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Sylas K Barrett

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Rise of the Evil Bubbles in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 4)

Perrin and Faile find the halls of the Stone surprisingly busy with both off-duty Defenders as well as servants making their way to and fro. Perrin keeps his head down unless he is right in the light of a torch, not wanting people to observe his eyes glowing gold in the dim parts of the hall. No one has mentioned his eyes, of course, not now as servants bow as they pass or at other times—not even Faile has asked him about them—but Perrin still feels uneasy whenever someone seems to notice his golden gaze, and when they don’t say anything, it reminds him of how apart he is from other people.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Boys Confront Themselves (Kind of) in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 3)

Welcome, everyone, to chapter two and week 3 of The Shadow Rising.

I loved this chapter. It might be one of my favorite chapters to date, in fact. Meeting up with Perrin, Mat, and Rand both serves to remind us where they are and also show us how they’ve grown since the end of The Dragon Reborn (looking at you, Perrin). And then of course there’s the attacks, which are beautifully imaginative and described in perfect, vivid detail. It’s very cinematic, this chapter, and I could picture everything as though I were watching it on a big screen.

I have a lot of feelings and compassion for all three of our Emond’s Field boys this week, and I am so curious as to what could have caused these strange occurrences. Perrin and Mat believe it was Rand, while Rand thinks it was an attack by one of the Forsaken. Perhaps one of them is right, or perhaps none of them, but in any case, we must first return to the nation of Tear to find out.

[Where Dragon Banner lashes in the wind over the fortress they call the Stone of Tear.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: An Array of Familiar Foes in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 2)

It’s week two of reading The Shadow Rising, and the second half of Chapter One focuses on Dain Bornhald and his new, incredibly shady friend. I find Bornhald incredibly frustrating, personally, and I’m quite sure that having to work with Mordeth/Fain aka Ordeith is going to lead to him making some more impulsive decisions and maybe also getting manipulated in a variety of ways. After all, if Ordeith (I’m just going to call him Ordieth, going forward) can manipulate the Lord Captain Commander and his ambitions so easily, he can probably manipulate Bornhald’s dumb revenge scheme easily enough.

I really enjoyed this chapter, even though the Seanchan are back and Suroth makes my skin crawl. For one thing, the narration seems to have tightened up a little in comparison to The Dragon Reborn—the pacing of this first section is similar to that of The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt, which is great. Also, I feel like this chapter really hit the perfect balance between reminding the reader of relevant information while also giving us new and exciting scenes. Even though I’ve been reading the books straight through without a break, I never felt overburdened by repetition of things I remember perfectly well; instead, I was excited to learn what everyone was up to, and to see how these events were sort of concurrent timeline-wise with the end of The Dragon Reborn.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Death, Love, and Fate in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 1)

Hello hello, and welcome back to Reading the Wheel of Time. This week is the very first week of the fourth book in the series, The Shadow Rising, and I am tremendously excited about it. Chapter one manages to hit a really good stride where it simultaneously repeats all the information readers might need to be reminded of since they read The Dragon Reborn, but also gives us lots of new information in each section. The narrative is tight and exciting, and it serves as a pretty good reminder of everything I love about the series so far.

The title of chapter one is “Seeds of Shadow” and it is so long that I had to break this post up into two and I am sorry but everything in the Min and Amyrlin section seemed so important and I had to cover it all. So this week will be “Min and the Amyrlin” and next week will be “What All of Rand’s Enemies Are Up To.”

But before that, we gotta have another beginning that isn’t the Beginning, and another wind springing up somewhere because that’s how these books roll.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: What it Means to Be Ta’veren

So the question on everyone’s mind—and by that I mean, the question that has been on my mind—is just what it means to be ta’veren in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Though the first three books in the series are no doubt just a drop in the bucket compared to the complex development that is to come, these three novels have laid out for us a basic understanding of what the Wheel of Time is, what the Pattern is, and the role of ta’veren within the Pattern. As Rand, Perrin, and Mat are slowly learning what it means to be ta’veren, we the readers are confronting many of the same questions. So even though I imagine I’ll need to revisit this question in a few more books-worth of time, it still seemed a good moment to sit down and ask, just what is a ta’veren, anwyay?

