Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Eye of the World Read-Through #10 - Whitebridge Map

The Study of Master Roidelle: A map inspired from re reading The Eye of the World

by Dom

As we progress with the Read-Through of the series, I've decided it would be fun (for me, and hopefully for you) to make a new original map for each book, picking a location (or an event, like a battle or siege) with a decent amount of description in the book. This was somewhat arduous for The Eye of the World, but I finally settled on the town of Whitebridge.

Comments and observations are welcome - for some of the future books I will even provide an early sketch of the map for comments and input and I will then complete it to publish the final version toward the end of the Read-through.

The Town of Whitebridge

Small town in Western Andor. It is located on the main west-east road, on the eastern shore of the river Arinelle. It gets its name from its towering white bridge, a modern feat of engineering made of white glass-looking material most likely dating back from before the Breaking of the World. The white bridge is fabled, being known to the Emond's Fielders from songs, stories and tales told by peddlers. Some readers have suggested that its peculiar surface may have been conceived specifically for the use of jo-cars.

Rand said Whitebridge is "much bigger" than Emond's Field, and about as big as Baerlon. As he saw for the first time part of the western and northern walls of Caemlyn and the part of Low Caemlyn sprawling in front of them, Rand commented that Whitebridge could have fitted twenty times over in there. Low Caemlyn extends but for a few miles around Caemlyn, indicating Whitebridge is fairly small to fit twenty times in the portion of Low Caemlyn Rand could see from his spot, close to the Whitebridge Gate.

The white bridge is the northernmost crossing of the wide waters of the river Arinelle, short of Maradon in Saldaea. As such, Whitebridge is an important location for Andoran trade, exporting Andorans goods to Saldaea, the Borderlands and Illian in the south, and importing their goods, such as furs and ice peppers, into Andor. It may be involved in the commerce of goods from Bandar Eban transiting though Maradon as well, as the mountain passes in the Mountains of Mist west of Baerlon are said to be difficult. The relatively small size of the town may be explained in part by the fact its value as a trade location is entirely seasonal: both the mountain passes in the West and the river Arinelle up North are closed all winter and Spray was the first ship from Maradon reaching Whitebridge that spring (admittedly late, because of the unnatural winter).

While probably involved as well in the trade to and from the Mountains of Mist and Baerlon, it seems that most of it is rather handled in Four Kings, from where the goods transit south to Lugard and beyond. Based on Rand's description of the town, it seems that its life and blood are big merchant houses with large facilities and warehouses, the multitude of commerces and services serving these merchants, their workers, the no doubt considerable number of traders in transit or in town to buy or sell to the merchant houses, and a fairly large community of fishermen – probably too many for the local market, so it's quite possible Whitebridge is also a provider of fresh or preserved fish. The town has a considerable number of inns, some likely for a upper scale clientele of merchants, and some shabbier ones, more akin to taverns, for sailors and the like. Like Baerlon the town is walled, likely in wood like its gates, based on Rand's awe for the stone walls of Caemlyn later.

The town has a governor, like Baerlon and Aringill and possibly other Andoran towns. This likely indicates that Andoran towns are placed under direct royal authority and aren't part of any House's domains (as this would, of course, give those Houses a considerable control over Andoran trade and diminish accordingly the royal power of taxation). Whitebridge has a rather shabby Watch, dressed the same way as Caemlyn Guards, but in uniforms of much poorer make.

Gawyn Trakand owns domains south of Whitebridge. They include a small vineyard.

No much is known of Whitebridge's pre-Andoran history. This location was on the border of Coremanda and Aridhol pre-Trolloc Wars, and most likely a city existed there. The location of the cities of Shaemal, Nailine and Samfara are unknown (Braem and Hai Caemlyn can be located). The ruins of the carved statues up north, the prestigious white bridge and the strategical location even put the site of Whitebridge as a serious contender for having been the location of the capital, Shaemal (another one is the site of Aringill). It is even possible the white bridge dates from the Second Covenant (like for instance Far Madding's Guardian), not from the Age of Legends.

During the Free Years, the Arinelle marked the border of Aldeshar and Farashelle. Aldeshar was the nation Queen Ishara'd family came from, and while it incorporated a portion of today's western Andor (between Whitebridge and Four Kings), most of the territory covered land now in Murandy. No city from Farashelle or Aldeshar are known, though again it is most likely a town of some importance stood at the location of Whitebridge in the Free Years, and was possibly destroyed in the War of Hundred Years.

Known locations:

- The docks
- The central square
- Numerous Inns, including The Wayfarer's Rest, owner: Bartim

Characters from Whitebridge:

- Howal Gode, darkfriend and, while he still lived anyway, owner of a merchant house established in Whitebridge
- Mili Skane (aka 'Lady Shiaine), darkfriend, was born in a small village around Whitebridge.

About the Map of Whitebridge

The layout of the town and its surroundings is directly inspired by the descriptions in The Eye of the World, not following a layout established by one of the 'official' artists hired by Robert Jordan to produce maps for the books.

Below I describe the source material that inspired the map, and the creative leaps I made.

The size of the river Arinelle was set arbitrarily at about half a mile (1/8 League). Rand describes the river as 'wide waters'. The bend in the river up north comes from this passage:

"Rand's attention was all for what lay ahead, coming plainly into sight (ie: the white bridge) as they rounded a slight bend of the Arinelle." (The Eye of the World, Whitebridge)

I placed the bridge at an angle on a whim, to denote the fact it wasn't built specifically for this location.

There are many docks, small for fishing boats and larger for trade ships :
"wooden docks like thin fingers sticking out into the river."
Spray docked at the first bigger dock, north of the bridge. From there Rand, Mat and Thom walked to the big square.

The town "sprawled about its (the bridge's) foot on the east bank".

"Where the White Bridge came down in the center of the town was a big square, paved with stones worn by generations of feet and wagon wheels. Inns surrounded the square, and shops, and tall, red brick houses with signs out front bearing the same names Rand had seen on the carriages at the dock." (Eye of the World, Whitebridge)

There would be paved streets large enough on the waterfront to let the merchants' carriage reach the docks. Warehouses etc. would also likely be in these areas. I arbitrarily placed a smaller market in the southern part – in the south-east part, I placed something that could be the governor's house, or buildings used by the city's magistrates.

The main square is surrounded by big Inns and Trade Houses. In the center of the square I put market stalls.

The Wayfarer's Rest, where Rand, Mat and Thom were, would be close to the corner of the main street leading to the main Gates to the Caemlyn Road. I put the Gates just a few blocks away. Rand mentioned passing streets as they fled from the Square to the Gates, but the distance isn't so great he couldn't still see part of the square from there.

I placed a few secondary gates south and north, to locations in the countryside, farms and eventually villages. Rand and Thom mentions gates, plural, and Moiraine told Nynaeve that Rand and Mat could have left the city to go north, south or west.

In the countryside, I placed a few fishing villages and farms, somewhat sparsely as Rand will note further east that the number of farms increases significantly. Mili Skane was born in one of those villages :P


- You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

- Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Eye of the World Read-Through #9 - Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

by Linda

The Eye of the World started with the confrontation between the two champions Ishamael and Lews Therin. Lews Therin had unknowingly killed everyone around him in a Masque of Death scene. The page from the graphic novel version of the Prologue of The Eye of the World shows this very well, and I discussed the comparison between the Kinslaying and the Masque of the Red Death in an earlier post. Ishamael tempted Lews Therin with the resurrection of Ilyena if he turned to the Shadow:

"You can have her back, Kinslayer. The Great Lord of the Dark can make her live again, if you will serve him. If you will serve me."

The Eye of the World ended with a largely symbolic and spiritual battle with miracles. Rand destroyed the Shadow’s massive army without knowing how. He also denied images of Egwene and Nynaeve and destroyed Myrddraal that were abusing his mother, Kari. She thanked him and exclaimed: “The Light, the Blessed Light.” I find it hard to believe that a dream creation of Ishamael would say that. Perhaps it really was her soul there. Ishamael wanted to use Kari to tempt Rand to the Shadow; that, and the offer to escape the taint that took Lews Therin. Looking ahead, perhaps Kari features again at the final confrontation with the Shadow.

A major difference between the end of Eye of the World and the beginning was that the Creator spoke and called Rand the - his - Chosen One:


- The Eye of the World, Against the Shadow

Well I think it was the Creator.

The Creator told Rand that he would not interfere and that Rand was his Chosen One and that only he can do what must be done to defeat the Shadow. This is a parallel to God in the New Testament announcing at Jesus’ baptism that Jesus was his son and he was well pleased with him (Matthew 3:17, Luke 3:22). Furthermore at Jesus’ transfiguration:

A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."

- Luke 9:35

which is even closer to the Creator’s words.

Jordan has stated at a book-signing that people are expected to help themselves, not ask for the Creator to help them:

Another point he pressed was that "no one's going to rescue you", there are not going to be any miracles. The Creator shaped the world and set the rules, but does not interfere. Humankind messed things up, and have to fix it too, as well as finding the truth themselves.

