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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
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Chapters 30, 31, and 32


Always Sunny

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Children of Shadow

 

This chapter does not start off well. In the pool of water at the center of the stedding, Elyas asks Perrin if he hates Egwene. Instead of instantly denying it he asks, "can you read my mind?" Seriously, is hating Egwene something you think about often?

 

Perrin says that he loves Egwene. But, no, wait, she's Rand's girl, so not like that! In my opinion he hates her for being a symbol of everything he can't have. But he loves her because he's trying to act like the Great Leader in the stories, someone who protects the innocent. Elyas and Perrin discuss how they think Egwene would want to die. They don't consider bringing her into the conversation, of course. Whatever.

 

Perrin comes this close to renouncing violence, of going full Swords to Plowshares. He was standing there at the pool, his axe in his hand. The axe, a symbol of all the violent and hateful things that he wants to be rid of. He goes to toss it into the pool, to cleanse himself of his anger and begin the process of becoming a decent human being. Light bless him.

 

But crazy Warder-killing mountain man stops him. "You'll use it," says the violent nutjob. "I know you don't want to, I know it kills a little bit of your soul every time you use it. But are you trying to be a effin' pussy? Cowboy up, keep your axe, and go kill things with it. That's how you know you're a man, son." Thus Perrin, so close to making a breakthrough, is pulled back into the violent cycle of killing to be cool. Elyas tosses some philosophy at Perrin about how, since he doesn't want to use it then he'll somehow be better at using it. Yeah, the same way a kid who doesn't want to play baseball is going to be better than the kid who wants to play and practices every single day.

 

This is a theme I see everywhere, not just here. It is as if the people who don't want something are inherently better at it than someone who wants it. Ambition is evil, you know? A person who tries to become king is always a bad king. But the farmboy who has never studied politics, has never seen a foreigner in the flesh, has never dreamed of doing anything but farming? Well, he'll be the best king ever. A person who wants to be a soldier will be far worse than a person who is forced to take up the sword in spite of his better judgement. This applies to farmboys who talk to wolves, too,

 

Anyway, Elyas and Perrin get a lupine version of the Bat Signal and they know there is danger afoot. They rush back to the fire where Egwene sits, unaware that they were talking about killing her a few minutes earlier. Elyas tells her to douse the fire but when she doesn't move fast enough he shoves her out of the way and pours tea all over it. I've been camping before, mountain man, and doing that to a fire will cause it to billow even more smoke than normal. You should have covered it with dirt. But, whatever. Technical details don't bother me nearly as much as the ocean of misogyny I'm drowning in.

 

Elyas and Perrin, obviously panicked, manage to get the fire out. Egwene, clueless, asks what's going on. Elyas doesn't even look at her. He ignores her, treating her as he would treat a random stone. She then turned to Perrin to ask him. She asks him more than once:

 

Her voice was insistent and growing more frightened by the minute as he kept silent.

 

Minutes go by as they hurriedly break camp and yet Perrin says nothing. Can you imagine? Just look at the clock and wait two minutes. See how long that was? Now imagine there is some sort of horrible evil coming for you in those two minutes, something that scares crazy mountain main, something he claims is worse that Trollocs. Imagine asking for information. What's coming? From where? What is it?! Someone, please tell me what is going on! But no one does. Minutes go by and your voice becomes even move insistent and frightened and yet nobody is saying anything to you. One, a friend you've known your whole life but who lately has been getting cold and distant. The other, a crazy man in animal skins who admits he's on the run from the law for murdering Warders. They pretend as if you weren't even there. Or worse, they shove you out of their way. My heart goes out to you, Egwene. I hope you make it.

 

It wasn't until after they're on the move (with Egwene on the horse, of course) that Perrin tells her, sentence fragment by sentence fragment, as he keeps a lookout for danger. It turns out that Dapple the wolf smelled funny humans. Not evil or tainted or Trolloc-smelling. Just a bunch of "wrong" dudes on horseback. Okay, this is new. How they survived the ravens would be interesting to know. Why were they are out in the woods so far from anywhere is also a good questions. Let's run away from them and not ask, shall we?

 

They find a hill that turns out to be the Hawkwing statue's hand. That's pretty neat. They hide there and wait for Elyas who went off and did something. I don't know where he went. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. But it looks as if all of Elyas's magical wolf powers have copied over to Perrin since he can now see in the dark. Like a wolf, I guess. I wonder, can ravens see in the dark as well as wolves? I dunno. It isn't important. Moving on.

 

Perrin's giving a blow-by-blow account of what is going on. Egwene can't see, you see, because she isn't hooked into the wolf hive mind thingie. So Perrin tells her that a wolf she doesn't care about/has no bond with is being attacked by riders. How is this any different than killing wolves back in Two Rivers? She has no love connection with the beasts so why should she give a flip? What she does do is try to comfort Perrin, telling him it'll be okay. After all that he's done to her she is still trying to do the right thing and be nice. I hope Perrin feels like shit.

 

In fact, she asks him to dance with her during the next summer holiday in Emond's Field. Why? I dunno, maybe she's so scared out of her mind that she thinks she's about to die. Maybe she's nice to a fault. I honestly have no clue.

 

For once, this is a tense scene. The riders out there are closing in, they appear to be a threat. They're not some monsters so easily killed with fire magic nor are they birds kept at bay with a scarecrow. For a moment I was genuinely worried about the kids' fates.

 

Perrin decides to surrender to the Children of the Light. I'm glad he did that instead of killing Egwene to save her from them. This also goes to show you just how much of a coward Perrin truly is. When he first met Elyas he spilled his guts about everything after getting a harsh stare. Here? He was given an ultimatum and he gives up instantly. As much as he'd like to be a Great Leader like in the Stories, he's a coward; a self-loathing downcountry nobody blacksmith.

 

Unfortunately, the surrendering goes to shit when a wolf named Hopper jumped onto one of the Whitecloak horsemen and ripped his throat out. As far as I know, this is the first time a human being was killed on screen. Other than the nameless villagers killed off screen back during the Trolloc attack on Emond's Field there haven't been any human deaths (we don't know whether or not Min and Master Fitch died Baerlon, we know that Padan Fain didn't die in Emond's Field, and Thom probably somehow survived Whitebridge). Even if the Trolloc deaths were nothing for Perrin or Egwene to feel emotional about, this has to mean something to them. I mean, seeing a wild animal rip the throat out of a person, a man with a family, dreams, an entire life... that has to affect them. Right?

 

There is a cut to some time later. Perrin wakes up with a bump on his head. Egwene is all like, "I'm so glad you made it Perrin!" What does he do? If you guessed "he ignores her" then you get a five points. He ignores her. In fact, it is only after he's surveyed the room, noticed the guy looking through his stuff, and after he figured out he was tied up, only after all that did he even look at Egwene.

 

Her first thought: "Is Perrin okay?"

 

His first thought: "Who is that guy over there?"

His second thought: "He's got my stuff."

His third thought: "I'm going to get my stuff back from that guy"

His fourth thought: "I'm tied up."

His fifth thought: "Where's Egwene?"

 

Dude has his priorities.

 

It is funny that Perrin compares the guy who is looking down at them, tied up like animals, to Bran al'Vere. What would this Child of the Light have in common with a fat innkeeper? They were both bosses, that's what. They were both kings of their little kingdoms. This Child rules this tent the same way al'Vere ruled Emond's Field: with an iron fist. It makes me wonder how many people al'Vere has had tied up in the basement of the Winespring Inn.

 

Anyway, a dude walks into the tent to interrupt this tense little scene. He is called Child Byar. Now, I adore this name. First, I don't know if Child is his title (as in "Child of the Light") or his first name. I absolutely love it as a first name, though. It has a ring, you know? The second part, "Byar", sounds like "Bayer" in my mind. Like the pharmaceutical company that makes aspirin. So I have in my mind "Bayer aspirin for children" when I read "Child Byar." Umm, so yeah. Let's get on with it.

 

The guy in charge, Lord Captain, tells Bayer Aspirin to stand at ease. And he does. He widens his stance into the correct, US Army "at ease" position. It still looks like a rigid military standing position because it is "at ease" not "stand however the hell you want." So I chuckled a bit when Perrin saw nothing "at ease" about the way Child Byar started standing.

