What ho, Tor.commers! Please to be settling in for a Wheel of Time Reread Redux, yah? Yah!
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 48: First Claiming
For a time [Min] studied [Rand’s] face. It was only his face she saw; she could never read anyone who was not conscious.
This is one of those fantasy things that totally makes sense viscerally even though it really makes no sense at all in any logical manner. Like, logically a person’s future should still be there to read whether the person is awake or not (I mean, as long as we’re handwaving the “logic” of being able to read the future in a person’s aura in the first place, of course), but for whatever reason, this limitation on Min’s ability seems right and proper, regardless of whether it’s “logical” or not.
To me, anyway. But then, logic and I have something of a contentious relationship sometimes, so there’s that.
Egwene did not come any further into the room. “I—I felt him pulling at me. Needing me. Elayne felt it, too. I thought it must be something to do with—with what he is, but Nynaeve didn’t feel anything.”
If there’s any passage in the series which argues more strongly that Egwene really should have been ta’veren than this one, I can’t think of it offhand.
Because after all, Min and Elayne have the excuse of being two of Rand’s three Future Significant Others for why they felt a “pull”, but there’s no real explanation for why Rand’s own ta’veren-ness should also choose to pull on Egwene, but yet not Nynaeve. In fact, considering Rand’s state, and the fact that Egwene is total crap at Healing compared to Nynaeve, it makes even less sense. Why not pull the one person to you who is most likely to, you know, be able to save your life?
The implication in Min and Egwene’s conversation in the scene seems to be that Egwene’s “pull” was the last hurrah on she and Rand’s fading potential as Significant Others, and Min (and Elayne, presumably) taking up the slack there, and that works, I guess, but I rather think it would have made more sense if it had been Egwene’s own ta’veren-ness, drawing her where she needed to go.
But, we have been assured that Egwene was really really not ta’veren, so, well, there it is, I guess. I just think it would have worked better overall if she had been.
As for Lanfear, as I mentioned in the original commentary, it does seem a little odd that she completely loses her shit over Aviendha in TFOH, but doesn’t even bat an eye at Min sharing sleeping space with Rand here, at least initially. But on reflection, I think that there was probably a bell curve to Lanfear’s crazy, and as of this moment she had clearly not reached its peak—or nadir, depending on how you look at it. By the end of TFOH she will have had a whole lot more time to be pissed off at Rand rejecting her than she has at this point.
And there is also the really rather valid point that there is a big difference between what Min is doing in this scene and what Rand and Aviendha did in TFOH. The fact that I didn’t expect Lanfear to appreciate that difference is more a reflection on my disdain for the character than on Lanfear’s actual perspicacity.
(As a completely irrelevant side note, I typed “perspicacity” correctly on the first try even though I wasn’t 100% sure it was actually a real word. I rock.)
Chapter 49: What Was Meant To Be
Chapter 50: And After
Once again combining these two chapters, since Chapter 50 really is only like four paragraphs. And that’s only if you count the prophecy/history bit.
“You sent Verin to shepherd me, but I’m no sheep, Moiraine. You said I could go where I wanted, and I mean to go where you are not.”
“I did not send Verin.” Moiraine frowned. “She did that on her own.”
There is absolutely no need whatsoever to belabor this point anymore—duh, Verin totally did lie about Moiraine sending her, because she could—but I persist in fondly remembering the ridiculous amount of time spent arguing about this and many other Verinisms, on Usenet and beyond, and thus feel the need to commemorate some of its more infamous moments. Of which this is most definitely one; possibly the biggest one, in retrospect.
It was just so obvious, y’all. And yet, not, clearly.
I remember, I think, being really rather upset that Rand lost his father’s sword. But I think it also has a lot of significance: a last sign that he really cannot go back to being just Tam al’Thor’s son, but has to come to terms with who he really is. And if I’m not mistaken, he spends at least the next two books wielding a sword made with the Power, which has a symbolism of its own as well if you choose to see it there.
“You must choose, Rand,” Moiraine said. “The world will be broken whether you break it or not. Tarmon Gai’don will come, and that alone will tear the world apart. Will you still try to hide from what you are, and leave the world to face the Last Battle undefended? Choose.”
They were all watching him, all waiting. Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain. He made his decision.
Well, not to kill the moment or anything, but that hardly seems like much of a choice to me. I mean seriously, would anyone have said no at that point?
Especially with a bunch of kneeling Shienarans in front of you, including Mr. Future Crazypants Zealot Masema. Granted, no one could have known at that point just how far the crazypants would go, but still. The Shienarans were all worshipful and reverent and whatever, sure, but how long would that have lasted if Rand had said “hell to the no” to Option: Be The Dragon? And how far is the line from disappointed reverence to retaliation?
History suggests: not all that far, usually.
So, you know, you probably have to call a little bit of bullshit on Moiraine’s “choice,” here. But since that’s pretty much exactly how much “choice” she intended to give Rand in the first place… uh, well-played, I guess. Fifty points to Slytherin.
(Actually you could make a case for most of the Aes Sedai ending up in Slytherin. Except the Supergirls, of course, who are obviously all in Gryffindor, especially Nynaeve, sheesh. And Siuan, who is totally a Hufflepuff.)
And men cried out to the Creator, praying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the Promised One be born of the mountain, according to the Prophecies, as he was in Ages past and will be in Ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
—from Charal Drianaan te Calamon,
The Cycle of the Dragon,
Author unknown, the Fourth Age
I hadn’t really realized this until now, but this particular quotation is actually repeated three times in the series: once at the end of TEOTW’s Prologue, once here, and once at the very end of AMOL. (AMOL’s opening quotation is also a repeat of the other quotation from TEOTW’s Prologue.)
But hey, it is, in fact, a really cool passage, so I see the temptation there. Still, for symmetrical purposes it probably would have been better to have something different here, and leave the repeating quotations in TEOTW and AMOL as bookends. But given that AMOL was about thirteen years in the future and, sadly, to be written by someone else, well, these things happen.
(Strange thing I realized from double checking publication dates just now: TEOTW and TGH were published within ten months of each other. And actually, Books 3 through 6 were all published within a year of their predecessors as well. That’s… way faster than I had had the impression of. Of course, I didn’t start reading the series until after Book 7 (ACOS) was published, when the gap had stretched to two years, but even so, compared to ASOIAF’s publication rate, Jordan’s pace up until WH was positively breakneck. Huh.)
Oh, and because I never did it in the original Reread, let’s also take a last-post look at the cover art!
…Wow, I really hate this cover art. From factual inaccuracies (the Trollocs being basically dudes with animal hats on) to nonsensical lighting (does Rand have a footlight on him?) to Lanfear looking like she’s wearing a baby blue 80s prom dress to either Loial being apparently only a few inches taller than Rand, or some seriously wonky perspective fail. Not to mention that Lanfear looks more like Madeline Kahn in the middle of a Mel Brooks number than the most beautiful woman in All The Land. (I love me some Madeline Kahn, don’t get me wrong, but the most beautiful woman in All The Land she was not.)
But, uh. The trees and rocks are very nicely done. The rest of it is… sorry, no.
But anyway, here ends The Great Hunt! It’s got some of my least favorite bits of WOT in it (*mentally punches Renna in the face a few times*), but also some seriously great bits (like Rand’s entire sojourn in Cairhien) and generally does exactly what a second book in a long series should do, which is take the hooks the first book set in you and firmly screw them in so deep there’s no way you’re not reading on.
Well, there was no way I wasn’t reading on at this point, anyway.
And you should keep reading on as well, because next week we start The Dragon Reborn, which has got even more awesome bits in it. So y’all have a lovely December week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!