So I think it was the Creator because there are theological parallels to the words spoken to Rand.

But I know that some of you think it might have been the Dark One because he (I follow RJ’s convention) speaks again later in the series. Yet the Creator actually speaks to say he’s not going to take part and so logically it isn’t surprising that he (RJ’s convention again) keeps to his word and doesn’t speak again. The Creator's the good guy; of course he'll keep to his word. And the fact that the chapter is called 'Against the Shadow' might be a tiny little hint. :P

Rather than being a Shadow conspiracy, I think the Creator bent the rules just that once as a blessing for Rand. What the Creator did was Announce that Rand is his Chosen One and that Rand had to do his duty and save the world because the Creator wasn't going to (or couldn't). All consistent with RJ's theology.

The Great Hunt and, to a lesser degree, The Dragon Reborn also each had theological endings. Many readers didn’t notice that the first three books had conclusive ‘theological’ endings disguised a bit with ‘action’. The other books had endings which were much less theological. The final book/s and Rand’s fight with the Dark One in particular will also surely have a theological ending to complete the cycle and the Pattern, so I expect some more mystical stuff. It may also be that the Creator will feature at the ending too.

Lone mountains also feature in the beginning and ending of The Eye of the World. A single mountain is a symbol of the sacred centre. It’s a Rosicrucian symbol and may be a Masonic one. (Jordan was a Freemason as we learned from his blog). The sacred centre symbolism is even more emphasised because the mountain was caused by the death of the Creator’s champion and was the place of the soul’s rebirth. It is important to the symbolism that this area remained unchanged by the Breaking. Holy mountains are entry points to heaven or sites chosen by God for revelation or sites of eschatological events in Judaic thought.

We saw the creation of the volcano Dragonmount at the beginning of the series, and looking forward, I predict that Dragonmount will feature again at the end of the series with a much larger eruption signifying Rand's death compared to the one which heralded the death of Lews Therin and the mountain's formation. Already there has been volcanic activity in Knife of Dreams - clouds of vapour and gases, strange winds, storms - typical of an impending eruption. The photo right is of a wall-hanging I made, imaginatively title Eruption. Entirely embroidered and quilted by hand by me last year, it's not small at 1.5m (5 feet) high. With their link to the centre of the earth, and spewing out the innermost contents of the planet volcanoes are sacred and revelatory places indeed.

In keeping with the theme of balance, Jordan has another single volcanic mountain, Shayol Ghul, the Dark version of Dragonmount, which is where Rand confronted Ishamael near Shayol Ghul at the end of the book and where he is prophesied to face the Dark One and die (even if temporarily). It's the evil centre. Mountains were often regarded as places where gods have their home, and this is especially the case with Shayol Ghul.

At the beginning of the series, Lews Therin mentions the Song and Singing in the Prologue, foolishly asking Ishamael:

”Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing and here all are welcome to take part.”

- The Eye of the World, Prologue

This theme has a minor completion in Loial's Singing at the Eye to save the Green Man from the Blight of the Shadow. The Treesinging and Lews Therin's reference to the Song is a hint that the Song will feature at the end of the series to counter the Shadow’s evil and likely save Rand the Healer of the Land.

After channelling at the Eye, Rand says he won’t channel again:

"Oh, I won't ever touch it again. Not if I have to cut my hand off, first."

The Eye of the World, The Wheel Turns

This is the first mention of Rand losing a hand or an arm and it is particularly apt that it occurs in a chapter entitled The Wheel Turns. Rand uses cutting off his hand or arm as the worst thing that could happen except for what he vows not to do, or as something that can almost prevent him from doing what he vows not to do. At the end of the series, Rand will confront the Shadow without his hand, having channelled repeatedly despite his stated intent.

At the beginning of The Eye of the World Lews Therin calls Ishamael down for saying Shai’tan, but Ishamael says uttering the name isn’t dangerous for him. (Interestingly, the other Forsaken don’t dare utter Shai’tan; maybe there is good reason that Ishamael is shown as an equal match for Lews Therin in the Prologue, is now Naeblis and has always believed himself to be the Shadow’s Champion.) At the end of the book Rand, having depleted the Eye, names Shai’tan and calls the Dark One's eye upon him. Will he defiantly name Shai'tan again at their final confrontation? It’s all fun with mirrors.


- You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

- Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Eye of the World Read-Through #8- The One Power and the Eye of the World 1

The One Power and the Eye of the World

By Dr. Saidin

This will deal with the One Power issues regarding the first half of The Eye of the World. Many of the points will be discussed in detail, while others will occupy no more than a single sentence, and are there to merely convey an interesting fact or hypothesis.

Ishamael Travelled strangely in the Prologue of the first book, but I'll devote a separate post to this because the answer is lengthy and a stimulus for some good debate.

Female Healing vs Male Healing

Ishamael says in EoTW (Dragonmount) ‘A pity for you… that one of your Sisters is not here. I was never very skilled with Healing, and I follow a different power. But even one of them could only give you a few lucid minutes, if you did not destroy her first.’

Why did Ishamael refer to a Sister as a Healer? Why not an Aes Sedai?

There are several possible explanations. We already know from Moghedien that men were better at certain forms of Healing than women – a fact which irritates Nynaeve. As with all aspects of the Power, the reverse would almost certainly be true. It could be that women were superior to men in some forms of Healing, specifically those forms centered on the brain and the mind. Semirhage was a specialist of the brain – out of choice, or were women naturally adept in that field? Graendal was the greatest regarding events of the mind, which could be more than coincidence. We also know that when Nynaeve discovered how to Heal stilling, the Yellows mentioned how Fire would be good for diseases of the Heart. This could be a vague pointer to the female powers being better in other areas. It is more than possible that female Aes Sedai were especially proficient in Healing diseases of the nervous system and mind.

Apart from women being superior in this form of Healing, other possibilities could explain the comment. Firstly, Ishamael may have written off the male Aes Sedai as insane and thus considers the term 'Sisters' to fully encapsulate the Aes Sedai organization. Secondly, considering the nature of the War of Power, it is possible that Sisters were concentrated in the larger cities, such as where Lews Therin was in this chapter, and males were more on the battle lines. Considering the gender equality of the Age, this seems less likely. The cause could be even more trivial – perhaps it was against custom for males to Heal one another, or perhaps saidar is always better at Healing males, or some other small reason.

Listening to the Wind – can all women do it?

Moiraine addresses this Talent … EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘Unlike most women who claim to listen to the wind, you actually can, sometimes. Oh, it has nothing to do with the wind, of course. It is of Air and Water.’

Obviously most Wisdoms are frauds in this regard, but there are strong hints that most female channelers can perform this Talent. Even if most women can’t listen to the Wind, it stands to reason that those who can are all Wilders. If it is of Air and Water, it further strengthens the argument that the great majority of women will have the necessary proficiency to Listen.

In EoTW (the Peddlar), Egwene says that Nynaeve told her that she can also learn to Listen to the Wind, whereas most women cannot. It is more than likely that Nynaeve is trying to boost the ego of her apprentice, rather than speaking true fact. Nynaeve doesn’t even know that she herself can channel at that stage of the book, so her estimation of Egwene seems dubious. Still, it is not beyond probability that she could sense some sort of ability or at least, a shared camaraderie with her friend.

Later it seems like Moiraine is reading the wind. From Nynaeve’s PoV – EoTW (Footprints in Air) – ‘Something of it tickled the corners of her mind, as when she listened to the wind, but now she knew that had to do with the One Power… Her [Moiraine’s] gaze was elsewhere too. “It is the Dark One, Nynaeve. The storm has left us… for a time, at least.” She raised one hand as though feeling the air, then scrubbed it on her dress unconsciously, as if she had touched filth.

Moiraine’s initial explanation of the Talent is that she isn’t surprised that Nynaeve can do it, and it seems like Moiraine and possibly, Egwene or any woman can perform it. Like all Talents, it may be a question of degree though. Throughout the series, only Nynaeve displays this level of intimacy with Listening to the Wind. While all women can Heal, those who can only manage bruises do not describe themselves as having the Talent. Nynaeve probably has a particularly high affinity for the female powers, and can Listen properly, whereas most Aes Sedai have weaker abilities, and Ash’aman would show rare aptitude.

The Protection of the Power

EoTW (The Wisdom) – ‘It is the Dark Ones, and the minions of the Dark One. From those things I can protect. Touching the True Source, touching saidar, gives me that protection, as it does to every Aes Sedai… Even those poor men who find themselves wielding the Power for a short time gain that much, though sometimes the taint makes them more vulnerable. But I, or any Aes Sedai, can extend my protection to those close by me. No fade can harm them as long as they are as close to me as they are right now.’

