Drew’s Wheel of Time Reread – The Dragon Reborn Part 4

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Welcome back to Drew’s WoT Reread! I realize it’s been way too long since the last installment. All I can say is that you should blame the NHL for having their playoffs right now and for hockey being so awesome. Anyway, today we finish The Dragon Reborn (finally)!

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!

  • This stretch of going through Illian always drags at me, for some reason. There’s actually a lot of intriguing things that pop up here (why does Faile call Myrddraal “Fetches”? How does Moiraine know that Lord Brend is Sammael?), and some cool action sequences with the Gray Men and Darkhounds—especially the Darkhounds. Their introduction here is actually really, really awesome. It’s one of those points where RJ’s penchant for details comes through well, and brings the reader into the creepiness of the scene.
  • Mat saving Aludra in Aringill is perfect in so many ways. It not only sets up some important plot devices for the end of the book, like Mat’s use of gunpowder at the Stone, but also lays the groundwork for their eventual reunion and Mat’s integration of cannons into warfare. Important stuff. Plus, it’s amusing as always, getting inside Mat’s head as he adamantly denies that he’s a hero while he’s literally swinging down on ropes to save the damsel in distress. Smooth, Mat.
  • Possibly my favorite line, humor-wise, in the entire series: “The bloody garden wall again. It should be built three times so high.” Poor Tallanvor….
  • It’s funny how quickly Mat catches onto his luck and depends on it, though he doesn’t recognize it as his ta’veren nature just yet. He takes everything that can give him an advantage, and runs with it.
  • Ugh, back to the Wonder Girls landing in Tear, where Egwene is purposely annoying to the ship captain right off the bat, and then stubbornly refuses to admit that Nynaeve is right about wanting to stay somewhere that isn’t an inn…when we find out that, if they had done as Egwene wanted, they probably would have been killed by Comar just a few nights later. Additionally, Nynaeve’s method nets them a local ally, who knows the lay of the city and has a feel for local politics far exceeding their own.
  • Something of particular note: the dreams that everyone has in cities Forsaken have taken over. This has been explained as them not bothering to shield their dreams, and when they dreamwalk, they bleed over into the dreams of those nearby. Rand seems to have this same effect. However, when Mat is in Tear, he has the expected dreams of Rand and Be’lal holding Callandor…but also dreams that sound an awful lot like those Egwene and Perrin have, true, prophetic dreams. What’s up with that?
  • Again we see Mat figuring out how something can work to his advantage and immediately integrating it into his methods. This is something that tells me that he would have been a good commander even without the memories from the Eelfinn. This ability to process new information and adapt it in fortuitous ways is an important aspect of the ever-shifting madness on a battlefield.
  • Perrin’s scene in the smithy, working as a blacksmith for the first time since leaving Emond’s Field, is just wonderful writing. Jordan is often criticized by readers for going into too much detail, for paying too much attention to little, unimportant things, but it’s that very talent that allows him to write scenes like this. This scene is so immersive, so subtly ensnaring, that you almost feel the same way as Perrin by the end of it: where did the time go? It’s poignant and heartfelt at the same time.
  • Poor Juilin, getting caught by the Black Ajah. Liandrin may not have command of Compulsion, but her little trick is the next thing to it. Interestingly enough, this is another of the clues that Verin is Black. We are told throughout the series that girls with the spark usually have a personal weave that they used before coming to the Tower, and it’s shown, a bit heavy-handedly, that the more evil women used weaves like this, forcing people to do their will, while others like Moiraine have more benign skills. As we see later, Verin has her own Compulsion weave.
  • Mother Guenna is a great character, really. The entire bit with her and Mat and Thom is tense and frustrating and hilarious, all at the same time. Mat again shows his willingness to adapt to new information here, as he doesn’t question Guenna when she tells him that the Aes Sedai who took the Wonder Girls were not friendly. He takes it in stride and begins preparing himself to get them out of the Stone.
  • The Spirit hedgehog trap is actually pretty scary, when you think about it. There’s simply no way to deal with it, short of what Perrin does. And even that was toeing the line; he nearly died, as did Faile.
  • The great mystery, once again: how does Moiraine know which Forsaken are in these cities?
  • Mat and Juilin and the Aiel on the rooftops. The end of this book is just great. I love the way RJ manages so easily to create these incredibly tense, anxiety-inducing scenes while still maintaining a degree of levity purely based on Mat’s presence. It takes something special to have a scene where there’s a three-way standoff with lives potentially at stake…and still make you laugh with every other sentence.
  • The seeds are planted for Mat’s dragons in this book, between the introduction of Mat to Aludra and the literal bombing of the Stone of Tear. It’s a long time brewing, but man, what a payoff!
  • Oh, hey, High Lord Darlin! You may be pretty cool later on, and get to be a king, but you’re kind of a jerk to Mat, here. I don’t know if I totally forgive you for that.
  • Rand against Be’lal is fun, though for some reason this scene always lasts longer in my mind than it does on the page. Moiraine balefires Be’lal only a couple pages into the chapter.
  •  I…think Ishamael may have actually been using both saidin and the True Power, here. Obviously the black lightning and shadows about him are signs of the True Power, but Rand also senses the gateway that Ishamael made to enter T’A’R.
  • The Wonder Girls’ attitudes toward Mat make me grind my teeth. This is what frustrates me the most about them, and really about one of the main themes in this series. Lack of true communication among the protagonists causes so many problems, so many little hangups, and this is one scene where none of it was necessary. Mat didn’t have all the information, and when he asked, the girls condescended to him and belittled him for not knowing everything…and then proceeded to not explain anything. Ugh.
  • So, I think it’s clear that Callandor is some type of cuendillar, but I noticed for the first time that Rand actually used a weave to split Ishamael’s balefire. I always assumed it was just Callandor’s constitution that made it happen, but clearly that’s not the case.
  • Another interesting note: Ishamael is trying to balefire Rand. If he had succeeded, Rand’s soul would have been too far out of the Dark One’s reach to stuff into a new body and Turn. Obviously his death would have still been catastrophic for the Light, but it’s intriguing that Ishamael didn’t care if Rand’s soul were captured or not.
  • Rand cutting Ishamael’s protection from the taint seems like a big deal in this scene (the steel wires of blackness), but when you think about it, it’s really not. With his death and subsequent reincarnation as Moridin, the Dark One just gave him new protection. And of course he basically stopped using saidin altogether, and used the much more dangerous True Power.
  • One thing that has always bugged me is that the Aiel at the end here all bow to Rand and chant “The Dragon is Reborn!” alongside the Tairens. The Aiel don’t care about the Dragon Reborn. Now, I know this is probably one of those things that can just get chalked up to Ta’veren Ex Machina, but it still bugs me.
  • Off the top of my head, I think Mat saying “Shai’tan” during the epilogue here is the last time one of the main characters makes that mistake. The consequences of it are much less dire, this time around (the last time, when Rand said it, Fain broke out of Fal Dara and the Horn was stolen), but it should be noted that this is a sort of marker for their maturation. Things get real, now, and they don’t act like clueless children anymore. Going forward, Rand, Mat, and Perrin are now all adults.
  • And that’s that for The Dragon Reborn! My apologies once again for the delay on this, and hopefully The Shadow Rising won’t take so long. TSR is my second favorite book in this series, and I’m very much looking forward to diving in.
  • One last thing, in case my reread here does go forward a little more slowly: I want you all to know what I’m doing when I’m not reading or working on All Flames Cast. LET’S GO RANGERS!
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