Sometimes I get a little bit Wheel of Time Reread Redux!
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!
Short note before we begin: As some of y’all may be aware, this coming weekend is the 8th annual occurrence of JordanCon in Atlanta, GA. (Eight years, can you believe it?) It has been my tradition to provide you guys with a yearly report on my perambulations there, but unfortunately this year I will not be attending. I has many a sad over this, I assure you, but it is what it is.
But I did want to take a moment here to blow a kiss to all my dear friends and fellow fans who are attending JordanCon 2016, and hope that you all have just as astounding an amount of fun as I had every time I got to go. Mwah, darlings. Take lots of pictures for me.
Chapter 32: The First Ship
New icon! Not the most exciting of the bunch, but hey.
It was probably right around this point that I realized Mat’s storyline had become the most engaging and enjoyable thing in the whole novel thus far. I wonder if Jordan had as much fun writing it as I did reading it, the way it just rolls along with swashbuckling vigor. Of course, given how these things go, that could just as easily mean it was the most difficult bit to write of the whole book. You never know.
Whichever the case, Mat’s storyline picks up a delightful caper-like flavor from this point, which it maintains throughout the middle section of the series and is definitely a very large part of the reason he was my favorite character for that period. Sadly, once Mat gets mired in Ebou Dar and then the Seanchan Empire in TPOD, that flavor sours a bit, but up until that point I enjoyed the hell out of it. Still do, really.
Mat frowned at the closed door. “I think I shouldn’t have said that.”
“I don’t know why you might think that,” Thom said dryly. “Next you could try telling the Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks he should marry the Amyrlin Seat.”
Well, they both gave some thought to the idea, as it turns out…
As for Rand:
So many faces in his dreams. Selene had come, cool and mysterious and so lovely his mouth went dry just thinking of her, offering him glory as she had—so long ago, it seemed—but now it was the sword she said he had to take. And with the sword would come her. Callandor. That was always in his dreams. Always.
I sort of forgot this bit, and I find it interesting now, because I think I assumed that the dreams Rand had throughout TDR (and also unwittingly forced upon others for the whole book) were more of a ta’veren-y sent-by-the-Pattern thing, like the metaphorical carrot bait in the Creator’s cosmic Box Trap of Destiny™. Or, er, something like that.
But this passage, which I had totally forgotten about, suggests the much more mundane idea that it was just Lanfear’s doing all along. Which would mean that it was the bait in a Box Trap of Destiny™, just not a cosmically sanctioned one.
…Sometimes I read some of the sentences I have written in the course of doing this blog, and just go “Wow”.
Anyway! I suppose there’s no reason it can’t be both, though. Maybe Lanfear was sending the dreams because the Pattern wanted her to send the dreams, and so it was all cosmic and shit. So THERE.
Chapter 33: Within the Weave
“That town burning, and the wells failing, and… That is evil, Moiraine. I can’t believe Rand is evil. The Pattern may be shaping itself around him, but how can the Pattern be that evil? It makes no sense, and things have to make sense. If you make a tool with no sense to it, it’s wasted metal. The Pattern wouldn’t make waste.”
[…] Moiraine was silent for a time, warming her hands. Finally she spoke while staring into the flames. “The Creator is good, Perrin. The Father of Lies is evil. The Pattern of Age, the Age Lace itself, is neither. The Pattern is what is. The Wheel of Time weaves all lives into the Pattern, all actions. A pattern that is all one color is no pattern. For the Pattern of an Age, good and ill are the warp and the woof.”
I picked this quote out in the original commentary, but then did not remark upon it, possibly because I got distracted with issues of whether “Aiel” rhymes with “pail”. (It doesn’t, but I still hear it that way in my head, and at this point I think it’s safe to say that that particular pronunciation ship has sailed for good.)
Also possibly because there’s really not that much to say about it. Philosophically speaking, this is about as straightforward a good/evil set-up as one could probably come up with while also acknowledging the necessity for gray areas and/or randomness. This is not to disparage it, so much as to note its lack of complexity. It stands out, I think, because in pretty much every other way, Jordan’s world building was so intricate and complicated, but when it came to the really big over-arching questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything, he kept it simple. Probably for the best, really.
“Twelve of you fought twenty Aiel?” Lan asked in a flat voice.
This was another quote I picked out in the original commentary, probably because it cracks me up every time I read it. You can feel the contempt oozing out of this line, it’s brilliant. Haha.
Chapter 34: A Different Dance
Not really sure why this chapter used the serpent-and-wheel icon again, rather than the wolf or Aiel icon (though I think the Aiel icon hasn’t been invented yet, so there’s that), but okay.
I kind of forgot that Perrin really does kill him a whole lot of Whitecloaks in the early books, doesn’t he? Not that I blame him, exactly, but that’s quite a few Not Officially Evil kills, there. So I suppose that his later “trial” for them in… TOM? I think? Is maybe a tad more reasonable that I thought at the time. MAYBE.
And the Aiel in the cage. What Min saw was always important. But how? What was he supposed to do? I could have stopped those children throwing rocks. I should have.
And that’s always the problem with prophecy, isn’t it. It’s the chicken or the egg; would Perrin have done anything about the Aiel in the cage if Min hadn’t told him it would be important? How to account for the fact that the very act of telling the future changes that future? Or are we to assume that the prophesied event was fixed, and would have happened whether Perrin had been made aware of its importance beforehand or not? And what does that imply about free will, or the lack thereof?
Jordan’s cosmology seems to imply that free will is… well, only nominally free. In that it is intimated that someone can change the course of fate if they want to do so, but only up to a certain point of irrelevancy; after that, not so much. The more pivotal a person or event, the more intractable its inevitability, it seems.
Which means that as protagonists ta’veren, Perrin, Mat, and especially Rand appear to be more or less screwed in the free will department. Sorry, dudes.
All that said, of course we would all prefer to believe that Perrin would have freed Gaul regardless of prophecy, just because it was the right thing to do. We would all prefer to believe that any of us would have done the same in his place. No matter what the personal risk would be. Right?
…Okay, and I wrote all of the above before going to check the original commentary, where it turns out I said basically the exact same thing, except more briefly. Points to me for consistency, I guess?
And also, yes, the scene with Moiraine is still a bit weird. Even though it’s not clear from the scene whether Perrin actually got an eyeful of her in the altogether, or whether he just saw her in skimpy underwear or something. But for the sake of my internal Skeev-O-Meter, I’m going to assume the latter, and move on with my life.
And that’s what I got for y’all today, kids! Envious well wishes for alla y’all heading to Atlanta this weekend, and I’ll be back with more next Tuesday!