The last time I read The Wheel of Time was in anticipation of A Memory of Light. The culmination of the series was a big deal for me. I discovered The Wheel of Time shortly after The Shadow Rising (book 4) was released, which means I waited over twenty years for the series to finish. I was a kid when I started reading it and a man when the series concluded. In the interim I lost two immediate family members, graduated from high school, college, grad school, and law school, got my first job, got my first real job, got my first promotion, changed careers twice, lived in four states. The Wheel of Time was a constant through all of that. It may be the only reason I read fantasy today—for the better part of a decade I would not have read any fantasy but for a new Wheel of Time book every two or three years. It was the excitement that the book would be finished that turned me back toward fantasy permanently.
As a kid, I reread the books obsessively, rereading each at least once in anticipation of the next book. Later I would read the newly published book once and leave it at that. Once I even *gas* went months after publication before buying the newest book. A hectic life since A Memory of Light kept me from a full reread. I got married, became a father, changed careers again, and lived in two more states. Oh, and started two blogs. My desire to write reread posts here was part of the delay. Rereading four million words and writing about them is a much bigger commitment.
In which everyone prepares to leave Fal Dara, Lan delivers some foreshadowing about “allow[ing] the sword to be sheathed in your own body, the true Great Hunt begins, we meet a sniffer, Bayle Domon jumps out of the frying pan into the fire, Rand gets stuck in a flytrap, Egwene and Nynaeve travel to Tar Valon, Anaiya suspects Egwene may be a dreamer, and Rand goes sleep somewhere other than where he will wake up.
I don’t have a lot to say about it, but I love these early chapters with the Shienarans riding south (zigzags to the north notwithstanding). Jordan does a great job at showing that they are great soldiers, not just great fighters.
“When we Shienarans ride, every man knows who is next in line if the man in command falls. A chain unbroken right down to the last man left, even if he’s nothing but a horseholder. That way, you see, even if he is the last man, he is not just a straggler running and trying to stay alive. He has the command, and duty calls him to do what must be done.”
Duty is a major theme in the series and something Rand will struggle with throughout. He is first asked to do his duty here. That will become real in the chapters covered in my next post.
June was the month the lockdowns started to slowly ease. We took our daughter to the beach (a half-day trip and we didn’t get within 100 feet of anyone else). My wife and I had our first date in months. We wore masks except when actively drinking and stuck to sitting outside. (How long has it been? We went back to the same brewery where we had our last date night. That time we sat in an igloo.) After hitting the “publish” button I am going to go browse a bookstore for the first time in months.
In which Darkfriends have an ice cream social, the Amyrlin Seat arrives in Fal Dara, the Whitecloaks take a full legion onto Almoth Plain, Trollocs get inside the keep at Fal Dara and take the Horn and the Dagger, Fain leaves but thoughtfully leaves a message for Rand, Verin inserts herself into Siuan and Moiraine’s conspiracy, and Rand meets the Amyrlin Seat.
And so the Great Hunt for the Horn begins. Well, not quite begins, but gets good and set up. Eight chapters is pretty fast as Wheel of Time setups go.
In which the Blight grows bold, a Wormpack appears but sadly doesn’t appear, the Fellowship finds the Green Man and the Eye, Aginor and Balthamel find them, the Green Man takes down our first Forsaken, Aginor confronts Rand, Rand takes the power of the Eye, the Creator[?] tells Rand he will not intervene, Rand wins the day at Tarwin’s Gap and defeats Ba’alzamon, reports of the death of the Dark One are greatly exaggerated, a broken seal, the Horn of Valere, and the Dragon banner are discovered at the bottom of the well (Well) of the Eye, and the land is freed from winter.
We finally come to the end of my reread posts on The Eye of the World. (Don’t worry—I will jump right back in with reread posts for The Great Hunt. And now that I have finally finished the first book I will finally create an index post.) Read on for my thoughts this time around.
In which Agelmar blabs about Lan, Moiraine tells what she learned from Padan Fain, our heroes enter the Blight, Nynaeve decides to go to Tar Valon, and Rand overhears an intimate conversation between Nynaeve and Lan.
These two chapters are really all about infodumping and worldbuilding and, wow, are they great at that.
In which Loial scares everybody about the Ways, they travel them anyway (making a gruesome discovery), the, err, Fellowship arrives in Shienar, Lan’s arrival makes an impression, Agelmar receives the party, Lan quotes poetry, and Fain reappears somewhat the worse for the wear.
My biggest knock on The Eye of the World, and the one thing that left me nonplussed when I first read it all these years ago, has always been how closely it hews to the story of The Lord of the Rings. The interjection of the Eye and the quick decision to take the Ways to an entirely unexpected setting—Shiener—was the first big twist that broke The Eye of the World free from The Lord of the Rings mold in my mind. It, then, had an enormous amount to do with my enjoyment of the first book and my quick decision to plow ahead with the rest of the series.
Lockdown isn’t novel anymore, but we remain stuck at home nonetheless. All that time at home and I didn’t manage to get much reading or blogging done. An extraordinarily frustrating course ate up way too much of my time.
In which Perrin and Egwene are rescued from Whitecloaks, Rand meets Elayne and visits with the queen, Basel Gill faces down Whitecloaks, Moiraine et al. arrive in Caemlyn, Mat’s possession of the dagger is discovered, and a decision is made to travel the Ways to seek the Eye of the Word (title drop!).
In a long series full of Lan’s badassery, this sequence has one of the very best examples (below the jump):
In which Rand and Mat are on the road, Rand and Mat learn to trust a skinny innkeeper, Rand channels, Rand’s channeling leads to Mat suffering temporary blindness (foreshadowing!), Rand and Mat make it to Caemlyn, and Loial is introduced (aww).
This has been one of my favorite sequences since I was a kid. Rand and, to a lesser extent, Mat gain power and influence pretty quickly in the series. They start their journey accompanied by Moiraine and Lan—powerful protectors. First they are separated from Moiraine and Lan, then they are separated from Thom. They are even separated from Perrin and Egwene. They don’t have anyone to rely on but themselves. They don’t even know if any of the others are still alive.