Happy Hallow’s Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve, Tordotcommers! Welcome back to the Wheel of Time Reread Redux!
All original posts are listed in The Wheel of Time Reread Index here, and all Redux posts will also be archived there as well. (The Wheel of Time Master Index, as always, is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general on Tor.com.)
The Wheel of Time Reread is also available as e-books, except for the portion covering A Memory of Light, which should become available soon.
All Reread Redux posts will contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And now, the post!
Chapter 9: Tellings of the Wheel
Rand’s dream about the White Tower is really interesting, in retrospect. The dream could be loosely interpreted to be a warning against trusting something that seems too good to be true (which is valid), or less loosely as a warning against trusting Aes Sedai (also valid), but I think the real warning was simply that Rand should never go to the White Tower, specifically. It was a warning that Rand took so to heart (consciously or otherwise), in fact, that he never once set foot in the place—at least not until the very end of the series. And even in AMOL, his visit was for almost literally a hot second: he basically stuck his head in, told Egwene Tag you’re it, come get me, and left.
(You know. More or less.)
And given what we now know about how thoroughly riddled with Darkfriends the Tower was, that seems like it was a very very good move. Good job, vaguely prophetic dream!
As a side note, I seem to recall some folks being skeptical of the sheer volume of Black Ajah versus non-evil (or at least non-Evil™) Aes Sedai there ended up being—I think someone once calculated the percentage of Aes Sedai who were Darkfriends and it was somewhere between a quarter to one third of the total—but you know, it actually does make sense, given that the White Tower was supposed to be the Shadow’s most powerful opponent in the Last Battle. If you had the opportunity to infiltrate your enemy’s equivalent of nuclear weapons bunkers, why wouldn’t you concentrate on that above any other, wimpier facilities?
I sort of hate to pick at the tale of the fall of Manetheren, because it really is a great story, but this time around, I couldn’t help wondering why, if Eldrene was an Aes Sedai powerful enough to melt down an entire city (even if only as a Final Strike kind of thing), she wasn’t out on the battlefield helping Aemon in the first place. I suppose evacuating the city and guarding the refugees was equally important if not more so, but I dunno, it strikes me as a little bit of a misallocation of resources. Oh well. Still a great story, flowery language and all. (Seriously, I didn’t remember that it was quite so… High Chant, I guess? But it works. I bet Thom was jealous.)
Something else that always mildly bothered me, though, is that as far as I remember, we never learn how Emond’s Field actually got its name. Was Emond a person, or is that Old Tongue for “Last Stand” or something? Sounds like it should be a person, but I don’t ever remember learning who he or she was.
…Unless “Emond” is a corruption of “Aemon,” which I guess is rather possible, actually. Just as “al’Thor” is probably a shortened version of “al Thorin,” and so on. Which gives the name two sly references for the price of one, heh.
(But then, who was Deven, and what was so awesome about his ride that they named a whole village after it?)
Chapter 10: Leavetakings
“It is ridiculous!” [Lan] retorted. “There’s no reason for her to come along, and every reason for her not to.”
“There is a reason for it,” Moiraine said calmly. “A part of the Pattern, Lan.” The Warder’s stony face showed nothing, but he nodded slowly.
Ah, hindsight is fun. Like here, where you realize that Moiraine just told Lan that Egwene was a channeler without actually saying it.
Also I think I say something about this later but man was Lan mouthy and volatile in TEOTW.
I can only assume Thom suspected right from the beginning who Rand/Mat/Perrin might turn out to be, because otherwise I see no sane reason for him to insist on tagging along with a group who are basically nothing but one giant Shadowspawn magnet. In fact I’m not sure even that’s a sane reason.
“Bela,” Rand said, getting a look from Lan that made him wish he had kept silent. But he knew he could not dissuade Egwene; the only thing left was to help. “Bela may not be as fast as the others, but she’s strong. I ride her sometimes. She can keep up.”
I probably should say something about the icons at some point (e.g., that I’m actually using them this time, whereas for some reason in the original reread I didn’t think to add them until TGH), but right now I’m mostly just puzzled at why this chapter has the staff icon and the previous one has the dragon’s fang. It seems like it would be much more apropos to have it the other way around, considering how Moiraine was flaunting her staff in Chapter 9.
“Wolves!” Perrin exclaimed
Heh. Yep, still funny.
And yep, “Draghkar” still sounds like a horrible men’s cologne. But at least the “evil breath-sucking” theme holds true, eh?
Chapter 11: The Road to Taren Ferry
It reinforces just how sheltered the Emond’s Field folk are that Rand regards the people of a village a day’s ride away as suspicious foreigners. I mean, there’s isolation, and then there’s living in a virtual cocoon.
And, er. Other than what I said in my original commentary, about how I didn’t realize Rand channeled for the first time in this chapter on first reading (and to reiterate how cool the subtlety of it was), there isn’t much else to say about it.
Well, except that actually you can scratch what I said earlier about switching the icons of the two previous chapters: given that Rand channels here for the first time, I totally would have put the dragon’s fang on this chapter, put the leafless tree on Chapter 1o, and the staff on 9. There, I’ve retroactively solved a HUGE FLAW in the novel. Everything is okay now! Go me!
(*rolls eyes at self*)
Oh, and also I maybe want to mention that it’s also only in retrospect that I got how powerful Moiraine is shown to be by this chapter, comparatively speaking. I mean, obviously we get specifically told later that her power ranking is up near the top for Aes Sedai (at least until the Supergirls come along), but even without that, cleansing fatigue from ten people and horses, plus creating a fogbank that covers miles of river is no small potatoes. And she ain’t done yet.
But we’re done, at least for now! Have a Happy Halloween weekend, if that’s your thing, and if you survive the sugar crash come back next Tuesday for more!