Tue
Jan 27 2009 1:11pm

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Eye of the World, Part 3

What up, yo: Welcome to the next installment of The Wheel of Time Re-read. Today’s post will cover The Eye of the World, Chapters 19-26. Previous entries can be found here.

As always, beware spoilers for the entire series below the cut. Share and Enjoy.

Chapter 19: Shadow’s Waiting

What Happens
The party enters Shadar Logoth, Rand agog at the scale of the city. They set up camp in one of the buildings. Referring to the words he shouted during the battle earlier, Mat says he doesn’t like the idea that a dead man is speaking with his mouth. Thom hushes him, saying that the dead can take a living body and it’s not something to speak of lightly. He reassures Mat it’s just the old blood of his ancestry, and not anything like that. Thom moves off, and Mat urges Perrin and Rand to come take a look around. Perrin and Rand are hesitant to leave without telling Moiraine first, but agree to go. The boys explore for a while, and are arguing over whether to go back when a strange man addresses them from the shadows. The man says his name is Mordeth, and says that he’s found treasure, more than he can carry. He offers them a share of it if they will come help him get it to his horses. Mat charges after him, and Rand and Perrin follow reluctantly. Mordeth leads them deep underground to a chamber overflowing with gold and jewels. Rand then notices that Mordeth has no shadow, and when he points this out, Mordeth swells to the size of a giant and reaches for them, but then suddenly screams and shrinks back. Mordeth shrieks that they are “all dead” and then appears to turn into smoke, and escapes through a crack in the wall. Rand and Perrin drag Mat out of the treasure room. On the street, they feel eyes watching them as they hurry back to the camp, but once they come in range of the camp the unseen eyes disappear. The boys blurt out what happened to Moiraine and the others, and Moiraine tells them the story of Mordeth and Aridhol, and how its own hatred of the Shadow killed the city, and caused it to birth something just as bad—Mashadar. Later, Lan comes back from scouting and tells them that there are Trollocs within the city; Moiraine says they must leave and get to the river.

Commentary
If there’s one thing I’ve learned reading sf, it’s that the second anyone mentions treasure is the second you run the hell away. It just never ends well when treasure is involved.

My irritation with Mat continues to grow, as he becomes more and more that guy in horror flicks you want to smack upside the head, because he does all the things you KNOW will get everyone brutally murdered. I’m amazed he didn’t suggest the three of them split up while exploring, at the rate he’s going.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an explanation of why exactly Mordeth freaks and runs in the treasure room. If I had to guess, I would say it’s something similar to why the Myrddraal didn’t kill Rand in the inn in Baerlon; the boys are marked in some way as having the personal attention of the Dark One (or of Ishamael, at least). I just think it’s slightly odd, if this is the case, that Mordeth can see it too, since technically he is not of the Shadow at all.

Which brings me to the story of the fall of Aridhol, and another thing Jordan has made a point of playing with throughout the series, which is that even in epic fantasy, people are not a black and white affair, morally speaking.

You have the obviously good guys and the obviously bad guys (polarized, admittedly, to a far greater degree than in real life – this is a cataclysmic battle between good and evil, after all), and then you have a third group, which falls into a category I (and most everyone else, I’m sure) instantly recognize, but which I’ve had a very hard time tracking down an appropriate label for.

Little Eichmanns” comes closest, I think, though it’s still not the exact correct term to apply to the people of Aridhol, the Whitecloaks, or Elaida (the three most egregious examples of this concept in WOT). Regardless, we all know what I’m referring to here: These are the guys who think they’re the good guys, but their actions only end up aiding the evil they profess to be against. Because they are idiots.

The Whitecloaks, Elaida, and their ilk are, to my mind, among the worst villains in the series, for paving the road to hell for everyone else through their intolerance, rigidity, and pride—all qualities I mentally shorten to “willful stupidity”. Few flaws are worse, at least in my opinion. At least the Forsaken are smart enough to know what side they’re on.

Chapter 20: Dust on the Wind

What Happens
The party heads out of Shadar Logoth, but Moiraine and Lan get separated from the others by a tendril of Mashadar. Moiraine tells them Mashadar will kill them instantly if they touch it, and that they will have to go by another route. She instructs them to meet her and Lan by the river. Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve and Thom try to find an alternate route around, and run headlong into Trollocs. Everyone gallops off in separate directions; Rand is pursued by Trollocs and a Fade, but is saved unexpectedly by Mashadar devouring them. He runs back into Mat, and the two of them make it outside the walls of the city. Then Thom hurtles past, pursued by more Trollocs, and the three of them gallop off. Meanwhile Perrin is debating whether to make a run for the gateway out of the city when Egwene finds him. They hear Trolloc horns, and race out of the city, and right off a cliff into the river. Perrin loses Egwene and his horse, but manages to make it to the far bank. Elsewhere, Rand, Mat and Thom are chased onto the deck of a riverboat. Rand is about to be skewered by a Trolloc when suddenly the boom swings around and knocks the Trolloc into the river. The boat captain, Bayle Domon, initially do be wanting to throw them into the river, too, but Thom (and the boys’ silver coins from Moiraine) convinces Domon to give them passage to Whitebridge.

Commentary
Dammit, now I have that song stuck in my head.

Speaking of horror movie clichés: Well, at least they didn’t split up on purpose.

I didn’t remember that the first time we get a POV other than Rand’s (it’s only been twenty chapters! Still think Mat or Perrin is The One?), it’s Perrin who gets to do the honors. I suppose it’s only fair, since of all the party members so far, Perrin’s had the least amount to do/say.

Re: the second time Rand channels—I’m pretty sure I knew something was up by this point the first time around, but then this is a lot less subtle than the Bela thing (deliberately so), so maybe I shouldn’t pat myself on the back too hard.

Chapter 21: Listen to the Wind

What Happens
Nynaeve wakes up alone in the woods. She remembers encountering Trollocs the night before while escaping Shadar Logoth, but they only sniffed the air and left her alone; she is not happy that this implies Moiraine was right about the boys. She sets out to track down where everyone had gone, and soon comes upon Moiraine and Lan’s camp. She sneaks up to eavesdrop on them. Moiraine and Lan talk about the impossibility of how many Trollocs had shown up to hunt them, and how Moiraine’s “bond” with the boys had been broken. Then Moiraine senses Nynaeve’s presence and invites her into the camp for tea; Lan is astounded that Nynaeve managed to sneak up on him. Nynaeve demands answers, and Moiraine counters by confronting Nynaeve with the fact that Nynaeve can channel the One Power. Nynaeve scoffs at this, but Moiraine recounts exactly what happened when she started to channel without knowing it, and eventually Nynaeve is unable to deny it any longer. Moiraine and Lan make ready to leave, Moiraine explaining about the coins she gave the boys, and Nynaeve insists that she is coming along. She vows to herself that if they do not find Egwene and the boys, that Nynaeve would make sure Moiraine paid for it.

Commentary
I think, when I first read this and realized that this chapter was from Nynaeve’s POV, that I said something like “Aw, crap” out loud, because I realized then that she was A Major Character, and that I wouldn’t be getting rid of her anytime soon.

I may have mentioned that I was busy hating Nynaeve in TEOTW. However, that said, I may have also mentioned that I am a total sucker for these self-realization moments. The general awesomeness of this chapter, therefore, was enough to reconcile me to Nynaeve for a while.

Chapter 22: A Path Chosen

What Happens
Perrin wakes up alone in the woods, and worries over Egwene. He finds his way down the river, and finds Bela’s tracks, which leads him quickly to Egwene. They discuss the situation, and decide it’s too risky to wait around for Moiraine to find them. Perrin suggests bypassing Whitebridge and going straight on to Caemlyn, and if Moiraine doesn’t find them there, to go on to Tar Valon. Egwene agrees, and they set out.

Commentary
Yeah, there’s… not a whole lot to say about this chapter; it’s just setup for the Next Big Thing, and we all know what that is: the next chapter is titled “Wolfbrother”. Dun!

Chapter 23: Wolfbrother

What Happens
Perrin and Egwene travel , arguing over who gets to ride Bela and whether Egwene should try to use the One Power to light the campfire. They run out of food quickly, and Perrin is worried about the wisdom of his plan to go straight to Caemlyn. Then they smell roast rabbit, and Perrin sneaks up to the campfire to see a strange man clothed in animal skins waiting for them. He introduces himself as Elyas Machera, and admits he’s been watching them for the past couple of days. Perrin is shocked to see that Elyas’s eyes are yellow. As they eat, Elyas warns them to be still, as his friends are coming. Four wolves enter the campsite, and Perrin and Egwene try not to panic. Elyas explains that he talks to them, after a fashion. He says that once men hunted with wolves, but it was so long ago even the wolves barely remember it. He also says that Perrin can talk to them, too. Then he asks what their story is. Perrin and Egwene give him the carefully constructed tale they had agreed on previously, and Elyas tells them the wolves say it is lies from start to finish. There is a tense moment, until Perrin caves and tells him almost the entire true story. After, Elyas says he doesn’t care for Aes Sedai, and says they’d be better off staying with him, particularly Perrin. Perrin denies that he can talk to wolves, though he can already tell the wolves apart, and declares they are going to Caemlyn. The leader of the pack, Dapple, has a brief confrontation with Burn, another of the wolves, and after Burn leaves Elyas tells Perrin and Egwene that he and the wolves will travel with them.

Commentary
Um, so I recently read A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, and all I’m gonna say is that puts the whole Perrin/Elyas/Wolfbrother thing in a… different light? My mind may be warping, a little? Help?

That aside, one of the things that annoyed me about Perrin throughout the book (the series, really) was his reluctance over the whole Wolfbrother thing. I don’t think it’s a justified annoyance, because Perrin’s issues are really perfectly understandable; I think it’s more of a kneejerk geekout response: dude, you get to TALK TO WOLVES. How can you not think that’s awesome?

Chapter 24: Flight Down the Arinelle

What Happens
Rand dreams that he is trapped in an endless three-dimensional maze of bridges and ramps and thorny hedges, while Ba’alzamon chases him. Rand touches a thorn and pierces his finger, and realizes the stones of the walkway are all skulls. He evades Ba’alzamon for a while, but then runs right into him; Ba’alzamon tells him that he cannot escape forever, and that the Eye of the World will not serve him. Rand shouts that this is a dream, and the maze and Ba’alzamon disappear, to be replaced by a thousand mirrors reflecting him. Rand sees Ba’alzamon hunting him in the mirrors, and then:

He found himself staring at the reflection of his own face, pale and shivering in the knife-edge cold. Ba’alzamon’s image grew behind his, staring at him; not seeing, but staring still. In every mirror, the flames of Ba’alzamon’s face raged behind him, enveloping, consuming, merging. He wanted to scream, but his throat was frozen. There was only one face in those endless mirrors. His own face. Ba’alzamon’s face. One face.

Rand wakes, and finds that his finger is still bleeding from the thorn that pricked him in the dream.

Domon’s boat travels slowly down the river. Floran Gelb, the man who had fallen asleep on watch when the Trollocs attacked, is reviled by everyone on the crew; he watches the passengers, especially Rand, with hatred, and tries continually to lay the blame on them instead. Thom keeps the crew entertained by teaching Rand and Mat gleeman’s tricks. They sail by many strange and wondrous things, like statues of kings and queens carved into bluffs, and a tower made of metal that does not rust. Domon tells them that he’s seen many more artifacts from the Age of Legends in his travels. Mat’s only interested in whether treasure is involved. Four days into the trip, Rand climbs to the top of the mast and balances on top of it, laughing, not hearing Thom and the others shouting at him; when Thom climbs up after him and asks him to come down, pretty please, Rand slides down the forestay and lands in the bow next to Mat. He then sees that Mat is toying with a richly jeweled and gilded dagger. Rand asks if it came from Shadar Logoth, and Mat says yes, but he took it rather than was given it by Mordeth, so it “doesn’t count” in Moiraine’s warning. Rand agrees to Mat’s plea not to tell anyone about it. Thom comes up and asks Rand what the hell his problem is, whereupon Rand looks up at the mast and realizes with shock what he had just been doing. He thinks to himself that he must get to Tar Valon and find out what’s happening to him “before he really did go mad”.

Commentary
Damn but a lot happened in this chapter.

Rand and Ba’alzamon and mirrors: Yeep. (Mirrors freak my shit out; just wait till we get to That Scene in The Dragon Reborn.)

I suppose the whole “blending faces with Ishy” thing could be foreshadowing of Min’s later vision about Rand and another man touching and merging into one, but I kind of doubt it. Min’s vision is pretty clearly about the Lews Therin thing, at least if reader consensus is anything to go by. I tend to think the mirror thing above was just an especially freaky way for Ba’alzamon to indicate to Rand that Your Ass Will Be Mine.

Um, you know. So to speak. Annnyway.

Mat still needs smacking. Have we learned nothing? Treasure equals Material Wealth equals Greed equals Sin equals (buh-buh-buh bum!) CERTAIN DEATH. Didn’t these guys go to Sunday school? Sheesh.

(…Okay, fine, or equals Certain Severe Memory Loss. Whatever.)

I’ve got to hand it to Jordan: there are things mentioned here that don’t come into play for almost a decade in real-life time: the Choedan Kal statue on Tremalking and the Coramoor most particularly. (The Tower of Ghenjei comes up a bit earlier.) Also, I still don’t know what “a crystal lattice covering an island, and it hums when the moon is up” could be, other than a particularly nifty fever dream of Nikola Tesla’s, but it sure sounds purty.

The talk with Domon about the relics of the Age of Legends brings to mind one of the many many discussions I have had about WOT, during which someone opined (unfortunately I can’t remember who, otherwise I would credit appropriately) that these kinds of stories are always set in a Third Age.

Meaning, in a time during which civilization in general is on the wane, fallen from the period of greatness that preceded it, usually because of some major war/disaster/bad thing that the people never quite recovered from, because it was never quite finished with.  ‘Scuse me while I whip this out.

*puts on Big Idea Hat*

I would venture to opine that this isn’t really true of epic heroic tales written before the twentieth century, but it is definitely (mostly) true from Tolkien onwards. Or, to trade effect for cause, it’s true post-WWI; or in other words, since these stories started being written by authors living in a time where it’s clear that the human race really could potentially destroy itself. Art reflecting life, and all of that.

This is not a criticism at all, by the way. If you ask me, to a twentieth or twenty-first century audience, tales of epic heroism are simply easier to believe when set in a vaguely-to-explicitly post-apocalyptic society. Not only has the resultant breakdown of civilization (and, usually, the concurrent drastic reduction in population) made it more plausible that the Fate of the World could rest on just one person’s shoulders, but it makes that world much easier for the author to imbue with sufficient verisimilitude. This is true of everything from The Wheel of Time to The Terminator.

Not to mention, the very presence of such a massive tragedy in the world’s past (whatever that tragedy may be) engenders a mood that automatically resonates with a modern audience, and lends authority and gravitas to the setting: a grand, overarching sense of loss, fostered by the sad beauty of desolation.

*takes off Big Idea Hat*

Also, you get to have lots of ruins. Ruins are cool.

(“Imbue with sufficient verisimilitude.” Check me out.)

Chapter 25: The Traveling People

What Happens
Perrin and a very nervous Egwene travel with Elyas and the wolves. Perrin tries not to think about how he knows where the pack is even when they’re not in sight. He hasn’t dreamed about Ba’alzamon since the wolves joined them; instead he has perfectly normal dreams, except that in every one there is a wolf with its back to him, guarding. After three days, three giant mastiffs burst from a copse of trees and threaten them, but Elyas dog-whispers them into friendly submission. He says the dogs belong to the Tuath’an, or Traveling People, or Tinkers. Egwene thinks they should move on, since everyone knows Tinkers steal, but Elyas scoffs at this, and says Tinkers steal no more than anyone else does. Perrin suggests they stop and visit, and Elyas agrees somewhat reluctantly. They enter the Tinkers’ colorful camp and everyone stops and watches them warily, until their Seeker (leader) Raen comes to greet them. In a ritual greeting, he asks if they know the song, and Elyas replies that they do not. Raen invites them to join the camp, and Elyas explains that the Tuatha’an’s purpose is to seek “the song”, which they claim they lost during the Breaking . They meet Raen’s wife Ila and their grandson Aram, who takes (in Perrin’s view) an inappropriate interest in Egwene. The Tinkers explain to their visitors about the Way of the Leaf, and Elyas, Perrin and Raen have a brief debate about the practicality of pacifism. After the meal, Raen tells Elyas about something curious that happened to a band of Tinkers in the Aiel Waste two years ago: they found a group of Far Dareis Mai (a society of female warriors among the Aiel) which had clearly been in the Blight; they were all dead except one. Though the last Maiden was mortally wounded, and normally the Aiel avoid Tinkers at all costs, she crawled to the Tinkers’ wagons to pass on a message with her last breath:

[Raen:] “‘Leafblighter means to blind the Eye of the World, Lost One. He means to slay the Great Serpent. Warn the People, Lost One. Sightburner comes. Tell them to stand ready for He Who Comes With the Dawn. Tell them . . . ’ And then she died.”

