Try and tell me of an old dream, Reread Redux—a new version of the old scene!
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 11: Glimmers of the Pattern
So I’m reading over my original commentary on this chapter, and I say to myself, “Self,” I say, “that was some fine commentatin’.”
Of course, I’m congratulating myself on adequately conveying my own feelings about a thing, so you know, take it for what it’s worth, but my point is, well, I think I summed up my thoughts on both Mat’s behavior and the ironic lordening of the Superboys just fine the first time, in a way that I don’t think can be improved upon, at least in terms of getting my feelings on the matter across. Ergo, I don’t really have much to add about this chapter except for some minutiae. Like:
Lying there in his blankets, [Fain] stared northward. He could not feel al’Thor, now; the distance between them was too great. Or perhaps al’Thor was doing his vanishing trick. Sometimes, in the keep, the boy had suddenly vanished from Fain’s senses. He did not know how, but always al’Thor came back, just as suddenly as he had gone. He would come back this time, too.
I’m assuming this is because Rand went into areas warded by the Aes Sedai occasionally in Fal Dara? Right at this moment, of course, it’s because Rand (and Loial and Hurin) just got sucked into an alternate Randland via Portal Stone, but barring the ward option, I’m not sure why Rand would have dropped off Fain’s Nemesis Radar™ in Fal Dara.
It was all of one piece, neither woven, nor dyed, nor painted. A banner, white as snow, big enough to be seen the length of a field of battle. And across it marched a rippling figure like a serpent scaled in gold and crimson, but a serpent with four scaled legs, each tipped with five golden claws, a serpent with eyes like the sun and a golden lion’s mane.
Not woven, dyed, or painted, eh? Maybe it was laser printing!
What? Well, you tell me, then!
Chapter 12: Woven in the Pattern
On the other hand, my original commentary on this chapter is hilariously wrong re: Egwene’s “lack of character,” considering that by the time I christened her “Ooh Ooh Girl” in, I think, TSR, she was one of my favorite characters precisely because of how much I identified with her dominant personality traits. Oh, silly past Leigh.
It’s probably worth noting, though, that at the time I was originally beginning the Reread, I hadn’t actually read WOT for years (even though prior to that I had read it multiple times). So a lot of it was me reading and going “oh yeah, now I remember that bit.” This is especially true of the early books. So maybe it’s not that surprising that I didn’t remember at this point how much I grew to like Egwene later.
But still: hilarious.
“Did Moiraine never explain any of this to you?”
“Never.” Egwene wished her voice was not so breathless. “She had… other matters to deal with.” Nynaeve snorted softly.
“Well, Moiraine has never believed in telling anyone anything they did not need to know. Knowing serves no real purpose, but then, neither does not knowing. Myself, I always prefer knowing to not.”
PREACH IT, SISTER VERIN.
“This is complete foolishness,” Nynaeve muttered. “I don’t feel like a flower. If anything, I feel like a blackthorn bush. I think I will wait by the fire after all.”
“As you wish,” Verin said. “Did I mention that novices do chores? They wash dishes, scrub floors, do laundry, serve at table, all sorts of things. I myself think the servants do a better job of it by far, but it is generally felt that such labor builds character. Oh, you are staying? Good.”
Verin is cracking my shit up in this chapter. I probably didn’t think Verin was quite as awesome the last time around at this point as I do now, my knowledge of her future badassery retroactively permeating everything as it does, but it’s not like that’s a bad thing, so whatever.
It helps, though, that Verin is genuinely helping Nynaeve here, not just making fun of her, even if Nynaeve doesn’t recognize it. A less compassionate person would have kept Nynaeve ignorant of her fate if she didn’t make Accepted, and then done a Nelson laugh when she gets stuck at the metaphorical kiddies’ table. So, as usual, go Verin.
And speaking of Black(ish) sisters hiding it really damn well:
Alviarin was as cool and businesslike as a merchant come to buy wool and tabac, surprised that Nynaeve was part of the lesson but accepting, sharp in her criticisms but always ready to try again.
I have to assume Jordan already knew at this point that she was not just Black Ajah but its leader, but wow, talk about giving no hint of it beforehand.