 

Child Byar gives his report on the attack. For some reason, he gives the report right in front of the two prisoners. One the one hand, this is really stupid. On the other hand, how else would Perrin and Egwene know what the Children of the Light know? The Lord Captain hears the report and says that the enemy wasn't all that numerous (since the Captain was there, too). Lord Captain tells Child that with some more field experience he would be better able to assess battle conditions. Instead of taking the criticism and learning from his error like any good officer, Byar takes it as an insult. Thus, Byar is going to be a villain while Lord Captain will be something more of an honorable opponent.

 

Child Byar gives Perrin's axe an inspection and says that it is high quality work. If Perrin's dad turns out to be some axe ninja like Tam I'll be pissed. But, again, it's another example of our main characters having to have the best. Best sword. Best axe. No wonder Mat's angry: his "best dagger" turns out to be cursed!

 

Lord Captain gets a name, now. Geofram Bornhald (Geo Frame Born Hald). Sounds like that Child of the Light back in Baerlon that Mat splashed with mud. Anyway, he turns to ask the prisoners some questions. They get short with him so Child Byar hits them in the head with Perrin's axe handle. Well, he hits Perrin but misses Egwene because I don't think women are legally allowed to be hit in this novel. I may be wrong but I don't remember any woman getting wounded in the 450 pages I've read so far. I think the worst that has happened was that Moiraine got tired that one time.

 

Lord Captain (I like typing that more than "Geofram Bornhald") says that wolves are creatures of the Dark One. Well, he makes a good point. I mean, look at the Trollocs. Some of them have wolfish features, no? Muzzles and fur and fangs. And the Dark One does employ ravens in his bestiary of evil. Why not wolves? It isn't as if wolves are nice to humans and our sheep and our lone travelers at night. Even if they aren't technically on Team Evil they are still not man's best friend, you know?

 

Ha, Egwene finally speaks up and says that a Warder told them that wolves hate Trollocs and that Trollocs are afraid of wolves. Afraid of wolves, water, Shadar Logoth, the Aiel Waste, and steddings. The list keeps getting longer. Even better, it's around this time in the book that Lord Captain says the same thing I just did about Trollocs having the same features as wolves. This chapter is so much better than the previous. Then again, getting spat in the face would be better than the last chapter.

 

On the next page the Lord Captain, probably the smartest character in the book so far and now one of my favorites, gives a long and damning list of reasons why Perrin and Egwene are probably Darkfriends. He has evidence, he explains himself, and he reaches a reasonable conclusion. He's done more than Moiraine has ever done in this book. And Perrin, true to form, spills his guts. Sure he lies a bit but the Lord Captain sees through it.

 

Still, he doesn't have time to dick around with prisoners. He gives them their things, minus their weapons (did Egwene even have a weapon other than he sling?), and says that he'll take them back to Amador where they'll be someone else's problem (Egwene will go to the Questioners while Perrin will be executed for murdering two Children of the Light). This sounds like every soldier I have ever known. If there is a problem you kick up the chain of command.

 

I understand that I'm not supposed to like the Children of the Light. The story is written to make them a villain. And in the real world I don't care for religious militarism at all. But here, I can see their point of view. They're trying to fight the Dark One. The stories and rumors about them are harsh. But stories aren't always true. Stories about the Tinkers are turning out to be false, right? Stories about the Aes Sedai being world-ending witches are turning out to not be true (I hope so; I don't want Nynaeve and Egwene being bad guys). So why can't the stories of the Children of the Light be false?

 

Look at what we've seen of them so far. In Baerlon they walked down the street, people avoided them (based upon legends of who they were, not what they were doing) until Mat sprayed them. Later, they tried to stop Moiraine and the rest from leaving the city. And the fellowship was technically breaking Baerlon's laws by opening the gate after dark and bribing gatekeepers. The Children might very well have been within their charter as a paramilitary police force trying to stop them. Then there is this moment in the stedding.

 

I have no idea why they were there except to get water. But they ended up killing some wolves around the watering hole. How is that a crime in any kingdom on the Wheel of Time world? They do that in the Two Rivers! In the very first chapter of this book Rand was holding a bow ready just in case he had to kill a wolf! Anyway, they find two kids in the woods only to have one of them leap out and murder two of their riders. The Whitecloaks have done nothing in this entire book except defend themselves and uphold the law. The "heroes" are bribing officials and murdering police officers. What is the world coming to?

 

Play for Your Supper

 

We're back to a chapter about Rand. He's trying to avoid being noticed walking east along the road from Whitebridge to Caemlyn. He's wearing a scarf (it must still be cold out there) that someone gave to him. Hiding just off the road as eight or so armed riders go back, Rand has a flashback of sorts.

 

The flashback begins with actual traffic on the road out of Whitebridge a few days ago. Normally the roads in this universe are vacant and deserted but this time there's people. This book forces me to enjoy little things like that.

 

Then not much happens for a few pages. What the hell? Usually there is either something interesting or something that pisses me off but this is just straight nothing. Rand walks by a house that reminds him of home but Mat pulls him along, tells him that they need to keep moving to Caemlyn. They eventually find a spot just off the road to sleep that night.

 

Now, I know what this is like. There was this time I was in Madrid a few years ago and got the bright idea in my head to go see the Running of the Bulls. I thought, psht, we wouldn't have to worry about finding a hotel or anything. Wrong. Every hotel in that whole damn city was full. We spent the first night, a cold summer night in the city of Pamplona, on a bench in some city square. I didn't get any sleep and I froze my ass off (Who would have thought Pamplona would be cold? It's in the middle of Spain!). Luckily, the third day there we made friends with some locals and crashed at their place. So I know in my heart of hearts what it feels like to be far from home, sleeping outside, worried that a stray bull will trample you in your sleep.

 

The days go by in this flashback (I guess this is like that chapter where Nynaeve saw the White Bridge but then we went back in time to cover her trip down the Arinelle) and Rand mentions selling Mat's cursed dagger for grocery money. Mat asks why they can't see Rand's sword. That's a good question.

 

See, Mat wants them to starve to death because he's cursed. He is magically compelled to keep that dagger. I've played an RPG or two so I know what a cursed sword is. But Rand? Rand wants them to starve to death because he can't bring himself to give up his dad's old sword. Mat is killing them because of a curse. Rand is killing them because of sentiment. Ugh.

 

Rand's brilliant comeback is that he couldn't sell the sword if he wanted to. What farmer would want a sword (besides his own father, that is)? But that ruby-encrusted dagger? Why, don't you know that farmers love buying ruby-encrusted daggers? Ha, and I wonder how Rand would feel if they did sell the dagger and some poor farmer becomes ensorceled by Shadar Nogoth magic? Would he go back to save the farmer or leave him to his fate the way he left Master Fitch to his?

 

But they both see that they can't sell the thing and they continue on their way, situation unchanged. The whole exchange? Pointless to the plot. It could have been cut and nothing would have been lost. I'm left wondering why they haven't sold Thom's gleeman cloak and instruments.

 

Our heroes are reduced to stealing eggs and ninja-milking cows. They end up getting chased by dogs. Up a tree. This is supposed to be funny, but come on. Kill the dogs! Or at least hit them with a stick or something. You guys aren't known for being members of PETA. Remember the badger and the flour-covered dogs and the throwing rocks at ravens? You're farm boys on a quest to flee from the Dark One. Stop getting run up trees and move along.

 

The next paragraph after the one where they got chased by dogs tells how Rand preferred to just walk up to houses but that, given the hard times, most households were wary of visitors. "Hard times." Yeah, times can be hard when two teenage boys from out of town come in and steal your neighbor's chicken eggs!

 

However, some people would give Rand and Mat some work in exchange for a warm, dry spot to sleep. This is the first time since they unloaded that apple brandy from Tam's cart that these boys have done any real work. They've practiced their sword on the road up from Taren Ferry, they went to the spa in Baerlon, and they played the flute on a lazy boat ride down the Arinelle. But they haven't worked, really worked, in weeks. I thought they were getting soft.