Raen adds that “Leafblighter” and “Sightburner” are Aiel names for the Dark One. Elyas muses over the message, but says it makes no sense to him. Raen says he thought Elyas might know what it means, since he was - but Elyas cuts him off before he finishes. Perrin wonders about that, but more about the part about the Eye of the World, remembering it was mentioned in his dreams.

Commentary
At the risk of kicking a hornets’ nest:

Something Jordan did really well (in my opinion) in constructing the various peoples of WOT is taking various characteristics of often unrelated real-world cultures and airbrushing them together into shapes that still resonate while being distinct unto themselves. The Tuatha’an are a particularly good example of this process, combining aspects of several disparate nomadic cultures, especially the Roma/gypsies, Irish Travellers (also called Tinkers), and the Israelites of Biblical times.

I’m not going to go much further with this, in the interests of not fanning the flames of the recent cultural appropriation imbroglio that’s been going on recently on these here Internets, but nevertheless I wanted to point out that one thing in particular Jordan made a point of with his own cultural construction efforts was to incorporate it into his other big theme, of the mutability of legend and rumor, and how that contributes to misunderstanding, mistrust and outright bigotry toward other peoples/societies.

So, we see (for example) that the Tinkers of WOT preach their Way of the Leaf to young impressionable villagers, who sometimes run off and join them as a result, and by the time your Aunt Gwynnie al’Busybody gets around to telling you about Tinkers, it’s that they steal babies and anything else that isn’t nailed down. The parallels to the racism endured by the groups from which Jordan drew inspiration for the Tinkers are obvious.

Chapter 26: Whitebridge

What Happens
Mat, Rand and Thom arrive at Whitebridge, Mat acting more suspicious and cynical all the time. Rand is amazed at the bridge which gave the town its name; Thom says it is a remnant of the Age of Legends. The first thing Domon does when they make dock is throw Gelb off the boat; Gelb leaves with murderous stares Rand’s way. Domon tries to convince them to stay on with him till Illian; Thom is tempted, but Rand firmly refuses and hustles them all off the boat. Thom takes them to an inn, and pumps the innkeeper, Bartim, for news. Bartim tells them that Logain has been captured by Aes Sedai after a big battle near Lugard, and now the Aes Sedai are displaying him at every town and city on their way to Tar Valon, including Caemlyn. Furthermore, Bartim says, there was a messenger from Illian come through with a proclamation that Illian is calling the Hunt for the Horn of Valere. Impatiently, Rand asks if there have been other strangers in town recently. Thom looks irritated, but supplies descriptions of Moiraine and the others. Bartim stands and tells Thom he’d appreciate it if they left his inn, and Whitebridge altogether if they know what’s good for them. When pressed, Bartim admits there have been two men asking for the same people: one was a crazy weaselly fellow who alternately groveled to and then made imperious demands of everyone he talked to, and the other was clearly (by Bartim’s description) a Myrddraal. Bartim leaves, and Thom advocates getting the hell back to Domon’s boat and going to Illian; Rand refuses flatly, saying they have to go on to Caemlyn. Thom appeals to Mat, who tells Thom that he and Rand can take care of themselves, and to feel free to go to Illian alone; Rand notices that Mat is gripping the dagger from Shadar Logoth as if he means to use it. They realize then that Gelb is in the inn, just hidden from view, talking loudly about Domon and the Darkfriends he harbors on his boat. Thom says scratch going back to Domon now, and divides up their coin between them. They ease out the back of the inn into an alley, and Mat demands to know why Thom is sticking with them. Thom tells them he had a nephew named Owyn who got in trouble with Aes Sedai a while back, and Thom was too busy at the time to do anything about it; he thinks maybe helping Rand and Mat might make up for that. Thom gets them disguises, and they start sneaking out of town, only to run straight into the Fade. Rand and Mat freeze, and Thom mutters something about Owyn, gives Rand his harp and flute, and tells them to run to Caemlyn and go to an inn called The Queen’s Blessing. Then Thom charges the Fade, screaming for Rand and Mat to run. They run out of Whitebridge, Rand consumed with remorse. Mat urges him on, and they get on the road to Caemlyn.

Commentary
Damn, but these summaries just keep getting longer.

I can’t remember now if I thought Thom had really died the first time I read this. If it had happened later on in the series I probably wouldn’t have bought it for a second, but at this point I wouldn’t have yet known WOT’s penchant for not letting anyone die, ever.

So, is this “nobody dies” thing a flaw in WOT? Objectively, yes; realistically, in eleven books at least some of the major Lightside speaking roles should have snuffed it. Not only has that not happened, but the bad guys who do get killed won’t even stay dead. Mostly!

(Anyone who mentions Asmodean at this juncture will be beaten and stuffed in a wine pantry. I’M WARNING YOU.)

In Jordan’s defense, though, it’s pretty clear that his aim in writing WOT was not to deconstruct or subvert the epic fantasy genre; he was playing it straight, so to speak. (This is in contrast to, say, George R.R. Martin, and his crazy trope-subverting “kill off anyone in the slightest danger of becoming a protagonist” thing. Also, I NEVER exaggerate, ever.) So the Tolkienesque low mortality rate for top billing Good Guys in WOT is appropriate, from a certain point of view.

(ObStory: I went to see Return of the King with a friend who had never read the books, and when we got out afterward he said the movie disappointed him. Asked why, he replied, “I thought more of them would die.” I’m sure you can see why I found this amusing.)


Aaand this is our stop. Tune in next time for Part 4 of the TEOTW re-read, where we will cover Chapters 27-35. Whoot!

166 comments
Will
1. Will "scifantasy" Frank
which I’ve had a very hard time tracking down an appropriate label for.

Maybe what TV Tropes called Knights Templar, especially given the Whitecloaks' parallels there too?
Will
2. Snuboi
You are absolutely right about the Whitecloaks and Elaida. I had not ever given much thought to why I considered them even worse than the Forsaken, but after I read what you wrote something clicked in my mind and it all made sense. Thanks!
JS Bangs
3. jaspax
Yeah, I'm with you on Perrin. Dude gets to talk to wolves, but instead of just accepting it he decides to angst on it for the next I-don't-know-how-many books.
Evan Langlinais
4. Skwid
"The boat captain, Bayle Domon, initially do be wanting to throw them into the river..."

I see what you did there...
Will
5. Emerkel
I know that I am jumping ahead, but even from my first read of this series I was always fascinated by the song that the Tinkers are seeking. I am guessing that it will be found when they are reunited with their long lost brothers & sisters... For some reason I look forward to that thread being woven as much as the really big ones.

...as far as Asmodean goes I think... ack... ugh... gasp... arrrrgh!!!
Joe Sherry
6. jsherry
Asmodean.

Actually, in terms of the death thing...if the Dark One is called the Lord of the Grave, it makes sense that he can reincarnate his Chosen. Why keep your thirteen biggest and baddest warriors down?

Isn't there another Forsaken who gets nailed by Balefire? I can't remember his name.

Rand and Ba’alzamon and mirrors: Yeep. (Mirrors freak my shit out; just wait till we get to That Scene in The Dragon Reborn.)

Offhand I don't remember the scene in DR, but there is a major mirror scene early in The Shadow Rising with Rand in Tear.
Joe Sherry
7. jsherry
Oh! And I just read A Companion to Wolves, too, and...um...at least there is no bonding of Elyas and Perrin to the wolves and that, in particular, there is no bonding to a female wolf while the other bonds to the male.

Otherwise...yeah...that would change the tenor of the series far more than "pillowfriends" ever did.
Leigh Butler
8. leighdb
Will:

Ah, see, there you go. I shoulda known that TV Tropes have a category for absolutely EVERYTHING.
Kate Nepveu
9. katenepveu
Chapter 19: ditto your irritation with Mat. And even knowing that after this, he's all en-daggered, you know, he's *still* annoying

Chapter 20: it's nice to get a Perrin POV, definitely. I thought it felt a little flat at first, for all that he's my favorite of the three, but it might be the sleep deprivation talking.

Chapter 23: well, yeah, you can talk to wolves, but that's because you're sufficiently weird and non-human that your brain can cope with it. Or something.

I can see how it would take him aback, that is.

Chapter 24: these kinds of stories are always set in a Third Age

Enough so that it's become a cliche; see _The Tough Guide to Fantasyland_. And one that comes with its own problematic baggage, like the apparently-inevitable decline of magic and society over time and thus a certain sense of, err, lost my nouns: the past was always better, that attitude.

My feeling, on this side of the re-read, is that WoT does a decent job of avoiding those pitfalls, as so much of the worldbuilding is about rediscovery and repair; but I'll be thinking about that more as we go.

Chapter 25 and the hornet's nest of cultural appropriation:

On one hand, since this is supposed to be a version of our world, having some cultural traits be distinctly traceable to existing cultures in our world has a certain justification. On the other, I don't remember now how these identifiable traits are deployed: does the mix-and-match make any sense, in terms of internal worldbuilding or possible evolution to/from our own cultures; are there patterns of which cultures are drawn from; are any of these identifiable traits negative stereotypes that are used unquestioningly.

I think these are reasonable things to keep in mind and evaluate as we go.

Chapter 26 and no-one DYING, already: at some point it does remove a feeling of jeopardy for the characters, especially so far into the series. I think I would be very surprised if anyone major ends up permanently dead by the end, and I don't think that's a good thing. Yes ta'vern and bad-ass channelers and all that, but at some point that's not going to be enough, or shouldn't.
Leigh Butler
10. leighdb
jsherry:

Asmodean.

White or red?

Isn't there another Forsaken who gets nailed by Balefire? I can't remember his name.

Be'lal and Rahvin both die by balefire, and (argh) possibly Asmodean as well. That's it.

Offhand I don't remember the scene in DR, but there is a major mirror scene early in The Shadow Rising with Rand in Tear.

...That's what I meant, of course. I was just testing you! Totally. *whistles*
Will
11. Tel Janin
You? No!

I always thought of the song as more of a metaphor than a literal thing. If it turns out that I am completely off-base, however, I think that Rand may know the song, having participated in the seed-singing or whatever it was called in his Rhuidean flashbacks. Too bad he's never once crossed paths with the Tinkers in the whole series.
Will
14. CBeats
Unless this is so blindingly obvious that no one even had to mention it, did anyone get the Lord of the Rings reference in that last chapter? When Thom dives at the Myrddraal allowing Rand and Mat to escape, it's just like when Gandalf (also an old man who knows a lot of stuff) fights the Fiery Beast of the Deep and says "Run, you fools" before falling into the pit.

I've always really enjoyed any mention of old, mysterious things in the Wheel of Time. Besides the Choeden Kal and the Tower of Ghenji and stuff in that one chapter, there was mention later on about a really tall metal spike that kills anyone who goes within a certain distance from it. What is it? Why is it there? What is its purpose? These things, as well as any ter'angreal ever mentioned, are always really interesting. If only there was an encyclopedia that detailed them all...
Leigh Butler
15. leighdb
Kate:

(Re: Third Age cliches) My feeling, on this side of the re-read, is that WoT does a decent job of avoiding those pitfalls, as so much of the worldbuilding is about rediscovery and repair; but I'll be thinking about that more as we go.

One could always make the argument that WOT is the inevitable "reconstruction" swing of the pendulum away from the deconstructionist/post-modern approach. The problem is I'm not sure sf was really *in* the post-modern phase when Jordan started the series twenty years ago.

On one hand, since this is supposed to be a version of our world, having some cultural traits be distinctly traceable to existing cultures in our world has a certain justification.

Also, I would add, it's virtually impossible not to do to some extent anyway, especially since it's not like Jordan's trying to construct a completely alien species.

On the other, I don't remember now how these identifiable traits are deployed: does the mix-and-match make any sense, in terms of internal worldbuilding or possible evolution to/from our own cultures; are there patterns of which cultures are drawn from; are any of these identifiable traits negative stereotypes that are used unquestioningly.

Mmm. The geographic patterns are kind of played fast and loose, given how much more squished-together the nations of Randland are (logically Andor should be an island nation, for instance), and some of the combinations seem almost completely random (Cairhien being a mishmash of France and Japan, for example). But somehow, to me anyway, it still pretty much worked.

As for negative stereotypes, I tend to think Jordan did a credible job avoiding the common fantasy pitfall of letting characters be totally defined by their culture of origin. Certainly he's not *nearly* as bad as, say, David Eddings (though this may be damning with faint praise).

You're right, though, it's something to keep an eye out for.
Will
16. nmsmith
Oho, that's a nice point about Rand. I did not realize he hadn't ever met the Tinkers; some things in WoT becomes sufficiently present that you expect them to be everywhere, and interactions with Tinkers have been sufficiently important to Perrin and others that, surely, Rand met them at /some/ point in the seven thousand pages.
Leigh Butler
17. leighdb
jsherry:

Ah, a connoisseur. To the chardonnay with you!
Will
18. Shumble
I've got to do a re-read of the series; it's been a few years since my last re-read. I know that my biggest irritations in the series were: 1. the women are just extremely annoying, 2. the problem mentioned here of nobody staying dead, and 3. a lot of the middle books (6-11??) seemed written with no real purpose except to make the series longer while in Book 1, lots of things happen.

I forget exactly, but for how many books do Mat and the Emperor's daughter (sorry, forgot her exact title and don't have any books close to me) stay with the travelling circus and each book they move maybe 2 miles. Maybe I'm over exaggerating, but that was how that felt to me.

I do love how in this Book (TEOFTW), there are a lot of events happening quickly and things do not drag as much as will begin happening as the series becomes longer.

I happen to not have any animosity or irritation with any of the characters. Mat probably becomes my favorite character as the series progresses (I like the game of Snakes and Foxes that Jordan creates), Rand is just too powerful for him to really be my favorite although the whole series revolves around him, and Peppin is pretty powerful in his own right once he accepts his Wolfbrotherhoodship (probably not a real word) much later in the series.

These are great commentaries. I really enjoy them. Thanks for doing them.
Will
19. Medic3
Re: Little Eichmanns

I think that McCarthys would be a better term. They are zealous in rooting out the "evil" that they see while being blind to the greater evils that their hunt is causing.

Eichmanns are followers of destructive systems. The McCarthys are producers of those systems.
Will
21. mainphramephreak
I kind of agree with Shumble in that the first books there is a lot of moving and action and stuff going on. (P.S. Daughter of the Nine Moons).

As far as Thom's "death-or-not-death", I think that the first time I read through (back in '07, I know, a late bloomer) I had a feeling that he wasn't dead.

Also, leighdb, yes I agree with you. Mat is somewhat of an idiot here. Until he gets un-daggered.

Anyways, leighdb, thanks for doing these. I found them and absolutly love the re-read idea. YAY!!!! (P.S. I like a red wine and am perfectly content to stay in a cellar :) )
Dave Rutt
22. rutty
I definitely thought that Thom must have died when I read this through. I also wanted to slap Mat around too ;)

Loving your read-through Leigh. Extremely well written - I can't be arsed reading it all myself and your commentary is wonderfully witty and informative at the same time
Agnes Kormendi
23. tapsi
"I would venture to opine that this isn’t really true of epic heroic tales written before the twentieth century, but it is definitely (mostly) true from Tolkien onwards. Or, to trade effect for cause, it’s true post-WWI; or in other words, since these stories started being written by authors living in a time where it’s clear that the human race really could potentially destroy itself. Art reflecting life, and all of that.