[He has no more control over his fate than a candle wick has over the flame.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Sword in the Stone Declares the King in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 23)

Oh my, what a journey we have had this week. My dear fellow travelers, we have done it. This is the last recap post for The Dragon Reborn. It’s been an interesting ride! I apologize for the length of the recap portion as well. I tried to be brief but it was a very tricky set of chapters to sum up, with lots of details in lots of different places, and we kept switching rapidly between different scenes and different povs. It did give the whole thing a rather cinematic feel, though, and it also contributed to the sense of just how fast everything was happening.

Shout out to Stefan Raets for doing all the editing for this piece (as he has done for every other, and excellently too!) which was late coming in and probably riddled with spelling errors and unfinished sentences, as I am more sick this week than I have been in years. I am seriously just a set of long mustaches away from being Thom Merrilin with this cough I’ve got, and I wouldn’t complain at all if Mother Guenna wanted to shove vile-tasting potions down my throat and keep me in a bed at her house until I recover. Maybe she and Nynaeve can discuss the best cure for this massive sinus pressure I’ve got going on. Or the pink eye.

Still, unlike Thom, I have made it to the climactic battle at the Stone, which was quite interesting, even if it wasn’t the Last Battle the way certain characters seem to have been hoping.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Mat Discovers a Trap, and So Does Faile in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 22)

Good morning and welcome to week 22 of the Read of The Dragon Reborn. This week, Thom is a stubborn ass for no reason, Mat seeks a remedy and finds the thing he was searching for all along, and Perrin starts to make some choices about his abilities and what they can be used for.

[That is what they call a Wisdom here—a Wise Woman. Wouldn’t Nynaeve like that!]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Hammers, Balefire and Persuasion in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 21)

Hello dear readers and welcome back to week 21 of the read of The Dragon Reborn. This week the strands of the wheel are drawing our protagonists ever closer to the Heart of the Stone and the climax of the long-building drama of The Dragon Reborn. I’ve been noticing that, somehow, this book seems slower than the previous two, although I can’t quite put my finger on why. It feels, though, that there have been fewer side quests and stand-alone adventures for everyone—more focus has been put on learning information, conversations, and world building than on, say, getting lost in Shadar Logoth or mirror worlds. I’m not sure if it would feel as slow if I was reading straight through without stopping every few paragraphs, but doing things this way, it certainly does.

We get a nice little reprieve this week as Perrin goes back to smithing, at least for a day. It’s like the calm before the storm, as it’s followed up by Moiraine’s revelation that the forsaken Be’lal is in Tear and Liandrin and the others catch up to Nynaeve.

One note about last week’s post: I forgot a page! My recap ended with Thom and Mat returning to The White Crescent for sleep, but I had forgotten (and not indicated in my notes, apparently) that there was a bit more to the end of Chapter 49. So the first little bit of today’s recap will be finishing that up, before we head into Chapter 50 and 51.

[So much in Tear looked odd that it was a relief to walk into the smithy.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Of Herbs and Luck in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 20)

Welcome back to Week 20 of our read of The Dragon Reborn. It was July 4th this past week, and while I didn’t personally feel like celebrating the U.S. and its ridiculous, over-the-top birthday, I did see a lot of fireworks. Which got me thinking—as so many things do, these days—about the Wheel of Time, and what I think is going to come of the Chehkov’s gun that is Mat’s roll of fireworks. What important plot point will it serve? As a distraction? An impromptu weapon? Something else? I know they are going to be important, but I don’t yet know how. It was sure fun to speculate though, as everyone at the barbecue oohed an aahed over the red white and blue blossoms in the sky and drank entirely too much beer.

Which I feel like Mat might also approve of.

But first, we must check in with Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve. Two of whom are suffering mightily, and I’m not just talking about being seasick. Riversick. You know what I mean.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Climbing Adventures with Matrim Cauthon in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 19)

My dears, my lovelies, it is already Week 19 in our read of The Dragon Reborn. It’s a quick post this week, covering Chapters 45-47, which were a breeze to read through and also quite fun to boot. I also loved to climb as a kid, and I find myself growing ever closer to, and more fond of, our dear Mat, as I predicted I would earlier in the book. It’s funny how much of a difference knowing someone’s internal monologue makes to understanding them and connecting with them as a person. I kind of love having so many different switches in the Wheel of Time, although it took me a bit to get used to. (I remember reading The Two Towers and The Return of the King as a kid and being mad when the book switched halfway through to tell you what the other half of the Fellowship was doing, so at least I don’t have to wait that long to check in on people.)

