mat’s dagger, but Mat quickly shot that down, arguing that anyone they tried to sell it to would assume they’d stolen it. Sometimes they worked for a day at a farm in return for food and shelter, but Mat’s increasing suspicion and glowering made this more and more difficult. Then one night they stopped at the farm of a man named Grinwell, and to avoid the oldest daughter Else’s attempts to hit on him, Rand pulled out Thom’s flute and played some tunes while Mat juggled. Grinwell told him that he’d have paid good money for such entertainment at an inn, and Rand was struck by this. At the next village, he went to the innkeeper and played for him, and they ended up performing in the common room, and sleeping in beds with real food inside them. This became the pattern of their travel, until they arrived at the town of Four Kings.

Commentary
This chapter starts the infamous “why does the scene with the scarves happen twice?” confusingness that goes through to the end of Chapter 33. What’s going on is a flashback nested inside another flashback, but it all starts out of order, and look, I have no idea. Steven Cooper, master of WOT chronology, explains it here; go take a look if you want to see how it goes. I’m just here to be snarky tell you what I think.

Else Grinwell is an example of the Law of Conservation of Characters, in that she seems like a throwaway walk-on role, but then shows up again later in a way that is fairly important to the plot. I find this funny, because considering the (literal) Cast Of Thousands we end up with by the time the series is barely halfway finished, Jordan adhering to a law of conservation of anything is just amusing to me.

On Rand and Mat’s travails: for some reason (maybe because it’s about 16 degrees Fahrenheit outside as I write this) I am having a much more visceral appreciation of how much sleeping under a hedge, in cold rain, with no food, must utterly suck than I did before. I have my problems (don’t we all), but I have never once in my life had to go without food or shelter except in the most extreme short-term sense. I am damn lucky.

Chapter 32: Four Kings in Shadow

What Happens
Rand doesn’t like the look of the town, and suggests that maybe they should move on, but Mat is deeply against sleeping under a hedge again, so they look at the inns. The first three inns already have musicians playing, but the fourth, The Dancing Cartman, does not. They go in, and though the oppressive atmosphere is making Rand nervous, he offers their services to the innkeeper, Hake. Hake eyes Rand’s sword acquisitively, and agrees. They perform, and soon the inn is packed while a thunderstorm goes on outside. Rand whispers to Mat at one point that Hake is going to try to rob them; Mat agrees, but insists that they eat before trying to leave. Rand notices a too-well-dressed man watching them like he recognizes them. After a while they eat in the kitchen, and overhear the servingwomen talking about the richly dressed man, and that he had rejected every other inn for this one. Rand sneaks outside and takes a look at the man’s carriage, which is inscribed with the name Howal Gode, and is just like the ones they saw in Whitebridge.

Back inside, Rand and Mat both think he might be a Darkfriend chasing them, but they have no chance to get away. They go back to the common room and play, trapped, until the common room closes for the night; Gode is the last to leave for his room upstairs. Hake shows them to their “beds” in the storeroom, and Rand is sure for a second that he and the bouncers are going to jump them right there, but Hake looks at Rand’s sword again, and leaves. Rand jams some wedges under the door, and he and Mat start trying to pry the bars off the window. Then Gode addresses them through the door, saying they have no choice except to come with him. Mat tells him to leave them alone, and Gode replies that they already halfway belong to his master, and it will be better if they don’t fight it. He starts breaking the door down, and Rand panics, desperate for a way out. Light flashes, and Rand is flung across the room; he recovers to find that the window and most of the outer wall has been blasted to rubble. Mat says it was lightning, and now he can’t see anything. There is no sign of Gode, but Rand sees bodies in the rubble. He hauls Mat out through the hole in the wall and they escape into the rain.

Commentary
This is actually an incredibly tense chapter; Jordan does an excellent job of conveying the panicky, claustrophobic air in which Rand realizes just how trapped they are. Good thing he had an unwitting ace up his sleeve, eh?