This is not a criticism at all, by the way. If you ask me, to a twentieth or twenty-first century audience, tales of epic heroism are simply easier to believe when set in a vaguely-to-explicitly post-apocalyptic society."


No, I think it's always been that way, think of the stories of the Flood and Atlantis.

Also, most of Europe's literally been covered in Roman ruins, and that empire was not only huge, but highly civilised. I think that these constant reminders of a great era long gone had some influence on our literary traditions.

(At least, whenever I think of the Númenórean ruins in Middle Earth, or the deserted cities and monuments in Randland, it's always the Roman and Greek and medieval ruins that spring to mind.)
Will
24. fuddy
does anyone thing that when mordeth screams and runs away, it could be rand channelling?
Will
25. Heather J.
My random thoughts …

Yep, Mat was very irritating in this part of the book (in MOST of the book, actually). In fact, I didn’t start liking him until book 11.

I also read A Companion to Wolves and NO FAIR for mentioning that one (although I LOVED it)! Now I’ve got an image of Perrin/Elyas that wasn’t there before … And I too was disappointed that Perrin didn’t embrace his wolfishness from the start.

When I first reread TEOTW I was shocked by how many things were hinted at here, in the very first book, that didn’t appear again until later. I’ve always imagined the charts and notes and scribbling that Jordan would need in order to keep all that info organized. It hurts my brain to think about.

On my first reading, I was SO MAD that Thom was dead. Needless to say, I was thrilled when he ‘came back to life’ later.

And I think Medic3 has it right, with the McCarthys.
Will
26. Kenneth G. Cavness
Chapter 19: God, I so agree with you that the Whitecloaks, Flaida, Shadar Logoth, etc are the real villains here. They're just so aggressively stupid about what they're doing. I can totally understand people like the Sea Folk who are genuinely terrified that the Dragon Reborn is going to utterly obliterate their culture, which they have spent a REALLY long time rebuilding, but I do not understand people like Elaida or the Whitecloaks, who are just using the Dragon Reborn as a chance to solidify or extend their power.

Chapter 23: Well, if it had been like A Companion to Wolves, I might have enjoyed the Perrin/Elyas chapters that much more ...sadly...

Chapter 25: I'm not sure if it's here where Perrin gets to say "I bet you get to run away a lot" to Raen, but: best. Insult. Ever.
Will
27. Jeff R23
I think that it was only the combination of the lack of character death and the glacial pace of the middle/late books that made it a problem for me...I generally got the impression that his outline called for several characters to die (or have extremely unpleasant things happen to them). but Jordan couldn't bring himself to write those scenes, so the entire plot had to keep spinning its wheels with 40-page baths and such...
Will
28. Zeynep
Again, commenting as I read or reading as I comment:

Re Perrin not thinking talking with wolves is awesome: Perrin is very much Buffy. "...work hard... all day... to be like other girls, to fit in in this glittering world..." IOW, I want to be little Mr. Plain Blacksmith Why Won't They Leave Me Alone Dammit. Of course, the talks-to-wolves thing is his minute 1, goal 1 indication that the dream is not to be, not nevermore, but as I recall, eight books and three cross-continent journeys later he still hadn't given it up.

Nynaeve and Moiraine: One of the cementing points of my "Moiraine is awesome" movement, her little speech to Nynaeve, ending with "So what did I sense, Nynaeve al'Meara, Wisdom of Emond's Field and unknowing wielder of the One Power?" I believe the technical term is "PWNED."

All Ba'alzamon dream sequences... especially the ones with Perrin in The Dragon Reborn... well, let's put it this way: Even in my latest reread, I was skimming past them quickly, and yes I know I'm missing plot points that way, but damn they are scary and I am a little impressionable wimp, OK?

The first time I read of that crystal lattice, I thought "some sort of radio antenna," but I will cheerfully agree that I am just Making Stuff Up.

(“Imbue with sufficient verisimilitude.” Check me out.)

Checking out with great interest as specified, girlfriend. Wanna drink? ;-)
Will
29. Jason17
I actually love the middle books and believe that Mr Jordan was trying to add depth and more life to the characters for us readers. The only thing I wish would have continued was the death of a FOrsaken at the end of every book. Was so cool!
Leigh Butler
30. leighdb
Kkkkenn:

Chapter 25: I'm not sure if it's here where Perrin gets to say "I bet you get to run away a lot" to Raen, but: best. Insult. Ever.

He said it to Aram (who was PI-ISSED), but yeah.
J Novak
31. Novak
I think the two types of evils being portrayed are the type of evil that's in things purely for their own gain, and the type of evil that's in things for the ostensible purpose of making the world better.

The first type is most of the Forsaken and many of the Darkfriends. Most of the Forsaken are so far on this scale that they're cartoons, twisting their moustaches and laughing maniacally. Moghedien does almost that in a monologue much later-- she's in this purely for revenge on the people that said she couldn't be a researcher, and for personal power. Asmodean is in it for his personal satisfaction in composing, etc. A lot of Darkfriends are in it for the promise of being new Dreadlords. The failure is in elevating their own wants and desires so far above everyone else's that nothing else matters and anything is permitted.

The second type is the Whitecloak philosophy, the Aes Sedai philosophy, the Seanchan philosophy, and so forth. They're all in this, supposedly, for the sake of making the world a better place, and their failure is almost exactly the same: elevating their own goals and methods so far above everyone else's that nothing else matters and anything is permitted.

Mordeth seems to be the farthest extreme of the second type. Ishamael, in some sense, belongs here too, because I think he has a sincere desire to see the entire Wheel of Time destroyed for its own good. Or maybe not, maybe he wants to see it destroyed for his own good. As for which is worse, I couldn't say. They seem similar enough to me, although one definitely feels more tragic. As for which Jordan thought was worse, I'd hazard a guess at the first type: We routinely see Type I manipulating Type II, but it is rare or never that we see the reverse. (Fain's brutalizing Fades isn't manipulation.)

There is still an awful lot of unexplained weirdness with Mordeth and Aridhol, though, isn't there?

On other notes:

You're right, I had forogtten how irritating Mat was in this stretch. I sort of forgave him because he wised up (in that small regard) and sure as hell suffered for it. But yes, he was a complete idiot here.

I also had major, major Fellowship shock here, because this had Sundering of the Fellowship written all over it.

It's at this point, also, that we're really beginning to see the parallels between mat, Rand, and Perrin: By this point, each one of them has a grave concern about his continuing sanity. Mat and that mind-screwing dagger; Rand and his channeling, the madness of which he has no Dragon immunity to; Perrin fearing that he'll lose himself to the wolves. The girls, by contrast, who I'll define as Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egwene, never had anything remotely comparable. Their great challenges all have much more of a social aspect to them.

As to the deconstructionist or not thing, I think the Wheel of Time series is big enough that he can be deconstructionist about some things, but not others. I always thought the mixing and matching of archetypes, and the inversions of them, was a bit deconstructionist. You've heard my schtick on this: Merlin, the advisor to the King, is now Moiraine, with a King as a bodygaurd. Aragorn, the King with a nation waiting and a broken sword, is now Lan, the King of a dead nation with a sword that cannot break. Yadda. (On the other hand, the imagery associated with the One Power is so straight up sexualized it almost hurts. Sometimes a sword is just a sword, sure, but if I read about flowers blossoming and submitting one more time I was gonna hurt someone.)

And finally, it may very well have been me that you were discussing the Third Age schtick with. Or not. I know we've discussed it, and I know others ahve noted it, too.
J Novak
32. Novak
Oh, hell, I forgot about the "Run away a lot" bit.
That was, indeed, pure awesome.
Will
33. Aaza
Ha, found it! I knew it!
Rand has come across Tinkers, check out first chapters of the Dragon Reborn. While up in the mountains after Falme, a tinker woman comes to the camp to see Moiraine. She enters Moirains hut, shortly later Rand exits said hut. Not that I know if he ever talked to her, it was a cloased meeting after all! But he met a tinker...
Will
34. ddb
I suppose the whole "blending faces with Ishy" thing could be foreshadowing of Min's later vision about Rand and another man touching and merging into one, but I kind of doubt it. Min's vision is pretty clearly about the Lews Therin thing, at least if reader consensus is anything to go by. I tend to think the mirror thing above was just an especially freaky way for Ba'alzamon to indicate to Rand that Your Ass Will Be Mine.

I think Min's vision relates more to Rand merging with Moridin/Ishy which is happening in the most recent books. I don't think Lews Therin applies to that vision, as he is a result of something else entirely, namely the taint. Also, I'm surprised to see foreshadowing for the merging this early in the series. I had never picked up on this during my readings.
Will
35. Erdrick
I agree with ddb. I first believed Rand's initial interpretation of Min's merging vision as referring to Lews Therin, but after my recent re-read of the series I now think it's clearly referring to Moridin. Rand's sickness when embracing the power is not due to the Taint; it all began after they crossed TP and OP balefire streams. Let the battle for the Fisher commence.
Will
36. BrewtalPanda
Kinda off topic, but the lattice thing got me thinking of traveling to the moon (they said they could travel there as well as to other stars in the age of legends in a later book), and from there I got to thinking how the Ogier are talking about leaving this world in the later books in the series.

Are the Ogier aliens >_> ?

More on topic, yeah, Mat sucks until the end of the second book really, but from Falme on he is a tough badass, especially after he is cured and has his moment of being ridiculously awesome beating Galad and Gawyn simultaneously (and incredibly badly) in a fight while he is still exhausted from healing.

Mat is definitely my favorite character from the third book on, and while he has moments of dullness, they are usually brief, whereas Perrin's stuff after book four pretty much sucks, and Rand goes back and forth from being awesome to being boring every third chapter. Mat is awesome, Rand is awesome usually, Perrin is basically whipped by Fail and sucks 90% of the time.
Will
37. Erdrick
I would like to hear more opinions about why Mordeth screamed and fled. On my first read through I thought Mat did something with the dagger. Or was it more channeling from Rand? Or perhaps he sensed the coin bond the boys had with Moiraine. So, what do you all think? And give reasons for your opinion (if you have any).
Will
38. Tony Zbaraschuk
We get a much better look at Perrin's "I'm not a wolf, really!" reaction during his long trek through _The Dragon Reborn_. And it always made sense to me, for some reason.
Will
39. MCSwan
Anybody else but me still expect to see Floran Gelb show up yet again? Past the attempted kidnapping in the streets of Tanchico, that is?
Will
40. hummingbird
My irritation with Mat continues to grow, as he becomes more and more that guy in horror flicks you want to smack upside the head, because he does all the things you KNOW will get everyone brutally murdered.

I laughed so hard I spit my drink. Never thought of it this way, but yeah.... "dont go check out what that noise was you idiot" kinda thing.


dude, you get to TALK TO WOLVES. How can you not think that’s awesome?

Well awesome unless you are the one facing that realization. I think I would be freaked out at first too.


Something Jordan did really well (in my opinion) in constructing the various peoples of WOT is taking various characteristics of often unrelated real-world cultures and airbrushing them together into shapes that still resonate while being distinct unto themselves.

This is one of the big things that kept me reading this series. I was not a huge SF fan when I picked up this series. Despite everyone telling me it was even better than TLOR, I had no reference having never read TLOR. I loved loved loved the resemblance to things real world but fused in a unique totally believable way.

And can I just say.... I am SO excited about the re-read and the comments and the FINALLY able to "talk" to someone else who has read this book that I could not wait until I got home to check here today? I still say I wanna know "the song". I think it will contain the key to understanding so much about the legends that are not legends but are sorta legends thing and well.... Im just impatient and greedy that way.
Iain Scott
41. iopgod
May I also mention the flash of searing blue light which filled the square as Thom wrestles with the Fade? Has anyone worked out where that came from? Or is it just loony theories?
Will
42. MCSwan
41 iopgod

Common belief is that Thom's daggers were power-wrought. When power-wrought blade meets Thakandar-wrought blade, flashies happen.
Brad Moore
43. servantcbm
I've always thought that Mordeth's discomfort was due to the connection the boys had with Moiraine through the weave on the Tar Valon coins. I can't recall why I think that though.

My first time through I definitely thought Thom died in Whitebridge, and I hadn't considered it before, but it does remind me of Gandalf and the Balrog.

leighdb - Thanks for doing this, I am really enjoying your commentary.
Kate Nepveu
44. katenepveu
Leigh @ 15:

As far as the Third Age stuff, I was talking literally, not lit-crit, in the ways that the books are about the characters figuring out ways to get back to prior tech levels. =>

And yeah, "better than Eddings" is definitely damning with faint praise . . .
Will
45. Rebecca Starr
My thoughts on Chapterss 19-21, with more to follow tomorrow:

Chapter 19: Leigh, as far as Mat being really annoying here, I agree with you (although I love him pretty much from the time he wakes up Healed in the White Tower onwards...) BUT if we didn't have really the annoying guy egging everybody else on, we wouldn't get these super awesome fantasy moments like Mordeth and the treasure. So don't forget he serves a purpose :)

I also love the moment where Rand, Mat, and Perrin all start to explain the story about Mordeth, but starting in 3 different places - Jordan lays out perfectly their three different personality types, and it always felt like such a pitch-perfect moment to me.

As to Mordeth shrinking back, I always wondered on this too. My best thought is that the Myrddraal and Trollocs enter the city at that moment, and he feels their evil somehow? Or maybe he can sense that Rand is the DR, which frightens him?

something I never noticed until this read through (something new even after 10 times around...) Who could the old man be in the dream Rand has just before they leave Shadar Logoth, watching Mordeth pursue him in his dream?

finally, if anyone is an expert on archaeology around here, can we really believe that pieces of wall hangings are still left on the walls, after 2000 years, even if they are about to crumble to dust? Jeez

Chapter 20:
lol this is the first time I noticied RJ's patriotic moment: "stars spangled the sky..."

Mat feels at his throat *again*

and Bayle! Love him.

Chapter 21:
Leigh, I don't mean to carp, but is all you can say about this chapter the annoyance of Nynaeve? Your comments elsewhere have been so insightful and fun to read. Admittedly, I come from the bias of Nynaeve being my favorite character (and yes I grew my hair to be as long as hers so I could braid it, starting about 6 years ago).

I know these gender wars will surface again and again, so I won't go into it now (they actually let me get away with writing my senior thesis on gender in the Wheel of Time for my Women's Studies thesis at Yale, so I have 60 pages of this stuff if anyone wants to see...)

What I will say for now is: yes, Nynaeve is stubborn, but she is also strong. She is intelligent. She can track a man who is the Best of the Best, which is just badass. She is brave enough to stand up to Moiraine, and later to Moghedien. She was strong enough to survive her self-taught channeling, which only 1 in 4 can do. I could go on and on. So she might have her annoying moments (and gosh, so many of the characters do) but please let us give credit where credit is due.
Will
46. Berndiggler
Leigh, this is great and thank you so much for all your hard work.
Will
47. Heather P.
OK, first I'll say that I love that this re-read is coming along at the PERFECT time. I'm re-reading the whole series myself, AGAIN.

I also thought Thom was really dead in this book, I actually said "oh, no" and teared a little when I finished reading the scene. (yeah, I'm a chick. So sue me. tee hee hee)

And I may be crazy (no, wait, I AM crazy) but from almost the beginning Lan was one of my favorite characters. Can't really explain why, unless my real-life fascination for tall, burly, intense guys has any play here.

And I've noticed that all three of the Emond's Field boys -- Mat, Rand and Perrin -- just don't want the "gifts" they have been given. Mat fights the old memories when he gets them, Perrin fights the wolfy thing, and Rand just fights. It seems not one of them wants to give up their "normal" dreams.

Treasure equals Material Wealth equals Greed equals Sin equals (buh-buh-buh bum!) CERTAIN DEATH. Didn’t these guys go to Sunday school? Sheesh.

