Of all the blog joints in all the websites in all the Internet, you clicked on mine: The Wheel of Time Reread Redux! You’re awesome!
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 an e-book series! Yay!
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!
Before we start, A WARNING:
Or, not really a warning, so much as an announcement, but people pay more attention to you when you say WARNING in bolded caps, because psychology.
*sage nod* Yes.
What? Oh, right, the thing: JordanCon 7, The Con of the Red Hand, DOTH APPROACHETH. And I will be there! And reporting on it for you! Right here on Tor.com! It is SO EXCITING OMG.
So you will still get to see/hear about the fun if you can’t go, but if you CAN go I highly recommend you do, because it truly is a blast, every year. It’s not too late to register: pre-registration closes April 1st! Hope to see a bunch of y’all there!
Chapter 41: Old Friends, and New Threats
I find myself having a probably entirely unreasonable quibble with the comma in this chapter title, because it bugs me. Why is this comma there? It does not need to be there. I object to this comma. This comma and I are not friends. This comma is dead to me!
Shut up, I can have irrational feuds with random punctuation marks if I want to!
This chapter is the first time I posted an image of one of the chapter icons, and the reason why I hadn’t been doing so all along is either funny or pathetic, or both. I’m not going to bore you with the details of how posts got posted on Tor.com back in the day, but suffice it to say that I am not the most technically savvy of persons, and I simply didn’t realize until this point (probably for the very good reason that I didn’t ask) that I could totally upload any images I wanted to include in my posts myself. Oops?
So at some (later) point I spent a whole evening uploading gifs of all the chapter icons I had in my possession at that time, which were totally filched from the WOTFAQ. I don’t remember anymore who originally scanned them (it may have been Joe Shaw, but I’m not sure), but their work has had an awfully long Internet shelf life as a result. (This is why the newer icons are darker and clearer than the older ones, too, because the inestimable Chris Lough at Tor.com scanned them for me, and got much better resolution than the by-now decade-plus-old original icon scans. I thought about asking him to re-scan all the old ones, too, but I was pretty sure Chris had (and has) much more important things to do, so I didn’t. Also I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who cares about that detail in any case.)
Anyway, that’s the (lame) explanation for why there were no chapter icons in the original TEOTW Reread posts. Orange you glad I toldja?
Also, I love how I kept apologizing at this point for how “long” the summaries were, because clearly I had no idea what was in store in the future. Ah, the naïve credulity of tender youth!
(What, five years ago I was totally tender! …Or, um, something else that doesn’t sound quite so wrong. *whistles*)
Aaand I should probably talk about what actually happened in this chapter at some point, eh?
“I’ll take care of Mother Grubb,” the innkeeper said gruffly. “And I suppose I can lend you a couple of horses. You try walking to Tar Valon and you’ll wear through what’s left of your boots halfway there.”
“You’re a good friend,” Rand said. “It seems like we’ve brought you nothing but trouble, but you’re still willing to help. A good friend.”
Master Gill seemed embarrassed. He shrugged his shoulders and cleared his throat and looked down. That brought his eyes to the stones board, and he jerked them away again. Loial was definitely winning. “Aye, well, Thom’s always been a good friend to me. If he’s willing to go out of his way for you, I can do a little bit, too.”
Maybe it’s a little bit sad that good people feel like they have to come up with at least slightly selfish reasons for the good things they do, or else risk their motivations not being believed at all, but I guess that’s the way things are, mostly. I mean, I’m sure Gill was inspired by his friendship with Thom at the beginning, but at this point I think that he’s helping Rand just because he wants to. That certainly makes more sense to me than supposing he’s willing to go to the maybe-not-so-metaphorical wall just for a friend of a friend.
(Or because ta’veren, but I prefer to maintain a more charitable view of Gill than to assume he only did it because he got whammied with fate pheromones or whatever. There are some aspects of the “free will” question in conjunction with the concept of ta’veren that can get kind of uncomfortable if you examine them too closely.)
That’s a little bolstered by my belief that Gill would have reacted the same way to the Whitecloak douchenozzles who invaded his inn regardless of whether Rand was there or not, because Basel Gill is quietly badass. There are all kinds of possible parallels that can be drawn from the faceoff scene Gill and his patrons have with the Whitecloaks, anything from civil rights supporters standing up to Ku Klux Klaners in a Southern bar (maybe you think the all-white uniforms are an accident, but I don’t) to that iconic scene in Casablanca where the patrons drown out the Nazi anthem with the Marseillaise. Either way it’s a clear message of HATERS TO THE LEFT, and I love it. Basel Gill FTW.
“Moiraine didn’t look at anything any more than Lan did. She led us back and forth through all those streets so many times, like a dog hunting a scent, that I thought you couldn’t be here. Then, all of a sudden, she took off down a street, and the next thing I knew we were handing the horses to the stablemen and marching into the kitchen. She never even asked if you were here. Just told a woman who was mixing batter to go tell Rand al’Thor and Mat Cauthon that someone wanted to see them. And there you were”—she grinned—”like a ball popping into the gleeman’s hand out of nowhere.”
Still not really sure how she did this, since Rand and Mat didn’t have their coins. Maybe it gets explained at some point, but if so I don’t remember it.
I’m also trying to remember if I thought Mat was actually going to die at this point. From the hindsight of how pivotal he is to the rest of the series, that idea is fairly absurd now, but on first reading of TEOTW… there was a case for it, I think. For most of TEOTW, after all, Mat had been more of an obstacle than anything else, with the exception of his Old Tongue shoutings earlier, and thus I don’t think I would really have been all that surprised if he had bitten it at this point, back in the day.
Obviously I’m glad he didn’t… but I could have seen it, here.
From the original commentary:
(Insert incoherent parenthetical observation here about the Law of Contagion in magic systems, and the reiterated parallel to biological warfare. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, but I’m sure it’s something.)
Yeah, I’m still… really not sure what I was trying to say here. So, points for consistency, I guess? Yay?
And lastly, I was chuckling over the intro to the original post, because I still remember exactly how that train door ripped off my TEOTW cover, and how hilariously indignant I was over it. (Also, it’s probably some sort of miracle I didn’t get injured myself; mind the gap, yo!)
And there’s a very nice story connected to that event that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before: shortly after I posted that post, Mr. Pablo Defendini, my original… handler, I guess you would have to call it, at Tor.com, arranged to meet with me (at the same Barnes and Noble’s I would eventually spend a surreal evening signing copies of TOM with Team Jordan), ostensibly to discuss scheduling of the blog, but mostly so that he could give me a surprise from the Tor folks: a brand new hardcover of TEOTW to replace the paperback damaged in the subway—along with hardcovers of the next six books in the series, which I had mentioned offhand I only had in paperback at the time.
It was such a sweet gesture, I was floored. Still am, really. Listen, the folks at Tor.com are just buckets of awesome and I am totally not saying that because they pay me. They are just good people, y’all best believe it, and I am proud to have been able to work with them for so many years. Mwah, darlings.
And since it is clear by now that I’m really not into talking about actual TEOTW things happening this week, I think we’ll stop here. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ll see you next week!