Moiraine makes it clear that saidar and saidin provide protection against the Shadow, and yet we see no evidence of this after this book. It is possible that the Light is at its most powerful at this stage of the series, and that the mere presence of saidar or saidin is enough to repel Shadowspawn. As the seals weakened and the Shadow moved closer to the Pattern, this may have been the first effect that was lost to the Light. The failing of wardings like Keepings which occurs later in the series is symbolic of a profound influence of the Shadow lying over the Pattern, to the point that the One Power is becoming dysfunctional. However, it is interesting to read about the One Power at its full strength, and how its passive effects were probably lost as from book 2.

Moiraine’s Staff

EoTW (The Caemlyn Road) – ‘This is not even an angreal, merely an aid to concentration.’

Moiraine’s staff has been an interesting. We’ve never seen an Aes Sedai use a similar trinket. Moiraine’s staff is not merely a decoration. Earlier the Whitecloaks take a full swing at her with a sword and Rand is sure the staff will be sliced in two, but it remains unmarked. Indestructibility is usually a sign of a Power-wrought object. The most likely explanation for Moiraine’s staff is that it truly is a mental crutch as she suggests. We know that she doesn’t need it, considering she loses it soon after this. Considering she spends the first part of the book channeling out of the sides of the staff, or using it to create earthquakes, it seems that the staff provides a physical focus for her. Instead of her focusing her weaves into the distance or to an imagined place, she focuses everything into the staff and then swings the staff around physically where it is needed. The closest parallel to this is Rand swinging Callandor and allowing weaves to emanate from it. It is, however, a mostly unique event to the series.

Small Facts or Hypotheses

- Lews Therin says to Ishamael in EoTW (Dragonmount) ‘I will destroy you beyond anything your master can repair.’ This is most probably a reference to balefire, the deadliest of weapons. More interestingly, it implies that Lews Therin is familiar with the rare event of transmigration of the souls of fallen Forsaken, or perhaps the ability of the Dark One to Heal severely injured Forsaken.

- EoTW (Dragonmount) – ‘.. he Travelled. The land around him was flat and empty… but he could sense there were no people within a hundred leagues.’ This is a very unusual event in the series, which still defies explanation. Anything is possible, but theories include a lost Talent, a weave or warding to detect people, weaving his gateway to specifically take him away from people – thus using ‘need’ in the real world.

- In EoTW (A Place of Safety) Moiraine says that she needs the angreal to Heal the damage caused to Tam, due to the fact that the taint has had time to fester. Strength in the Power almost never plays a role in Healing until evil powers are Healed. Most Healers can Heal even the most serious wound. However, we see here that Moiraine needs an angreal to Heal Tam. Siuan needed a sa’angreal and a whole circle to Heal Mat of his taint with the evil of Aridhol. A mixed link was needed to aid Rand’s wound after Fain cut him with the dagger. Healing of these taints is not really Healing – it is more like excavation of the unwanted entity. Thus, the larger the entity, the more raw strength is needed.

- In EoTW (A Place of Safety), Lan says that only the weakest Aes Sedai would fail to be a match for a fade. This statement is generally considered to be rubbish, considering Daigian is more than a match for most enemies. However, earlier in the book we read that Moiraine and Lan failed to kill the Fade at the head of the attack of Emond’s Field even though they both tried. It is clear that the prowess and danger of a Fade was being described as the cruelest of enemies. As the series has progressed we have seen that Fades are absolutely no match for even novice channelers, as seen by the fact that the three girls destroyed three in an instant later in the series despite being novices and Accepted.

- There is an inconsistency regarding the legend of Eldrene. In EoTW (Tellings of the Wheel), Moiraine says that Eldrene used fires to kill the Shadow army, and then died herself from overdrawing on the Power. In the Guide, it says that she used a sa’angreal and balefire, and overdrew before dying. The legend of Eldrene is probably blown out of proportion, or even completely untrue.

- In EoTW (Across the Taren), Moiraine says that not even ten women in Tar Valon could produce such a display of fog unaided. In KoD, Fager Neald creates fog which covers the entire hillside, which provides an interesting parallel on male strength in the Power.

- In EoTW (Across the Taren), Moiraine replies to Egwene, ‘Things do not have the Power, child. Even an angreal is only a tool.’ Moiraine later repeats herself when Egwene comments on the power of her staff. However, Moiraine is not familiar with wells… and even at this stage of the story Cadsuane was in possession of one, though unbeknown to Moiraine.

- In EoTW (Across the Taren), Moiraine says ‘This is just a blue stone. But it can give off light.’ What is interesting is that there are several crystalline materials in the series which react to the One Power. Later in the book we see that the Eye of the world is lined with crystals, all of which glow with varying intensity. Callandor and the globes of the Choedan Kal also seem to interact with the One Power in some way. It is uncertain whether Moiraine’s crystal is a common material known to Aes Sedai, or a rare artifact from the Age of Legends.

- In the same chapter as above, Moiraine elicits several glows from the crystal and asks Egwene to concentrate. A small flicker follows and Moiraine says that Egwene caused the last reaction. This is almost identical to the male test for channeling where the channeler elicits a resonance from the apprentice after causing them to focus on an object e.g. a crystal or a flame.

- EoTW (The Road to Taren Ferry) – ‘… he silently shouted at Bela to run like the wind, silently tried to will strength to her. Run! His skin prickled, and his bones felt as if they were freezing, ready to split open. The Light help her, run! And Bela ran.’ This is the first time Rand channeled, and he develops the fever several days later. Moiraine comments on how Bela needed less restoration than the other horses, and she even considered that Rand had channeled. Ironically Rand’s first weave was a Healing weave, and we discover later in the series that his ability with the Talent is poor. Rand has also never repeated the weave, and never removed fatigue from a friend or ally.

- Rand channels for the second time in EoTW (Dust on the Wind) where he makes the ship lurch and the boom swing over and kill the Trolloc. It seems like an oddly powerful weave for his second attempt at channeling.

- In EoTW (Choices), Moiraine is exasperated at having found two women with the spark in one village, and she mentions that the Old Blood is strong. This is a clear allusion to the genetic component of channeling. However, considering we hear later that channeling twins are rare, it reinforces RJ’s statement that channeling is both genetic and soul-mediated.

- EoTW (The Stag and Lion) - Ishamael produces a rat in Rand’s dream and bends it back until its back breaks. Very curiously, the innkeepers in the next chapter say that they found several dead rats with their backs broken. What is so strange about this is that Ishamael clearly pulled the rats into Tel’aran’rhiod and killed them there. We’ve seen Egwene conjure animals in TAR, so why didn’t Ishamael? He could be using TAR to see through their eyes, or into their dreams to see what they saw in the day. Or perhaps he wanted to double the trauma of his message so that Rand wouldn’t think it was just a dream. Either way, this is a strange piece of text.

- In EoTW (Shadow’s waiting), we see that Moiraine knows how to weave wardings against the evil of the Shadow, and the evil of Aridhol. True, to the rest of the series, she cannot weave both and needs to choose one. This is knowledge that even Asmodean and Lews Therin admit is correct.

- EoTW (Dust on the Wind) – ‘Mashadar is vast, girl, as vast as Shadar Logoth its self. The whole White Tower could not kill it.’ I love this quote because it returns eight books later when Rand destroys Shadar Logoth using ‘more power than the whole of the White Tower combined’.

- EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘… there has not been an Aes Sedai powerful enough to Travel since the Time of Madness… I do not think all the Forsaken together could move a thousand Trollocs.’ This is a heinously ignorant quote by Moiraine, but it displays the poor quality of channeling knowledge in the 3rd Age. Moiraine will hopefully discover that she is more than strong enough to Travel if she returns in AMoL. She is correct that the Forsaken cannot use Travelling to transport Shadowspawn, but she is ignorant of the reason, and names the reason as strength being the limiting factor. In fact, thirteen Sitters in Salidar made a huge gateway when transporting the Salidar army to Tar Valon.

- EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘You used the Power to Heal either Perrin or Egwene at some time. An affinity develops. You can sense the presence of someone you have Healed. In Baerlon you came straight to the Stag and Lion…’ This is one of those things I don’t think the author followed through with, due to practical reasons. However, there is no evidence of this ever occurring again despite the mass Healing which occurs throughout the series. One would expect Nynaeve, Moiraine, Flinn, Cadsuane, Samitsue and even Lanfear to have affinities with Rand for this reason, though no evidence can be found of it.

- The channeling illness is introduced in this book. EoTW (Listen to the Wind) – ‘Each time the reaction comes closer to the actual touching of the Source, until the two happen almost together. After that there are no more reactions that can be seen… Convulsions. Screaming.’ There is no explanation for this fatal reaction, though I would propose one. It seems that a channeler’s physiology changes after they touch the Power – they change from non-channeler to channeler. In this sense they start to slow, they can sense the Power in others and all around them, and they can see things which non-channelers cannot see, such as the nimbus around a woman. It seems that Wilders resist this change, and in this sense the Power starts to destroy them. The Power is after all, incompatible if you are a non-channeler. Thus the reactions move closer and closer as the person’s physiology tries to adapt, but the channeler still resists. Eventually the mind becomes completely resistant to the Power’s effects, but considering he/she has the spark, the channeling continues and causes death. The only way to save this, besides quickly learning to channel, is to create a block which separates the person from the Power completely, and thus saves the channeler’s life.

