Drew’s Wheel of Time Reread – The Eye of the World Part 3

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Welcome back to Drew’s Wheel of Time Reread! Yes, I know this is two days later than I said it would be. I’ve been under the weather for the last few days, and that has put a serious crimp in my WoT schedule. I will do my best to get Part One of The Great Hunt up this Saturday, but we’ll see what happens.

Today, we will finish up Book One, The Eye of the World. As usual, there will be spoilers present for the whole series. You can find the introduction post here, and Part One of The Eye of the World here. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time!

 

  • One thing that often slips from my memory is how much Thom really cares about Rand and Mat. He constantly urges them to leave off from Tar Valon—he definitely has an inkling that one of them can channel. And he doesn’t want to see whichever of them get gentled and follow the path of Owyn.
  • Another point I’d forgotten was that Whitebridge is the first time we get a reference of Fain and Mordeth being one, now: “One minute he was whining and begging, the next making demands like a king.” While we won’t find out that this was Fain for some time, on a reread it strikes me immediately. I wonder if Fain was in Whitebridge long enough to influence anyone there…
  • On first reading, I remember being totally thrown off by the flashback sequence with Rand and Mat. I get that Jordan was going for dramatic tension, but this is an extended Like, three chapters. That was a big hurdle to get over, and I think served as an unfortunate and unintentional foreshadowing of the narrative troubles to come in CoT and ToM.
  • I vented quite a lot about Egwene last week, so this time around I’m going to avoid that. But one thing begs to be addressed: her attitude with the Tinkers. “Whatever is going to happen will happen whether we leave today or next week.” This while Perrin knows that their presence with the Tinkers is endangering all of them. Even though Perrin does not like Aram, he doesn’t want such innocents being casualties of his presence. Egwene, meanwhile, adopts a remarkably naive attitude toward the whole thing, reveling in the irresponsibility afforded by the Way of the Leaf.
  • Elyas has always been a character that I generally liked, in a sort of vague way, but never had any real attachment to. But he shows a depth of character among the Tinkers: even though he thinks their way of life is, at best, stupid, he still has the basic respect for others to abide by their customs and even learn their traditional greetings. He surprises Raen and Ila by finishing their stay with the ceremony about finding the song. He really is a decent man, and I expect he would be equally flexible and respectful of just about any other culture, too.
  • Moiraine: “Part of the training you will receive in Tar Valon, Wisdom, will teach you to control your temper. You can do nothing with the One Power when emotion rules your mind.” HAHAHAHAHA.
  • “You’ll use it, boy, and as long as you hate using it, you will use it more wisely than most men would. If ever you don’t hate it any longer, then will be the time to throw it as far as you can and run the other way.” It’s crazy to look back on Elyas talking about Perrin’s axe like this, knowing how it and the hammer symbolize his internal struggle. While I will be the first to say that Crossroads of Twilight is my least favorite in the series, the prophetic fulfillment of Elyas’ statement that occurs in CoT is one of the most visceral and horrifying in the series, in my opinion. Perrin follows a long and winding road to end up so tortured at that point, and it all starts here.
  • I’ve always disliked the Four Kings sequence, not for any narrative reason, but because it feels creepy and unsettling. I guess that’s a sign of good writing.
  • The whole sequence with Rand and Mat on the Caemlyn Road is pretty much one giant introduction act for minor characters and villains. Almen Bunt! Lady Shiaine! Paitr the Darkfriend! Hi, everyone!
  • It’s easy to take the major cities for granted after reading the entire series, but Caemlyn is a big deal for Rand and Mat at this point. It’s huge: the second largest city on the continent. They’re by themselves for the first time, too. Baerlon was a nice warmup, in a way, but they had Moiraine and Lan to guide them through and take care of arrangements. It’s a totally different animal in Caemlyn.
  • This is first time I’ve read EotW since finishing AMoL. It’s rather sad, in a way, knowing what is going to happen to Caemlyn. RJ’s descriptions of the city are lovely, and very much bring to life the bustle and glamour and general mayhem of the place. Most of RJ’s detractors cite his descriptions as the biggest turn-off to his writing, but it is in places like this that his attention to detail is simply superb.
  • The political climate in Caemlyn is a commentary on the two-party system in place in the United States, I believe. The shopkeeper who sells Rand the red cloth scoffs at him in a manner that I could see any staunchly political owner in America doing. Imagine if, for instance, somebody walked into a bakery and asked for a cake made for his homosexual wedding…oh, wait.
  • Yeah, I’m not going there in this blog.
  • Rand’s naiveté in regards to the red cloth is charmingly innocent, and only serves to highlight how out of their depth he and Mat are in Caemlyn. Moiraine or Lan would have picked up on things immediately, but Rand just bulls ahead, hoping to hide his sword and inadvertently putting himself in a dangerous position.
