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Sylas K Barrett

Reading the Wheel of Time: Stones on a Board in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 3)

Two packed chapters await us this week in the third installment of the Reading of The Great Hunt. We begin to see the machinations of Tar Valon, and how they are not nearly as united as the people outside the Tower might assume, learn more about politics, and witness several characters sneaking off on their own agendas.

I am very excited to see chapters from Moiraine! It’s different to see part of this story from the perspective from the character who, at least so far, seems to have the most knowledge of what is going on. It was also interesting to watch Jordan manipulate his close third person narration in order to show us Moiraine’s thoughts without giving too much away, and it was very interesting to discover that she and the Amyrlin have a secret plan that no one knows about.

Speaking of the Amyrlin, it took me awhile to make sense of the fact that the office is called the Amyrlin Seat, and that the woman who holds the office is also called the Amyrlin Seat. Calling her the Amyrlin makes sense, but it seems weird to call a person “seat.” I suppose it would be like calling a King or Queen “the throne,” and it does put the focus more on the office than it does upon the person. So perhaps that’s the point; to recognize the office and its duties rather than elevate the person holding it.

[On to the read, to meet the Amyrlin, a Red Ajah, and a new wave of Whitecloaks.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Dragons and Amyrlins in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 2)

Welcome to Week Two of The Great Hunt. We get some good world building this week, and a lot of running around Fal Dara. I enjoyed the way that these chapters did a lot of world building for Fal Dara, but also combined it with a sense of suspense that upped the interest and the stakes for the reader. We learn a little more about Shinaran customs such as the fact that men and woman might bathe together and yet their apartments are kept strictly separate, just how much respect the Aes Sedai and the Amyrlin Seat have in Shinar, and that the prefix “al” denotes royalty in their language. We also learn that people are really dumb about Padan Fain.

[Onward to the recap!]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: A Masked Plot in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 1)

There is a challenge to writing the opening chapters of the second novel in a series. The early pages have to meet the expectations of those readers who loved the first installment and have been eagerly awaiting the second, but it also must be intriguing and not too alienating for someone just discovering the author’s work for the first time.  Once an author is several books into a beloved series, faithful readers might tolerate a slow start to a book, and someone just picking up book four or five won’t expect to be able to jump in and understand everything. But a second book is a real test for a series, I think, to see how it can stand up, how it can draw new interest and build a single novel, even a good one, into a story that reaches far beyond its origins.

If I picked up The Great Hunt in an airport bookstore and I read the opening pages, I would definitely be intrigued. Intrigued enough to hunt down and buy the book that came before, if I could find it, and maybe even to settle for starting the second without context if the bookstore only carried the one. It’s punchy, it’s dangerous, and it’s full of interesting clues that make me want to keep turning the page. Even if I wasn’t doing it for Reading The Wheel of Time.

Hello again, dear readers! Today we are starting off The Great Hunt, I’m quite excited about this one, I must say, and I already have a feeling that this book is going get much more immersive than The Eye of the World. Which makes sense, really. Now that Jordan has laid the groundwork, he can spend some time deepening the worldbuilding, and showing us what until now has only been hints left behind closed doors.

[But first, let us venture into the shadow of Shayol Ghul for a recap of the Prologue.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Eight Questions I Hope to Have Answered by The Great Hunt

What can you say about a series that spans 14 books, two authors, and over 20 years of publishing dates? The Wheel of Time supports a large and robust fanbase with its own yearly convention, and has been reread twice on Tor.com alone! Coming to the series for the first time as a new reader can be a daunting experience, and as a literary analyst, one definitely feels that there’s a lot to live up to. After all, fans have been analyzing these books forever, though there’s enough meat to the story to offer new discoveries even after many reads.

Given that there are another 13 books to go, I must accept that there are many questions I have about the world of The Wheel of Time—its logic, its systems, its people—that I may not get answers to for quite a while, yet. But keeping that in mind, there are a few things that I really am hoping to see when I start the next novel, The Great Hunt.

