Drew’s Wheel of Time Reread – The Eye of the World Part 2

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Welcome to Drew’s Wheel of Time Reread! Today we will be covering the second part of The Eye of the World. Good news! Well, kind of…as I closed in on 1000 words for this post and I was only at Whitebridge, I realized that I’m going to need to do more than just two posts for EotW—and by extension, probably for every other book, too. There is just too much to say, otherwise. The result is that we get more Reread posts! That’s good news, right? Anyway, spoilers will be present for the entire series in this reread. The introduction post is here. You can find Part One of The Eye of the World here. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time!

  • After Shadar Logoth, the story in EotW both picks up and gets more annoying. Part of this comes from my own opinions: I don’t particularly like Egwene, and while Perrin is a pretty good character for most of the series, his chapters in this book generally drag (with the exception of their flight to the stedding and meeting with the Whitecloaks). Egwene especially makes it a chore to read, due to her startlingly selfish attitude and callous stance toward the rest of the Two Rivers folk. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
  • One thing I really like about this section of EotW is that we get points of view from Nynaeve. When I first read these books, Nynaeve bugged me a lot early on, but as I’ve gotten older, I sympathize with her a lot more. She really is acting as best she knows, with very pure desires: she wants to make sure that these kids, whom she watched over growing up, are going to be safe. It’s tough to keep the proper frame of reference because I know exactly what Aes Sedai are like, but at this point in the series, none of the Two Rivers group actually knows what their deal is. There is a lot of mistrust, and not all of it is misplaced.
  • Perhaps the most impressive thing about this stretch with Nynaeve is her mental strength. Her world is rocked when Moiraine tells her that she can channel. She has grown up with what are essentially horror stories about the One Power, and now she is one of those demons. The Two Rivers kids, at this point, aren’t even sure if Aes Sedai are on the side of the Light. Only Egwene is willing to cast aside the stories without any thought because it gives her an avenue to more power. Nynaeve, meanwhile, continues to harbor doubts throughout the entire series, as is wise, and accepts what she is in order to make good on her promise to protect her friends.
  • And we have Perrin and Egwene teaming up on the far side of the Arinelle. This is where Egwene really starts to get on my nerves; while she had a few moments earlier on, she comes to the forefront here, and the result is some pretty hefty hypocrisy. Perrin even remarks at one point that Egwene “never liked doing what someone else had planned out, and she never let anybody tell her what to do.” But then Egwene, when scared and lost, immediately insists on Perrin making the decisions to get her out—but when Perrin has a different idea of how to go about it, Egwene immediately begins bullying him into doing things her way. It should be noted that she is never described as “convincing” or “persuading”; no, it is bullying every time.
  • Egwene also likes to pretend to be the most progressive of the group while they are traveling to Baerlon, because she has an avenue into the greater power of Tar Valon. When they meet Elyas and the wolves, Egwene’s first thought is if she can get a piece of that power, asking if Elyas can teach her. When he says he can’t, Egwene instantly goes back to mistrusting him and the wolves. It’s quite remarkable what a chameleon she can be when the result is more power for herself.
  • Rand and Mat on the Spray is an interesting chapter, with some pretty serious stuff masked by the levity of Thom’s story that they’re gleeman’s apprentices. It is easy to be caught up in the masquerade and chuckle along at Rand’s foolishness on the mast and in the rigging—except behind all of this is Mat succumbing to the suspicion of Shadar Logoth and Rand’s potentially fatal reaction to using saidin.
  • We get our first glimpse of the Tower of Ghenjei here, and a mention of the female Choedan Kal on Tremalking. Bayle Domon has long been a character I liked, though he does have a little bit of a tendency to be a “quick-fix” type of character, where he shows up in time to be instrumental to an escape or provide some needed exposition. My friends and I actually call him Deus ex Domon from time to time. That aside, though, he’s an easy character to write off as a bit one-sided, but he clearly has a colorful past. He knows what he’s talking about. Even though he’s a smuggler, he definitely has a bit of an innocent curious streak underneath that. The fact that he says he’s seen the Tower of Ghenjei up close should point to that: the ToG is way the heck out there, in the middle of nowhere. It’s not like the White Bridge, which is a wonderful relic in the middle of a trade hub.
  • As the Spray approaches Whitebridge, Rand sees a shadow flicker through the bridge itself. I’ve always been a bit baffled by this. Is it because of the presence of the Myrddraal? Is it a little piece of symbolism that RJ tossed in, showing the dangers of wonderful but tainted saidin? I prefer to think of it as the latter.
  • Perrin and Egwene among the Tinkers is one of my least favorite parts of the book, for a multitude of reasons. The open hostility between Elyas and the Tuatha’an combined with Egwene’s behavior with Aram—something she will incorrectly and hypocritically accuse Rand of doing with Else Grinwell, later on—just sets my teeth on edge. On top of that, the Tinkers’ stubborn insistence on the Way of the Leaf has always been annoying to me, because I simply cannot see any fruitful logic in total pacifism. It leans too much upon idealism that falls apart in the real world, where there are always going to be people who take advantage of others in whatever way they can.
  • That’s it for this installment. I’m going to try to hurry out with two posts next week, because I don’t want this reread to keep stretching out. Check back next Wednesday for the end of The Eye of the World, and have a great weekend!
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