Happy Tuesday, mein peepen! How about a Wheel of Time Reread Redux? Well, don’t mind if I do.
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 42: Falme
“Damane are not allowed to touch a weapon of any kind.” [Egwene] worked her arm, feeling the tightness go. “Even our meat is cut for us. I don’t want to hurt myself, but I could not if I did want to. No damane is ever left alone where she might jump from a height—that window is nailed shut—or throw herself in a river.”
This is the kind of thing that always blows my mind more than anything else, when people insist that something is right and good and acceptable, at the same time that they institute measures regarding it which blatantly prove the exact opposite. The hypocrisy and/or willful blindness required to call an institution that must keep a constant suicide watch on every participant a “good” one is frankly breathtaking.
I talked in the original commentary about Stockholm Syndrome and how horrifying I found it as a concept, and I still do. I don’t think I was right, however, to apply it to the citizens of Falme. The damane, probably… although now I’m wondering if there needs to be a distinction made between Stockholm Syndrome and straight-up brainwashing. I feel like there’s a certain spontaneous element to the former that is obviously missing from, you know, systematic torture and mental conditioning. So maybe it doesn’t apply to the damane either, at that.
But definitely not to the townsfolk who get subjugated to the Seanchan. I still share some of Elayne’s instinctive contempt for them for their failure to resist their conquerors, but Nynaeve has a good point:
In truth, she could not imagine how the people could fight. Monsters and Aes Sedai. How can you fight monsters and Aes Sedai?
Is it cowardice to surrender to an overwhelmingly superior force? Or is it braver to stand down and live to theoretically fight another day?
Both valid questions – and as I note in the original commentary, still thankfully academic ones for me. But then again, I think of things like the French Resistance, and wonder.
Speaking of those monsters, The Wheel of Time Companion notes that the exotic creatures used by the Seanchan were brought to Randland from parallel realities via the Portal Stones. Which is something that seems completely obvious in retrospect, but for some reason up until I read that entry, it had never occurred to me was the case. I have no idea why I just sort of assumed that Seanchan was the Randland equivalent of Australia taken to the nth degree, and that’s why they had grolm and raken and so forth and the main continent did not.
(And actually I feel like there is a case to be made that grolm and such are really not that much weirder than the duck-billed platypus or the cassowary or some of the other weird-ass fauna going on Down Under. I’m just saying.)
And speaking of bravery, it could not be more obvious here how very inexperienced both Nynaeve and Elayne are here at applying their prodigious amounts of bravery in non-idiotic ways. But I kind of approve of that, really. At this stage of things they are young and green are largely untouched by strife or grief, and that’s exactly when a character should have more courage than sense. Even if it does make you want to shake them lightly every once in a while.
Chapter 43: A Plan
For an instant Min found herself reading the auras of the other two women. There was danger, but that was to be expected—and new things, too, among the images she had seen before; it was like that, sometimes. A man’s ring of heavy gold floated above Nynaeve’s head, and above Elayne’s, a red-hot iron and an axe. They meant trouble, she was sure, but it seemed distant, somewhere in the future.
This is yet another of Min’s viewings for Elayne which I feel, like the severed hand from Chapter 24, never really got any definitive fulfillment, and may be one of the balls that got dropped in the series as a whole. At least, I can’t think of any incident involving Elayne and either a hot iron or an axe that are significant enough to her personally to be worth appearing in her aura. I even went and specifically checked on the passage in AMOL where Mellar threatens to cut Elayne’s twins out of her womb, but he was going to do that with a hunting knife, so it doesn’t apply there either.
At some point I might do a separate post just on the various prophecies in WOT and how they were and were not fulfilled. But for now, I guess I’ll just have to shrug and move on.
Nynaeve drew a long breath and stood up straight, tugging at her coat. “With some people,” she said, “you have to be certain. If you show them one glimmer of doubt, they’ll sweep you off in some direction you don’t want to go. Light, but I was afraid he was going to say no. Come, we have plans yet to make. There are still one or two small problems to work out.”
Yeah, like I said in the original commentary, I don’t understand anymore why I was still hating on Nynaeve early on. She’s green and naïve, yes, but far less so than any of the other Supergirls at this point, and she’s got a solid start on how to be a formidable leader. Even if eventually both Egwene and Elayne eclipse her on the leadership front, she was the one who understood how to do it first. Because sometimes it really is just about fronting like you know what’s what – even if you don’t.
Annnnnd this is a little short, but the next two chapters really need to go together and many significant events happen in them, so we’ll stop here for today. Come on back next Tuesday for action! Adventure! Really wild things! Whoo!