I find such delight in the tone of the commentary here, especially when something makes me think, and this just had me laughing. My coworkers thought I was off my nut, staring at my computer and laughing like a loon. But I don't care. Keep it coming!
Ryan Thistlethwaite
48. shintemaster
I've read and re-read the books over many years and have just re started in hopes of finishing just in time to get hyped for the finale.

Re: Mordeth I have always thought it had something to do with the coins but can't recall where that idea came from and whether it is explicitely mentioned. It's a VERY STRONG feeling though.

I don't think I was ever convinced Thom was gone, probably the result of too many heroic fantasies in my younger days where ONLY the bad guys lose out.

Mat is frustrating as all hell however he goes from a clown to infected by an evil to rival the DO in the first few chapters - probably reasonable to assume that would slow his maturing process a little.

Actually the path that RJ took in these books reminds me a lot of Dune. The early ones were more action packed and then turned into extremely political and convoluted intellectual battles in the middle - the later ones returned more to action with some of the maturity of thought still around. The least of many similarities I'm sure.
Will
49. daemonslayer
So i would like to say first off that i love these commentaries,leigh,and definitely keep it up!

Also,i wanted to make a point that i didn't see anywhere in the comments,and that is that although mat is a bit annoying in the first couple books,at least he has a good reason to be that way;namely,the dagger from shadar logoth.If you look at perrin and rand,however, they both have quite a number of mood swings to,and those are simply because they can't accept who they are.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that,as most of us would agree,mat is bomb after the first 2 or 3 books.I thought it was kindof interesting how mat becomes much cooler as the series progresses and rand starts becoming somewhat unlikeable(sorry if im pissing people off here,i HAVE talked to people who disagreed).for instance,while mat is dancing in taverns,kicking the Seancheans but,and courting the daughter of nine moons;rand is obsessed with 'being hard enough to deal with whatever',which always pisses me off.so,to kindof summarize,i think mat is awesome.
Leigh Butler
50. leighdb
Rebecca Starr:

Chapter 21:
Leigh, I don't mean to carp, but is all you can say about this chapter the annoyance of Nynaeve?


I'm actually trying to say as little as I can about Nynaeve this early on, because as I mentioned I really didn't like her at first, but later I think she becomes awesome, so I'm attempting not to overbalance the scales, here.

And you're right, there is a *very* big discussion to be had about the women in WOT, but there are other places in the story where it is more relevant, so I'm kind of sitting on it until it's more germane to the text. I can't blow my whole wad on the first book, you know?
Will
51. TimMP
What???!!! No one mentions at all that Egwene has her single most annoying chapter in the ENTIRE series, what with the "it's your turn to ride, Perrin" shit? Did she sniff? I think she may have even sniffed. She even says it to him in the middle of running for their lives in a couple of chapters later (I'll leave that for the next blog-stallment, though). Even Elyas says that she is bossing Perrin around like a bantam rooster, or some-such, which always makes me chuckle.

Anyone else think it also odd that RJ transfers the sexual tension between Rand and Egwene to Perrin for a while and then never explores it again for the rest of the series? I remember reading the first time and thinking they were seconds away from a hook-up. I mean, if RJ had turned the cliche' dial up to 11, Egwene would have been flirting with Aram to get Perrin's attention ON PURPOSE, they would have argued, and then started sucking face in the middle of it. Thankfully, he stopped at like 9 and instead turns Aram into a weird, O.C.D., Faile-obsessed, blade-master-Tinker automaton later in the series. One of the unblinking, short-bus kind.

Oh, and the reason that Perrin and Egwene end up miles and miles off the mark is because Bela is a Darkfriend. Can't believe no one else caught it.
Ryan Thistlethwaite
52. shintemaster
I too thought that Perrin and Egwene were going to be all guns blazing after Rand was out of the picture. There are Faile haters who would subscribe to the theory that this would have been 'the best thing to happen to Perrin, ever.'
Will
53. Dr Hoo
So, does no-one else think that Jordan just mentions a lot of random stuff in the first few books, then, 6 books, later, says, "Hey, I need something cool here, what can I pull out? Oh, yeah, that cweird buried hand with the big crystal, let's make there be two of them, one where Rand can find it..." I think the idea that this was all plotted out to the nth degree at the start to be a bit unrealistic, maybe we love the series so much that we are projecting some sort of super-human writing skills on RJ. Or maybe he really was that anal about the whole thing....

(great stuff LB, keep it up....)
Will
54. JimmyMac80
The Song doesn't exist, it's just another part of "the mutability of legend and rumor, and how that contributes to misunderstanding." The Tinkers leave the Aiel in search of how they used to be the songs they used to sing, they were never looking for a specific Song. However, over the last 3,000 years they have forgotten what they were actually looking for, just as the Aiel have forgotten that they used to be a part of the Way.

As for Min's viewing of two people merging, it isn't referring to Rand and LTT, it is referring to Rand and Moridin, as is evident in KoD. Just as the Wise One's dream about a man standing by Rand's side with a dagger that Rand can't see is not about a grey man, but Taim. It seems that most of the things people believe tend not to be true.
Will
55. SteelBlaidd
I've been waiting for this section. As has been pointed out doing evil in pursuit of the 'good' is a major theme that gets it's first real clear articulation in the story of Ardihol. Not only do we have a severe case of Well Intentioned Extremists and a perfect example of the slow slide down the Slippery Slope but we also get the first foreshadowing of Rand losing his hand.

Prince Caar the one handed discovers the evil and fights against it losing his hand. Through the last half of the series there is a lot of talk about how if Rand and the Ashaman don't relearn "laughter and tears" wining the last battle will be as bad as losing. This is a result of his increasing self imposed isolation, largely as an attempt to hide his progressing multiple personalities.

In Knife of Dreams the vitally important thing about Rand losing his hand is that it leads to everyone else discovering the presence of Lew Therin in his head.

@Rebecca Star: Ooohhhh Can I read your thesis pleeeeeease.
Will
56. Nanaimobar
"So, does no-one else think that Jordan just mentions a lot of random stuff in the first few books, then, 6 books, later, says, "Hey, I need something cool here, what can I pull out? Oh, yeah, that cweird buried hand with the big crystal, let's make there be two of them, one where Rand can find it..." I think the idea that this was all plotted out to the nth degree at the start to be a bit unrealistic, maybe we love the series so much that we are projecting some sort of super-human writing skills on RJ. Or maybe he really was that anal about the whole thing...."

Actually, I believe he had the whole series planned as a trilogy, and when things took off, he took the opportunity to 'flesh out the story'. That's also my explanation for the massive slowdown in plot in Books 8,9 and 10. And also the reason that he was able to finish and retell the end of the story, days before his untimely passing.

Ok, my two bits here. Perrin absolutely rocks. his fight against going crazy (Imagine if Elyas was a ghost/spirit type creature instead of the Wolfbrother communication. yep, 100% certifiable)is completely believable, making his acceptance with Hopper's death that much more poignant.
Probably my favorite POV through the series, and enough to want to name my first son Perrin. (never did get the boy, but daughter #2 is Morganna Elayne) Yeah, I figured Perrin and Egwene with Barry White playing in the background, but SO glad that didn't happen.

And am I the only one who read LOTR after WOT, so not overwhelmed by the parallels? I am much more interested in the Biblical allusions and allegory than resurrecting Tolkien. Similar, but still very different.
Will
57. Aaron Bergman
Gah. I have such mixed feelings about these posts. They have this whole nostalgic (in a good way) "we're getting the band back together" feeling to them, and now I want to read the books for the first time in years. But they're all in storage for the semester, and I'm not sure I want to shell out to buy the series a second time. Must find a good used bookstore, I think.

Anyways, anything bad about Nynaeve is redeemed by her scene with Moghedien in TSR. Always liked that one. It's amazing to me that, other than being literary catnip for a detail and puzzle obsessed teenager like myself, how much of my memory of the books is visual. Jordan has some really good set pieces in there. Beside Moghedien and Nynaeve, the ones I remember well are Lanfear and Rand in the rain at Rhuidean, the whole kneel or be knealt thing (whatever its issues, it's certainly memorable), Rand on the wall in Caemlyn, the world on the other side of the portal stones, etc. One of the real problems with the later books is that there really aren't very many of these (Almost nothing comes to mind other than the cleansing of saidin which is actually fairly confused in my head.) I suppose this is just another way of saying that nothing happens, but I also think that it's indicative of Jordan's lack of focus. Certain scenes, many of them foreshadowed both ironically and explicitly, are clearly the pillars he built the books around, but in between those scenes, he would wander and wander and wander. Do we need a whole book devoted to the reaction to the cleansing of saidin? And what happened with that bowl thing anyways -- I can't even remember.

Sure, thematically the books leave a lot to be desired, but at least to my teenaged mind, some of those scenes were pure awesome. I'm tempted to call it sensawunda, but it's not quite the same thing. I think it's more closely tied to adolescent empowerment fantasies, for example, and the idea that fantasy, much more than science fiction, is about doing shit that matters. Whatever you call it, to do it without being overly hackneyed is a delicate balance that that's harder to do well than I used to think it was -- or perhaps I'm just getting older. Maybe these feelings won't hold up on another reread, but I was reading and rereading these books well into college, and I can't think of any other books that did it as well and as often as Jordan did.
Will
58. Aaron Bergman
And is it bad that reading some comments I still think "that was my theory! mineminemineminemine!"?
Sam Kelly
59. Eithin
The boat captain, Bayle Domon, initially do be wanting to throw them into the river, too - of course he does, he's a Forsaken!
Will
60. RobMRobM
Have to say I found these chapters in particular among the dullest in the entire WOT series. The boys acting like idiots in SL (love the horror story analogy discussed above); Egwene being aggravating while getting lost with Perrin (thanks to the commenter above who pointed that out; largely boring boat stuff while Thom as giving Rand and Mat gleeman training; hanging out with the Tuathan while waiting for Elyas to get moving. There is some set up (Tower of Ghenjie, Chodan Kal, Tuathan's song - which is real, as Rand saw in Rhuidin and, I'm convinced, will be found by Perrin in AMOL) but it is buried amidst lots of dull exposition. Note: in so many ways the series got more fun after they discovered travelling and you don't need these long travelling passages where nothing happens.

But...
- Loved the Moraine/Nyneave chapter. One of best revelation pieces in entire series (and with the great quote "If you pay too much attention to the wolf, a mouse will come and bite you on the ankle. Come on in Mistress alMeara" or some such). Note to Leigh: Where did the best quote discussion go in these chapters? Needs to make a comeback.
- At the time, I didn't get that Rand used the power with the Trolloc on the boat. Too subtle for some I guess.
- Of course it's understandable Perrin would hesitate with talking to wolves power. He doesn't understand the implications and needs time to understand (and, respectfully Leigh, having your guide be someone who keeps to himself and wears animal hides perhaps isn't the best person to convince him that this power will be a good thing).
Great job to Leigh and all. Rob
Michael Ikeda
61. mikeda
MCSwan@42

According to the WOT FAQ at http://linuxmafia.com/jordan/0_admin/0.01_intro.html

From Section 2.3.04:

Robert Jordan has said that Thom's daggers did not produce the effect.

(Although without explaining what did produce the effect.)
Michael Ikeda
62. mikeda
Just to clarify. The above is a paraphrase, not a direct quote from the FAQ.
Will
63. MCSwan
mikeda@61

Ain't that a bitch? I really seem to remember that being the consensus on rasfwr-j. Plus, I can't tell you how often I was buried in the FAQ.

Getting old sucks.
Tim Kington
64. TimKington
As for Mordeth, I always thought that he freaked out because Mat grabbed the dagger. In fact, this is sort of hinted at:

"No. That is . . ." Panting, Mordeth shook his head as if he could not decide. "Take what you want. Except . . . Except . . ."


This time around, I found myself wondering why Fain headed for Caemlyn ahead of the boys. Isn't he drawn to Rand? I don't think Mordeth has enough control yet to send him there, does he?


"I made no accusation, Wisdom. I only said, have a care with your herbs. "

Moiraine laid a hand on Lan's arm. "Be at ease, Lan. She means no harm. She simply does not know." The Warder snorted derisively.
---
Moiraine and Lan know about forkroot.


He had no idea what had awakened him from his unpleasant dream. He had been a little boy again, carrying Tam's sword and with a cradle strapped to his back, running through empty streets, pursued by Mordeth, who shouted that he only wanted his hand. And there had been an old man who watched them and cackled with mad laughter the whole time.
---
Who's the old man? What's this about?


Gelb darted out of the lantern light, and Domon stood opening and closing his hands while he stared at nothing. "These Trollocs do be following me. Why will they no leave me be? Why?"
---
The Trollocs have been following Domon because he has one of the Seals. Which raises the question of why the DO wants the seals.


When Rand does his acrobatics on the boat, I remember being really annoyed with him. The incident with Bornhald was amusing at least, but here I was thinking he was just stupid. Of course, now it makes sense - this is his second bout of channeling sickness.


"In any case, I do not think the song could be found in a city."
---
Typical RJ - I would say this means the song will almost certainly be found in a city. Of course if there is a Song, then it can be found in Rhuidean.


What's the deal with the Eye? The story from Raen seems to indicate that the DO really doesn't want anyone to know that he plans to use it, but then Ishamael is telling the boys about it every time he sees them. I think the DO wants it to be used up so that it can't be used for its intended purpose, which was to reseal the DO's prison, right? I guess maybe he wants Rand there, but he has to be there at the right time, so that he'll waste the power fighting Forsaken?
Will
65. hummingbird
@JimmyMac


I have considered that the song isnt really TheSong. As in one tune, but with all of the legend that isnt a legend stuff going on, wouldnt it be an interesting juxtaposition if there really was a SONG? The answer to the prophesy just sitting around gathering dust on a shelf that once uncovered everyone goes "uh DUH"?

Just given the other laid hints that come to pass later in the series, Im still holding out hope that there is a song. (Even if it is the metaphorical, you must listen to the song of your soul because it will lead you into the light kinda thing. But I really want it to be a Song).
Will
66. shumble
@56 "Actually, I believe he had the whole series planned as a trilogy, and when things took off, he took the opportunity to 'flesh out the story'. That's also my explanation for the massive slowdown in plot in Books 8,9 and 10. And also the reason that he was able to finish and retell the end of the story, days before his untimely passing."

I thought the same thing when I read this series the first, second, and third times. I remember that everything up to Rand taking Tear seemed very well thought out, interesting, and action-packed. I think he probably had six books in mind originally (I think somewhere he said that he had 10 books). I believe this is why the last 4 books have just dragged out intolerably.

@60 "Note to Leigh: Where did the best quote discussion go in these chapters? Needs to make a comeback."

Definitely agree with this. Reading your opinion of the best quote was one of the many things I liked about your commentaries.
Leigh Butler
67. leighdb
RobMRobM and shumble:

Well, sometimes there really just isn't a quote that jumps out at me. But I'll try to keep it in.
Leigh Butler
68. leighdb
TimMP"

What???!!! No one mentions at all that Egwene has her single most annoying chapter in the ENTIRE series, what with the "it's your turn to ride, Perrin" shit? Did she sniff? I think she may have even sniffed.

She didn't sniff. I DEFINITELY would have pointed that out.

And yeah, she was annoying there, but I think the awesome smackdown Elyas gives her over it kind of makes up for it.
Leigh Butler
69. leighdb
Novak @31:

Most of the Forsaken are so far on this scale that they're cartoons, twisting their moustaches and laughing maniacally. Moghedien does almost that in a monologue much later-- she's in this purely for revenge on the people that said she couldn't be a researcher, and for personal power.

Moghedien? I think you're thinking of Mesaana. You know, the former teacher who became a Forsaken so she could TEACH THEM ALL!

I still can't believe that's a direct quote. Hands down the corniest line in the series.

There is still an awful lot of unexplained weirdness with Mordeth and Aridhol, though, isn't there?

Yup. Which we'll probably never find out about, since Rand pretty much blew Aridhol up at the end of WH. Of course, Fain is still around, so who knows.

As to the deconstructionist or not thing, I think the Wheel of Time series is big enough that he can be deconstructionist about some things, but not others. I always thought the mixing and matching of archetypes, and the inversions of them, was a bit deconstructionist. You've heard my schtick on this: Merlin, the advisor to the King, is now Moiraine, with a King as a bodygaurd. Aragorn, the King with a nation waiting and a broken sword, is now Lan, the King of a dead nation with a sword that cannot break. Yadda.

