Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Eye of the World Read-Through #1 - Mat and Rand in the Woods

Mat and Rand sub-thread: If you go out in the woods today…what will you come back as?

by Linda

The Mat and Rand sub-thread in The Eye of the World builds on two patterns: the ‘Into the Woods’ pattern, which started early in the books; and the 'Two Evils' pattern, which we know little about the significance of until the end of the first book.

The 'Into the Woods’ motif describes those journeys into wild places which mark a passage from one life to another for a character. By the time Mat and Rand are alone, Rand is struggling with beginning to channel and with the feeling of being marked out in some way. He is a long way short of realising he is a saviour figure. Mat is much less conscious of being marked out, or even of having been marked by Shadar Logoth as a consequence of being impulsive and greedy. He is a long way short of even growing up. Really for both of them their arduous journey is a struggle for survival – against Darkfriends, against poverty and exhaustion and against despair.

Both young men also struggle with madness and injury at times. Rand has Ba’alzamon in his head and is affected not only by channelling sickness, but he has been exposed to the taint as well. Mat is being corrupted by the evil of Shadar Logoth/Mordeth which started out with good intentions but stopped, and will stop, at nothing in its war against the Shadow (out Shadowing the Shadow). Mat already had fear and hatred of the One Power even before being touched by Mordeth so it is lucky that Rand’s channelling is hidden (even from many readers) at this stage. (I've written an article on the Onset of Rand's Channelling.)

These two evils are inimical to each other, so it is no wonder the relationship between Mat and Rand is strained at times: it reflects the warring of the two evils.

To get back to the title of this rumination, they surely did get a big surprise on the road – more than one- and the Pattern provided them with an effective disguise as just one of the poor in the crowd. Not exactly a Teddy Bear's picnic.


- 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.


Terez said...

I like the use of the chapter name for this theme ('Into the Woods'). RJ chapter names are under-appreciated, I think.

One of my favorites is 'Lion on the Hill'. I have a hard time trying to get people to understand why I like this quote so much, from Rand's point of view:

Westward, until the wind passed across Caemlyn, lifting two banners above the Royal Palace, in the heart of the Ogier-built Inner City. One banner floated red as blood, upon it a disc divided by a sinuous line, half white, half black as deep as the white was brilliant. The other banner slashed snow white across the sky. The figure on it, like some strange golden-maned, four-legged serpent, sun-eyed and scaled scarlet and gold, seemed to ride on the wind. It was a close question which of the two caused more fear. Sometimes, the same breast that held fear, held hope. Hope of salvation and fear of destruction, from the same source....As the Inner City was the heart of Caemlyn, and more than merely by being its center, the Royal Palace was the heart of the Inner City, a gleeman’s tale of snowy spires and golden domes and stonework like lace. A heart that beat in the shadow of those two banners. - Lord of Chaos, Chapter 1, "Lion on the Hill"

I have a feeling you would understand, though. :D That particular chapter is just loaded with nice stuff...

Dominic said...

I also love this one, and how it answers directly to a verse of the opening chant, revealing its meaning by opposition:

"The lions sing and the hills take flight.
The moon by day, and the sun by night."

IRRC, it's mostly Harriet we have to credit for the evocative chapter titles (and the choice of the icons.) I'm less sure about the titles (the icons I am), but I think this was mentionned...

Terez said...

Yup, that's one of my favorite bits in the chapter. I mentioned it (and other bits) in the analysis I did of that chapter for the Lews Therin project. This chapter name is one with a direct quote, in Rand's sword-forms:

He was one with the sword, flowing from stance to stance without thought, boots scraping softly on the pale tiles. Lion on the Hill became Arc of the Moon became Tower of Morning. Without thought. Five sweating, bare-chested men circled him, sidestepping warily from stance to stance, practice swords shifting. They were all he was really aware of. Hard-faced and confident, they were the best he had found so far. The best since Lan went. Without thought, as Lan had taught him. He was one with the sword, one with the five men. - Lord of Chaos, Chapter 1, "Lion on the Hill"

That was actually the last chapter I posted, I think. I remember that I got depressed at that point because I didn't really have time to do the analysis justice - analyzing RJ is like analyzing Bach sometimes. :)

I did know that Harriet chose the icons, but I can't remember having read that she did the chapter names. It's possible, though - whether RJ or Harriet came up with them, they are a nice touch. Another favorite is "Something Flickers". It has at least three meanings in the chapter that are obvious - 1) the direct quote, when Renna was shot, 2) the ghosts that only Mat could see, and 3) the "flicker" of romance between Mat and Tuon (the most significant, I think, since Ebou Dar, and a reference to yet another chapter name, the cluster of rosebuds).

Terez said...

Actually, I see now that I made it to chapter 5, and I remember that I stalled on the question of whether or not to add chapter 6 to the analysis because of the limited Lews Therin conversation between Graendal and Sammael. :)

Linda said...

Terez: I do see why you like the paragraph. It packs in quite a few of Rand's motifs: red and blood, serpents, gold, wind...

Rand fights five men there, and five is they symbol of humanity. At times, Rand has to fight to hold onto his humanity. The Dragon on the banner has five claws.

And he moves from Lion to Moon to Morning. How apt!

Terez said...

I think my favorite about the quote is what Rand feels toward Elayne, and his relationship with her, how he fears that it will bring her to harm. For him to refer to the palace, Elayne's palace, as "a heart that beat in the shadow of those two banners...." It's a very nice touch. :D