Remember when you were young, Wheel of Time Reread Redux? You shone like the sun!
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 39: Threads in the Pattern
The Supergirls getting to kick ass is not a thing that really gets old, at least not to me. Even if a mere three Fades seems like distinctly small potatoes from a post-AMOL perspective, I remember at the time I was like oh, shit that’s bad, and then the girls smashed them flat and then vaporized ‘em, literally, and I was very happy. Ah, the good old days, before every conflict went global.
Also, it’s still hilarious how the badass Aiel warriors are all hoshit unveiling toot sweet now, thx, right after. As would any person with sense after seeing three Myrddraal turned into a fiery smushball of atomized particles. Ha.
(I’m still mildly startled that there was no collateral damage from that little performance, though. Guess the girls have superior targeting ability as well, eh?)
Well, but then the whole thing was about progression of ability, wasn’t it. Particularly for Nynaeve, who not only inadvertently reinvents balefire in this chapter (it’s only been a lost weave for thousands of years, no big) but breaks at least one of her blocks on her channeling. Which is awesome, of course, but you still have to love that Nynaeve replaces using herbs to Heal with getting even more angry at her patients. Oh, Nynaeve. Shine on, you crazy diamond.
The graying man—Rhuarc—gave a deep chuckle. “Aes Sedai, I for one am glad of… whatever it was you did. […] For the young, death is an enemy they wish to try their strength against. For those of us a little older, she is an old friend, an old lover, but one we are not eager to meet again soon.”
Aw, Rhuarc. *sniffle*
The Aiel accompanied them afoot, all those who had survived the fight. Three more had died aside from the two the Myrddraal killed. They were nineteen, altogether, now. They loped along easily alongside the horses. At first, Egwene tried holding Mist to a slow walk, but the Aiel thought this very funny.
“I will race you ten miles,” Aviendha said, “and we shall see who wins, your horse or I.”
“I will race you twenty!” Rhuarc called, laughing.
I remember a lot of people back in the day were highly skeptical of the claim that Aiel could outrun horses. I was pretty skeptical, myself, as I recall, but basically dismissed it as typical warrior boasting.
However, on looking into it, it seems that the Aiel’s claims are not nearly as outlandish as they seem. True, no human could beat a horse in a flat sprint—the fastest human sprint recorded is still only about half the speed of a horse’s top sprinting speed—but Aviendha and Rhuarc are actually quite correct in that they could outrun a horse over a distance.
Human beings, in fact, are unparalleled in our distance running abilities—which is nice, because we demonstrably suck in just about every other physical category compared to the rest of the animal world. But given enough time, terrain, and hopefully the help of a hot day (because we are also superior at sweating), humans can run just about any other animal on earth into the ground. It’s been theorized, in fact, that that is how Stone Age humans actually hunted, by simply chasing prey relentlessly until they were too exhausted to fight back.
This is true of even your average jogger, or so the Internet tells me. So semi-nomadic warriors like the Aiel, bred over generations to subsist on mostly protein diets and survive in harsh desert conditions, could absolutely outrun a horse, given a long enough race. So there.
Chapter 40: A Hero in the Night
Yep, still the snarkiest chapter title ever used in the series, probably. I heart it.
And I also heart Mat in this chapter, because like pretty much every geek in my generation, I cut my teeth on loving Star Wars in general and Han Solo in particular, and am therefore helpless in the face of the Scoundrel With A Heart of Gold. Yes, I know, too bad; can’t help it. At this point it should probably be a recognized disorder in the DSM-V.
And enter Aludra! Well, re-enter, since we have met her before, indirectly. I always did like her; if I were in a film noir I would declare that she’s got moxie. Probably in a really bad James Cagney accent. Nyah, see?
I remember I was surprised when she reappeared later in ACOS, but on rereading this chapter, if you assume Jordan had always intended Mat to invent/discover gunpowder weapons, then this scene makes it fairly obvious that we have not seen the last of Aludra and her “fire sticks”. And I do assume that, in fact, so kudos on the extreme long range planning, there.
Stopping short of the door, [Aludra] smiled over her shoulder at [Thom]. “You wish me to tell you all of my secrets? I am grateful, but I am not in love. That secret, not even the Guild knows, for it is my discovery alone. I will tell you this much. When I know how to make it work properly, and work only when I want it to, sticks will make my fortune for me.”
Aludra also gets kudos, for being almost unimaginably ahead of her time, it turns out. I didn’t know this until I Googled it just now, but self-igniting matches were not invented until 1805 in the real world, while cannon and early firearms have been around since the 13th century. So she kinda… jumped the gun on the matches invention, didn’t she? Geddit? Geddit?
*ducks thrown objects*
“Eating horse!” Thom muttered disgustedly. “Has it really become that bad on this side of the river? Isn’t the Queen sending food?”
“It is bad, gleeman.” The soldier looked as if he wanted to spit. “They’re crossing over faster than the mills can grind flour, or wagons carry foodstuffs from the farms. Well, it will not last much longer. The order has come down. Tomorrow, we stop letting anyone across, and if they try, we send them back.”
How does the song go? “Nobody likes you when you’re a refugee”? No, that’s not it.
In any case, I think Thom’s comment in this chapter, about it being unlike the Queen to throw out the Cairhienin refugees so callously, is our first real hint that all is not well in Morgase-land. Sigh. Yeah, am SO glad that particular storyline is coming up.
But not today, kiddies! Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!