Yeah... maybe I'm just not clear on what deconstructionism is, but in my opinion playing with a trope is not the same as deconstructing it. A wizardly advisor is still a wizardly advisor, whether Ian McKellen could play the role or not.

it may very well have been me that you were discussing the Third Age schtick with. Or not. I know we've discussed it, and I know others ahve noted it, too.

It was on rasfwr-j, for sure. I just can't remember who made the actual statement.
Will
70. lindal
JimmyMac80 @54:

I've thought that "the song" is a version of the Aiel death/ battle chant, which was corrupted over time. Now that Aviendha found the Ter'angreal for growing things (in the store that Elayne has in Andor) when you sing the right song, maybe this plot thread will actually resolve. Of course that would require the Aiel to go into battle near Tinkers.

It's great to read Novak and LeighB's input again!
Will
71. aegreen

Immensely enjoying the re-read and comments so far. Like many other people have said, I just so happened to be rereading the series as well when I caught wind of this. I am on Dragon Reborn right now.



Will
72. Heather J.
aegreen: thanks for that! I do like some of the other stuff on tor.com but it is nice to have a separate feed just for WOT.
Will
74. MoreBooksForMe
I think the song the tinkers are looking for is either the seed song that Rand sees in Rhudian(sp?) or the song that the Aiel sing when they link hands and surrond LTT. They said he listened to the last one for an hour before destroying him. It seems like that song in particular encompasses the Way of the Leaf

Great idea for the reread. Started my own a while back and am on FoH
P.S. I also like the favorite quotes.
Will
75. Andrew W^2
First of all, I freaking love these posts. Like whoa. Seriously. As a somewhat compulsive follower/dissector/theorist of every minor little storyline in WOT, I already had to bow down to you for your work with the FAQ, but who knew you were hilarious?

Now that I've got the niceties out of the way, it's time to disagree with you. Well, sort of: I would actually defend Jordan a little more ardently on that last point of yours on Chapter 26.

I think a major criterion of any truly high quality fantasy is an appropriate level of, for lack of a better word, 'realism'. Perhaps that's odd goal to shoot for when one is writing *fantasy*, but its a key component all the same. The more you make your audience feel like they are observing a fully developed world, as opposed to just asking them to quietly suspend disbelief in exchange for some cool magic and stuff, the more it starts to feel like an actual alternate reality instead of thats-kind-of-neat-but-it's-obviously-ridiculous-land. Now, the point you make is that Jordan's obvious tendency towards keeping his main protagonists alive sort of goes against that whole realism thing. To that, I would say that while you may quibble with the lack of big deaths as a literary choice, Jordan actually gives that aspect a lot more credence in context of his world than we normally get in our fantasy.

As I'm reading about the 17th time that Rand barely gets away, I always think back to the fact that we're working on the premise of an actual Wheel of Time weaving an actual Pattern of the Ages, where each life is a thread in the Pattern. The Wheel itself is neither good nor evil, of course, so one might think that it would have offed some more major good guys along with the major bad guys by this point. But we have established precedent that ta'veren mess all that up pretty badly. It's *hard* to kill a ta'veren. Most of our historical examples probably had pretty huge targets on their backs, but in general they lived out fairly full lives until they had served their larger historical purpose, so to speak. You don't really hear about a ta'veren getting skewered in some random battle, or taken down by joe shmoe assassin. That's because ta'veren, in a sense, actually do have the normally neutral Wheel on their side for a while. Until the Wheel is through with them, they are pretty much going to have every bit of random luck go their way, which makes it much easier for them to stay alive. And I would venture to say that the Wheel will most definitely not be through with our ta'veren triumvirate until after the Last Battle. Maybe you can call shenanigans in that the good side gets all the ta'veren, but hey, I figure if the Dark One can bring people back from the dead and whatnot, the Creator's earned himself a big scary thread or two.

So that goes a long way towards explaining the relatively surprising life span of our main heroes. As for our non-ta'veren good guys... the way I've always understood it, they do get a measure of the same protection because of their proximity to the big 3. If ya think about it all sewing-like, our other good guys are probably the threads that are the most tightly wound up with the big ones on the pattern, and thus they stand a better chance at sharing some of the same twists of fate that are holding off misfortune until the big finish. Maybe that's a stretch, but the way the pattern is described, I think we owe that thought a bit of consideration.

Whew. When did this get so long? In any case, the point is that the wheely/patterny/thready stuff actually gives us a pretty good amount of 'realistic' explanation for the phenomenon in question. So yeah, maybe you don't like that device as a whole, which is totally valid, but I'm just sayin' -- he *does* make the protagonist-bubble thing feel a lot more real than it usually does.
Torie Atkinson
76. Torie
@ 71 aegreen

Thanks for your initiative, but I deleted the link to your feed, and I'd like to ask you to please shut it down, if it's all the same.

There are currently a number of really easy ways to access the Wheel of Time posts:

1. On the front page, find Leigh in the list of bloggers on the right, and it will filter the front page to only display posts by Leigh.

2. On the front page, in the "Featured on Tor.com" box, is a link to the most recent post in the series.

3. And finally, clicking the "Wheel of Time re-read" tag will display all posts in the series.

Because Tor.com is hosting the re-read we do ask that you come visit our site because it helps us build the traffic that allows us to continue to provide you with that content. Of course, the best part of the re-read is the comments, which you'd miss out on otherwise!
Will
77. Heather J.
Andrew W^2: EXCELLENT point about ta'veren. I'd been thinking about the lack of deaths since first reading this post and I'll admit it was bugging me. Not that I want anyone to die, but it just seemed highly unlikely that they hadn't. But you're right, things *are* skewed in their favor. I mean, just being in the area can make your enemies swear fealty to you, I think something as simple as getting away would be pretty easy. Thanks for restoring my confidence! :)
Will
78. krukurr
The Song....As the series continued, I began to see a connection between the Song by the traveling people and the Ogier...Loial in particular. He is an Ogier tree singer and something in KOD made me put them together. As in Rand's visions he had at Rhuidean, The Song seems to me to be something that will give life to something else...So I expect to see something pertaining to the last battle that "The Song" will make it's appearence and revive something.

I discovered this series at a library book sale around 1998 or so. It was the Dragon Reborn. So, I got started in the series at a rather good time. Since then, I have reread the series several times. I always discover something new. And this brings up the point that as I see the series of books (I have not read/nor even heard of some of these other books that have been mentioned) is I am not really concerned at where RJ came up with his ideas. Although, I have wondered many times where he got this or that idea from...sometimes it seems as he got his ideas from multiple places for a certain piece of "HIS" story. It is his story to me and regardless of his borrowed ideas, the series is still great.

As for some of the series" weaknesses, I try to not let them get the way in the story line. IE; entertainment is why I read these books, and that is what I get. I remember that it is fiction and that what may or may not make sense to me mght in the WOT world...Sure, some of the stuff makes me wonder why it was done that way, but again, I try not to be too critical of what I am reading.
Will
79. Sam O
Leigh: Great series so far.

Something I haven't seen mentioned so far in the main article or the comments is Egwene's amazing ability to adapt her personality to whatever culture she's in. Or to put it another way "go native".

She starts off being, at first glance, the freshly briaded Two Rivers' Wisdom's apprentice. When she meets the Tuatha’an, has a bite to eat, start dancing around the campfire, and then wants to stay them.

She does this later in Tar Valon, with the Aiel, particularly evidenced by the ji'e'toh scene just before she leaves, and finally in Salidar, with the great speech she recruits Siuan with.

She seems to have separate public personality and inner personality and it's interesting looking back through the WoT at how the underlying personality informs her public persona, and to a lesser extent vice versa.

For instance, she happily braids her hair, but takes the first chance she gets to leave The Two Rivers, and then unbraids it again in Baerlon, as soon as possible, whereas Nynaeve doesn't leave the two rivers hairdressing salon until Ebou Dar.

It seems to hint at pragmatism getting the better or rebelliousness when she can't do what she wants to.

There might be a thesis in her personality, but I'm an engineer not a englit, so I'll leave it here.
Will
80. aegreen
Apparently my prior comment was amended and the individual RSS feed for the re-read I made with Yahoo! Pipes removed. I guess someone in Tor doesn't like that. :o
Will
81. aegreen
Sorry, I just saw Torie's post. That's understandable.
Will
82. Andrew W^2
Re: the discussion about 'the song'.

As Leigh so aptly pointed out, a huge theme throughout the books is the mutability of lore and stories. Hell, it's even in the opening paragraph, the stuff about legend fading into myth. So when we look at something like the Tinkers' quest for the song, I think it bears consideration that we might have to broaden our view a bit and drop the assumption that there is, in fact, a song.

I think the key here lies in Rand's Rhuidean Memory Lane trip in Book 4 (possibly my favorite scene in the series, but that's another story). There, we are explicitly given the origin of the Tinkers: they were a faction of the old school Da'shain Aiel that essentially wimped out and went in search of the old ways fairly early on in the quest to find a home for the Power goodies. When that group of "Lost Ones" makes their split, Sulwin, their leader, specifically mentions wanting to find the song his grandfather told him about.

Taking a look where we are at in the generation timeline... Let's see. In this story, Rand is Adan... son of Jonai... son of Coumin... who was a young'n when Charn (our very oldest viewpoint) was still alive. So Sulwin's grandaddy would be somewhere around Coumin's generation. And Coumin was still singing all kinds of stuff with the Ogier and the Nym -- the Da'shain didn't go on their big trip until Jonai.

Sooo... my logic goes that when Sulwin talks about a song his grandpa told him about, we should bear in mind that his grandpa probably sang all the time -- Coumin's perspective implies that they all used to, back in the day. So really, it seems pretty unlikely that there's any one specific song being talked about here. It's just *some* Treesinging-type Age of Legends song.

So Sulwin's grandad tells him about one of many pretty songs he used to know, and then when he grows up and leads the Lost One Da'shain out into the world, he's talking all the time about that story as example of the kind of old ways they want to search for... and over time, in the way of myths and legends and such, that grows in significance until we have the idea of one mystical song. But it seems to me that there was never just the single song; the idea of THE song was just a product of stories passed down over time.

If this plot line gets resolved, I think what may happen is that the Tinkers will stumble upon some Age of Legends song and decide it's the one. In which case, cool for them, even though there never really was one. But my feeling is that they won't find anything that will satisfy the requirement of this non-existent song, and Jordan will just leave this thread hanging as an example of the telephone game over time thing.
Will
83. Rebecca Starr
Thanks for your reassurance on Nynaeve, Leigh!

adding a few more thoughts of my own:

Chapter 23
I agree that Perrin is waaay to whiny for way too long about the wolves, but something new occurred to me in this read-through. For the entire first hundred pages, wolves are mentioned as REALLY SCARY. they're killing sheep and men, and generally regarded as, well, bad guys, by people from the Two Rivers. In that context, Perrin's aversion to his new ability seems to make more sense. He has yet to learn how *awesome* wolves are (unlike the rest of us, he wasn't weaned on fantasy like Eddings, where one learns to love wolves pretty quick, doesn't one?)

The best example I can think of is if somebody told me I had the ability to talk to spiders. ::shudder::

Chapter 24
we find out what lightsticks are in TGH, but has anyone ever found out about razorlace? Sorry if I missed this.

also, does the dream sequence here remind anyone else of David Bowie and Labyrinth? I'm just waiting for Rand to shout out, "You have no power over me"

To those who think the things mentioned in this chapter are random and unplanned by Jordan, I beg to differ. our great Creator has said himself that he planned the series for 10 years before he even put pen to paper. Check out this link:

http://www.wotmania.com/faqtopic.asp?ID=60

"How long did it take you to plan the Wheel of Time world?

A very long time. Almost ten years of thinking about it before I began writing...."

So no, I don't think he mentioned random things early on and then said, oh hey, maybe I'll mention that again in Book 9. I think he knew exactly what he was doing from Day 1, and that's part of why he's my hero :)

Domon's speech, of it being the strangeness that will make you want to keep exploring the world makes me want to head off adventuring, every time.

Finally, I wish s.o. could diagram Rand's crazy antics up in the mast and the forestay and the this-and-that. Even though I wiki-ed the terms, I still can't picture what's going on up there completely.
Will
84. Andrew W^2
Re: me on the song stuff

Upon further investigation, Sulwin's grandfather actually just talks about singing in general, not any one song. So, more evidence! Da'shain songs in general -> some song -> one song -> THE song.
Will
85. IanB
One thing I've always pondered is that the evil from Shadar Logoth is human in origin, whereas the Dark One is supernatural.

Also, since Fain was introduced very early on, and a fair ammount of following his growth into Mordeth has occurred, will Mordeth eventually be the greater threat in the end than the Dark One?
Will
86. IanB
Re Asmodean...

My problem with this loser is that before he became a simpering lackey to Rand, the Forsaken were scary.
Once he was on screen all the time, they all started to seem ordinary. Thank god Slayer bumped him off.
Will
87. JCR
I'm responding to a lot of the comments on Mat's stupidity in the first book as it involes his blind lust for "tresure" I belive R.J. does this apporpose to highlight the change of character That comes about as having traveled to the realms of the "Snakes and Foxes" In the begining of the story Mat is the least mature, least able, least prepared. He is portraied in other characters POV as being the "fool" IE Nynaeve. With Perrin the transition to talking with the wolves is acceptable given his slow thoughtful nature. Mat claws and fights his transition. All the memories aquired Forces him to grow up even if it is at a subconcious level. At end however I belive that Mat will be the commanding General for the assalut at Tarmon Gai'don
Will
88. Buddhacat
A Companion to Wolves.....the Loy?
Will
89. sinfulcashew
I'm kind of new at this, but find it fascinating!
When I started the series, about 10 years ago, I thought this was the coooooolest storyline I'd read in a long time.
Then found out that it wasn't just a trilogy or 'fourlogy'. I kept waiting for the last in the series, expecting it at every publication. Foolish me.
I am waiting for this finish with baited breath. (What exactly does that mean?)
Hoping upon hope that this chosen writer will be able to finish it with all the flourishes it deserves.
I have only one request to make of you all.
Please don't use all the initials in your comments. I am only able to figure out TEOTW! And possibly one or two others. It slows me down when reading along because part of my brain is off trying to figure out what the letters mean and then I lose the whole thread and have to reread.
I may be one of the oldest readers(?????) and the brain thingy just isn't working like it used to.
Will
90. SteelBlaidd
RE: I WILL TEACH THEM

All of the Forsaken except Ishamael went over for very petty reasons. Its one of the things that characterizes Darkfriends in general. The conviction that some how the world has cheated them out of what is rightfully theirs.

This is the exact opposite of Rand, Mat, and Perrin, as well as Lan for that matter.The reason they all struggle against their "cool powers" is that if the accept them they have to accept the responsibilities that go with them. They are all in positions now where lives, and even the whole world, depend on their decisions.
Will
91. cubarey
"The Whitecloaks, Elaida, and their ilk are, to my mind, among the worst villains in the series, for paving the road to hell for everyone else through their intolerance, rigidity, and pride—all qualities I mentally shorten to “willful stupidity”. Few flaws are worse, at least in my opinion."

One of the things that I found interesting in RJ's writing is that Rand (and the other protagonists) are only different from those you label the worst villans in the degree that they are intorent rigid and prideful. None of the characters you mentioned are darkfriends or acting in a way that they believe furthers the Darkone's goals. Similarly our heroes themselves are prideful, distrustful, etc. its just that their "sins" seem to us to be acceptable (because after all they are the heroes of our story).

"I suppose the whole "blending faces with Ishy" thing could be foreshadowing of Min's later vision about Rand and another man touching and merging into one, but I kind of doubt it."

I don't know but since my third re-read (this is my seventh) I've thought this presaged the who seeing Moriden's(sp) face whenever he uses the Power in later books (which yes opens up the whole body-swap possibility at the end of AMOL).

