Hi, salt! Hi, pepper! (Seasons’ Greetings!)
…Yes, I know, I am a terrible, terrible person. Here, have the last Wheel of Time Reread Redux post of the year as my apology!
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!
Before we begin, Scheduling Note: I was gonna try and get in another post before the end of the year, but it turns out that’s not happening. So, there is no post next Tuesday, December 29th; the Reread Redux will resume on January 5th.
Chapter 1: Waiting
I complained in the original commentary that it’s never explained how Moiraine’s women “just know” where to go, “like the coin thing”.
Well, the coin thing, as it turns out, does eventually get an explanation (if one I felt was a little squirrelly), but this thing never does. At least not as far as I recall. Nor does Moiraine’s apparent ability to have nebulous psychic connections to people get a reuse later, which seems like a serious waste of resources on Moiraine’s part, considering she spends 95% of TDR trying to figure out where the hell Rand is.
I know, I know, it probably doesn’t work that way. But my point is, it’s solely speculation on how the thing works, because it seems (to me, anyway) to be totally outside how the Power seems to work for almost everyone else.
Except possibly Rand himself, but that’s attributable to general Messiah-ness on his part. So what’s Moiraine’s excuse?
Aaaand I just mentioned this to a friend who’s read the books, and she shrugged and answered, “She’s Gandalf.”
…well. Okay, fine. WHATEVER.
Perrin’s confusion about why the Shienarans defer to him is adorable. I mean, he’s actually correct at this point about his youth and greenness, but he also clearly has no clue whatsoever about how intimidating a picture he no doubt presents. Big musclebound dude with a giant scary axe and a giant scary bow and scary gold eyes that can see twice as far as regular people’s eyes, who hangs out with the Dragon Reborn? Yeah.
Though I would give a lot to know what theories or explanations the Shienarans have among themselves to explain Perrin’s eyes. It is rather surprising that such a deviation from the norm doesn’t have a more negative connotation to people who are constantly fighting literal monsters. But then, these particular Shienarans have known Perrin for quite a while now, so I guess they’ve decided to let it go. Good for them, not succumbing to easy prejudices. You go, Shienarans!
“It is possible to oppose evil without doing violence.” Her voice held the simplicity of someone stating an obvious truth.
Perrin grunted sourly, then immediately muttered an apology. “Would it were as you say, Mistress Leya.”
Oh yeah, this again. I’m pretty sure I’ve already gone down the merry lane of the pacifism debate re: the Tinkers—probably multiple times—so I’m not going to rehash it again, except to basically agree with Perrin: would that the world worked that way, indeed.
Re: ravens, I get the precaution, but man, seems really unfair on ravens. Do you know they’re some of the only birds who play?
Chapter 2: Saidin
“I am sorry, Min. I shouldn’t have snapped at you. I did not mean to hurt you.”
She gave him a surprised look. “You didn’t hurt me. Blessed few people want to know what I see. The Light knows, I would not, if it were someone else who could do it.”
I dunno. If I knew that there was a reliable, non-bullshit way to know my own fate? I probably wouldn’t want to know, but at the same time I really would. Morbid fascination, I suppose. Even if I was fairly sure I would regret it, I don’t know that I would be able to resist asking anyway.
Min tossed, her head. “I just wish they didn’t have to be so… so bloody ta’veren all the time. Ta’veren tugging on one side, and Aes Sedai meddling on the other. What chance does a woman have?”
Loial shrugged. “Very little, I suppose, as long as she stays close to ta’veren.”
But again, would you be able to resist sticking around just to see what happens? Loial certainly can’t.
But then, that’s more of a chicken and egg question: does he want to stick around because ta’veren are fascinating, or are ta’veren fascinating because they want Loial to stick around?
Speaking of poultry:
“The Light burn me, she is right. They are all split up into little groups all over the plain, all across Tarabon and Arad Doman. If I join any one of them, the Whitecloaks and the Domani army and the Taraboners will be on top of them like a duck on a beetle.”
TIL that ducks do indeed eat beetles. And also, apparently, really shouldn’t be fed bread. Oops. I have fed a lot of bread to a lot of ducks in my life. Sorry, ducks!
But as to the actual relevant part of that quote: okay, Moiraine probably is right that joining a random band of Dragonsworn isn’t the smart move, but why not go back to Fal Dara, for example, and starting building up something there? Why just hole up in the ass-end of nowhere all this time?
I get that Moiraine is trying to gain more information before she makes a move, hence all her mystically-GPSed informants, but surely she has to see that just sitting there and doing nothing is making a literal pressure cooker out of Rand. I mean, even someone not staring down the barrel of involuntary insanity would be going stir-crazy in this situation, let alone Rand.
Unless that’s what she intended, of course, but I rather doubt that, considering her reaction to when Rand eventually does explode in a random direction.
I mentioned in the original commentary that Rand seems “visibly nuttier” here than he does in TGH, but I don’t know that I agree with that assessment right at this point. Later on in TDR, sure, but in this chapter his behavior seems… well, not normal (whatever “normal” means), but consisting of quite understandable reactions to stress, enforced boredom, and cabin fever.
There’s something about being stressed out in combination with being forced to do nothing that is enough to make even the world’s sanest person want to tear their hair out. God knows I would be climbing the walls at this point if I were Rand. At least if you’re frantically busy while being stressed out you have something to concentrate on. You’d think Moiraine would know that, too.
I do have to applaud, again, Perrin’s relative calm in facing Rand’s worryingly pressurized demeanor. (I said it was understandable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also worrying.) It’s shown over and over again throughout the story that the only things which keep Rand from completely losing his shit (up until TGS, anyway) are the people who treat him like he’s a person first and a possibly-loony Messiah figure second. And Perrin is one of the few male characters who actually succeeds at this to any extent; whether by accident or design, the women in Rand’s life are almost universally better at doing this than the men are.
(With the exception of Cadsuane, of course, who goes too far in the other direction. But that’s a rant for a much later book!)
Lan and Bashere are two of the other men I can think of offhand who also pull it off. Mat, of course, is total crap at treating Rand like a person first, which was about 90% of the reason I disliked him so much in the early books, and why I was likely quite relieved to learn he had left for Tar Valon.
Of course, now I’m relieved to learn he’s left for Tar Valon because now I know it means we’re getting to the part where Mat stops being annoying and starts being awesome. Yay!
But that time is not yet, my dears! In the meantime, have a delightful holiday season in whatever way you choose to celebrate it, and I’ll see you back here in the new year! Cheers!