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Sylas K Barrett

Reading The Wheel of Time: Rand Gains a Following, and a Teacher, in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 38)

I’m actually feeling a bit somber this week, as we reach the very last chapters of The Shadow Rising. Perhaps it’s because the book ends with such a satisfactory conclusion for (this stage of) Perrin’s journey, as does the task Nynaeve and Elayne were set on by the Amyrlin. Of course their journeys are far from over, and they will all face many new trials and dangers in the books to come, but there is still a certain amount of finality, of a bookmark on deeds well done, and a feeling that at least for a night or two, they can sleep the untroubled sleep of the righteous.

On the other hand, while Rand has also closed a chapter of his journey, for him it is more of a beginning than a conclusion, and it is marred by the destruction of Rhuidean and a shaking of the foundations of Aiel culture. Rand himself observes it more than once in Chapters 57 and 58, and we feel his grief at what he has had to do as well as what he knows he must do in the future. The Dragon is supposed to break the World again, but although Tarmon Gai’don has yet to pass, there has already been a Breaking in the Three-fold Land, as the title of Chapter 57 announces. And this is a somewhat melancholy note for a book to end on.

[Soon there would be an ending of sorts, or a beginning. Maybe both.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: The Daughter-Heir’s Justice and the Wisdom’s Power in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 37)

I can’t decide what I enjoyed more about Chapters 54 and 55 of The Shadow Rising, Nynaeve’s awesome battle with Moghedien, or her internal journey towards acceptance of—and even friendship with—Egeanin. This is a climactic section with a lot of action, but the emotional development for both Nynaeve and Egwene was just as important, and just as riveting. I also learned a few new things this week about how channeling works, which is always exciting. Also, Egeanin and Domon continue to be cute.

But before we get into all of that, the summary. Onward to the Panarch’s Palace!

[Those people out there did not know it, but they fought in a battle to save their city from the Black Ajah and the world from the Shadow.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Hunts Slayer and Faces Death in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 36)

Perrin Aybara, y’all. Perrin. Aybara.

I’m not ashamed to admit I actually cried a little this week, while making my way through the climax of (this part of) Perrin’s story. In order to cover the action and themes more completely, I’ve decided to do something a bit unconventional this week of our read of The Shadow Rising: I’m going to cover Chapter 53 and then skip ahead to Chapter 56, so I can address Perrin’s two chapters together. Then next week I’ll go back and cover Nynaeve and Elayne’s adventures in the Panarch’s Palace. What happens to the girls is just as exciting as what happens to Perrin, maybe even more so, and then, the following week, we’ll get to see Rand reveal himself to the Aiel and have a very intense adventure reminiscent of both the ending of The Eye of the World and The Dragon Reborn.

And then The Shadow Rising will be finished! It’s hard to believe we’re there already.

But we’re not out of the Westwoods quite yet. So let’s go catch up with Perrin and Faile, and see what fate awaits Goldeneyes and his Falcon.

[You are a hero whether you want to be or not.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Nynaeve Tries To Be Cautious in The Shadow Rising (Part 35)

After a brief break, we’re back to the read of The Shadow Rising! This week we are covering Chapters 51 and 52, returning to Tanchico with Nynaeve and Elayne, who are in for some big reveals and discoveries. I’m excited as always to take some more time in Nynaeve’s head, and there’s some surprise cuteness between Egeanin and Domon, of all people.

I think I might ship it? But first, let us recap!

[The Shadow rises again, Gaidal. It rises here. We must fight it.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: There Are No Customs to Cover the Dragon Reborn in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 34)

This week (week 34!) in our read of The Shadow Rising, we have once again returned to the Three-Fold land, and have rejoined Rand and Mat and their party of Aiel, Wise Ones, and Aes Sedai. Rand and Mat struggle to understand the concept of Aiel men having more than one wife (Rand for perhaps more personal reasons than Mat) and we learn where Cold Rocks Hold gets its name from.

Oh, and also some Shadowspawn show up. Chapters 48, 49, and 50 await. Let’s begin.

[So many traps. Everybody was laying them.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Laras, Keille, and the Judgment of Bodies in The Shadow Rising

So. Let’s talk about Laras.

The Mistress of the White Tower kitchens is introduced in Chapter 29 of The Dragon Reborn. She is the first significant character who is described as being fat, specifically as being “more than merely stout, with layers of chins.” Despite the chins being lingered on once or twice, Laras’ size is not made to be the subject of ridicule or derision in the narration, and when Nynaeve, in a fit of pique, refers to Laras as “a sour lump of lard,” she is quickly brought down for her judgment of the woman by Siuan.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: A Coup, a Rescue, and Some Thoughts About Pants in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, I am covering Chapter 47, which contains a civil war in the White Tower, a battle of wills between Siuan, Min, and Gawyn, and some unexpected allies for the newly-deposed former Amyrlin. I have a lot of thoughts this week, so buckle up my dear readers. We are off into The Truth of a Viewing.

[There were lionfish out there, and she was swimming in darkness.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Ladies Seek Answers and So Does a Seeker in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 32)

This week’s Reading the Wheel of Time features Elayne and Nynaeve in a chapter I like to title “What The Heck Do Those Girls Think They Are Doing?” Or “Veils” I guess.

In Chapter 46 we return to Nynaeve and Elayne’s search for the Black Ajah and watch Nynaeve make some really weird choices about how she wants to handle things in Tanchico. We also reconnect with Egeanin. To my complete surprise, I might actually be starting to like her. Oh, and also a new Forsaken shows up—and she is terrifying.

