Bon-joor, mays ahmees! Say un Wheel of Time Reread Redux, ness pah? Way!
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 the chapters: Ha, this is the post where I did the intro in French for no discernible reason (other than sleep deprivation, possibly). I enjoyed that, even if I had to double-check half the translations. I love the language, but it had been a while even at that point.
Fun fact: the first two lines are what one of my French teachers said to us at the beginning of every class, word for word. I think she just liked how she could get away with telling her students to “sit down and shut up” as long as it wasn’t in English. Heh.
Chapter 7: The Way Out of the Mountains
I love how travel chapters in fantasy novels always remind me of how entirely screwed I would be in the same situation. Perrin’s all “yeah, I killed rabbits with my sling for supper” like it ain’t no thang, when I would be lucky if I could bring down rabbits with an actual cannon. Survival skills and me: unmixy things. Sigh.
Also, I’m sure most people know this, but trout tickling is totally a real thing, and my dad had a couple of friends who claimed they could do the Southern/Louisiana equivalent of it, which is catfish noodling (also known as “catfisting”, which will never ever ever not make me snicker like a twelve-year-old boy every time I hear it). I never actually saw them do it, because me and fishing trips to the bayou were also unmixy things (Such mosquito. So waking up at 4 AM. Wow), but, you know, I’m sure it was super cool to see done. Totes. *finger guns*
I opined in the original commentary that Moiraine is being kind of a dick in this chapter, and I… still think she’s being a dick, really. I mean, I get what she’s doing: Rand’s defiance of her in the mountain camp had undermined her authority over Perrin, and now she’s reasserting it. And to the feudal-ish mind, she does outrank everyone else in the party, on her own merits as well as in her capacity as Aes Sedai, so from that point of view it’s proper that everyone else do the scutwork. There’s even sort of practical reasons for it, if you consider how much of the heavy lifting (so to speak) she will be obliged to do if they are attacked by Shadowspawn, not to mention the Healing after. From that perspective you could even contend that it’s a fair division of labor.
All that’s true. And yet, she still kind of pissed me off.
But then, the reader is very firmly entrenched in Perrin’s POV by this point, so no matter who is actually being a dick in this scenario, we are naturally inclined to take Perrin’s side over Moiraine’s, just because we have more access to him as a character. It’s the same way with Nynaeve’s struggles over accepting older Aes Sedai’s authority; even when you can tell Nynaeve is being ridiculous, you still want her to win out over them just because she is the one we’re rooting for. Or I do, anyway.
So maybe Moiraine’s treatment of Perrin in this chapter is justified, more or less, in a uniquely “all Aes Sedai are kinda dicks” way. But I really do have to say, her needling Lan about Myrelle is a little beyond the pale. It’s one thing to give someone shit over a situation that has nothing to do with you, but quite another to give them shit over a situation that you imposed on them, without either their knowledge or consent.
I don’t like throwing the word “rape” around lightly (or even, er, heavily), but while the whole bond-passing thing might not quite reach the level of violation that that word implies, it comes close enough to make me very uncomfortable with it. And then to tease someone about it…
Well. Let’s just say that pushes quite a few buttons on my end.
So, in conclusion, I said it before and I’ll say it again: not cool, Moiraine. Seriously not cool.
Chapter 8: Jarra
Oh, yeah, this thing.
The introduction of Noam the feral wolf-man in this chapter is definitely one of the things that is profoundly affected by what we learn in the conclusion of the series, as opposed to what we knew at the time I did the original Reread. It makes this chapter read completely differently than before, in fact, which is pretty interesting.
In the Epilogue of TOM we learn that, far from being overwhelmed by his Wolfbrotherliness as everyone assumes in this chapter, Noam had in fact intentionally chosen being a wolf over being a man, apparently because his life as a man had deeply, deeply sucked. We—and Perrin—learn that Noam’s decision to be the wolf named Boundless actually was a decision, and all of Perrin’s fears about losing himself to the wolf side of the Force were mostly groundless.
I say “mostly” because Moiraine’s information in the next chapter indicates that it did happen, at least according to her research. But then again, possibly the Age of Legends writer who asserted that fact had made the same error Perrin and Moiraine did, and had not considered the possibility that the loss of humanity she’d observed was deliberate instead of involuntary. So maybe the fear actually was completely baseless, and no Wolfbrother ever lost himself (or herself—despite the title, I have to assume that there were women who had this gift as well at one point or another) to their wolf side unless they wanted to lose themselves.
So on the one hand, this was incredibly gratifying to learn, as it at last justified my series-long belief that Perrin’s fears about going feral were overly annoying paranoid. But on the other hand, when I realized that Perrin’s series-long angsting over his wolf problem was pointless AS WELL as incredibly annoying, I kind of wanted to punch something. All that drama over nothing, you guys. Grrrrr.
…Okay, so it wasn’t nothing, but sheesh. And, yeah, no story without conflict, blah blah etc., I know. Still annoying. But gratifying!
I do rather wonder whether this change re: Noam’s true situation was always intended, though. On the one hand I think it must have been, because it was such an elegant resolution to Perrin’s central character conflict, by changing his perspective on the thing that had solidified it into a character conflict. But on the other hand, I find it slightly weird that there doesn’t appear to be even the slightest hint or foreshadowing in this chapter to indicate that perhaps Noam’s home life was not the happy comfortable existence that his brother Simion made it out to be.
And Simion himself is probably the most puzzling bit of that, really. TOM’s Epilogue clearly indicates that Noam’s brother had a raging temper, and while it doesn’t flat-out state that Simion abused Noam, the implication is pretty strong that Simion was part of the reason why Noam’s life was miserable. And yet there’s not even the smallest suggestion in this chapter that Simion has any kind of temper at all, nor that he has anything but sincere concern and care for Noam.
Granted, it’s true that abusers are generally extremely good at presenting a socially acceptable front to strangers and an entirely different one to their victims, but… I dunno. I’m not saying there should have been anything obvious in the scene that all was not as it seemed, but there should have been something, and there really doesn’t seem to be.
Other than Noam being locked up in a barn in the first place, of course. But, I’m not really sure what else a small village would be expected to do with a (from their point of view) feral madman who was attacking people. It’s certainly no worse than most methods people in the olden days had to deal with insane people, and a great deal more humane than some. So perhaps the method of his imprisonment by itself was supposed to be enough of a hint that Noam’s life was terrible, but personally it didn’t strike me that way.
*shrug* It’s a minor point, probably. But it bugged me, and so I note it. And all that said, even if the revelation in TOM was a retcon, it was still a pretty awesome one.
So I SUPPOSE I’ll let it stand. Ain’t I generous?
And that’s the story for now, y’all! See you next week, and as we say during this particular season down here in New Orleans, lay-say leh bohn tohn roo-lay, cher!