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Sylas K Barrett

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

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Power of the Ta’veren in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 13)

Hello, good morning, and welcome back to week 13 of Reading The Dragon Reborn! Although traditionally an unlucky number in the western world, thirteen has always been a lucky one for me—I was even born on a Friday the 13th. And it seems to be a lucky number for Mat, too, although in a rather alarming sort of way, which may foreshadow some pretty strange and dangerous consequences for the grabbiest of heroes. Also Thom comes back (you all know my feelings about Thom) and we learn some more creepy things about the High Lords of Tear.

In other news, I’m going to try to really shorten the recap sections of the posts. As the books get longer and more complicated, so too do the recaps! You’ve all read the books, so you know what happens—so I’m going to try to cover only the broad strokes in the recap portion, and spend more time getting into the nitty gritty of the analysis. And with that, on to Mat’s gambling adventures.

[Next you could try telling the Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks he should marry the Amyrlin Seat.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Amyrlin’s Plots Backfire in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 12)

Welcome back, dear readers, to week 12 of Reading The Dragon Reborn! This week sets ups up to finally have our heroes getting out of the Tower and back into the wide world, and I am quite ready for it. We also get to see Tel’aran’rhiod and Egwene has some interesting adventures that leave her, and me, with more questions than answers. Also, Lanfear’s plots turn out to be a bit more twisty than I had guessed.

[One pretty woman means fun at the dance. Two pretty women mean trouble in the house. Three pretty women mean run for the hills.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Farmer’s Weapons and Library Secrets in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 11)

Welcome back to week eleven of Reading the Dragon Reborn! This is a fun, adventurey week, with Robin Hood-style antics from Mat, sneaking and disguises from Lanfear, and some Indiana Jones beneath-a-library spelunking with Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne.

Also, both Mat and and the girls have some strange encounters with Else Grinwell, who may or may not be who she seems. But then again, who inside Tar Valon is, really?

[I opened my fool mouth, and now I have to win.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

I Identify Deeply With Thor. I Wish Avengers: Endgame Hadn’t Used His Mental Health For Jokes

One of the big problems with the Avengers movies in general is that they can’t accommodate all the arcs of the individual characters. Trying to cram six or more characters into three-ish hours and give them all their due is already impossible, and then there’s the added complication that these movies are often being written while their immediate predecessors are still being filmed. It can’t really be helped, but it is to the detriment of the larger continuity that they sold us on when we first started this journey. The Infinity War/Endgame script was being written while Thor: Ragnarok was in filming, so I expected to see some similar conflicts.

But I did not expect what they did to Thor.

Of everyone, Thor lost the most in Infinity War, especially because he had already lost so much in Ragnarok. His conversation with Rocket on the journey to Nidavellir was one of the most moving moments of Infinity War, and I knew the emotional fallout of failing to kill Thanos, making the sloppy tactical mistake of stopping to gloat instead of finishing the job, would take an even heavier toll on him. Thor never considered that he could fail and still live. And not only was Fate not on his side after all, but it turns out that he also did have something left to lose.

His mental health.

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Reading the Wheel of Time: Egwene Lets Go of Rand and Is Nearly Lost Herself in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 10))

I have so many questions about this week’s chapters (22 and 23) and Egwene’s trips through the arched ter’angreal. Most prominent is the same question that Nynaeve and Egwene asked Sheriam, the question everyone apparently asks: Is what happens when you’re inside real, and in what way? I don’t believe that it is literally real, like a visit to an alternate reality or anything like that, but Egwene’s experiences, especially the third time through, have a much more prophetic nature than Nynaeve’s. But perhaps that is just coincidence, since Nynaeve saw a version of the future that could not possibly be real, given that we know Malkier is gone, but the threat of Rand being caught and gentled is a serious one that both Egwene and the reader are deeply concerned with.

