Revisiting the Wheel of Time: The Great Hunt

On the assumption that I would be halfway out of my tree on Vicodin, I decided to spend this past weekend reading The Great Hunt, as part of my revisiting the Wheel of Time project.

In retrospect, I find it ironic that this is the book which got me interested in the series (after I’d bounced off the first volume), because I don’t think it’s nearly as well-executed. But I can spot the things that probably hooked me, and despite me remembering this as the Book of God I Hate Mat, he isn’t nearly as prominent in the story as I thought. So anyway, onward to the analysis, starting with some thoughts on how and why the series started to grow so large.

(Kind of like this post . . . .)


I think I can see the structure this was originally supposed to have, back when Jordan pitched a trilogy to Tor. The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn; that last one sounds like a final book, so I’m going to guess those were the original titles. In which case, the big events ending the volumes were, respectively, the confrontation at the Eye, the use of the Horn to call the heroes back, and the Last Battle itself. (I would have expected TGH to be about the finding of the Horn, and save its actual use for TDR, except that Jordan just hands it to them at the end of TEotW. So he must have always intended for the “Great Hunt” to be chasing the the theft of the Horn, rather than its discovery.)

I don’t know when exactly he changed his mind about the series length, but he must have done so by the time he got halfway through TGH, because this is when he starts introducing major new material for later use. I think it’s Thom who brings up Callandor and the Stone of Tear — the plot of the third book — and Urien makes a cameo solely to bring up Rhuidean and He Who Comes With the Dawn — the plot of the fourth book. Those elements are too big to be knocked off in a few pages on the way to Tarmon Gai’don. The interesting question is, why?

TGH came out ten months after TEotW, so we can say with a fair degree of confidence that it wasn’t a matter of “wow, that first book sold really well; we’ve got something profitable here.” My sense, based on the way TGH operates, is that Jordan just wanted to explore his world more. The Aes Sedai and prophecies and so on were enough to support a trilogy on their own, but he had also thought up the Aiel and the Sea Folk and the Tinkers and maybe the Seanchan were in his mind from the start, too, plus the Forsaken and the Black Ajah and more besides, and three novels just weren’t enough to delve into all those different corners. I say this because of the way Jordan takes his time in this book: the Egwene-and-Nynaeve side of the story enjoys a leisurely pace between Fal Dara and Liandrin spiriting them out of the Tower. Stuff happens, but it’s stuff exploring saidar and the structure of the Aes Sedai, which is interesting but not necessary to the forward movement of the plot. We’re not yet to the abysmal pacing of the later books; this is, for my money, still in the “feature not bug” territory of epic fantasy, that it can and will take the time to flesh out the world it’s presenting, rather than hurrying on to the next Event.

And I think that may be part of why this book hooked me, when TEotW didn’t. There were a lot of factors; this time I was paying attention, and I knew there was a glossary, and I had friends to geek with, all of which helps. But I was struck, on this re-read, by the depth the story acquires when the pov shifts to Moiraine in her conversation with the Amyrlin: suddenly the world opens up. She isn’t a rural bumpkin just beginning to learn about the bigger picture; she’s a savvy politician, talking to another savvy politician, and their conversation moves the story from “follow the dotted line” questing to a more complex footing. Add in the fact that Egwene and Nynaeve get their own strand of the plot, complete with nifty worldbuilding, and I think I see why I started to get interested.

Having said that . . . this book has problems. For one thing, this time around I think the male characters come off worse than the female ones. The women haven’t yet all turned into the same person, and while we start to get the squicky bdsm motifs with them — plus more of the “if a woman convinces a man to do something, it’s bullying” notion — they manage to have their own agendas and do competent things and on the whole don’t suck. The guys, on the other hand, do suck. Rand finally gets told, on page 108, that he’s the Dragon Reborn, and promptly commences 470 pages (just counting this book) of insisting that he isn’t. Perrin goes around angsting about wolves. Mat is at least partially excused on account of Evil Dagger, but is bitchy about Rand’s attempt to drive his friends away, and doesn’t stop being bitchy for, like, the next five books. And they all do some truly stupid things, Rand’s interactions with Selene being among the worst.

(And can I just mention how much I hate Selene? Lanfear should have been awesome. Instead she’s a hosebeast. Such a disappointment. Also, does she use the Power to shave her legs or something? Because Jordan keeps going on about how smooth they are.)

Speaking of characters I don’t like, good gravy, Padan Fain. I don’t know anybody who likes him. And I don’t even know why, unless maybe it’s that he was set up for a role that doesn’t sustain itself well over more than a dozen books — correct me if I’m wrong, but as of Crossroads of Twilight I think he’s still alive, yes? My assumption is that Jordan intended him to kind of be a Gollum figure, but Fain’s various disappearances and reappearances start to seem annoying when they go on for book after book after book. I just want him to die already. But I’ve never found villains to be Jordan’s strong point anyway; as it says in my notes for TGH, “Repetitive Ba’alzamon is repetitive.” Seriously, he reminds me of Baltar and Six in the first season of Battlestar Galactica: constantly showing up, but always doing more or less the same thing as before, and not really moving the plot forward. I wonder, but don’t really know, whether Ba’alzamon was always supposed to be Ishamael with delusions of grandeur, or if Jordan retconned that round about this book, deciding to save the actual Dark One for later. Either way, his schtick is getting old.

Other problematic character things: our five little Emond’s Fielders kind of have the Mary Sue thing going on. They’re all awesome at whatever they do; three are super-powerful channelers, Nynaeve picks up any trick she sees on the first try, Mat’s got amazing luck, Rand turns into a blademaster after a month of training, etc. And Jordan just can’t resist the aura of nobility, either. Where I left off reading, aside from Rand being the Dragon Reborn and all the rest of it, Mat was a kickass general and married to the heir of the Seanchan empire, Perrin was the Lord of Manetheren, Egwene was the Amyrlin Seat, and Nynaeve was the uncrowned Queen of Malkier. Even before they pick up all those titles, though, everybody thinks Rand’s a lord, no matter how much he insists otherwise. Why? Apparently he just seems noble. And we’re given no explanation why — except the unspoken implication that blood will out. He’s descended from Aiel clan chiefs on one side, and the royal line of Andor on the other; clearly that makes him inherently awesome.

I don’t want to rag unceasingly on the characters, though, because this book has some touches I actually like. Verin’s fairly cool; let’s face it, if I were dropped into Randland and made an Aes Sedai, I’d totally be a Brown. I like the friendship between Rand and Lan, and the relationship between Lan and Nynaeve, because in both cases it seems to be built on a foundation of mutual respect. I also like the scene we get between Moiraine and Lan, because it hints at a greater depth of history between characters than we usually get in this series. Lan actually seems to be the common denominator of most of the relationships I like, here. Sadly, those first two kind of fall by the wayside until, oh, Winter’s Heart or so, and since as of where I stopped reading Moiraine still hadn’t shown up again, we don’t get much more of the third, either.