[Here are eight of the them.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: For the Love of Egwene in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 20)

Well, here we are. Rand and company have come to the end of their first adventure, and so have I. There are many more to come, of course, but for the moment, evil is beaten down and spring has come again to the world spun into being by the Wheel of Time. And yet, there is much loss and sadness too, and the future of our heroes, especially the boys, contains more questions than answers. This installment of Reading The Wheel of Time covers the final two chapters: 52 and 53.

[Read more]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Green Man and Creation in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 19)

Well this is it. Part 19 of Reading The Wheel of Time, covering Chapters 50 and 51. There will be a part 20 next week, but this is the section in which all the action goes down. I have to admit, I had a difficult time recapping this one; when a chapter is mostly action it just starts to feel like I’m just plagiarizing the actual narration, and there’s a lot, particularly in Chapter 51, that is both complicated and unexplained. Also, I went on a sidetrack thinking about the Green Man. His death made me so sad.

[“This is my place,” the Green Man said, “and you shall hurt no living thing here.”]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: When Need is Greatest in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 18)

Welcome, welcome to Week 18! This week Reading The Wheel of Time covers Chapters 48 and 49. We ride with Lan into the Blight and we will see monsters and green men and trees that would put the ones in Oz to shame. At the edge of the climactic battle, our heroes are drawn together, to thoughts of how the future could be happier, and who they want near them. And the Green Man gives us hope in a decaying land.

[And now, onward to the recap. You might want to cover your nose.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: The Beauty of Simplicity in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 17)

My dear friends we are getting so close to the end! Only a few more posts until the conclusion of this book, and I. Cannot. Wait. It’s too much suspense for one poor reader.

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time we are going to cover Chapters 46 and 47, which are slower chapters after all the terrifying adventure in the Ways. But I found them a particular pleasure to read nonetheless; there’s some really tight and beautiful narration, we get some backstory for Lan, and most importantly: I was right about Padan Fain!

[But before we get into me gloating, let’s recap.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Learning Courage in Crushing Darkness in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 16)

Welcome back to Reading The Wheel of Time, my friends! This week we’re covering Chapters 44 and 45, “The Dark Along the Ways” and “What Follows in Shadow”. It’s been a bit since The Eye of the World heavily reminded me of its The Lord of the Rings homaging (other than all the innkeepers, but that appears to be a continual adventure all on its own). But we definitely get a bit of that “mines of Moria” feeling this week. I compared Shadar Logoth to Moria before, and I think that there is certainly a comparison to be made between Mashadar and the Black Wind, although the Black Wind seems to be at least a somewhat sentient entity, rather than the mindless force of Mashadar, which makes it even more dangerous. Mashadar can’t chase you deliberately, but Machin Shin will, apparently, delight in it.

[But before we get into that too much more, let’s do the recap.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Almost Everything Finally Gets Explained in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 15)

And so we arrive at Week 15 of Reading The Wheel of Time! It’s a wordy one this week, lots of exposition, and my fingers are tired from typing it all out! Still, despite these chapters being a bit of an info dump, it’s been really nice to get some clarity on certain events, and I am quite happy to see the gang all back together again.

[Onward to the recap.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Two Rivers or Aielman in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 14)

Welcome once and again to Reading the Wheel of Time. This week, week 14, we’re going to cover Chapters 39 and 40, in which Rand gets himself into one heck of a pickle. Seriously, if Mat is the Pippin of the group, then this is Rand’s Frodo moment of climbing up onto the table to sing and accidentally putting the ring on in front of everyone at the Prancing Pony. It seems like Rand just generally wants to climb up onto high things, and it is usually a bad idea that attracts attention he definitely does not want.