"I would venture to opine that this isn’t really true of epic heroic tales written before the twentieth century,"

Except of course that most Epic Heroic tales wriiten prior to the 20th century tend to be either Biblical or based on religous themes all of which tend to deal with life "after the fall" of humanity from grace. Even the Arthurian legends and its various heroes look back to the time before the fall or are vaguely disguised christian similies ( the whole search for the holy grail, etc.). Although I must admit that Cervantes' contribution to the whole Arthurian legends cottage industry was tongue in cheek.

"especially the Roma/gypsies, Irish Travellers (also called Tinkers), and the Israelites of Biblical times."

This may reveal my total stupidity but I have always been so caught up with the obvious similarities to gypsies and Irsih tinkers that i never considered the similarities to Biblical Isrealites (or to jews in general upto and including the holocaust) Good Catch!

Chapter 23: Perrin embracing his Wolfness: Well since he has the Darkone (or so he believes) in his dreams and the Whitecloaks and Aides Sadie think that its a sign that the person with the affinity is a tool of the Darkone i can see how he might be a bit worried. Moreover, in the future he learns that being a Wolfbrother can lead to one totally losing his human essence. All in all a bit of apprehension about his "gift" seems more then appropriate.


"I always thought of the song as more of a metaphor than a literal thing. If it turns out that I am completely off-base, however, I think that Rand may know the song, having participated in the seed-singing or whatever it was called in his Rhuidean flashbacks."

Tel Janin:

The seed-singing is almost certainly the Song the tinkers seek. As the role that the Ail played in raising crops was a major portion of what they did in AOL and the longing for the lost "song' is a longing for their pacific (if not idylic) existence in the time of AOL. Also I have always thought that Perrin will be the key to finding the Song when he "chooses the Hammer over the Axe". Maybe he metemorphicies(sp!) into the GreenMan!
Will
92. jwhite
Chapter 25: The Traveling People

"I always thought of the song as more of a metaphor than a literal thing. If it turns out that I am completely off-base, however, I think that Rand may know the song, having participated in the seed-singing or whatever it was called in his Rhuidean flashbacks. Too bad he's never once crossed paths with the Tinkers in the whole series."

"Oho, that's a nice point about Rand. I did not realize he hadn't ever met the Tinkers; some things in WoT becomes sufficiently present that you expect them to be everywhere, and interactions with Tinkers have been sufficiently important to Perrin and others that, surely, Rand met them at /some/ point in the seven thousand pages."


I think in Chapter 25 Raen also says, dissapointedly at the fact that the aiel will not talk to them, something to the effect that sometimes he thinks the aiel do have "the song."
Will
93. jwhite
Oh I forgot to mention Bela earlier. When your starving to death you hack into that horse and have yourself some horse steaks.

Its not like your going faster than a walk already, and for some reason I never did like that stupid horse.

Perrin and Egwene both mention how they would rather walk anyway.
Will
94. RobMRobM
SamO - interesting comment on Egwene. If you haven't already, you should find the new initial chapter "Ravens" in the kids version of EOTW (where it is split into two books, the new initial chapter is added to the first book and a different glossary is added to the second book).

Not a lot happens in Ravens other than the Two Rivers folk are having a sheep shearing party, Tam tells Rand and the other kids (Egwene is about 9; boys are about 11) the story of LTT the true Dragon, and there are lots of ravens hanging around - early sign that they know something is up in the Two Rivers?) - but focus is on Egwene and how locked in she is at being the best at everything she does. In this case, she is helping out as water carrier for the adults but makes clear she intends to be the first of her age group to do everything. In that story, written well into the series, RJ is showing the way on how Egwene is maniacal enough at everything she does to fit in and excel whereever she is.

AndrewO - agree strongly with your point about ta'veren. Very convenient device for a fantasy series, as it provides a logical explanation why the leads aren't easily killed. (Also, the fact that AS can heal people is another reason why WOT avoids some deaths that might occur in other series through serious battle wounds.) Rob
Will
95. Ken Estes
this is the best thing i've found on the intertubes in a while. got a quick question to throw out. am i the only person who thought at this point that MATT would become the wildcard evil person, ala Fain?
at this point i really thought that the dagger would corrupt him and he would become a, if not the, primary villain to the story. also, i gotta throw my hat into the perrin+egwene ring. as much as i love the books (have read the whole series 4 times in 4 years) i still occasionly see this story in my head and smile.

as a post script, its 5am so forgive my spelling
Will
96. Dannielle
I love it! I finally found a group of people as crazy for WoT as I am and I'm getting in on the ground floor.
Thanks Leigh

Ps. I see you peeking Wilson Brother 4/3

Dannielle
Australia
Will
97. SteelBlaidd
"The Whitecloaks, Elaida, and their ilk are, to my mind, among the worst villains in the series, for paving the road to hell for everyone else through their intolerance, rigidity, and pride—all qualities I mentally shorten to “willful stupidity”. Few flaws are worse, at least in my opinion."

One of the things that I found interesting in RJ's writing is that Rand (and the other protagonists) are only different from those you label the worst villans in the degree that they are intorent rigid and prideful. None of the characters you mentioned are darkfriends or acting in a way that they believe furthers the Darkone's goals. Similarly our heroes themselves are prideful, distrustful, etc. its just that their "sins" seem to us to be acceptable (because after all they are the heroes of our story).


hence the tie between Rand and the one handed Prince of Aridhol.

The main difference seems to be in the protagonists abilities and willingness to listen to others, change as the get new information. Additionally they are able to separate their personal glory from the goal.

Prime example, Elayne's goal is a strong and united Andor and she would happily throw her support behind Dilylan. Egwene and Suin want the White Tower whole who exactly is Amerlyn is a side issue.

Rand has the biggest problem, but mostly because he cant trust anyone to listen to his plans and then not go doing things behind his back to frustrate them.
Will
98. Heather J.
Rebecca Star:

“He has yet to learn how *awesome* wolves are (unlike the rest of us, he wasn't weaned on fantasy like Eddings, where one learns to love wolves pretty quick, doesn't one?)”
Yes, that is it completely. You’re comment about spiders really put it into perspective for me.

“also, does the dream sequence here remind anyone else of David Bowie and Labyrinth? I'm just waiting for Rand to shout out, "You have no power over me"”
HA!


RE: The Song:

I am the only one thinking/hoping that there *is* actually A song? I've always assumed it was the growing song, but I could be wrong there. Regardless, I so want there to be ONE song.
Will
99. Wilson, Brother/Cousin, 4th of 3
Dannielle

It took an Aussie to ferret me out. Good on ya.

Loving all the posts folks. Even though I was blessed with hours/days/weeks (still not enough) of chats on WOT with the Creator, your insights are a delight.

Leigh:keep it up girl, keep it coming.

Wilson
Brother/Cousin
4th of 3
Will
100. krukurr
to Heather J. @98......

RE: The Song:

I am the only one thinking/hoping that there *is* actually A song? I've always assumed it was the growing song, but I could be wrong there. Regardless, I so want there to be ONE song.
==================================================
look at post 78....
I said
"The Song....As the series continued, I began to see a connection between the Song by the traveling people and the Ogier...Loial in particular. He is an Ogier tree singer and something in KOD made me put them together. As in Rand's visions he had at Rhuidean, The Song seems to me to be something that will give life to something else...So I expect to see something pertaining to the last battle that "The Song" will make it's appearence and revive something. "

So, I too believe that there is a special single song the Traveling People (Tinkers) are looking for...It will be a pretty big thing in the last battle i say..this is one of those things RJ made too big of issue out of for it not to be something really important...

Greetings Wilson...
Joe Sherry
101. jsherry
I don't know...whether the Tinkers ever find The Song or not, I don't know that it will necessarily play in the Last Battle. At least not in a tactical way.

I kind of think it would be better if they don't find it. It would be one of those ongoing things. Not all questions need to be answered, and not everyone will find the answers they want or think they need.
Will
103. Wilson from S. Carolina (not a cousin)
Wow, Novak, etc? This is like the rec all over again. Old memories. Can't wait for more chapters LeighDB. Good times.
Rich Bennett
104. Neuralnet
I am loving the WoT readthrough posts. thanks. I used to reread the entire series every time a new book came out but for the last two books I just sort of skimmed through the series. so it has been a long time since I thought about eye of the world.

I distinctly remember thinking Thom had died and being surprised when he showed up again. At the time I didnt think RJ would want to have so many characters in play... little did I know.

I second the wish for an encyclopedia of all the age of legend ter'angreals and other mysterious magical objects mentioned throughout the series etc. some of them are definitely fascinating.

The most significant thing about this book when I read it in 91 was the presence of female main characters. It seemed like prior to this series there were very few fantasy books that had a female character that wasnt just background.
Will
105. michaelt
Was I the only one who noticed the striking similarities between Rand's "dream" locations and other places?

1) The impossible sky Rand sees out the windows in his first Ba'alzamon dream is an exact duplicate of the sky seen when standing at the point of the hole in the Dark One's prison and looking up through the hole in the ceiling.

2) The three dimensional maze of bridges and ramps Rand is in, is exactly what the Ways would look like if they were lit up, it even uses the same terminologies.

One interesting thing about that, is that one cannot enter the Ways while in T'A'R (Perrin attempts to do that in TSR and can't pass through the Waygate). Perhaps Ishamael has figured out a way to get there, or maybe it is just a dreamed up look alike.
Will
106. Shard
Really insightful commentary here; I've also enjoyed the cultural mirroring of WoT and our own world. I see it as kinda of fun to see what cultures are which. Like Caemlyn = Britain, Cairherin = France, Tear = Spain, Illian = Dutch? Even though we make these references to help flesh out what they look and sound like there are still huge differences. Like the Aiel being sorta Scottish/African/Indian all rolled into one.

I find the lack of trust on the Good Guys side to be quite annoying at times. It's not so much say Eladia not trusting Rand (though that is annoying but for a different reason). It's more that at the later stages of the books Egwene no longer trusts Rand and Nynaeve doesn't trust Mat and I just shake my head in sad frustration.

Now as for Good guys who die how about Ingtar? He was good in the end.

I think Anyia was good and she was killed as well as Adeleas sister to Vandene was brutally murdered. And how about all he sisters Elayne gets killed in KoD? There's a nice little body count for you.

I suppose I always assumed that Jordan was waiting for the last book to deliver us into the massive amounts of Good guys dying. Unlike the cruel George RR Martin we've had time to really grow attached to these characters. I suspected that it would be like Deathly Hallows, where the body count was HUGE, at least comparitivly speaking to the previous books of the series.
Will
107. teamroperinaz
Tel Janin,

I always thought the song was a metaphor as well, and maybe it is, in a way...

When Rand enters the ter'angreal in Rhuidean and sees through the history, the Aiel are the singers, the people who follow the way of the leaf, and as such they supported both the nym and the Ogier in singing the crops. This was done as a means of feeding the populations in the time of war, where crops could be grown in such a hurry so that the dark side could not just destroy the food sources...

The uncertainty lies in was the song that they used so special? or was it just the act? either way, I think it's tied to the Great Stump...

The Ogier and the Nym were constructs for the purpose of growing things, it even said so in the visions of Rhuidean... However, the "true" Aes Sedai (the servants) would not bind or enslave any people to their service... I beleive the Ogier are arguing and debating this crisis... If they reveal that they can still sing crops (As I don't truly believe their skill for 'Singing' is truly gone...) the people of this age may expect to bind them, even as animals, to serve them. Even if this is not a valid likelihood, facing even the fear of this possibility becomes a terrible debate for the Ogier. Even the other side of it becomes leaving the stedding to perform this task, and being caught in the whirlwinds of activity and human irrationality!! anyways just thoughts...
Will
108. krukurr
teamroperinaz,

I was thinking that loial was the only living ogier that could still sing to the trees. I can not recall which of the later books it is in, but it seems as if it was mentioned that he was the only one...if not the only one, the best..any clarification???

......and that brings up the Green Man? from the Eye...even though he was supposed to be the last one, I wonder if his kind could be called back when the Horn sounds this last battle.
===================================================
No matter which way one looks at these things, in a way. It is gonna be a long ride til we get to the last battle so we all better sit back and take in all this stuff we can and make some more sense out of the missing pieces.

Keep it coming til the end!!!
Will
109. Rebecca Starr
Chapter 25:
I have always wondered about Elyas' deep knowledge of Trollocs and such, which Perrin remarks on here, too. We know that he was a warder, but is that enough to explain it? Do we know if he was from the Borderlands? It could also be that stress is put on his knowledge of Trollocs just to create ambiguity that he might be a Darkfriend, since we're still naive readers in Book 1

the other thing that troubles me about this chapter: WHO gave the dying Aiel Maiden her message?? It's all well and good for her to spout off about the Eye and slaying the Great Serpent, but who would have told her this in the first place? Certainly Trollocs aren't in on Ishy's plans. It seems awfully unlikely that Ishy would have told her himself.

One loony theory I had: perhaps she can channel (and the Wise Ones haven't gotten to her yet) and she had a Foretelling

Chapter 26:
i *totally* thought Thom was dead. I think my jaw was on the floor.

Your musings on main characters are really interesting, Leigh, esp. considering that they echo Rand's own thought at the beginning of the chapter, p. 379 - "They had to believe the others were alive... Why?.... So it will all turn out like one of Thom's stories... Sometimes even heroes die. Are you a hero, Rand al'Thor? Are you a hero, sheepherder."

Also, um, does anyone else have an inner monologue like that. It may just be me, but I sometimes wonder if twinges of LTT are showing up in Rand's thoughts even here.

There is a strange moment as the White Bridge comes into view: "For an instant it seemed to Rand that a shadow rippled through the milk-white structure."

Wonder if this was the Myrddraal walking across it...
Will
110. Alyssa_6_11
I just started my own re read and I just read where rand meets Min, does anyone else notice that he is asking if she sees anything about dreams and she says, dreams? It may be your idea of a dream but I never thought it would be mine.
She has to be talking about the whole rand/aviendah/elayne/min thing right?
Will
111. FunBob
Another vote for continuing with the best Quote. I l-o-v-e-d Perrin's slapping down Aram in front of everyone.

I also think Perrin was much better before the Faile / Berelain storyline started...He had a wry sense of humor and definitely thought before he spoke, unlike Matt.

As for the old man laughing madly in Rand's dream, it was Balwen Ironhand, the ruler of Aridhol when Mordeth came and poisoned his mind against all of his allies, which led to Caar, Prince of Manetheren, becoming one-handed, etc. Of course, the dream was not only a reaction to Moiraine's story, but is a foreshadowing of Rand as the Fisher King, losing his hand in the fight with Semirhage in the KoD.
Will
112. SonomaLass
Leigh,

Isn't another aspect of the Third Age approach that it allows more "normal people" as heroes? Or rather, that people who thought of themselves as normal have to step up into the hero roles? The powers of the earlier ages (elves, wizards, legendary warriors) are fading, and so the heroes have to come from from the people who used to be the lesser, protected folk. There are lost spells, artifacts that the "ancients" knew how to wield, gaps in knowledge, and the elves are sailing into the west (no, wait, Jordan leaves that one for Tolkien and Donaldson).

I think that as a storytelling device in fantasy, this sort of setting allows the Everyman hero, while still preserving the "magic" elements and "super" heroes with characters who, having lost the full power of their forebearers, can only provide a certain amount of assistance (Gandalf, Moraine, Lan/Aragorn, the various wizards and wise folk in The Land, et cetera). I agree that it's a post-WWII thing; among other effects, the two World Wars taught us something about heroic Everymen.
Brett Michie
113. bchurch
First off, Leigh, thank you so much for doing this. I bought TEOTW as a freshman in high school in 1990. TGH was in print then, but I've waited years for each sequel since and have reread more times than I can count.
Just found this blog and won't mention much as it's all been pretty well covered.

Two things though:

To Rebecca Starr @ 109 . . . Ihamael says that he did indeed give the story of the eye to the aiel during the final confrontation with Rand in this book. He also says that he sent Jain Charin to the ogier, which would make him the old man from Loial's story later in this book.

And as to the song . . . I also believe that it is the seed song or closely linked to it. I think Lews Therin is speaking of it in the prologue to Ishamel when he says:

"Ah, a guest. Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing, and here all are welcome to take part."

