With unspeakable horror, the Wheel of Time Reread Redux comes howling FOR YOUR SOUL. Yay!
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!
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 the meat (so fine, so fine to tear): JordanCon 7, The Con of the Red Hand is still totally a thing that is happening, and I am still totally a person who will be there. OH FRABJOUS DAY.
Ergo, scheduling note: There will be no Redux Reread post on Tuesday April 21st. But check this space anyway for report(s) on the madness of the con! Some of it might even be written sober! Whoo!
Chapter 44: The Dark Along the Ways
Ha ha, I’m laughing at my original commentary. My theory on fantasy “physics” being the reason why I sucked at actual physics is nonsense, of course, but it does remain true that the Escherian nature of the Ways is something it seems to make perfect sense to me that it should be that way. After all, if you’re screwing around with time, by necessity you’re also screwing around with space—even I know that much—so why not make it work to your advantage?
I dimly recall a lot of (largely circular) debate among fans back in the day about the exact nature of the Ways and how all that could theoretically work, but mostly that was conducted among people who were a lot smarter and a lot more STEM-oriented than I was (or am). I mostly sat on the liberal arts bleachers and ate virtual popcorn for those discussions. Personally I’m pretty happy with filing it under “handwavy stuff that would be hella fun to see on film” and leaving it at that.
Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to know How Stuff Works, and I will definitely get just as irritated as the next fan if a fictional world blatantly violates its own internal consistency (or fails to be developed enough to have its own internal consistency), but as long as the world seems to work coherently with itself, and produces a strong enough vibe of “this makes sense even if I can’t actually explain it”, then I am generally willing to roll with it. As a general rule, I’ll get thrown out of a story that has inconsistent characterization a lot faster than I will from one that handwaves physics. Give me a Timey-Wimey Ball over an Idiot Ball any day, sez me.
(This is possibly fueled by the fact that “this makes sense even if I can’t actually explain it” is a fairly accurate summation of my entire reaction to Escher’s work.)
Mat brought his dun-colored horse over by Rand. “Perrin’s making me nervous,” he muttered. Rand looked at him sharply. “Well, he’s acting strange. Don’t you see it, too? I swear it’s not my imagination, or… or…”
Rand nodded. Not the dagger taking hold of him again, thank the Light. “He is, Mat, but just be easy. Moiraine knows about… whatever it is. Perrin’s fine.” He wished he could believe it, but it seemed to satisfy Mat, a little at least.
“Of course,” Mat said hastily, still watching Perrin out of the corner of his eye. “I never said he wasn’t.”
It’s an interesting (if pointless) exercise to wonder how much of Mat’s later highly irritating skittishness around Rand is due to ingrained childhood prejudices re: men who can channel, and how much of it is due to the dagger’s influence—both before and after he’d been “cleansed” of it., since I think it’s made pretty clear that even after the Aes Sedai separated him from the thing he was still not really the same person after as he was before.
But then, he wouldn’t have been the same person anyway. You don’t need a diabolical magic dagger to change you after being through the things Mat and the others have been through. So, like I said, it’s sort of a pointless thought exercise—except that I find I have an easier time forgiving Mat his early douchiness if I decide that it was dagger-related, so I figure, why not go with that?
“Remember, good innkeeper, if you fear any trouble from this, write to Sheriam Sedai, of the Blue Ajah, in Tar Valon, and she will help.”
Eeek. Probably a good thing he never did that, eh? (He didn’t, did he? I don’t think so, but…)
Lan went past her, leading Mandarb, poled lantern in hand. His shadowy reflection approached him, leading a shadowy horse. Man and reflection seemed to step into each other at the shimmering surface, and both were gone. For a moment the black stallion balked, an apparently continuous rein connecting him to the dim shape of his own image. The rein tightened, and the warhorse, too, vanished.
I was irresistibly reminded here of that scene in Neverending Story. But that’s hardly the only place you see mirror-gates or reasonable facsimiles thereof in SFF: Lewis Carroll, the Narnia books, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Stargate… There’s just something about mirrors, man.