- EoTW (Wolfbrother) – ‘It was so easy, Perrin. I can do it. I can channel the Power.’ This was after Egwene lit a campfire for them using saidar. It is the first evidence of Egwene’s great natural skill with the Power. One of her first touchings, and she can wield saidar consciously and with ease.

- EoTW (Flight Down the Arinelle) – ‘Ba’alzamon’s eyes began to widen, in surprise or anger or both, then the air shimmered, and his features blurred and faded.’ At this point Rand screams and says that he’s in a dream. It should have alerted Ishamael to the fact that Rand was already displaying abilities with dreamwalking. Either he was freeing himself from Ishamael’s grip in the world of dreams, or he started to push Ishamael out of the dreamworld.

- EoTW (Footprints in Air) – ‘They were in this room, perhaps a day ago, no more than two. Afraid, but they left alive. The trace would not have lasted without that strong emotion.’ The coins that Moiraine gave them have several properties. Firstly, they can trace the targets very accurately, and even if they give their coins away, Moiraine can sense the boy’s presence when she is within half a mile of them. Secondly, she can sense past emotional residues with them, and thirdly, she admits at the end of the book that the coins were intended to make the boy’s biddable to her will, though in Rand’s case it was a failure.

Comments are welcome. Part 2 will follow at some stage.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Eye of the World Read-Through #7 - Fool and Joker

The Fool and The Joker Symbols

by Linda

As I mentioned in my Patterns of Symbols post a couple of days ago, there is much foolery and jokery symbolism around Mat. When we first see him he is up to his usual fooling and joking: it’s his main claim to fame in the Two Rivers and is why nobody takes him seriously. Fools never are. The Fool and Joker images continue and become increasingly important: they form a sizeable portion of the influences on Mat’s complex character. (Incidentally I intend to write an essay on the parallels making up Mat’s character, just as I did with Rand).

In one way Mat’s long lasting immaturity is a character defect, but in another way it is what he is supposed to be – an innocent abroad – because if he were more cautious he would never have dared to do those things required by the Pattern. Being innocent and ignorant, he is not only open to new ideas, but accepts strange and alarming experiences (such as having his mind filled with other people’s memories) with apparently no ill effect.

The Fool and Joker are major archetypes related to the Trickster gods of mythology, gods such as Loki and Monkey which RJ said he based part of Mat’s character upon, and they have been in Western thought since medieval times as part of Carnival and the Lord of Misrule, even appearing in decks of playing cards. (Jordan was a keen card player and had a great eye for symbolism.) The symbols on playing cards and the card games themselves reflect the society of the time. This happened in the WOT world too, when the Ruler of Cups in Tairen decks was promptly given Rand’s face once he took the Stone (see Chop article).

The Fool has freedom to do and say whatever he likes because no one takes an idiot seriously. The Joker is either a wild card, again able to do what he likes and turn events to his advantage, or he trumps all other cards. Both the Fool and the Joker, despite being outsiders, have an enormous influence on their respective card games and can turn them to their holder's favour. We've seen Mat do all of this. Mat has been at times a great Fool and at other times quite the Joker, but he has had the power and freedom to alter the Pattern of events quite out of all proportion to his lowly status as a farmboy turned soldier.

He isn’t the only Fool in the Wheel of Time playing card pack as my new essay in the Reference Library, The Fool and The Joker in the Wheel of Time shows. It explores the Fool and Joker symbolism more extensively than I've done here, not just regarding Mat, but other characters as well.


- You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

- Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.

The Eye of the World Read-Through #6 - Perrin and Egwene

A Long series of notes and musings about the Perrin/Egwene sub-thread in The Eye of the World

by Dom

Dust on the Wind

  • I'm nowhere as fond of Perrin as I am of Nynaeve, but I really enjoyed reading his POVs in the early books. I still like the character, despite some irritating sides (And I'd lie if I said his storyline annoyed me nearly as much as many others. As I pointed out elsewhere I tend to focus on what I like, so episodes like So Habor, the mystery around Masema, the schemings of the Aes Sedai and WO, the Seanchan's arrival, Galina's plots were enough to get me through the pages of Perrin's obsessions).

    In Shadar Logoth, he has his first POV and Nynaeve will have hers next. These new perspectives on the story is one reason why I prefer the second half of this book to the first.

    I like Rand, but perhaps because I read these books in my late twenties, I always had more problems with is naive side in the early story. It created a kind of distance between me and this character, and far more so with Mat (Mat became a favorite of mine very late in the series only).

    Perrin, however, was already more mature and less excitable/naive, and his way of thinking things more quietly was a nice change of pace in that book, I find.

    In his first POV, there are already several points of foreshadowing/motifs introduced. A few :

    Prisoners : "He had almost turned back, thinking some of the others might have been taken, before realizing that he could do nothing alone if they had been captured."

    This motif will return over and over with Perrin, from the rescue of the Faile in TDR, to the prisoners in TSR to... Faile again. Here already, it's Perrin who takes the woman under his wing (and becomes a mite overprotective in the next few chapters).

    Egwene's dream : Perrin chasing through brambles, unaware of the cliff ahead down - and the motif of the axe dragging him down, threatening to sink him : "The wind scraped branches together and ruffled the leaves and needles of the evergreens. A nighthawk's lonely cry drifted in the dark (...) both of them booting their horses, heedless of noise, heedless of the branches. (...) Suddenly his horse screamed, and he was falling, tumbling out out of the saddle as the horse dropped away beneath him. (...) He had ridden right off the edge of a sheer bluff into the Arinelle. (...) And the axe dragged at his waist, threatening to roll him over if he did not pull him under. He thought about letting the river have that, too; he thought about it more than once."

    All this is merely symbolic at this point, but the theme will be introduced soon, when Perrin and Elyas meet up. And of course, Aram is coming shortly.

    In mythology, the crossing of rivers is always an important point, a motif or death and rebirth. Here Perrin crosses the Arinelle alone and with difficulty - there are no Ferry and Aes Sedai this time. Alone with Egwene, he will get his "rebirth" as a wolfbrother soon, and it's a path he will take pretty much alone. The association to Egwene here is of course due to the fact these two will have the World of Dreams in common.

    This was Perrin and Egwene's first association with a Nighthawk too - not the last. And the Ravens will soon come.

  • A Path Chosen/Wolfbrother

  • Wild man motifs :
    "Most of the branches fell away as he sat up in surprise, but some hung haphazardly from his shoulders, and even his head, making him appear something like a tree himself."
    Through the story, Perrin is very often associated to creatures of the forest, real of mythical. In the passage quoted above, he appears “something like a tree himself”, like the Green Man, like the Wildman of the Woods. Thom has compared him to an Ogier in their first encounter. A bit like Nynaeve and herbs/plants, many of the Perrin chapters are full of references to trees and nature – eight species of trees are mentioned in this single chapter. This symbolism to Min’s Viewing of Perrin with trees flowering all around him – whatever the meaning of this Viewing will prove to be. Shamans who can talk to animals (like Perrin the wolfbrother) and the real life mythical Green, or wild, Men (and the Ents of Tolkien, etc.) are very closely related concepts – and in Elyas, Perrin meets the two of them, and one who has reconciled his two natures but by leaving civilization, something Perrin cannot do. Later on, Perrin will develop a special friendship with Loial the Ogier, and soon will start an ambiguous relationship between the “Wolf Man” and the people of the Tree, as we might call the Way of the Leaf followers, the Tuatha’an, whom Perrin will find, like the wolves, in the wilderness.As always in Perrin’s chapters, mentions of the axe and blacksmithing abund.

  • Among the four wolves Perrin meet, Dapple the leader, in all shades of grey, light and dark, best represents balance and Perrin's nature and his challenge to find balance between human and wolf (Dapple will say that Perrin stands right between the two). Dapple is not the strongest, but the pack follows her because she is cautious, thoughtful and get them out of trouble. Burn, the scarred wolf for whom there is little left but a burning hatred, represents the danger Perrin faces to lose his humanity and become an animal. Hopper is the guide. He represents Perrin taking his destiny in hands and learning. Wind would likely represents him letting himself be carried by the "Winds of Time".

  • Again an association between Egwene and gleemen :
    "Perrin listened with satisfaction. Not even Thom Merrilin could have made a better tale from the little they knew of the world outside the Two Rivers, or one better suited to their needs."
    As Egwene tries to play the gleeman, Thom in the other storyline tries to pass Mat and Rand at his apprentices.

  • Elyas introduces the concept of the Black Ajah in the story, and already links them to Reds. His face-off with the Reds happened about fifteen years ago, in the middle of what Cadsuane calls the vileness, the years of illegal gentlings, around the same year Galina Casban became Red Ajah Head and whenThom’s nephew was gentled. The Amyrlin Seat Elyas mentions and seems to ressent is very likely Sierin Vayu, the pro-Red Grey we met in New Spring. Much later in the story, we will meet Elyas’s Aes Sedai – Rina Hedfen, now a Green Sitter in the Tower.