Speaking of which, TEOTW is interesting in general because it is pretty much the only time in the series that Rand (and the other Emond’s Fielders, but especially Rand) is truly powerless, in every sense of the word. (I recognize the irony of pointing this out right after Rand has blasted a brick wall into rubble, but powers you can’t control — and aren’t even aware of yet! — are worse than none at all, mostly.)

So, Rand at this point has no magical powers, no weapons training, and now no allies — unless you count Mat, who is destined to become awesome but at the moment is, well, not, what with his brain getting slowly eaten and all — and I think it is this powerlessness, and the frustration with it that Rand feels as a character and we feel as his audience/cheering section, that really solidifies the hook that has dragged us all along through, what, almost twenty years and eleven books. Rand and Co. may become insanely powerful later on, but somewhere in the back of the reader’s head, it is this Rand we remember, and continue to root for.

Chapter 33: The Dark Waits

What Happens
Rand and Mat ride in the cart of a farmer named Hyam Kinch; Rand is feeling much better, and Mat says he can almost see normally again. They watch a unit of armed horsemen ride by, and Kinch explains that they are part of the Queen’s Guard. He says they must be from far off if they don’t know about the Guard, but there’s parts of the Realm that haven’t seen them in a long time. Rand wonders what Bran al’Vere would think to hear that the Two Rivers was part of a Queen’s Realm. Kinch lets them off, saying they are two days from Caemlyn. He hesitates, and offers to let them stay at his farm; Mat is instantly suspicious, and Kinch angrily drives on. Mat then feels bad, but Rand tells him not to worry about it; they need to keep on, anyway. Rand thinks back to what had happened after they left Four Kings.

Rand and Mat stumble away from the town, Mat unable to see anything. He asks Rand not to leave him, and Rand promises he won’t. They find some bushes to hide under, and instantly fall asleep. Rand dreams that he is back in Four Kings, and goes into the Dancing Cartman to find Gode inside, burned almost beyond recognition. “So you are dead,” Rand says to him, and Ba’alzamon replies yes, but Gode found Rand for him and so deserves a reward. Ba’alzamon tells Rand that he belongs to him, and it would be better to kneel to him now, for his “hounds” are jealous, and may not be gentle if they find Rand first. Rand refuses, and Ba’alzamon says alive or dead, it doesn’t matter. He then gives Gode his “reward”, which doesn’t look like it was what Gode thought it was going to be. Ba’alzamon blasts Rand with fire, and Rand wakes up to find his face tender as if burned. Mat is writhing in his sleep:

“My eyes! Oh, Light, my eyes! He took my eyes!”

The next day they set out on the road again, and to Rand’s surprise a farmer named Alpert Mull offers them a ride in his cart. When he lets them off, he gives them scarves, sorry that it’s the best he can do for them. Rand thanks him and says he’s the best man they’ve met in days. They reach the next village, and Rand uses what little coin they have left to purchase meals and a room at the inn. The next morning Mat is overjoyed that he can see again, a little. They are eating breakfast in the common room, feeling much better in general, when a young man with a feathered cap comes in, sees them, and starts in surprise. He comes over and introduces himself as “Paitr” nervously. He asks them to please understand that this wasn’t his idea; Mat stiffens and names him Darkfriend. Paitr does not deny it, and Rand tells him to leave them alone. They go to leave, and Paitr begs them to wait; Rand punches him in the face, and they hurry out of the town. They travel to another village and go to the inn and offer their services; the innkeeper agrees, but before they can start performing, Rand becomes nauseated and starts shaking violently. Mat threatens to show the obviously sick Rand to the innkeeper’s patrons unless he gives them a place to stay, and the innkeeper puts them in the barn. Mat makes a bed out of hay for Rand and tries to help as Rand alternates between bouts of freezing shakes and feverish heat. Rand has nightmares, or maybe hallucinations, that all his friends are dead and asking him why he didn’t save them. Later, Rand wakes to see that Mat has fallen asleep, and a woman dressed in silk has entered the barn. She says she came to check on her horse, and asks if Rand is ill. Rand wakes Mat, and tells the woman he’s fine. She comes and feels his forehead anyway, and then reaches under her cloak and lunges for Mat; Mat dodges and puts the Shadar Logoth dagger to her throat. She freezes, terrified. Rand sees that the dagger she tried to kill Mat with is charring the wood it’s lodged in. Mat goes to kill the woman, and Rand stops him. Mat snarls that she is a Darkfriend, and Rand replies yes, but they are not. As they lock her in the tack room, she lets slip that a Fade is on the way. Mat helps Rand stagger to the road, where a farmer named Hyam Kinch offers them a ride.