Thinking in structural terms again, the trick with the Portal Stone is interesting. This strikes me as Jordan killing two birds with one, uh, stone. First of all, if he wants to explore his whole geographical canvas, he’s got to cut down on the travel time; TEotW sets up the Ways, but if he leaned on those too much then Machin Shin would stop being remotely scary. The references to Traveling in TGH suggest he knew he’d be going there eventually, but also knew this was too early to let the protagonists do something so impressive. Portal Stones let him solve that problem while tossing in some neat character-building what-ifs. Second, he needs Egwene and Nynaeve (and Elayne also, I suppose) to build their skill with saidar, and while he puts them all on an accelerated schedule to begin with, they still need time to improve. So he uses the Ways to get the girls out to Toman Head, while using the Portal Stones to forcibly time-lapse the guys. It’s a bit clumsy, perhaps, but it gets the job done.

On the topic of clumsiness . . . I have very mixed feelings about the rhetoric that gets used for the Pattern. On the one hand, I like how it screws over the characters’ plans: Moiraine lays out to Siuan exactly what she intends to have happen (Rand will take the Horn to Illian, declare himself the Dragon Reborn, get started in style), and then absolutely none of it happens. On the other hand, you get statements like this one, from Verin:

“The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills [. . .] With ta’veren, what happens is what was meant to happen. It may be the Pattern demanded these extra days. The Pattern puts everything in its place precisely, and when we try to alter it, especially if ta’veren are involved, the weaving changes to put us back into the Pattern as we were meant to be.”

Which bugs me. It feels like an explicit statement on Jordan’s part, that he can arrange any sort of narrative contrivance he wants and we’re not allowed to call him on it, because it’s built into the metaphysics of the setting. Then, a little later, Rand’s perspective gives us this:

There was an odd feeling in his head, as if the pieces of his life were in danger. Egwene was one piece, one thread of the cord that made his life, but there were others, and he could feel them threatened. Down there, in Falme. And if any of those threads was destroyed, his life would never be complete, the way it was meant to be.

We know, because Ba’alzamon specifically tried to take out Egwene and Nynaeve, that they’re critically important to “saving” Rand in the long run. Also, Min and Elayne are down there, and it’s hammered pretty hard in this book that the two of them (plus Aviendha) will be sharing Rand, so he’s got a lot of threatened threads in Falme. But I’m bothered by the statement that his life is “meant to be” a particular way — and then bothered again by the contradiction between this and what Verin said. There are some passing mentions to the effect that the Shadow lies on the Pattern, and therefore all predestination bets are off, but I feel too much like Jordan’s trying to have his cake and eat it, too.

I should mention, though — because I brought it up in the post for TEoTW — I’d forgotten that Mat is the one who blows the Horn. Which is at least one instance of the “three ta’veren instead of one” thing coming into play. I’m still not sure what caused that, though, or where it’s ultimately going.

A few smaller notes, in closing. First, since I said the prologue of TEotW was effective, I should take a moment to contrast it with the one here. TGH likewise tries to provide us with a character and a scene, but the conflict is lacking, and Jordan tries to be way too coy, hiding information he should be sharing, and not doing nearly enough with the scene. All we really get is that Ba’alzamon isn’t dead (surprise, surprise), there are Darkfriends among various groups (ditto), and they’re being set to hunt the boys (oh I’m so very shocked). And Jordan spends twelve pages telling us this. Not worth the effort, in my opinion.

Second, and by contrast, there are lots of little touches I do like. The terms “gentling” and “stilling” are quite effective, especially the former; it has echoes of castration that are very appropriate. The Seanchan setup with the damane is suitably horrific; the revelation of sul’dam also being channelers is both logical and cool. I also approve of the test for Accepted, with the silver-arches ter’angreal. And, since I forgot to mention it last book, I’ve always liked the chapter symbols: they’re tiny bits of foreshadowing, and fun to play guessing games with.

Discussion welcomed; other entries here. And in a month or two, I’ll be back with The Dragon Reborn (aka the Book of Hey Mat Stopped Sucking).

0 Responses to “Revisiting the Wheel of Time: The Great Hunt”

  1. unforth

    I was excited when I was checking facebook and saw that you’d done the next of these posts. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I’ve been looking forward to it (though not as much as I am to your comments on the Dragon Reborn which, as my least favorite of ALL of the books, even the later dragging ones, I always like hearing why other people like it – cause I know exactly why I don’t like it. πŸ˜‰ )

    Anyway, I’m gonna pick out the things here that struck me most…note that I last read TGH in fall, 2007, so I might be rusty on some facts…

    Length:
    While you comment on where you notice him expanding, one of the things I occasionally notice in the first two books are things that were left hanging. Unfortunately, I can only think of one right now, but I know there are a few others – things that kinda looked like plot points when they were introduced, which are never heard from again. In this case, the one I think of is the wind that catches Rand while he’s training with Lan outside the Blight. I always felt like that was supposed to turn out to be something…except it never did. Perhaps it’s an artifact of a point when Rand et al were going to have to somehow deal with all of the Forsaken in only 3 books? Don’t know…

    the depth the story acquires when the pov shifts to Moiraine in her conversation with the Amyrlin: suddenly the world opens up

    Unlike you, I was thoroughly hooked by the first book. However, I remember when I first read TGH back in the day, and I read the opening chapters of this book – like the annoying one in the basement of the Keep where we find out that a. Rand is gonna start being an ass to push everyone away and b. despite the incredibly obvious fact that Rand had nothing to do with his fancy coats, Mat was going to proceed to be annoying about it for the next umpteen books. Then I got to the ones where the politics starts happen, and I realized for the first time how much I LIKED reading politics. This was a new thing for me, and I thought those chapters were so strong, up to and including the one where the Amyrlin tells Rand.

    [Rand] promptly commences 470 pages (just counting this book) of insisting that he isn’t [the Dragon Reborn]

    My 12 year old self feels obliged to chime in and say that Rand’s silly angst has always been part of the appeal for me…one of my absolute favorite scenes of the entire series is the one where Rand opens the package from Moiraine and the Dragon banner unfurls, and Perrin and Mat “catch” him. I can understand that the guys are being annoying (though I would suggest it’s mostly Mat and Rand – while Perrin is being angsty about his wolves, he’s still much more manageable than the other two) but it does prompt some scenes I think are neat.

    Lanfear should have been awesome

    Yeah. I agree on all counts.