  • Saldaea foreshadowing/joke : Perrin’s addition to Egwene’s story is that they wanted to go see the King of Saldaea in Maradon. There is of course no such thing, as Queen Tenobia is single. Another part of Egwene’s tale that would have attracted Elyas’ attention is the mention they come from small farms outside a tiny village. In the Borderlands, farming is organized around keeps and under the protection of a Lord. In Saldaea, though this is largely implied only through the comments of Faile Bashere and other various hints as the lords under her fathers and the titles of Bashere and the Queen, the land seem organized into large feudal domains, much easier to protect from Shadowspawn than isolated villages. One massive bit of irony in this chapter is that Egwene makes herself Faile's proverbial 'Saldaean farmgirl' - and not much later she'll learn the Tiganza!!

  • Symbolism. As Perrin and Egwene travel east, they see in the the ruins of an abandonned Tower with the top broken and leaning on a huge oak threatening to topple it. The tower represents the White Tower, the broken top (leadership) the upcoming Tower coup, and Oaks in the story most often represents Dragonmount and the Dragon (the "Tree of Man"). The sight of these ruins will give Egwene nightmares about Shadar Logoth (the place where people turned on each other and destroyed themselves - another veiled allusion to the theme behind the Tower split storyline). This is the very first mention that Egwene has dreams, though those were probably just nightmares. Or where they? Hard to tell!

  • Inside joke/foreshadowing: Raen says he doubts the Song could ever be found in a city. While this may not foreshadow how the Tuatha'an may learn what they once were and relearn Singing, this is not without irony as indeed they could find the truth about their past and what they think of now as "the song" in Rhuidean.

  • The Traveling People/Shelter From the Storm

  • Lost in his troubles and focussed on the dangers ahead and within, Perrin has stopped taking the moments of simple joy and rest that he finds on his road. Already this has happened to him in Baerlon, when the nightmares has driven him to loneliness in bed while the others enjoyed the city.

    Here, the theme is really introduced in two parts. In the first, Egwene gives no explanation to Perrin :

    "You've been gone a long time," he said. "Did you have fun?"
    "We ate with his mother," she answered. "And then we danced ... and laughed. It seems like forever since I danced."
    "He reminds me of Wil al'Seen. You always had sense enough not to let Wil put you in his pocket."
    "Aram is a gentle boy who is fun to be with," she said in a tight voice. "He makes me laugh."
    Perrin sighed. "I'm sorry. I'm glad you had fun dancing."
    Abruptly she flung her arms around him, weeping on his shirt. Awkwardly he patted her hair. Rand would know what to do, he thought. Rand had an easy way with girls. Not like him, who never knew what to do or say. "I told you I'm sorry, Egwene. I really am glad you had fun dancing. Really. "
    "Tell me they're alive," she mumbled into his chest.
    She pushed back to arm's length, her hands on his arms, and looked up at him in the darkness. "Rand and Mat. The others. Tell me they are alive. "
    He took a deep breath and looked around uncertainly. "They are alive," he said finally.
    "Good." She scrubbed at her cheeks with quick fingers. "That is what I wanted to hear. Good night, Perrin. Sleep well." Standing on tiptoe, she brushed a kiss across his cheek and hurried past him before he could speak.

    In a second time, it's Elyas who tells Perrin to calm down and enjoy the rest while he can, which makes an irritated Perrin think :

    "He would know when it was time to go. Have some pie, lad. Don't lather yourself. Try some of this stew. Relax."

    And then, when Perrin confronts Egwene because he mistakes her attempts to seize the moment for a desire to refuse to go on or delude herself that they are safe, they have this exchange :

    " Once he managed to get Egwene alone, beside a wagon painted in green and yellow. "Enjoying yourself, aren't you?" he said.
    "Why shouldn't I?" She fingered the blue beads around her neck, smiling at them. "We don't all have to work at being miserable, the way you do. Don't we deserve a little chance to enjoy ourselves?"
    Aram stood not far off – he never got far from Egwene – with his arms folded across his chest, a little smile on his face, half smugness and half challenge. Perrin lowered his voice. "I thought you wanted to get to Tar Valon. You won't learn to be an Aes Sedai here. "
    Egwene tossed her head. "And I thought you didn't like me wanting to become an Aes Sedai, " she said, too sweetly.
    "Blood and ashes, do you believe we're safe here? Are these people safe with us here? A Fade could find us anytime."
    Her hand trembled on the beads. She lowered it and took a deep breath. "Whatever is going to happen will happen whether we leave today or next week. That's what I believe now. Enjoy yourself, Perrin. It might be the last chance we have."
    She brushed his cheek sadly with her fingers. "

    This will haunt Perrin through the series as it haunts Rand - the hardships of the fight against the Shadow, the threats to humanity, will slowly make them incapable of simply enjoying life while they can. They distance themselves from normality, while many of the women of the story seek to take as much as they can out of life when they can, aware they may not have much time with the big fight ahead (Faile's insistence to wed, Elayne's desire for a child etc.)

    Very similar moments and discussions will occur between Faile and Perrin in The Shadow Rising, and this time will introduce the aspect of coping with loss and the fear of loss - which later in the story becomes one of Perrin's greater problems.

    Again this is not black and white, and we will sometimes see the female characters hang to normal life more than they can and should afford (Egwene's obsession with rebuilding the Tower immediately while the world crumbles around the Aes Sedai, Faile's big plans to settle Perrin down as Lord, away from Rand and the battle). Somewhere in between the two is balance : not everything can be sacrificed or fighting becomes meaningless, and a lot must be sacrificed and fought for or otherwise life will not have a chance of going on much longer.

  • The Counterpart to Shadar Logoth: The Way of the Leaf.

    After we've been introduced with Mordeth and Aridhol's story to what happens to humans when you embrace a philosophy that every crime and every means is acceptable to fight the Shadow - that only the victory of the Light means anything, comes its antithesis with the Tuatha'an and their philosophy from a time when war did not exists : any violence is harmful and no man should hurt or kill another ever, no reason for it is justifiable.

    Utopians, dreamers, fools - some have even called the Tinkers evil. What do you think of the Way of the Leaf? Does this represents an ideal, a memory of light - a memory of what a world under the Light only again may be for - a hope, or is it a dangerous philosophy to even exists in the times of the Last Battle?

    They merely hang to a dream of peace which indeed I think is terribly naive right now. In the Age of Legends before the Dark One, it was a legitimate aspiration for humanity and one that seemingly influenced the society and culture of the AOL a lot, with the Da'shain merely being a bit more zealous in preserving peace and non violence than the average citizen or Aes Sedai.

    We do not know, of course, what faith the Tuatha'an put in the Dragon - the Da'shain of old sure seemed to think it acceptable that Lews Therin fought the Shadow, they even served in the War of Shadow in all sort of non-combattant/non-violent ways those who had to commit violence to save the world (and as we've seen, even after the Sealing the Aes Sedai insisted the Da'shain kept to the Way as if this was their most prized treasure).

    I think after the Sealing of the Bore, this is perhaps the greatest corruption that was introduced in the Way. The last rampart of the Da'shain were the Aes Sedai and they have lost them. Along the way, they also lost sight that Shai'tan has no place in the Pattern, that doing nothing to fight against him, even if it's only to support and help those who fight him for everyone, is letting a force that threaten the whole life cycle, that kills not only leaves but the whole tree down to the roots. Shai'tan is not the Death with a promise of rebirth that the Way of the Leaf teaches to accept, it is the "final death" that puts an end to everything.

    I do not agree with those who call the Tinkers and the Way of the Leaf "Evil", but it is a perfect example that too pure "Good" at the other extreme is as dangerous as evil, and as dangerous as the evil of Shadar Logoth. Everything as always in WOT hangs on balance.

    I think a preservation of the idea and ideals of the Way of the Leaf is important, though, and remembrance of the human evil of Shadar Logoth is as important as a warning against this peril without Shai'tan that is as evil as the DO itself. Without the dream of a life of peace and non-violence beyond the battle, what is humanity exactly fighting for, what is it aspiring to - a world without Shai'tan that could eventually become as bad as a world with him?

    Perrin is getting there. He may never embrace the Way himself (I would rather see him offering the Tinkers his full protection), he may never even have the chance to live in a world where the Way is more than a dream except in a few places, but he's sure coming to believe that a world where the Way could flourish would be a massive boon. Every small steps a ruler makes toward a world where the Way could thrive (Far Madding is a bit like that, foolish again considering the world around now... but this gives us insight in how Cadsuane and Verin were raised) is a gain for his or her people, and it is the way back to a society like the AOL's - with perhaps this time a memory of the dangers of the Shadow that will make it more balanced, less prone to embrace the other extreme, stronger and more ready to take the means to make sure it becomes and stays a world at peace. It is not impossible, Artur Hawkwing briefly succeeded before the Shadow and the Bonwhin's and the greed for power of the nobles destroyed his efforts.