Loial looked around anxiously, then scrambled onto his horse with none of the reluctance he had shown earlier. The horse wore the biggest saddle the head groom had been able to find, but Loial filled it from pommel to cantle. His feet hung down on either side almost to the animal’s knees.
That horse hates the world, man. The WORLD. Heh.
Chapter 45: What Follows in Shadow
Interesting that Moiraine earlier claimed that Waygates were extremely difficult to destroy, and here she just cut her way through one like a dude with a blowtorch. Maybe she meant they were hard to destroy completely. Or maybe she’s just that badass.
I have no disagreements with my original comments that the Black Wind was very Lovecraftian and/or Kingian in flavor (King-ish? Kingesque? Sorry, Stephen, you should have been born with a name friendlier to adjectival suffixes), much more so than Jordan usually gets. Though when he does go for the horror vibe, he generally does it very well (a certain flicker sequence coming up later comes to mind).
I remember there used to be a fair amount of confusion and/or argument over whether Mashadar in Shadar Logoth and Machin Shin could be the same thing, or at least related phenomena. This was an issue which was exacerbated by Fain’s merger with Mordeth (who shared Shadar Logoth killin’ duties with Mashadar) and then later his… merge? Co-opting? Something—with Machin Shin.
It’s one of those ideas that seems perfectly logical until you actually examine it. The WOTFAQ sums up best why this is unlikely, I think:
- Mashadar dates from the Trolloc Wars, Machin Shin from the Hundred Years’ War. That is about a thousand years’ difference. Thus, the time scale does not agree.
- Mashadar is a slow-moving glowing fog that kills everything it touches. Machin Shin is a black, howling wind that eats your soul, but doesn’t kill your body. So, there is no similarity of appearance, or effect.
- If Mashadar could get into the Ways from Shadar Logoth, logic says it could get out of the Ways at some other point, and spread itself across Randland. This clearly hasn’t happened.”
So, no Mashadar/Machin Shin mashup for you! Suck it!
The Aes Sedai rubbed her fingers against her palms distastefully. “You feel the taint, the corruption of the Power that made the Ways. I will not use the One Power in the Ways unless I must. The taint is so strong that whatever I tried to do would surely be corrupted.”
Another instance of it seeming like the magic system was a little less rigidly defined in TEOTW than it became later on, since from a later perspective it doesn’t make sense that saidar would be affected by the taint on saidin.
But then again, the Ways screw with all the other kinds of physics, so why not magical physics too? Plus there’s an argument to be made that it’s different when you’re sitting in the middle of an entire dimension (or whatever, timey-wimey la la la) created by tainted saidin. So, sure, let’s go with it.
“Blood and ashes,” [Rand] mumbled, “can’t I even talk to a girl? You two are as bad as Egwene.”
The whole exchange re: Else and Aram and Min was funny, but Rand’s point is a good one. I was all set to be annoyed about how stupid it was for Egwene and Rand to be pissy at the other for even talking to a member of the opposite sex, and then I remembered that they are essentially high school age (at this point, both chronologically and emotionally), and that in high school, romantic drama is precisely that stupid. So, points for accuracy in maturity, I suppose—or rather the lack thereof.
(For the sake of argument, we’ll just blithely ignore the appalling number of adults who never progress beyond that level when it comes to relationships. Also for the sake of preferring not to remember those occasions when we have had to deal with such a person.)
“The Trollocs have discovered how to enter the Ways. […] That is how the Fades could gather a small army around Caemlyn without raising an alarm in every nation between the Blight and Andor.” Pausing, she touched her lips thoughtfully. “But they cannot know all the paths yet, else they would have been pouring into Caemlyn through the gate we used. Yes.”
I don’t know if you can rightly call this foreshadowing for what happened in AMOL, but hey, a happy accidental foreshadowing works just as well. Either way, it gave me a bit of a thrill.
And that’s our show! Say goodnight, Gracie! See you next week!