The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Reread Redux: The Dragon Reborn, Part 18

Team Wheel of Time Reread Redux is on the move!

Today’s Redux post will cover Chapters 37 and 38 of The Dragon Reborn, originally reread in 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 37: Fires in Cairhien

WOT-rising-sunRedux Commentary

Ah, naughty Past Leigh, wimping out on listing all of Egwene’s Dreams in this chapter and linking to the WOTFAQ instead.

…Of course, I’m going to wimp out on most of them too, because there’s not much point in rehashing the ones which had already been fulfilled when I was doing the original Reread. But there are a couple here which either hadn’t been fulfilled yet or that the FAQ was unsure about, mostly concerning Perrin. For instance:

Perrin running from someone deadly

The FAQ notes that this is “very vague”, which it certainly is, and also speculates that it might be referring to Slayer. Which is also probably correct, but not for the events the FAQ was referring to at that point. In retrospect it seems a lot more likely that it meant Slayer and Perrin’s crazy Dreamworld chase sequence during the Last Battle. Which is pretty cool, if so.

Perrin stepping willingly over the edge of a towering cliff while saying, “It must be done. I must learn to fly before I reach the bottom.”

The FAQ is like “wtf, this could be anything”, which I find very amusing (if this is sounding a little schizo, it should be noted that I didn’t write any of these bits of the FAQ), but it’s even more amusing that none of the guesses listed (mastering his wolf-brotherhood, being a leader, or taking part in the Last Battle) were right.

Or at least not in my opinion; I think now that the reference to flying pretty firmly ties it to Hopper, and therefore most likely to Hopper’s lessons to Perrin in how to use Tel’aran’rhiod in TOM. Well, we were close!

Then there’s:

A woman playing with puppets, and another dream where the strings on puppets led to the hands of larger puppets, and their strings led to still greater puppets, on and on until the last strings vanished into unimaginable heights.

The FAQ metaphorically shrugs and says this is “probably just symbolic of the various degrees of manipulation and plotting going on”. I think it’s right about the latter part of it, but “a woman” is kind of specific for something that general. She’s probably Lanfear, but again, any of the female Forsaken could apply. Graendal in the most literal sense, in fact. (Eek.)

And then there are a couple of dreams about Rand that for some reason (and I only just now noticed this) the FAQ doesn’t list at all. I mean, one of them is so obviously about Callandor I guess no one felt the need to address it, but then there’s this:

In one dream [Rand] had been on a huge stones board, the black and white stones as big as boulders, and him dodging the monstrous hands that moved them and seemed to try to crush him under them. It could have meant something. It very probably did, but beyond the fact that Rand was in danger from someone, or two someones—she thought that much was clear—beyond that, she simply did not know.

It’s the “two someones” that’s the interesting bit here. One of them is obviously Ishamael, but I’m not sure of the second. Lanfear is probably the best bet, as she is definitely trying to outmaneuver Ishy re: Rand, but she is also not trying to “crush” Rand, at least not at this point, so it’s not for sure. Be’lal is another possibility, given that this dream came right after another one referring to Callandor. I suppose just about any of the Forsaken could be Ishy’s opponent, really, but I think Lanfear and Be’lal are the strongest candidates. What do you think?

As to what actually happens in this chapter, it’s too bad none of the Supergirls thought to do some, well, superheroing and try lifting the ship off the wreck themselves. I know they don’t know how to form a circle yet, but surely even working separately they could have provided enough strength to do it.

But then again, maybe not. All three of the girls are extraordinarily strong in the Power, especially Nynaeve, of course, but I don’t know that we were ever shown anywhere how that strength translated into sheer, raw lifting power. I am not an expert on how much riverboats weigh, but Wikipedia says The Delta Queen, a famous Mississippi River steamboat, has a tonnage of 1,650. That’s… pretty damn heavy. Sooo, I dunno, now that I think about it.

And, randomly:

Another sailor trotted by, bowing as he went. [Egwene] vowed to learn at least some of what it was they were doing; she did not like feeling ignorant.

*snort* Well, there’s the understatement of the Age.

[Elayne:] “I know all of that, Egwene, but it does not stop me feeling for the Cairhienin.”

“I have heard lectures about the wars Andor fought with Cairhien,” Egwene said dryly. “Bennae Sedai says you and Cairhien have fought more often than any two nations except Tear and Illian.”

How very England and France of them.

And, lastly:

A figure in brown and gray rose from behind a bush standing by itself almost in front of them.

Ooh! Aiel! Remember when getting to see Aiel was like the coolest thing ever? Yeah, those were good times.

 

Chapter 38: Maidens of the Spear

WOT-serpent-wheelRedux Commentary

What, no spear and shield icon? I guess it hadn’t been invented yet. Shame.

I think what was really fun about the Aiel in the early books (or at least it was fun for me) is how well they invoked the fascination of the reader in getting those first hints of a complex, vastly different fictional culture, one that we don’t know much about yet, but which it is clearly obvious that the author knows very well, and has worked out to a tee.

It’s the same reason the first Harry Potter book was so immediately engrossing, or really any well-constructed fantasy novel that introduces the reader to an imaginary culture, or an altered version of an existing one. So here, where Bain is explaining to Elayne and Egwene about first-sisters, there’s a lot that she just casually references without explanation (as she rightly would, in talking about something that is perfectly commonplace to her), and we don’t get all of it now, but we have been tacitly assured that we will get it at some point, and that that explanation will be just as interesting as this one, and that, my friends, is how you procure reader loyalty.

(It turns out, of course, that the first-sister thing in particular is even more interesting than we were led to believe at this point. Certainly a lot messier.)

“It is said that once, before the Breaking of the World, we served the Aes Sedai, though no story says how. We failed in that service. Perhaps that is the sin that sent us to the Three-fold Land; I do not know. No one knows what the sin was, except maybe the Wise Ones, or the clan chiefs, and they do not say. It is said if we fail the Aes Sedai again, they will destroy us.”

I tried to make that last sentence connect in some way to the averted future Aviendha sees in the glass columns in TOM, but since it’s really the Seanchan who destroy the Aiel in that timeline, I don’t think it works. Oh well. What the Aiel know about their own history is deliberately very garbled, so.

Seeing Nynaeve Uber-Healing in action: still cool.


Aaand I was going to do the next chapter, too, but it is stupid long and also filled with awesome, so we shall wait until next week to tackle it. Happy Cinco de Mayo week (what, it can be a whole week if I want!), and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

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