Welcome back to the reread! I’m settling into a regular schedule now, with posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Today, we cover the first part of The Great Hunt, leading up to the departure from Fal Dara.
- Things kick off with a bang at our very first Darkfriend Social. I guess this is really the only Darkfriend social, actually; all the rest are Forsaken Socials. But this one is full of lots of fun probably-cameos. Hi, Ingtar! Hi, Verin! Hi, Weiramon! Hi, Liandrin!
- And back to Fal Dara, for the very first bubble of evil. This one flies under the radar a lot, I think, but it’s really pretty creepy. Rand got really lucky with it, when you think about it. While many other bubbles of evil are things that can be fought off, this one is literally just solid air trying to push you. If it had decided to push Rand off the tower, say, instead of into the practice sword…
- It’s been fun doing this reread because there are little things that always seem to slip from my memory; one of these is the fact that Rand is pretty much just a colossal jerk to Mat, Perrin, and Loial in his attempt to push them away. While this is coming from a sense of duty for Rand, it’s pretty tough to read. I feel for the others, especially Loial. You can just feel him being hurt by Rand’s words, and Loial is always so nice.
- And look at that, we have Egwene physically assaulting Rand. And then immediately turning around and saying that Rand only tries to solve disagreements with force. At least Rand calls Egwene out on her hypocrisy this time.
- Man, Padan Fain is creepy. This early in the series, when he still has some semblance of humanity in him, it’s much worse than at any point until ToM, in my opinion.
- Rand is an idiot, of course, naming the Dark One, but I still wonder whether the attack on Fal Dara would have succeeded even had he not done so.
- Geofram Bornhald…sigh. He’s actually a decent guy, and the kind of Whitecloak ideal that captures Galad’s mind later on. Stinks that he gets pulled around by the Questioners.
- The scene with Liandrin and Amalisa is interesting, and I inadvertently spoiled something for my girlfriend a couple weeks ago because of it. For some reason, the first time I read this scene, I knew immediately that Liandrin was a Darkfriend, even though nowhere in it does it say she is. When I asked Lauren about her reading (she’s going through the series for the first time, and is about a book ahead of my reread), she was confused when I said Liandrin was Black. Whoops.
- That said, my knowledge (or assumption, I suppose) that Liandrin was Black really took out all of the narrative tension with her pulling the girls from the Tower later on. It was mostly frustration for me, at that point, knowing that she was going to lead them into trouble.
- Ingtar is such a tragic character. He clearly has a code of honor, and we know he became a Darkfriend out of bitterness and cynicism. He is so angry because he knows what he did was wrong, and he desperately wants to atone for his choice. Also, he’s a boss for taking on a Fade by himself after watching it kill seven men. You’ll see much more Ingtar love from me as the reread goes on.
- One interesting thing about the attack on Fal Dara is the similarity with the Shadowspawn attack on the Stone in TSR. Comparing Rand’s actions in the two provides a cool little look at the ways in which Rand grows between the two books—and the ways he’s just the same. In TGH, though he cannot channel, is nowhere near the swordsman, and doesn’t have Callandor, his reaction is the same: protect the innocent and the helpless.
- Gosh, I love the scenes with Siuan in Fal Dara. Verin is acting perfectly here, putting on her Brown Ajah guilelessness while manipulating both Siuan and Moiraine. The Dark Prophecy is great, chilling, and gives us what I believe is our first mention of both Lanfear, and is definitely the first we hear of Slayer. Interesting that they were mentioned together like this, and Perrin kills both of them in a similar way twelve books later.
- Lan shines in these last few chapters at Fal Dara. He’s such a gruff, stony man, but there is a generous heart inside. The way he takes Rand under his wing in advance of Rand’s audience with the Amyrlin is just amazing. There’s a real sense of solidarity there, and Lan’s line to Leane is one of my favorite in the book: “He is a man, Leane Sedai, no more, and no less. We are what we are.”
- Lan doesn’t stop there, though. The tenderness and sadness that permeates him while talking to Nynaeve are really touching. It’s frustrating, of course, but the fact that he refuses to promise Nynaeve something that he thinks he cannot give her speaks volumes about how much he really cares for her.
- The departure from Fal Dara is perfectly hurried, with just enough time for the necessary goodbyes. The rushed sense of things helps grant credence to the fact that the Grey Man missed both Rand and the Amyrlin (though I imagine there was a decent amount of help from ta’veren chance).
- Hurin! Hi! I almost forgot about you! And now I feel bad, remembering how Rand treats him in TGS. Poor guy. Unique, and uniquely loyal to Rand, only to be treated with such anger and suspicion. I’m glad Rand apologized to him, later, but I wish we could have seen that on the page. In TGH, though, Hurin is really fun. I love his sniffing ability.
- That’s it for Part One of The Great Hunt. Look for Part Two this Saturday, and leave your thoughts and comments below!