The Wheel of Time Re-read: Monthly Summary (June)

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Author: Toral Delvar
Published: July 6 2021 - Tar Valon Times Blog Link

Please note, this post contains major spoilers for The Wheel of Time series.

The second half of The Eye of the World continues in much the same vein as the first. The quest narrative continues after they meet up again, with them heading to the Eye of the World on an incredibly important mission. We’ll see a similar structure again in books 2 and 3, where everyone ends up heading to the same place; though unlike the Eye of the World, they don’t meet up till the end. There is less of this in book 4, though Rand is heading towards Alcair Dal for much of the book. But later books, although they do head to a conclusion, don’t follow this pattern.

Character development is fairly minimal in the second half of the Book. Rand is Rand, and doesn’t really begin to change until he learns he can channel and more once he accepts he is the Dragon Reborn. In case anyone was doubting, we are again told he is an Aiel. Mat grows more suspicious for a while; but once he is healed (albeit temporarily) of his link to the Shadar Logoth dagger, he is back to normal. And Perrin rarely thinks of wolves. We do at least see that Perrin is able to reason things out, but likes to take his time, something we got a hint of when he escaped Shadar Logoth. We do see more of Nynaeve and Lan’s feelings for each other develop, but it still feels like a big jump when they talk of marriage – I think we have to assume here that a lot happened we didn’t see. Nynaeve also accepts she can channel and that she is going to the White Tower.

Once more we see several of the themes of the series – characters assume what they expect is the actual truth, and rarely question what they believe, or just dismiss as untrue things they don’t want to believe. We see news about the characters (in this case Perrin and the Whitecloaks) moving faster than they do, something it will take them a long time to learn, if they ever do.

We are introduced to a couple more of the characters who will continue to play a major role throughout the series; though of these, only Loial actually stays with the group in this book. We do meet our first Darkfriends, in Paitr and Gode, and see just how harsh the Shadow is with failure. After three thousand years of no reward, it is a little surprising that people are willing to take such a chance with little being offered in return.

In terms of Worldbuilding, we get more details on the Aiel War, with further confusion on why the Aiel retreated – people seem to know they came to kill Laman and left once they had, but for some reason, few of them put this together. We learn of ta’veren, which is a fairly convenient way of having interesting things happen to our characters, and also to have them meet people who will come into the story again in later books. The idea that all three boys are ta’veren seems to come out of nowhere. Mat and Rand at least stay together the whole time, so there is no reason to think ta’veren effects are not due to one of them – most likely Rand, as he fell into the palace and met Morgase, Elayne and Elaida. All Mat did was be dumb enough to steal a dagger. We also learn of the Ways, which will feature frequently in the rest of the series.

The idea that Ba’alamon is actually Ishamael is hammered home a little more, though we also get a few references – such as the way Aginor talks about him that could distract people who thought Moiraine knew what she was talking about when she identified Ba’alzamon as the Dark One.

Finally, we do see more things that don’t seem to be continued. The idea that the Dark One’s powers are weakest during the day for instance, and the suggestion by the Green Man that he hadn’t rested under Avendesora in two thousand years is never revisited. We are also left with a mystery over what the point of the Eye of the World was in the first place – the way it seems to have been used was for Aginor to kill himself by drawing too much Saidin. But it seems convoluted, if not unlikely to imagine this is why it was created, as well as a mystery, never solved of how Rand got to Tarwin’s gap and back.

The pace of the re-read worked well for this book, so now that it is finished, we can also ask what we learned.

The series itself so far followed a fairly well established “villagers go on a quest, one of them is the chosen one” trope, but we have seen hints – from prophecies and in what we learn of the wider world, plus all the characters who we met and who will come back – that things are not as simple as that.

We have also seen a couple of the main themes of the series feature heavily – that men and women process things differently, and that people may have to work with incomplete or incorrect information. The related themes, that people often don’t adapt when they learn new information, instead continuing as though what they knew was true; and that other people may have unexpected access to information are also present, though they don’t have the negative consequences they will later in the series.

The World Building got off to a good start. For most nations, we still know little, but we know they exist, and we know of the Aes Sedai, though not how the White Tower works. We also know of the Aiel and Sea Folk, and that both are expecting the coming of their chosen ones, plus the existence of the Seanchan was hinted at. We learned that there is a network of Darkfriends, who have a way of communicating outside of the norm, and that people generally think Darkfriends a thing of big cities, though they are found in even small villages. Not the Two Rivers apparently. We also learned of Ta’veren, and saw the first examples of Ta’veren effects, though it is not always clear what happened because of this, and what would have just happened because of the personalities of the Two Rivers boys. Additionally, we learn of the dangers of dreams, and see some aspects of Tel’aran’rhiod when Ishamael talks to the boys, but as is often the case, we don’t know what is happening until a later book. This is something that happens frequently – some strange occurrence, or mysterious event seems to make little sense, and is even forgotten, but we get an explanation much later in the book, or even in the series.

Character development was mixed. Rand learns he can channel, as does Egwene, but both really end the book just as they start it. Rand has begun to think of Min’s warning that she is not for him in the way they both want, but hasn’t even begun to move into “yeah, I don’t actually want her that way” territory. Mat basically starts the book as he began it – he does develop and become more responsible, but it is later thought that he changed least, just became more like himself. Moiraine also doesn’t really change – she seems aware that Lan has developed feelings for Nynaeve, but hasn’t developed her jealousy over it. Lan and Nynaeve do get the most development, firstly in their relationship, but also in their general attitude – Nynaeve goes from hating the Power and not wanting to admit being able to channel, to agreeing to learn so she can get revenge on Moiraine, to the beginnings of how much she can do with Power based healing. Lan also begins to relate to the other Two Rivers folk, as an extension of them being important to Rand, but this also doesn’t really come into it until he starts spending a lot more time with Rand, training him.

Several of the major plotlines that run through the series are introduced. Tarmon Gaidon, of course, and related to that, the Forsaken returning, but we also see Padan Fain and the Whitecloaks introduced. The weather continues to be a major problem until about halfway through the series, and the Aiel plot is hinted at – both that they expect the Cara’carn and that in the past, they had followed a different way of life. From “Strange clothes you wear child of the dragon… Do the People of the Dragon return to the first Covenant. But you wear a sword. That is neither now nor then,” we can probably work out that the Aiel are the People of the Dragon as mentioned in the prophecies, but not that they were once pacifists.

Finally, we saw our first prophecies – a little of the prophecies of the Dragon, Min’s first viewings, and Elaida’s foretelling. These hints of what is to come will really take off in the next few books, as Rand and others start to look at the prophecies for hints of what is to come, and Egwene and to a lesser extent Perrin start to have prophetic dreams.

—————————————————————– Tarvalon.Net began a re-read of The Wheel of Time on May 2, 2021. We are currently reading The Great Hunt – join us HERE to follow along and join in the discussion!

We also have designed a special signature to follow our progress during the Re-read: