Tue
Jan 20 2009 12:35pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Eye of the World, Part 1

Hi, all. Welcome to the first (official) post of the Wheel of Time Re-read. Today’s post will cover Chapters 1-9 of The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series.

A couple of notes before we get started:

  • This and all other posts will be rife with spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, up to and including the most recent installment, Knife of Dreams. In other words, in the unlikely case that you are reading the series for the first time, you really, really want to wait till you’ve finished them all before reading these posts.
  • Corollararily (…what?), a general foreknowledge of what’s going to happen is assumed. I’ll try to explain things that may not be obvious to the casual reader, but for the most part I’m working under the assumption that you guys pretty much know what the deal is, especially in the earlier books.
  • I will try for the most part to avoid fannish jargon and acronyms, especially since I get the feeling many of them do not translate across forums, but old habits die hard, so if there is anything you don’t get, feel free to go “Buh?” in the comments and I will Esplain.

So, if you’ve got all that, we can get going. Please return your seatbacks and trays to their full upright and locked position, keep your hands and arms inside the carpet, and proceed onward through the jump!

Prologue: Dragonmount

What Happens
A crazed Lews Therin Telamon wanders through the wreckage of his palace, not seeing the corpses of his wife and children. A man named Elan Morin Tedronai appears to kill him, but is angered to realize that Lews Therin is too insane to recognize him, and Heals him (painfully) using the Dark One’s power. Returned to sanity, Lews Therin sees the dead body of his wife Ilyena and begins sobbing uncontrollably. Tedronai offers to bring her back from the dead if Lews Therin will serve the Dark One, and Lews Therin replies that he will kill Tedronai for Ilyena’s death. Tedronai then reminds him that it was he, Lews Therin, who had killed Ilyena and all his kin, not Tedronai, after Lews Therin’s attack on the Dark One allowed the counterstroke which sent the Hundred Companions insane, and now the Companions are all tearing the world apart. The remembering of this sends Lews Therin into a fit of pain and despair. Using the One Power, he Travels to a remote area near a river and, calling on the Light to forgive him, calls down enough of the One Power to immolate himself completely and create a mountain out of flat land.

Commentary

Best Line:

“Ten years! You pitiful fool! This war has not lasted ten years, but since the beginning of time. You and I have fought a thousand battles with the turning of the Wheel, a thousand times a thousand, and we will fight until time dies and the Shadow is triumphant!”

I think this is what the kids call “Starting off with a bang.”

This Prologue, unlike many of the later ones, does just what a prologue is supposed to do: provides just enough information and allusions to draw the new reader in, and sets the tone for the entire book/series to follow. (The later prologues tend to be more of a “wrap-up/progress the storylines we won’t be coming back to in this book” thing.)

Although, I suppose in a way this prologue is similar, in the sense that this is the only time in the series to date that we see anything firsthand from the Age of Legends. In that way this Prologue is really unique unto itself, compared to everything that follows.

One thing I tend to keep forgetting about the Wheel of Time between rereads is that whatever his flaws as a writer, Jordan had a true gift for vivid imagery, and for writing prose that should sound purple and overwrought, but doesn’t. Go reread the very first paragraph, which is nothing but a big chunk of description, if you don’t believe me.

(And you know, we never did find out what the Nine Rods of Dominion were, did we?)

Chapter 1: An Empty Road

What Happens
A Famous Introductory Wind brings us to Rand al’Thor and his father Tam, on their way into Emond’s Field for the festival of Bel Tine. They are wary, on guard against the wolves and other predators which have lately been plaguing the Two Rivers. Rand sees a strange black-cloaked man on the road behind them, but when he calls Tam’s attention to this, the rider has disappeared. Rand then realizes that the wind had not moved the rider’s cloak at all. He tries to convince himself that he had imagined it, but without success. They continue on into town, where the various townsfolk are uneasy about the bad weather but determined to have their festival anyway. Rand meets up with his friend Mat Cauthon, planning mischief as usual, and discovers that Mat has also seen the black-cloaked rider, and that it scared him. The Mayor, Bran al’Vere, reveals that a gleeman is in town and that fireworks are planned, and Rand and Mat start unloading Tam’s wagon.

Commentary
The Eye of the World (henceforth, “TEOTW”) tries to set up confusion throughout as to whether Rand, Mat, or Perrin is the Chosen One that the Shadow is after. It’s unclear to me whether this is meant to be an ambiguity solely for the characters, or whether the reader is supposed to be uncertain as well. I hope it is the former, because even without the benefit of hindsight, as far as I am concerned the fact that Rand is the very first person we meet in the first chapter of the first book (of the series proper), well, it kind of takes the suspense out of that one.

This chapter accomplishes two things: to set an ominous, foreboding tone with the winter and the wolves and all, and also to establish the character of the Two Rivers inhabitants—simple, somewhat backward, but most importantly tough, stubborn folk.

Though slight, there is a shift in tone from the prologue; while it is still very much on point with the imagery and high-flown vocabulary, the prose is nevertheless a little more relaxed, a little more contemporary in style. Not too much, but enough to make my Lord of the Rings acid flashback no more than a mild occasional seizure.

I find it interesting that Mat’s character is so immediately identifiable, as are all the other Two Rivers characters we meet here including Tam, while Rand’s personality remains largely undefined. Basically all I got out of this chapter regarding Rand is that he is tall, young, and more responsible than Mat (which isn’t saying much). This might be over-analyzing, especially since Rand does produce particular character quirks later on down the line, but I am reminded of an observation a friend made a long time ago (hi, Thor!) about how so many of these protagonist hero types’ personalities tend toward the bland precisely because that makes it easier for the reader to map him/herself onto the hero as a proxy. Wish fulfillment and alla that.

True here? Not sure. Talk amongst yourselves.

Chapter 2: Strangers

What Happens
Rand and Mat finish unloading the cart and meet up with Ewin Finnegar, who tells them that there are strangers in the village: a swordsman and a highborn lady, or so they presume. They leave the inn, and Rand feels like he is being watched. He sees a raven on the roof of the inn, and he and Mat try to scare it off with rocks. The raven dodges the rocks with ease, but flies away when Moiraine appears. The boys stammer and stumble, and Moiraine smiles and gives them coins, asking them if they will help her out while she is in town. Rand asks her why she is in town, and she cryptically replies that she is a student of history. They see Lan also, and Ewin opines that he’s a Warder, though Rand and Mat scoff at this. After she leaves, Rand and Mat notice that the coins Moiraine gave them are different from the one she gave Ewin. Then they are distracted, because the peddler has arrived in town.

Commentary

Best Line:

“As the Wheel of Time turns,” Moiraine said, half to herself and with a distant look in her eyes, “places wear many names. Men wear many names, many faces. Different faces, but always the same man. Yet no one knows the Pattern the Great Wheel weaves, or even the Pattern of an Age. We can only watch, and study, and hope.”

There’s not a lot to say about this chapter, though it includes the notable introduction of Lan and Moiraine; it’s setup, mostly.

Though I will say that the idea of a bird sitting around and watching you is still a creepy one, in my mind. I mean, a big giant Trolloc coming at you is hardly my idea of fun, but at least it’s fairly obvious. How are you supposed to keep an eye out for birds, though? Or worse yet, rats?

Kind of in the same way I find the concept of biological terrorism (which, I note, is also employed in the Wheel of Time, especially later on) to be scarier than more conventional (for lack of a better term) methods. Oh, sure, just avoid the air and you’ll be fine…

(Actually now that I think about it, the entire concept of tainted saidin could be classified as biological terrorism. Think about it.)

Chapter 3: The Peddler

What Happens
Most of the village turns out to see the peddler, Padan Fain, as he rolls into town. In the crowd, Rand and Mat run into their friend Perrin Aybara, the blacksmith’s apprentice. Fain informs the villagers that the weather problems they’ve been having extend far beyond the boundaries of the Two Rivers, and that there is war in Ghealdan. A man there has raised the standard of the Dragon, and unlike other recent false Dragons, Fain tells them, this one can channel; a party of Aes Sedai have been sent from Tar Valon to deal with him. The crowd greets this news with great dismay, and they shout and argue for a bit over whether this man could be the real Dragon Reborn, until Bran cuts them off by taking Fain inside the inn to consult with the Village Council. Rand, Mat and Perrin discuss the conflicting legends concerning the Dragon and Aes Sedai until Nynaeve al’Meara, the village Wisdom, and Egwene al’Vere, Bran’s daughter, interrupt them. Nynaeve berates them for foolish superstitious talk, and they tell her about Fain’s news. She leaves to join the Council and Fain in the inn, and Egwene reveals to Rand that she has been given permission to braid her hair (meaning that she is of marriageable age, which freaks Rand out), and that she is apprenticed to Nynaeve and intends to leave the village to practice elsewhere when her apprenticeship is done, which upsets Rand. She gets angry at him in turn, and moves off, whereupon Mat tells Rand that Perrin has also seen the black-cloaked rider and been given a coin by Moiraine. Egwene asks what they are talking about, but they are interrupted when the gleeman exits the inn.

Commentary
First mention of a woman crossing her arms under her breasts! Yay!

And, right on the heels of that:

At the best of times [Rand] was never very nimble with his tongue when talking to any of the village girls, not like Perrin…

Oy. Which will have to do as the best line in this chapter, I guess, since there really isn’t a better one.

Again, this chapter is mainly notable for introducing the rest of the to-be-major players: Egwene, Nynaeve, Perrin, and (to a lesser extent) Padan Fain. The only other really interesting thing to note here is how the proto-Supergirls are already annoying me, which does not bode well for the next, um, 9,000 pages. Yikes.

That being said: I remember when reading this the first time around that I conceived an instant hatred of Nynaeve, which was not to let up for five books. (But then, believe it or not, she became one of my favorite characters in the series—and she became that during the whole Valan Luca traveling circus madness in Fires of Heaven. No, I’m not insane. Well, maybe I am, but I’ll explain my reasoning on that when we get there and you can judge for yourself.)

Regardless, at first I hated her, and was so pissed when it became obvious that she was going to be one of the central characters of the series. I don’t recall, on the other hand, having any particular animus against Egwene in TEOTW, and in fact I think she was my favorite female character in the first few books (aside from Min, who is made of pure undiluted awesome compared to most of the female characters in the series).

However, this time around I’m finding, rather to my surprise, that the opposite holds; I’m having a great deal more sympathy for Nynaeve, and wanting to tell Egwene to shut up and lay off Rand, the little pipsqueak. I suspect that my empathy for Nynaeve’s situation may be due to the fact that, unlike the first time I read this, I’m not in college anymore, and thus have had far too much real-life experience dealing with the Cenn Buies of the world, who see no incongruence with deriding or dismissing the competence of someone because of their youth or rank (or gender), while simultaneously being pathologically incapable of finding their own ass with a roadmap, a flashlight and a native guide.

I don’t know, I guess I have more sympathy now for having to put up a hard front while secretly wondering if maybe all the naysayers are right, and you really are too young/inexperienced/short/tone-deaf/whatever.

Or, you know, I could be projecting. MAYBE.

Chapter 4: The Gleeman

What Happens
The gleeman, Thom Merrilin, stomps out of the inn, very put out by the way he’s been treated since arriving in Emond’s Field. Rand and the others all gape at him, but manage to explain about the Council meeting. Thom dismisses Fain’s news as old hat, recruits Egwene to be his assistant, and gives them a sneak preview of his talents. Everyone calls out requests for old stories, but Thom breaks off abruptly when he sees Moiraine. He greets her cautiously and they fence verbally for a moment before she glides off; he does not appear to take her explanation of why she’s in the village at face value. The Council re-emerges from the inn, and Thom ducks back inside. After Nynaeve argues with Bran and storms off, Tam tells Rand et al that there is nothing to worry about re: the false Dragon in Ghealdan, and announces to Rand’s surprise that he and Rand are going back to their farm tonight, rather than staying in town for Winternight. Rand, Mat and Perrin debate whether to tell anyone else about the black-cloaked rider, and finally decide that no one would believe them anyway. Rand joins his father to go home, where he is surprised to discover that his father does believe him about the rider after all, but doesn’t think there’s anything to do about it until later.

Commentary

Best Line:

“Battles interest me,” Mat said.

Ha!

Still in setup/buildup mode, where we introduce the last of the above-the-line talent for a while (i.e. Thom Merrilin) and get all our ducks in a row for when Shit Starts To Happen, which is in the next chapter.

I don’t have space to get into all the allusions and real-world references in this chapter here (there is more than enough of that kind of analysis out there, including the WOTFAQ), so we will move on, with a brief pause to toss kudos to Jordan for managing to cram an amazing amount of world building/exposition-type material into a (relatively) short chunk of text, and managing to do it in a way that only once or twice comes across as info-dumpy or clunky (I’m thinking specifically here of the villagers’ panicky Bullet List Of Why Dragons Are Super Bad, For Reals in Chapter 3).

In other news, I like run-on sentences. Let’s move on, shall we?

Chapter 5: Winternight

What Happens
Rand and Tam get back to their farm, do chores and such, and get ready to settle in for the night. Rand is surprised when Tam locks the doors, and then is even more shocked when Tam pulls out a sword Rand didn’t know his father had, with herons embossed on the hilt, blade and scabbard. As they are about to eat, Trollocs bust the door down and attack Tam, who kills two of them and yells for Rand to get out the back. Rand climbs out of a window, shouts a warning to Tam that they’re coming in the back as well, and runs to hide in the woods near the house. Tam crashes through another window and Rand calls to him again, but Tam runs in another direction, trying to draw them off from his son. They find each other again once things have gone quiet, and Rand realizes Tam is wounded. He takes his father’s sword and sneaks back into the house to get supplies for the trip back to the village. One of the apparently-dead Trollocs on the floor turns out to have been playing possum, and tries to trick Rand into putting down his sword, saying that “Myrddraal” wants to talk to Rand. Then he lunges for Rand, and Rand kills him with the sword, mainly through luck. Rand gathers supplies from the house and barn quickly, and gets back to his father to see that Tam’s condition has worsened.

Commentary
Ah, remember when Trollocs were scary and formidable, instead of random cannon fodder?

Also, I could be wrong but I think this is the only time we see a Trolloc (a) have a name, and (b) speak in their own language:

Vlja daeg roghda!” The snarl became a toothy smile. “Put sword down. Narg no hurt. Myrddraal want talk you.”

Chapter 6: The Westwood

What Happens
Rand cleans and binds his father’s wound and puts together a makeshift litter to tow him to Emond’s Field. Tam feverishly begins talking to Kari, his dead wife. Rand begins the arduous journey to the village, staying off the road for fear of the Trollocs coming back. Tam begins talking about the Aiel War (though Rand doesn’t know what he’s referring to yet). The Myrddraal appears on the road and seems to almost sense where Rand and Tam are hidden in the woods, but finally moves on. Rand starts out again for the village as Tam continues to ramble about the Aiel War, until Tam talks about being on a mountain and hearing a baby cry in the snow:

“I couldn’t just leave a child… no children of our own… always knew you wanted children. I knew you’d take it to your heart, Kari. Yes, lass. Rand is a good name. A good name.”

Commentary
Wherein Rand makes the discovery that characters in these kinds of stories usually do: that having an adventure isn’t nearly as fun as reading about them.

Really strong LOTR flavor here, what with Rand hiding from the Nazgul Myrddraal while trying to get to Bree Emond’s Field. Not that I’m complaining; I remember reading this chapter for the first time with my heart in my throat. Excellent tension. If it ain’t broke…

And of course, the very Campbellian quote above, when Rand gets his first hint that He Might Be More Than He Seems.

And… yeah, it’s still pretty awesome.

Chapter 7: Out of the Woods

What Happens
Dazed by Tam’s revelation, Rand travels the rest of the night before finally reaching Emond’s Field at dawn, only to find that it too has been attacked and partially burned. Egwene brings Nynaeve to see Tam, but Nynaeve tells Rand that there is nothing she can do for him. Unwilling to accept that, Rand tows the litter to the inn, where he sees that someone has carved the Dragon’s Fang on its door. Bran takes Tam up to a bed in the inn, and after finding out that Nynaeve had said she could do nothing for him, tells Rand that Moiraine is an Aes Sedai, and might be able to help. He warns Rand, though, to be wary of accepting gifts from Aes Sedai. Rand finds Moiraine and Lan and begs her to save his father, no matter what the cost. Lan is against the idea, but Moiraine overrules him, and agrees to come to the inn.

Commentary
More first mentions in this chapter: the Dragon’s Fang, angreal, and Lan’s talk of Trolloc tribes (an idea which Jordan seems to have abandoned very early on, as we never see them mentioned again after TEOTW that I can recall. Not to mention Gandalf Moiraine’s staff, which didn’t last much longer).

We also have here for the first time the defining characteristic of the Aes Sedai M.O.:

Help from an Aes Sedai was sometimes worse than no help at all, so the stories said, like poison in a pie, and their gifts always had a hook in them, like fishbait.

This quote struck me, because out of all the lore we get concerning Aes Sedai in the early chapters of TEOTW, this is one of the few that is actually true. Well, mostly. Which leads me to a thought I’ve had before but don’t know that I ever articulated:

Part of what makes the world building of the Wheel of Time work so well is its feel of authenticity in the stories told within it. And what I mean by that is how the various legends and references are rarely if ever completely true, or completely false, but are usually both. And I think that resonates. Anyone who’s had experience with media bias, or been the target of gossip, or been told FOAF stories, or played Telephone at a party, or ever set foot inside a high school—i.e. everyone—that ambiguity dovetails perfectly with our experience of the way stories work in the real world.

Stories, especially orally told stories, are adulterated things; the very act of telling them changes them from what they were previously. The older they are and the more times they’re told, the more altered (or decayed) they become. Which is more or less the core notion upon which the Wheel of Time series is built (combined with the notion of circular time, so that all stories eventually come back around to their origins again).

Jordan is hardly the only author to play with this characteristic of stories, of course, but he is fairly unique in how fundamental it is to his fantasy world. Most fantasy series of this type (that I’ve read, anyway) tend to follow the All Myths Are True doctrine, with very few exceptions. Certainly that makes things a lot easier for the author.

In fact, I’m no expert but I don’t even recall Tolkien playing much with the mutability of legends; his “legends” are pretty much historical fact within the context of Middle Earth. If I’m wrong on that I’d love to hear about it.

Chapter 8: A Place of Safety

What Happens
Moiraine, Lan, and Rand arrive at the inn and go to Tam; Thom leaves the room quickly as soon as they enter. While Moiraine attempts to Heal Tam, Lan asks Rand about the heron-marked blade he’s carrying, and remarks that the heron is the mark of a master swordsman. Rand asks if it would have helped them to know about the black-cloaked rider, and Moiraine says not much, and that she should have been warned by the behavior of the raven on the roof of the inn the day before. She takes out her angreal in order to Heal Tam fully, and Lan explains to Rand about Myrddraal. Once Tam is Healed, Moiraine informs Rand that he and Mat and Perrin would have to leave the Two Rivers; it was only the three of them the Trollocs were after:

“In one of you,” Moiraine said, “Or all three, there is something the Dark One fears.”

Rand is reluctant to believe this, but Moiraine convinces him it is not worth risking Emond’s Field further in case she is right, and at last Rand agrees to go with her to Tar Valon. After Moiraine and Lan leave, Rand confirms her story with Bran about which houses were attacked, and then sits down next to Tam’s sickbed, where he quickly falls asleep.

Commentary
Rand can already sense a woman channeling here (though of course he doesn’t know that’s what he’s doing). I don’t know that I noticed that before.

Also, this bit is interesting:

[Moiraine’s] tongue clicked angrily. “I was overconfident to the point of arrogance, sure that the Dark One’s touch could not have spread so far.”
[…]
The Dark One was always there—[Rand] knew that—but if you tried to walk in the Light, tried to live a good life, and did not name him, he could not harm you. That was what everyone believed… But Moiraine seemed to be saying…

What you’ve got here is a conflict between worldviews on the nature of good and evil: Rand’s more or less Christian belief that evil can only harm you if you succumb to temptation, versus the more pagan belief that evil is random, and strikes without consideration of the goodness or badness of the people involved. In other words, if Zeus decides to turn himself into a duck or whatever and swoop down and have his way with that shepherd over there, it really doesn’t have much to do with whether the shepherd’s a nice kid or not.

Naturally, the viewpoint that turns out to be true in Randland is the one that sucks the most.

Chapter 9: Tellings of the Wheel

What Happens
Rand dreams of a fiery mountain in a barren land, and a voice that whispers “serve me.” He defies the voice, calling the Dark One by name, and abruptly finds himself outside a beautiful city (Tar Valon, though Rand does not necessarily recognize it yet), being urged on toward the tower at the center of the city by the smiling inhabitants. Rand resists going straight there at first, but every direction he turns, the tower is somehow still in front of him, and finally he gives up and heads toward it. The people all sing and throw flowers at his feet, and he walks into the tower, only to find a Myrddraal waiting for him. Rand bolts awake. Soon after, Tam wakes up too, and Rand tells him what happened and that he’s leaving. To his surprise, Tam agrees that he should go, but warns him to be careful of Moiraine and Lan, and to keep the sword. Lan comes in and hustles Rand outside, where a crowd of villagers is confronting Moiraine, demanding that she leave Emond’s Field. Moiraine makes her staff burst into flame, effectively shutting them up, and tells them the story of Manetheren, shaming them for failing to live up to their ancestral heritage. The villagers shuffle off, and Lan drags Rand and Mat off to the inn stable.

Commentary
Lots of excellent visual imagery here, both in the dream sequence and in the telling of the fall of Manetheren. I liked this passage especially:

Steamy mists covered the canyon floor, their thick gray surface rolling in grim waves, rolling and breaking against the cliff beneath him, but more slowly than any ocean wave had ever moved. Patches of fog glowed red for an instant as if great fires flared beneath, then died.

The dream is nicely ambiguous (if you haven’t already read the whole series, anyway), but I didn’t remember the implication that going to Tar Valon was a trap. It’s interesting to note that as of Knife of Dreams, Rand has still never once been anywhere near the city.

The fall of Manetheren—still a damn good story. One of the best parts of doing a reread is coming back to the bits that I kind of forgot about, and then going “damn, that’s a good bit.” Nothing like a doomed last stand, I always say.


And we’ll stop here for now. Part 2 of The Eye of the World re-read (in which we will cover Chapters 10-18) coming this Friday, same bat time, same bat channel. Stay tuned!

183 comments
Kate Nepveu
1. katenepveu
Woo!

Prologue: do you think he was also trying to deplete the tainted Source, to fix it? "Straining, he forced himself to draw more, tried to draw it all."

Also, in a later chapter Ba'alzamon takes credit for convincing Lews Therin to kill his family, which (if true) I think was a mistake; much creepier if he did it on his own.

Chapter 1: funny what you say, because I had serious _LotR_ flashbacks here, with the fireworks and festival and black-cloaked rider.

Chapter 4: I actually found all the "real-world" refs a little clunky, but as in _LotR_, I'm not a big fan of the conceit that Randland is our world at a different time. What do you think?

Chapter 7: Excellent comment about how not all myths are true in WoT. I hadn't recognized that, but it is a good piece of versimilitude.

Chapter 9: I was so glad, this re-read, that Rand got to say good-bye to his father. As an adopted kid, I'm sensitive to this kind of story--never, ever refer to my biological parents as "real" or "natural," because I regard that as an incredible insult to my parents, that is, my adoptive parents--and I really liked that they are shown to have such a good relationship.

The fall of Manetheren is a great story.

General character comments:

I agree that I had a hard time getting a handle on Rand's personality in the opening chapters. And I was surprised that Mat annoyed me throughout. (Perrin, who was my favorite of the three, doesn't get much personality here yet.)

Good point about sympathy for Nynaeve, and yet, you know, she still drove me up the wall. (Egwene I want to shake a bit for being so starry-eyed, but it's probably not her fault that so far she's just the Spunky Independent Girl.)

General overall comments:

What with holding an under-the-weather SteelyKid at all hours last night, I actually made it up to chapter . . . 20 (though not in a super-close way). So, you know, snark aside, the thing really does pull you in.
Joe Sherry
2. jsherry
I can't get past "weep, weep for Manatheren". I'm in the middle of a series re-read and that speech still kills me.

We do get a bit of Age of Legends in Rhuidian, which comes across as first hand in that we see through the eyes of those who were there.

I might be wrong, but I think the Trolloc tribes get referenced, but it is never explored.
Jason Henninger
3. jasonhenninger
I've been debating a re-read of the whole big thang, leading up to Sanderson's conclusion (since he is fabulous). I think, upon reading your review, I'll have to give it another go, because I enjoyed the first few books a whole lot and this reminded me of why I did.
Ian H
4. Moewicus
Oh man, thanks for reminding me why I like the WOT so much.

And for reminding me of what I dislike about it. Those prologues in later books are a real drag for me. Same with the lack of exploration of the Trollocs, and how they just become cannon fodder when they're not completely absent.

re: Chapter 9 commentary, I hadn't been quite conscious of the fact that Rand has never been to Tar Valon until now. Something about your commentary makes me think, or rather hope, that his dream that early on will still prefigure something important and that his finally going there will trigger some Shit To Go Down.
JS Bangs
5. jaspax
I hope no one minds if I follow along with this. I gave up on the series after book 4 (or was it 5?), but I'm curious about what happens afterwards. I just don't want to slog through 5,000 pages of Jordan's writing to do it.
Leigh Butler
6. leighdb
Kate:

Prologue: do you think he was also trying to deplete the tainted Source, to fix it?

I didn't get that sense; my impression was that he was trying to make sure that he drew enough to fry himself *real good*. Lews Therin would certainly have known that even the most powerful channeler in the world couldn't draw enough saidin to get rid of all of it.

Chapter 1: funny what you say, because I had serious _LotR_ flashbacks here, with the fireworks and festival and black-cloaked rider.

Oh, I did too; I was talking more about the style of the prose.

Chapter 4: I actually found all the "real-world" refs a little clunky, but as in _LotR_, I'm not a big fan of the conceit that Randland is our world at a different time. What do you think?

I find them clunky *now*, but I know for a fact that I thought they were awesome the first time around. I think familiarity really does breed contempt in a lot of cases.

Chapter 9: I was so glad, this re-read, that Rand got to say good-bye to his father. As an adopted kid, I'm sensitive to this kind of story--never, ever refer to my biological parents as "real" or "natural," because I regard that as an incredible insult to my parents, that is, my adoptive parents--and I really liked that they are shown to have such a good relationship.

I agree. Although, in contrast, it did kind of highlight how Perrin apparently only cared about the Luhhans enough to leave them a note - his family didn't appear to get one!

Good point about sympathy for Nynaeve, and yet, you know, she still drove me up the wall.

I have a feeling you are incredibly not alone in that.

What with holding an under-the-weather SteelyKid at all hours last night, I actually made it up to chapter . . . 20 (though not in a super-close way). So, you know, snark aside, the thing really does pull you in.

I know, right?
Leigh Butler
7. leighdb
jsherry:

We do get a bit of Age of Legends in Rhuidian, which comes across as first hand in that we see through the eyes of those who were there.

Ah, I knew there was going to be something to prove me wrong on that one. Nice catch, thanks.
Leigh Butler
8. leighdb
jasonhenninger, Moewicus:

Thanks, and you're welcome!

Jaspax:

That's *9,000* pages, actually. I have reason to know.
bkyle
9. bkyle
I believe Rand does reference Trolloc tribes several books later (TSR or TFoH maybe), but I seem to recall it being nothing more than a casual mention of a couple names.

I'm really excited about this read-through. I started back through the audiobooks last summer for the third (I think) time, aside from actual readings. I have an hour roundtrip work commute, so I'm moving at a decent enough pace that I'll be done before AMoL drops. I do wish that I had joined the ranks of WoT fandom sooner and could have participated in the news group that led to the creation of the most-excellent WOTFAQ, but, alas, I was in kindergarten when this series began.
Leigh Butler
10. leighdb
bkyle:

Well, better late than never, I always say. Welcome!
bkyle
11. Kenneth G. Cavness
Prologue: You're 100% correct, this is the one really, really, really really really good prologue in the series, and is perfect insofar as it encapsulates the Reason Everything Is Fucked Up Now. It also introduces some of the scattered themes that we'll see pop up later regarding the Dragon Reborn being a cyclical character.

All of this has happened before, and all of this will happe---er, wait, wrong story.

Chapter 1: I think that, despite Rand's being on the first page of the first chapter, Jordan really did want the reader to be a little confused as to which person exactly is the Dragon Reborn, because as the book goes on, there are still reasons for each of them to wonder. They're all three ta'varen, and Moiraine is clearly unsure which is the actual Dragon Reborn at first. But yeah, for (everyone?) most people, we already know who it is right from the start.

Chapter 2: Man, Moiraine is annoying at the start. She just spouts random crap in a really ominous and overbearing tone, and sweeps around majestically, looking pale and tragic. It's irritating.

Chapter 3: I really like Egwene -- she wants to be MORE than what she is right now, and that speaks better to her than it does even to Nynaeve, who seems content in her role as a superstitious Wisdom in a backwater town. Egwene's even willing to step on people to get there, or drag them around with her. Since I like strong women, I'm pro that. Nynaeve on the other hand is not just ignorant, she's AGGRESSIVELY ignorant at first, and I hated her the first several chapters. She's bright, but she's ignorant, and proud of it, and I don't hold truck with that nonsense. *Tugs braid*

Chapter 4: I'd have liked to see at lesat some reference to the allusions here, and actually, the best paragraph to my mind IS the real-world references, so nyah. Anla the Wise Counselor, hee.

Chapter 5: Good old Narg. I really should create an MMO character with that name.

Chapter 6: The Myrddraal scare me in ways that the Ringwraiths never could. They have no eyes! But they can see! Their cloaks move, but there's no wind! It's creepy. Rand is WAY too whiny in this chapter.

Chapter 7: I always have felt deep sympathy for most Aes Sedai; yes, a lot of them were smug bastards, but the majority seemed to really be trying to help, and sometimes that means leading people around by the nose. Chapters 6 and 7 really show how hated and feared the Aes Sedai are. It's not just the magic, either. They're known for being manipulators and political instigators outside the Power, too.

Chapter 8: I was struck on my last re-read of TEOTW at how GOOD Jordan was at random foreshadowing, at least at the start. Most of the time it is extremely subtle, and there are situations where he foreshadows something that doesn't come to pass for books later.

Chapter 9: I'm still hating on Moiraine at this point, but the Fall of Manetheren and the whole staff thing struck me as hopelessly overdramatic. I mean, the story itself is quite cool, but blah to the way she told it.

I'm often struck, hearing about the history that Jordan gave his world, at how we're nearing the end of the story. He started at the end, and is outlining the end, and there was so much that happened in his universe that we'll never know or see, and that saddens me. Some of the stories seem like they could have been books in and of themselves.
bkyle
12. Heather J.
My random thoughts …

* I read the TEOTW shortly after publication and although I’ve forgotten many of the events in the books over the years, I still clearly remember the feeling of foreboding when Rand saw the black rider for the first time. It was downright creepy, and that imagery has stuck with me ever since.

* Ok now, what is it with the Nyneave hatred? I’ve heard lots of people say that didn’t like her – still don’t! – but I’ve liked her from the very beginning.

* Trollocs – I agree, they were THE big creepy thing in the first few books. Then they became commonplace, then they basically disappeared altogether.

* Hmm … the Nine Rods of Dominion … maybe you should email Brandon Sanderson and see if he will be explaining that in book 12 …

And in reply to the commentors:

Commentor #1: I agree with your thoughts about Rand/Mat/Perrin – Mat was my least favorite of the three, although I came to like him much better latter, and Perrin my favorite, although we didn’t know much about him at first.

Commentor #4: I also didn’t realize Rand has yet to go to Tar Valon … could be leading up to something good there!

Commentor #11: I’m totally with you on the Myrdraal being creepier than Nasgul – by far. And your comment about foreshadowing! I know I didn’t really appreciate all the foreshadowing that is there until I’d read the series a few times – I’m still discovering things now. And THAT is GOOD.

Great start to the reread!!!
Kate Nepveu
13. katenepveu
Leigh: Perrin apparently only cared about the Luhhans enough to leave them a note - his family didn't appear to get one!

Did I miss something? Mat says they left notes for their families, plural, near the start of chapter 10.

bkyle: I was in kindergarten when this series began.

Way to make us feel old . . . =>

(I started reading the series with the freebie version of the first bit of _Eye_, which was 1994; I think it was the summer, so between high school and college. And, looking on the web, I see that edition ended at chapter 18, which as we'll see next time is an evil place to stop. No wonder I ran out and got the rest of the books right away . . . )
Sam Brady
14. lewaah
I was thinking about trollocs and their change from "scary and formidable" into "random cannon fodder" and got to thinking about Dungeons & Dragons. If you are a first or second level character, even a goblin can be a somewhat intimidating foe. After you level up a few times you can crush a goblin with a stern look and little else. Perhaps the change in the trollocs is due to the fact that in these early chapters, they are fighting farmers and other non-fighter types. Later on, after Rand and the gang have gained a few levels (you know what I mean), trollocs cease to be as much of a threat (and the POV impression of trollocs changes) simply because our heroes are more powerful than they were here at the beginning of the story. Just a thought.
Leigh Butler
15. leighdb
Kenneth:

Chapter 2: Man, Moiraine is annoying at the start. She just spouts random crap in a really ominous and overbearing tone, and sweeps around majestically, looking pale and tragic. It's irritating.

I didn't find her annoying per se at the beginning, just more fulfilling her Gandalfy role. And as we'll see, she gets to be kickass quite a lot early on. Moiraine didn't start pissing me off until much later (I think around Rhuidean, but I'll have to see).

Egwene's even willing to step on people to get there, or drag them around with her. Since I like strong women, I'm pro that.

Um. I kind of have an issue with equating "strong woman" with "willing to step all over people". In fact I would say that right there is the major issue a lot of people have with Jordan's portrayal of "strong women".

Nynaeve on the other hand is not just ignorant, she's AGGRESSIVELY ignorant at first, and I hated her the first several chapters.

This, on the other hand, I can see.

Chapter 6: [...] Rand is WAY too whiny in this chapter.

Well, his father is kind of *dying* at the time...

Chapter 8: I was struck on my last re-read of TEOTW at how GOOD Jordan was at random foreshadowing, at least at the start. Most of the time it is extremely subtle, and there are situations where he foreshadows something that doesn't come to pass for books later.

Very true, and one of the major reasons this series hooked me as long as it did.
Leigh Butler
16. leighdb
Heather J:

* Ok now, what is it with the Nyneave hatred? I’ve heard lots of people say that didn’t like her – still don’t! – but I’ve liked her from the very beginning.

It's a debate of long standing, over whether Jordan's depiction of female characters is progressive/sexist/awesome/stupid/etc., and Nynaeve is one of the prime examples/targets used.

It's an issue we'll be visiting again in this re-read, believe you me.

Great start to the reread!!!

Thanks!
Leigh Butler
17. leighdb
Kate:

Oh, okay. I must have missed that.

Lewaah:

That's pretty much exactly what it is. It's just kind of annoying and facile, from a plot standpoint. I give games a pass on it because, well, they're games, which necessitate a certain ramping-up structure, but in linear narratives it smacks a little too much of convenience for my taste.
Jon Severinsson
18. jonno
"At the best of times [Rand] was never very nimble with his tongue when talking to any of the village girls, not like Perrin…"
Oy. Which will have to do as the best line in this chapter, I guess, since there really isn’t a better one.

While that may not be a great line in itself, I honestly love the recurring theme it sets up. That Rand, Mat and Perrin each think the other two are great with girls while they themself are terrible...

Best Line:
“Battles interest me,” Mat said.
Ha!

Not a great line first time through, but it is possibly the most non-obvious forshadowing in the entire series. At least amongst those obvious enough that I've caught them in hindsight. ;-) Definitely a highlight.

“I couldn’t just leave a child… no children of our own… always knew you wanted children. I knew you’d take it to your heart, Kari. Yes, lass. Rand is a good name. A good name.”
[...]
And of course, the very Campbellian quote above, when Rand gets his first hint that He Might Be More Than He Seems.

Though at the time Rand seems to be in the mindset that He Might Be Less Than He Seems...

I also love the concept of myths actually being myths and not just background story for the reader. But then it is sort of compulsory to actually follow through with that after setting it up with the famous chapter one intro...

Trolloc tribes are mentioned throughout the series, but only in passing. Mostly in the context of someone-that-should-know complaining that there are too many tribal arrowhead types in a battle or skirmish. And while Moiraines staff is quickly lost, the concept of using a focus when using Saidar is kept.

The fall of Manetheren—still a damn good story. One of the best parts of doing a reread is coming back to the bits that I kind of forgot about, and then going “damn, that’s a good bit.” Nothing like a doomed last stand, I always say.
I also tend to forget about that telling, but I never forget about the history about Manetheren. Loial and Mat sees to that...

And regarding the Tolkien thingy, I'll not say more than that every time I re-read TEOTW I long for Camelyn, when the Tolkienesques finaly end and we get the real Jordan. Not that Tolkien or Jordan-immitating-Tolkien is bad, just that after 11 books I've gotten used to better...
bkyle
19. Johan G
It's a debate of long standing, over whether Jordan's depiction of female characters is progressive/sexist/awesome/stupid/etc., and Nynaeve is one of the prime examples/targets used.


That's actually one thing that really changed for me between my first read-through, and the last. I used to knee-jerk-defend the portrayals of women, but I winced a lot when I read them this fall.

Still love Nynaeve, though. Part of it, I think, is her position in the narrative. I always liked that she was a woman not much older than the rest and in a position of authority over the rest - and until tDR, no one questioned it. Also that she and not Egwene, the Popess-in-making, was the strongest one.

Other than that, she's just fun to read, for largely the same reasons I like to read Mat.

One thing that I think makes tEotW a great first book in the series, is how the tone it sets changes as the characters gain more knowledge. The way the Forsaken are spoken about, how Ba'alzamon's Dreams segue into the concept of tel'aran'rhiod, etc.


Anyway, excellent blog, as expected. I'll stick with you to the end.
bkyle
20. Lil' Soul
“…while simultaneously being pathologically incapable of finding their own ass with a roadmap, a flashlight and a native guide.”

“In other words, if Zeus decides to turn himself into a duck or whatever and swoop down and have his way with that shepherd over there, it really doesn’t have much to do with whether the shepherd’s a nice kid or not.”

Ha, I love your humor. And, thanks for all the past work on the Wheel of Time FAQ. It certainly opened up a lot of ideas and insights that I would have NEVER come to on my own.

Lil' Soul
bkyle
21. Tony Zbaraschuk
I'm glad to see a project like this here on Tor.com; it's reminding me that I need to re-read the Wheel of Time again. (For the, what, nth time? Fifth? Sixth?) One skims a lot on re-reads, admittedly, but I still should do it.

Rand's dreams from this book still creep me out, and there's a lot of foreshadowing that never went anywhere (yet? will it all come to pass sometime?) At the same time, one ought to remember that these (probably) aren't like Egwene's prophetic dreams; they're Ishamael's attempts at brainwashing Rand, so we probably shouldn't expect them to pan out. (The Myrdraal in Tar Valon, for instance, is an obvious "Don't Trust Aes Sedai" theme... which sort of appears to have worked, actually.) One wonders what would have happened if Rand had gone to Tar Valon.
bkyle
22. Joga
you mention the seemingly infallible nature of myths in many fantasy works, which is annoyingly often the case, but when concerning LOTR i'm not so sure it is. In LOTR the stories of ancient days tend to not be myths because the elven cultures have first person memories of the ancient days and are involved enough in the general culture of the world for some of their memories to become common knowledge in other societies. Thus, stories concerning the second age in LOTR are no so much myth as they are memory.
Kate Nepveu
23. katenepveu
Re: Tolkien, myth, & mutability, off the top of my head:

Well, some characters have certainly lost knowledge, such as the reaction of people to the Rangers. But beyond what Joga points out, Tolkien had this belief in the discoverability of history through examining language changes and manuscripts, so it's a very different attitude.
bkyle
24. John Hamby
Looking back it strikes me at how unambiguous the characters are. Fain, unpon immediate arrival, screams unsavory and untrustworthy. Moiraine and Lan and Thom all immediately seem enigmatic but on the side of good. The lack of what would later become Jordan's trademark in leaving the reader constantly wondering about a character is almost jarring.

What tugs at my hindsight the most in general is how much Jordan's sequence started in "Winternight" seems to have resonated and trickled down in more than one author's own work. The seemingly hopeless trudge with wounded loved one now is almost a formula it seems. I guess it can flash back to Frodo getting stabbed and the flight to Rivendell. But Jordan's own spin seems to be the new translation other authors are applying.
Agnes Kormendi
25. tapsi
It's never really bothered me that the fearsome Trollocs of the first book soon become cannon fodder, considering that the characters learn so much, so fast.

My first idea is that when you meet a monster out of legends, you obviously don't really know what to make of it, you just freak out. Once you've learned more about it, or at least got used to the concept that such creatures are actually real, it's not that scary anymore.

Also, all three of them learn to use their talents, and that makes it easier for them to consider Trollocs as cannon fodder. Rand learns to channel (and fence), Perrin learns to use his strength, and all three of them learn to use armies, which prove very useful against Trollocs.

And obviously, once they had to face a Forsaken or two, their perception of what's terrifying and what's difficult but manageable shifts.

Still (I may be wrong), I don't recall a single episode where Mat or Perrin, who cannot channel, take on Trollocs lightheartedly. So I'd say they still consider them dangerous, but hey, not as scary as Ba'alzamon. (Which is about right, I suppose)

...

It's in Knife of Dreams when the manor house is attacked that we get a list of Trolloc tribes, and the beauty of it is that they mostly carry names that we can identify as types of evil things in our legends (gargoyles, devils, etc). So I think it's not that Jordan abandoned this idea, but more like it's not come up for ten or so books.
bkyle
26. Heather J.
"It's a debate of long standing, over whether Jordan's depiction of female characters is progressive/sexist/awesome/stupid/etc., and Nynaeve is one of the prime examples/targets used."

Yes, so I've heard. But that's not what I was getting at. :) I *know* why people don't like her as an example for female characters, I've just always liked her for that stubborn streak, know-it-all-attitude, and the tough-girl front she puts up. She may not be the ideal depiction of a female character, but she's still one of my favorites.

(By the way, I'm so loving the debate in the comments!)
bkyle
27. Erdrick
RJ mentioned that the Tolkien parallels were intentional, and that he wanted readers to start with a feeling of familiarity before he took us somewhere new. Brilliant!

KoD spoiler:
.
.
.
Also, the most significant mention of Trolloc tribes that I recall is in KoD, after the huge battle between the massive Trolloc hordes and Rand, Logain, et al. Collecting badges after the battle, it was noted that, not only was the attack a major collaboration between tribes (unparalleled since the Trolloc Wars), but that there were a number of new/unknown tribes in the mix ...foreshadowing things to come in the Last Battle.
Mike Ball
28. vatdoro
I agree with your guys' theories about why we don't see as many Trolloc skirmishes in later books, but I'd like to add one more factor to the theory. In the first couple books the Trollocs are able travel practically anywhere in Randland using the Ways. I forget which book it is in, but Rand sends word out to the Ogier to put a guard on the Way Gates near their Stedding and takes precautions to keep Trollocs from using other Way Gates. I think this is another factor that helps explain why we don't see Trollocs left and right after the first few books.
bkyle
29. Squocka
The Nine Rods of Dominion
From RJ's Blog
Monday, December 19th, 2005
For someone — Marigan, I think, but my notes are a little wonky right about here — the Crystal Throne is not the High seat of the Tamyrlin, none of the Forsaken were among the Nine Rods of Dominion, and the “Rods” were symbols of office.

This fits well with the theory they were kind of kings. as found here
http://www.wotmania.com/theorypostdbtheory.asp?ID=1067&Category=Voice
jane reynolds
30. janie
Wow, great post, and great comments! Here's my take, and i'll try not to repeat too much ...

Prologue: everything's pretty much already been said ...
Except that this is the first mention of the True Power (even though it's not named), and when is the next time it's used or even mentioned? I'm thinking when Moridin first shows up all crazy-like, but i could be wrong.

Ch 1: It's amazing how that sequence with Rand's first sight of the Myrddraal is still creepy even rereading it for the nth time. I think it's the fact that it disappears (together with the whole cloak-doesn't-move-in-the-wind thing) that makes it so creepy. Like a great big spider in the room that's suddenly gone. Ugh.

Ch 2: The comments about the truth and untruth of the myths struck me here, too, when Ewin Finnegar unwittingly stumbles on the truth - Lan is a Warder - but everyone scoffs at him because Lan isn't wearing gold or jewels. And ravens are totally creepy.

Ch 3: I love all the quotes from the boys about how the others are better with girls than they are.
MAJOR annoyance at Egwene at this point, (and Nynaeve to a lesser extent) - it goes away occasionally, but man! she needs to be taken down a peg or two!
And ROFL to your comment on Min! Roll on Baerlon!

Ch 4: "Battles interest me" HAH!

Ch 5: I'm ok with the change that happens wrt the Trollocs - they're still pretty scary to ordinary people anyway. The time in the Stone at the beginning of TSR when Rand used Callandor and realised he could kill the Trollocs without having to stick a sword in them springs to mind ... not so scary when you can call up a thunderstorm to fry them all without even having to see them!

Ch 6: Very LOTR-y, and the first of many, many, many many many "who am I?"s from Rand.

Ch 7: The thing I loved most about this chapter was the bit where Rand comes across Thom trimming the singed bits off his cloak. It's subtle, but there are so many other mentions later on of Thom being concerned that no one saw him at anything less than his best that I just had to laugh.
The Trolloc tribes are mentioned briefly in TGH, too, when they find the twisted Hawkwing-monument in the parallel world.

Ch 8: I'd never noticed that Rand can sense Moiraine channelling before either. Great observation. There's a good quote from Lan here about the way stories change: "Sometimes, sheepherder, stories make things larger than truth" (when Rand freaks out about the Fade being twenty feet tall ...)

Ch 9: Again, great observation about the fact that Rand still hasn't been to Tar Valon. Interesting how his avoidance of Tar Valon has progressed from: better things to do elsewhere (the Eye), to probably not the best idea to go near a whole bunch of Aes Sedai when you're a man who can channel (during Siuan's reign), to stay away from there at all costs (post schism, under Elaida).
Great story about Manetheren. Ties in nicely with all the 'old blood' stuff that's coming soon, with Mat spouting the Old Tongue.

On another note ... although i was quite young when I started reading this series (early high school), i wasn't even BORN when TEOTW first came out. So major props to all of you who have stuck with this series for the past 25 years!!!
Leigh Butler
31. leighdb
Tony: these (probably) aren't like Egwene's prophetic dreams; they're Ishamael's attempts at brainwashing Rand, so we probably shouldn't expect them to pan out. (The Myrdraal in Tar Valon, for instance, is an obvious "Don't Trust Aes Sedai" theme... which sort of appears to have worked, actually.)

Very good point. Not that Rand didn't accumulate plenty of reasons not to trust Aes Sedai all on his own, of course.

Joga and Kate: True, Tolkien was approaching the concept of myth in a totally different way. I wasn't trying to imply Tolkien was copping out, far from it; it's just that many authors besides Jordan seemed to take the "legend as history" idea and use it as a world-building shortcut. I give total props to Jordan for coming up with something different, and just as true to the nature of history in its own way (in my opinion, anyway).

John Hamby: Mmm, maybe. But surely neither Jordan nor Tolkien came up with that trope; that's got to go back to Greek mythology at least. I can't think of the myth I'm thinking of (if that makes sense), but I'm sure there is one.

Tapsi: Yes, now that you mention it I remember the Trolloc tribes being mentioned in KOD (which of all the books is the one I am the least familiar with). I remember kind of snorting when I got to that part; perhaps self-importantly, it seemed to me that Jordan only threw them back in there after 11 books because so many fans had pointed out their conspicuous absence.
bkyle
32. Insomnius
hmmm

One of the "selling points" that I have about this series is that it has many strong female characters, that influence the course of the story.

This is the fundamental difference between LotR and WoT - ok ok - ONE of the differences...

Having a female "magician" and having the males as "tainted" seems to me not to be very sexist at all.

Learning about how to surrender to Saidar and how to dominate Saidin (in later books) seems to suggest equality through differences. Rand is amazed when he feels the tranquility of saidar and Nynaeve is overwhelmed by the agression of saidin and repulsed by the taint - sorry if I am getting a bit too far ahead though...

When they get separated in Shadar Logoth - coming up in a bit (by Jordan's standard that's 400 pages but I digress) - Nynaeve and Egwene do far better than their male counterparts. Perrin finds Egwene with a fire already made and Nynaeve follows a trail that Lan thinks he covered.
bkyle
33. JohnA
Glad to see you doing this, Leigh.

RJ blogged the Nine rods were symbols of power, like the rings of that JRR guy. Didn't mention anything about having any evil mojo, though.

The trolloc tribes are mentioned in the "alternate reality" in TGH, at the monument to Hawkwing's defeat. Surprised you missed that one :)

Next ref, AFAIK, isn't until the big turkey shoot in KoD, chapter 19.

I really enjoy the number of points that you brought up in you commentaries. I hadn't given many of them thought until now. I'll have to find time to squeeze in 9000 or so pages. Thanks again for doing this. Oh, btw, if you needs some cross-referencing like I just lifted, EWoT is still up:
http://www.encyclopaedia-wot.org/
Joe Sherry
34. jsherry
Kenneth @ 11:

I've been paying extra attention to Nyneave's braid tugging in the series in my re-read and she doesn't tug her braid for the first time in the series until page 93 (hardcover) in The Dragon Reborn.

Seriously. It doesn't happen until Jordan has gone through a good 1200 pages.

If my count is correct, Nyneave tugs her braid 8 times in The Dragon Reborn (I'm reviewing the re-read on my blog and that's something I wanted to keep track of).
bkyle
35. backspace
Aww, reading this and the comments has me pining for the old days of the group. Thanks for this promising beginning!
Rory Sims
36. Roodlenoodes
After rereading AWOT three times, and listening to the audio-books as many times(long commutes are good for something)I am surprised at how much I now like Nynaeve too. I initially hated her on my first read through, but it could be knowing what she becomes as a character that has changed my opinion of her. I know I am jumping ahead enormously but the scene where she rallies support for Lan, in KOD, is one of my favorites of the entire series. Most of the characters end up with powerful scenes like that.

In fact the only key female that I still dislike is Elayne.

At the end of my audiobooks Jordan is interviewed and speaks on his interest in the development of myth and legend through the ages, and that being one of the major premises to the series. He also talks about the 'important' characters not straight out being told "you need to leave to fulfill prophesy" or "you are going to save the world" and so off they go to do it. I think Rands reluctance, and scepticism adds realism and depth in these early chapters, and seemed to be important to RJ as well.

Loving the discussions, and love seeing so many people still passionate about WOT
bkyle
37. John Hamby
leighdb said:
John Hamby: Mmm, maybe. But surely neither Jordan nor Tolkien came up with that trope; that's got to go back to Greek mythology at least. I can't think of the myth I'm thinking of (if that makes sense), but I'm sure there is one.

I've been running through my Greek myth memories and I'm not as sure as you are. I've always wondered how much of Frodo and his various wounds stemmed more from Tolkien's horror of WWI and the generation that it left scarred and crippled.

However the Jordan twist on the trope is definitely what is being paid "homage" to in some rather recent reads. At least one had the raving "confession" by the wounded loved one, heh.

leighdb said:
Tapsi: Yes, now that you mention it I remember the Trolloc tribes being mentioned in KOD (which of all the books is the one I am the least familiar with). I remember kind of snorting when I got to that part; perhaps self-importantly, it seemed to me that Jordan only threw them back in there after 11 books because so many fans had pointed out their conspicuous absence.

Was there reference to the tribes when Rand, Loial and Mat come across the alternate momument at Talidar after they fall into the Portal Stone rabbit hole?
bkyle
38. Cbeats
Prologue:
i don't know about you guys but the first time i read this i was utterly confused and had to make an effort not to stop reading. i didn't know what anything was referencing to and all of the vocabulary was new. in fact, i think i skipped over some of it in hopes that it wasn't important.

i guess i wrong...

anyway, as i got further into the book, i decided to finish the prologue, and ended up rereading it several times throughout The Eye of the World. each time i did, i gained a little more information. although i understand it much better today, i still seem to gain something every time i read this prologue. just goes to show how good Jordan was at writing i guess.

other points:
anyone think the Age of Legends is kind of a screwed up version of modern times? i vaguely recall Jordan mentioning (basically) airplanes, among other things.

that fact about Rand never stepping foot in Tar Valon before is very interesting

oh ya, and in the 11th book, like 8 trolloc tribe names are listed off all at once in the Battle of 100,000 Trollocs. it seemed a little ridiculous and hardly necessary to have so many to me. i just skipped over them

thanks for doing this Leigh
bkyle
39. backhand
jasonhenninger:

"... leading up to Sanderson's conclusion"


from Dcon:

He was talking abit about the wheel of time. So I asked him how much of the ending RJ wrote. The ending RJ wrote is about 100 pages, although on some pages it still needs some work.
Dale Norman
40. dokipen
Apologies for length...


Prologue: I LOVE re-reading the prologue having read the whole series, especially remembering how utterly baffled I was the first time.

Chapter 1: It’s got to be Rand, it’s his POV for the (checks Encyclopaedia WOT) first twenty chapters. I never thought it was either of the others.

Chapter 4: “Battles interest me,” Mat said.
Is this the same chapter in which Perrin mentions being afraid of wolves? I’ve not got the book to hand to check.

Chapter 7: I love that the lore in WOT is skewed, it’s one of my favourite things in the series as it sets up pre-determined prejudice between certain peoples and characters and adds to the story. Clearly it has an effect in how Rand et. al. are suspicious and untrustworthy of the Aes Sedai and how they act because of these feelings.


Moewicus: Same with the lack of exploration of the Trollocs, and how they just become cannon fodder when they're not completely absent.

I interpreted the Trollocs becoming cannon-fodder as a symptom of the journey we take going from a small one-inn village being the entire world to, well, the entire world being the entire world. One of my first impressions on finishing the series the first time was how RJ had managed to go from one extreme (tiny village concerns) to the other (end of the world and the stress/hastle/loss/responsibility that comes with it) without me noting until afterwards. Besides, as someone said, they’re gearing up to kick some serious DO & Forsaken arse soon… Trollocs? Pah!