At any rate, I love the postings and the comments, please keep them coming!
Will
114. Roxinos
Post 64 hit the nail on the head as to why Mordeth freaked out at that particular point. Mat reached for the nearest weapon he saw to defend himself, and that so happened to be the dagger. We know that Mordeth has some strange connection with the dagger not only because of the comments post 64 referred to, but also because of how Padan Fain treats the dagger once he has been joined with Mordeth.

Post 36: In a fashion, yes. Recall the Portal Stones. They are links to the parallel universes woven throughout the Age Lace. The Ogier come from one of those parallel universes. As do the creatures the Seanchan use.

Post 107: No, the Ogier are not constructs. The Nym *are* artificial beings created by the Aes Sedai, but they were done so with the Ogier in mind. As I said in my response to post 36, the Ogier are beings from a parallel world.
Will
115. hari coplin
But of course Mordeth freaked out at the treasure room because Mat struck him with the dagger! Mordeth is not mortal to a slice of it the way ordinary people are, but he can still be harmed by it.

The Myrddraal at Baerlon did not kill Rand because it was calculating what the others would do if it did. It wanted all of the boys, not only one with the rest scattered in random directions.
Will
116. birgit
I was thinking that loial was the only living ogier that could still sing to the trees.

He mentions another stedding that has two treesingers, so he can't be the only one left. (I think this is when they visit stedding Tsofu)

There is a strange moment as the White Bridge comes into view: "For an instant it seemed to Rand that a shadow rippled through the milk-white structure."

Wonder if this was the Myrddraal walking across it...

I thought he somehow sees the taint in the bridge because it was made with saidin.

I just started my own re read and I just read where rand meets Min, does anyone else notice that he is asking if she sees anything about dreams and she says, dreams? It may be your idea of a dream but I never thought it would be mine.
She has to be talking about the whole rand/aviendah/elayne/min thing right?

Yes, she later mentions that this was the first time she saw herself in a viewing. In this chapter she mentions the three women crying at Rand's death, but doesn't tell him that she is one of them.
Will
117. MariaX
Comment 106:

"Now as for Good guys who die how about Ingtar? He was good in the end.

I think Anyia was good and she was killed as well as Adeleas sister to Vandene was brutally murdered. And how about all he sisters Elayne gets killed in KoD? There's a nice little body count for you.

I suppose I always assumed that Jordan was waiting for the last book to deliver us into the massive amounts of Good guys dying. Unlike the cruel George RR Martin we've had time to really grow attached to these characters. I suspected that it would be like Deathly Hallows, where the body count was HUGE, at least comparitivly speaking to the previous books of the series."

WOT has a huge cast. How many Aes Sedai are there? Anaiya was only one member of the behind-the-scenes powergroup, the sisters in Caemlyn were ultimately interchangeable. They're not even third tier characters like Siuan/Gareth/Rhuarc/Morgase/Berelain/Galad/Gawyn, not second tier like Min/Aviendha/Lan/Faile/Thom/Moiraine; and of this list, maybe Rhuarc will die in the Last Battle but everyone else is lined up for a happy ending.

In WOT, the only ones to fall are minor characters whose death has no emotional effect on the Big Six characters. Rand continuing to blame himself for what happened to Moiraine - now that's an event that actually /mattered/, and if I was around for a TFOH reread I'd strongly argue that Moiraine should have died in truth. It would have been a memorable end, worthy of a hero, and given weight to Rand obsessing over what happened. But we the readers know that she's actually going to marry Thom, so... the heroes have never lost someone they loved, apart from Perrin's family that we never actually met.

If an author needs 11 books to make people care about his characters dying, something is wrong. But that obviously wouldn't have been the case with Jordan: readers would have been sad (or sometimes happy) if Moiraine had truly died in TFOH, or Faile been killed by the Shaido in TPOD, or Mat killed in the ACOS Seanchan attack (imagine that rage!). Even though Rand, Mat and Perrin have plot protection due to being ta'veren, their friends have sometimes been half a continent away from them. A bloodbath in the 12th book would be too late, and miss out on the advantages of making death seem real to the heroes in earlier books. Now Rand can have endless internal monologues about the weight of duty, but he's never actually had to pay a real price for it.

WOT takes the Star Trek redshirt approach to death. The leading/major supporting characters are foretold to have glory, babies and happy marriages to look forward to. If the last book has the Big Six suddenly lose a huge number of friends/allies who are actually important to them, there won't be room for more than a paragraph or two of mourning. A much better option would have been to kill off those supporting characters earlier, allowing the characters to actually feel the loss and have it influence their actions. I would not have been unmoved or thought Jordan cruel if Moiraine had sacrificed her life to kill Lanfear, or if Min had found a way to save Rand from an enemy channeler's attack at the cost of her life, or if Galad had shown his true honor by dying while facing impossible odds so that Elayne and Nynaeve got to escape from the mob. Those would have been worthy finales and made the happy endings fewer but even sweeter.
Will
118. SteelBlaidd
Regarding the Heroes plot protection, I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes from The Importance of Being Ernest.

"The good end well and the bad end poorly. That's what fiction means.
Will
119. laurajw
Hi guys, first time poster here so be gentle with me lol.

Just thought I would make a comment about the whole Rand/Perrin/Matt fighting against their "gifts" issue. My theory on this point is that people like to believe they have free choice to be whoever they want to be, to live their lives as they wish or to the best of their abilities etc. I think perhaps the reason they struggle so much is because they recognise acceptance of these "gifts" as relinquishing their free will and letting the wheel spin their lives out to it's purposes. Ultimately they just don't want to lose what control they feel they have and become slaves to their own destinies.

That's how I percieve it anyway, ur all welcome to disagree :)

p.s Thanks for doing this leigh, it is now the best part of my tuesdays and fridays
Will
120. Roxinos
115: What? Mat didn't attack Mordeth with the dagger. At least, there's nothing to suggest he did. When Rand finally looked up at Mordeth after catching his breath, Mordeth was in the fetal position, clutching his knees to his chest. He wasn't clutching a wound or in any way that suggested he was in pain. Mat was merely clutching the dagger when Rand looked at him.

Though, I do suppose it could be possible, nothing in Mordeth's body language suggests he was attacked by Mat.
Will
121. birgit
In stedding Tsofu, the visiting Aiel claim to be looking for sung wood. Erith brags to Loial that Tsofu has two treesingers while Shangtai has only one. Maybe she counted Trayal to outdo Loial's stedding, but that still leaves the other one. Erith says there are not many treesingers left, not that those three are the only ones, so there are probably some others elsewhere.
Will
122. Effervescent
Graendal killed Asm...uhh, nevermind. =)
Will
123. shsuandyman
I just wanted to say that I barked a laugh when you wrote Bayle's introduction: "The boat captain, Bayle Domon, initially do be wanting to throw them into the river."

I've always found the "Illian accent" to be the most absurd and as such, my favorite.
Will
124. shsuandyman
Also, I didn't get to read through ALL of the comments but I wanted to bring this up: what the HECK happened between Thom and that fade? There was some ominously Power-invoking imagery with the blue light and such, and I've never been able to root a sufficient answer out. The WoTFAQ sort of bats around the idea that Thom can channel but there aren't any real answers and its never mentioned again.
Will
125. Toby Griffiths
or with code :-)

Viva
Will
126. Toby Griffiths
sorry my posts are round the wrong way :-~

but when you said:

''Dammit, now I have that song stuck in my head.''

for me and the WOT it always that song ^
Will
127. Caseyft
One notable post-apocalyptic story prior to Tolkein: the Fisher King legend which appears to form the basis for much of what happens in WoT.
Will
128. Mareth
*wonders where she can get one of those Big Idea Hat thingies*

I really enjoyed the comments on post-apocalyptic fiction. This led me to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-apocalyptic

More info on this theme for those interested.

Thanks again Leigh!
Will
129. swift100
I am new to the post and I realize that I am a couple of weeks behind in the reread, but I must say that I am enjoying it and even more so the community of readers who love WOT like I do. I do not know of many who have even known of the books, much less read them.

A couple of things: I agree will most all of the best quotes till now and I hope it continues. Perrin's slam on Aram was my laugh-out-loud favorite so far.

I agree that most all of the Emond's field children are annoying in their own way. That is what I find facinating as a reader. RJ has shown us why teenagers are exciting and irritating at the same time. All of the characters have immaturities that annoy most readers and make us roll our eyes or want to shake or slap them from time to time. What is cool is that there is no stereotype that RJ uses to blanket all of his younger characters. Egwene is ambitious, conceited, and bossy; which would make sense being the prettiest, wealthiest girl in town with a Dad that is a Mayor. Matt is a whiny, self-centered, greedy, and mischeivious; also makes sence with being the middle child in a large family with a strong Mama. Perrin has his faults and so does Rand. However, Rand has the least of the immaturities which made me think of him at our hero from the beginning (very LOTR).

What is brilliant is that RJ takes all of our children and their immaturities (including many characters to come like Elayne, her brothers, Aram, and many more) and matures them through all sorts of situations that change their character to the core from then on. As they mature and change, some we like more--much more (including Nynaeve and Matt) and some we might like less. The change is permenant as they turn into adults. This gives RJ chances to suprise us with their age and lack of maturity from time to time (like when they fall in love).

I personally did not like any of the Two Rivers kids except Rand until much later and then many ways in which Rand changed soured me on him and I found myself looking forward to the others.

The only exception to this that I have seen in this book is noteable (speaking of young people maturing) is Min--whose character I love. But it is implied to me as reader that she has already matured through hard times before they all met in Baerlon. RJ was brilliant to have this progression and even the exception. He will be missed. I hazard to say that it might be why it was so hard to let characters die off since he may not of been finished with their transition.
Will
130. jafco
I think the term you are searching for, in describing Elaida et al. is "useful idiots". Eichmann was a real-life monster - up there with the fictional Forsaken.

The Useful Idiots were Lenin's term for those who would entice, sell or force their flesh and blood into the communist threshing machine (about 100 million dead at their hands in the 20th Century). That strikes my fancy as "really bad". But they cannot hold a candle to Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot and Castro (six of the Forsaken for sure) who conceived and directed it all.
Will
131. jafco@hughes.net
@11. Tel Janin

I think you hit on something there. Rand - in the ter'angreal in Rhuidean - did hear what is probably "The Song". The Green Man knew it too, but he died - one of the few important "good" characters in the present story to do so. (A few - two or three - baddies have caught it via balefire).
Kyle Bass
132. bkyle4
With regard to initially believing Thom dead or not, I tend to not even consider the fact that someone is "dead dead" if they aren't "shown" being killed directly. If we only have the "surest assumptions" of characters that someone was killed, like Rand and Mat believe in this scene...I figured it was only a matter of time. I was expecting a few books down the road, however, not so quickly.
Will
133. Shawn Humble
Since you began these posts, I have begun my re-read of 1 chapter a night so I'm moving along pretty slowly.

I just had to come back and comment on chapter 19. Truthfully, I couldn't believe how dumb all the characters were in this chapter. You're exploring a huge dead city and you're sitting there, and then a guy just shows up out of nowhere and asks you to follow him to get some treasure. Seriously, was this the best Jordan could invent?? I mean, maybe a strange light or something that they go to investigate might be a little less obvious, but a man where no men should be, and they all just jump up and follow him down dark, winding corridors. I found this extremely annoying on this re-read. Maybe it's your posts that are making me be over analytical.

I'm also not sure why Mordeth just ran away. I'm guessing that he later on possessed Fain in some strange way which is why Fain has the power to kill a Myddrhal (spelling?). If Mordeth has that kind of power and Fain could handle the dagger with no problems, so he shouldn't have been scared of the dagger, there is absolutely no reason for him to have run unless maybe he saw Rand's ability to channel in some way and thought maybe Rand knew how to control it and got scared.

At this point Mordeth doesn't know much about the boys either so maybe he is being careful.
Will
134. Bob-o
It seems to me the GPS installed coins and their connection to the one power may have protected the 3 wily adventurers. Although I have nothing to support this statement with.
Will
135. AlfredTungstan
RE: Mordeth
My theory has been that Mordeth was a man who lived on deceit. If memory serves, he cringed and ran at about the same time that Rand realized he was not leaving a shadow and that something was wrong. Mordeth, realizing the jig was up, had no other chose but to run and leave them to Mashadar.

RE: Thom and the Fade
When Morain et.al. reach Whitebridge, they find part of the town burned. Perhaps Thom used some sort of flash power to try to distract the Fade. He did perform "magic tricks" afterall. I don't recall if he ever used anything like that before or since though.
Will
136. jtwolfbrother
To all who give a crap: I think that Mat really turns after he is hung in the Aiel Waste. Before this he is just kinda hanging on without a purpose. I think along with the memories and strategies he gained some insight to the responsibility of leadership that will manifest in him as he puts the "band" together even if he hates admitting it. Just my two cents.
Will
137. u_turnagain
That song in rhuidien never occured to me before. I think it would be great to see the aiel fight the last battle not with their spears, but with the song. Sadly, I think the song will be more instrumental in the ressurection of Rand. (perhaps this is where the aiel will put down their weapons for good.

As far as Mordeth shrinking away, I think many have misinterpreted his goal. He seeks a way out. Mat has the dagger. What would his sticking around accomplish? Rand has already seen something suspicious, but one chance is better than none (just not as good as three). Their impulse was to run when he did his shrink and shrivel. As far as Mordeth-Mission accomplished.

Throughout the story, I find Mat to be the most beleivable character. Almost everyone else we admire in one way or another. Mat is anything but admirable (until much later). The decisions he makes he thinks are well planned, but sometimes he ends up hanged through some ommission. This is why he hates battle so much, but also why he is so good at. Not because he is an exceptional planner, but because he believes he will always be screwed, and in his mind, he always has been.
If you had been uprooted just as he had, wouldn't you think you were screwed over? Witches abduct you, monsters attack you, you get three wishes and almost die, you take an opportunity to take a small profit for yourself and it tries to possess you...sucks to be him.
Will
138. Bonzo4288
Again this is awesome. Keep it up.

Wilson, nice to see you here. Hope you and Harriet are doing great.

Mat: I really think Jordan was using Mat at this point of the story as the fool sidekick (Gaston's LeFool in Beauty and the Beast) or the annoying little brother/kid up the street that you can't shake and usually gets in trouble (most of the time with you in it). Thank God Jordan gave him a more important role later on or there would be no reason for him in the story. Personally, he is my favorite character even now when he is an idiot. Probably because I'm a lot like him. LOL
Perrin: Yes it would be cool to be able to talk to wolves and if you wanted someone to have that reaction it should have been Mat (for reasons stated above) but Perrin has been the one who would just like to go home and be himself more than anyone in the series. So having such a transformation not just physical (yellow eyes) but within and not only not wanting it but not being able to do anything about it would be extremely upsetting. I do like that when he knows its absolutely necessary he will use the wolves. And after he grieves for their losses.
Will
139. tnsabregirl
Regarding Mordeth, I believe his comment about "you're all dead" explains why he fled.

Mordeth fed by consuming people's souls/spirits. This is explained briefly or alluded to in one of the later books I believe (maybe when Matt gets healed?). We know that Rand as the Dragon is bound to the Wheel and has been reincarnated many times. We also know that Matt has lived past lives (from the holes in his memory). It's not unreasonable to assume the same for Perrin, who may be another hero of the Wheel. Or perhaps it has something to do with his relationship with the Wolves. In any case, their souls would not be nice, shiny new souls; they would be old,stale ones, spun out time and time again as they die and are reborn again and again for the Wheel's use. I suspect this would in some way make their soul's inappropriate for Mordeth's consumption. The shock of discovering that may have been enough to startle him into flight.

Well, anyway, that's what I believe.

P.S. I am thrilled to see posts by Novak! It's been many years since I participated in rasfwr-j (I think my user name was april_h_o back then) but it is a great pleasure to see his comments.

And thanks, Leigh, for doing all this work!
Richard Fife
140. R.Fife
April! Hey, good times on Tor.com.