On towards the recap, my friends, and make sure you’ve picked the appropriate clothing for the trip.

[She had to learn more. More than ever, she had to.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

The Blacksmith’s Axe, the Aiel’s Spear, and the Tinker’s Sword: When Pacifism is No Longer Enough

Perhaps the most fascinating theme that I have encountered so far as I read my way though The Wheel of Time is Perrin Aybara’s struggle to understand and accept the violence that his life and choices demand of him. Running in parallel to Perrin’s personal struggle have been his encounters with the Tuatha’an, who practice a form of pacifism so profound that it transcends being a way of life and becomes an actual identity. An identity that they themselves have forgotten the full history of but which extends back to the un-Broken world of a bygone Age. An identity that Perrin admires, even envies, but cannot embrace, much as he might wish to.

[A man has a right to defend himself, Faile. Even Aram. No one can make him follow the Way of the Leaf if he doesn’t want to.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Has To Be the Adult in the Room in The Shadow Rising (Part 31)

Welcome back! After our brief hiatus, we have returned with a new week of Reading The Wheel of Time. This post will cover Chapters 43-45 of The Shadow Rising, in which we will see Perrin learning about responsibility, what it demands of him, and what price he must pay for assuming it.

I’ve been thinking a lot these past few weeks about how having Perrin return to Emond’s Field makes for a very different story than, say, the hobbits returning home to the Shire at the end of The Lord of the Rings. Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo were startled to see how much their home had been touched by a war that they hoped would pass it by, expecting that the only changes would be in themselves, not in the home they left behind. They were able to help repair the damage and to forge a new future for the Shire, but the damage was mostly done in their absence.

[Perrin of House Aybara, Lord of the Two Rivers. It has a good sound.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

The Psychology of Tel’aran’rhiod in The Wheel of Time

They say that if you die in a dream you wake up. This may be true for ordinary, in-your-own-head kind of dreams, but things work a little differently for the World of Dreams, also known as Tel’aran’rhiod. In this plane of existence, where the waking world is echoed in almost perfect replica, a hurt taken shows up on the body of a Dreamer, and dying in Tel’aran’rhiod means never waking up at all.

But despite the fact that there are significant differences between the World of Dreams, which is a place you can visit, and ordinary dreams, which play out in our own minds, you can still find a great deal of parallels between how they function, and a visit to Tel’aran’rhiod can serve some of the same purposes that dreaming does.

Even if the former can also kill you.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Meets Old Friends and Learns From His Mistakes in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 30)

Hello friends! This week, our read of The Shadow Rising hits the big Three-O, as Perrin and his band find themselves seeking refuge in the camp of the Traveling People—and not just any group of Tuatha’an, as they’ve run back into the same group that Perrin and Egwene met while traveling with Elyas, all that time ago.

It feels like an Age, doesn’t it? Perrin has changed so much since then, and the only thing more interesting than seeing how his perspective on the Tuatha’an has changed is seeing how our perspective has changed, now that we know the true history of the Tuatha’an and the Way of the Leaf. Indeed, we know much more about these people than they know about themselves, which is a fascinating place to be in as a reader. We also, along with Perrin, get to find out a little bit more about Faile, which is a nice touch.

But first, let’s recap Chapters 41 and 42, the latter of which has maybe my favorite title of any chapter to date “The Missing Leaf.”

[Come, people. Come and help. They are hurt. Come and help.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Elayne and Perrin Both Make Mistakes in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 29)

This week in our read of The Shadow Rising Elayne and Nynaeve arrive in Tanchico with their escort. Elayne makes a mistake but uncovers some memories, and Nynaeve changes tactics in dealing with Thom and Juilin. Meanwhile, Perrin gets a taste of what it’s like to be in charge on the bad days, when plans and tactics don’t go your way and you have to face losses among those for whom you have made yourself responsible. It’s a somber week all around, really, as we step into Chapters 39 and 40, but it’s brightened by the arrival of (called it) Captain Domon.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Why Doesn’t Randland Have an Actual Name?

So, I know I’m rather late to the party here, but why the heck doesn’t the world of The Wheel of Time have a name?

Randland, which (I have recently learned) is what WoT fans call the continent on which our story takes place, consists of many nations bordered by named seas and named mountain ranges. There are also areas of the continent that are distinguished by their geographic features–the Blight, the Aiel Waste, Almoth Plain–and get their own names, but the continent as a whole has no designation. Nor does the area where all the kingdoms are all located, unless you count the slightly derogatory term “the wetlands,” used by the Aiel. (The Aiel are just better at naming things, really, like with “the Three Fold Land.” Each nation has a name, but that’s as far as it goes.

[Read more]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Tanchico is Chockfull of Bad Guys in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 28)

Welcome back to our read of The Shadow Rising. This week is a week of familiar faces reappearing, including some we haven’t seen since The Dragon Reborn or even The Great Hunt. Plots are stirring in Tanchico, the Seanchan and the Whitecloaks are afoot, as well as, of course, the Black Ajah. What exactly are Elayne and Nynaeve about to stumble into? Only time will tell as we venture into Chapter 38, which is so dense and so full of villains that I feel like I’m back in Chapter 1 again.

[We will put Rand al’Thor on a leash and teach him to sit up and roll over.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

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