Kenneth: Man, Moiraine is annoying at the start. She just spouts random crap in a really ominous and overbearing tone, and sweeps around majestically, looking pale and tragic. It's irritating.

Moiraine annoys me constantly always has – it’s the Knowing What’s Best For Everyone that annoys me. And Rand for that matter. Maybe that’s the point? Hmmm… I may have been suckered in quite mercilessly by RJ there.


Leigh… Thanks so much for this blog. The first post is awesome and I’m really looking forward to the others. Actually, I’m desperate to finish the book I’m reading now (Sharpe’s Revenge) so I can get to re-reading and be at the same stage as yourself for the observations.

Man, I LOVE the WOT – is there another series of books that can cause such discussion and love?
bkyle
41. MinnesotaNick
Re: The Nine Rods of Dominion

Am I the only one who assumed that the Oath Rod and the rod used on Galina were two of the Nine Rods?
Kate Nepveu
42. katenepveu
John Hamby: I've always wondered how much of Frodo and his various wounds stemmed more from Tolkien's horror of WWI and the generation that it left scarred and crippled.

Heh. Eventually, when we get there in the _LotR_ re-read, there will be a post about a scholarly article I read discussing the influence of WWI on _LotR_.

The short version: yes, much of the portrayal of Frodo, Sam, and Mordor is very heavily influenced by WWI (contrast with the brighter heroics of the Aragorn-thread in _TTT_).
bkyle
43. thekilikabeast
Hi Leigh, are you aware that there is a second prologue called "Ravens"? It appears in the UK 'teen' version of the eye of the world, the book was split into two and the first part 'from the two rivers' has two prologues, Ravens first then Dragonmount. Can you do a summary and give us your thoughts on this? Before we get swept deeper into the series. Cheers
Agnes Kormendi
44. tapsi
MinnesotaNick: I thought of that, too, but I'm not certain...
bkyle
45. Erdrick
IMO, Ravens and New Spring are terrible alternate places to begin the series. They should be treated (as with Strike at Shayol Ghul) as side readings to get to know the characters/world better. I remember the confusion too, but still strongly feel that Dragonmount is the place to start.
Elsi Compton
46. elsi123
Wait, wait! I want to read along, too! (It won't be a re-read for me, but I keep hearing such good recommendations for this series.)

But I can't locate an electronic version of this book. I'm not buying any more books in paper -- and if I *were*, I'd pick up a copy from a second-hand source and neither the publisher nor the author would see any benefit. But if you release a Kindle or Sony or MobiPocket version, then I can buy it and the author and publisher both get paid.
Kate Nepveu
47. katenepveu
I just looked this up, so, from the WOT FAQ:

***

The OR is NOT a "Rod of Dominion." The way the Nine Rods of Dominion were mentioned in the TEOTW Prologue, they were something special. The OR, OTOH, is referred to as a "binder," lower case. Nothing special. Furthermore, in TPOD, we find out what Sammael meant by "the number" in [ACOS: 40, Spears, 630-631]-- the Oath Rods are numbered. The Tower's Rod is number three, while Sevanna's Rod is number one hundred and eleven [TPOD: 11, Questions and an Oath, 253]. So, it seems like there are way more than nine Oath Rods.

***
Tim Kington
48. TimKington
Not even born yet? Wow, makes me feel old.

I'm currently on my eighth(?) reread. I find that the female characters have gone the other way for me. At first, I only liked Egwene, and really couldn't stand Moiraine and Nynaeve. After rereading, I've really come to like them a lot more. Still love Egwene, though, especially in KoD.

@leighdb
Awesome. Makes me long for the best days of rasfwrj.

@elsi123
Don't do it! You'll really be selling yourself short if you read this commentary before finishing the series. We're going to be talking about TONS of spoilers as we go.

@janie
We don't find out the TP exists until Moridin shows up, but Ishy uses it pretty much every time we see him - there's always darkness/shadow swirling around when he's channeling.

@Cbeats
I agree about the prologue - makes no sense the first time through. In fact, the first time I reread the series, I had completely forgotten it was there.

Prologue
Behind him the air rippled, shimmered, solidified into a man who looked around, his mouth twisting briefly with distaste.
--
Are we seeing Ishy's special brand of Travelling here? Poking a hole in the pattern?

Chapter 1
"Here we are, lad." Tam reached for Bela's harness, but she stopped in front of the inn before his hand touched leather. "Knows the way better than I do", he chuckled.
---
First sign that Bela is a Darkfriend - unusual level of intelligence :)

"Everybody's mother scared them with the Forsaken," Rand said dryly, "but most grow out of it. Why not the Shadowman, while you're about it?"
---
Classic RJ irony - Shadowman = Myrddraal.

Emond's Field would still be talking about this Festival ten years off, even if there were not any fireworks.
---
Heh.

Chapter 3

It had only been the year before that Fain had taken notice of them for the first time, acknowledging them as men. Fain did not usually have time for anyone too young to buy a good deal of things off his wagon. Rand hoped he had not been relegated to a child again in the peddler's eyes.
---
The reason Fain started paying attention to the boys last year is that he was the DO's hound. Last year he had an idea of what age range he was looking for. This year Fain knows he's after one of the three boys.

Chapter 4

Thom blinked, then bowed again, more deeply. "Your pardon again . . . ah, Lady. I meant no disrespect."

Moiraine made a small waving-away gesture. "None was perceived, Master Bard.
---
Does she know who he is already?

Chapter 6

Rand never even considered that they might be villagers coming to help. He knew what they were. He could feel it, like grit scraping his bones, even before they drew close enough for moonlight to reveal the hooded cloak swathing the horseman, a cloak that hung undisturbed by the wind.
--
Rand can channel, so he can feel the evil.

Chapter 7

"Bela galloped into the village an hour after the Trollocs left, lathered and blowing as if she'd run all the way from the farm, and I thought . . ."
---
Come on - she couldn't get away that easily. Bela is a Darkfriend.
Kate Nepveu
49. katenepveu
TimKington, wow, I had completely forgotten about the Bela-as-Darkfriend joke. Talk about your blast from the past . . .
bkyle
50. Tony Zbaraschuk
>anyone think the Age of Legends is kind of a screwed up version of modern times? i vaguely recall Jordan mentioning (basically) airplanes, among other things.

No; our age is the First Age, the one before the Age of Legends.
Joe Sherry
51. jsherry
Tim @ 48: No, no. You've got it completely wrong. Bela is the CREATOR. ;)


Re: Moiraine - I was never quite as irritated with Moiraine because though she is overbearing when in front of Rand, Egwene, and the others, she is completely different when we get glimpses of her alone or with Siuan. She questions her decisions, whether she and Siuan made the right call in going after Rand (not much on that point, but a little bit), and whether her actions pushes Rand away or will be successful.

Then she chooses a course of action and lives with it. She owns the Aes Sedai mystique and aura, but I get the sense that deep down, where nobody else gets to see, she's just desparately hoping that she's doing the right thing in the right way.

Plus, Moiraine, more than perhaps anyone else seems to fully recognize the stakes on a daily basis and her focus on Tarmon Gaidan has probably tunneled her vision.

In some later book she mentions that she was willing to go to bed with Rand if she thought there was any chance that would improve Rand's chances of living to the Last Battle and of winning it, but her vision of the future told her that it would be an even bigger mistake to do that.

Moiraine is desperate.
Mike Ball
52. vatdoro
elsi123 - I don't know of any legitimate electronic versions of these books, which is too bad. Buying a used copy of The Eye of the World I think is a great idea.

I feel like I should add to the warnings already given; this blog is meant for people who have already read the series. It will spoil a lot of the mystery, excitement, and enjoyment if you follow this blog before finishing books 1-11. But, if you are like me, you will literally get sucked into the WoT and finish the entire series in about 2 months (or less). Once you finish I'm sure you will still enjoy coming back and reading these great posts. :)
bkyle
53. Trent Goulding
Wow... Funny to think that the Wheel of Time was such a big deal to me once upon a time. Still read every volume as it's come out, and even kind of looking forward to the last, notwithstanding a healthy dose of skepticism, although the real excitement and magic wore off a number of volumes ago. I don't have the time to do a full on re-read, but I think your summarization/commentary, Leigh, is just about as good for my purposes anyway. Keep up the good work!

Re: the beginning...I always found the first chunk of the Eye of the World kind of tedious and stale... too cliched, maybe? (except the tale of Manetheren.. that was always cool). It was interesting enough to keep me reading (back in college! in '91! ouch!) until the crew blew town and things got more exciting out on the road.
bkyle
54. Jackeroo
Thanks for this great summary!

RE: Rand’s personality remains largely undefined.

I think that in a large sense we don't get to see who Rand is early on in the books because he doesn't know who he is. He discovers himself later on and his personality blooms.
Leigh Butler
55. leighdb
Kilikabeast:

Hi Leigh, are you aware that there is a second prologue called "Ravens"? It appears in the UK 'teen' version of the eye of the world, the book was split into two and the first part 'from the two rivers' has two prologues, Ravens first then Dragonmount. Can you do a summary and give us your thoughts on this?

Sorry, but I think for sanity's sake I'm sticking with the books as they were originally published. I neither own nor have read the UK YA version, and I kind of have enough on my plate as it is, you know?
bkyle
56. The Mulk
I always found the powerful, matriarchal Aes Sedai to be a fairly straightforward extraction of Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserit from Dune. In fact the whole gender-segregated mystical cosmology seems a little too similar: women can channel but men cannot, save one: the Mua'dib/Dragon. I know this topic has been explored elsewhere and the similarities between Dune and WoT have been credited to coincidence or mutual source myths, but still...the re-read has re-minded me.
Kyle Bass
57. bkyle4
@leighdb
Thanks for the welcome! I think this will be great fun.

@katenepveu
Sorry...that wasn't my intent, of course.

@The Mulk
No Dune/WoT discussions can be complete without looking at the Fremen and Aiel, of course.
Tim Kington
58. TimKington
@kilikabeast

I've read Ravens, and I was pretty disappointed with it. Guess I got my hopes up too much :) It's a few scenes with the Two Rivers kids when they're about nine or ten, but there wasn't anything too exciting going on. I guess I was hoping for foreshadowing, but IIRC it was mostly character development.
bkyle
59. Matrimony Cauthon
RJ never abandoned trolloc tribes. He also makes a mention of them in KoD as the Trollocs attacked Rand at the manor in Tear. I think there are other references to Trolloc tribes in the series as well.
bkyle
60. Bill (jnatael)
Hi all. I'm feeling the wave of pleasant forum nostalgia. Aaaah, refreshing! Comments and thoughts ensue:

re: Rand's dream of Tar Valon

I hadn't really thought about it much, other than as a fear-induced dream or maybe an Ishy-induced one, but it occurred to me on my last re-read that it connects nicely with Egwene's accepted test. I think we haven't seen the end of things foreshadowed there.

re: Trollock tribes

I always had the impression that the tribe names were simply included to tell us there was some kind of organization among them, thereby making them slightly more than beastly monsters. Also, the list of their tribe names in the glossary helped the glossary seem full of facts before we knew enough of Randland to get a meaty one. The later talk of 'extra' tribes at the manor house monster mash sounds to me like someone has opened new trolloc manufactories in preparation for the Last Battle.

re: Lackluster Middle Prologues

At the time, those prologues were such delicious morsels because they satisfied a yearning for 'something more' and rewhetted our appetites for the next installment. Also, since they are somewhat self-contained, they gave RJ a place to put in some info that would have seemed hastily shoved in anywhere else. Verin's escapades in the Aiel tents and Galad's big fat promotion are good examples, and also very enjoyable mini-stories. Yes, I was frustrated when the prologue of a book was the only mention of a long absent character, but ya win some ya lose some.

re: Perrin's note to the Luhhans

I'm not sure, but don't we have a Perrin POV after he gets back to Emond's Field where he visits his sisters's graves? As i recall, their farmhouse was a good distance away from the village proper, hence why he lived with the Luhhans and didn't simple go there to apprentice and then go home. Mat I can understand being a flakeroonie, but Perrin may have well wanted to avoid Alsbet's insistence he make the long trip to his folks' place -before- he did some woolheaded thing like leave town.

Holy smokes, I'm looking forward to following this series of posts and comments. Thanks already, Leigh!
Josh Rice
61. Anomander
re: Trolloc Tribes

I think in KoD (don't have the books here at work) RJ did a nice play on words where the trolloc tribe names can be phonetically pronounced as "devil", "kobold", etc which is reminiscent of Thom's tales in EotW about "Anla the Wise Counselor" for Ann Landers, "Glen flying to the moon in the belly of an eagle" which mixes John Glenn and the Eagle lander... again when Nynaeve is in Tanchico looking for the male adam and picks up the BMW symbol and gets a feeling of arrogance (that one I didn't figure out on my own, it was on Dragonmount or somewhere).

I always liked how RJ tied those things in to the "turning of the wheel".
bkyle
62. Jormengrund
I have to say that my favorite part of this whole book is the interaction of the characters.

The way that Mr. Jordan was able to put us into the skin of the character is just too perfect in my opinion.

To be able to see, think and feel as each and every character really puts so many different spins on the plots and actions being taken.

Suspicion and trepadition by Nynaeve.

Eagerness and recklessness by Egwene.

Resigned acceptance by Rand.

Fear and anxiety by Mat.

Concern and doubt by Perrin.

These all mix and mingle in the book to give an undercurrent mood.. It tends to feed the emotion that something's not quite right, but nobody can really put their finger on it.

Yeah, there's monsters out there, but they're not the real thing to be fearful of....

I'm seriously reliving this book as I used to when I first read it with my best friend as a freshman in college!
bkyle
63. shlaivontain
I have to agree with Jormengrund.I love the way RJ pulls you in to the characters psyche. It's easier to relate to a character when you can see into their minds. From the very first book, I felt a personal connection and that is what drew me in and kept me reading!
bkyle
64. SteelBlaidd
A few thoughts.

On the Nine Rods: from Wot Mania's FAQ
They were actual people, and they were, but you might call them regional governors of the earth, regional governors of the planet. So if I say, summon them, then we’ve got a guy who has been given in effect ultimate power.

- Robert Jordan, Dragoncon, September 2005

@leighdb Your comment on the taint as a biological weapon triggered a connection in my head between the taint and the herbicide Agent Orange Which was both a powerful tool and a slow poison.

On this re-read it also struck me that we saw in the prologue the first instance of the Seaker Lightning weave from The Shadow Rising just in this case the target condition was "Kin: Lews therin" not "Shadowspawn." Makes why he was reluctant to use it latter much more understandable.

An interesting thing that came out in a recent interview with Brandon Sanderson in a 4th Age podcast over at Dragonmount. He was talking about how his natural writing style was different from Jordan's and he mentioned specifically that Jordon brought his "narrative camera" in very close to the character which means that what we see in story is heavily colored by the PoV Character.

If we think about it in there first appearance Tam takes out three Trollocs and sends another dozen on a wild goose chase. Now his Blade Master not with standing he still 15 years out of practice, so they have never really been as dangerous as the young heroes think. They are to Stupid, lazy and cowardly to be effective except in large numbers.

Rands character never seamed thin to me but it wasn't till reading this thread that I articulated it. Rand is a Homebody. Mat of course has the frustrated farm boy/Luke skywaker vibe going on and Perrin has his desire to be a black smith and playing with the ax that shows some striving to be more, but Rand really dosn't have any great desire to leave home. His grandest ambition when we meet him is to be as good a shot as his Dad and figure out what to do about Egwene. In our echos to LotR he is Frodo to Mat and Perrin's Merry and Pippen.

The thing is Lews Theren is a Homebody too. We see it he bubbles up in Rands interactions with Lanfear and in the Prologue we have a Happily married patter familias with a passile of kids who's first thought on meeting a stranger is the very hobbitish " A guest, 'can you stay for dinner(the Singing)?'"

Another thing that struck me recently. During the US Presidential election a couple of pundits were commenting on the bias that exists where a white man is assumed to be competent unless proven otherwise, and how Barrak or Hilary would have to be twice as good because if they screwed up as President it would "prove" that all women and blacks were unqualified for the office. I realized that the superior attitude that almost all women in the WoT have, Aes Sedai especially, is the exact same bias applied to men. It's one of Jordon's subtler departures from standard fantasy tropes where the female heroes are often just men with boobs.
bkyle
65. locosweetie
When will people stop comparing WoT with LotR? Before I really start in my rant, I should admit that I have not read the Lord of the Rings. I just couldn't get into it. The overly English tone was too much at the time and I haven't tried again since. The prologue of the Eye of the World grabbed me with the first sentence: "The palace still shook occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what had happened." Can you think of any other series starting with an earthquake? Come on, that's pretty cool! This is probably why I am tired of people making obvious connections that only imply belittlement of Jordan's masterpiece. They both use the Hero's Journey, and so do a couple hundred other novels. GET OVER IT!. Frankly, looking at the scope of the two, I really don't think they compare.
In another light, I noticed Rand's channeling ablilities on the 2nd read through and thought it was just awesome. I have disliked every character at one point and each one has become my favorite as well. Each time their pov comes around I get new insight into their personality and love or hate them more; sometimes both at once.
I have enjoyed reading the comments (Lord of the Rings aside). I don't know anyone willing to talk theories with me, so this should prove interesting.
bkyle
66. SteelBlaidd
Jordon has stated that the opening to EotW was deliberately patterned on the opening to LotR so its hard not to compare them.
Leigh Butler
67. leighdb
locosweetie:

As SteelBlaidd points out, Jordan stated outright that the first part of TEOTW was deliberately given a LOTR "flavor". And for those of us who actually have read LOTR, the parallels are really pretty difficult to miss.

Not to mention those parallels in a literary commentary on the book, therefore, would be fairly irresponsible of me, don't you think?
bkyle
68. mcrumiller
Here's a question I have: why is the voice in Rand's head, presumably LTT's, mad? LTT was sane at the time of his death, having been healed by Ishamael.

Also, I would encourage everyone to check out the Eye of the World read through over on wotmania website for a much more in-depth discussion of each chapter. You'd be surprised how much symbolism and foreshadowing RJ stacked into these first few chapters.
bkyle
69. Wilson - Brother/Cousin, 4th of 3
Leigh,

Extremely well done recaps. I especially enjoy your opinions. RJ intentionally left small seems that you and I could wedge ourselves in so that we might "see" his world from the inside, through our own eyes with our own biases. I look forward to reading your "reread" all the way through to aMoL.