By the way, my speculation in the original commentary that maybe Alviarin was the one who let Fain out was wrong. As one of the commenters on that post pointed out, that doesn’t match up with the way she and Fain treat each other as strangers when she catches him in the Tower later on. If Alviarin had let Fain out in Fal Dara, he would have already known she was Black Ajah.
Also, we never do find out who the Yellow sister was in the party. I find it amusing that I am still slightly irritated by this.
…[Egwene] saw Rand sleeping on the ground, wrapped in a cloak. A woman had been standing over him, looking down. Her face was in shadow, but her eyes seemed to shine like the moon, and Egwene had known she was evil.
Girl, you have no idea.
Also, a new probably wrong theory to make up for the corrected Alviarin one: if Lanfear was standing right there when Rand and Co. got zapped into alternate Randland, does that mean she did the channeling to activate the Portal Stone and not Rand? That would seem to make more sense than supposing that Rand did something that later proves to be at least a little complex completely by accident, when at the moment he can barely do jack with the Power.
Speaking of: have another chapter!
Chapter 13: From Stone to Stone
“The many-worlds interpretation is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts the objective reality of the universal wavefunction and denies the actuality of wavefunction collapse.”
[Loial:] “Most of it sounded like this. ‘If a woman go left, or right, does Time’s flow divide? Does the Wheel then weave two Patterns? A thousand, for each of her turnings? As many as the stars? Is one real, the others merely shadows and reflections?’ You see, it was not very clear.”
Not to Loial, maybe, but the reference is pretty clear to me. Jordan probably understood the actual theory a lot more than I’ve bothered to, however, since I rather doubt that “skimming the Wikipedia article” counts as Having Done The Research.
I do understand it some, though, and it seems like the main difference between the scientific many-worlds theory and Jordan’s “worlds of if,” is that the physics theory stipulates that once a world has “split off” into varying realities, those realities can no longer interact with or affect each other. Whereas the fact that Hurin can still “smell” Fain’s party even in the other world proves that that is not the case in WOT. (Well, that and the fact that people can travel between them in the first place, of course.)
So, WOT’s version is definitely doing a little handwaving on this front, but, hey, the idea of being able to actually travel among the Many Worlds is obviously much more fun and story-generating, so nyah, physics!
Although, my original contention that the Portal Stones were “sort of a waste of good pseudoscience” still stands, really. Maybe I’m just not thinking it through, but mashing the many-worlds concept of the Portal Stones with the circular-time concept of the Wheel of Time seems… wonky.
Mainly because the idea of what causes the “worlds of if”—namely, an event or chain of events which proceeded differently than it did in the “main” world, i.e. the one we started from—suggests to my mind a distinctly linear interpretation of time. A woman goes left to make one world, right to make another, and the whole point is there’s no way to go back and undo the split once it’s in the past. But how does that jibe with the concept of circular time—that the Ages happen over and over again?
I dunno. Do you?
He reached for it—he was not sure how he reached, but it was something, a movement, a stretching toward the light, toward saidin—and caught nothing, as if running his hands through water. It felt like a slimy pond, scum floating atop clean water below, but he could not scoop up any of the water. Time and again it trickled through his fingers, not even droplets of the water remaining, only the slick scum, making his skin crawl.
In other news, I think this is the first time we get a real first-hand description of the taint, and wow, is that vividly gross. Also, a nice (gross) contrast to Egwene’s way less fraught fumblings for the same goal in the previous chapter.
Desperately, he tried to form an image of the hollow as it had been, with Ingtar and the lances sleeping by their horses, with Mat and Perrin, and the Stone lying buried except for one end. Outside the void he formed it, clinging to the shell of emptiness that enclosed him. He tried to link the image with the light, tried to force them together. The hollow as it had been, and he and Loial and Hurin there together. His head hurt. Together, with Mat and Perrin and the Shienarans. Burning, in his head. Together!
The void shattered into a thousand razor shards, slicing his mind.
I’m not sure, but I think Rand came reeeeeeally close right here to either burning himself out or killing himself stone Ded. And it’s neither the first or the last time, either. Talk about tap dancing on a land mine.
And that’s all I got for now, tin lizzies! Be well, and return forthwith a week Tuesday for more!