Commentary
This is where Jordan basically drops the Anvil of Clue down on anyone’s head who hasn’t yet twigged to what’s going on with Rand. I’m pretty sure I knew what the deal was for sure at this point the first time around. I really hope I did, anyway.

Mat’s “he took my eyes!” quote: I’m really not sure this is foreshadowing, as such. Maybe it is, but Perrin also had a dream where he lost an eye, and (as we will see) so does Rand, and neither of them have any prophesied eye-losing in their futures; they both just happened to be dealing with ravens at the time, and the raven’s standard method of attack happens to be going for the eyes. So, I dunno. As Freud once said, sometimes a horrible blinding nightmare is just a horrible blinding nightmare.

Speaking of Mat, I give him a lot of shit in the early books, and he really does irritate the hell out of me on numerous occasions, but I will give him props here: even with the Shadar Logoth taint chewing on him and taking him to a whole new level of paranoia, he sticks with Rand like white on rice all through this sequence. This is especially interesting in light of the later bits where Mat’s loyalty is called into question. I say, if you can stay true to your friend while starving, freezing, running from people who want to kill you, and literally having holes eaten in your brain, well, you’re probably pretty solid in the loyalty department, actually.

On the Darkfriends: I was initially puzzled as to how exactly they were sniffing Rand and Mat out so easily, since I didn’t remember ever hearing that Darkfriends get any kind of special ESP-like abilities just for being Darkfriends (Fain being a special case and obvious exception), but this is explained later on.

More character conservation going on here: Paitr will show up again later with Morgase in Amador, and the lady in silk Darkfriend will pop up in a number of places as Mili Skane/Lady Shiaine. (What’s sad is: I didn’t have to look any of that up.)

Chapter 34: The Last Village

What Happens
Rand and Mat reach Carysford, and find a haystack to sleep in. The next morning they have a lot of company on the road to Caemlyn, a fact that does not please the locals or the merchant caravans; Rand ends up with a gash over his eye from a wagon driver’s whip. They walk until dark, and come to one last village. Mat wants to stop, but Rand insists they get to the other side of the village first. Midway through the village, they come upon a man with a cart checking his horse, and two other men talking near the inn, one of them hidden in the shadows. Rand senses something wrong with the two men, and hides to watch them. He realizes the man by the cart feels the same way. The man he can see seems very nervous. Then the shadowed man moves off, and Rand sees his cloak doesn’t move in the wind. The man with the cart (Almen Bunt) calls out to the nervous man (Holdwin), saying he’s got strange friends, and Holdwin tells him they are looking for two young men who have stolen a heron-mark sword, and that they are Darkfriends. Bunt seems amused by this. Holdwin tells Bunt he’s crazy for wanting to drive through the night to get to Caemlyn, and Bunt calmly replies this will probably be the only chance he’ll get to see a false Dragon. Holdwin stalks off, and on impulse Rand goes to Bunt and asks him for a ride, and Bunt agrees. On the way, Bunt talks to them about Queen Morgase, and how he doesn’t believe the nonsense about Morgase’s Aes Sedai advisor Elaida being the queen in all but name. Rand wonders if they don’t find Moiraine in Caemlyn whether they should go to this Elaida instead. Bunt talks some more about the drama surrounding the Andoran royal family, and eventually Rand falls asleep. He dreams about Thom:

“The Queen is wed to the land,” Thom said as brightly colored balls danced in a circle, “but the Dragon . . . the Dragon is one with the land, and the land is one with the Dragon.”

