Welcome back to Drew’s WoT Reread! I finally got some time to sit down with TSR, do some thinking, and hammer out another reread post for all of you. So keep your little white cloaks on, people…this is when WoT gets real.
- TSR is the only book in the entire series that does not feature either a prologue or an epilogue. This is a pretty odd stylistic choice from RJ, considering the notoriety of his prologues and the way he uses epilogues to step back from the heads of his characters and give us readers a wider-scope look at the world. In TSR this is especially noticeable, because this is the book that truly departs from his early narrative structure and sets up what we should expect for the next ten books.
- Of course, TSR doesn’t have a prologue only in name. Chapter 1, “Seeds of Shadow”, follows RJ’s prologue structure to a T: disparate POVs that lay the groundwork for events all over the world, a departure from the main characters we will be following for the next ~950 pages, and a look into the machinations of the Shadow. Why he decided to name it “chapter one”, I don’t know.
- “Seeds of Shadow” has always interested me more than most prologues go, simply because it’s an amalgamation of a bunch of characters whom I really don’t like and set-up for lots of awesome events later on. I assume I’m not alone in the fandom in saying that I really can’t stand Suroth or Bornhald or Elaida…but I may get crucified for this next one: I don’t particularly like Min.
- I’ll get more into why this is as the series goes on, and she becomes more prominent in the plot, but for now I’ll just say that she seems to be good for very little in the early parts of the series. She serves as a walking foreshadowing device for RJ, a set of eyes for us to see Tar Valon, and other than that just whines about Rand a lot.
- On the other hand, these couple of scenes depicting Min’s arrival at the WT are very important. This is the beginning of the split, the seeds are planted for Siuan’s end as Amyrlin, and poor Sahra is inadvertently stuck in the middle of it. All she wanted was to stare at Gawyn, but instead she gets what amounts to a death sentence at the hands of the Black Ajah.
- Alviarin was such a more dangerous character in the hands of RJ than she seemed in Sanderson’s books. She was competent, driven, and incredibly manipulative; I thought for sure she was going to end up being named one of a new generation of Chosen (along with Taim, about whom I was correct). Instead, she trailed off and fell to the wayside in the grand scheme of things, with Mesaana suddenly leading the Black Ajah. That was a bummer, considering how Alviarin was introduced and developed.
- I have to admit, the geography of the Dain/Ordeith scene at Taren Ferry confuses me every time. Just a random thing, but it seems like Dain should be looking in a different direction if he’s below the Taren.
- I remember the first time I read this book, the inclusion of the Suroth bit on Cantorin really fascinated me. Maybe I was just a naive little kid, but for some reason I had been certain the Seanchan were done after Falme. Booooy was I wrong.
- And into the main plot, starting things off with a bang and a bubble of evil. The Perrin/axe/Faile scene was appropriately intense, but it was the Mat scene, playing cards with the Tairen nobles, that really gets my pulse pounding. It’s all so surreal, so wild, and fits with Mat’s personality perfectly.
- And Berelain; ugh. In retrospect, Berelain is actually a pretty great character. She’s one of the smartest, most calculating and savvy people we meet…but it takes a long time to get over this initial impression of her sneaking into Rand’s rooms to try to seduce him.
- Of course it backfires, both because of who Rand is and what kind of morals he has, and also because of the timely intervention of some random evil. The reflections were chilling, and remind me of the way channelers appeared after being Turned. The kind of deadness in the eyes, emotional distance, all of it.
- One thing that will always bug me, though, is how Mat and Perrin automatically assume that Rand was attacking them. I get that they have a paranoia re: Rand going insane from the taint, but having Rand animate weapons and playing cards is just so far beyond the extent of what they’ve seen the OP is capable of doing. I just think that it’s a little bit forced.
- An aside: Torean is a creepy rapist. Or wants to be, at least. As I recall, he is never quite able to corner Berelain, but he definitely wants to. Ugh. Screw that guy. (Or, you know, don’t screw him, Berelain. You do you.)
- There is something about Thom and Mat’s scenes together that just warms the heart. I think Thom must have been very much like Mat, back when he was a young, skipper bard. He understands Mat in ways that none of the other characters do, even Perrin and Rand. It makes for great times when they get together, and I think that’s a big part of why I enjoy ACoS and WH so much more than most people seem to. You just can’t go wrong with the Mat/Thom show.
- And somehow I’m already at 1000 words, and I’m only through the first three chapters. This book might take a few posts…
- Anyway, it feels good to be back on track. Just a couple more weeks of NHL playoffs, and then I can get back into my usual routine.