I hope to see and meet many of you at JordanCon.

Wilson
Brother/Cousin
4th of 3
bkyle
70. Heather J.
woohoo! a comment from Wilson!
bkyle
71. CireNaes
Great summary and commentary. Although you could do with a little more education about the Christian faith within which suffering and evil are prevalent themes that fall on the good as well as the bad. Evil throughout the Bible often happens to good people for simply being what they are.
Leigh Butler
72. leighdb
CireNaes:

you could do with a little more education about the Christian faith

Yes, I suppose twelve years of Catholic education *is* pretty skimpy.

Evil throughout the Bible often happens to good people for simply being what they are.

True. But Job's story (and others') notwithstanding, I've lost count of the number of times I was assured that God protects the faithful from evil. It's not my fault if Christian doctrine occasionally contradicts itself.
bkyle
73. Michael W.
Is it to much to ask that this communal re-read be used merely as an opportunity to enjoy the genuine pleasure most of us have derived from this truly amazing epic. I feel myself being pulled back into a depth of Randland that I haven't experienced in over a decade; and I am loving it. However, arguments over beliefs that simply will not be settled in this forum could quickly degrade the experience that not only I look forward to but also the experience Tor intends for the re-read. Just my $.02. Thanks for all the time and effort you are putting in Leigh.
bkyle
74. CireNaes
I didn't mean to strike a nerve about what you have been taught, but what we're talking about are a few of the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestant beliefs. The ultimate authority for doctrine is either Church Tradition or Sola Scriptura. As such, Protestantism holds strongly to stories actually included in Scripture, such as Job, giving less weight to Church Tradition as a locus of authority. Your description of Rand's worldview is correct, but my point was I would hardly characterize it as Biblically supported. It's important to distinguish and clearly identify Biblical doctrine and the more informal traditions (although for a Roman Catholic, Tradition can very well be doctrine) and understanding that stem from Christianity. I'm a military Chaplain and I work with Catholic Chaplains regularly who just might disagree with what you were taught as well. Looking forward to your next installment. As a fan of WOT I always enjoy a pithy commentary on the series.
Leigh Butler
75. leighdb
CireNaes:

Sorry, didn't mean to snap at you.

Your description of Rand's worldview is correct, but my point was I would hardly characterize it as Biblically supported.

Your point is taken, and you are correct, which is one reason why I qualified my remark on Rand's worldview as being "more or less" Christian. Keep in mind that my aim here is not scholarly exactitude, but more of a fun, light, off-the-cuff commentary on the Wheel of Time series.

Nevertheless, thank you for the clarification, and I'm glad you're enjoying the blog!
bkyle
76. TimMP
Just a general rambling comment about character building, POV....and the whiny shrew-bitch Nynaeve.

1) Why are there no ugly or at least average principal women? They can't ALL be hot, otherwise life on earth just ain't fair.

2) I kind of understand RJ's need to depart from the POV of Rand in the later books and turn him into a much more remote figure, particularly as he embraces his role as the Dragon and as the story expands to encompass an entire political circus, but that doesn't mean that it is satisfying. I MISS him as the principal POV in these early novels.

3) Nynaeve has the honor of being the character who annoyed me the most and the longest. I hated her from the beginning (and this re-read just reiterated how annoying she can be...and she hasn't even "sniffed" yet...though her braid has "bristled" - makes me want to rip it out by the roots and strangle her with it) and it barely let up until RJ got out of her POV (or that of the other supergirls) and showed her from the perspective of one of the borderlanders in the bar (when she was beginning to rally support for Lan in one of the later books - KofD?) In fact, he does this only a couple of times but with really impressive effect, i.e. shows one of the principals from the POV of a VERY minor secondary...another is Queen Alliandre's (right queen?) impression of Perrin in that painfully long section when he's sitting in the snow trying to figure out how to get that pain-in-the-ass wife of his back (IMO, I'd leave her to the Shaido and spend more time with the First of Mayene - much more cuddly and least likely to stick a knife in your dream). To me, he really came alive at that point. The Queen was overwhelmed by his presence, his eyes, his silence, and his perceptiveness. I think it is in these few moments that we get the full impact of these characters on the Randland world and catch a glimpse of the greatness and actual majesty of these figures to come....I think RJ could have used this technique more often to add a bit more weight and gravitas to each of his principals - round them out a little. As it is, sometimes I think he spent just a bit TOO much time in their heads; bathing in their insecurities to the point where they run the risk of being a little one-dimensional (of course, who am I? How many novels have I published?). To me, Nynaeve's appearance in the bar and the descriptions of her that the POV borderlander gives suddenly made me see her in a different light. Shame it comes 8000+ pages into the narrative....she's still a shrew-bitch, though, and I'm right there with Mat when he LHAO when he finds out that she's married to Lan. Mat was always my favorite.
bkyle
77. Rebecca Starr
I'm jumping in a bit late but wanted to add my 2 cents before tomorrow's post...

Ch. 1: Regarding your musings on "bland" main characters, it made me laugh to remember a moment from my childhood. An avid Eddings fan from age 9 onwards, I had made paperdolls of all the main characters of the Belgariad (yes, I really did...) My paper dolls were "introducing" themselves to each other, explaining who their characters were. I went through everybody - probably at least 60 - with great panache. And then I got to Garion and... couldn't think of a thing to say to describe his personality! lol

Ch. 8: with regards to Jordan starting a few ideas early on that never occur again (i.e. Trolloc tribes), how is it that Moiraine can Heal Tam in this scene with her eyes closed?? She would not be able to see the weaves. I understand that this is probably a mistake due to Jordan not having worked everything out for himself yet, but it has always bothered me a trifle...

Ch. 9: I have often wondered if this dream of Tar Valon presages the very end of the books - as you rightly noted, Rand has yet to come to Tar Valon all the way through Book 11... perhaps this scene is straight out of Memory of Light?

Another point on the dream, since these first few are different from Tel'aran'rhiod dreams to follow... is R in Tel'aran'rhiod here? If he is, how are there other people (unless they are "creations" of Ishamael's). The other possibility is that Ishy has put himself into Rand's dream like a dreamwalker. Thoughts?

Has it struck anyone else that the singing referred to in the dream as R enters Tar Valon (p.122 in the paperback) might be the Song?

Finally, in the Manetheren story, Moiraine notes that "Eldrene felt Aemon die." Do we know if these two were bonded?

Really looking forward to all the rest!!
bkyle
78. IanGH
Thanks for doing this: it brings back lots of fond memories. To think I started this series 15 years ago after finding the freebie book (first 18 chapters?) in the paper recycle bin in my college dorm. I was on the way to the bathroom and needed reading material...

Unlike most of you all, I liked Egwene. At some point in the story she annoyed me but that's true of most of the characters. (Except maybe Mat.)

RJ's line about how Rand/Mat/Perrin each thought the others were much cooler with the girls than they themselves were was cute. At least for the first fifty times or so when it came up. Then it got annoying.

I found RJ's use of POV very unique and it really made this series engaging. The fact that most of what we see is tempered through one character's or another's eyes (and prejudices) adds depth to the story as does the fuzziness of myth and rumor.

You can chalk it up to nostalgia but Moiraine's telling of the story of Manetherene's fall is still my favorite part of the series.
Leigh Butler
79. leighdb
Rebecca Starr:

Re: whether Rand is in Tel'aran'rhiod in TEOTW is... hard to tell. Unlike later books where the rules for the Dream World are pretty solidly defined, I get the impression that this early on Jordan hadn't really hammered out those details yet, and is using the dreams in a more traditionally metaphorical sense (though obviously the roots of "dream being real" are there).
Sam Kelly
80. Eithin
This is a fun project, thank you for doing this!

I find it impressive how thoroughly Jordan sets up the social-tragedy aspect so early on, with the male/female interactions in Emond's Field and the repeated pattern throughout the books. If they could only understand each other... if they could only attempt to communicate... if they could stop treating each other as irritating children or inexplicable devils... if they could stop crossing their arms under their breasts or fiddling with their pipes...

I do feel for Moiraine, to an extent. Trapped by the cumulative decisions of generations of Aes Sedai, and the institutional culture of asshole-ness, she doesn't really have any choice. It's inevitable that it's going to screw things up and cause even more divisions, but she doesn't have much more choice not to be a bitch than Galina does later.

I think there's a parallel here to the Tainting, and RJ's making the point that what affects one half (gender) has serious knock-on effects on the other.

Regarding the Trolloc tribe names - I just find the possibly-historical references cutesy and annoying, but then the "far, far in the future..." trope is a decided turnoff for me normally. Also, sa'angreal? Good grief. If you're going to steal a real-world halidom, use something of its mythic nature, not just the name.
bkyle
81. Jonathan (stu11926)
I'd like to take this opportunity to appeal to Tor, Wilson, Harriet, and anyone else who has a hand in the decision making process to please release these books in electronic format. I already own every book of the series in paperback and about half of them in hardcover as well. I am wanting to do a read through of my own before AMoL is released, but I don't want to have to lug books around. My kindle is due to arrive in early March and I would love to be able to PURCHASE these books again!

Thanks!

Jonathan
Lexington, SC
Deo Vindice
bkyle
82. andrewc
Good to see other people doing a reread - I've flown through all 11 books since the beginning of November - probably quicker than I thought. Now I have most of the year to wait before aMoL!

Thanks for the really perceptive comments Leigh. I'll be sure to tune in every week!

On the subject of Perrin's family, and why he didn't say goodbye - I wonder if that was because at this early stage, his character was quite undefined and he didn't necessarily have a family. In my (early) edition of TDR, Perrin says to Min - "Min, you know I like you. I like you but ... Uh ... I never had a sister but if I did..." (removed from later editions to tie in with TSR I suppose). Maybe it wasn't until Book 4 that the need for the family came about and so one was created retrospectively? Dunno.

Not trying to pick fault with the books - as others have noted, the foreshadowing and world building is superb throughout. Just pointing it out as one possible reason that I only picked up on reread.

Andrew
bkyle
83. nanaimobar
After finishing my 4th re-read of the series last week (gasp) I'm looking forward to the blog, the commentary and responses.

Jordan can be occasionally clunky, but G-D, you just gotta love the way he hooks you in: Manetheren, the trip home and the Trolloc attack, and especially that immortal first line.

Never really found the women irritating at all, but preferred Perrin, especially in the last half of EotW.

Did anyone else see a bit of Greek Epic / Medieval Bards tales in the repetitive nature of certain passages (pulled braids, arms under breasts etc?)

Thanks for this, I'm looking forward to following along.

Nanaimobar
J Novak
84. Novak
Okay, let's see if I can get this comment to actually show up.

My scattered thoughts are:

1) I had been liking what I read all through the first book, but it was the tale of the history of Manetheren that convinced me that I was going to love the book.

2) I was also struck by the architectural similarities between this book and the Lord of the Rings, but it didn't bother me too much. Even in college, I recognized that some motifs are common, and using them on purpose is okay.

It would have bothered me had it gone farther than the first book.

3) On the subject of Moiraine's introduction in particular, this is a motif we see over and over again in the books: Our first introduction to a group is usually to one of the best and most agreeable members, and if they seem a little imperious, or rigid, or bitchy, or whatever the flaw might be, it's only once we start to see other members of those groups that we realize how horrible the rest off them are.

Off the top of my head, the Aes Sedai are that way, the Aiel are that way, and the Wise Ones are that way. There are probably more examples.

4) Ah, the gender wars. How I remember them. And I recall in Nynaeve all the things that made me dislike her for a long time-- it's not just the militant insularity of her worldview, it's that she backs it up with force, hitting people in the head for saying things she doesn't like. It took a while before the rest of the characters came to annoy me quite that much. (Well, Faile instantly annoyed me, too, but by that point all the other characters were showing signs of being annoying except Min.)
bkyle
85. awarren
thank you for doing this re-read and blog. for years while i was growing up my mother tried to get me to read teotw. i always refused. finally i gave in and decided to read it. i couldn't put it down. the trollocs scared the **$%@% out of me, and i had to turn a light on that night when i went to sleep. i was instantly engrossed by the book and the world that jordan created. needless to say, i flew through that book, and the next 9 books, and then had to wait for the next ones to be published so i could read them. they have all become my favorite books, and have read them all several times. i love the new insight that you have given ( i hadn't realized that rand hadn't been to tar valon either). thanks again. i look forward to the rest of your re-reads/blogs.
bkyle
86. Arnold Francis
This is great! I am also rereading the whole series for the third time. Honest! I've been reading since the beginning way back in 1990. I can't wait for the conclusion. Will probaly read the whole series one more time after I retire depending on what kind of job the new author does with it. God bless Robert Jordan
bkyle
87. FunBob
Great start Leigh....I have just started my own reread of the WOT, having just gotten to the end of the Dragon Reborn, so I think I will slow down and wait for your blog to catch up (especially since I'm doing the LOTR re-read and just reread Wizard's First Rule and am way behind on everything else...)

That said, I also found this section hard to start with originally. I remember being in the library in 1990-1991 and reading the first two chapters and putting the book back on the shelf and saying "Forget this." Something told me to start it up again a few months later, and I was snared. I quickly got books 2 and 3, and have gotten each of the hardback releases on the release date ever since...

Back to the reread, a few notes (sorry if it gets long):

- I have always loved the Prologue, giving the history from the protaganist's POV that lead to his tragic end, but more importantly laying the seeds for his next reincarnation as Rand al Thor. Dragonmount's creation also created Tar Valon, and started the next cycle of history that we are being told in these books
- There have been a lot of discussion on history, how Jordan and Tolkien take different tacts on it, and what it means to the story as it develops. I agree there is a difference in Tolkien and Jordan's approach, but I will contend that both use history in similar fashion: the past is mostly unknown and may be in error due to a mostly oral tradition and that the characters will find that they will often be working with false knowledge. Both have limited access to books that are generally only found in quantities in centers of learning (T: Elrond's House, Minas Tirith and J: Tar Valon and the Great Library at Carhien) and Mankind is usually at the short end of the stick with knowing the true history (T: Elves, who experienced it firsthand, and J: Ogier, who live longer and are a more scholarly race). Generally speaking, both establish the history that their stories are developed upon, but Tolkien did this through his other works (Hobbit, Silmarillion) than Jordan, who does his through out his books in chapters like the "Tellings of the Wheel", which make it easier for the readers to follow along in the development.
- Randland is supposed to be our world in the future, with our time being the Age before the Age of Legends (thanks Tony Z for the references). Gives us some hope that we can actually start getting along and achieve some world peace, which allows the Age of Legends to be a time without wars...
- As said before, Trolloc tribes are mentioned in KoDs, but they were also still mentioned in the Hunt for the Horn. I think the emphasis on them as the "scary monsters" was diminished as the Characters grew in strength and knowledge, basically outgrowing the threat that individual bands (or even armies, as seen in KoDs) posed versus the true evils that were to come, in the Darkfriends and Forsaken. Many fantasy authors use the theme that man is always the worst enemy of man, and I think Jordan shifted to that theme as the use of his boogey monsters became limited.
- The foreshadowing is great in this section, as well as when the Characters meet Min. Jordan has set everything up for the whole series, with offhand references that Moiraine and the others make to what they know of the prophecies bearing fruit in the rest of the series. This has been rich in Jordan's writings, and has been the fodder that all of the blog sites have used to develop their theories of how things were going to happen, especially the Last Battle.
- Good pickup on Rand knowing that Moiraine was channeling, which we will find out explicitly in the Shadow Rising.
- Moiraine DOES know who Thom Merrilin is, just as he knows who she is. Both characters have no reason to reveal their knowledge to the others, so it is left unsaid at this point. As Moiraine was of noble birth in Cairhien, she would have been familiar with the court bard of Caemlyn, especially because of the situation with his nephew being a man who could channel; Thom would have know of Moiraine as he played the Game of the Houses in support of Morgase.
- Last note. For Rebecca, it is revealed later in another discussion of Manetheren that every Queen was an Aes Sedai and the King was her Warder. So Eldrene indeed felt Aemon die because they were bonded. Another foreshadowing of Rand's relationship with Elayne?

Till next time.
bkyle
88. ndamcollins
Enjoyable commentaries that I would continue to read if they omitted the obscenities. I read until the "$--- starts to happen." Maybe I'll just catch the next installment and hope it will be cleaner. Good idea though.
bkyle
89. Dr Hoo
A couple of quick comments since I am behind (started the re-read last night). The Tolkien parallels are obvious, but what struck me most with the re-read was the difference in tone at the start. LOTR starts out happy and cheerful, parties, and so on. TEOTW starts out appearing to be like that, but a grim doom overshadows the upcoming festival from the start and the onslaught of the dark starts before any gaiety can take place. The image of the burned maypole serves notice that this series will be quite different despite the purposeful homage. Speaking of tone, I was also struck by how gripping and foreboding the prose was at the start; having read these all as they were published and thus remembering the tone only of the last few books, this seemed a big departure for me from Jordan's later works.

I'll echo the need for WoT on Kindle - I immediately tried to re-purchase these yesterday so I don't have to use the waterstained, yellowed paperbacks and heavy hardbacks I have on my shelf, only to find they aren't available - Tor or whoever is missing out.

And I still don't like Nynaeve....
Mary Guidry
90. MerryMary
Newbie/Lurker here ... I'm SO glad I found you! I, too, decided to reread to be ready for the grand finale. Am finding that I had forgotton much and didn't pick up on some things the first couple of times through. Must say, you have all made me think! (Which is good!) I'm a bit ahead (I'm in the middle of book 4 [Shadow Rising]), but I'm so "sucked in", again, that I find myself immersing myself in all things WoT ... desktop photos, screen saver, etc.

Thanks for being here! Oh, and I also vote Yea on a Kindle version. I go in there frequently and hit the button on "I'd like to read this on Kindle." Stuffing the ballot box, so to speak.

(PS ... I do like Nynaeve & I think the love story between her and Lan is one of the best ever.)
bkyle
91. Cian Grogan
Im amazed by the sheer bravery you have to analyse every chapter of every book in the series. Well done you are doing a fabulous job.

