Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, y’all, but until then, have another 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 now available as an ebook series, 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!
One last time, Note of Scheduling: Christmas! New Year’s! Me doing things that are not blogging! Ergo, the ReReread will be on hiatus for the next two weeks, resuming January 13th. Mark your calendars!
Chapter 24: Flight Down the Arinelle
I was sort of glib in the original commentary (I know, you’re shocked) regarding Rand’s dream about Ishy and what it means that he sees his face and Ishy’s face as one face in the mirror portion of Creepy Symbolic Subconscious Theatre, Take 3. (Or is it four by now?) I said it was probably “an especially freaky way for Ba’alzamon to indicate to Rand that Your Ass Will Be Mine,” but the far more obvious symbolic intent there is to foreshadow the danger of Rand becoming like Ishy, following his path and succumbing to the Dark One rather than… er, not doing that.
I don’t see the appeal, personally. Sure, you get to have your eyes be badass caverns of flame and all, but after a while no amount of Visine is going to prevent some serious dry-eye there. And also the whole destroying-the-universe thing, which I’m gonna be bold about and come out as firmly Against. I know, me and my radical politics!
Mat: definitely needs smacking. But then, so does Rand, for not immediately demanding that Mat ditch the dagger. I’m not sure it would have worked, but he could have at least tried. I’m also a tiny bit sad, because I don’t think anyone caught the Labyrinth reference in my Mat commentary, but that is just me being needy and insecure.
Still don’t know what that crystal lattice thing is. Or the big metal spike thing. Neither of those things are very important in the grand scheme of things, of course, but it’s still always vaguely annoyed me that I could never figure out what they were supposed to be referring to.
I also had a lovely little spiel here about Tolkien’s influence on post-apocalyptic tendencies in modern fantasy worldbuilding, which you should totally go read because I was, like, so loquacious, y’all. I also still mostly agree with Past Me on the topic as well, which is nice, because that doesn’t always happen. The only real caveat I would add to what I said before is the observation that Tolkien’s influence on WOT in particular is of course a lot more direct than just a general trend in the genre, since As You Know, Bob, Jordan was specifically evoking LOTR, especially in the first book of the series. As proven by the description in this chapter of the stone kings and queens in the cliff-face, which immediately brought to mind that iconic image of the Argonath from FOTR (even though this chapter was written over a decade before the LOTR movies were made, I’m fairly certain that illustrations of the Argonath existed long before the movies). The link I put in the original post is of course broken now, but here’s another one, just for fun.
On a more meta note, I believe this is the first time the chapter summary got long enough that I felt compelled to break it into actual paragraphs, something I maintained a perhaps bizarre dislike of doing throughout the original Reread. Possibly because at first I kept not wanting to admit that the summaries just kept getting longer and longer, and then once I had resigned myself to that reality, because I wanted to keep to the format I had originally begun with anyway.
Yes, I know that is silly. I seriously don’t know why you’re even surprised at this point.
Instead what I tried to do was to break up the blocks of text at strategic points with direct quotations from the chapter, thus cheating in “paragraph breaks” without having actual paragraph breaks. Mostly. Which generally worked fairly well, but at times could be incredibly frustrating, like when Jordan failed to provide a good meaty quote at the precise junction that I wanted him to, for instance. Or alternately, when he put too many good quotes too close together and messed up my rhythm, man. So inconsiderate.
…Anyway, I can’t precisely remember writing this post, but I’m willing to bet that this chapter is right around where I first started to have worries about being able to cram eight chapters into each post. (Also, recall that at the time, I was also posting three times a week. Ye gods.)
This chapter is also where the inspiration came for the first of the WOT ebook covers masterminded by the ever-awesome Irene Gallo, which is why it appears in both this post and the original Reread post. This one is not my favorite of the ebook covers, but it is definitely very cool—and utterly different from what I would have expected, which was actually part of the coolness of it. I’ve seen criticisms that it gives a wrong impression of what the book is about, and perhaps the very nautical theme of the art is a little misleading. But even so, I think it still captures something essential about the theme of TEOTW: a picture of a young man, setting off on a journey to destinations unknown.
How long had it been since he had thought of home, of Emond’s Field? And what of Tam? It had to be days. It felt like months. “I will go home, one day, when I can. I’ll raise sheep, like… like my father, and if I never leave again it will be too soon. Isn’t that right, Mat? As soon as we can we’re going home and forget all this even exists.”
With a visible effort Mat pulled away from staring upriver after the vanished tower. “What? Oh. Yes, of course. We’ll go home. Of course.”
Or, you know, not so much.
And that’s it for the Reread Redux for 2014, kids! I hope you all have a very merry holiday season, in whatever way you choose to celebrate it, and I will see you again in the new year! Cheers!