 

Anyway, they work here and there on the road east. At one point we're given some much needed fan service as Mat and Rad, sweaty and stripped down to just their pants, muck out a stable. Hmm. Maybe shoveling horse shit isn't all that sexy, but still. We've got to work with what we've got.

 

After some mishaps and some weird double flashbacks or something (the narrative jumps back and forth so that it isn't told in chronological order, with some event happening before the events mentioned in previous paragraphs; it isn't hard to follow but its different than the rest of the book) they come upon the Grimwell homestead. There are a lot of kids and goodwife Grimwell reminds them of Mistress al'Vere. So she's either super nice (sort of like Ila in the Tinker camp) or she's a mafia wife. Either way is cool. I wish we'd break out of this "women can only be wives or witches" thing, though.

 

Oh, and speak of breaking of the witch-or-wife thing: we're introduced to Else Grimwell (and that's how I pronounce it: "[or] Else"). Else is a villain. How do I know this? Within four lines of her introduction she's coming on to Rand. So she's a Whore, not a Madonna. In fiction, I've noticed, you can't be unmarried and seek sex. If you do then you're evil. If you're a man then you might get some slack but not a woman. If a woman is interested in the hero then she's got to blush, act coy, get asked out by him, date for a while, get married, and then start to think about sex. Get any of that out of order (or just skip to the end like a person in the real world) then you're evil. Else is a bad guy.

 

Rand, certainly suffering from the effects of starvation, seems to think that Perrin would be good in this situation. Perrin would either violently shove this woman into a corner, slap her around, and then demand that she act like a proper lady (or else she'll get the belt!) or he'd smile like an idiot and pretend to be her best friend all the while hating her for being so confusing to him.

 

Mat has not only learned to juggle in the two weeks on the Spray but he learned to juggle well. To do tricks even. The children at the Grimwell household seem to enjoy that. And, hey, even I like a good juggle. But, really, two weeks to learn to juggle that well? Not likely.

 

Eventually Rand pulls out Thom's flute and starts playing it. He, too, managed to learn to play well after two weeks of training (with a trainer who was gave half of his attention to Mat). It makes me wonder, though. Why didn't they sell Thom's flute if they were so hard up for cash? Even Mat's colored balls might have been worth a meal or two.

 

I actually laughed at this next part: after finishing a song, Else makes some dreamy compliment about Rand's playing. This immediately caused her mother to stop knitting and look down at Else. Ha! It was one of those record scratch moments, you know? Like, "what did my daughter just say?" It was funny. Too bad the whole "men smoke tabac while women knit" thing is going on. Tinkers do it and these Andor folks do it. I guess we all really are alike, aren't we? Gag.

 

The mother, though, she is smart. She manages to reward the Two Rivers Boys and keep her daughter's slutty hands to herself by letting the boys sleep together in Else's room and have the horny daughter sleep with her. Why Else has her own room is beyond me. With nine kids in one house you'd think they all share two rooms (or even one room for the kids and one for the parents). But, hey, whatever. I like Mistress Grimwell.

 

Anyway, the night passes without incident (no Rand-on-Else action nor any Mat-on-Rand, either) and the boys are off to the next town. Master Grimwell gets it into the boys' heads that they could trade their flute music for food at the inn. So, hmm, what are the boys to do? Backbreaking manual labor or become rock stars? That's a toughie.

 

They make it to the inn and meet the innkeepr. He's described as "plump." Will we ever see a slender innkeeper? Or a female one? Anyway, he says that the boys are fantastic and will let them play. This repeats for the next few days as they go from town to town, inn to inn, playing for their supper.

 

The chapter ends on a spooky note. Something's going to happen in the village of Four Kings. It's going to be important, too, since "Four Kings" is both in the title of the next chapter and the name "Four Kings" is on the map. I'm looking forward to what happens and I'm glad the chapters are getting more fun to read (I think it's the lack of Perrin and wolves).

 

Four Kings in Shadow

 

Okay, we are 467 pages into this beast. I can't tell what the icon at the beginning of this chapter is. I looks like a tear drop spinning. Or a bird's talon. Or half of a yin yang symbol without a dot. None of these things really remind me of any of the characters. But who cares?! Let's get started.

 

The first paragraph is pretty dull. It's a description of the local trade network. Mines from Baerlon supply Caemlyn via the Caemlyn Road and goods are sent up from Lugard in the south. Everything has to pass through Four Kings. Boring. Not only that, but how does Rand know this? Is this third person perspective supposed to be limited to Rand's POV or is it some sort of god-like narrator? A narrator that can describe the economics of an entire region when all I care about is if Rand and Mat have enough to eat right now. I could have started at the second paragraph and not have missed anything.

 

Anyway, since Four Kings isn't like small town South Carolina it is a bad town. No women gossip over their fences while doing laundry, you see, and children play in dirt roads instead of a village green. It's like an urban ghetto where kids play on god-forsaken basketball courts instead of baseball diamonds (the way good boys are supposed to). Anyway, it's enough to know that Rand and Mat are in a shithole.

 

Mat, somehow still in possession of his bow (could he not stand to sell it for some food? Or maybe hunt with it?), doesn't want to sleep in a gutter when it looks like rain is coming so he convinces Rand to perform in one of the inns for some lodging. Thus anything bad that happens here is Mat's fault (we can't have Rand making any unwise decisions, not our Main Character!).

 

It also occurs to me that Rand isn't well traveled. How many times in his life has he seen someone not from Two Rivers play music? Gleeman are rare in Emond's Field so maybe he's seen a dozen different out-of-town musicians. In Baerlon he only saw Thom play. And on the Spray he only saw Thom play. But here in Four Kings he's walked into an inn with real performers. Probably the first non-Thom, non-Two Rivers players he's seen in years. What new sounds must they be making? What new techniques, new tricks with their instruments? Rand doesn't care because he just leaves any inn with a musician already in there. He isn't in the least bit concerned with perfecting his craft, no. He just wants paid.

 

And I can understand that. The boys are hungry. But maybe the book could acknowledge the fact that he's hearing this music for the first time. All Rand seems to notice is that these "civilized" people are a little too rough and rowdy for his tastes.

 

Anyway, Rand doesn't seem moved by the different music. He doesn't even seem to notice. I guess he's that hungry. He moves on until the fourth inn, The Dancing Cartman (I immediately think of Eric from South Park doing his German dance, maybe painted on a wooden sign swinging above the inn door.). Nobody on stage there! Even better: for the first time in the entire book we have an innkeeper, Hake, that isn't fat. He's described as "bony." The first barmaid we see gives a "plump smile," but I say that doesn't count.

 

But the barmaid pisses off Hake so he pimp slaps her. Nice. The first time in this entire book that a woman actually receives an injury (Seriously, has Egwene or Nynaeve or Moiraine ever been touched by a bad guy?) and it's because of workplace violence, because of boss-on-underling violence, and gendered violence (a slap is used against/by women, a punch is used against/by men). Fucking fantastic.

 

Rand and Mat, of course, just stand there and watch this assault like a pair of dumb shits. Why should they give a flip about it, huh? That woman sprawled out on the dirty floor there, covered in their beer, a hand-sized red splotch spread across her face? Yeah, eff' her. The Two Rivers Boys came here to play music not to be heroes. Heroes? Them? Ha!

 

How are they in any way considered heroes? They've done nothing but run away this entire novel. They ran away from Emond's Field. They ran away from Baerlon. They ran away from Shadar Logoth. They ran away from Whitebridge. They'll run away from Four Kings, no doubt. There isn't a single town in which they haven't burned something down and ran away. Emond's Field burned down. The Taren Ferry ferry sank. The Stag and Lion burned down. Half of the Whitebridge town square inexplicably burned down. If I were to place a bet I'd say the Dancing Cartman will suffer some property damage. They might even have rename the town Three Kings after what the Two Rivers Boys are going to do here.

 

This book has been about running away from one dangerous town after another. And get this: their goal? To get to Tar Valon to hide from danger. That's the whole plot of this book. Hide from danger. Run from danger. Just look at this scene in the Dancing Cartman. Hake beats a woman to the ground right in front of Rand and Mat and they do nothing about it. No, wait, they agree to work for the monster! They're not trying to stop violence or fight evil or help the helpless. That is not what this book is about. It's about avoiding danger. It's about letting evil happen as long as evil isn't directed towards them. Some heroes.