  • We also meet Gill and Loial! It still cracks me up that everyone things Loial is a Trolloc, at first.
  • I love a couple things about the early signs of Nynaeve and Lan falling for each other. For one, Lan’s quiet sturdiness is a fun counterpoint to Nynaeve’s boldness—this is something we see RJ explore later on—but in specific I like that it all stems out of respect for each other. Even just a statement as simple as Lan saying “you are needed” carries a lot of weight. Lan is hyper-capable, and if it were something that Moiraine wanted, he could just say “she wants you” or something like that. But no, Nynaeve is needed, and Lan shows that in his own, silent way. On top of that, when Nynaeve doesn’t come back on time from cutting the horse lines, Lan does not hesitate to go after her, into a seething camp of two hundred Whitecloaks…even when Moiraine commands him to stay. Only Nynaeve’s return prevents a further showdown between Warder and Aes Sedai.
  • We don’t find out until later, of course, but while Rand is watching Logain, Logain is watching Rand right back. It’s cool that Logain can see ta’veren. As far as I can remember, only Siuan and Nicola have that ability other than Logain.
  • I still find Elaida’s Foretelling a little confusing. Did she really Foretell at Morgase’s command, or was that just really fortuitous timing? It brings to mind the Seanchan, who can seemingly command damane to tell fortunes.
  • I know a lot of EotW was meant to be evocative of older, high fantasy—Lord of the Rings in particular—but it still bugs me how Elaida talks. She uses the term “unbeliever” a couple of times in EotW, and never again. She’s referring to Logain, of course, but it’s still puzzling. Why “unbeliever”? What is there not to believe? Anyone have thoughts on this?
  • One thing that may be an inaccuracy, or just something that RJ forgot: Moiraine recognizes instantly that Mat is tainted by Shadar Logoth, yet Fain goes into the White Tower with impunity and nobody there senses that he has Mordeth in him. Is this something that Moiraine has picked up in her studies and travels? She does have some Brown Ajah tendencies, after all.
  • Backtracking a bit, it’s always bugged me that there are a dozen Warders with the army escorting Logain. Moiraine says straight out that there are “perhaps twenty Aes Sedai” in Caemlyn, and she is the only one not Red. So we know that those Warders aren’t bonded to any of them. It just feels weird to me that other Aes Sedai would send their Warders off to go fight a channeling false Dragon without them.
  • Perrin: “On the whole, singing with the Tinkers was more fun than the Whitecloaks.” Oh, Perrin. Delivered with a straight face, too.
  • Loial’s tale of a man coming to Stedding Shangtai is of course important to the narrative of EotW, since it sets them on their path to the Blight and the Eye, but I’m pretty sure this is the first reference we get to Jain Farstrider actually still being alive. He’s not named, so it’s very oblique and can only be puzzled out with later information, but it’s there. I remember, on first reading, hearing about The Travels of Jain Farstrider and assuming he was long dead.
  • I’ve rambled way too long on this post. It’s kind of scaring me…I wanted to do two posts for EotW, and here I am at three posts and this one is almost two thousand words. I’m only going to say that the Ways are crazy, and I liked the setup with Fain and the Black Wind; I only wish it were used more after TGH.
  • The story of Malkier is, like the story of Manetheren, awesome and heartbreaking. For some reason, the austerity of Agelmar adds an extra element to this story for me. There’s a certain martial respect that comes through, telling you that even these hardened and impressive Shienarans were like the little brothers of the Malkieri. And Lan just embodies that.
  • So much of this book fades quickly as you get further into the meat of the series. Every time, I forget just how disgusting the Blight really is. I mean…seriously. Everything just rotting, all around, all the time. Ugh.
  • The climactic sequence in EotW is really cool, but it’s clear that RJ hadn’t quite hammered down all the rules of channeling yet. Some of the things Rand does, and how they’re described, just don’t quite mesh with the rest of the series. It’s a lot more high fantasy, soft magic-type stuff than the normal rule-restricted hard magic that we see with the One Power. I like to think that there is some kind of World of Dreams crossover going on here, or something, that allows Rand to do what he does.
  • Also, pretty sure Rand channels and pulls the Green Man’s place to himself. I never put it together before, because it’s described oddly and a little off, but the void splintering and reforming, driving red-hot shards into his bones…yeah, that sounds a lot like his reactions to channeling earlier in the book, specifically the Bela instance. And then right as that’s happening, they find themselves approaching the Eye.
  • I had a pet theory back in the day (disproved in River of Souls, unfortunately) that Worms/Jumara were the base form of Dragons. I still think they’re the coolest Shadowspawn we see, though. Wish there was more use of them in the Last Battle.
  • And that’s all I have for The Eye of the World! This post has gone on way too long as it is. Thanks for the patience, and see you soon for Part One of The Great Hunt!
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