    (cont. over like, three more comments. Sigh. πŸ™‚ )

    • unforth

      our five little Emond’s Fielders kind of have the Mary Sue thing going on. They’re all awesome at whatever they do; three are super-powerful channelers, Nynaeve picks up any trick she sees on the first try, Mat’s got amazing luck, Rand turns into a blademaster after a month of training, etc. And Jordan just can’t resist the aura of nobility, either. Where I left off reading, aside from Rand being the Dragon Reborn and all the rest of it, Mat was a kickass general and either married or about to be married to the heir of the Seanchan empire, Perrin was the Lord of Manetheren, Egwene was the Amyrlin Seat, and Nynaeve was the uncrowned Queen of Malkier. Even before they pick up all those titles, though, everybody thinks Rand’s a lord, no matter how much he insists otherwise. Why? Apparently he just seems noble.

      To me, these are the very things that are part of the construction of WoT as Epic. I mean, sure, it’s kind of ludicrous, but to me it was always built from the same mold as old-style D&D: 4 youths from a tiny farming village (who just happen to want to grow up the be a priest, a mercenary, a bard, and a wizard…) go on a quest and all end up being incredibly awesome. No, it doesn’t REALLY make sense, but it’s part of constructing an epic storyline, and as such it’s never bothered me. Somehow, even when you put it at it’s absolute worst as you do in the paragraph I quoted, it still doesn’t bug me, cause that’s just how these kinds of stories get constructed. Now, do I think any one would right it like that any more? Of course not. But fantasy has come a long way, and things that are REALLY old and over done now were perhaps not as obnoxious back when this book was started. And Jordan at least recognizes what he’s doing by creating the concept of ta’averen – we KNOW that Rand, Perrin and Mat are all ta’averen, and I seem to recall there being suggestions at some point that Egwene and Nynaeve might be as well…I don’t remember for sure any more, though. (also, in brief defense of Rand’s blademaster-ness: it’s way more than a month. Lan starts training him in the first week of the journey to Tar Valon, and doesn’t TGH start with an elapse of four months (during which Rand is presumably training)? toss in the rest of the journey to Falme, and the fact that even though Rand manages to beat the Blademaster there, neither the blademaster or Rand thinks Rand is a blademaster himself, and that’s after at least 6 months of mostly intense training, if I’m remembering timelines correctly…it’s not really until Tear that Rand starts to actually be a blade master, and even then, I can’t say I really “saw” it until Fires of Heaven – or is it early in Lord of Chaos? I can’t remember – when he is “practicing” by beating a group of less skilled swordsman – and training by inviting anyone who wants to come and try their hand at beating him.)

      Verin’s fairly cool.

      You know, I never thought about it before, but Verin might be one of Jordan’s best female characters. Sure, she also is secretly a raging bitch, but I’m never actually convinced of that, and I think that her way of being quietly badass is really rather cool. I’ve always rather liked Verin…

      Portal Stones let him solve that problem while tossing in some neat character-building what-ifs.

      I think the bit when the boys arrive at Toman Head is especially interesting in this regard. Especially Mat’s reaction. I think that was the moment I started to think maybe I wouldn’t hate Mat the entire series.

      (cont.)

      • Marie Brennan

        To me, these are the very things that are part of the construction of WoT as Epic. I mean, sure, it’s kind of ludicrous, but to me it was always built from the same mold as old-style D&D: 4 youths from a tiny farming village (who just happen to want to grow up the be a priest, a mercenary, a bard, and a wizard…) go on a quest and all end up being incredibly awesome. No, it doesn’t REALLY make sense, but it’s part of constructing an epic storyline, and as such it’s never bothered me.

        I think I’m less bothered by the titles than I am by the assumption that Rand is a lord. The latter seems to buy into the notion of inherent nobility, which is really problematic. The accumulation of honors, on the other hand, is something the characters earn: okay, Egwene was made Amyrlin for strange (and possibly contrived) political reasons, but it’s her decision to own the position and make it mean something. So I find the “bumpkins rise to rule the world” trend more amusing than disturbing. But the two aren’t entirely separable; Nynaeve becomes a queen because of Lan, and clearly we’re supposed to find Lan’s crusade against the Blight more poignant because he’s an uncrowned king (hello, Aragorn-analogue, how are you?) rather than just an ordinary Malkieri man. I recognize the power we still attach to these kinds of notions, and the way epic fantasy is invested in that power, so it’s just something I want to keep an eye on as the books proceed. (F’rex, to what extent does Perrin get lorded up because he acts like a leader, and to what extent is it because people just ascribe nobility to him?)

        Sure, [Verin] also is secretly a raging bitch, but I’m never actually convinced of that

        Is this the “Verin is Black Ajah” theory? I had forgotten about the Great Verin Debate until I saw it mentioned in the Tor.com posts, and have no recollection of the major points for and against. The only thing that seems to show up in TGH is the possibility that she lied when she said women could sense men channeling; but that could just as easily be a continuity error on Jordan’s part.

        • unforth

          Re; Rand’s “nobility:”
          Well, on a pretty undefendable level, I would suggest that the assumption of inherent nobility is an artifact of Jordan’s own life – I know it’s a stereotype, but in my mind the kind of person who would go to the Citadel is the sort of person who would think that this sort of thing is perfectly normal.

          On a more defendable level, I do think that there are people about whom there is a certain “thing.” I’ve met several in my time, the kinds of people who just seem like they are bottled up energy being channeled in a direction that means that they radiate a certain sense of self. Now, the problem with THIS argument is that all of the people I’ve met who have this effect are trying to achieve it, whereas Rand is by no means trying to be a lord.

          Now, in early TGH, there is a piece of this that’s the “Prince and the Pauper” phenomena – put him in a princely outfit, and poof! He’s a lord. People do tend to believe what they see (heck, I think Perrin might make this argument to Mat at some point in the book – something like “if I didn’t know better, even I would think he’s a lord…”)

          It’s more problematic in EotW, when you get scenes like Morgase going, “I don’t know who he is or why he’s here but that sword belongs with him.” (or is that Gareth Bryne? I know it’s in that scene, anyway – oh, and sorry if I’m horribly misspelling minor characters’ names. πŸ˜‰ )

          If we think on the “ta’averen” aspect of this, the Pattern needs Rand to be a Lord, so everyone thinks he’s a lord. But this kind of argument kind of inherently sucks. πŸ™‚ Still, if I was going to really fight out the nobility thing (and I’m not actually sure I think it’s worth it, as I think you’re right and it is kinda lame) this would definitely be the tack that I would take. Rand is shaping the entire fate of the world around him – including the fate of the other ta’averen that are there – I think it’s far more likely that his lordly aspect comes from this than that it comes from his happening to be the kid of a sept chief and a princess. πŸ™‚ I also do think we get an image of Rand as “lamer” than he actually his because we spend so much time in his head. Most of the scenes that Rand is in are from his PoV (which makes sense imo for several reasons). I might be misremembering this, but (for example) I don’t think we “see” Rand from Mat’s point of view until right around Lord of Chaos. I think Min spending time with his unconscious body in TGH is one of the first times anyone spends time with Rand when it’s not his PoV. The only other outside perception of him that I can think of from the early books that I can think of are others thinking about him or talking about him: Moiraine, Suian, and Fain come to mind. The few times that others talk about him when he’s not around, I get the feeling he’s more respectable than his pov portrays him (cause he definitely has confidence issues in the first couple books) – the one that springs to mind is Min’s first reaction – and Elayne talking about him while she’s at the White Tower – the reason I think these are useful ones to cite is precisely because they are so biased: if there’s anyone who is seeing Rand as the Pattern is making them, it’s those two. I don’t know…my brain is still working on this argument, so I think I’ll stop here and see what you have to say.