 

Sure, one can argue that the baddies are too strong to fight right now. But that's Robert Jordan's fault. He designed a world where the baddies are so powerful that the good guys can only run away. In that argument, I'm upset with Jordan for creating the world like this instead of the main characters for acting like this. But that's even worse, I think.

 

Anyway, Rand and Mat get up on stage and start their routine. Rand tries to hide his bird-marked sword because it attracts unwanted attention. These people don't believe in Trollocs but they believe that anybody with a bird sword is dangerous. This is a world without counterfeiters. Seriously, I wouldn't be able to tell an aluminum toy sword from a centuries-old masterwork katana from across a smoke-filled bar so I wouldn't assume the majority of half-drunk roughnecks in that room could, either. But Rand is still worried. So there you go.

 

Somehow word spread that there was a juggler and flautist were performing at the Dancing Cartman so a crowd begins to show up. How does word spread? There aren't any cellphones or Twitter accounts so that means somebody, so filled with joy at Mat's tossed balls, ran out of the inn and shouted, "Juggler!" Soon everyone within earshot got a hard on for a juggling act and stopped by. I have a suspicion that the crowded room had more to do with the coming rain storm than anything the Two Rivers Boys were doing.

 

As the "heroes" continue their performance a number of fights and sexual assaults occur in the crowd. The bouncers throw the brawlers out into the rain while Hake screams at the felt up barmaids for letting his customers grab them. There are tears and blood on more than once occasion. And the band played on.

 

Trying not to notice all of that dirty violence against women, Rand notices a guy in the crowd that's not like the others. Gee, where have I seen this before? Oh, yeah, in Baerlon! Back then it was a Whitecloak spy with a scar across his face who sat in the back of the inn, staring at Rand, while everyone else was having a good time. Now who is this guy sitting in the back of the inn, staring at Rand, while everyone else was having a good time? Zeus, plot points repeating in the same book? I can already see that this book series is going to be repetitive.

 

Anyway, this guy is the worst spy in the world. He dresses differently than everyone, sits apart from everyone, orders wine but doesn't drink it. Seriously, its as if he is trying to be noticed. A true spy would be one of those burly men in the crowd screaming for Rand to play, "Freebird!"

 

Yada, yada, yada, Rand and Mat go get something to eat a few hours into their set and in the kitchen they hear the women gossiping about the strange rich man out front. That's what women do, you know, talk about men. So based upon overheard gossip (that's solid intel, right there) Rand goes outside into the pouring rain to check out the guy's BMW. And wouldn't you know, the vanity plate says Howal Gode (Howl Goad). Why not just call him Professor Evil?

 

Realizing that this information means absolutely nothing to him, Rand tries to go back inside only to be stopped by one of the bouncers. The big man gets in a good joke that made me giggle but allows Rand to go in and keep playing the flute. You'd think hours of a flute solo would get boring but this isn't the most sophisticated of crowds.

 

Based on rumor and the carriage outside, Rand and Mat figure out that Howal Gode is a Darkfriend. Remember the Lord Captain's long list of reasons Perrin was a Darkfriend? His case was pretty solid. Rand's evidence is flimsy, at best. But guess who is right and who is wrong?

 

Two pages of playing, of being trapped in the inn, and of getting into a staring contest with Howal Gode go by. It's a little tense, I'll admit, but because I don't really like the way the Two Rivers Boys are acting and because of the cartoony way Hake is being evil... because of all that I'm just not too worried. Rand might get captured (like Perrin and the Whitecloaks) but he'll get away. The Two Rivers Boys aren't going to die. They won't even get hurt. Mat's not going to lose that knife (what a stupid way to end that plotline). Rand is not going to lose his father's sword (I bet he'll use it at the very end to kill Ba'alzamon). They probably won't even lose Thom's instruments.

 

Hell, a monstrous Fade caught Rand by surprise in Baerlon and all that happened was that Rand spilled his milk. Here there are no Fades, no Trollocs. Rand has his sword and his battle buddy next to him. Rand sees all of his human opponents and has time to plan. If anything, they are even less of a threat to him than the milk-spilling Fade.

 

Anyway, even ignoring all of that, though, I still know they're going to get out uninjured and with all their stuff. How do I know? This is a flashback! We know that some days from now Rand and Mat are standing next to the road to Caemlyn, scarves around their necks, avoiding an oncoming group of horsemen.

 

Moving on. The evening ends, Gode goes upstairs to his room, the common room clears, and the boys are left in a storeroom to sleep. They don't want to sleep, though. They want to run away into the storm. After trying to pull down the iron bars blocking the window they hear Gode outside. He says that he's put Master Hake and the bodyguards to sleep so they won't bother Rand.

 

First, if Gode is evil then why not kill Hake? He put them to sleep! Talk about nonviolence. (I'm beginning to think that the people killed in Emond's Field during the Trolloc attack weren't killed by the monsters but rather by Moiraine's crazy lightning storm magic; after all, none of the Dark One's forces have killed anything since then, what with their use of non-lethal weapons and all.) And now Gode is standing outside Rand's door asking him to talk.

 

The chapter ends in some sort of bullshit. Trapped in a closet with no way out, evil Darkfriends outside, Rand is about to meet his end (or he is about to go talk to the Dark One; no one is killing anyone here). But a deus ex machina comes in and saves the day. Again. Frikkin' lighting comes in and not only blows a hole in the wall big enough for the boys to go through but it also kills Gode and his minions (the other bodies weren't identified but they could have easily been some of the barmaids sleeping in a room across the hall who came outside to see what all the noise was).

 

This is so stupid on it surface that there has to be something else beyond random chance causing it. The boom on the Spray? Yeah, that could have been luck. But this? Something or someone is looking out for Rand. Is there an Aes Sedai out there casting storm magic? Has Moiraine decided to not go into the wilderness but rather come to Four Kings (this wouldn't explain the boom thing; maybe that really was just luck.). How did Rand escape? I dunno. A wizard did it.

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I seriously don't know why you're still reading these books. Really, I'm not saying that to be funny but it seems with each new blog post that there's more and more you dislike. But anyway, the thing about Rand and Mat not being proper heroes, (and not helping a woman in trouble, but isn't that sexist?) is because they are, really, just a couple of kids who have never left their village before, probably never seen violence before and certainly never monsters and the like. They're not instant heroes, they may or may not become heroes later, but they're not there yet. And as for Rand not selling his sword, it's not rational I know, but from his point of view it's a last reminder of his Dad who may not be his Dad and who he may not see again. And again, he's just a kid, I guess I can understand the sentiment there.

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I seriously don't know why you're still reading these books. Really, I'm not saying that to be funny but it seems with each new blog post that there's more and more you dislike. But anyway, the thing about Rand and Mat not being proper heroes, (and not helping a woman in trouble, but isn't that sexist?) is because they are, really, just a couple of kids who have never left their village before, probably never seen violence before and certainly never monsters and the like. They're not instant heroes, they may or may not become heroes later, but they're not there yet. And as for Rand not selling his sword, it's not rational I know, but from his point of view it's a last reminder of his Dad who may not be his Dad and who he may not see again. And again, he's just a kid, I guess I can understand the sentiment there.

 

Well, I'm enjoying the story. That's why I'm reading the books. I want to get to the parts everyone says are really good and to get there I've got to read through this.

 

No, not helping the woman isn't sexist. It's just dickish. I can't think of a single hero that would just stand there and watch it. Superman, Batman, Luke Skywalker, anyone. Yes, he's just a kid. But I would respect him so much more if he would have spoken up, got his ass kicked by the bouncer, and tossed outside in the rain, his flute snapped in half. Instead of standing up for what was right (and getting a dose of reality tossed at him) he just went along with what was wrong because he served his purpose.

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I want to get to the parts everyone says are really good and to get there I've got to read through this.No, not helping the woman isn't sexist. It's just dickish. I can't think of a single hero that would just stand there and watch it. Superman, Batman, Luke Skywalker, anyone. Yes, he's just a kid. But I would respect him so much more if he would have spoken up, got his ass kicked by the bouncer, and tossed outside in the rain, his flute snapped in half. Instead of standing up for what was right (and getting a dose of reality tossed at him) he just went along with what was wrong because he served his purpose.

