Drew’s Wheel of Time Reread – The Dragon Reborn Part 2

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Welcome back to Drew’s WoT Reread! Today we talk a lot about Mat and Egwene. Like, really a lot, and sadly not all of it is great (spoiler alert: all of Mat’s stuff is great).

As always, spoilers for the entire series are present. The introduction post is here. You can find all previous entries here. And now, onward. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time!

  • I have long been a proponent of the Mat=Aemon reborn theory, and the memory he has upon waking in the White Tower is the main reason why. However, after reading it this time, I’m less certain. My mind always wanted to think that the man Mat was remembering shouted “Carai an Ellisande”, but he actually doesn’t. Yes, he’s commanding the Heart Guard, which would presumably be Aemon’s personal guard, but there’s no mention of the Band of the Red Hand, so who knows.
  • That said, I still absolutely love this memory. It’s one of the most vivid mental images I have from WoT. This is one of those things that would be just stunning on the big screen.
  • And we finally get to Mat. The real Mat, the Mat that I (and so many others) love. He’s stubborn and hilarious and I love the way RJ slipped in descriptions of him eating absent-mindedly while mulling over his situation. Mat’s consternation at finding the plate empty of food always makes me chuckle.
  • And now I’m hungry. Great. Thanks, RJ.
  • Lanfear shows up to do her thing, but I will admit, I’ve never totally understood why. She is in love with Lews Therin. She wants him, and only him. And the Shadow knows that Rand is the Dragon Reborn…so, why waste her time with Mat and Perrin? Is she just trying to mess with them because she can’t find Rand at the moment? Also interesting that she talks about refusing to use Compulsion, then clearly begins to channel at Mat before sensing the approach of the Amyrlin and Leane.
  • Some interesting hints about Verin when Egwene visits her to get the information on the Black Ajah and ter’angreal. Of course we get more character building, regarding Verin’s absentmindedness and passion for scholarship, but the most intriguing is the small bit at the end of the chapter, when we get a POV from Verin. These are few and far between in WoT, and they’re always mysterious. Why does Verin withhold the rest of Corianin Nedeal’s notes?
  • I personally believe that it indicates that Corianin was Black herself. I’ve heard theories that Verin withheld them because they would have somehow exposed Verin herself as Black, but I find that unlikely. Corianin lived long, long before Verin. On the other hand, if Corianin were Black, then it would make sense that Liandrin and co. knew about the sleepweavers they took, despite only the one copy of Corianin’s notes existing and being held by Verin in secrecy.
  • Hoo boy. Egwene’s Accepted test. There is a LOT to talk about here. My first observation every time I read this is how much easier Egwene’s test seems to be as compared to Nynaeve’s. In Egwene’s test, each arch is centered around Rand, and Egwene betraying or abandoning Rand. This is presumably difficult…except we see on several occasions later in the series that Egwene has absolutely no problem with betraying Rand, giving away his secrets, and generally thinking the worst of him without any reason whatsoever.
  • Egwene’s first test is for what was, and we see her married to a suddenly channeling Rand in the Two Rivers, with a young daughter. This particular test has the greatest effect on Egwene, though as we see, her reaction is all about her daughter. She never once mentions Rand after coming out, instead sobbing for Joiya. Understandable enough, I suppose, but this is a theme that remains.
  • The second test is for what is. This is a curious choice, really, since it is in a ruined Caemlyn, ravaged by Shadowspawn and Dreadlords—something that we know is going to happen a year or two down the road. The gist of it is that Rand is trapped under rubble, physically holding off the madness from the taint, while the Shadow hunts for him. He begs Egwene to kill him, because he does not want to be Turned via the 13×13 method. Egwene is properly horrified at the fact that this exists…and promptly denies Rand the release of death and consigns him to the Shadow, even before the return arch appears. Egwene is terrified of the thought of being Turned, shuddering and revolted, but has no problem leaving Rand to that fate. When she comes out of the arch, she has no thought for Rand or his abandonment, only wanting to know if the Turning is possible and being afraid for herself due to the number of Blacks who went with Liandrin.
  • The third test is for what will be, and we get the most blatant foreshadowing yet of Egwene’s eventual rise to the Amyrlin Seat. Circumstances are different, of course, though there’s a more subtle bit of foreshadowing regarding Egwene’s freedom from the Oaths. Interestingly enough, Egwene is ageless in this test despite not having held the Oath Rod; I can write this off as Egwene not being aware of what causes the ageless look and assuming that just being Aes Sedai does it. Again, Rand is central in this test, being captured and sentenced to gentling; however, Egwene is more concerned about Elaida and keeping the Tower in one piece as she considers using balefire on a bunch of defenseless Warders.
  • This whole test really establishes what Egwene’s priorities are, and how she will view her future relationships.
  • And of course we also have Egwene going down the rabbit hole of paranoia, thinking that everyone and their Mother might be Black Ajah. Alanna is not, though she has her own agenda; Siuan obviously is not; and Sheriam…ah, poor, Black, Sheriam.
  • On a happier note: Mat wandering around the Tower grounds is one of the most lighthearted and amusing chapters of the early series. His encounter with Else (Lanfear) is perfectly perplexing from his point of view, and it’s just hilarious that he lets getting shot down by a girl get to him enough that he challenges the Andoran boys.
  • I can’t fail to mention Mat whooping up on Galad and Gawyn, of course. It’s interesting to me that at this point in the series, I don’t have a problem with Gawyn at all. I actually kind of like him. Galad is obnoxious, of course, and it’s nice to see him get knocked down a rung or two. It’s funny that, by the end of the series, I’ll be celebrating Gawyn’s death and actively appreciating Galad’s character and nobility. I want to say that Mat knocking Gawyn out gave him a concussion and changed his personality…but no, the Aes Sedai in attendance Healed him right away. Gawyn is just an idiot, no excuses.
  • Hammar is awesome, and I’m not happy that Gawyn killed him. But then again, I just got done saying that Gawyn makes idiotic choices, didn’t I?
  • That’s all for today. I know this covered a smaller section of the book than normal, but Egwene’s test demanded a lot of attention this week. Check back in next Wednesday for the continuation of The Dragon Reborn, and in the meantime, a new chapter of All Flames Cast has found its way onto Dcafwriting!
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