The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Great Hunt, Part 7

Reread Redux, Reread Redux, Reread Redux… the words have lost all meaning!

Today’s Redux post, nevertheless, will cover Chapters 9 and 10 of The Great Hunt, originally reread in this post.

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!

 

Chapter 9: Leavetakings

WOT-flame-of-tar-valonRedux Commentary

I said in the original commentary that I couldn’t remember at that point what had even happened to Hurin after TGH, which is probably because at the time Hurin really had completely disappeared after this book (except for a brief scene in TDR where I think he gets like one line). He doesn’t appear again until TGS, which at the time of my original commentary had not yet been published.

However, I certainly can’t say I don’t remember what happened to him now, since his mention in the litany of Last Battle deaths Rand is forced to witness from afar in AMOL is about where I started crying real tears. I teared up again just now thinking about it, jeez.

It was the concatenation of all those known characters dying at once, of course, but part of it was Hurin specifically. All untimely character death sucks, obviously, but there’s something much worse about reading of the death of a character like Hurin, who above all else came across as… well, maybe not quite an innocent, because that doesn’t seem like the right descriptor for a guy who could literally smell all the horrible things people (and Shadowspawn) do to each other. Maybe just fundamentally decent is a better way to put it. Basically the guy just didn’t seem to have a single mean bone in his body, and he didn’t deserve to die the way he did. Not that any of the other characters did either, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, it was sad and it made me feel sad, moving on.

She kept muttering, ‘Is it old come again, or new?’ and staring at me until you would have thought I was using the One Power. Almost had me doubting myself. But I haven’t gone mad, and I don’t do anything. I just smell it.”

Rand could not help remembering Moiraine. Old barriers weaken. There is something of dissolution and change about our time. Old things walk again, and new things are born. We may live to see the end of an Age.

I never quite worked out where sniffers fit into the overall scheme of WOT cosmology, but basically I’m kind of not really bothered about it anymore. It does seem a little odd that it apparently only ever showed up among the Borderlander populations, but it must be admitted that the Border is certainly where the talent would come in most handy. I guess it’s basically like the Wolfbrother thing – a vanishingly rare magical mutation that shows up in a miniscule percentage of the population. Fair enough.

Loial carried no weapon that Rand could see; he had never heard of any Ogier using a weapon. Their stedding were protection enough. And Loial had his own priorities, his own ideas of what was needed for a journey. The pockets of his long coat had a telltale bulge, and his saddlebags showed the square imprints of books.

Now there’s a fictional character who could use a Kindle.

“I said listen, sheepherder,” the Warder growled. “There will come a time when you must achieve a goal at all costs. It may come in attack or in defense. And the only way will be to allow the sword to be sheathed in your own body.”

“That’s crazy,” Rand said. “Why would I ever—?”

The Warder cut him off. “You will know when it comes, sheepherder, when the price is worth the gain, and there is no other choice left to you. That is called Sheathing the Sword. Remember it.”

Yeah, I still think this bit is a little clunky, but whatever. It’s lucky that Rand was apparently smart enough to realize Lan meant letting your opponent give you a killing strike in order to guarantee your own in return, because the way it’s phrased here it could be interpreted as more of a seppuku-type move. Granted, I can’t think offhand of a situation in which stabbing yourself with your own sword would give you any kind of tactical advantage in a duel (other than, er, ending it), but I assume there probably is one if you think about it long enough.

Only Rand, and his two friends on the other side of the party, stayed upright. He wondered what [the Amyrlin] had said to them.

I wonder too, actually. I don’t think we ever found out specifically, but it must have been quite an off-putting thing if neither Mat nor Perrin were moved to bow to her as well.

Domon breathed heavily; every time he returned from the northcountry he found himself surprised, for all he had been born there, at the early summer heat in Illian.

Illian obviously takes many of its characteristics from the Greek/Mediterranean region, but on this reading it reminds me a little of New Orleans too, which is also a southern port city with sometimes dubious smells and an “any excuse for a party” type atmosphere. The association was probably mostly owed, though, to the above quote, and my memory of the first time I came back to New Orleans in the summer after having lived away from it for a few years, and walking out of the airport and literally ducking at the way the heat just came down on me, like a sweaty fat man had just sat on my head. Takes a bit of getting used to, for sure.

It’s probably the same in southern Europe, too, of course, but until someone buys me that world tour I’ll have to go off the experiences I have. Thbbt.

Easing the Badger, it was called, though not even Nieda Sidoro, the innkeeper, knew what the name meant; there had always been an inn of the name in Illian.

That is just never not going to sound dirty to me. And if you claim it doesn’t sound dirty to you, I’m not going to believe you.