We’re also going to see a lot more Arthurian-sounding names from Jordan, and get to know a little more about politics in Caemlyn. While working on the recap, I was particularly struck by the chapter titles of 39 and 40: “Weaving of the Web” and “The Web Tightens”. Until now the chapter titles have been pretty straightforward. Chapter 1 is “An Empty Road” because Rand sees a rider and then on second glance the road is empty. Chapter 24 is “Flight Down the Arinelle” and they’re, you know, escaping down the Arinelle. Chapter 38, in which Perrin and Egwene get rescued, is literally just called “Rescue.” But there’s no conversation in Chapters 39 and 40 about the Wheel or its weaving, which suggests to me that Jordan is trying to gently imply something about the nature of the events that unfold in these chapters. Having mused before about what “fate” means in the context of people’s lives being threads in a pattern woven by the Wheel of Time, I feel like I can see more than coincidence driving Rand to the unlikely meeting he’s about to have.

[But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s recap!]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Bonds of Wolves and Warders in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 13)

Welcome welcome esteemed readers, to Week 13 of Reading the Wheel of Time. Today we’re going to cover Chapters 37 and 38 of The Eye of the World, one from Nynaeve’s POV and one from Perrin’s, and it’s a really fun little adventure rescuing Perrin and Egwene from the Whitecloaks. I have definitely been wondering how they were going to get away when they were so outnumbered, turns out it’s through Aes Sedai and Warder heroics and some good old fashioned sneaking from Nynaeve.

[Without futher ado, the recap.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Can You Lucid Dream in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World? (Part 12)

Hello readers! Did you notice the byline at the top of the page? (Don’t worry, it’s still me, not my brother taking over the read or anything. I don’t even have a brother!) I’ve changed my name! Think of it like when your favorite soda brand does a redesign; new look, same great content!

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Today, in Part 12 of Reading The Wheel of Time, I’d like us to cast our minds back to the terrible dreams that have been afflicting our three young heroes on their journey towards a hopeful reunion in Caemlyn. Perrin, Rand, and Mat have all suffered from dreams of Ba’alzamon since those terrible visions of dead rats back in the Stag and Lion. (Although since we have yet to get any story from Mat’s point of view, we don’t have quite the same detail to analyze from him that we have for Perrin and Rand.) In this post, am going to take a deeper look into the three big dreams that have happened since I did the initial dream analysis in Week 4: Perrin’s dream in the Tuatha’an camp, Rand’s dream about the recently deceased Gode, and Rand’s dreams in the back of Bunt’s cart.

[Read more]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: In Caemlyn You Can Be a New Man in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 11)

Hello again, The Wheel of Time fans! Can you believe we’ve already reached Week 11 of Reading The Wheel of Time? In some ways it has flown by, and yet in others it does seem like it has been quite the journey to get here. My feelings mirror Rand and Mat’s this week: together we have all reached Caemlyn, which has been such a huge goal for a good portion of the story now, and yet is only a tiny piece of the whole journey. The boys, particularly Mat, are feeling the toll of it this week, but we, from the safety of our couches and armchairs, are feeling the excitement of a book that feels like it’s just about to ramp up the action again. Will Mat and Rand find a safe place to rest in Caemlyn? Will Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve be able to catch up to them? And who is this mysterious Aes Sedai who is friends with the Queen?

[Onward to Caemlyn!]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: A Proliferation of Darkfriends in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 10)

I grew up in a family that loved hiking and backpacking. I’ve done it in bad weather as well as good, in rain, and even in snow, and there is something uniquely miserable about walking all day in the rain knowing that ahead of you is a damp night spent sleeping on the ground after a re-hydrated meal. Or, in the case of Rand al’Thor and Matrim Cauthon, no meal at all. After this section, I think I’ll take those weird freeze-dried meals over nothing any day, and at least I had a tent to pitch. And no Evil Forces hunting me.

Once some raccoons got into our tent and ate my sister’s toothpaste. Does that count?

Welcome back to Week Ten of Reading the Wheel of Time! This week we’re trudging down the Caemlyn road with Mat and Rand in chapters 31-33, trying to steer clear of both the Darkfriends who want to catch them and the regular folk who think our boys just might be the bad guys themselves. Mat continues to act more and more suspiciously and Rand… well, let’s recap first, shall we?

[Hello confusing flashbacks!]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

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