  • Eyes Without Pity/Children of Shadow

  • Child Byar - one of the most despicable and unlikable character of the whole series IMHO. A complete fanatic, a cold sociopath - merciless and devoid of any laughter and tears, virtually incapable of any emotion but anger and hatred - almost more of an animal than any of the wolves, and his preys are other men. and yet still young. He is by a long shot one of the worst of the WC, IMO - coming very close to the "hard men" of Aridhol. Very close.

    What do you think may happen to him before the end?

    Geofram Bornhald, the main of reason who always does what is right but who isn't devoid of human feelings, who seeks fairness and gives chances, though he is implacable too. More strong than hard? He is perhaps the WC character that comes closest to being "likeable", almost likeable. His son will have a hard struggle not to fall into the extremism of Child Byar or Asunawa - not a very successful one so far, but could he still remember his father's lessons, could he still be redeemed by being with Galad?

    Do you think those two represents well the two "wings" of the CoL, the potentially redeemable ones with Galad, and the others with Asunawa, as bad and evil as Masema or the men of Aridhol, as fanatical as the worse Red sisters?

  • I really love those two chapters. For me, they are some of the best in the book. The action is fast paced and exciting, the antagonists (the ravens, especially with that fo are simple yet creepy, the human aspect has a lot of depth for action-centered chapters and RJ did an excellent job handling "the two evils" : that of the Shadow and that of human hatred, human debased to predator animal.

    The first chapter brings back the image from Rand's dream with the maze (the chase toward TG), mixes it with the dream where Ba'alzamon launched a raven at Perrin and it got his eye (this happens to Hopper for real in the action sequence). Here the maze is a series of hills around which the characters have to go, and if they risk going over, becoming "the king of the hill" (and sometimes, they had no choice, as both of them won't have a choice but rising to the top in the later series, as Lord Perrin and Amyrlin) they must crawl or else they might be seen. The evil is the collective "Eyes of the Dark One", coming from all sides.

    The moment where Perrin considers killing Egwene if they have no choice to escape is a great one - this fear he has that of this darkness inside that would make him capable to do it overshadows the human mercy there would be in doing it. I also love the moment where Elyas notices that Perrin looks at Egwene with hatred - resenting without knowing his role as protector, resenting that he would have to make the decision for her in the heat of the moment when there is no more hope. And Perrin can't accept it, can accept the depths he might have to descend into during the fight against the Shadow.

    The second chapter truly introduces one of my favorite themes in the series, that of the "monster inside" the three main male characters must struggle with. Perrin's is more immediate than Rand, for whom it is the heritage of LTT he must carry. For Perrin, it is the here and now, those animal feelings awakened in him, which he fears, doesn't understand and fight. You can really sense RJ the veteran in there, and the angle that war for life and death awakens in humans the core instincts of survival and defense/protection - turns them to predators to defend and to survive, while at the same time what is necessary in war threatens what's human inside you, risks unleashing the monster for good. It's Egwene here who must remind a desperate Perrin of what they're fighting for and the importance of not losing hope, of not giving up on the hope of better times : "He saw Egwene nod, but in the dark she did not realize it. "We'll be all right, Perrin."
    Light, he thought wonderingly, she's trying to comfort me.
    The shouts went on and on. Small knots of torches moved in the distance, flickering points of light in the darkness.
    "Perrin," Egwene said softly, "will you dance with me at Sunday? If we're home by then?"
    His shoulders shook. He made no sound, and he did not know if he was laughing or crying. "I will. I promise." Against his will his hands tightened on the axe, reminding him that he still held it. His voice dropped to a whisper. "I promise," he said again, and hoped."

    The second chapter has great symbolism. The abandoned stedding since the Breaking, the broken statue of the High King and at the center the attack from the fanatics who arose from this Empire : the Children of the Light.

    It also has a very chilling moment, when Perrin "loses it" for the first time, when he becomes one with the wolf and abandons rationality, he is outnumber and the men want them to disarm only, to go into a killing frenzy : "Out of the night Hopper came, and Perrin was one with the wolf. Hopper, the cub who had watched the eagles soar, and wanted so badly to fly through the sky as the eagles did. The cub who hopped and jumped and leaped until he could leap higher than any other wolf, and who never lost the cub's yearning to soar through the sky. Out of the night Hopper came and left the ground in a leap, soaring like the eagles. The Whitecloaks had only a moment to begin cursing before Hopper's jaws closed on the throat of the man with his lance leveled at Perrin. The big wolf's momentum carried them both off the other side of the horse. Perrin felt the throat crushing, tasted the blood.
    Hopper landed lightly, already apart from the man he had killed. Blood matted his fur, his own blood and that of others. A gash down his face crossed the empty socket where his left eye had been. His good eye met Perrin's two for just an instant. Run, brother! He whirled to leap again, to soar one last time, and a lance pinned him to the earth. A second length of steel thrust through his ribs, driving into the ground under him. Kicking, he snapped at the shafts that held him. To soar.
    Pain filled Perrin, and he screamed, a wordless scream that had something of a wolf's cry in it. Without thinking he leaped forward, still screaming. All thought was gone. The horsemen had bunched too much to be able to use their lances, and the axe was a feather in his hands, one huge wolf's tooth of steel. Something crashed into his head, and as he fell, he did not know if it was Hopper or himself who died."

    Another great moment from the earlier "wolf scenes" shows well the duality of Hopper as defender/predator, and why Perrin has to become the Wolf King to protect the females, the cubs and all his brothers and sisters from the pack : "Wolf or man, bull or bear, whatever challenged Dapple would find Hopper's jaws waiting to send him to the long sleep. That was the whole of life for Hopper"

    Long before Perrin and his instinctive, complete and obsessive love for Faile, there was Hopper and Dapple.

    It makes one wonder how much Perrin is still capable of loving a woman like a man instead of like Hopper felt about Dapple?

  • The Long Chase/Rescue

  • Apparently, an ointment with Sunburst Root is sovereign to heal blisters, weals and bruises inflicted by Whitecloaks. RJ often threw in jokes like this in Nynaeve’s pharmacopeia. The first one was earlier in the book. Nynaeve suggested a weak tea with Foxtail, to allow to sleep a while but wake up alert , with all your wits.

  • Could this be foreshadowing that Perrin will "bury the Whitecloaks" - perhaps not Galad's but at least Asunawa's fanatics? Or perhaps that he will personally with Byar, who is with Galad now but hardly sound like there's enough human in him to be "reformed"?

    This image of the "blacksmith in white" will return in TSR, this time it will be Haral Luhhan who is forced to wear the cloak to escape.

    Faile will also wear white as ga'shain.

  • “One other thing. There are wolves about, tonight. I saw two, and if I saw that many, there are probably more." He paused, and though his voice did not change she had the feeling he was puzzled. "It was almost as if they wanted me to see them. Anyway, they shouldn't bother you. Wolves usually stay away from people."
    "I wouldn't have known that," she said sweetly. "I only grew up around shepherds." He grunted, and she smiled into the darkness."

    I always like that joke. Though Lan isn’t bad at all, Nynaeve is one of the best at sarcasm in that series, when it doesn’t turn against her anyway!

  • A Final Thought: I always found the pairing Perrin and Egwene worked extremely well. Wheel of Time thrives on conflicting relationships, but I still mourn a bit the fact RJ never explored the friendship of these two some more. These are some of their last scenes together in the whole series!!

  • ------------------------

    - You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

    - Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Macmillan's Tor Fall 2009 catalogue reveals the TGS cover synopsis?

    It seems we're looking forward to an Egwene and Rand centric boook, much as Linda and myself hoped. Very exciting news :)

    This from MacMillan's website: (Thanks to Emma for the heads up)

    A Memory of Light was partially finished by Robert Jordan before his untimely passing in 2007. Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn books, was chosen by Jordan’s editor—his wife, Harriet McDougal—to complete the final book. The scope and size of the novel was such that it can not be contained in a single volume, and so Tor proudly presents A Memory of Light:
    Gathering Clouds as the first in a short sequence of novels that will
    complete the struggle against the Shadow, bringing to a close a journey begun almost twenty years ago and marking the conclusion of the Wheel of Time, the preeminent fantasy epic of our era.

    In this epic novel, Robert Jordan’s international bestselling series begins its dramatic conclusion. Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, struggles to unite a fractured network of kingdoms and alliances in preparation for the Last Battle. As he attempts to halt the Seanchan encroachment northward—wishing he could form at least a temporary truce with the invaders—his allies work in desperation to forestall the shadow that seems to be growing within the heart of the Dragon Reborn himself.
    Egwene al’Vere, the Amyrlin Seat of the rebel Aes Sedai, is a captive of the White Tower and subject to the whims of their tyrannical leader. As days tick toward the Seanchan attack she knows is imminent, Egwene works to hold together the disparate factions of Aes Sedai while providing leadership in the face of increasing uncertainty and despair. Her fight will prove the mettle of the Aes Sedai, and her conflict will decide the future of the White Tower—and therefore the world itself.