          • Marie Brennan

            On a more defendable level, I do think that there are people about whom there is a certain “thing.”

            This is true, and it’s not even necessarily something a person is actively trying to achieve — but I’ve never seen someone come across as a leader while actively denying it. The simple assumption that your listener will obey you goes a long way toward creating an aura of authority; Rand, however, is assuming the exact opposite. Clothes can help too, of course, but the clothes are presented the same way the sword is in TEotW: everybody keeps saying it looks right on him.

            I’m not even sure the pov structure helps explain it; in fact, I think the pov may undermine it. That is, if we spent less time in Rand’s head, more time seeing him from outside, I might believe that he’s projecting more of a sense of confidence and authority as time goes on. But we’re in his head, and so we know that a) he doesn’t feel confident and b) isn’t trying to pretend that he does — barring specific exceptions, like when he’s presented to the Amyrlin.

            It actually feels to me like the masculine equivalent of the “oh, I’m not beautiful” (but everybody reacts to her as beautiful) trope, except that beauty, unlike confidence, can at least partly happen independent of one’s behavior.

            And sure, you can explain it as a ta’veren thing — but as you said, that’s weak. πŸ™‚

          • unforth

            It actually feels to me like the masculine equivalent of the “oh, I’m not beautiful” (but everybody reacts to her as beautiful) trope, except that beauty, unlike confidence, can at least partly happen independent of one’s behavior.

            I think this hits the nail on the head – and I’ll toss in that at least in the framework that has been established in the books, I think the lame ta’averen explanation might actually be the “actually beautiful” part.

            But it is weak. πŸ™‚

        • unforth

          I was worried I was approaching the character limit again, so I’m putting this one separate:

          Re: Verin…

          Wow, I’d COMPLETELY forgotten about the “Verin is Black Ajah” theory. No, I don’t think that Verin is Black Ajah. I just remember that early on, she seems very innocuous, and the longer she’s in the story, the more clear it becomes that she is astonishingly with it and on the ball, and that she has an agenda of her own. I don’t think that agenda involves serving the Dark One – but I actually don’t remember enough of what she does later on to know WHY I think that. πŸ™‚ I also didn’t remember her claiming that she could sense men channeling. I hope it’s a continuity error, cause if it’s a lie, she actually might be Black Ajah – cause that one is pretty flagrant – unless she believes that this is something that is possible, or was possible during the Age of Legends…

          • dyrecorn

            Without saying what happened, this question is finally addressed and settled in A Gathering Storm, in what’s one of the most interesting scenes in the book (IMO). ^_-

            It’s nice to see that Sanderson’s addressing some of the longest-running fandom debates.

          • unforth

            …oh man, now I’m SUPER curious…my copy of Gathering Storm is, oh, 8 feet from my current location….but I don’t think I’ve read the book before it, so I couldn’t just pick it up…sigh…

          • Marie Brennan

            What I recollect/have been reminded of is that there are instances where it’s possible that Verin is lying. Which doesn’t necessarily equate to Black Ajah — the opinion of the Tor.com recapper is that she de-Oathed herself at some point, at least for the first oath — but anyway, it’s just part of the game we all played to entertain ourselves between books. πŸ™‚

          • unforth

            Oh yeah, I’ve heard the theory before, I just didn’t recall it. Me and my main sounding board for crazy WoT ideas tended to focus instead on whether Mazrim Taim was Demandred or not. πŸ™‚

          • Marie Brennan

            I can’t remember if it was Demandred or Osan’gar that just flat got outed at the end of Winter’s Heart — not a big dramatic reveal, just a “yeah, yeah, you guys were right, MOVING ON” in in the midst of the big battle there. πŸ™‚

            Once you have that many mysteries afloat, I guess you can’t make big deals out of all of the answers.

          • unforth

            I haven’t read Winter’s Heart yet, so I don’t know. πŸ™‚ Still, when you post these, I start thinking maybe I should re-read the series….

    • unforth

      But I’m bothered by the statement that his life is “meant to be” a particular way — and then bothered again by the contradiction between this and what Verin said

      I’ve pulled out this line of your discuss of the two quotes, which I think is interesting, because I actually basically remember both of these lines, and what I thought of them. First, I think the contradiction is very understandable: Verin and the other Aes Sedai always say what they think is true, but there is ample (and ever increasing) evidence as the series continues that often they don’t actually have a clue what they are talking about. I do think that the repeating of the pattern in basic form, though, is a necessary result of the structural decision the Wheel of Time always repeats the cycle of ages (which itself is much more traceable to Jordan’s constant biblical references than to having is cake an eating it to – I didn’t realize until recently just how blatantly the world structure that Jordan has set up is based on the world as described in Ecclesiastes, but the more I learn about Ecclesiastes, the more convinced I become…I can’t find the specific quote that got me thinking that, but take a peak at the text: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bible,_King_James,_Ecclesiastes – here are a few that catch my eye while just scanning it:

      “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.”

      “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

      “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (etc.)”

      “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.”

      …and that’s just the first 3 chapters.)

      So after that extended parenthesis…to speak to the other quote, it’s funny, it never occurred to me that the feeling Rand was expressing was actually him being tugged around. It’s an entirely reasonable (and possibly quite correct…) interpretation, yet I always thought of that line as being more about the importance of these people to Rand, and less about the pattern jerking him around. However, I think you might be right – but if it IS the pattern jerking him around, I don’t think it contradicts Verin – I think it could be read as the Pattern trying to fix what the shadow of the Dark One on the weave is causing. Now, this is definitely your case of Jordan having his cake and eat it too, but it might bother me more, except I can’t say I can think of many times in the series when I feel like the characters are being so awkwardly manipulated against their will (I mean, the case could be made that much of the series is all of these characters – especially the boys – being forced in directions against their will, but in truth it doesn’t usually feel that way. For the most part, it feels like the boys make their decisions, and the repercussions of these decisions do bring about the prophesied events, and so clearly they ARE being guided, but it doesn’t feel heavy handed: ie, Rand decides that he’s going to either prove the prophesies right or wrong by going to Tear, etc., etc. or Mat decides to screw around while in Rhuidean…does that make sense?

