Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 17-18

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Chapter 17: Watcher and Hunters

Welcome to another instalment of Let’s Rand the Rand of Rand: The Rand of the Rand. In today’s chapter, Rand and Randers, Rand wanders around a bit and watches Thom perform.

Thom was performing again, standing on a table against the far wall, his gestures grand enough to fill the big room. It was The Great Hunt of the Horn again, but no one complained, of course. There were so many tales to be told about each of the Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of, that no two tellings were ever the same.

Given how frequently the great hunt comes up in this book and what happens at the end, I have to wonder if the plot wasn’t initially focused more on the Horn of Valere. It would certainly be a better focal point for the first novel than the titular Eye, which fades into irrelevance after it plays its part and always felt kind of vaguely defined and airy-fairy to me.

Now, the greatest of the Hunters is Rogosh of Talmour, Rogosh Eagle-eye, famed at the court of the High King, feared on the slopes of Shayol Ghul. . . .”

Let’s wind back the clock a few chapters!

And the other one—a red eagle, an eye on a balance scale, a dagger with a ruby, a horn, and a laughing face.

An eagle, an eye on a balance scale and a horn in relation to Mat? This all seems like it could be highly relevant.

“. . . since the day of her birth has the Dark One marked Blaes as his own, but not of this mind is she—no Darkfriend, Blaes of Matuchin! Strong as the ash she stands, lithe as the willow branch, beautiful as the rose. Golden-haired Blaes. Ready to die before she yields.

This all reminds me of that bit in the first Kvothe book where he listens to some random storyteller talk about the anti-Chandrian warriors who never come up again.

“The Bargain of Rogosh Eagle-eye” wound its way to an end, but Thom paused only to wet his throat from a mug of ale before launching into “Lian’s Stand.” In turn that was followed by “The Fall of Aleth-Loriel,” and “Gaidal Cain’s Sword,” and “The Last Ride of Buad of Albhain.”

The Fall of Aleth-Loriel: Book six of the Sword of Kings sequence by Jason S.S Marvin, now available exclusively through Smashwords.

Two men joined Thom, with a drum and a hammered dulcimer

Apparently this is a hammered dulcimer:

Hammered_dulcimer

You’re welcome.

God only knows why, but Jordan decided that right about now would be a great time to bring the story’s momentum to a screeching halt with some songs, one of which gets actual lyrics. Refer back to my rant about fantasy authors and song lyrics from this post, as it remains relevant.

The only unsmiling face he saw was on a man huddled by one of the fireplaces, and that fellow had a scar that crossed his whole face from one temple to the opposite jaw, giving his nose a slant and drawing the corner of his mouth down.

I WONDER IF THIS GUY IS BAD NEWS

He had only a moment to gather himself before they changed again, and he found himself dancing with Moiraine. If he had thought he was stumble-footed with the Wisdom, it was nothing to how he felt with the Aes Sedai. She glided across the floor smoothly, her gown swirling about her; he almost fell twice. She gave him a sympathetic smile, which made it worse rather than helping.

I really do like Moiraine as a character. Possibly because she never decides she wants to bone Rand, unlike a large number of the other women in the story.

Everyone starts heading for bed, but Rand goes to get some milk and encounters Scary Thing:

The cloak hung motionless as the figure moved, and the face. . . . A man’s face, but pasty white, like a slug under a rock, and eyeless. From oily black hair to puffy cheeks was as smooth as an eggshell.

This is the Myrddraal (aka Fade) that’s been chasing our heroes. I can’t decide if that description is creepy or stupid.

The Fade snarls at Rand about he belongs to the Dark One, then runs off when Lan arrives. Everyone makes preparations to skedaddle, but on the way out of town they’re accosted by some Whitecloaks.

“The Children of the Light,” the white-cloaked man who had first spoken said softly, “hold sway wherever men walk in the Light. Only where the Shadow of the Dark One reigns are the Children denied, yes?”

I’m sure this has been done to death elsewhere both before and since, but if you’re going to divide your cosmology into Dark-which-is-ultimate-evil vs Light-which-is-ultimate-good, at the very least acknowledging that the extreme end of the latter can be as nearly as bad as the extreme end of the former is a wise choice.

(Although in these books there is no “extreme” end of the Dark scale because more or less everyone who aligns with the villains is completely and totally evil, with zero nuance)

The Whitecloaks are about to take our heroes away for questioning, but then Moiraine acts like a huge badass and scares them off.

“You will take me to your camp, Whitecloak?” Moiraine’s voice came suddenly from every direction at once. She had moved back into the night at the Children’s approach, and shadows clumped around her. “You will question me?” Darkness wreathed her as she took a step forward; it made her seem taller. “You will bar my way?”

Moiraine is so fucking cool you guys.

After using some magics– including an illusion (OR IS IT?) that makes her appear to be grow tall enough to step over the town walls– they make their escape. After a while they realise that the Stag and Lion has been set on fire and Nynaeve and Moiraine have a brief argument over whether they should feel guilty about this, since it was their presence that drew attention to the place.