    Source: Tor Fall 2009 catalogue
    The blub apparently appeared first in the JordanCon program

    It is not confirmed to be the cover blurb - it is from a catalogue Macmillan put together to promote their upcomin fall releases - though it sounds likely it's close or describe the focus of the book more or less accurately. Brandon has apparently hinted/told people at JordanCon that the book had 'teasers' from the other two main story lines, so a few thinsg are likely missing from this blurb.

    PS: If you look at the catalogue, you'll notice that it still shows the working title 'A Memory of Light - Gathering Clouds', not The Gathering Storm they later decided would be the final title. See Brandon's Blog, his entry on the book split, for more details on how the title ideas evolved.

    Brandon Sanderson delivers 'The Gathering Storm' , & other WOT news bits

    April 22 - As per his Twitter/Facebook updates, Brandon finished incorporating today the last round of Line Edits into the manuscript, reaching the sixteenth and final draft stage. The book now goes in production chez Tor Books for its November 3rd release.

    We wish Brandon some well-earned vacations now, and all the best with the imminent release of his new Fantasy stand-alone, Warbreaker. According to reports, he will return to book 13 (working title: The Shifting Winds) mostly after the promotional events surrounding the release of his new novel.

    The Gathering Storm currently has 50 chapters, a prologue which is one of the parts that was mostly written by Robert Jordan (the news came out from JordanCon that part of the original 25 K words prologue have moved to the opening of book 13), an epilogue. It has 21 POV characters, several of which are used only once - which is comparable to Knife of Dreams. Last Brandon mentionned, the manuscript is 1461 pages long, in Courrier New 12 pt and double spaced, which Brandon says is comparable to the length of The Eye of the World/A Crown of Sword. Most of the characters appear in the book, but Brandon has said it focussed more on some than others.

    In a related news, reports from JordanCon mentions that Harriet Rigney is planning to release the prologue of The Gathering Storm as an e-book, and though her plans are not yet finalized, early September 2009, around the time of Dragon Con, has been mentionned.

    We will release in the course of next week our updated 'What is known about AMOL' page.

    Update: Brandon has now posted on his blog a new Entry further detailing the completion of the book and the editing process.

    The Eye of the World Read-Through #5 - Patterns of Symbols

    Patterns of Symbols

    by Linda

    Certain themes are consistently tied to certain characters. There is a continual rain of variations of particular images and themes for each character throughout the series. They are repeating Patterns if you like, some minor, some major. This is a by no means exhaustive list. I’m sure readers can suggest more.


    Strangling his neck
    Single hands
    Memories/Old Tongue
    The Underworld: 'Finns, Mordeth and the gholam
    The issues of sexual harassment

    As an example, let's explore the strangling motif around Mat. A Trolloc with a catchpole nearly strangled Mat near Shadar Logoth. None of the others were attacked in this fashion. It is a Foreshadowing of when Mat was hung by the 'Finns. And all these are meant to show that Mat's character is based on Odin/Woden (see Mat essay for all Mat's parallels).

    The foolery and jokery motifs around Mat is discussed in the Fool and Joker essay.

    Fireworks are explored in the Mat and Bellfounders essay. The concept of using gunpowder didn't come from nowhere, it was carefully prepared with Foreshadowing and the use of the motifs.

    The evil spirit Mordeth behaved like a ghost at first and touched Mat the most. He's an Underworld figure all right. The gholam too has an almost ghost-like ability to squeeze through small spaces.

    As an example of what doesn't happen around Mat, he hasn't much to do with Ogier and the Stedding. He's experienced them because he was part of the group, but they have little impact on him. Ogier and Stedding are more to do with Perrin and also Rand.


    Stedding and Ogier
    Moderation and moderating
    Making things

    Some of these are obvious, because they are used a great deal, and others less so. Long before we knew Perrin had to make a choice between the axe and the hammer, they both featured from the beginning of the book and gradually reached a crescendo by Knife of Dreams. It will be interesting to see why Perrin has to choose the hammer for the Last Battle. It is the weapon of Thor, the Norse God Perrin strongly resembles.

    Rand also has had a fair bit to do with Ogier and Stedding, but with him they are more associated with loss (of sensing the Source - and that means diminishing his life). Perrin is much more positive - the Stedding are an ideal for him that he wishes he (and everyone) could live up to.


    Number One/All alone
    Prince in Disguise

    The Rand parallels essay shows how these symbols fit Rand.

    The colour red is an interesting motif. A big deal was made about Rand choosing the red cloth to bind his sword in Caemlyn, and from The Great Hunt on he often wears red coats. And the Red Ajah caught him and abused him. There is also the red blood often on his hand from the unhealing wound in his side. All these things symbolise the blood, red on black rock, that Rand will shed in Shayol Ghul to Heal the Land.

    Why are clouds and wind associated with Rand? Because he is a dragon, and in Chinese mythology the dragon is associated with fertility and rain, and in Western mythology, with more violent weather - storms, flood and drought. Rand appears to be quite good at working weather - he made it rain in the Aiel Waste. The clouds and wind are to do with Rand having to Heal the Land and the violence required for him to survive to do so.


    - You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

    - Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    The Eye of the World Read-Through #4 - From Inn to Inn

    From Inn to Inn

    by Dom

    By beginning his series with a reunion of villagers, friends and a stranger at the Winespring Inn, forming a community of companions out of disparate people to embark on a long journey, during which we listen with the characters to the tales of the Gleeman Thom Merrilin before one after the other they begin to tell us their own tale in their own voice, Robert Jordan was going back to a tradition that went well beyond J.R.R. Tolkien, who made Inns a staple of Fantasy literature with his unforgettable Prancing Pony, to the roots of English literature and the opening scene of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, set at the Tabard Inn from which the pilgrims embarked on their journey to Canterbury.

    The long journey from Inn to Inn echoes wealth of traditions as diverse as the comical travelogue and classic of Japanese literature Tôkaidôchû hizakurige, to the social details of the Inns and the characters inhabiting them in the tales of a Charles Dickens, to the truculent food, charming female staff and adventures found at Inns in the books of an Alexandre Dumas.

    The Inns in the Wheel of Time have many purposes. Temporary places of safety on the road where the characters can slow down from their adventures, reflect and prepare the next step of their journey; the location of several crucial encounters between characters and more, the Inns were also for Robert Jordan the occasion to open for us a window on the cultures and affairs on each new or revisited localities. Of course, these omnipresent locations in the series gave him opportunity to weave even more "patterns" using them - from the physical aspect of Innkeepers, to the running gags of their relations with their cooks, the oddities of each inn's cats, the food that reflect the state of the weather and the situation in the locality, promiscuity, friendliness or lack thereof of the staff, the intruders, the newsmongers, the spies and traitors etc. One of the most important patterns related to the Inns is in their names and signs. Several have rich or amusing mythological connections, and they often have 'secret' meanings (much easier to puzzle out in hindsight during re reads - they often don't tell us much on first read...).

    As mentionnd in my previous post, the Winespring Inn works as an allegory for the White Tower, complete with its grumpy 'foreteller' warning against Moiraine and predicting all sorts of doom. The pattern of associating many Inns to the Tower and events in the Tower story lines holds through the series. The White Boar, on the Watch Hill (an allusion to Tar Valon) near where Bornhald's Whitecloaks will have their camp, is an allusion to Gawyn, the Younglings and Galad. At the Stag and Lion, Moiraine's secret plans bring the Shadow's destruction on the Inn - but thanks to the Blue Ajah it will be rebuilt twice as large --> an allusion to Siuan's demise, and perhaps to the final reunion of men and women Aes Sedai. Speaking of that, the first 'bath joke' happens at the Stag and Lion: I explained the symbolic connection between water and the One Power in the earlier post. At the Stag and Lion, men and women are segregated. Moiraine and her 'novice' Egwene go to the baths together. The boys and men do the same, and aptly talk False Dragons. Nynaeve, who refuses to believe Moiraine about her gift, takes her bath alone (and it will take her a bath in the sea to finally break her block.... pots full of water on her head were not quite enough). To understand the 'gag' about baths, I need to jump ahead to Fal Dara in TGH, once Egwene knows Rand can channel but struggles to accept it, and Rand himself struggles with his self consciousness and fears about channeling, and his feelings about Aes Sedai and Egwene becoming one. This is reflected by the communal baths of the Keep, with Egwene and Rand both being terribly embarrassed by this custom, Rand himself categorically terrorized. This will become a running gag as the series progresses - baths almost always reflecting the mood of the channellers or the state of male and female channellers' relationships. This will involve notable characters like Taim, Cadsuane etc.

    The Wayfarer's Rest in Whitebridge continues the pattern of WT allusions: the common room had to be divided in two to avoid fights between crews (allusions to the Ajah Quarters), there is Padan Fain whose stories turned the Innkeeper against the boys, and Floran Gelb as an Elaida analog, coming to the Inn to warn the clientele of the dangers of Bayle Domon and his three passengers.