Interesting thought on Mordeth. If I had a gold star (and the authority to distribute) I'd give you one ;)
Will
141. gwencrist
I was smarter this time n made notes as i read
but of course most of them dont apply now

well cause everyone else gets to do it, first i'm gonna say my fav characters in my journey through the books. I dont remember who my favourite was in the very beginning, but when i got into Dragon Reborn, Mat was definitely my fav (and Gwayn (sp) was my most hated). and it stayed that way until the 9th book. After the big scene at the end Rand became my favourite. it was funny cause i spent the 8th book wanting to read about mat and the 10th one wanting to read about rand. Now its still the same but Egwene is sneaking up there.

But yeah the coolest Mat part was when he snuck out of Tar Valon, totally outsmarting the Aes sedai, and everyone really didnt expect him to be able to (including the readers).

and yeah reply to a post way back there about how Rand's Ba'alzamon dream was in the ways. Its also seen in a bit of dramatic irony when they actually reach the ways. Rand thinks it looks familiar but then dismisses it as only him trying to find some familiarity in a strange place.
and as for cultures vs their Randland counterparts, we can't forget the texan drawl of the seanchan. I've always wondered if thats saying something about their culture or something. (lol :P)

And I think im too much of a fan of FF7. Its totally influencing how i see Ishy. Its totally different than what the rest of the guys around here are saying. Whenever he says anything revealing to the plot, I really dont take him seriously. I just chalk it up to manipulative lies or (more often) "what the heck he doesnt know anything, hes like crazy and he's also making stuff up or something" type thing.

also a pet peeve of mine... what the heck is with sheepherder? Thats not even a word. Its supposed to be shepherd. Its just bugging me

And u guys really make me feel immature. So smart n worldly n talking about teenagers objectively (even though I'm not technically one anymore). But I'm not actually as ignorant as I appear. Ive read all the books referenced here (except for Dune... and the Bible)
bryant ng
142. popsng
Ahh - TEOTW - thanks Leigh for making me realize why I love this series so much.
Thom Boyer
143. perlmonger42
CBeats@14: Concerning that metal spike described by Bayle Domon in Chapter 24...

A mountain hollowed into a bowl, and in its center, a silver spike a hundred spans high, and any who comes within a mile of it, dies.


I always thought that sounded a lot like the radio astronomy observatory at Arecibo.



If a similar installation was created to transmit rather than receive, and if it was (inconceivably) still operating in this age, it might have deleterious effects on anyone who got too close.

On the other hand, the whole point of such a device would be to direct radio energy directly upwards, not outwards.

On the gripping hand, who knows what happened to it during the Breaking? (grin)
Will
144. upchood
If I can make a really late comment. The dream Rand has at the beginning of Chapter 24 seems to take place in the Ways, at least before they deteriorated into their present state. "Bridges & railless ramps everywhere" & "Some of those ramps led to platforms that had to be directly below". There is no sun mentioned, "The light did not come from lamps, or lanterns, or torches; it was simply there, such as it ways, as if it seeped out of there air".

However, there are some shadows, but not shadows deep enough to hide in. So the process of decline has started. I seem to remember a line somewhere about the ways were always bright & shimmering.
Will
145. mikes shupp
Perlmonger42 @ 143 --

If memory serves, Arecibo was used to transmit a SETI message outwards about 40 years ago. (The destination star was 12000 lightyears away, I seem to recall). Anyhow the broadcast power was under a kilowatt, which had negligable effect on the witnesses.

Amusing idea however.
Birgit
146. birgit
"The light did not come from lamps, or lanterns, or torches; it was simply there, such as it ways, as if it seeped out of there air".

That's typical for TAR, not the Ways.
Will
147. StanMan
Maybe it's just me, but Perrin's reluctance to accept his wolfishness always made perfect sense (to the aforementioned me, anyways). Perrin has trouble fitting in, and he is self-conscious about it. Jordan gave us a few clues about this. Perrin has always been larger than the other kids -- so much so that he worried about inadvertently hurting them. Plus, the way he deliberates before speaking or acting has given him a reputation for being slow. I got the impression that the other kids of the 2Rivers probably teased him a lot. I think his young life was one of searching for acceptance and approval, of just trying to fit in.

Or maybe I'm projecting :)

I think he has trouble accepting anything about himself that makes him different. He doesn't want to stand out, certainly not with something so striking as yellow eyes, let alone knowledge that he can speak with wolves.

Maybe Jordan overplays Perrin's reaction, but I didn't think so. I mean, I wanted Perrin to embrace the whole wolfbrother thing, but I also well understood why he did not.
Will
148. The Mega Sage
Is there a statute of limitations for posting in these threads? Hope not. :) I just wanted to point out in the initial review, the following is said:
"Re: the second time Rand channels—I’m pretty sure I knew something was up by this point the first time around, but then this is a lot less subtle than the Bela thing (deliberately so), so maybe I shouldn’t pat myself on the back too hard."

I *believe* the moment being referred to is on the boat where the boom comes and hits the Trolloc off the boat. However, it has always been my opinion that this was the first instance of Rand being ta'veren. Just wanted to put that out there. :)
T C
149. Freelancer
The Mega Sage,

I was very surprised to see a comment posted from back here in the primordial mist...

The event aboard the Spray is definitely Rand channeling. Each of the first three channeling events are in situations where Rand is fearful of death. The first time, fearful for Egwene; this time and in Four Kings, afraid for himself and/or Mat. Note the sensations he has while thinking he is about to die. Then immediately afterwards, his comment that this has to have used up his luck. Channelers being known as lucky men was how the Black Ajah went about trying to hunt down the Dragon Reborn during the "vileness", represented by events in New Spring.

Most importantly, however, is Rand's "post-channeling syndrome". His outrageous tightrope act from the ship's mast, which frightened Thom enough to climb up and talk him down, is a match for his behavior in Baerlon with the Whitecloaks, and is supported by the description Moiraine gives to Nynaeve. While the first case took nearly ten days after he channeled, this one took four days.

Given Rand's normally balanced temperament up to this point, there is no rational explanation for his behavior, just as there wasn't for his decision to confront a squad of Whitecloaks, clearing his cloak aside to show them his sword. Most definitely a side-effect of having channeled.
Will
150. Eclectic
A couple things, since I wasn't the first to necromancer this thread: Maybe it was too obvious to mention, but the parallels between Aridhol and Mordeth and LotR was huge: Wormwood putting poison in the king's ear, who becomes a hollow shell of a man, this sounds explicitly channeling Tolkien as well.

I still don't think we have a good rationale for why Mordeth ran away. Possibly Mashadar can harm him as well? He'd run when he knew it was coming soon. Probably not; it may just be convenient that Mordeth not challenge our boys when they're still green.
Will
151. Darwinista
Another very late comer (who may still never finish this series--just finished Crown of Swords, which is where I got fed up with the glacial pace last time). My two cents on Mordeth was that the three boys have been marked by the dreams from Ba'alzamon. The Forsaken may not be able to take on Mashadar directly, but Mordeth is not identical to the evil he helped to create. He wants out of Shadar Logoth, but not in a way that puts a giant target on his back for the Forsaken and the Dark One. Padan Fain is a Darkfriend, but may seem a safer bet than the boys. Keep in mind that Darkfriends are drawn to Mat and Rand while they travel toward Caemlyn (and from the beginning of the book). The Shadow has plans for the boys; Fain is a tool of the Shadow, but not himself of as much interest to it.

Which reminds me, in the world of spoiling future volumes--the uber-Myrddraal, which like Fain is a specially crafted tool from Shayol Ghul--is thinking about loosening up those ties as well, which fits with the whole scheming-for-personal-gain side of evil in these books. Granting that I haven't gotten much past the halfway point, it does seem that the DO has a problem with his tools getting loose--unless, of course, this whole serving and sowing chaos thing is the main idea. In that case, Fain only thinks that his fusion with Mordeth liberates him from the Shadow, and all his predations still fit the big bad plan (TM).

And re: LOTR parallels. Mashadar plays a bigger role in this series, but its distinction from the evil of the DO and Forsaken fits with Shelob. Sauron knows about Shelob, and takes advantage of her proximity, but she doesn't give a wink of her spidery eyes about objects of power or ambitions to rule the world--she is a black hole of hunger that can never be filled, which is a different kind of evil that exists alongside, but distinct from (and sometimes in conflict with) Dark-Lord-Syndrome. Mashadar is the evil of mistrust and suspicion (rather than insatiable hunger), but seems in the same kind of category.
Will
152. Mordeth
I think it is obvious Mordeth ran because of the dagger. Not that he feared it but that it is a special part of him. We see this later when continued possession of it makes him "whole" (TGH). This is also why he wants it back from the Seachan and then later in the Tower. The dagger is tied into his being.

So when it is grabbed by Mat (and I think it is abvious that Mordeth was telling them to take anything but the dagger) it takes something away from him which is why he is lessened. Then 'wounded' as it were, he flees screaming that they are dead.
Will
153. Louis Theodore Telman
My only comment is this, in reference to a question asked by sinfulcashew in comment 89 (just in case no one else got to it first...):
"I am waiting for this finish with baited breath. (What exactly does that mean?)"

To help answer your question, it isn't really "baited" breath, but " 'bated" breath- 'bated as in "abated" as in stopped. You're holding your breath. : )

... as are we all!

Leigh- very fun reading your stuff. Thanks for helping me procrastinate. I really aught to be doing my taxes right now...

Yes. I realize it's December.
Will
154. djayschmitt
In regards to the merging of various cultures into new ones in the books, I believe it has to do with the Breaking and the possible thousands that have occurred over the ages: survivors-remnants of remnats- from different cultures find each other and merging for survival; giving rise to new cultures.
Will
155. baroper
I am firmly of the opinion, and it has been confirmed by Jordan himself, that the First Age spoken of in WOT is our present age. How freaking cool. Also, what a nifty way to explain how the Tinkers seem so much like 'modern day' gypsies, traveling people, what have you. It is just so cool to opine what cultures today gave rise to the cultures present in WOT. We have to remember what a huge history buff Jordan was. I miss that man dearly. Anyway, I have much more to say on the topic, but I will spare you fellas.
juanita heath
157. nanajade
Doing a re-read of WOT to prepare for AMOL. Also re-reading Leigh's commentary. Chapter 22 has a best line that amused me. Perrin and Egwene getting ready to go to Caemlyn. Perrin thinking. "If he was the leader,it was time to start leading"
juanita heath
158. nanajade
Doing a re-read of WOT to prepare for AMOL. Also re-reading Leigh's commentary. Chapter 22 has a best line that amused me. Perrin and Egwene getting ready to go to Caemlyn. Perrin thinking. "If he was the leader,it was time to start leading"
juanita heath
159. nanajade
Doing a re-read of WOT to prepare for AMOL. Also re-reading Leigh's commentary. Chapter 22 has a best line that amused me. Perrin and Egwene getting ready to go to Caemlyn. Perrin thinking. "If he was the leader,it was time to start leading"
Roger Powell
161. forkroot
baroper@155
I am firmly of the opinion, and it has been confirmed by Jordan himself, that the First Age spoken of in WOT is our present age.
You are welcome to your opinion, but not only did Jordan never confirm such a thing, there is fairly strong evidence from the books that that premise is incorrect. It's been discussed quite a bit in the comments throughout the reread - so as you go through, you can see the pros and cons presented.
Let me just leave you with this: Verin stated that the Portal Stones are from an earlier Age (not the Second Age). Given that we have no Portal Stones, presumably there is at least one Age in between ours and the Second Age. There's plenty of room for discussion on this, as you will see as you follow the reread.
Will
162. feistyferret
I'm just about to re-read the 12th and 13th books before the last one comes out, so am reading this to remind myself of all the details that my sieve-like brain has forgotten.

I've also just finished reading the Song of Ice and Fire series, and I have to say the fact that nobody ever dies in Jordan's world is wonderfully refeshing after Martin's penchant for killing any character with a moral backbone, usually from their own point of view! Doubly traumatic. All it does is make me detach from the good characters so that I won't grieve too much at their seemingly inevitable death.

But, what can I say. I was weened on a well-tenderised diet of Disney and Warner Bros, so I love a happy ending where all the good guys survive.
Will
163. Yosarian
About the "Rand merging faces with Ishy in the mirror" thing; I think that it's realated to that bizzare connection Rand and Morrodin apparently have much later in the series. Yeah, at one point that's explained by their balefires touching each other, but there's signs of it earlier, I think.
Will
164. Yosarian
You mentioned:
"
Meaning, in a time during which civilization in general is on the wane, fallen from the period of greatness that preceded it, usually because of some major war/disaster/bad thing that the people never quite recovered from, because it was never quite finished with. ‘Scuse me while I whip this out."

I had a different theory about that; I think it's related to the fact that most fantasy basically takes place in Dark Ages Europe, more or less, and in Dark Ages Europe, they actually *were* sitting in the decaying ruins of a much greater and more advanced civilization, the wreckage left by the fall of the Roman Empire. If you look at some of the huge pieces of Roman architecture, and compare them to the tiny stone churches that were the best anyone in the early dark ages knew how to build, they must have had the same feeling.
Ron Garrison
165. Man-0-Manetheran
“Perrin and a very nervous Egwene travel with Elyas and the wolves.” — and a very, very, very nervous Bela.

Tel'aran'rhiod:
“Was Mat somewhere in this maze? Or are there two mazes, two Ba’alzamons? . . . Is this like Baerlon? Then why can’t he find me? . . . Was this like Baerlon, or was it only a nightmare, only a dream like other men’s dreams?”
Ahh. Not so much. I love these things that are so clear in hindsight. RJ drops lots of little hints about Tel'aran'rhiod. But of course we are still thinking they are just very creepy dreams at this point. We discover also here that things that happen in Rand’s dreams have consequences in the waking world, i.e. the thorn pricks still bleed.
“A dream!” Rand shouted. “This is a dream!”
Ba’alsamon’s eyes began to widen, in surprise or anger or both, then the air shimmered, and his features blurred, and faded.
The Song:

“Who’s the leader of the band
that’s looking for The Song?
S-e-e, k-e-r, M-a-h-d-i.
Seeker Raen,
Seeker Raen...”

I believe this is the first mention of The Song(?)
Will
166. Passafist
I am very late to the party, but regarding the big hat and things being set post-Golden age being simply a post-Tolkien, post-world war thing.

I would disagree with this. Tolkien certainly wrote counter to many of his peers that were quite taken with modernity and all the progress that went with it. But Tolkien was very familiar with the old faerie stories and other medieval works. And this is a very common medieval theme. Living in post-Roman empire, the medievals were acuately aware of how great those where that had gone on before and their writing often reflected a view that the world was lessening rather than progressing.
Will
167. Skydyr
A couple thoughts on this section:

First, with Mordeth, I think that the reason he flees is that Rand's sword is the sword that was weilded by Prince Caar, when he came to destroy Aridhol so long ago. It's power wrought, so it must have a history of some sort, and Mordeth's screaming that they're dead is a reference to Caar, who died long ago. The dream Rand has later in the chapter seems to point to this, as he has his sword, but is completely different, and missing a hand like Caar, while Mordeth is there, and an old guy laughs in madness. I interpret the old guy laughing as the king, who laughed at Prince Caar. Up until the point when Rand grabs and draw his sword, Mordeth seems to be becoming more powerful. Then there is a scream, Rand's sword is out, and Mordeth is cowering. There's no other reason given for why Mordeth might suddenly change behaviours, so it seems to me that it must be the sword. In addition, I'm not sure what purpose the dream would serve in the story unless it's to illuminate the interaction that just occurred. It's certainly not prophetic, as far as I can tell, nor does it seem to be caused by Ishy.

The other thing I noticed is that Mordeth's ability to steal bodies is heavily foreshadowed by Thom when they're stabling their horses in the building in Shadar Logoth, and he says not to speak lightly of the ability of the dead to take the bodies of the living. This gets used again of course, but it certainly seems very direct at the time.

Regarding Bayle Domon, I always assumed that he had seen Trollocs in the borderlands, now they showed up here, so his first reaction is that they're after him. He never mentions times when they seem to be after him specifically, as opposed to him just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The idea of the minions of the Dark One chasing the seal does appeal, though.

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