      I’d forgotten that Mat is the one who blows the Horn

      I’m surprised that you forgot that! I’ve always figured that was a big part of WHY Mat starts getting his generalship things, that playing off of the Rhuidean experience magnified by the near death experience, etc. Rand, as I think TDR demonstrates, is always alone in the end – for all that he ends up the leader of most of the civilized countries in the world, he was never the archetype that was going to be the general. Mat was always set up to be that figure from my point of view (and by always I mean starting at the end of TGH, anyway).

      (cont.)

      • Marie Brennan

        there is ample (and ever increasing) evidence as the series continues that often they don’t actually have a clue what they are talking about

        This is true. On the other hand, it felt to me like Jordan was hanging a lampshade on the way he’d stalled the guys’ plot for a couple of days — all the arguments about whether Fain had really gone to Falme like all of their evidence says he did, making Hurin cast around for the trail, etc. I’d have to take a closer look at those chapters to specify why Jordan needed them to spend a few days wandering Toman Head (rather than just having them arrive a few days later), but that particular statement felt to me like the Authorial Voice speaking through Verin.

        The Ecclesiastes thing is fascinating, btw — I’d never noticed it before. (I know the New Testament fairly well, thanks to a class I took, but the Old Testament is largely a void to me.)

        it never occurred to me that the feeling Rand was expressing was actually him being tugged around.

        Hmmm . . . less that I think he’s being tugged around, more that it gives the impression that there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” for events to go. Which is, I recognize, part of the prophecy package — but it’s also why I’m unfond of prophecy. I see a contradiction there because Rand’s thoughts seem to be trying to make me believe there’s a chance things could go wrong, whereas Verin’s statement argues that the Pattern is going to make things go the way they should, and there’s nothing anybody can do to alter it. Prophecy, unfortunately, threatens to take both free will and narrative suspense out of the picture. I don’t buy Ba’alzamon’s claim that he’s going to break the Pattern and stop the Wheel, precisely because there is a Wheel; these things go around and around, and Jordan isn’t a good enough writer to make me believe in the chance of that changing. (The Dark One has failed countless times before; why is this time different?)

        I’m surprised that you forgot that!

        Hey, it’s been more than a decade, probably, since I read this book. πŸ™‚

        I don’t know if Mat was always going to be the general-figure, because he’s such an odd choice for it. Archetypally, he’s the trickster, which is not usually a leadership kind of person.

        Horribly, my brain just skipped sideways into World of Darkness cosmology — Mat’s the Wyld, Perrin’s the Weaver, and Rand’s the Wyrm. It would be an interesting justification for why there are three of them, I suppose.

        • unforth

          I’d have to take a closer look at those chapters to specify why Jordan needed them to spend a few days wandering Toman Head

          Yeah, actually, now that you mention it, that is weird. The boys arrive, and then every one just…waits a few days. The boys wander Toman Head, Nynaeve and Elayne putter around Falme, Min does her visit Egwene thing, Egwene does her damane thing, and there are like two chapters of nothing happening. I’m trying to remember what happens in those chapters, and if any of it matters. Here’s what springs to mind:
          -Bayle Domon
          -the boys learn about the Seanchan
          -….er….I can’t think of anything else.
          And while I like Domon, he’s irrelevant, and while the boys HAD to learn a little about the Seanchan, they could have done so off camera. Yeah, I have no idea what the point of those chapters is. Huh. πŸ™‚

          Though this point reminds me: Of pretty much all the vast number of characters that have been introduced in this series but didn’t get any kind of prominent role, there are only two I can think of right now that I’d like to see more of: Tam (who I adore and always have), and Hurin, who I really, really wish would show up again. I thought he was a neat concept that fit well with the “old things come again” and “more things in heaven and earth” themes of the non-one source derived powers in the book.

          but it’s also why I’m unfond of prophecy

          The Aes Sedai would have us believe that the prophecy in the books simply happen – but one piece of TGH that helps with this is the bit in the beginning, I love the twist put on the prophecy situation by the introduction of Dark prophecies, and I like the concept that events will happen such that ALL of the prophecies will come true – which means it’s more a question of interpretation than anything else. Still, though the books make this argument, it’s pretty difficult to support – for, as you say, the Dark One has been defeated time and time again, so how can his (it, really) prophecies also come true? Hmm….

          Hmmm….Ba’alzamon claims that’s the Dark One’s goal – but of course, Ba’alzamon is just the insane Ishamael, so he doesn’t necessary actually know what the purpose is. I never thought about it this way before. What, really, IS the Dark One’s goal? My instincts suggest it’s something related to corruption, but now I can’t remember if there’s anything in the prophecies of the Dark One that we have to suggest what his goal is. I think it’s worth noting that triumph of the Dark One’s minions is not the same as the triumph of the Dark One. The world that Rand, Loial and Hurin get zapped to demonstrates what happens when his minions triumph, but not what happens if the Dark One triumphs. As destroying the Wheel of Time would destroy the universe (or at least the world), that seems like a pretty shallow reason for ultimate evil to act.

          Okay, I just went to look something up in EotW, and fortunately, it says what I thought it does, which means looking it up isn’t a waste of time. πŸ™‚

          “‘He said the Dark One intended to blind the Eye of the World, and slay the Great Serpent.'” p. 640

          This, and a few similar stories, are what draw the party to the Eye. But thinking about it now….what the heck does that mean? How could the Eye be “blinded,” given what we come to know it contained? Killing the serpent, of course, matches what Ba’alzamon claims.

          Of course, the Dark One might just want everything to end…hmm…again, I think I’m gonna hold off on saying more on this and see what you say, I think I need to ponder more and try to dredge up more memories that might help me remember this.

          • Marie Brennan

            Re: Falme — you’ve got Egwene’s plan from within, Min and Nynaeve’s plan from without, Domon, Turak and Fain, the Whitecloaks, and the Rand-Mat-Perrin-Ingtar-Verin group. As I said, it feels clumsy to me, as if Jordan can’t quite arrange everything so that all those strands come together without a few days of juggling.

            I thought he was a neat concept that fit well with the “old things come again” and “more things in heaven and earth” themes of the non-one source derived powers in the book.

            One of the things the Tor.com recaps does is flag the concepts introduced in TGH that get more or less dropped as the series goes on. The wind in Fal Dara, sniffers, Portal Stones, and Dark Prophecies are all on the list.