 

Rand is Peter Parker 5 minutes post spider bite here. He has extraordinary powers but doesn't know they really exist of that he can use it. That being said, the Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn chapters are rough to get through.

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These kids aren't heroes, at least not at this point.

 

And, as you've already finished the book, you've caught onto unusual things that were lucky for Rand. Bela keeping up with the other horses? The boom? The lightning? All Rand channeling, and the lightheadedness and giddiness that followed in Baerlon, on the Spray, and the sickness Rand's about to get where all forms of channeling sickness.

 

Moiraine explains the process to Nynaeve. I think you've already read it.

 

Ah well, I'm sure you put it all together when you finished this book, so I don't know why I'm writing.

 

Yep.

 

Uh...

 

I could've sworn there was at least one woman innkeeper in this novel, but I guess not. You're off to Caemlyn next with a sick Rand, right?

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Aside from all this feminist rant (yes, it's a rant, even if it's justified by the text for a large part), you might know by now that there are more and more women's point of views in the next books. Did that lessen or at least change your opinion on the sexism in these books ?

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No, not helping the woman isn't sexist. It's just dickish. I can't think of a single hero that would just stand there and watch it. Superman, Batman, Luke Skywalker, anyone. Yes, he's just a kid. But I would respect him so much more if he would have spoken up, got his ass kicked by the bouncer, and tossed outside in the rain, his flute snapped in half. Instead of standing up for what was right (and getting a dose of reality tossed at him) he just went along with what was wrong because he served his purpose.

 

I was being a little sarcastic to tell you truth, but I actually meant is it not sexist to help a woman in trouble, rather than not help? I asked because in previous blogs you had been upset when Perrin was protective over Egwene with Aram, and Rand when he was looking out for Egwene early on when they left the Two Rivers. Now I know Aram was harmless, he only wanted to dance and we know there was nothing sinister about him, but for all Perrin knew Aram could have been a Darkfriend rapist. And there was certainly danger for Egwene when they were fleeing home.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't understand why it's OK if Rand had stood up for the barmaid but it's not OK when he's protective over Egwene when the Trollocs are on their tail.

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I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't understand why it's OK if Rand had stood up for the barmaid but it's not OK when he's protective over Egwene when the Trollocs are on their tail.

 

Take Perrin, Aram, and Egwene. Perrin is sitting by the fire, talking about the Way of the Leaf, when Aram comes over and asks Egwene out. This makes Perrin get defensive, to protect his friend. Imagine if Aram walked up to Egwene and slapped her to the ground instead of hitting on her. Then, yes, get up Perrin. Act protective of Egwene. Two Rivers folk have to stick together.

 

Take Rand, Bartender, and Waitress. Rand is sitting there, trying to get a job, when Bartender comes over and slaps the Waitress down. This does not make Rand get defensive, willing to protect the innocent. Imagine if the Bartender walked up to the Waitress and asked her out instead of slapping her. Then, according to book's logic, Rand gets defensive. Men do not ask out women (without permission or whatever).

 

Aram, the pacifist Roma could have been a Darkfriend rapist. But so could Master Hake, the innkeeper. Given the way bad guys are obviously bad it makes more sense, given the metaphysics, for Hake to be a Darkfriend rapist.

 

 

Aside from all this feminist rant (yes, it's a rant, even if it's justified by the text for a large part), you might know by now that there are more and more women's point of views in the next books. Did that lessen or at least change your opinion on the sexism in these books ?

 

A rant? Yes, maybe. I'd like to use the fancy word "polemic." I think I've ended up writing a polemic against the book (not what I started off wanting to do, mind you!).

 

Do the female POVs change my opinion of sexism in the books? Hmm, that's a toughie. I mean, so far no one has said anything to refute what has gone on in Book One. I still see Two Rivers as a misogynist backwater. But the rest of the world? Not the same as Two Rivers.

 

I'll get into it later, when I get to posting about those parts. But generally speaking, so far I see a rift in the Aes Sedai between those misandrists Reds who are willing to commit gender genocide to prevent another Breaking and the Moiraine-Siuan Conspiracy who actually want to bring about the End of the World because they don't think it will be the end. And in Fal Dara I see women undoubtedly in absolute control of the Women's Apartments in the keep (The thing is, I don't write much about the sexism at that point because it's just turning people off. Instead, I write about classism, mostly.). But that's all in Book Two so I really don't want to get into it until then.

 

@Agitel: The first and only female innkeeper I've come across was in Illian early in The Great Hunt. She owned, I kid you not, an inn called Easing the Beaver. She got three lines of dialogue, I think, when Bayle Domon stopped in to see some men there. But I was happy to see it, nonetheless.

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Random point. You've mentioned in several blogs the apparent impotence of Trollocs since water stops them. I just wanted to point out that sinking the the ferry didn't stop the Trollocs because they were afraid of water. It stopped them because we're talking about a full size fast moving river which, with the ferry destroyed, they had no way to cross without detouring well out of their way to the south. They mention early in the book that the Taren is a very fast moving river. Imagine chasing someone across the Missouri or Mississippi rivers with no way to cross and while wearing armor. Probably not the best idea.

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@Agitel: The first and only female innkeeper I've come across was in Illian early in The Great Hunt. She owned, I kid you not, an inn called Easing the Beaver. She got three lines of dialogue, I think, when Bayle Domon stopped in to see some men there. But I was happy to see it, nonetheless.

 

I thought it was Easing the Badger.... whatever, it's been a while since I read TGH.

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I still see Two Rivers as a misogynist backwater.

 

Was wondering if you had seen these quotes from EotW glossary provided in the main thread and if it changes your mind on some issues?

 

Women’s Circle: A group of women elected by the women of a village, responsible for deciding such matters as are considered solely women’s responsibility (for example, when to plant the crops and when to harvest). Equal in authority to the Village Council, with clearly-delineated lines and areas of responsibility. Often at odds with the Village Council.

 

Wisdom: In villages, a woman chosen by the Women’s Circle to sit in the Circle for her knowledge of such things as healing and foretelling the weather, as well as for common good sense. A position of great responsibility and authority, both actual and implied. She is generally considered the equal of the Mayor, and in some villages his superior. Unlike the Mayor, she is chosen for life, and it is very rare for a Wisdom to be removed from office before her death. Almost traditionally in conflict with the Mayor.
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Why would they look in the glossary? Any additional information might dissolve their preconceived notions about rampant sexism in this series.

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Take Perrin, Aram, and Egwene. Perrin is sitting by the fire, talking about the Way of the Leaf, when Aram comes over and asks Egwene out. This makes Perrin get defensive, to protect his friend. Imagine if Aram walked up to Egwene and slapped her to the ground instead of hitting on her. Then, yes, get up Perrin. Act protective of Egwene. Two Rivers folk have to stick together.Take Rand, Bartender, and Waitress. Rand is sitting there, trying to get a job, when Bartender comes over and slaps the Waitress down. This does not make Rand get defensive, willing to protect the innocent. Imagine if the Bartender walked up to the Waitress and asked her out instead of slapping her. Then, according to book's logic, Rand gets defensive. Men do not ask out women (without permission or whatever).Aram, the pacifist Roma could have been a Darkfriend rapist. But so could Master Hake, the innkeeper. Given the way bad guys are obviously bad it makes more sense, given the metaphysics, for Hake to be a Darkfriend rapist

 

 

 

<br><br>I still put Rand's reaction, or lack of it, down to his youth and his farmboy upbringing. He's probably never seen a man hit a woman before. Yes, it would have been heroic if he had done something, but out of character and not unreasonable to think he was simply too scared. It's easy to think you can protect your friends (or the innocent) but a different thing when, to put it crudely, the s**t hits the fan. I know, I've been there. But it still doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the innate desire to look out for people you care about.<br><br>I don't see the correlation you make in your scenario between Egwene/Perrin and Rand/barmaid because Egwene is Perrin's freind, the barmaind is not Rand's. Perrin was being protective over his 16 year old friend who was being wooed by a stranger (who was also trying to wind Perrin up; read the "he flashed Perrin a triumphant grin" passage again.) Rand knows nothing of the barmaid so I see no reason to think he would get defensive over the barmaid if Hake had simply asked her out. I honestly don't think that's the logic Robert Jordan was using. Maybe you were being sarcastic, which is cool as I love sarcasm. (I wasn't being sarcastic there!).<br><br>Here's a thought, what if Rand and Mat had walked into that bar, took one look at Hake and thought he looked a nasty piece of work, then took the barmaid into the corner and said something along the lines of 'I don't think you should be working for that low-life'. Would that not have been OK? Or does it basically boil down to mean there has to be action before

Rand or Perrin or whoever can act? It's OK for Perrin to protect Egwene if Aram hit

her, but until that happens he shouldn't do a thing, shouldn't be

suspicious of strangers?

