How do, Tor.commers! How about you just ease into a fresh new Wheel of Time Reread Redux? That’s what I thought you said!
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 41: A Hunter’s Oath
I didn’t identify the trope per se in my original commentary complaining about it, so I might as well now when I clarify: I think the Masochism Tango romantic dynamic has a place in fiction, a legit one—if for no other reason than that this is a thing that a startling number of people apparently choose to put up with in real life—but that I feel like it was a trope that got rather overrepresented in WOT, cumulatively.
By which I mean, sometimes I feel like every romantic relationship in WOT is an excessively combative one, even if that’s not strictly true. And thus Perrin and Faile, representing as they do the apex of that trope, became far more wearing on my patience than they might otherwise have been, had their bullshit been an isolated phenomenon instead of the most extreme example in a long succession of them in the series.
“You believe you know what an Aes Sedai will not do, do you?” [Moiraine] said more softly than before. Her smile was not pleasant. “If you wish to go with us, this is what you must do.” Lan’s eyelids flickered in surprise; the two women stared at each other like falcon and mouse, but Zarine was not the falcon, now. “You will swear by your Hunter’s oath to do as I say, to heed me, and not to leave us. Once you know more than you should of what we do, I will not allow you to fall into the wrong hands. Know that for truth, girl. You will swear to act as one of us, and do nothing that will endanger our purpose. You will ask no questions of where we go or why: you will be satisfied with what I choose to tell you. All of this you will swear, or you will remain here in Illian. And you will not leave this marsh until I return to release you, if it takes the rest of your life. That I swear.”
It’s interesting, now that I look at it, that Moiraine more or less ensured here that Faile would absolutely take her offer and become part of their group. Because, it would have been one thing had Moiraine said, “swear to me you’ll do all this and come with us, or else leave and promise not to follow us”, or something to that effect, but that’s not what she said. Instead, she basically threatened to make Faile a prisoner unless she agreed to Moiraine’s terms. In a city-wide prison, maybe, but still. That would have been unappealing enough to any random person, but to someone who had become a Hunter, whose entire raison d’être was to travel around looking for the Horn, there really was no worse fate.
So for all her alleged ire over Faile’s intrusion into their party, it seems that Moiraine still stacked the deck in favor of having Faile join them. Which makes sense, really; it’s a lot easier to control unpredictable elements if you keep them in close proximity. Plus, Moiraine may not have had total faith in the reliability of Min’s visions, but she obviously had enough to take them very seriously, which was undoubtedly also a factor in her decision.
That said, to then turn around and dump her on Perrin, in a way that she had to know would bring out the absolute worst reaction in both of them, was a total, utter dick move on Moiraine’s part. Which, while kind of terrible, is also very much in character. Moiraine is many things, but “above petty revenge” is definitely not one of them. As Lan and a cold pond from New Spring could attest.
And speaking of Lan and Moiraine’s dick moves:
A few days earlier Perrin had heard Moiraine ask Lan, in a voice like ice, whether he saw something to laugh at. “I would never laugh at you, Moiraine Sedai,” he had replied calmly, “but if you truly intend to send me to Myrelle, I must become used to smiling. I hear that Myrelle tells her Warders jokes. Gaidin must smile at their bond-holder’s quips; you have often given me quips to laugh at, have you not? Perhaps you would rather I stay with you after all.”
OH SNAP, Lan Mandragoran. You tell her how it is! (Because the Myrelle thing? Still total bullshit.)
Chapter 42: Easing the Badger
Ah, Easing the Badger. One of the longest-running in-jokes in WOT—both of the series itself and of the fandom.
The Wheel of Time Companion notes that “even [the innkeeper] didn’t know what the name of her inn meant”, but that certainly didn’t stop the fans from gleefully attributing every possible kind of innuendo to the phrase, with wildly varying degrees of cleverness and/or ridiculousness. I don’t know if there is a specific term for “phrase that cannot be logically construed to refer to a sexual act, yet irresistibly suggests a sexual connotation to everyone who hears it”, but whatever that is, “easing the badger” is it.
I have no idea where or how Jordan came up with the name (perhaps it was an in-joke of his own), but it’s possibly one of the most memorable and oddly beloved (albeit with much giggling) turns of phrase in the entire series. Funny how things like that happen.
(Still can’t decide whether I’m tickled or annoyed by the “explanation” of the phrase that showed up in AMOL. It was funny, but it was maybe more fun when we didn’t have an answer.)
Sammael’s influence on the mood of the people of Illian is one of (I think) the last lingering traces of the more metaphorical side of WOT cosmology. By which I mean, while the forcible dreamsharing mentioned here has an in-world logical explanation for it (Moiraine explained it/set it up at the beginning of TDR), the phenomenon of “people becoming more evil just because they’re in proximity to a seriously evil dude” really doesn’t have one. Except, as I said, in a metaphorical sense.
That kind of thing featured much more in the earlier books, but had more or less disappeared by the midpoint of the series, in favor of a more practically defined set of worldbuilding rules—or as practical as you can get when building a fictional magic system, of course. Although, both Jordan and Sanderson have proved that actually, you can get pretty darn practical with a magic system if you try hard enough. As writers, it’s probably their strongest point of commonality, in fact, and likely had a lot to do with why Brandon was chosen to take over the series after Jordan passed away.
And as a general rule, I don’t mind that practicality. I do feel, though, that sometimes the loss of the softer side of WOT metaphysics was not always to the later books’ benefit. Sometimes you just like a good inexplicable metaphor in your fantasy, you know?
Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway.
As for the end of the chapter, I said in the original commentary:
I’m bemused by Moiraine’s instructions to Lan to take Perrin back to the Tower to help Siuan affect the course of events, like her own personal ta’veren Pattern-altering battery. Does she really think that would work?
To answer my own question, yes, she absolutely did think it would work, because Moiraine (and Siuan) are still laboring under the impression at this point that dealing with ta’veren should be like riding unruly but bridled horses, when actually it’s going to turn out to be more like this.
Silly Aes Sedai.
And that’s what I got for this one, y’all! Have a lovely mid-May week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!