            As for what the Dark One wants . . . there’s kind of some inherent theological problems to a Manichean system, and I suspect Jordan never thought them through. To contrast with LotR — Sauron is a minion of Morgoth, threatening to the inhabitants of Middle-Earth, but not to the fundamental existence of Arda. Even Morgoth is distinctly presented as a Lucifer figure, a creation of Iluvatar, not Iluvatar’s equal. But the dualism built into the Wheel of Time makes the Dark One seem like the Creator’s counterpart, and certainly Ba’alzamon’s rhetoric suggests that he’s trying to unmake Creation itself.

            “Blinding the Eye” could mean draining it. Perhaps Ba’alzamon had intended to use the saidin to (as it says) slay the Great Serpent. Mind you, I don’t know why he would need the Eye, unless this is a case of Jordan changing his ideas as he went along. Channeling is a matter of accessing the True Source, not drawing from ley-lines or such; Ishy doesn’t have to worry about the taint; and there’s no mention of needing a sa’angreal to keep from burning out when Rand uses the Eye.

            It may just be a line that sounded cool, that Jordan didn’t think through as well as he should have. πŸ™‚

          • unforth

            The wind in Fal Dara, sniffers, Portal Stones, and Dark Prophecies are all on the list.

            Interesting…I guess I never noticed that the Dark Prophecies disappeared. I would actually disagree about the Portal Stones. They’re still around – they get mentioned a few more times, I’m pretty sure – but I’d say that after Rand’s two main experiences with the stones, he’d be highly, highly disinclined to use them again. Especially since Jordan then introduces two other ways to cut travel time (plus the Ways, already introduced) – going through tel’aron’rhiod, and Traveling. And that thing with the platforms (which, now that I think about it, also kinda disappears…nor can I remember exactly when that happens…I guess I assumed it was just a “visualization” of Traveling….)

            It may just be a line that sounded cool, that Jordan didn’t think through as well as he should have.

            I think you might be on to something there. Because in so many ways the books are SO intricate and thought through and well interconnected, I think I sometimes forget that Jordan is just a dude. He makes mistakes, he omits things, and he changes his mind and the direction of his books. And then we readers get in there and go super obsessive on it, and all of a sudden every single little thing is important and matters (ie, did Verin lie, was that intentional, or did Jordan just goof a little…)…

            As for the sa’angreal part, while I think this is probable a continuity error, I’m gonna suggest it’s a justifiable one – the sa’angreal condition has always been in regards to channeling a huge amount of the One Power at once under ones’ own power – they amplify the extent to which one can draw in the One Source. The Eye, on the other hand, is something else entirely: it is an actual physical “pool” of pure Saidin. When Rand accesses it, he doesn’t at any one moment channel more of it than he is capable of doing – presumably, with a sa’angreal, he could have channeled it faster. It’s not a great argument, but I think it’s a functional one for this point.

            the dualism built into the Wheel of Time makes the Dark One seem like the Creator’s counterpart, and certainly Ba’alzamon’s rhetoric suggests that he’s trying to unmake Creation itself.

            That’s true. Because of the Christian symbolism, I think I fall in to the trap of thinking that this is more like a God v. Satan situation, but there isn’t anything in that duality about Satan wanting to destroy the world (though I’ll admit my biblical knowledge is weak, and mostly Old Testament, a side effect of the Jewish upbringing). However, ultimately despite obvious symbolism, this IS it’s own world of Jordan’s creation, and my assumptions about it should be guided but what he actually says – which is that, as the counter point of an essential Creator, the Dark One should be an essential destroyer.

            Though this reminded me of something that has always bothered me: The Dark One is an actual entity that is actually present and interested in things. Where the heck did the Creator go?? (this is another case of Christian symbolism to me: Satan and Hell are super real, where as God is something you have to take on faith)

          • Marie Brennan

            [Portal Stones] are still around – they get mentioned a few more times

            I hadn’t remembered them being mentioned after this book, but I trust your memory more than mine. Even with the alternative methods, though, it seems to me that the Portal Stones could have stayed relevant — I’d love to see a story (WoT or otherwise) where someone makes use of “what if” worlds to deduce useful things about their own world.

            He makes mistakes, he omits things, and he changes his mind and the direction of his books.

            And you’ve got to assume that for a series which was never planned to get so big, there’s a lot that got changed along the way. Now, I think he did a relatively good job of going back and making use of random early details — as I’ve said before, I’d love a textual history, that maps Jordan’s changing game plan alongside his progress through the series — but there still have to be places where the back side of the fabric shows some really wonky stitching.

            Re: sa’angreal and the Eye — I’m not sure I buy that. Unless there was supposed to be something special about it being physically manifest (which I don’t recall), then Moiraine could have accomplished the same thing, just by channeling moderate amounts of saidar for long enough. An individual’s strength isn’t a matter of how strongly they can touch the Source; it’s how much power they can draw from it safely, and angreal increase that amount. Functionally speaking, the Eye is the same as the Source, except that it’s not tainted.

            Actually, the more I think about it, the more I believe “blinding the Eye” was probably meant to indicate draining it, not for Ba’alzamon’s own use, but to prevent Rand from using it. Which would be cooler if I thought what Rand did with it was more significant, but all he really did was fight Ba’alzamon (inconclusively) and blast a lot of Trollocs. He could have done as much with a sa’angreal in hand. But here we probably have to bear in mind that Jordan, as of the first book, thought he was writing a much shorter series, and almost certainly had Rand on a higher-speed track to madness. The intended argument might be that channeling that much from a tainted Source would have sent him immediately ’round the bend.

            Re: the Dark One — It sounds like the Dark One is at least moderately subordinate to the Creator, since the Creator was able to imprison him. But the other dominant motif of the metaphysics is the duality of the Source — which splits along a gender line rather than a moral one, an Eastern yin/yang concept rather than a Western good/evil one. Because of that, I tend to assume a Manichean cosmology, where the Dark One is the equal of the Creator. But so far as I’m aware, that’s pretty much where “religious doctrine” ends: Creator, Dark One, Creator made the world and bound the Dark One away, Dark One wants (so Ba’alzamon says) to destroy the world, but since time is a Wheel there’s no eschatology written into the system. And then somewhere out there you have the True Source, which gives rise to the One Power — which is not to be confused with the so-called True Power Jordan later throws in for the Forsaken to use, which is unitary instead of binary and apparently arises from the Dark One, and is what the Aes Sedai were trying to reach when they bored into his prison.

