The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Dragon Reborn, Part 11

All rise for the honorable Wheel of Time Reread Redux!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 21 through 23 of The Dragon Reborn, originally reread in this post and this post.

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 21: A World of Dreams

WOT-dreamringRedux Commentary

The ring certainly looked like stone, but it felt harder than steel and heavier than lead. And the circle of it was twisted. If she ran a finger along one edge, it would go around twice, inside as well as out; it only had one edge. She moved her finger along that edge twice, just to convince herself.

I often wondered why the (newly introduced here) dream ring icon looked like just concentric spirals rather than what was described in the text, which is obviously a Möbius strip. But then I stumbled across images of interlocked Möbius strips, so maybe that’s what the icon is intended to evoke. Maybe, but I have to say that it didn’t so much work for me. Shame.

What if Verin was Black Ajah herself? [Egwene] gave herself a shake. She had traveled all the way from Toman Head to Tar Valon with Verin, and she refused to believe this plump scholar could be a Darkfriend. “I trust you, Verin Sedai.” Can I, really?

The Aes Sedai blinked at her again, then dismissed whatever thought had come to her with a shake of her head.

Haha, this is all so much more delicious to read now that I know the truth.

That said, as I remarked in the original commentary, Verin is being super shady in this chapter, giving such a dangerous thing to an untested novice, while simultaneously withholding the closest thing to a training manual that exists for it. I still don’t really comprehend her reasoning on giving Egwene one without the other.

…Although one possibility is that if Corianin Nedeal was actually as shoddy a Dreamer as Verin thinks she was, then perhaps she also thought Nedeal’s notes might be more misleading than enlightening. Sort of like trying to figure out methods for safe open heart surgery using a primer written in the 1890s.

So, okay. But still, handing Egwene a gateway to the World Where Dreams Can Totally Kill You and letting her toddle off and jump into it willy-nilly seems like a less than brilliant move, objectively. However brilliant a move it might be from a narrative tension point of view, of course.

 

Chapter 22: The Price of the Ring

WOT-flame-of-tar-valonRedux Commentary

Ah, the famous Acceptatron™ ter’angreal (awesome nickname courtesy of ex-Usenetter David Chapman), we meet again.

Still sort of annoyed we never got to see Elayne’s Accepted test. However, Egwene’s Accepted test, particularly its third section, was probably quite enough to be going on with, and it became a subject of near-endless debate and speculation throughout the life of WOT fandom.

I think it’s quite fun that even now, with the story completed, it manages to be ambiguous in its possible interpretations. Even the second bit, where Rand begs Egwene to kill him in a ruined Caemlyn and which had been mostly dismissed as totally off the mark, now has a shade more predictive power in retrospect, considering what ended up happening to the city of Caemlyn in the Last Battle.

Interestingly, the third section ends up losing a bit of predictive accuracy now that the story is complete, most particularly in its supporting players. I still don’t know, for example, why Beldeine showed up later in the series, but then never once even crossed paths with Egwene, much less became her Keeper. (After the Cleansing and Eben’s death, Beldeine eventually bonds Karldin Manfor, and both of them die in the Last Battle.)

The total failure of a Red/Black sister named Gyldan to appear elsewhere in the series is more understandable, considering that the assertion of the test that Elaida is Black Ajah is also completely wrong, but the Beldeine thing is puzzling, to say the least.

But in general the third section is an utter mishmash of chronology even in the events it does correctly predict, like Elaida’s coup not happening until after both the (remarkably ineffective, apparently) Black Ajah Purge and Egwene becoming Amyrlin, so clearly it was more about laying out the general shape of future events than it was about pinpoint accuracy. Which is, I must say, a pretty clever way of getting prophetic foreshadowing into your story without having to commit to it in a way which might write you into a corner later.

Sheriam sighed, glanced at the other Aes Sedai again, then dropped her voice to a whisper and spoke swiftly. “This is something known only to a few, child, even in the Tower. You should not learn it now, if ever, but I will tell you. There is—a weakness in being able to channel. That we learn to open ourselves to the True Source means that we can be opened to other things.”

Verin’s reasonings behind her actions may be odd, but Sheriam’s motivations, now that we know she is Black Ajah, continue to make even less sense. Why on earth would she tell Egwene about the 13×13 trick? Why would a Darkfriend give away such critical information? I don’t get it.

Well, at least my former complaint about the 13×13 trick being an unfired Chekhov’s Gun is now extremely laid to rest, even if Egwene herself never had to deal with it directly. *waves to Androl and Pevara in the future*

That said, I can’t decide whether it annoys me or not that the number of Black Ajah who leave with Liandrin—thirteen—never ends up being more than a red herring.

 

Chapter 23: Sealed

Redux CommentaryWOT-serpent-wheel

It’s kind of funny to remember that until Alanna’s speech here, we really didn’t know about the functions of the various Ajahs, at least not in so many words. I mean, it wasn’t hard to figure out the general character of Browns, for example.

The Blue Ajah “function” is sort of hilariously vague, though, especially when compared to the other Ajahs’. I mean, “we meddle in causes” sounds ambiguous to the point of meaninglessness when stacked next to, say, “we hunt down and gentle men who can channel.” Say what you want about the Reds, but at least they knew how to craft a rock solid mission statement.

I’m pretty sure it was this chapter that really started the fad in the fandom of choosing which Ajah you would be. I’m also pretty sure I’ve made myself a liar on the subject over the years by flip-flopping back and forth between Blue and Green.

But I guess it doesn’t matter, since The Powers That Be have evidently decided I would have been a Maiden of the Spear anyway. Which… seems legit, so.

Most of the rest of this chapter is about throwing suspicion on Alanna of being Black, when we now know that she’s only (“only”) guilty of having no concept of personal boundaries whatsoever—to eventual infuriating effect. But that’s all long in the future as well.


And so this is where we stop, mine chirren! Come back next Tuesday for more Mat-y goodness! Whoo!

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