“Wisdom, you think I can help Master Fitch and the people at the inn? Well, you are right.” Nynaeve started to say something, but Moiraine waved it away and went on. “I can go back by myself and give some help. Not too much, of course. That would draw attention to those I helped, attention they would not thank me for, especially with the Children of the Light in the town.

[…]

“I would do something,” Nynaeve muttered unwillingly.

“And in all probability hand the Dark One his victory,” Moiraine replied.

I quite like the way this exchange is handled. It’s pretty clear that Moiraine has the correct attitude, and I think Nynaeve realises that, but her relative immaturity causes her to buckle down and refuse to admit it.

As the sun rose they made a bleary-eyed breakfast on bread and cheese and water, eating while they rode, huddled in their cloaks against the wind.

Earlier in the book (and I’ve seen this in other fantasy novels) cheese is treated like a long-lasting travel food that you can keep in your saddle-bag for ages. Is there some specific cheese that has those properties?

Actually now that I think about it, I wouldn’t associate bread with any particular longevity either.

Chapter 18: The Caemlyn Road

This chapter’s title image is a totally metal horned skull, which means it’s Trolloc o’clock. Our weather forecast today is Trollocs, with a high chance of More Trollocs in the evening.

The Caemlyn Road was not very different from the North Road through the Two Rivers.

This is what it looks like when an author can’t figure out how to start a chapter.

From time to time Lan had them dismount atop one of the hills, where he could get a good view of the road both ahead and behind, and the surrounding countryside as well.

Wouldn’t that make them easier to spot? A few paragraphs later Lan admonishes them not to start any fires because it will make them too visible, but surely camping out on top of hills would also increase their profile. It would make more sense for Lan to go scout out alone, since the Myrddraal are looking for a group and not a single person.

(By the way, if you’ve been wondering why Moiraine isn’t calling for backup or why she came to Emond’s Field on her own in the first place, I believe there is a good reason for this that you find out later)

From the west came the keening wail of a horn. Lan’s head whipped around to stare back down the road behind them. Rand felt a chill. A part of him remained calm enough to think, ten miles, no more.

I still find it kind of unbelievable that a small army of Trollocs could be moving around without attracting any attention at all. Lan mentions that there’s a lot of wilderness in the area they’re moving through, but surely as close to a large city as they are there’d be more developed land and infrastructure? Keep in mind they’re nowhere near the Trollocs’ territory to the north.

“Keep them moving, Moiraine Sedai,” Lan said finally. “I will return as soon as I am able. You will know if I fail.” Putting a hand on Mandarb’s saddle, he vaulted to the back of the black stallion and galloped down the hill. Heading west. The horns sounded again.

“The Light go with you, last Lord of the Seven Towers,” Moiraine said almost too softly for Rand to hear.

Yeah so Lan is a king or the heir to a something, or whatever. I guess that makes him like that one character from Lord of The Rings. You know the guy. Strider?

“Hush,” Moiraine commanded. “Lan is telling us there are perhaps five hundred Trollocs behind us.”

Okay, that makes the “how are they moving around unnoticed” question even harder to answer. Can they teleport or something?

“There is a place the Trollocs will not go,” Lan said, but Moiraine’s head whipped around sharply.

“No!” She motioned to the Warder, and he put his head close to hers so their talk could not be overheard.

Mysteeerious.

Moiraine and Lan consult with each other, then decide that they should head north into wild terrain, as the Trollocs are probably trying to herd them into a trap. Despite these tricksy manoeuvres the party is eventually overtaken and forced to fight.

“Stay with me!” he cried, and Mandarb plunged down the slope toward the Trollocs. “For the Seven Towers!” he shouted.
Rand gulped and booted the gray forward; the whole group of them streamed after the Warder. He was surprised to find Tam’s sword in his fist. Caught up by Lan’s cry, he found his own. “Manetheren! Manetheren!”
Perrin took it up. “Manetheren! Manetheren!”
But Mat shouted, “Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!”

Why is Mat suddenly speaking in conlang? Also mysteeeeerious.

Our heroes are quickly overwhelmed despite Lan and Moiraine kicking copious amounts of ass, but Lan beheads the Myddraal leading the Trollocs in the knick of time and they all fall to the ground in pain.

Despite the temporary victory a larger group of Trollocs and three Myrddraals arrive. Moiraine pulls out her angreal and causes an earthquake to defeat them.

For all the boredom in these books, Jordan was perfectly capable of writing a good action scene. This whole section is tense and exciting, and really makes it seem as if the characters are just barely surviving against overwhelming odds.

“Blood and ashes,” Mat said faintly.

You should constantly assume that Mat is saying “blood and ashes” at any given moment. You have a 50% chance of being correct.

Moiraine is now out of magic juice, so she can’t blast any more Trollocs.