All in all, I don’t have quite as much to say this week, but I can see some dangers looming in our heroes’ future and it’s getting me closer and closer to the edge of my seat!

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Darkhounds, the Forsaken, and Fireworks in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 18)

Good morning, my darlings, and welcome all to Week 18 of this Read of The Dragon Reborn. This week we’re covering Chapters 41-44, and I do my best to keep the recap a reasonable size. I find it a bit nerve-wracking, trying to cut down on the lengths of the recaps, because there are so many little bits in the narration that seem important, even if I don’t know why they are important yet. That says very good things about the complexity and depth of Jordan’s writing, however, so it’s not at all a bad thing!

In my recaps I generally try to refer to characters and things with the same names and descriptions as the narration gives them in the relevant chapters; in a Nynaeve chapter I would always refer to Siuan as the Amyrlin because that’s what Nynaeve calls her, and I continued to refer to Lanfear as Selene as long as the other characters were calling her that, etc. However, even though Perrin is still calling her Zarine, I am going to call Faile by the name she has asked to be called, because that is a practice I believe in in real life, so I am going to extend it to fictional characters as well.

[And mine is Faile, shaggy-hair.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Is it Luck or Ta’veren Power in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn? (Part 17)

Hello friends and readers and readerfriends! Bit of a heads up, we’re only covering one chapter this week, so we can get back on a better rhythm that matches the thematic sections of The Dragon Reborn. Thus, this week will only cover Chapter 40, and next week will cover all of Perrin’s adventures in chapters 41-44.

Fortunately for us, Chapter 40, A Hero in the Night, is both fun and really interesting. It’s strange that we’re still getting to know Mat for the first time, despite all the history we have from The Eye of The World and The Great Hunt. I was particularly struck this week by Mat’s need to insist that he’s not as kind as he is, and the way he impulsively wants to help other people. If you had asked me before this chapter, I would certainly have said that Mat is the most selfish, or at least the most self-centered, of the Emond’s Field folks, but I hadn’t really expected him to have this view of himself, and I’m a little confused about where this impulse to insist that he doesn’t care is coming from. Self-preservation is my best guess. Or maybe Mat picked up somewhere that generosity is weakness? That doesn’t seem like a lesson he would have learned from his clever Da or any of the other folks of the Two Rivers, though. But perhaps his encounter with Aludra will shine some more light on the question.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Lost Queens and Exiled Aiel in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 16)

Welcome back to the Read, dear friends! This week, Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne have a sort of side-adventure, which proved difficult to summarize but contains a lot of tidbits of information and foreshadowing that, I can tell, are going to be important later. We meet some more Aiel, including Aviendha, who I have rather a suspicion will end up being an important character, and learn a little bit more about their cultural identity too. We see a bit of a power struggle between Nynaeve and Egwene, as well, and I try to make sense of some casually-dropped tidbits like “the Dragonwall” and someone named “Tigraine,” who Rand apparently looks like? More on that later (I confess I had to go back through the glossaries) but first, let’s get to the recap.

[In which Nynaeve is often wrong, but still manages to be right.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: A Falcon That Doesn’t Fly and a Wolf that Does in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 15)

This week in Reading the Wheel of Time, we’re covering Chapters 35 and 36 of The Dragon Reborn, in which there is a girl who calls herself Falcon and a woman who calls herself Daughter of the Night. Perrin learns that he can (at least sometimes) dream without Dreaming, and we return to a dreamscape we saw once before, long ago in the early days of The Wheel of Time. Will Perrin decide to trust Faile? What does Moiraine think of Perrin’s Dreaming? And can a wolf learn to fly? Read on to find out.

[My life is more than iron to be hammered into shape.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Good, Evil, and the Choices We Make in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 14)

Good morrow to you, fair readers, here on this lovely week 14 of our read of The Dragon Reborn. We’re doing two more chapters this week, Chapters 33 and 34, in which Perrin grapples with questions about the nature of the Pattern and meets an Aielman in a cage, just as Min promised. But why is this stranger important for Perrin? We’ll have to read on to find out.

[“Do you like to dance, Perrin Aybara?”]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

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