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I still see Two Rivers as a misogynist backwater.
Was wondering if you had seen these quotes from EotW glossary provided in the main thread and if it changes your mind on some issues?

 

I didn't know there was a glossary in the book until I finished it. And I know there are people out here on this forum who will point their fingers at me and yell that I'm willfully being obtuse and ignoring evidence because it furthers my "agenda." But I don't care (and am confused since I don't have an agenda; unless you call "being happy" an agenda!).

 

You see, I don't think the glossary should count. It's part of the para-text. It's like the table of contents, the cover art, the About the Author section on the back flap, the chapter titles and icons, the Praise For This Book part at the beginning, and all the other parts of the book that aren't actually the text. It's on the same level as a (sold-separately) Wheel of Time Encyclopaedia, Art Book of the Wheel of Time, author interviews (and blogs and tweets and such), online FAQs and Wikias (that I've done a good job of avoiding, thank you), and publicity posters. It isn't a part of the story but a part of the apparatus of the story-telling process.

 

So, sure, the glossary says what it says about Wisdoms. Fine. Show that in the book. Show that when the Wisdom does her thing. Show that when the Women's Circle acts. It just doesn't happen, though, not like the glossary says.

 

I've been told to ignore the picture on the cover of the book because it doesn't reflect what is on the pages. It's inaccurate and could be done better. Well, fine. But I'm also ignoring the glossary because I don't feel it reflects what is on the pages. It's inaccurate and could be done better.

 

Why would they look in the glossary? Any additional information might dissolve their preconceived notions about rampant sexism in this series.

 

Now that's just mean. We can do better than that, can't we?

 

First, I've never read the series before. How can I have preconceived notions about it? If anything, I was under the impression of an equal society with female wizards fighting a big bad Satan analogue. I was told the book would be exactly as most of the forum says it is. But that isn't what I'm reading. Additional information (as in what I've read so far) is dissolving my preconceived notion that this book had any sort of gender equality.

 

Second, additional knowledge might dissolve my notions about rampant sexism. I admit to that. But a glossary? Really? This isn't a scholarly work that requires meticulously detailed bibliography pages. It's an overly long fantasy book. Why would it need its own glossary? Could it be because the writing is so poor that one needs to be flat out told, in list form, the characteristics of what's in the book because the writer did a poor job of conveying it in the text itself? "Now I want to Wisdom to be a powerful force in local politics but I've written her as an ineffective healer-person that no one respects. I could go back and rewrite her parts to make her a stronger character or I could just write a glossary entry. That'll fix everything."

 

I still put Rand's reaction, or lack of it, down to his youth and his farmboy upbringing. He's probably never seen a man hit a woman before.

 

All violence is unheard of in Emond's Field, from what I remember (even domestic violence, in a world where I'm told women hit their wool-headed men right across the noggin all the time). He's probably never seen a man hit a man before, not like that, not beaten to the ground. In spite of that, the Boys are never that protective of other boys, friend or no friend. For whatever reason, whatever excuse his culture has for this behavior, however justified it may seem to everyone involved, it is still sexist (there, I used that word again). I can't get behind that.

 

Yes, it would have been heroic if he had done something, but out of character and not unreasonable to think he was simply too scared.

 

Yes. It wouldn't be out of character for them. I admit as much. The thing is: that's a problem. I don't like that "doing nothing when a man slaps a woman I don't know off her feet" is perfectly in keeping with the main character's personality. In a normal book, four hundred pages would be about when the climax happens. But here, the series prologue isn't even over. In the space of a normal story (or one I'm used to reading, at least), of a normal character arc with a beginning and middle and end, Rand hasn't done anything. No growth. He's still a selfish, cowardly nobody (who is overly protective of Egwene and only Egwene). And he will continue to be at least until half-way through The Great Hunt. His "if it doesn't hurt me or Egwene then it doesn't really matter" attitude just bothers me, you know? I want the main character to be a hero, not Rand.

 

Does that make sense? I can try to elaborate but I'm afraid I'd just end up confusing myself!

 

 

Perrin was being protective over his 16 year old friend who was being wooed by a stranger (who was also trying to wind Perrin up; read the "he flashed Perrin a triumphant grin" passage again.)

 

Not to sound childish, but who started it? Aram came over to hit on Egwene, not to wind Perrin up. It was only after Perrin started getting passive aggressive did Aram start acting cocky.

 

Here's a thought, what if Rand and Mat had walked into that bar, took one look at Hake and thought he looked a nasty piece of work, then took the barmaid into the corner and said something along the lines of 'I don't think you should be working for that low-life'. Would that not have been OK?

 

Yes, that would have been fine. There would have been no slapping and no need to worry about Rand not being a hero. It would have even made the Boys seem savvy, too, instead of blindingly walking into such a wretched place.

 

My point was that Rand doesn't stand up for Goodness. You know? He saved Tam and that was a good thing. I cheered him on as he did it. But he has run away from danger ever since. He didn't stop (or even try to stop; or even question) Moiraine when she sank the ferry. He didn't stop Mat when he pissed off the Whitecloaks (or, since he didn't know what was going on until too late, he didn't say "not cool" after it was all over). He didn't disembark from the Spray to go looking for his friends right after Shadar Logoth, just trusting that they would either get to Caemlyn or die alone in the woods. He didn't help this barmaid, either. He is unlike any protagonist in any novel I've ever read. He goes with the flow, letting bad things happen, and just lets the plot take him where it will. He isn't doing anything, not actively, not since saving Tam (and he won't until the very end of the climax).

 

This is in character for him, sure. I can totally believe he does what he does. I just don't like it. Give me Egwene or Nynaeve or even Moiraine.

 

It's OK for Perrin to protect Egwene if Aram hit her, but until that happens he shouldn't do a thing, shouldn't be suspicious of strangers?

 

More or less. If Perrin were suspicious of all strangers then I could believe that he'd be suspicious of Aram. But he instantly fell in love with Elyas. He didn't say anything when Lan or Thom or Moiraine came to Emond's Field. He wasn't suspicious of Mahdi Raen or his wife (in fact, he said that he had always wanted to meet a Tinker; he was so not suspicious) or Master Fitch or Ara the spa therapist or even Min. He didn't give the stink eye to anyone in the Stag and Lion during the square dance nor to the gate guards in Baerlon. It was only Aram. What was it that Aram did that not one of the other strangers did? Aram showed interest in Egwene. Thom, to be fair, did ask Egwene to be his gleeman's assistant but that didn't seem fishy. So all that was enough for me to say it wasn't okay for Perrin to be protective of Egwene here, at this moment, in this situation. Either be suspicious of everyone or have a reason beyond "I don't want this guy talking to Egwene" to be suspicious of Aram.

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Yes. It wouldn't be out of character for them. I admit as much. The thing is: that's a problem. I don't like that "doing nothing when a man slaps a woman I don't know off her feet" is perfectly in keeping with the main character's personality. In a normal book, four hundred pages would be about when the climax happens. But here, the series prologue isn't even over. In the space of a normal story (or one I'm used to reading, at least), of a normal character arc with a beginning and middle and end, Rand hasn't done anything. No growth. He's still a selfish, cowardly nobody (who is overly protective of Egwene and only Egwene). And he will continue to be at least until half-way through The Great Hunt. His "if it doesn't hurt me or Egwene then it doesn't really matter" attitude just bothers me, you know? I want the main character to be a hero, not Rand.<br>

<br>

Does that make sense? I can try to elaborate but I'm afraid I'd just end up confusing myself!