Then he dreams that a Myrddraal has captured Egwene and Perrin and Mat, and has the heads of Moiraine and Lan on his belt. Then the Fade burns Egwene to ash, and Rand screams and opens his eyes. A raven sitting on his chest says “You are mine” and plucks out his eyeball, and Rand wakes up for real. Bunt tells them they have arrived in Caemlyn.

Commentary
Goddamn ravens and their goddamn eye thing. Ugh. CREEPY. Nice fakeout, though.

The whole Andoran succession thing (which I glossed over in the already-too-long recap above) was never one of the parts of WOT that interested me all that much (sorry, Rich), but nevertheless I’m surprised that I didn’t notice/remember the implication here that Taringail’s plotting to take the throne from Morgase was linked to Laman cutting down Avendoraldera in Cairhien and the Aiel War. Maybe it doesn’t get mentioned elsewhere than here? And what does one have to do with the other anyway?

Also, it’s weird to think that Rand just heard about his real mother (Tigraine) without knowing it.

Re: Thom’s quote above: this is obviously a reference to the Fisher King, to which the Dragon/Christlike savior figure is often compared. What I find interesting about it is not that, but where this info came from in the first place. If we go with the theory that Ba’alzamon is sending the boys these dreams, Thom’s presence in the dream, not to mention the esoteric and non-threatening information he gives there, is really kind of weird. It doesn’t fit with the pattern of the other dreams, at least not until the Myrddraal shows up.

I dunno. Thoughts?

Chapter 35: Caemlyn

What Happens
Rand is staggered by his first sight of Caemlyn, and how huge and noisy it is. Mat is flipping out, demanding to know how they can know who to trust in such a place, and Rand tells him the very size of it will hide them better than anything else. Bunt pulls into an alley to let them off, and asks Rand if he really is hiding what Holdwin said he was; Rand evades the question, and Bunt advises him to hide it or get rid of it before trundling off. Mat wants to know what they should do now, and Rand says the first thing is to find the inn Thom directed them to, The Queen’s Blessing. Mat continues to freak, saying Moiraine and the others are surely all dead and they’ll be dead soon too, and Rand roughly orders him to pull himself together. Mat apologizes dully. They start asking for directions to the inn, and Rand worries about his sword being seen. He notices that most of the people wearing swords on the street have them wrapped in cloth, either red with white cord or white with red cord, and finds a vendor selling the cloth. The red cloth is cheaper, so he buys some and wraps his sword so the herons on hilt and scabbard no longer show. Eventually they find The Queen’s Blessing, and go inside and meet the innkeeper, Basel Gill. On hearing Thom’s name, Gill pulls them into the back and demands to know what they’re doing with Thom’s flute (he recognized the case), and Rand says Thom gave it to him. Rand tells Gill that Thom’s dead, but Gill doesn’t think Thom is that easy to kill. He tells them that Thom was once the Court Bard here in Andor, and suspected lover of Morgase, but Morgase got very angry when Thom went off without a word to deal with the trouble over his nephew Owyn, and the upshot is there’s still a price on Thom’s head in Caemlyn. Gill tells them that for Thom’s sake he’ll give them beds and meals for now.

Commentary
Having grown up in a city myself, I don’t think I am able to appreciate fully what it’s like for someone who’s never seen one before to see it for the first time. (Granted, New Orleans isn’t a very large city, but it does more than well enough as a primer, and certainly I’m not likely to be overwhelmed by crowds or noise after going to every Mardi Gras since I was born till I was eighteen, so.)

I do remember how I felt when I saw Mont St. Michel, though, which is the city that Peter Jackson et al used as a template for Minas Tirith, and which might be considered the one of the few quintessential medieval cities still standing in Europe. The place has barely changed in over a millennium, and I was so overwhelmed by it that I literally didn’t know what to do with it.

My awe was not for precisely the same reasons as Rand’s for Caemlyn, but I think the effect is likely the same, or near enough as to make no difference. Something about the weight of historic human achievement (“I didn’t know men could build such things”), and the utter disregard which it has for you and your paltry short life on the earth. It’s a humbling feeling.


And here endeth Part 4 of the TEOTW re-read. Remember, Part 5 goes up next Monday, and will cover Chapters 36-41. Ciao!

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