"She folded her arms under her breasts" what a line!!! Id say its one of the most used throughout the series.

There are a lot of similarites between this and TLOTR's, but series is more indepth then anything Tolkien wrote.

I think the prologue is one of the best bits, because it is the start of a series of flashbacks (Most notably when Rand uses the Ter'Angrel in Rhuidean in the Shadow Rising)that give hints at both the breaking and life during the Age of Legends.

Bit of a controversial topic here but do you notice the gross levels of sexism on both sides during the series? If I had a euro for everytime one of the numerous female characters refered to the men as "Goose-headed fool" or "Sheepherder" id be a millionaire!!

Personally I dont like Nyneave and only because she is married to Lan (Insanely cool) do I tolerate her at all.

Im currently re-reading Crossroads of Twilight for maybe the fourth time and looking forward to reading your analysis.
bkyle
92. hummingbird
@rebecca star

Holy Elephants (cows didnt seem to be enough)! Never thought of it, had to go back and reread.

The song will be found.

It just could be. (mannnn, now I want to know....)
bkyle
93. Dustin Amundson
I note many mentions of re reading the series if anyone wants a different way try listening to it the narrators do a fantastic job on bringing Jordan's world to life. I am on my second re listen now.
bkyle
94. Ginasue
I just finished reading each and every book that so far has been written in the series for the 4th time. As I read them I find that there are at time parts I forgot about. Someties, those parts will jump out at me and I will realize that it is really the answer to the question.

Rand knows what the "Song" is. He heard it, but at that time, I don't think he really knew what it was. See he hasn't talked with the Tinkers. In fact I think all the Chief's know it because they heard it.

I like so many of you is waiting on the final book to be released.
I really hope and pray that it's as good as the rest of the books have been for me.
bkyle
95. UK Chris
Leigh -- what a perfect job! Who knew that putting such time into the WOTFAQ (a labor of love) would turn into cash! I think that's everyone's career hope.

Just a quick comment about these chapters...or one moment in them. I don't have the text in front of me (at work), but I believe it's in Chapter 3 or 4. Thom and Rand (et al) are talking about the Dragon, and Thom makes some comment like, "He's allied with the Dark One" or something. I know that's not the actual quote, but the point isn't "He's as bad as the Dark One," but that he has an allegiance with the Shadow somehow, which I always wonder about. Thom seems educated enough (especially as he is our infodump for the Prophecies) that he should know better.

I'll try to find the quote when I get home, or if someone else has it...
bkyle
96. Reinx
Biological "warfare" seems a bit more appropriate than does biological "terrorism" in this instance. Yes, you are more than likely going to get some terror out of the other side using such tactics, but most of the "biological" stuff used in WoT is for a strategic purpose as opposed to just creating fear and chaos for the other side. Yes I know you could argue the semantics of that all day, but try telling Perrin he was using "terrorism". I bet he would just tell you it was his means to getting his beloved back....
bkyle
97. FantasyLiterature.net
If I had realized you were going to do this, and do such a good job, I wouldn't have started my own re-read. In fact, maybe I'll stop in the middle of book 7 -- it's taking a long time!

BTW, I'm listening to the audiobook versions and the readers, Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, are truly excellent! It's produced by Audio Renaissance and they always do good work. I recommend this format.

Kat
FantasyLiterature.net
eric proppel
98. JackStraw
I joined up here really only to post a thank you to Leigh. I really enjoyed your re-read and comments. This format really gives me something to do during my downtime at work. I don't think I can really read through all the comments however. For now I will stick with your commentary. Thanks for the hard work. Jack
bkyle
99. Ariel Svarch
Just a little remark re: different use of myths in WoT and LOTR.
The initial point of view in WoT is that of peasants: it's what the main characters are. They have all the myths and superstition about Aes Sedai, Trollocs, and the Dark One.

But in LOTR, the main characters already know stuff about the real world. Frodo has not traveled much, but he has heard about elves, and dwarfs, and Mordor. He in fact tells Sam, Pippin and Merry (Pippin+Merry=Perrin?) that the elves are NOT bad, they do no trickery and are noble. Remember that they are also warned that Lorien is a cursed place where people get lost and never come back and, if I'm not mistaken, that it is run by an evil sorceress.
So my point is, both worlds have exaggerated myths that differ from reality. But they are more often mentioned in WoT, and RJ gives them more importance than Tolkien, mostly because his characters share these myths, while Frodo et al do not.

@leighdb: awesome work. Thanks for doing this!
bkyle
100. teamroperinaz
Ok, Obviously I haven't referenced the page numbres etc, but we have figured out some of the nine rods of dominion. I think i am going to make a point of jotting them down some where so I can reference them, but it has something to do with (if I recall right) ter'angreal that have even mostly ben forgotten, but including the oath rods (of which two are known), the ring of Tamyrlin? there were hints given, i believe, in Rand's visions of the Aes Sedai from the Age of Legends in Rhuidean... if you have more ideas, plese email me!! tywhite@hotmail.com
bkyle
101. Effervescent
Commenting on the myth obsevations from chapter 3:

I think the reason tLotR's myths tend to stay true to fact is due to the Elves, and their ability not to die. In fact, they are also the number one story tellers, and since the person who originally told the story 4000 years ago is probably telling the story now, it might get a bit juicier, but the fundemental facts remain the same and correct.
bkyle
102. bazemore74
the real world allusions were somewhat interesting to me: about Mosc and his spear of fire (Moscow and nukes), later reference to Mosc and Merc (Moscow and America), a reference to Lady Liberty (a crowned woman holding what looks like the hilt of a sword) etc.

Trolloc tribes are mentioned as late as Knife of Dreams, when they attack the farm where Rand et all are recuperating after cleansing Saidin.
On Trollocs being cannon fodder, yes they are, but we must remember RJ's background (Vietnam). there must always be troops, and we see in some instances where men are just cannon fodder as well.
bkyle
103. mrstolz
First - Leigh, thanx for both the re-read summary and your insightful insights (also your humor)!

As an avid collector and reader of scifi/fantasy for the last 45 years, I've found RJ to be my all-time favorite writer. Before the WOT series, the Middle Earth trilogy were the only books I'd ever read more than twice.

I've read all 12 WOT books at least twice now, and am on my 3rd audio listen (doing book 6 this month). RJ was an amazingly good storyteller. My only complaints have been the repetitive, and far too common descriptions of minitue (why does every Aes Sedai wear 'color A slashed color B dresses), and that there are too many mostly irrelevant sub-plots. If everything having to do with the Whitecloaks were suddenly deleted, only Galad, Morgase and Perrin would need their storylines altered a bit.

What I like A LOT about the WOT story is how every one of the young people introduced to us in book 1 has grown into mature, responsible and even more likable adults by book 11 (although Gawain and Galad have obviously pick the 'wrong' sides).

I'm also impressed by how RJ managed to turn a 1-book story (I doubt he had plans to make WOT a series when he wrote TEOTW), into a 12+1 book series, with surprisingly few discrepancies. One of the few I noticed was 'traveling' - noticably different in book 1, and later on when its rediscovered.

I've read most of Brandon Sanderson's books now, and my middle son has met him twice. I have no doubt that he will do a wonderful job of writing 'A Memory of Light', and really look forward to its release.

There are still a lot of viewings, dreams and prophesies that need to be fulfulled...
bkyle
104. Antinomic
Sure, the trolloc tribes are mentioned. I think the tokens Lan picks up from their bodies are their tribe. 'Look, Moraine, there were both Taliban and Al Qaeda in the last attack!" OK, maybe I take it too personally.
Michael Ikeda
105. mikeda
mrstolz@103

I'm pretty sure that TEOTW was announced as being the first in a series and I'd be surprised if RJ ever planned it to be anything other than the first book in a series.

Although he probably didn't expect the series to last quite as many books as it has.
bkyle
106. Mareth
mrstolz, regarding "why does every Aes Sedai wear 'color A slashed color B dresses":

It is certainly redundant... but realistic. If you walked down the street and started describing what people were wearing, how many times would you have to say 'color A jeans with color B t-shirt'. Additionally, it is often not just what happens to be fashionable. Much like going to a sporting event and being able to tell who someone is rooting for by the t-shirt they wore, Jordan often tells us something about the character with these redundant descriptions.

Thanks Leigh!
bkyle
107. Effervescent
My brother, who bought book one when The Great Hunt was yet to be printed, claimed that on his paperback Tor called it a trilogy. He expected the series to be wrapped up in three books.

Whether this is true or a figment of my brothers' imagination I don't know, but tEotW was never meant to be a "stand-alone" book.

Ever.
bkyle
108. BOB-O
When I first grabbed a copy in WalMart, while working a desk job on c shift, I was convinced the author had to be a female using a male pen name.
bkyle
109. sps49
TEotW is self-contained, and if sales were disappointing it could have ended there. I think it was a "just in case" thing. By the time a paperback was out, who knows how far along the series was, or how high sales had been?

Of course, I still think MT was intended to be Demandred (ducks) but the Internets figured it out too soon....
bkyle
110. Perrin Aybara
lotr of course merry - mat pippin - perrin need I say more??? but then again jordan out tolkiens tolkien by far I love both epics
bkyle
111. panda
The dead lay everywhere, men and women and children, struck down in attempted flight by the lightnings that had flashed down every corridor, or seized by the fires that had stalked them, or sunken into stone of the palace, the stones that had flowed and sought, almost alive, before stillness came again.


I just noticed this line in the prologue; if you think about it, the things that Lews Therin used to kill those people are remarkably reminiscent (prescient?) of the things that Rand used to kill off the Trollocs in the Stone...
bkyle
112. Geof Searles
Leigh,

Coming late to your blog, but very excited, since I too am re-reading the entire series in anticipation of the final volume. My wife thinks I'm nuts to re-read ANY book, but an entire series? She must think I'm certifiable. Oh well, can anyone truly understand what another loves? Anyway, just now reading the first installment of the blog, and I can't wait to have you along as a traveling companion as we re-read "together."
bkyle
113. ScottS
A late joiner here as well, but just wanted to add my gratitude to you, Leigh, for doing this and my 2 cents... I think I first started reading the series in 94 and have re-read it probably a dozen times since, and listened to the Audiobooks start to finish quite a few times as well (I like the series).

One thing that always gets me is the unbelievably hypocritical nature of all the main characters as the story progresses? I feel like it comes up more with the female leads than the male also. This was always one of the major reasons Nynaeve always bothered me so much (glad to hear I'm not the only one here). She was always yelling at people for doing something or acting in some way as she was doing just that...

Has anyone else noticed this? Am I wrong here? Any insights into why RJ might have wanted this?

Just an FYI, I used to skip over the female-lead chapters during earlier re-reads as this just bothered me too much, but the more I've re-read the series the more I've come to like ALL the characters, personality flaws and all...
bkyle
114. Dredlord
I Loathe the supergirls right from the start... And for me it never gets any better... except MAYBE Egwene when she becomes Amarylin... But even then she has no idea what's going on. They all think they need to control Rand like he is the little baby learning how to walk, when in fact he shapes events more than all of them combined, and is really the ONLY one that knows what is going on! And yea, most of that isn't until much later, but it goes to show how they never really changed, and perhaps only got worse with ego.
Elroy Skimms
115. elroyskimms
Yes, late to the party. I am just now beginning my own re-read and noticed something in the Prologue. Throughout the series, the Tinkers are looking for, "the Song". There has been a lot of speculation about who will find "The Song". LTT invites Tedronai to join them in the "Song". I'm wondering if that "Song" is the same one the Tinkers are searching for. If it is, that means Rand, via LTT as the Voice in his head, may be the one that finds the "Song" for the Tinkers. Or am I missing something somewhere else where another person is supposed to find it?

-E
bkyle
116. Randalator
elroyskimms@115

The Tinkers are descendants of the AoL Aiel and the song they search for is the "growing songs" they sang with Ogier and Nym. (see TSR, ch. 26)

LTT mentions "the Singing" and "the Voice" (note the capitalization) which indicates something other that just ordinary singing. He might even know the songs. But I don't think that THE SONG will be found in AMoL in a way that a Mahdi will say "Behold the Song! Our quest is over! Rejoice!". The concept of a single song is a warped form of the first Tuatha'an's search for the old songs (plural).

The Singing might be rediscovered but most likely the Tinkers won't realize that it is what they were searching for...
bkyle
117. seanie
I ,too,think the song is the growing song ,but I think (with Loial's help ) the song plays an important role after {or even during} TG . I think
they use it to turn back the Blight or something.
Maybe even prevent another Breaking .
The hypocrisy is a major theme throughout the series, and across most of the characters. Prime example: Nynaeve. She was cool as the wisdom but irritates the hell outta me {which , I think RJ does purposefully} when she acts so bossy and immature . Tug,tug,nudge,nudge. But she does grow up and becomes pretty awesome again . She is one of the few that Rand trusts [that he doesn't boink] and supports him fully--Choeden Kal--cool in KoD with raising the Golden Crane without Lan's knowledge, boy is he in for a surprise. LOL. Our heroes(or heroines ) overcome their hypocrisy , villians do not (so far).
Do you HEAR that , ELAIDA ? LOLx2 . Part of what makes them feel real , to me , anyway. I care about these characters. Most of them anyway .
Elaida DIAF !! Fire /fart your choice , eh Fife ?
bkyle
118. Aaron Gallagher1
hi, really enjoying your hard work, just finished my own 9th! re-read. Bought book 3 upon issue and have done re-read before each new release.

just as interesting as the summary, the comments are a good read and I'm very intersted into how the comments will develop throughout this superb re-read. At the moment it seems that it is seems hard for people not to jump ahaead with the comments on events that are far far ahead and do not even stem from events in the first few chapters.

Anyway keep up the good work Leigh and all you commenteers out there, your contribution is as important to this as Leigh's (no disrespect intended Leigh, it would not be happening without you).

Ok, onto Eye of The World Part 2! (something to fill these long night-shifts)
bkyle
119. Lisamarie
I'm discovering this kind of late, but I am enjoying this immensely.

Two things:

1)I LOVE that you linked the TV Tropes and Idioms page.

2)One thing that struck me was your characterization of evil not happening to good people as 'Christian like'. I'm a practicing Catholic who is also very well read on a lot of Catholic teachings, writings and philosophies, and at least for us, I feel that this is a really false (but often misunderstood) characteristic of the faith. However, I have noticed that there are some Protestant preachers that seem to advance the belief that if you just trust in Jesus everything will be okay. I find that inaccurate - Jesus doesn't promise us an easy life or a happy life, but fullness and abundance - however, that is very different from what our earthly standards are and mainly reaches its fruition in the afterlife/salvation. If you read the lives of the Saints almost all of them (if not all of them) suffered greatly. Jesus, the only perfect man (and Mary, perfect if you're Catholic) suffered a TON. But even if we are totally fulfilling our vocation and doing God's will, if we are on this earth, we are going to suffer and have to deal with the consequences of evil.

I think the more accurate statement would be that if you have living faith, Satan can't harm your SOUL. Doesn't mean you won't suffer in this life though.

So I didn't mean to go so off topic, but suffering is actually an interesting topic to me. No Catholic guilt jokes, please! ;)
bkyle
120. Lisamarie
Also - kind of agree with you about Nyneave - I think I like her a lot more now. Although I have to admit, I never had the intense antipathy most fans do for the female characters. Mat on the other hand annoyed the hell out of me (although eventually he did grow on me, once he started taking a little more responsibility for things).
T C
121. Freelancer
Just joining the re-read, so forgive me if I do some catching up.

I've written commentary for quite a few major segments of the Series (just for myself), and will try to only add thoughts that I believe haven't been proposed by others.

Prologue:

- Ishamael's healing of Lews Therin via the True Power: He says, "A pity for you that one of your Sisters is not here. I was never very skilled at Healing." Obviously, even had he used Saidin, the Healing would have been more violent than with Saidar, though likely not as bad as what Ishamael actually did, or he wouldn't have said it that way. Odd, though, that Damer Flinn's more accurate targeted Healing is never identified as harsh compared to that of Saidar. Curious.
- If LTT was already tain-insane, what is it that Ishamael did, causing him to kill his loved ones?

Chapter 1:

- Like you, Leigh, I recognize the standard adventure epic formula that the first significant character introduced is the HERO, the Chosen One, the Big Kahuna. There was no ambiguity for me in that regard. Especially given the depth of the internal Rand POV, the corollary lack of a Mat POV, and no mention at all of Perrin until Chapter 3.
- RE: Rand's personality as undefined or bland, I think some authors do use this as a device to provide the reader the freedom to imprint themselves into the role, but I don't agree that it is that strong in this case. Rand's feelings and behaviors are quite straightforward from the very beginning. He is, of course, insecure as any teenager would be, but he has a strong sense of wishing to be a good citizen, to conduct himself with what he sees as an honorable character. This may be boring to many people, but not 'undefined'. Mat is the scamp, more superficial and shallow, harder to shame. Perrin is clearly the most bland personality-wise, but also more defineable with the "slow-thinking, extra-shy, oversized kid" tag, so fewer readers would be willing to take up his role in their minds.

Chapter 2:

- You highlight a number of first mentions for this chapter, I offer up a couple more. The most significant is not a person or action, but a behavior; a group mentality that divides people into camps of trust and distrust. In the key first example of this, Moiraine knows that she won't be openly accepted for what she is, so she hides it. She doesn't answer questions directly or openly (and almost never does unless pressed), even fairly innocuous ones. And she digs for information, leverage, and ways to manipulate while simultaneously evading others' simply curious queries. Giving the Ta'veren Trio the "spiked" coins which have a Finder channeled onto them, as well as a little something meant to make them less resistant to her suggestions, this is not how you engender trust among the townsfolk, especially three people that you are pretty sure you'll be spending significant time with in the near future. But that's just one angle. The power tripod of Village Council/Women's Circle/Wisdom is chock full of the mutual contempt and distrust encountered everywhere throughout the series.
- Another behavior introduced in this chapter is someone offering an opinion that seems to be drawn from pure ignorance, and is therefore rebuffed by others, but turns out to be accurate. In this case, it is Ewin Finngar who believes that Lan is a warder (though he doesn't know that this would require Moiraine to be Aes Sedai), and is mocked by Rand and Mat for it.
- Of the many tiny life lessons Jordan scatters throughout the various scenes of the Story, two items, almost never commented on by readers, provide the major morals of WOT:
1. Presuming that what you have always believed, must still be the real truth, even in the face of very strong empirical evidence to the contrary, is extremely counterproductive to your journey, whatever your goal. (Reference Moiraine's comment about her own overconfidence, which she should have taken as a cue to re-examine her methods and targets, which she attempts to hold onto even when she can clearly see that nothing is as black and white as she presumed it would be.)
2. Prejudices always harm YOU far more than the object of your bias, because they keep you from making the most rational decisions/connections, they keep you from taking advantage of potential resources, and cause you to follow a more flawed path toward any goal you have.