<br><br>Yes, it makes sense but I think you're maybe expecting things to move too quickly. I know you've never read epic fantasy before but in a 14 books series character development will be slow. But he did some cool stuff at this end of this book, didn't he? I thought he did. But no, he's not perfect, he has many  flaws. Would you have preferred a perfect hero from the beginning though? Would that not have been too Hollywood cheesy? That he has flaws are part of what makes him real, make him human to me. I obviously don't want to spoil later books but I will say, as others have, that his character growth is one of the best in the books, in my opinion at least, so I encourage you to read on and see if you change your view on him or not.<br><br>I still disagree to a point with the other over-protectiveness stuff but I fear I may bore you and myself to death!<br>

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- think most people would just disagree with how you see the women portrayed in the text. We didn't finish it thinking one thing and then change our minds after the glossary and author interviews.

 

Ah well, I'm not arguing, I just want to make clear we didn't rely on outside text for our opinions. Keep it up!

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I've been told to ignore the picture on the cover of the book because it doesn't reflect what is on the pages. It's inaccurate and could be done better. Well, fine. But I'm also ignoring the glossary because I don't feel it reflects what is on the pages. It's inaccurate and could be done better.

 

Have to disagree here, they are two VERY different things. Authors have little influence over cover art for their books. That is mostly handled on the publishing side of things.

 

The glossary on the other hand is well thought out and comes directly from RJ. I have never found it to be inaccurate or unsupported by the storyline. Having said that I do enjoy the blog and hope you keep sticking to your guns. Puts a huge smile on my face every time I read a sentence that I know is going to send a certain segments of the fandom into apoplexy. Cheers.

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It will be funny whe she meets the ******* soldiers in book 5 or 6. That's when we read 20 pages about a high rank officer or ship captain without knowing if it's a man or woman.

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Aram is a sleaze-ball. Elyas is rough at the edges, and Perrin was guarded of him at first, but he never tried anything. Perrin has seen Aram's sort before, however -- he mentions Wil al'Seen, for example. He also believes that Egwene is Rand's girlfriend, and watching your best friend's girlfriend run off with someone else...

 

 

Also, Elyas is not saying that Perrin is going to be more skilled because he does not want to use the axe. He says that he should go on using it, because the fact that he does not like using it will make him a better person than someone who would. It has nothing to do with being "cool."

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The Children might very well have been within their charter as a paramilitary police force trying to stop them.

 

Just an aside' date=' the Children of the Light have no legal standing in Andor. They have complete sway over Amadacia, and some little influence (official or not) in other lands. Their "authority" over people comes from the fact that they follow the bigger stick approach. If you don't do what they tell you then you're a darkfriend and they seize you, torture you (possibly) and kill you (again possibly). They back this up with basically a bully type mentality.... respect through fear. Take the scene in Baerlon for instance. They walk through an open space in the middle of a crowd. Sure some people smile and actually respect them, but most are shying away to avoid calling the attention of the bullies down on themselves. As to Mat no I don't agree with cutting loose a bunch of barrels to knock some stuck up people down a few pegs (not that it doesn't occasionally need to be done ;)), but their response was not to just be pissed off, which is of course quite reasonable, but to try and arrest Rand because since he found it funny he must obviously be evil. The only thing that stopped them were the heron markings on Rand's sword, and his apparent willingness to bare steel, since they thought he was a blade master and would kick all their asses.

 

Then there is this moment in the stedding.

 

I have no idea why they were there except to get water. But they ended up killing some wolves around the watering hole. How is that a crime in any kingdom on the Wheel of Time world? They do that in the Two Rivers! In the very first chapter of this book Rand was holding a bow ready just in case he had to kill a wolf! Anyway, they find two kids in the woods only to have one of them leap out and murder two of their riders. The Whitecloaks have done nothing in this entire book except defend themselves and uphold the law. The "heroes" are bribing officials and murdering police officers. What is the world coming to?

 

While yes you make a good point in the difference between the Children "upholding the law" vs. the the "heroes" have done as far as bribing people, etc. you're glossing over something. Like I noted above the Children have no legal authority in Andor. So even though they see something illegal happening that doesn't give them the right or authority to enforce any laws. And they're certainly not police officers. Just like you said they're a semi-religious (as far as there is religion in this world) paramilitary group answerable only to themselves and who have a very narrow view of right/wrong.... basically if you agree with them you're right, if you don't you're wrong and probably a darkfriend.

 

Part of the ..... I don't want to say logic...... impetus? of Perrin attacking the Children after they killed Hopper was that the wolf side of Perrin sort of took over. The part of his brain that talks to wolves see wolves as basically other people, people who don't deserve to be summarily killed just because the Children don't like them. Anyway that part of Perrin (a part which is recently new, which he cannot control and which scares him to death) saw a friend being killed and ran to it's defense, or in this case to exact revenge as Hopper had already been killed. Perrin fighting the part of him that is connected to the wolves is prevalent over the next several books. It's certainly not just him being a blood thirsty neaderthol.

 

"I know you don't want to' date=' I know it kills a little bit of your soul every time you use it. But are you trying to be a effin' pussy? Cowboy up, keep your axe, and go kill things with it. That's how you know you're a man, son." Thus Perrin, so close to making a breakthrough, is pulled back into the violent cycle of killing to be cool. Elyas tosses some philosophy at Perrin about how, since he doesn't want to use it then he'll somehow be better at using it. Yeah, the same way a kid who doesn't want to play baseball is going to be better than the kid who wants to play and practices every single day.

 

........

 

It is as if the people who don't want something are inherently better at it than someone who wants it. Ambition is evil, you know? A person who tries to become king is always a bad king. But the farmboy who has never studied politics, has never seen a foreigner in the flesh, has never dreamed of doing anything but farming? Well, he'll be the best king ever.[/quote']

 

Like dholm said Elyas' statement about keeping the axe until he no longer hates using it isn't a statement of "go have fun, kill people and bathe in their blood, then you're a man!". It also didn't say that using the axe would make him a better person than he would be if he didn't use the axe. He's saying that as Perrin hated the axe and doesn't want to use it that he would use it more responsibly, less capriciously, than would a person who enjoyed cutting people open with a sharp implement. It would be like giving a flamethrower to a person and sending them out into a crowd of children. Do you give it to the person who hates what the flamethrower is, what it stands for, or to the person who jumps in glee and claps his hands and tells you he can't wait to light someone up?

 

On to Kings, while I appreciate your point about a person who's trained for something probably doing a better job than a novice who's never heard about it that isn't quite the point in this case. The whole point of that kind of comment.... "He doesn't want it so he'll do a better job".... is that the person who doesn't want the job is theoretically less likely to abuse what power he's given. Exact same thing with the axe.

 

Rand doesn't care because he just leaves any inn with a musician already in there. He isn't in the least bit concerned with perfecting his craft' date=' no. He just wants paid.[/quote']

 

Of course he just wants to be paid. He's a kid out of his element, he's hungry, he's tired, he's scared, he's being hunted by evil things he used to think were fairy tales and he doesn't know if some of his closest friends are alive. He just wants some money so he can eat and to potentially get him to Caemlyn a little faster.

 

Anyway' date=' this guy is the worst spy in the world. He dresses differently than everyone, sits apart from everyone, orders wine but doesn't drink it. Seriously, its as if he is trying to be noticed. A true spy would be one of those burly men in the crowd screaming for Rand to play, "Freebird!"[/quote']

 

Ah, but who said he was a spy? As you've learned by now he's an upper level Darkfriend (well lower-middle management anyway), a merchant of some means. He's not trying to spy on Rand and sell off information to someone. He's there as the ringleader of this group of DF's. His sitting obviously and smiling at Rand is more of a "you're trapped and there's nothing you can do about it" kind of goad.