            I would love to see the end of the series pull back a curtain and reveal the true structure of the cosmology, making sense of all that crap. Maybe the Creator is also bound, and that’s why he’s not present. Or maybe the Creator and the Dark One are the same entity. Or something. But I don’t hold out much hope for an awesome revelation at the end. πŸ™‚

            (Two side points on the Source and One Power: first, you can surmise Jordan hadn’t fully worked out his logic there as of TGH, because at one point Rand “embraces” saidar rather than seizing it, according to the difference emphasized in later books. And second, I’ve always thought it a very telling point on Jordan’s way of thinking that the Aes Sedai symbol, unlike the Taoist taijitu, doesn’t include the dots; each half does not contain and transform into its opposite.)

          • dyrecorn

            “And that thing with the platforms (which, now that I think about it, also kinda disappears…nor can I remember exactly when that happens…I guess I assumed it was just a “visualization” of Traveling….)”

            You mean Skimming. It’s explicitly stated later that it’s easier to learn than Traveling and takes less strength in the power, so it’s both a teaching tool and Traveling Lite for those who can’t handle the real thing.

          • dyrecorn

            “But the dualism built into the Wheel of Time makes the Dark One seem like the Creator’s counterpart, and certainly Ba’alzamon’s rhetoric suggests that he’s trying to unmake Creation itself.”

            It’s also possible that they’re equal in power, and whichever one gains the upper hand at any given time becomes the Creator and imprisons the other, who is then the destroyer for X turns of the Wheel, until he manages to be freed, destroys the world, creates a new one, and becomes the Creator by imprisoning the other, who becomes the Dark One.

            This would be a possible “win” scenario for the DO that preserves the Wheel notion – trading places without anything else -really- changing is a win.

          • Marie Brennan

            That would be an interesting answer to the question. I just hope there is some kind of answer — that it doesn’t just turn out to be a messy cosmology that gets swept under the narrative rug.

            I mean, I have sympathy these days for ideas one chucks into a story and later realizes — too late to change them — that maybe they weren’t so clever after all. πŸ™‚ But still, as a reader, I hold out hope for more.

        • unforth

          I don’t know if Mat was always going to be the general-figure, because he’s such an odd choice for it. Archetypally, he’s the trickster, which is not usually a leadership kind of person.

          There are a few types of generals, but the lucky devious kind is definitely a popular archetype – indeed, exercising more of my unfounded stereotypes about Jordan, I’d say a good Southron boy like him was reared on such stories, as it’s how many of the Confederate generals are (somewhat inaccurately) portrayed as part of the Lost Cause myth – these are the generals who outwit there opponent, and things go there way, with Stonewall Jackson probably being the quintessential Civil War example, anyway. I’m sure those who know about other wars could cite others.

          Mat’s the Wyld, Perrin’s the Weaver, and Rand’s the Wyrm

          That works…frighteningly well. And yet in some ways doesn’t. Still, it’s fun to think about. πŸ™‚

          • Marie Brennan

            I suppose it could be on the Confederate model, yeah. I think what I’m twitching on is the use of the word “general,” because that implies order and hierarchy to me. Mat as a Robin Hood-type commander, a leader outside the law, makes perfect sense.

          • unforth

            I guess I just don’t twitch on the concept. I mean, “general” is a title of respect, earned or granted in a few different ways. I get the impression that Mat mostly earns it a. because Rand says he is and b. because Mat’s men say he is. I don’t get the feeling he’d have said that was what he was on his own – but I also think that once he gets the title, he kinda likes it…but this is a discussion for a later book. πŸ˜‰

    • unforth

      And Perrin, I think, is set up to be the human one. Which is a kind of crappy role, really, but I do think that his role is in many respects to be the one who remains important on the level of the ordinary folks – a bridge, I guess, between his epic friends and everyone else – the lord of Two Rivers, when all is said and done. I’ve never really thought about that, though, so I’m not sure I’d be prepared to defend that opinion in depth without giving it some more thought.

      As some general summing up thoughts…

      To me, TGH is the turning point (actually, I guess both TGH and DR are turning points, but more TGH…). At the beginning of TGH, it’s still a story about 5 country hicks; by the end of TGH, Rand has been revealed as the Dragon Reborn, Egwene has learned enough tricks to seriously kick ass, Mat has blown the Horn…in their own ways, all of the characters have started to grow in to their epic selves. I also think it’s the last book where those transitions happen gradually – the pace of character growth (and in many cases, generic-becoming and poorly differentiated) accelerates a great deal in the books that come. There are a lot of individual scenes in TGH that are some of my favorite in the series – but I’ve already discussed most of those. However, on the other hand, TGH was the first book where I started to feel tempted to skim sections (my first time through the series, and even my second time, back when I was a kid, this was a serious issue)…it was the first book that there were groups of characters doing things that I really couldn’t have cared less about. Now, some of that is my own bias – an unfortunate side effect of Jordan’s constant point of view switching, in EoTW, it was mostly Rand’s pov, and so I grew attached to him, and that attachment never changed even when the pov did, with the result that I would get increasingly bored when there were long stretches of the books not in Rand’s pov (hence why I’ve never liked DR…which has, oh, like 25 pages in the whole book from his pov…)…TGH really is the book where everything changes. I don’t know if that’s because of the change from being a trilogy, or what, but it’s really distinct…

      …but after a phone call, I’ve lost my train of thought, so I’m gonna stop rambling. πŸ™‚

      (/over)

      • Marie Brennan

        Re: Perrin — his role is one of the things I want to keep an eye on as I read. I think a lot of stuff in this series is executed messily enough that it’s hard to see clearly what was intended, but it’s worth a try.

        I also think it’s the last book where those transitions happen gradually

        I don’t recall well enough to say. I know that things start changing pretty radically round about TSR; that’s when Mat gets the holes in his head plugged, and Rand gets thoroughly enmeshed in Aiel stuff, and the girls stop having any real expectation that the bulk of their training will come from the Aes Sedai. <g> I’ll see as we go along.

        I would get increasingly bored when there were long stretches of the books not in Rand’s pov (hence why I’ve never liked DR…which has, oh, like 25 pages in the whole book from his pov…)

        Ah, so that’s why you don’t like it. πŸ™‚ Whereas I never attached that strongly to Rand, so paying attention to other characters is not a minus for me. (I did attach to Mat, once he stopped sucking, hence TDR being where I went from “okay, I guess this series is worth reading after all” to “give me the next book now!!!”)

        • unforth

          Yeah, I think Perrin bears watching. I never paid much attention to him until the last time I re-read the series, but he grew on me. Actually, he and Mat both grew on me. I’m much less of a Rand-only girl than I used to be. πŸ™‚

          I don’t really know why I attached to Rand so thoroughly but I really, really did, and it’s never really gone away. I spent most of my teenage years wishing I’d been born Min. πŸ™‚

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I’ve been looking forward to it

      Well, I’ve been looking forward to your comments, so we’re even. πŸ™‚ You remember the books well enough to really get some debate rolling, which is a large part of why I want to do these posts. (Also, if memory serves me correctly, the conversation you and I had while sitting by the pool at Knightridge was the one that made me realize I’m enough of a grown-up now that I don’t have to apologize for my high school fannishness.)

      the wind that catches Rand while he’s training with Lan outside the Blight.