[For what was, what is, and what will be.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Choosing Who You Want to Be in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 9)

Hello again, dear friends. I know I told you that we were going to spend this week on Egwene’s Accepted Trials, but as it turns out, I had so much to say that I had to break it down into two different posts! You all seem to enjoy my non chapter-specific ramblings, though, and seems like it was about time for one.

Before I get into that, however, I’d like to thank you all of your insightful comments over the course of this read. I’ve enjoyed interacting with you, and even if I didn’t comment myself, I was reading along and loving all of your thoughts and pointers. You’ve been working so hard to keep those comments spoiler-free while still giving me new angles to ponder. It’s been great fun for me, and I think it also contributed to making the subsequent posts richer.

That being said, as the books get more and more complicated, so does spoiler-free commenting! The Tor Dot Powers that Be and I have decided to change the policy, allowing all commenting to be as spoilery as you like. We do not seem to have any commenters who are reading along with me for the first time. And while I’ll miss your discussions and banter, freeing up the comments section allows you all to spend less time worrying about what counts as a spoiler and dealing with white-outs, and more time getting into the nitty-gritty of the story you love.

[But what does it mean to be chosen?]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Mat Struggles With the Past in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 8)

Welcome back once again to the Reading the Wheel of Time! In week eight of the The Dragon Reborn, Mat isn’t the only one who is struggling with his memory. I, your fearless reader, also found myself trying to remember details, some of them small, that felt pretty important. Had Mat heard Selene’s name before? How much reason do I really have to suspect Verin of being Black Ajah, besides that one apparent lie about being sent to Ingtar by Moiraine? And are there hints of more secrets about Ba’alzamon than the one I think I have uncovered?

The answers lie in three chapters that are full of a lot more talking than action, and I have to admit, the more chapters like this we have, the more I keep waiting for something really serious to happen. Egwene has her Accepted trials coming up, so there’s always that.

But first, we must recap!

[I’m down at the bottom of the well.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Everyone Wants to Help and They Can’t Be Trusted in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 7)

Welcome back, gentle readers! It’s already Week 7 here in Reading the Wheel of Time. In this round we’ll see Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne starting into the very beginnings of thinking and politicking like proper Aes Sedai, Galad and Gawyn making an (not entirely) unwelcome appearance, Elaida coming back into our story, and Mat finally getting Healed.

Although everything that happens in Chapters 16-18 is very interesting, I found it a bit of a slog to recap and analyze. There’s a lot of talking, and although we get some more pieces for our puzzle, I think we will have to wait a while yet to see where they fit. Especially the part that Elaida will play in events; I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be substantial.

[That young man has too fair a face for his own good.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Searching for the Black Ajah in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 6)

Welcome back to Reading the Wheel of Time! This week, Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve finally get to find out their punishment for sneaking out of Tar Valon, we find out what has changed in the White Tower in their absence, and we get a new kind of Darkfriend! Or do the Gray Men qualify more as Shadowspawn than as human followers, now?

In the meantime, we still don’t know if Mat is alive or dead, or what the Amyrlin plans to do with him. I have to admit, at first I thought it was a little silly that the girls were so worried about making sure he was healed. “Of course the Aes Sedai are going to help him!” I thought. “Why would Verin bring him all this way just to let him die?” But then she and the Amyrlin had that conversation last week about how Mat dying would free up the Horn to be wielded by another, and the Amyrlin still hasn’t made an apparent decision about it, and I have to admit… I’m starting to worry about him, too. We don’t learn Mat’s fate this week, but there is still enough to keep us busy.

[To lead is neither to push, nor to pull.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Secrets Smell Like Fishes in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 5)

Welcome back to Reading the Wheel of Time with me, Sylas! The guy who finally reached the point where Nynaeve’s braid pulling gets out of control. You all did warn me this was coming.

This week we’re covering Chapters 10, 11, and 12, which is full of Secrets, brings us home to Tar Valon, and reintroduces us the the Amyrlin Seat, aka Badass Lady of the Fish Metaphors.

[And burn the thieving fisher-bird, whoever she might be, so she never forgets it.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

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