Wheel of Time Reread Redux! Yeah! Whoo!
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 52: In Search of a Remedy
“You remind me of my husband, Mat Cauthon. He was a headstrong fool who would sail into the teeth of a gale and laugh, too. I could almost think you’ll manage it.” Suddenly [Mother Guenna] saw his muddy boots, apparently for the first time. “It took me six months to teach him not to track mud into my house. If you do get those girls out, whichever of them you have your eye on will have a hard time training you to make you fit to be let inside.”
“You are the only woman who could do that,” he said with a grin that broadened at her glare.
LOL. Oh, Mat, you cad.
I get the feeling that some people find it puzzling that a dyed-in-the-wool feminist like me can like a character like Mat Cauthon so much – i.e. the prototypical roguish ladies’ man, who delights in teasing, provoking, and shamelessly flirting with women, whether or not he has any romantic interest in them. I guess, to some people, this would seem like the exact opposite of the kind of man I would “approve” of, or some such.
This basically only proves that, as usual, some people still have no idea what “being a feminist” actually means. I get the feeling that, to some people, “feminist” still equates in their mind with “man-hating”. And “humorless” is probably in there somewhere too. And sure, if I were actually a person devoid of all humor who can’t stand anyone with a Y chromosome, then yeah, I guess I wouldn’t like Mat at all.
But I am not either of those things, and, in my experience, few or no feminists are those things either. Because the thing is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with flirting or teasing or, or romancing in general. There’s nothing automatically bad in overtly acknowledging that other people (in Mat’s case, female people) are attractive to you and that you might be attractive to them, and having fun with that knowledge. I mean, that’s how we get on with this whole perpetuating the human race thing, if nothing else.
To me, what it really comes down to is two things: intent, and respect. Even if it’s sometimes hard to delineate, we mostly can tell perfectly well the difference between being teased and being mocked. So, too, is there a sometimes hard to define but unquestionable difference between flirting, even aggressive flirting, and harassment. And the line between both things, in my opinion, is defined by, again, intent, and respect.
Mat’s teasing and flirting with Mother Guenna in this chapter is entirely inoffensive to me because the intent behind it is inoffensive, and because no disrespect to her is even remotely implied. Sure, Mat’s being manipulative to some degree, using his charm to get what he wants, but it’s not like Mother Guenna doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing, and she freely chooses to go along with it. The important thing is not that he pressed her for what he wanted, but the absolute knowledge that had she truly resisted Mat’s attempts to get what he wanted, or alternately been made truly uncomfortable by his demeanor, Mat would have instantly backed off.
That’s where the difference comes in. Mat himself later sums it up pretty succinctly, when he reflects that he likes to chase women, but only women who want to be chased. Which is basically the Third Age equivalent of understanding that Consent is Sexy.
Which makes the whole Tylin thing just that much more infuriating, of course, but we’ve already covered that rant.
In other news, Sick Thom is hilarious. Bye, Thom! See you in TSR!
Chapter 53: A Flow of the Spirit
I said in the original commentary that I didn’t quite buy that Perrin and Faile’s interaction thus far had been sufficient cause for him to be this frenzied over saving her. And I still sort of agree with that, but also acknowledge that, as I actually also said in the original commentary, the vagaries of who and how people love other people are frequently a lot more bizarre and inexplicable than Hollywood and other sources of pop culture romance have led us to believe.
So, even setting aside my repeated assertion that Faile is “annoying” (with a persistence that I now find in itself rather annoying), there’s no real reason to disbelieve that Perrin could have fallen for Faile that quickly. Does it make sense to me? Well, no, not really. But I’m not either of the people in this relationship, am I.
That said, there is the caveat that to a certain degree I found nearly all of Jordan’s romantic entanglements in WOT to be at least a little baffling. So it’s sort of a feature, rather than a (sort-of) bug, I guess?
Also, I suspect that the “damsel in distress” factor was larger than I’d prefer it to be, especially given Perrin’s later semi-psychotic behavior during the PLOD through Malden and the Shaido. Ugh.
Re: the hedgehog trap: I was unsure at first why Bel’al didn’t have his pet Black Ajah sisters just confront Moiraine directly and take her down if he knows she’s there, but then I remembered that barring Supergirls, Moiraine is one of the strongest Aes Sedai out there, and it’s perfectly possible that the Black sisters were worried that even linked, they might not be a match for her. And besides, they have trap-baiting duties at the moment (i.e. hauling the Supergirls off to the Stone), so Moiraine was probably a lower priority for them.
Much easier to leave a booby trap and hope they get lucky. Which they did not, but I guess that’s how the evil cookie crumbles, sometimes.
And it’s a little short to stop here, but the last three chapters are really the Big Ass Ending, and I feel like I should tackle them all together. So tune in next Tuesday for the end of TDR! Cheers!