      If you click on the tag, you’ll see a post where I linked to someone’s WoT re-read over on Tor.com; she flags that moment specifically. Aside from theorizing that maybe it was supposed to be an early “bubble of evil” moment, she has no real explanation for it, either.

      I realized for the first time how much I LIKED reading politics

      I like the politics because of the depth it gives the world; I also like competence. That scene proves that Moiriane and Suian know their stuff, and that while the best-laid plans of mice and Aes Sedai may go astray, it’s not for lack of trying on their part.

      My 12 year old self feels obliged to chime in and say that Rand’s silly angst has always been part of the appeal for me…one of my absolute favorite scenes of the entire series is the one where Rand opens the package from Moiraine and the Dragon banner unfurls, and Perrin and Mat “catch” him. I can understand that the guys are being annoying (though I would suggest it’s mostly Mat and Rand – while Perrin is being angsty about his wolves, he’s still much more manageable than the other two) but it does prompt some scenes I think are neat.

      My feelings are very definitely shaped by knowing where that’s headed. Rand being in denial at first: totally reasonable. Rand continuing in denial while he runs around: also reasonable. Rand still in denial after Falme: much less reasonable. Rand hugging and kissing and squeezing his denial and calling it George through TDR: very thoroughly annoying. (I don’t actually remember where he gives in and admits it, but I seem to recall it not being until the confrontation in the Stone.) It’s a general criticism I have for many things in the series; while the things themselves may not be so bad, the length of time for which they get dragged out is.

      I do love Perrin, though, for that scene; Mat’s dancing all over being a jerk, but Perrin just sits there quietly for a moment and then asks, “Rand, can you channel?” It really helps sell the notion that Perrin’s tendency to give things slow consideration doesn’t mean he’s stupid. In that moment, he’s smarter than Mat, and cuts straight past the elaborate approach to the topic to ask directly. A fairly effective moment, in my opinion.

      • unforth

        e conversation you and I had while sitting by the pool at Knightridge was the one that made me realize I’m enough of a grown-up now that I don’t have to apologize for my high school fannishness

        I still apologize for the WoT fannishness, depending on the reaction of who I’m talking to; it feels like many geeks look at me like I’m nuts when I own a love of this series despite all of it’s problems, like it’s inconceivable to love something even when you know it’s got a lot of flaws (I wonder how many of these people love D&D, or the original Star Trek, or any of the other flawed symbols of our shared geek culture?)

        For what it’s worth, I’m much more useful for discussions on the early books than on the later. I’ve read EotW and TGH probably 10 times each or more (ah, things I shouldn’t admit πŸ˜‰ ), I’ve read DR a few times, Shadow Rising probably 6 or 7, but after that it falls of (though I read Lord of Chaos a few times) until I’ve not read any of the ones after…er…book 8, whose name I’m blocking…more than once. But at least on these books, I think I can remember enough to have something worthwhile to say. πŸ˜‰

        the wind that catches Rand while he’s training with Lan outside the Blight.

        Bubble of evil is as good an explanation as any. Lan’s suggestion that “weird things happen this close to the blight” is clearly completely meaningless – and he clearly thinks it’s a cause of concern. I think Lan, at least, thought it was probably something wonky happening with Rand’s channeling. I really don’t know what I think it was supposed to be, but it has something to do with proximity to the Blight (as I recall that the wind is accompanied by the smell of decay). My instincts are that it was supposed to be in someway related to Fain’s escape, maybe that originally a Forsaken was supposed to be associated with that, one of the ones who doesn’t like Rand and just wanted to screw with him and/or test his powers – ie, a male Forsaken who wanted to see if Rand would be able to see the (this is the point where I got your phone call, by the way. πŸ™‚ ) the weaves of his Saidin, who would have felt pretty good about the success of this effort, but I have no idea. πŸ™‚

        Rand hugging and kissing and squeezing his denial and calling it George through TDR

        I could speak to this point, but as this is really about TDR, which you haven’t read in a long time, I think I’ll hold off and see how you feel about this point after you’ve re-read it.

        That scene, though, really is one of the most perfect for me. The other week, I was in the laundry room with a bit of time to kill. There’s a book exchange there, and one of the books there that day was TGH, and faced with the need to kill 5 minutes, I immediately turned to that scene, and it was just as good as I remembered it. They all act so much like…themselves. Rand goes immediately into “attack/defensive” mode, Perrin slowly thinks it through and reaches the right conclusion, and Mat immediately over reacts and says things he wouldn’t mean if he’d only take time to think it over. I don’t know, it’s sort of like that little, two page scene is the end of the book about the lads from Emond’s Field and the beginning of the book about Epic Things done by Epic People.

        • Marie Brennan

          I still apologize for the WoT fannishness

          Well, okay, I’m not perfectly grown-up in my lack of defensiveness. πŸ™‚ But that was the first time, after I fell out of the fandom, that I felt like it was okay to reveal the geekery within.

          I know I’ve read most of the books at least twice, since I read the series once, then re-read it before TPoD. I think I revisited a couple of the most recent before WH, and maybe CoT, but I certainly haven’t gone over them as many times as you have.

          Re: Rand in TDR — okay, maybe he wasn’t completely in denial (I have a faint recollection that he goes haring off to Tear as a means of testing the question), but certainly there’s something about the form his angst takes that just annoyed me as it kept going on. Like Perrin and the wolves; Perrin stops denying it soon enough, but doesn’t stop whining for books.

          • unforth

            The reason I’ve read it so many times is that each time a new book came out, I would re-read the whole series – which is part of why I started falling behind, for a lot of recent books I’ve not had the time or inclination to do this, but I feel like I have to because I forget so much of the plot threads that are important in between books.

          • Marie Brennan

            each time a new book came out, I would re-read the whole series

            I did that once, maybe twice — then decided That Way Madness Lies. <g>

  2. pathseeker42

    Because Jordan doesn’t do enough forshadowing on his own, I have to add in my own little bit here – Verin gets very very cool in the most recently released book. I hope you keep reading long enough to get to it – she does the Brown proud.

    • Marie Brennan

      Heh. Now I’ve had two people tell me that in quick succession. I’m glad to hear it; Verin’s always been one of my favorites, in large part because her approach to, well, everything is so far from the usual bitch-model Jordan falls into.

      • pathseeker42

        Yeah, Jordan’s whole thing with introducting strong women only to have them go foolish over a man thing really got to me, because it happened EVERY TIME, but I will refrain from beating that horse any further.

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