Happy 2017, Tor.com! Have you missed me? Because I’ve missed you! Welcome back to this year’s first 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!
Before we begin, a reminder that the format of the Reread Redux has changed: from now on I am only going to be commenting on chapters in which my reaction has changed significantly from before, based on the knowledge I had at the time. Today, though, we didn’t actually skip anything, so yay!
Chapter 50: Traps
[What happens: Rand gives Aviendha a gift with far more portent than he intended; Lanfear and Asmodean interrupt Rand’s PG sexytimes dream with his three ladies; the camp is attacked by Shadowspawn; Moiraine tries again to gain Rand’s confidence and fails; Rand finds out the Shaido have gone on ahead to Alcair Dal and determines to leave immediately as well; Mat hates on everyone and everything.]
This chapter is mainly only interesting at this point because of something I said in the commentary:
…“fated to be in love” is not necessarily much more fun a destiny than “fated to die to save the world”, when you really look at it, since from that perspective you’re stuck with the person in question whether you’re actually compatible with them or not. So I suppose it’s a matter of opinion whether Jordan meant the romance between Rand and Min/Elayne/Aviendha to be something that could have believably developed on its own, or if it is prophetically determined for some practical future-event-enabling thing. I guess we’ll find out?
Because, I ask myself, did we find out? And the answer is: I’m not sure, really. In terms of “being necessary for some practical future-event-enabling thing”, I’m finding myself a little hard-pressed to find anything specific that happened later on that required Rand to be in love with all three of his paramours for the result to be good.
There’s the triple bonding ceremony in WH, for instance, but I don’t know that we were ever shown that having a triple bond protected or supported him better than, say, a bond with just Elayne would have. Or just Aviendha. Maybe it did, but I don’t recall any indication that the, er, tripleness of the bond specifically had a unique effect, if you see what I’m saying.
You could point to the pivotal roles Elayne, Min, and Aviendha each played for the cause of the Light as being “necessary future events”, and certainly they were, but I think it’s pretty insulting to all three women to suppose that they wouldn’t have done what they did for the cause of right if they hadn’t been in love with Rand. After all, Egwene and Nynaeve (and countless other ladies) committed Big Damn Heroism perfectly well without being in love with Rand, and I really don’t think that Elayne or Aviendha or Min would have done any less. So I don’t feel like that counts as “necessary” either.
From a brutally clinical standpoint, in fact, the only “practical” result that came from Rand’s polyamory was the fact that he was able to sire six kids in under a year before he “died”, which he certainly wouldn’t have been able to do with only one… er, consort.
(Lover? Beloved? It’s kind of crazy that at this late date, I still can’t decide exactly what to call them in relation to Rand. Suggestions welcome!)
It’s fairly unbelievable that he was able to accomplish such a feat with two women, really. But even that brings up the obvious: that Min didn’t become pregnant with Rand’s Superbabies, did she. So if the only prophetical point of his three loves was to ensure that the Dragon’s genes were (thoroughly) passed on, why did she need to be there?
This may seem like pointless nitpicking (and maybe it is) but my attention was caught by it because it does seem to indicate that, as far as I can tell, the reasons for Jordan’s decision to create this situation in the first place appear to remain… ambiguous.
And I don’t want to go down the road from “ambiguous” to “prurient”, even though that might seem like the obvious progression, because even with all the weirdness of it I honestly never got that vibe from the whole situation. But in reflecting on it now, I do confess to find myself, even now, a little baffled at what the motivation was for creating Rand’s love quadrangle in the first place.
Chapter 51: Revelations in Tanchico
[What happens: Elayne and Nynaeve fail at chopsticks, and discover that the Black Ajah are in the Panarch’s Palace and oh yeah Egeanin is a Seanchan, whoops.]
This chapter is also only notable at this point for the commentary, and really it shouldn’t even be that, but I can’t let it pass because what the hell, past Leigh:
…this chapter pretty accurately demonstrates one of the major problems with people, in that they often maddeningly insist on being individuals worthy of admiration even when their cultural background contains everything you might abhor. I imagine an analogous situation in our world might be making friends with someone you think is really cool, and then discovering they are a member of the Nazi party.
Uh, no, past me, that is not an analogous situation, at all. Being a member of a hate group is NOT the same thing as being born into a nation that has heinous cultural beliefs, even if those heinous cultural beliefs are essentially the same ones that are espoused by the hate group. They are not the same because one is a choice and the other is not, hello.
Egeanin did not choose to be born Seanchan, after all. The truth of which is best indicated by how, once she was enlightened as to the essential heinousness of her cultural beliefs, she immediately began rejecting them. That’s a completely different situation than someone who (presumably) has fully comprehended the beliefs of a hate group in all their essential heinousness, and decides to join them (again, presumably) because of those beliefs.
This is also, as a side note, why I have a much harder time with Tuon than I ever did with Egeanin. Because Egeanin’s response to learning the whole sul’dam thing was a lie and that channelers are just people was to be horrified, and to repudiate the entire practice as well as she could without actually getting herself killed. Whereas Tuon’s response when she learned the same thing was, basically, to shrug and be all, whatevs, can’t fix it, so sad, moving on. I suppose to some people that might make her an effective leader, to prioritize her realm’s ability to defend itself over the lives it destroys to achieve that defense, but as far as I am concerned it makes her kind of a monster. There are some prices that are not worth paying.
(And in that vein, to that guy I mentioned at that party who thought Katrina was a deserved judgment on New Orleans: fuck you, guy. I still kind of wish I’d thrown my drink in your face that night.)
Anyway, my point is, past me had extreme Analogy Fail, and I am sorry. I’m trying to get better!
And that’s what I got for now, kids! I hope your 2017 has been going better so far than 2016 did, and please come back and join me in two weeks for more!