    The Inns in The Eye of the World (and beyond) are also thinly disguised allusions to story lines and characters : The Winespring is the True Source, the origin. The Stag and Lion marks the encounter of Min, the Stag (Stags in Celtic mythology are creatures of prophecy, and most often bring omens of death - Min shares prophecies with Rand, and had her viewing of him dead surrounded by his three women) and Rand, the Lion (as he will be very often described metaphorically in the early books (lion cub, lion on the hill etc.) - by Celtic-Arthurian analogy of the King one with the Land, reflected as the Dragon and the Land in the series, Rand is of course the White Lion of Andor.. Andor always has Queens, and the Lion is the emblem of their Realm, not of their own sovereignty - rather represented by the solar Rose Crown. After receiving the 'Queen's Blessing', our fledgling 'White Lion' will be given the horse Red to ride - the field of Andor). The Wayfarer's Rest refers, of course, to the apparent demise of that strider of highways per excellence, Thom Merrilin. The Queen's Blessing, with its sign of the Queen blessing a kneeling man, is a direct reference to what happens between Morgase and a kneeling Rand at the Caemlyn palace.

    To complete this Read-Through post, a new article is now available in the Reference Library, the second entry in the Dew Drop Inn series, covering all the Inns from the current book, The Eye of the World


    - You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

    - Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    The Eye of the World Read-Through #3 - What can Be Read in Maps

    What can Be Read in Maps

    by Dom

    One of the great pleasures of developing a passion for a book or series of books is that there comes a point you are so comfortable with the events of the story and characters that you have plenty of room to let your mind wander a bit and explore other layers of the writing and storytelling as you re read. When the object of your passion is the work of a writer as playful and witty as Jim Rigney by all accounts was, there's plenty of treats to be found this way, because he hides many 'secrets' in his books.

    There are in the novels plenty of hidden layers, some serious and some completely humorous, and many in-between. The more knowledgeable characters will point out soon enough that the Wheel weaves lives into threads, and that all these threads are woven into the Pattern of the Age, and all the Ages through the turnings of the Wheel are woven into yet a greater Pattern. Robert Jordan, somewhat rather maniacally, introduced layers of patterns in as many aspects of the series he could think of. Some are obvious, like the repeating patterns of behaviour. Some run fairly deep, like all the patterns from world mythology. I will try to bring a few up as we progress in the series, but for this post I will focus on one of Jordan's favourite ways to give the impression of 'patterns' to his readers, one with which he virtually opened The Eye of the World: the geography and location design in the series reflect the series' great themes.

    We'll look at this with a series of rough sketches of the Two Rivers map. The map needs first to be rotated clockwise by 90 degrees (there is a symbolic reason for this, but I won't go into it today). We have now top left the source of the Manethendrelle in the mountains, and top right the source of Taren. Both rivers join and encircle the Two Rivers region. Symbolically, the source of both is the dried-up ocean from the AOL, of which the Sand Hills were once a shore. This functions as:

    1. The mythological World River encircling the World in many myths.
    2. The related Great Serpent of Time, also representing the cycle of life.
    3. The True Source, with its divided components merging as one : the 'White River' (Manetherendrelle) and the 'Dark River' (Taren).

    In between the 'World River', the combination of the Roads, the Winespring Water and the Westwood form the trunk, lifeblood and roots of the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, with the Winespring itself Mimir, the fountain of wisdom. With the World River all around, the classic mythological representation of the Tree of Life is complete. It is also a representation of Man, the Tree of Man. And it is a representation of Rand : his lost left hand, and the twin wounds in his left side, represented by the razed down Taren Ferry.

    If we look at a very rough sketch of the Westlands, the same pattern is repeated :

    The branches, from Bandar Eban/Falme to Rhuidean, and from Tear (with the Fingers of the Dragon as the roots) to the Eye of the World. The Blight corresponds to the Sand Hills, the destroyed Malkier to Manetheren and it is completed with a 'hole in reality' from where Evil pours into the land : Shayol Ghul in the North, the Waygate of destroyed Manetheren in the Two Rivers).

    The same is also represented around Tear, the two branches, the Fingers of the Dragons, the Stone itself in which heart Callandor is found. North the Waygate from which Evil (the attack) would come in KOD. Notice how this is reflected in The Eye of the World: again an attack by Shadowspawn on the isolated farm (instead of the manor), again the ramblings of a madman (the wounded Tam and Lews Therin). Notice too that on the 'Road to the Stones' (ie: The Quarry Road), Tam had a Sword for Rand, a Sword hidden in a trunk under his bed which he never touched...

    Now, if we zoom toward Emond's Field, we will begin to see one last'Pattern within the Pattern' for today, as Jordan describes the village and its features for the first time in The Eye of the World:

    "Toward the west end of the Green, the Winespring itself gushed out of a low outcrop in a flow that never failed, a flow strong enough to knock a man down and sweet enough to justify its name many times."

  • The Spring represents the True Source – strong enough to knock a man down (saidin) but sweet enough to justify its name many times (saidar).

  • "From the spring the rapidly widening Winespring Water ran swiftly to the east, willows dotting its banks all the way to Master Thane’s mill and beyond, until it split into dozens of streams in the swampy depths of the Waterwood".

  • The willows, white and black trees, represent the Aes Sedai. Master Thane’s mill symbolizes the Wheel of Time weaving the Pattern, represented by the Winespring splitting into the dozens of streams of the Waterwood. The three bridges over the Winespring symbolize Time : The present (the wagon bridge, on which carts and horses pulling them pass) and the circularity of Time (one footbridge going south, the past and one footbridge to go north, the future):
    “Outsiders sometimes found it funny that the road had one name to the north and another to the south, but that was the way it had always been, as far as anyone in Emond’s Field knew, and that was that.”

  • (Notice that in chapter 12, Moiraine will use a metaphor which is essentially the same as the allegory Jordan used in the description of the Winespring:
    "No," Moiraine said in answer to a question Rand had missed, "the True Source cannot be used up, any more than the river can be used up by the wheel of a mill. The Source is the river; the Aes Sedai, the waterwheel."
    This is an excellent example of how patterns are echoed and repeated by Jordan at various levels)

    “On the far side of the bridges, the mounds were already building for the Bel Tine fires, three careful stacks of logs almost as big as houses. They had to be on cleared dirt, of course, not on the Green, even sparse as it was. What of festival did not take place around the fires would happen on the Green.”.

  • The Green represents the Living Land that must be protected from the Shadow, the colour adopted by the Battle Ajah, not because it represents soldiering but because it is the colour representing what the Green Ajah stands to defend. The three bonfires kept safely away from the Green symbolizes the three ta’veren and their mission : these bonfires won’t be used for festival in the end, they will burn Shadowspawn’s bodies.This imagery, that trees need to be cut and wood stacked, sacrifices required to achieve victory – will return very often in the series – from the battle in Emond's Field in The Shadow Rising to Elayne having to cut down wood parks in Caemlyn during the siege..

  • "The Winespring Inn stood at the east end of the Green, hard beside the Wagon Bridge. The first floor of the inn was river rock, but the foundation was of older stone some said came from the mountains.”

  • This is a transparent allegory of Tar Valon at the “east end of the Green” (on the big map that would be Caralain's Grass) and to Lews Therin (the mountains, a reference to the destruction of Manetheren equated here with Dragonmount) who 'created the island' in the prologue. This makes the Inn itself an allegory of the White Tower, where the mother and daughters live, where the council of seven (the Hall) have their meetings, in front of the large fireplace (ie: the Flame, the Amyrlin) made of river rock.
    "The whitewashed second story – where Brandelwyn al’Vere, the innkeeper and Mayor of Emond’s Field for the past twenty years, lived with his wife and daughters –jutted out of the lower floor all the way around. Red roof tile, the only such roof in the village, glittered in the weak sunlight."

    Notice that Egwene is brother less. Her sisters are older, and may be married with children but for the allegory’s sake Jordan has kept the sisters totally hidden from the story except for a mention in Ravens, where one is a widow and the others waiting to be married. Maybe they’ll come out at the end with families of their own, to symbolize the fruitful reunion of male and female Aes Sedai. Bran as Mayor carries the symbol of balance (the balance scales, silver for saidar.) Roofs are a symbol of sanity/insanity – here it is red, an allusion to the mission of the Red Ajah.

  • At this point of the story, the 'Black Tower'/male channelers - and even the warders and their bond, are represented by the dark fir pole bereft of all its branches planted in the ground, the Bel Tine pole around which the umarried women dance, encircling it with multicoloured ribbons.

    Next week, we will look into how the consecutive mentions of slashed dresses form a pattern that predict the course of Tarmon Gai'don ..... or maybe we won't ;) Joking aside, Robert Jordan's descriptions are not only very evocative, they are a well of little allusions and foreshadowing.... bath scenes notably were a never used up source of One Power humour for Jordan.


    - You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

    - Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.