Chapter 3:

- My only comment about this chapter is the example of people being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Honest, hard-working people like the Emond's Fielders would only ever permit the superior and supercilious airs of a Padan Fain because he has something they want, be it news of the world or the items he offers for sale.

Chapter 4:

- Thom Merrilin is clearly one of the shrewdest characters in the Series. He is also the first hint that a melange of mythological character types is going to be represented in the story, as one of three different Merlin types from the Arthurian legends. He assigns himself to our incipient heroes as a foil to the not-to-be-trusted Aes Sedai. But our initial view of him is sadly not terribly much better than Fain, and in fact he is somewhat put out that there is another target for the townsfolks' curiosity than himself. Looking forward, however, I have to wonder just why someone so well acquainted with high society should find himself in a place that gets news later than Baerlon, "and that is the last place in the world to hear anything".

My only other direct comment for these chapters is that while Rand is towing Tam into Emond's Field, was not his need to see his father healed as great as his need to protect Egwene on the flight to Baerlon later? Of course it wouldn't do for the storyline to have his first channeling occur here, but in retrospect I've always wondered. Perhaps I can assign it to his innate chivalry towards the ladies, especially the one he thinks of as his intended.

Since I'm following Lisamarie, I'd also like to offer agreement with her sentiment. The Christian faith doesn't claim to offer protection against physical discomfort. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) It rains on the just and the unjust, and so on. The difference is in trusting that this world is temporal, while the next is eternal.
bkyle
122. Jmunson
Prologue
(And you know, we never did find out what the Nine Rods of Dominion were, did we?)

I believe that those would be the oath rods as they have a number on them the one they use for the three oaths has a 3 on it and the one that Sammael give to the wise women has a 9 on it i believe
T C
123. Freelancer
@122 Jmunson

Actually, the rod Therava binds, then taunts Galina with has three numeral 1s engraved on it. I fear that's going to be one of those "tiny details" that never gets resolved. Make that three details. 1) What is the significance of the numbering on the rods? 2) Are there any functional differences between one "binder" rod and another? 3) Do these actually have any relationship to the "Nine rods of Dominion"(tm)?
bkyle
124. gwencrist
i actually had a lot of comments, but ive forgotten most of them while reading the giant list of comments.

the 9 rods- i think heres another example of the whole myth altering thing. One of the earlier comments said that RJ said it was a reference to the 9 rings from lotr. And remember that inn in Caemlyn (maybe?) called the Nine Rings, that Rand said was a reference to his favourite story? I read in the WotFAQ (I think) that it was another reference to LOTR. So the 9 Rods and the 9 Rings could be the same thing, just slightly garbled through time

Also about the whole Rand is Bland thing- Rand and his decent law abiding and boring ways is a familiar hero type. but of course regarding the oldness of this book relative to most of the things it reminds me of, its probably copying. But more on this later. I think that this bland thing is in order to contrast more with Rand and his craziness later on. (personal favourite aspect of the series)
But yeah this sort of personality is used by like every basic adventure or maybe even rpg game. In these it seems like a basic thing designed for the player to imagine themselves in the hero`s shoes.

Also it seems like yet more of story changing through time symbolism. This may be a convoluted explanation, but bear with me plz.
Rand's life and changing personality as we see it are similar to the public's view to celebrities in general. Where his youth is kind of unassuming and ordinary and during this time he is decent and good and boring, it's similar to the general America's Sweetheart stereotype. And his later life and personality, after he becomes the Dragon Reborn, are similar to the public's general view of celebrities (kind of crazy and leading a famous and rich lifestyle) but more a like dangerous and evil version.
All this celebrity stuff is important because it kind of gives a hint to how Rand will be perceived by the people after he's done saving the world. This also shows how the stories written about him will be, and maybe how they will evolve as time goes on (just looking at how stories and public view of celebrities and such have evolved after their deaths or retirement)

and yeah this was way too complex to put in a comments board i think (sry)

and also just wanted to say i always looked at TEOTW as the kiddiest book of the series, but now that i look back on it, its really evil. Not really kids material.
bkyle
125. Nilmandir
I have to admit, I read TWoT first before ever reading LotR, and I have to say that I enjoyed reading the latter and seeing the parallels in the stories. As for the real world tie-ins, I didn't get many of them because of a severe lack of knowledge (although I did get the games because I am a huge fan on how other cultures pass the time in leasure activity.

The Characters

Rand, Mat, Perrin - I admit, I had a little crush on Mat because of the way he acted. I like rogues. Rand always struck me as just a kid who was thrust into impossible circumstances, and has yet to figure out a way get out of them and return to Æmon's Field. Perrin, he's a good kid to have around in a fight, but doesn't come into his own until he meets Elias and Hopper.

Egwene, Nyaneve, Moiraine - Nyaneve is by far the one character who I udentified with more than anyother. She is a caretaker, even if she does have to douse you with something to prove it. I want to be Moiraine.

Overall a great beginning.
Ronald Smith
126. Qooop
I am an old Sci-Fi nut who never liked any fantasy (other than TLOTR) until just a few years ago. Now I have scarfed down A Song of Ice and Fire, several other things, and today I am starting The Wheel of Time for the first time. I am glad to have found this series of rereads so I can follow along (after I get some hundreds of pages under my hat) - Thanks.
bkyle
128. Benny C
Qooop @ # 126...

I agree with Amalisa - Welcome haha.. BUT...

If you are only just reading the series now, my personal opinion and advice would be to AVOID all recaps and blog sites etc.

As is mentioned at the top, this reread will be rife with spoilers. If you are only now getting into fantasy I really would hate to see you ruin some of the best surprises in the books by following a recap after you've just read the pages for yourself!! You'll get so much more out of the books if everything is new and surprising...

But hey.. that's just my opinion, because I know I hate spoilers =D

Enjoy the series - oh, and Leigh - loving your take on it all keep up the good work!
bkyle
129. SDJC
I'm re-reading the series for a third time in anticipation of Gathering Storm release (only 22 days away!). I've always been blown away by the prologue, just great imagery, action and suspense. Jordan builds the suspense immediately with the stranger in the road, and doesn't let up at all. He also does a fantastic job of rolling out the major players in the first four chapters, just a great intro to them. Chapter 9 is definitely my favorite though, with the first dream sequence followed by the tale of the fall of Manetheren.

Onto Chapter 10, see you after Chapter 18!
bkyle
130. Rygar
The tale of Manetheren is OUTSTANDING and is a small section that continues to stand out among all 11 books today. Great, Great stuff that truly brings tears to my eyes.

Now, I am audio book junkie so if you haven't heard the audio version, you really are missing something.
bkyle
131. pdlandis
This was really interesting, Leigh, and I'm eager to see where you took it (yeah, I know I'm a few months late, but c'est la vie).

I have some comments, but am going to suspend most of them until after I've read through the entire re-read. But for now, here's several comments:

First, I disagree with the reasoning regarding Rand's lack of character-defining traits early in the story. In the beginning it seems like he is portrayed as a bland character so that the reader can relate to him, but as the story progresses, it becomes evident (to me, at least) that this is just part of the way Jordan defines characters. He does not define a character when portraying the story from their POV, but rather describes the character's traits when that character is viewed from another's POV, or by that character's responses to events and other characters. Thus, since the first few chapters are from Rand's POV, and since the relationships between characters are still left somewhat undeveloped, it takes a while for his traits to come out (if that makes sense).

I vaguely remember a mention of Trolloc clans or bands elsewhere (maybe Lews Therin's memories in Knife of Dreams). Also, Jordan might've done exactly what he originally intended with Trolloc clans, which may have been to make them a defining feature of Trollocs that only those who had a good knowledge of the creatures would know (and since we see few interactions between such characters and Trollocs throughout the stories, the clans remained largely unmentioned...).

With regards to tales in Tolkien's work, I think that contrasting the historical value of his tales with the mythological value of Jordan's tales doesn't say much. In the Lord of the Rings, the extreme longevity of the elves means that most (if not all) of the tales that the characters encounter come from first-hand accounts of events, or from a not-so distant relative's accounts of events. The oldest tales in Middle Earth may be as far removed by generations as the American Revolution, if not fewer (I'm sure someone out there could give a more accurate portrayal of how many generations of elves it might've been, but you get the idea). In contrast, even the long-lived Aes Sedai and other power-wielding people of Randland are many, many generations removed from the previous age (not to mention the last time their particular age existed in time).

Ok, now I see that I'm going to have to leave fewer comments than I thought. Great insights on the characters in general, and I agree that Min is awesomeness incarnate. Nynaeve becomes more acceptable as the story progresses, and her actions near the end of Knife of Dreams skyrocketed her to near the top of my favourite female character list (behind Min and Moiraine, of course, and oddly enough possibly Cadsuane). Also, in hindsight, the annoyance factor that stems from Egwene's actions regarding Rand later on could almost be predicted from her development early in the story, as she's the doe-eyed gullible girl who hasn't found her place in life yet. I want to say more (especially a few things regarding the male characters), but since you've already written quite a bit that might address my comments already, I'll wait till I've read a bit more, after leaving one last thought, of course:

"Weep, weep for Manetheren" gave me a desire to see more of Manetheren, and I would argue that we do see some of it later in the story... Throughout the series, the tales of Manetheren and of Malkier are those that most stir the marrow in my bones, and (I suspect, or more likely hope) the tales that are most likely to drive the inhabitants of Randland to beat their plowshares into swords and head towards the Blight (or wherever that Last Battle may end up being fought).

If I leave a comment this long before the end of The Eye of the World re-read, someone tell me to hush and keep reading, please.
bkyle
132. Réka M
I can't resist jumping in, though I know I'm months behind.

The thing that always drove me bonkers about the series was the over-the-head, stereotyped prejudices between the genders. With RJ being so good at creating this extravagant world, and foreshadowing, and taking existing myth and legend and melding it with modern tales and forging something exciting and SMART and new, how could he not see that his gender portrayals were horribly simplistic and sometimes downright insulting? It's the stuff of junior high armchair psychology: boys are always x and girls are always y. Would it have been too much to ask for realistic interaction between male and female characters? It's not even that his characters lack depth, because they do evolve through the series. But why oh why do they need to hang onto these inane ideas about the other sex?

And while we're at it, what's with nobody talking to anybody else? Is that going to be like a major plot cathartic/orgasmic moment in the last book when people finally reveal their knowledge to each other? I mean, HELLO, the world is ending, don't you guys think you need to sit down and throw your info into a communal think pot?
bkyle
133. Réka M
Also, regarding the annoying character traits of characters (Nynaeve's braid tug, Egwene's sniffing, et al), I just figured it was bad writing. (Sorry.) I tried to ignore those as much as possible and focus on the non-repetitive behavior of the characters, though that was sometimes difficult. You know, like when Jessica Rabbit says in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."
Jake Jesson
134. jakejesson
Oh man.

I'm reading Wheel of Time for the first time, and I got the brilliant idea to post a read-through on my own blog. My brilliant idea was not so original after all!

And I can't even read this yet. Noooooo! :(

(I did read the Prologue summary, and I agree with your assessment, except I - perhaps unfairly - focused on the melodramatic aspects a little more. Good prologue, though!)
David Lane
135. Historydave4412
I am new to this board but have been enjoying the posts by Leigh. I finished tGS a few weeks past, then decided to read all the books from the beginning.

I was struck very hard by the amazing circle created by RJ. The meeting between Tam and Rand in tGS all the way to Rand's redemption on the Dragonmount are set up in the prologue and first chapter of tEotW.

I have often complained about the pace of these books, but Jordan was a genius. He HAD to have had the climax of tGS feshed out in his mind when he wrote tEotW.

The whole naive country town, solid family and friends, Two Rivers scene is a prerequisite to Rand being able to survive the betrayals he will face. And his relationship with his "father" is his salvation. It was no accident that Ran's first scene is walking down the road with his , solid more real than reality, father.

I have fallen in love all over again!
bkyle
136. EmperorTiberius
New to the series, though I've seen the spoiler warnings in the blogging here. I came across this via George R R Martin's blogging about the suvudu cage match competition. Being a fan of his Song of Ice and Fire series, but tired of waiting for new stuff, I bought the first book of this Wheel of Time series. Having read some of the match posts, I have enjoyed finding this new series to me, and happy to see 9000+ pages ahead of me to read! Maybe Martin will put one book out by the time I'm done.

Just a thought, and maybe I'm getting a false impression, but hearing about the power Rand wields later has me thinking he's going to be like a Neo from the Matrix series of movies. Will be interesting to see how things pan out.

PS: Think I've immersed myself enough in what the series is about to definitely read, and eventually re-read the series. Keep up the good work here and look forward to learning more of Master Jordan's Randland :)
bkyle
137. Jelsel
hi there Tiberius,

you should be warned, WoT is considered extremely addictive ;)

have fun!!!
James Jones
138. jamesedjones
136 EmperorTiberius

Welcome to the Randland interwebz (also known as Tor.com). A few items to keep in mind:

-TV tropes are big here. Our valiant leader loves them. Be very careful about getting lost when you select a link that references them. They can easily kill about 3-4 hours.

-Be careful of the links. Torrie and Pablo manage the site, and are generally awesome folks. They'll keep the links from hurting your computer, but your job might be in jepardy if your boss hears Rick Astley blaring from your desk when you're supposed to be working. ;)

-Civility is big. We've got an awesome group of very mature WoT experts killing a great deal of time on this site. You'll see some stuff you agree with, and some stuff you absolutely disagree with. We love the disagreements, but please keep them polite and focused on the books. Snarkiness is the accepted mode of disagreement for most of our posters.

-Never underestimate a friend or fellow commenter here on the site. Some of the fan favorite and goofiest folks on the re-read (subwoofer and R.Fife come to mind) are also experts on the material. They know this stuff, they just don't try to show it.

-Some of the best have come and gone, and come. Don't let the big discussions kill your real life. We'll miss you, but we understand. And we'll be happy to see you again any time you feel the need to chime in.

I think that's some of the important bits. Enjoy!
bkyle
139. Felix Velarius Bos
I had that happen to me in my second readthrough, too. As in, the first time I HATED Nynaeve (and Rand) for pretty much the entire way through, but in my second time she was one of my favorite characters.
As for Egwene, I never really had too much of an opinion on her.
This makes me laugh. XD
Derek Barolet
140. Derek.barolet
Just a note, I agree with just about everything, but if i am not wrong we get a mention of trolloc tribes in the second book too. but best thing you said was Min is pure unfiltered awesome, i completely agree, i never really formed an attachment to the other females, except for maybe Birgette. Oh and I always thought the 9 Rods of Dominion were the Oath rods? maybe i am wrong though.
bkyle
141. Sophomore Writer
I have so many comments and memories regarding this book and the comments above, but I'd like to just stick with the Trolloc issue.

I'm an aspiring writer, and this series is what lit that fire. So, in my opinion, Jordan needed an element of danger as a sort of floatation device to carry us to higher danger. If there were no Trollocs in this book, how does Jordan create a dangerous flight out of the Two Rivers? I just think the Trollocs are a mechanism, something Jordan used when he wanted to create danger, something to keep the reader looking over Rand's shoulder, long before we knew of Lanfear and others.

He couldn't just plop us into the laps of the Forsaken without developing the story, or exposing us to the World. How do we fear a Forsaken when we don't know what that is yet? Trollocs are easy to fear in the beginning...big, stupid, blood hungry monsters. There's no story needed in that danger.

I've studied story-development, and what authors use to get the reader to turn the page, and this is what jumps out at me about the Trollocs. Jordan uses them like a tool to get us to want to run with Rand into a deeper, more complex web of danger that we can't possibly suspect. Personally, I think it's genius. I also think it's why we don't get much Trolloc action in the following books. The need for their dangerous presence disappears with the emergence of the greater Evils of Randland.

And this is a year after this post, so I doubt anyone will give a crap what I say lol :).

Can't wait for Towers of Midnight!!!
Joe Cheverie
142. jc4166050
Just started a re-read of the series, and am currently through Chapter 9 of Eye of the World. I'm impressed with the visual imagery Jordan uses so early in the series. Tellings of the Wheel (Chapter 9) is probably my favorite of this section, between the dream sequence and the tale of Manetheren it's two powerful scenes.
Birgit
143. birgit
And while we're at it, what's with nobody talking to anybody else?

In an interview at the end of the audiobooks Robert Jordan said that one of the important themes in WoT is how information changes over time and distance and that people often have to act although they don't have all the information.

Oh and I always thought the 9 Rods of Dominion were the Oath rods? maybe i am wrong though.

They were local governors in the Age of Legends.
Sub Woofer
145. subwoofer
Wow!

Free- you are ancient- here at the first post! Do the AS know they stole their symbol from you?

Hi Steelblaid, Randalator, Seanie. Weeeee!

Just wanted to see what it is like at ground zero. Interesting that this was at a nine chapter a post pace and the chapter recaps are very abbreviated. And half the comments are Leigh's- Hi Leigh! ::waves::

Just wanted to put my paw here.

Woof™.
Tricia Irish
146. Tektonica
Amalisa, Katenpveu, spas49.....so many still with us!

And so many not. Weird. 'Cause they just keep getting better!

This was a fun diversion! Thanks Sub!
bkyle
147. Kusho
Great start to the series. I reread the last two books waiting for ToM to come out and this blog will be a nice reminder of the rest of the books. Don't have the time to go throu all of them again. I wonder if trollocs will make a big appearance in the next two books as most think the fight with the last battle will be about, but with starvation and the Seachen to deal with a massave war with trollocs is going to be hard to win. I mean no plants are growing right now. All food is spoiling. And Rand just killed the access key. Okay I know I'm putting this comment onto the discussion for book1 part 1 but hey.
Side comment two, and in all my reading of WoT blogs I've never seen anyone bring this up. Anyone else notice the tie ins between WoT and The Neverending Story (book and movie) The Ivry Tower being the center of government. The Snake eating it's own tail on the cover of the book (movie version) Could our luck dragon be something like the beasts the Seachen ride? Just a few similarities but there are many. And The Never Ending Story was a Russian novel first right? Translated when? And the movie came out in 84 well before WoT was started. And for the Lotr argument I agree and hated those. I made it through the movies once but will never watch them again. Frodo throw the damn ring in the volcano! please! end the movie! The Hobbit was good but after that it just was a slow and dull read. Have picked up
TFotR a few times when between good authors to read, but it's still as bad. LE Modesitt, JV Jones, Brandon Sanderson (who I didn't find until I heard he was finishing the WoT books... and the Mist series was awesome. Fred Saberhagen's book of swords... all good comparisons to make... but LotR SUCKS guys. Sorry. I know he introduced the genre and all but stop talking about it. And yes I'm saying that with only the Hobbit and only maybe reading half of TFotR Just a comment on all the compairisons between EotW and TFotR. I did get through the movies, so flame away. Okay for a post that talked nothing about EotW but hey after a year it's all been said. I will say that the Prologue was as awesome for me on read 1 as it was the last time I read EotW. I'm really curious if the movie will ever come into being and if it will start with the Prologue also. That would be something to see on the big screen. Okay my .02 worth. I'm really curious about the tie ins between The Neverending Story and the WoT thou. Comments? Did Jordan just watch the movie, like it as much as I do and write 11 books in that world? I mean it could just be another turning of the Wheel for all the tie ins I see in it.
Sub Woofer
148. subwoofer
Comments?

Dude- read the rest of LotR before you pronounce judgement. Or to put in another way, you dis any comparison of WoT to the benchmark of the genre then go and compare it to "The Never Ending Story"- a kids movie.

Tolkien wrote his books and was inspired by his service inWWI IIRC. RJ- the man is a Vietnam Vet. Same thing, different era. WoT is very different from LotR and is RJ's world, but there are some parallels. I could ramble on, but the fact remains- the comparison is valid and there.

Woof™.
Barry T
149. blindillusion
Well, as much as I love The Neverending Story, along with what I know about Mr Jordan pulling from many, many sources, I'm going to have to say no, no Mr Jordan did not watch the movie in th 80's and then write 11 books set in that world.

After all, there's quite a few Ivory/White Towers which are central to powerful governments.

I can think of at least one off the top of my head...White House....
T C
150. Freelancer
sub

Not as ancient as it might seem at first look. Note the date on my first post is more than three months after Leigh got this party started. But I'm amused and gratified that some of the thoughts from 18 months ago are still relevant to the current discussions of the story.


The Neverending Story as springboard for WoT? Umm, not. There have been a great many "Ivory Tower" references in far more significant fictional works, aside from the well-known historical references. Jordan drew from major mythologies, histories, and arcane legends, without ever approaching what could only be called "modern" fictions as source material. The point being to suggest that events we know from our past are represented in the WoT-verse's ancient past AND its future.
bkyle
152. ironxking
I find it interesting how Rand kills the Trolloc with just a little bit of luck. I just finished The New Spring and it mentions how people with the ability of saidin often are lucky.... Robert Jordan has many hints in his writing that he put in for people to cath on, it reinforces early on the fact that he will be the one to be wielding the one power.
bkyle
153. Kraiven
"In fact, I’m no expert but I don’t even recall Tolkien playing much with the mutability of legends; his “legends” are pretty much historical fact within the context of Middle Earth. If I’m wrong on that I’d love to hear about it."

I think you're correct, but Tolkein's world (and many of the similar fantasy worlds) are distinctly different from the WoT world in that they contain an immortal - or essentially immortal - species, which presumably prevents any wild excursions from the historical truth.
bkyle
154. SimonW
I've just started my first re-read since getting to the end of book 10. Its been nice to get back into the story. I found the level of description Jordan used to be similar to Tom Clancy books, which I liked mainly because of all the little details I could get into to build the image in my head up.

I've read a few fantasy series' before, all of David Eddings' books, LotR, Steven Erikson, Peter F. Hamilton, Terry Brooks and David Gemmell, and while I enjoyed all of those books, Wheel of Time was the first one that I really wanted to read through again. Its probably because of the size of the series I suppose, but I was a big fan of some of the character development in there.

I can't say I ever realy liked the Rand character much, I actually found I preferred the Mat/Perrin sides of the tale. I think it may be because of Mat/perrin staying fairly close to their original characters, whereas Rand seems to be permanently burdened, whether with LTT or some massive world-changing decision.

As for the women, Moiraine was probably the more interesting of the bunch for me, and the female Forsaken with their scheming. I found Egwene and Elayne a lot more annoying, with Min just behind them. Faile and Nynaeve were ones that I was happy to read about.

lastly, I'm really glad this re-read, comments and all exists. I think its a fitting tribute to the level of character and complexity RJ managed to fit into all of those pages. Thanks for helping me get back into the series.
bkyle
155. crazythespo
First off, I am so glad I stumbled upon this. I started reading this series back in my freshman year of high school, and I think I got as far as Lord Of Chaos before I had to stop because homework and life got in the way of reading 900 pages books :-) I just started re-reading it a few months ago and am now on The Shadow Rising. Finding this has been fabulous, reading the chapters and then coming here to see what everyone is saying about them is very entertaining :-)
bkyle
156. s'rEDIT
Kraiven@153: Excellent observation, thank you.

@ironxing, Kraiven, SimonW, and crazythespo: Do keep posting. Some of the regulars come back and check the old threads from time to time. They're still going strong and just started KoD, so come join us there even whiel you try to read through past reviews and comments. Have fun trying to catch up, especially when you get to TSR, part 10 (and others that went past 800 comments)! I still haven't managed it after 3 months.
bkyle
157. beauvoir
Part of why Tolkien doesn't deal with the mutibility of myths or legends is, I think, because of the immortality of the Elves - Bilbo and Frodo learn what they know of the legends of the previous Ages from the Elves, and in the case of Elrond his close familial relations lived through these ages.

Or at least thats what I thought from reading the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion, anyway.
bkyle
158. beauvoir
.153 Kraiven said it already.. boo! It's what I get for not reading the comments before posting, I suppose.
bkyle
159. sommer1132
I couldn't read through all the comments here(just too much yada yada) but I am really enjoying everyones points of view. I am on my third or fourth re-read and even got my boyfriend hooked on the series. It's so fun to talk about things with him in addition to reading this.
bkyle
161. Sundancer
I just found this, and am excited to review the books again before I read the last one! One of the comments sparked a question I've always had while reading. Just what does a dress "slashed with color" look like? I used to get the impression that it was vertical paneling in the skirt, but after later descriptions it seemed like a horizonal stripes running down the front instead. May be I am mixing up fashions. Any helpful links to illustrations of this?
Grainne McGuire
162. helen79
You could try the 13th depository [13depository.blogspot.com] and go the the costumes article (eg via articles alphabetical listing). There's a lot of detail there and may have the answer for you.
Margot Virzana
163. LuvURphleb
I love Nynaeve. Loved her from the beginning. She had her quirks but she was my kindred spirit. She knows what she can do and does it well be still has to prove herself because of her age. I hate when people see one of my accomplishments than brush that off and refuse to give me more due to my age. Egwene i liked until bk five and when i re read everything audio i found myself disliking her in bk three. Than in bk one. She has her strengths. Shes awesome in Gathering Storm. But shes so full of herself....
Lani Gallimore
164. evilminion
Found this reread over a year ago and love it! I had yet to read TGS at the time, so when the reread got to the point where TGS was released, I had to stop to avoid spoilers. Then TOM was released and then someone suggested the song of fire and ice series (which now has its own reread that I can start with at the beginning YAY!). So I had abanded the WOT reread and never did catch up to the current postings.

The point of all of this is to say that I have decided to do a reread of the reread. And ALL the comments. I hope it doesn't create some sort of cosmic feedback loop!

So I just wanted you to know, Leigh, you, master of the reread, are being re-read. Oh, the irony, it's like some sort of circle, or a wheel.....
bkyle
166. TheBeerPatriot
I just started a re-read before AMOL is released. One thing that jumped out at me from Chapter 4-how did Thom know Padan Fain from before they both appeared in Emond's Field? Perhaps it was in Thom's various travels, but I found that quite interesting on this re-read.

The LOTR flavor is unavoidable in these first chapters, but you can already sense Jordan making his own path. Chapter 9 is a tour-de-force, between Rand's vision at the beginning of the chapter, completed by Moiraine's telling of the fall of Manetheren. Great stuff.
Terry McNamee
167. macster
Because I feel like it, and something mentioned in a more recent post reminded me of it, I just wanted to make a comment on Leigh's point about the Nine Rods of Dominion:

Who or what were they? Well, as RJ said, they were people, governors with great power whom LTT could literally summon to serve him and follow his commands. But an interesting thing to note: many of the Forsaken, either under their real names or their new names, have names identical to or similar to those of angels and archangels. There are nine orders of angels according to Christian theology; one of those orders is the Dominions, those who are in charge of maintaining order in the cosmos, and they are known for carrying orbs or scepters of divine authority—like the rods which were the emblems of the Nine Rods. So the Nine Rods of Dominion is both another Jordan reference to mythology, and an implication that those who were governors in the AOL, while not Aes Sedai who became Forsaken, were indeed incredibly powerful, beautiful, and influential. The fact they served Lews Therin, who is himself named after/based on the angel Lucifer, only underscores the connection.

@166: That is intriguing. On a related note are the thought Rand has that Thom's eyes are like Lan's, implying he might be from the Borderlands too, and the later bit in Baerlon where Rand thinks that Lan knows Logain. None of this seems to bear any fruit and could all be chalked up to n00b Rand thinking things that aren't true but sometimes I wonder. Who's to say some of these things won't pan out as details in the WOT Encyclopedia when it's published? ;)
bkyle
168. Neal Starkey
The World of the Wheel of Time does say that some think that the Oath Rod is one of the nine rods of dominion.
bkyle
169. Yosarian
It may have been obvious to everyone else, but I have to say, the first time I read this, I was caught off guard by the "Rand is the Dragon Reborn" twist. Jordon dropped enough "the dragon is probably evil" misleading hints in the early part of the book to make me miss that the Dragon was actually the Chosen One for a while, and for a lot of the book Logan was a convicing red herring. I knew Rand and co were going to be important, of course, but I didn't realize that he was going to be the Dragon Reborn.
bkyle
170. Yosarian
It may have been obvious to everyone else, but I have to say, the first time I read this, I was caught off guard by the "Rand is the Dragon Reborn" twist. Jordon dropped enough "the dragon is probably evil" misleading hints in the early part of the book to make me miss that the Dragon was actually the Chosen One for a while, and for a lot of the book Logan was a convicing red herring. I knew Rand and co were going to be important, of course, but I didn't realize that he was going to be the Dragon Reborn.
Alice Arneson
171. Wetlandernw
@168 - Robert Jordan clarified that the Oath Rod is not, in fact, one of the nine rods of dominion. The Nine Rods of Dominion were more like planetary governors - the rods themselves were probably symbols of office. The Oath Rod was known, back in the AOL, as a "binder" - used to keep criminals (who could channel) from doing whatever it was they did.
bkyle
172. Leopard in High Grass
Just starting up my final reread and found this awesome commentary and commentators.

Some highlights: Reading how everyone in 2009 is waiting for aMoL to be released soon. Note to all from the future: You've got a long wait.

Rand did finally get to the White Tower, though it wasn't anything like the dream.

I'll be paying close attention to the budding romances (Thom and Moiraine, Lan and Nyn)in these early books. They caught me by surprise on my first read. It feels like there must be more happening off-screen for most of them.
Eric Hughes
173. CireNaes
@172

Welcome. You're in for a wild ride if you read each of the comments for every post.
Niraj Merchant
174. NirajMerchant
@172 I just started my re read too.. though I think its going to be difficult to finish the books in time without reading like 200+ pages every day!

The Manetheren story is just awesome, but I always wonder, that if you can do so much damage if you draw too much power, there would be a definite benefit to being a suicidal power wielder in a battle where you could take out most of the opposing army at the cost of your own life. This worked for the manetheren story, and Lews Therin in the prologue.
Ron Garrison
175. Man-0-Manetheran
12/19/2012: Herein begins my umpteenth re-read of tEotW and first re-read of the re-read.

"A wind rose..." Every book. Every time. I get a shiver of anticipation.

Prologue: Like most, the first read was baffling and I too, would go back to it often during the reading of the EotW. I've come back to it many times since then, and it now stands as one of the core creations of the entire story.

As we quickly approach aMoL, new things stand out for me:
"Remember, you Light-blinded idiot! I will not let it end with you swaddled in unawareness! Remember" (...)
"Remember you fool! Remember your futile attack on the Great Lord of the Dark! Remember his counterstroke! Remember!"
Chapters 1-9: Ahh. They are still compelling. Rand, Mat, Perrin - all so young and naive. The dark rider. The mysterious Aies Sadai. Jordan's descriptive creation of time and place, so rich, so alive, so real.
"...a mountain as black as the loss of all hope. That bleak stone spire, a dagger stabbing at the heavens, was the source of his desolation. He had never seen it before, but he knew it."
TRIVIA:
Fireworks — Anyone else notice that fireworks were a commodity at this point in RJ's mind. They were being brought to town by a peddler. No Illuminators as yet invented in his cosmology.

Tai'Shar Manetheren
Tricia Irish
176. Tektonica
Isn't it wonderful, Man-O!! I'm about half way through now and I see so many threads started in Book One that I hope will paly out in Book 14!! Some real golden nuggets in here.

And the character growth! Wow. I love these boys. And now they're men.
Rand has come back in Book 13 to his old self in many ways, but so much wiser ;-)
bkyle
177. Faculty Guy
Love to haunt these old posts for recent comments. We are TEN DAYS from access to AMOL. I'm going to read it immediately, of course, but am currently mired in COT in my third cycle of "re-listening" to the audio books. I check them out from our public library, having found this a much better driving accompaniment than any radio station or music CD on my 28 mile (each way) daily commute. Although I like the later books for the "reveals" and conclusions of plot lines, I have never failed to find new foreshadowings in tEotW each time I re-start the series. It is fascinating to try to "get inside" RJ's" mind and try to imagine how he could have a master plot pre-planned over a 20+ year span of writing. Of course we know that he did NOT foresee the actual length - in pages or in time - of his masterpiece. And a few things - so far as we know now - seem to have been introduced and then disappear (thinking of the Eye, of the Green Man, of THE VOICE, all from the first book, and additional items from other early books). I remember being disgusted when Cadsuanne, an obvious semi-major character, showed up for the first time in Book 7, when I thought the story was winding toward a conclusion (little did I know). Yet the visions of Min, the dreamings of Egwene, have mostly been borne out. Wonder if it would be worth a discussion thread devoted exclusively to foreshadowings/visions/prophecies and their fulfillment (or not).

Keep adding comments to these early re-read posting, folks.
bkyle
178. Chris206
Stopped reading after the passing of RJ. I've been waiting for the complete series before picking it up again. I started the series when the first one came out. So I've beein in this for the long haul. I was beginning to think I would pass on before it was finished. So like the previous poster, I'm coming to this late. I'm avoiding the comments in case spoilers are there from the last three books. I plan to re-read the entire series from start before reading them.

"protagonist hero types’ personalities tend toward the bland precisely because that makes it easier for the reader to map him/herself onto the hero as a proxy."

I don't know about others, but I think that is one reason why the later books become harder to read. I grew up on Hobbits, Shannara's, White Gold, and Black Soul Sucking Swords (as well as Robots, Empires, and Foundations). Identifying with the hero to escape RL was (is?) a definite draw to this type of literature. In later books, Rand becomes more of his own character along with the rest of the menagerie. It morphs from the usual coming of age of the hero through adversity (books 1-3'ish), into more of a tale of history seen through the eyes of the principle characters. I see the world less through the eyes of Rand and more as an outsider reading about these events. I still have moments in moving "behind the eyes" of many of the characters in the series. But there is no longer a single "focal point" to identify with.
bkyle
179. Rand Trussell
I think Leigh got the best line wrong for chapter 2. It should be: "She was easily the best cook in Emond's Field, and not a man for miles around but eagerly leaped at a chance to put his feet under her table." Love that line.
bkyle
180. Daz
Great work. This is going to save me months! I wouldn't mind re-reading the first two or three books, but the thought of having to read the mundane middle set fills me with dread!
bkyle
181. JLo
I just started reading this and I may be jumping the gun a bit, but I think that one of the "Nine Rods of Dominion" is the truth rod the white tower uses.
bkyle
182. Gabster
Wow, Leigh, thank you so much for planting the mental image of a shepherd boy being sexually assaulted by a duck.
bkyle
183. Skydyr
One thing I caught starting tEOtW again is that the first forshadowing of Rand's ability comes at the very beginning, in Chapter 1, when he senses the myrddraal before he sees him. Pun at least partially intended.

As for the notes, and Rand telling Tam he was leaving, the impression I got was that Moiraine used the coins to suggest obedience to her, but Rand was the only one who resisted it. Notice how Mat, who is never one to follow the rules, is insistent that she said to only leave notes and not tell anyone.

Regarding fireworks, the impression I got from later books was that smaller fireworks were sold by the illuminators with strict admonition not to open them. There is a scene with Mat later on (in TGH?) where it talks about how mad everyone got when he tried to open a firework one time as a child. The larger ones, like nightflowers (I assume these are mortar launched with stars, like big shows these days) required illuminators to oversee them prior to the guild falling apart.

I do remember (many many years ago now) being surprised at the end of the book when Rand could channel, despite the forshadowing. Afterwards, though, it was very clear that you could go back and see all of the events. The first I thought of was the lightning, then Bela, then the boom, and the sicknesses, and it spread from there. I blame starting the books as a relatively young teenager and not thinking about the elements as much as just following the story.
bkyle
184. Skydyr
One other thing I noticed: At the end of the prologue, there is that quotation from the 4th age text, where it says "...Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time."

I'm amused by the great sword of justice and the fact that he later gains Justice, the sword of Artur Hawkwing.
bkyle
185. LuckyJinx
Moiraine never got permission to take the angreal from the Tower did she?
Anonyme Paris
186. Anonyme
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