To Reread, or not to Reread, is that the question? Well, then: DUH.
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!
JordanCon 7, The Con of the Red Hand is ALMOST HERE ZOMG.
Ergo, scheduling note: There will be no Redux Reread post on Tuesday April 21st. But check this space for a report on what I am positive will be my absolutely fabulous time there! Yay!
Chapter 46: Fal Dara
To my shame, I cannot quite remember which Borderland city falls when the Last Battle officially (more or less) begins; I think it is Fal Dara, but I’m not sure.
Actually, a lot of the events of AMOL, aside from the really huge ones of course, are kind of jumbled up for me by now. Which makes sense, really, considering I’ve only read AMOL (and TOM and TGS) twice-ish, as opposed to the *cough, mumble* times I’ve read most of the other books in the series (not to mention the years I spent yelling at people about them on the Internet).
As a side note, there is an appalling dearth of decent AMOL chapter summaries on the Internet as of yet, and I am trying my level best not to sigh mournfully in Bob and Gary’s direction, whose AMOL section is still under construction. (This is absolutely not a dig, mind you; no one knows better than me how long stuff like that takes to put together, especially when you’re doing it for free in your spare time. But man would I love to have that on hand right now.)
Anyway, I think it would be good if it was Fal Dara that fell, narratively speaking, simply because it is the first Borderlander city we see in the series. Coming full circle and alla that.
Rand noticed trees split open as if struck by lightning.
“The cold,” Lan answered when he asked. “Sometimes the winter is so cold here the sap freezes, and trees burst. There are nights when you can hear them cracking like fireworks, and the air is so sharp you think that might shatter, too. There are more than usual, this winter past.”
Man, I thought I got used to cold when I lived in New York, but there’s “cold,” and then there’s “OMG why would you live here what is wrong with you.”
Of course, there are a lot more reasons I would ask that of a Borderlander than the temperature, but it’s a good start.
Seriously, you have to wonder a little about people who voluntarily live next door to Hell. Literally. And spend their lives telling Hell’s denizens to get off their lawn. Also literally. Their frozen, desolate, zero tourist-industry-economy lawn.
Borderlanders, man. *shakes head*
But okay, the actual answer to that question (in all aspects) is the same as the answer to the one asking about the kind of people who explore Antarctica or join the Marines or are modern-day farmers: the extreme difficulty level, not to mention the risk, is part of the appeal. It’s a pride thing, also an accomplishment thing, to be able to do/achieve/maintain what most people either can’t or won’t (along with, perhaps, a soupçon of masochism, ahem). It’s a mindset that I can intellectually understand, but as someone who falls firmly in the “won’t” category (also, honestly, mostly in the “can’t” camp as well), that doesn’t stop me from occasionally side-eyeing it with a wee bit of skepticism.
“I only danced with Aram, Rand,” [Egwene] said softly, not looking at him. “You wouldn’t hold it against me, dancing with somebody I will never see again, would you?”
And so she does not ever see him again, at least unless I seriously forgot something. Which is, as usual, perfectly possible.
“Ingtar seems to believe you will defeat this threat as you have defeated many others across the years.”
“Aes Sedai,” Agelmar said wryly, “if Ingtar had to ride alone to Tarwin’s Gap, he would ride the whole way proclaiming that the Trollocs would be turned back once more. He has almost pride enough to believe he could do it alone.”
I wonder if Jordan knew from the moment he introduced him that Ingtar would turn out to be a Darkfriend. I mean, I assume so, but man is he good at camouflaging it, then.
“A small thing!” Agelmar’s chair scraped across the floor as he stood. “Peace! The tower watch is so negligent a man can reach the walls unseen, and you call it a small thing?”
“He is a madman, Lord.” Awe touched Ingtar’s voice. “The Light shields madmen. Perhaps the Light cloaked the tower watch’s eyes and allowed him to reach the walls. Surely one poor madman can do no harm.”
That said, in retrospect this is a rather suspiciously convenient bit of handwavery.
Speaking of which, it’s a damn good thing Agelmar wasn’t a Darkfriend, considering how Moiraine and Lan just flat out tell him what their mission in the Blight is about. But I suppose you have to trust people sometime. Maybe.