Also, one of these days I’m going to remember to ask Harriet whether the riff on the inn’s name in TOM (where Perrin “eases” the badger Mat catches to celebrate their reunion) was meant to be an actual explanation of the phrase, or just an in-joke for the readers and their many long years of naughty, naughty Internet speculation on what exactly constitutes “easing” a “badger”. You know who you are.

A small, age-dark ivory carving of a man holding a sword. The fellow who sold it claimed if you held it long enough you started to feel warm.

I wonder if that guy ever figured out he could be taught to channel.

It’s too bad no one (apparently) ever realized this carving was an angreal for men (I mean, I’m assuming, but the implication seems pretty clear), because as far as I know there was only one other one discovered in the entire course of the series: Rand’s little fat man angreal. Could’ve come in handy, you know?

 

Chapter 10: The Hunt Begins

WOT-horn-of-valereRedux Commentary

In the comments to the original post, a couple of people confirmed that Jordan had said that the repeating fly vision thing was a trap set by Fain, but I still don’t understand how Fain could have known Rand would walk into that particular house and trigger it. And he obviously didn’t set traps in all of the houses, because immediately after Rand escapes, we see Mat coming out of another house no worse for wear, and the whole company had been searching the other houses to boot.

I mean, if Jordan said Fain did it then I guess we’ll have to go with it, but personally I think that what several commenters suggested – that it was a bubble of evil – makes a lot more sense. But, you know. Fain and sense aren’t exactly BFFs at the best of times, so why not.

I will say that even now, the bit here where they find out that they are chasing a guy who can totally nail Myrrdraal to doors like it ain’t no thang is still pretty chilling.

Rand tried to ride with Mat and Perrin, but when Rand let his horse drop back to them, Mat nudged Perrin, and Perrin reluctantly galloped to the head of the column with Mat. Telling himself there was no point riding at the back by himself, Rand rode back to the front. They fell to the rear again, Mat again urging Perrin.

Burn them. I only want to apologize. He felt alone. It did not help that he knew it was his own fault.

Yeah, maybe, but it’s still Mat I want to give forehead flicks to right now. And one to spare for Perrin re: growing a damn spine and telling Mat to stop acting like a sulky toddler already. Sheesh.

“Aiel are hard,” Ingtar said. “Man and woman, hard. I’ve fought them, and I know. They will run fifty miles, and fight a battle at the end of it. They’re death walking, with any weapon or none. Except a sword. They will not touch a sword, for some reason. Or ride a horse, not that they need to. If you have a sword, and the Aielman has his bare hands, it is an even fight. If you’re good. They herd cattle and goats where you or I would die of thirst before the day was done. They dig their villages into huge rock spires out in the Waste. They’ve been there since the Breaking, near enough. Artur Hawkwing tried to dig them out and was bloodied, the only major defeats he ever suffered. By day the air in the Aiel Waste shimmers with heat, and by night it freezes. And an Aiel will give you that blue-eyed stare and tell you there is no place on earth he would rather be. He won’t be lying, either. If they ever tried to come out, we would be hard-pressed to stop them. The Aiel War lasted three years, and that was only four out of thirteen clans.”

This is a total infodump, and I’m pretty sure I ate it up on first reading, since this is the first time (I think) we get any real information on the Aiel, and we had been nicely primed to be eager for that information after the tantalizing hints given us by Loial and Gawyn and Tam’s remarks in TEOTW. So well done there.

“Everything, everywhere, fading. There is hardly a nation that truly controls the land it claims on a map, and there is hardly a land that claims today on a map what it did even a hundred years ago. When the War of the Hundred Years ended, a man rode from one nation into another without end from the Blight to the Sea of Storms. Now we can ride through wilderness claimed by no nation for almost the whole of the land.”

This is a thing which seems weird to me, just because it is so unlike the world I know, where an ever-burgeoning population has long since claimed every last bit of livable land on the planet, along with most of the non-livable bits to boot. Sure, there’s plenty of empty land/wilderness out there, but almost none of it is unclaimed wilderness (even if some of it has only technically been claimed by one dude). Ergo, the idea of just having huge empty swaths of perfectly arable land lying around with no takers is startling, to me anyway.

In Randland, of course, it’s a sign of the impending apocalypse – humanity in decline and alla that. Which is sort of amusing when you consider how many people think the massive overcrowding of the real world is the sign of our impending apocalypse. But then, some people seem to grab onto just about any dang thing as proof of impending apocalypse. Very popular consequence of things, impending apocalypse is. And now neither of those words make any sense to me anymore. (Maybe it’s a sign of impending apocalypse!)

“Gone, my Lord. But she was there. A woman in a white dress, at the window. I saw her. I even thought I saw her inside, for a moment, but then she was gone, and…” He took a deep breath. “The house is empty, my Lord.”

Hi, Lanfear! Nice of you to drop in!


But we’ll visit more with Crazy Aunt Mierin later, I promise. Until then, stay frosty, kids, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

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