Nynaeve rode foward beside the Aes Sedai, steadying her with a hand. For a time as the party went on across the hills the two women whispered, then the Wisdom delved into her cloak and handed a small packet to Moiraine.

Those Two Rivers drugs are the good shit.

He rubbed the hilt of his sword continually,

Meanwhile, Rand has other ways to relax.

While having a post-victory chat Moiraine tells them that Mat was shouting the ancient warcry of Manatheren, which he knows for mysterious reasons. I’m sure we’ll find out later (except I already told you about it in an earlier post lol whoops).

In order to escape the Trollocs Moiraine reluctantly leads them to the ruins of an evil murder city (ruined murder cities being the sorts of things that pop up in good fantasy settings).

Moiraine answered as they rode into the city. “Shadar Logoth,” she said. “It is called Shadar Logoth.”

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 17-18

  1. Christie Greenwood

    I realise that this is a complaint a lot of people roll their eyes at, but apart from this book being a boring LotR rip-off, what constantly shattered my suspension of disbelief was Jordan’s atrocious grammar. For he indeed is the Lord of the Sentence Fragments! * thunderclap *

    Seriously, that annoys me to no end. Authors: rite moar better plz kthanx.

    Reply
  2. braak

    I kind of like Mat and the storyline that involved him (up until I stopped reading; I don’t remember which book it was but it was whichever one took place entirely within the last chapter of the previous book), because it was sort of weird and eclectic, and for as much as he was a smarmy asshole, he at least had a personality compared to Rand or Perrin.

    Reply
  3. Point of Contention

    “Okay, that makes the “how are they moving around unnoticed” question even harder to answer. Can they teleport or something?”

    To be fair, you do learn later on in the series about how the trollocs are moving around so efficiently without being seen. (Spoiler alert: the ways. The myrdraal force them through it).

    Reply
  4. zephyrean

    > I’m sure this has been done to death elsewhere both before and since, but if you’re going to divide your cosmology into Dark-which-is-ultimate-evil vs Light-which-is-ultimate-good, at the very least acknowledging that the extreme end of the latter can be as nearly as bad as the extreme end of the latter is a wise choice.

    No. No. No. A thousand times no. Unless done to specifically call out shitty fantasy writers, it is monstrously evil. If something is Good, then it is good, fullstop, and similarly with Evil.
    In a reasonably materialistic world (one which allows for Neutral ‘cruelty’ in nature, like predators and bacteria), Evil, when defined as “nasty things people do of their own volition”, is composed of things humanity (and other intelligent peoples) can actually do without and should strive to reduce and eliminate.

    Arguing that a quota of rapemurder should be filled for the world to continue to turn is what (evil) gods of the world might do, to maintain variety in their reality show programming. And the heroes’ mission in this case should be to go find these gods and stab them in their damn faces.

    And sometimes the gods are just too damn powerful and people have to live with the fact that a human(oid) sacrifice is needed for the Sun to *set*. It makes for a grimdark world. But it’s not a clever, insightful or “adult” trope. And when actively presented as a clever/insightful/adult or (FSM help me) *realistic* trope, in contrast to stories where celestial bodies follow Newton’s Law and actual heroes are *justified* in their attempts to change the world for the better, it’s an outright crime against real-life humanity.

    Reply
    1. Nerem

      I think he was less getting at “Good Evil And Bad Good” and more “Dark things can be good and vice versa”. The Shin Megami Tensei setting actually loves this sort of thing, though along the axiom of Law and Chaos. Lucifer is Chaotic, and while he’s not particularly nice he cares about humanity enough to fight for them even when it doesn’t 100% coincide with his motives. On the side of Law, YHVH was corrupted for a long time but was cleansed through reincarnation. And while he was corrupted, Law took a hard line to making everything so neat and orderly and willing to wipe out humanity for it. But after he was free, YHVH too fought hard for humanity.

      Reply
  5. Cyaxares

    Cheese features prominently in many traditional folk tales and hard cheese lasts for a long time (e.g. I know you can keep a wheel of parmesan cheese for several months without refrigeration).

    Reply
  6. reveen

    “I would do something,” Nynaeve muttered unwillingly.

    “And in all probability hand the Dark One his victory,” Moiraine replied.

    This is clear protagonist/Obi-Wan talk, Nynaeve is the one showing the heroism and being taught by a magic mentor. So what business does Rand and the other two chuckleheads have being the protagonists? Is it entirely because they have dicks? This seriously comes off like a heroes journey fantasy adventure from the perspective of a bunch of randos who tag along and pretend they’re the heroes.

    But Mat shouted, “Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!”

    Translation: “I’m gonna poop on your face!”

    Reply
    1. Mr Elbows

      to be fair, Nynaeve could have ten million dicks and *still* get shafted in favor of Rand because Real Fantasy Authors like Robert Jordan love their bland adolescent male protagonists.

      Reply

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