Time to finish this thing off.
Eragon Lets Reads will continue, but not the same as before. I’ve got a bit of a format change coming up. It will be cool, trust me.
Chapter 44: The Dark Along The Ways
When we last left our heroes they were preparing to travel to the Blight for vaguely-defined reasons via the Ways, a magical pocket dimension thing that’s been infected with evil or whatever.
He followed the innkeeper and Lan blindly,
I laughed out loud at this, because it almost seems like a deliberate comment on hos Rand and the other characters have spent the entire book being mindlessly dragged along by Moiraine and Lan for reasons none of them understand.
Rand had a sudden image of Loial’s tufted ears twitching irritably.
I’m starting to get annoyed by cutesy and whimsical Loial is.
Everyone escapes via the hidden side entrance that the inn has for some reason (that’s a mighty convenient way to get around the fact that the streets are filled with Whitecloaks and anti-Morgase dudes).
“Remember, good innkeeper, if you fear any trouble from this, write to Sheriam Sedai, of the Blue Ajah, in Tar Valon, and she will help.
This becomes retroactively funny like twelve books later when it turns out that Sheriam is working for the bad guys.
There’s a kind of cool bit where the Adventure Party finds the Waygate and it’s an ancient stone carving embedded into the wall of a totally ordinary basement. The fantasy world building in these books is at its best (/is only good) when it’s invoking the idea that there are all these remnants of the wondrous ancient world buried in plain sight.
Moiraine takes a leaf off the carving and does a thing with it, and then an ominous dark portal of darkness opens.
Behind, where should have been dirt or the cellar of the next building, a dull, reflective shimmering faintly caught their images.
This seems safe.
The Ways are pretty creepy (what did I say about Jordan having a knack for the spooks?) since they’re all dark and silent and dark and empty and did I mention how dark they are? The book harps on about the darkness being unusually thick and resistant to illumination three times in the space of as many pages.
Something about all of it seemed almost familiar to Rand, but he knew it had to be his imagination groping for anything familiar where everything was strange.
I have no idea what this is referring to, unless it’s a really early hint at Rand starting to experience memories from his past life or something.
Everything he could see was covered with shallow holes, some tiny pinpricks, others shallow, rough-edged craters a stride across, as if there had been a rain of acid, or the stone was rotting
After an interminable climb, curving continuously, the ramp let off onto another Island just like the one where it had begun. Rand tried to imagine the curve of the ramp and gave up. This Island can’t be right on top of the other one. It can’t be.
Non-Euclidean spaces are fun.
After riding through the Ways for a few hours, they come to a broken bridge and the chapter ends ominously. Everything is very ominous and spooky in the Ways.
Chapter 45: What Follows in Shadow
Our heroes stand at the edge of of the broken bridge, which continues to be spooky and ominous.
Loial’s horse stamped a hoof nervously, and a loose stone fell away into the dead black below.
“Like in a movie or something, you know what I’m talking about.”
“You feel the taint, the corruption of the Power that made the Ways. I will not use the One Power in the Ways unless I must. The taint is so strong that Whatever I tried to do would surely be corrupted.”
Why is the “w” in “Whatever” capitalized?
Everyone settles down for the night and there’s some romance bullshit where Egwene and Rand needle each other over the various attractive members of the opposite sex they met along their travels, and Moiraine randomly announces that she thinks Thom actually survived his fight with the Fade.
Rand,” Mat whispered, “was there anything between you and Min? I barely got a look at her. She was pretty, but she must be nearly as old as Nynaeve.”
…So? Isn’t Nynaeve only a few years older than Rand and Mat? Why is that an issue?
The next day, Lan says that someone is following them (spoooOOOOooooky), but that they’re making no effort to actually catch up. Then they come to a waypoint that’s been defaced by Trolloc ruins, and we finally get an answer to something that’s been bugging me for ages:
The Trollocs have discovered how to enter the Ways. That must be how they got to the Two Rivers undiscovered; through the Waygate at Manetheren. There is at least one Waygate in the Blight.”
This does make sense as far as the Two Rivers is concerned(although it raises the hilarious image of an entire army of Trollocs patiently filing one by one through a single doorway), but it still doesn’t explain how thousands of Trollocs could be hanging around outside Caemyln without anyone noticing.
After more riding around, Rand hears wind off in the distance. This turns out to be a bad thing.
Loial pulled his horse up just short of the next Island and cocked his head to listen. Slowly his face paled, and he licked his lips. “Machin Shin,” he whispered hoarsely. “The Black Wind. The Light illumine and protect us. It’s the Black Wind.”
Machin Shin is the main evil thing in the Ways, and it’s proper spooky. Get a load of this:
The voices seemed to whisper in Rand’s ears, right at the brink of understanding, and within it. Flesh so fine, so fine to tear, to gash the skin; skin to strip, to plait, so nice to plait the strips, so nice, so red the drops that fall; blood so red, so red, so sweet; sweet screams, pretty screams, singing screams, scream your song, sing your screams.…
The stone leaf key on the exit gate is gone, so there’s a tense scene where Moiraine has to cut her way through with a magic laser while Machin Shin creeps forward. I really do like this book a lot better when the characters are in mortal peril, instead of doing nothing.
Anyway they get out, everyone is like “woah” and Moiraine is like “I know right”, and I guess next chapter we’re going to some towers or something.