As to Fain, in light of what he eventually becomes, it’s sort of astonishing that at this point he can just be in a room with the Superboys (and Rand in particular, of course) and not have horrible things happen. He’s sort of like a deadly virus that at this early juncture just hasn’t quite mutated to become airborne yet. Eek.
“Ninte calichniye no domashita, Agelmar Dai Shan,” Moiraine replied formally, but with a note in her voice that said they were old friends. “Your welcome warms me, Lord Agelmar.”
“Kodome calichniye ga ni Aes Sedai hei. Here is always a welcome for Aes Sedai.” He turned to Loial. “You are far from the stedding, Ogier, but you honor Fal Dara. Always glory to the Builders. Kiserai ti Wansho hei.”
Long ago, when asked about how he invented the Old Tongue, Jordan said: “The words come partly from Gaelic, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. The grammar and syntax I believe I invented myself, although it’s possible that another language uses the same. Of course, just as with English, I have deliberately put in some very illogical inconsistencies.”
I can’t speak to the grammar and syntax assertion, but the Asian influence on the Old Tongue has always been very pronounced to my eyes, to the point where I originally thought that Asia was the sole region of influence on the language. Though on reflection, I suppose “calichniye” has a certain Russian ring to it. And it’s certainly true that I wouldn’t know Gaelic (or Arabic, mostly) if it walked up and kicked me in the shin, so there’s that.
Chapter 47: More Tales of the Wheel
I do like that ravens icon. Something about the sharp geometry of the opposing curves of the birds is very appealing.
I was a little sarcastic about Lan’s backstory in the original commentary, and while I wasn’t wrong about the prevalence of uncrowned kings in stories like these, that’s also sort of the point. Is a cliché still a cliché if you think it’s awesome anyway?
(I’m a poet and I don’t know it!)
Nynaeve had listened just as wide-eyed as Egwene, but now she was staring into her cup again, her face pale. Egwene put a hand on her arm and gave her a sympathetic look.
A look meant, no doubt, to convey “sorry your crush is a walking classical tragedy”, heh. I guess it’s not every day you find out the guy you like is (a) freakin’ royalty and (b) functionally suicidal. It’s gotta be a bummer.
Also from the original commentary, I guess we can go ahead and confirm that everyone currently in the room either already does or eventually will totally outrank Agelmar. Including Moiraine, who (in retrospect) wins by virtue of being Aes Sedai on top of being a king’s niece. One or the other may have been arguable (especially since I don’t know that we ever find out how closely Agelmar is related to the king), but the two together, I think, pretty much settles it. Agelmar loses!
Not that he would actually care, of course, but I’m just amusing myself here.
“When Fain returned to Lugard, Ba’alzamon came to him in a dream. Fain abased himself and performed rites that would strike you deaf to hear the half of them, binding himself even more tightly to the Dark One. What is done in dreams can be more dangerous than what is done awake.”
I probably wasn’t the only one who immediately began trying to think of what “rites” could entail that would be so bad as all that. It’s not a train of thought I recommend to those who don’t want to seriously squick themselves.
Anyway, Fain. Fain Fain Fain. Sigh. I’m pretty sure I’ve been annoyed by him on principle for nearly the entire time I’ve been reading this series – but not all. I think I was remiss in the original commentary by not acknowledging that at this point I was both horrified and fascinated by his story, and wanted to know more. It was only later that I started to grow weary of him. But, my later weariness of him was sufficiently extreme that it retroactively poisoned any early interest I may have had in his character, so I guess it’s understandable. It’s always nice when I can forgive Past Me for things!
“The old blood,” Moiraine said, “split out like a river breaking into a thousand times a thousand streams, but sometimes streams join together to make a river again. The old blood of Manetheren is strong and pure in almost all these young men. Can you doubt the strength of Manetheren’s blood, Lord Agelmar?”
Rand glanced sideways at the Aes Sedai. Almost all.
Genetic determinism, yay!
Okay, sarcasm very definitely intended there, but again, the importance of “blood” in These Kinds of Stories is a time-honored tradition that, problematic implications notwithstanding, lend a weight to the predestination/prophecy/symbolic import of it all that I even still find compelling, if guiltily so.
And thus the infodumpery portion of our TEOTW story is concluded! Sort of! Next week things begin to get temporarily endgame-y, though, so hooray! See you then!