 

Anyway' date=' Rand and Mat get up on stage and start their routine. Rand tries to hide his bird-marked sword because it attracts unwanted attention. These people don't believe in Trollocs but they believe that anybody with a bird sword is dangerous. This is a world without counterfeiters. Seriously, I wouldn't be able to tell an aluminum toy sword from a centuries-old masterwork katana from across a smoke-filled bar so I wouldn't assume the majority of half-drunk roughnecks in that room could, either. But Rand is still worried. So there you go.[/quote']

 

I wouldn't say it's a world without counterfeiters, however in this world a sword isn't quite the same thing as it would be now. In our world a person might have a display sword, or they're a collector. Depending on how much they want to spend and if they want actual weapons or just something pretty you might have a complete POS, or a implement of death. In the WoT world a sword is a sword, just that. It's a weapon. Sure some might be of much better quality than others (and since you're well in TGH you know Rand's is an uber-special one), but all of them are going to be actual weapons.

 

As to the herons attracting attention in this setting they would. The heron in the WoT is the mark of a blademaster, an expert swordsman. It's not much of a spoiler, but the only way to become a blademaster and earn the heron is to defeat a blademaster in combat, or to be judged worthy by I think five other blademasters. It's kind of like a black belt in a martial art except imagine that instead of (for instance) 10 belts from novice to expert there's only a black belt. A person you encounter with a sword might have just picked it up, or they could be reasonably good. A person with the Heron-mark sword on the other hand you automatically assume can and will kick your ass if you give them reason to.

 

Aside from the herons just being there they attract attention specifically because he is so young. Attaining blademaster rank generally takes people a good long time to do, so one would expect them to be a little older. So either he's young and a great swordsman or he has a fancy sword and isn't sure which end goes in the bad guy. From the perspective of someone facing him they may convince themselves that it's the later (which indeed at this point is the case... mostly), but they still won't be able to get rid of that lingering doubt that perhaps the person they just convinced themselves is an idiot will actually kill them with ease. This is exactly what goes on with Bornhald (see easier than Lord Captain) and the other Children in Baerlon. His man points out the heron mark, and Bornhald immediately says "He's too young" but he's immediately wary just the same.

 

Sorry for the novella response. :)

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Just wanted to point out that the boys started practicing under Thom back when they were travel ling to Baerlon from Taren Ferry, so it isn't unreasonable to believe that Mat can juggle.

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Just an aside, the Children of the Light have no legal standing in Andor. They have complete sway over Amadacia, and some little influence (official or not) in other lands.

 

In the modern world I can see this being a good excuse. The FBI doesn't have authority in Moscow, for example. But this isn't the modern world. The Aes Sedai, for example, only have official control of Tar Valon but they "command" in a lot of places along the Borderlands. The Children of the Light seem to be the same. While they only hold sway in Amadacia (though I didn't know that; must be from further along in the reading) they still push their influence to other places.

 

Besides, Queen Morgase doesn't seem to have a strong hold on her kingdom. Two Rivers never heard of her, after all, and even Caemlyn is overrun with anti-Queen factions. Baerlon, too, seems to be it's own place that seems to only pay taxes and lip service to the throne. After all, Baerlon is defended by the Town Watch and not the Queen's Men. It would make sense for the local Governor to make a deal with the Whitecloaks (especially if the Governor is anti-queen, too) to let them into the city.

 

Even if that weren't true. Let's say I'm wrong about all that. This isn't exactly an Enlightened society. This is a kingdom with unelected rulers-for-life, not a democracy. Those in charge do what they want. Those with swords have even more authority. Unless there is some sort of constitution or the like, the Whitecloaks' swords give them the right to stop bad guys. Call then bounty hunters, if you must.

 

But that's just my opinion and I could be wrong about the politics of legitimate authority in this setting.

 

 

 

 

While yes you make a good point in the difference between the Children "upholding the law" vs. the the "heroes" have done as far as bribing people, etc. you're glossing over something. Like I noted above the Children have no legal authority in Andor. So even though they see something illegal happening that doesn't give them the right or authority to enforce any laws.

 

I have to disagree, here. Again, I could be wrong, but to say that the Whitecloaks have no right to enforce the law? That's like saying Rand did a good thing in letting Hake slap his barmaid because it isn't Rand's job to enforce the law. Even in the lawless Wild West it was expected for decent folks to fight against the lawlessness of the land. You see a foreigner bribing the city gate guards and harboring a kid who plastered citizens in the streets? Detain them! What were the Children supposed to do? Shoo them on their way because they don't have the authority for a citizen's arrest?

 

Part of the ..... I don't want to say logic...... impetus? of Perrin attacking the Children after they killed Hopper was that the wolf side of Perrin sort of took over. The part of his brain that talks to wolves see wolves as basically other people, people who don't deserve to be summarily killed just because the Children don't like them.

 

In the modern world I can see this being a defense. In court, Perrin would get a good lawyer and a state-licensed wizard to get the jury to find him not guilty by reason of mental defect. After all, in his temporary rage he wasn't able to know right from wrong. Then he goes to a mental institution for the rest of his life. Or until they figure out how to calm his rage down so that he never again snaps when he sees a wolf killed.

 

But this isn't the modern world. Here, he gets his head chopped off on the spot. It shows restraint on the part of the Children of the Light because they are taking him to the city for a show trial first. He'll have time to make his peace with God, that is. Seriously, they all saw him do it so there is no need for a trial in their minds. He did it so let justice be done.

 

Perrin fighting the part of him that is connected to the wolves is prevalent over the next several books.

 

Le sigh. I just got to the part in The Great Hunt where Perrin is turning on his Wolf Powers again. I expect a slow, Perrin-heavy few chapters.

 

 

 

 

 

He's saying that as Perrin hated the axe and doesn't want to use it that he would use it more responsibly, less capriciously, than would a person who enjoyed cutting people open with a sharp implement. It would be like giving a flamethrower to a person and sending them out into a crowd of children. Do you give it to the person who hates what the flamethrower is, what it stands for, or to the person who jumps in glee and claps his hands and tells you he can't wait to light someone up?

 

No, no. I get what you're saying. I just don't buy it. Perrin doesn't want to use the axe. Okay, so don't give him the axe. Problem solved. By giving it to him you are forcing him to use it. Or to be tempted to use it, at least. The same with the flamethrower. Don't give it to the pyromaniac but don't give it to the guy who doesn't want to use it, either. Do you really want anybody with a flamethrower in a crowd full of children?

 

I get that Perrin would be more responsible with an axe because he doesn't want to use it than someone who does want to. That's a solid argument. However, he won't practice with it much, either. He'll hold it, look at it, wonder if he's got what it takes to use it. He'll swing it and it'll tear him up inside. Remember the Tinker's Parable of the Axe? Using the axe will hurt Perrin just as it hurts those he kills with it. Better to have no axe at all.

 

Besides, the guy who wants the axe? He'll use it, too. He'll go chopping and killing. The results will be the same, don't you think? Dead people and a bloody axe, whether you wanted to use it or not.

 

 

 

The whole point of that kind of comment.... "He doesn't want it so he'll do a better job".... is that the person who doesn't want the job is theoretically less likely to abuse what power he's given.

 

Theoretically. In practice? No way. The inexperienced king would be unable to rule effectively. People would worm their way into his good graces and manipulating him into furthering their own agendas. He's be unaware of legal tricks that would let others walk all over him. Ethics laws (if there were such a thing in this setting; I doubt it) would be confusing. "I took his money, sure, but I'm not supporting him. It was a gift!" So many tiny details to court life, who to trust and who to go to for information and who hates your home state and who would make a great Prime Minister, would take months and years to learn. Months and years that your kingdom falls apart. The baby king would not abuse his power, probably, but also wouldn't use it effectively, either. He'd be stuck, playing catch up, not doing much. This wouldn't happen to someone who wanted to be king, who took the time to learn what he needed to know before even turning in the application.

 

 

 

 

I wouldn't say it's a world without counterfeiters, however in this world a sword isn't quite the same thing as it would be now.

 

This is probably true. In the real world, swords were pretty uncommon. Peasants didn't have them. The upper middle class, maybe. This is the Renaissance so there's probably a middle class. Soldiers had them but do you think any self-respecting lord would let his peasants go home after a war with a sword? That's just asking for an armed uprising! They take a long time to train on properly, too. Better the common folk use spears and such.

 

But this isn't the real world. So maybe everyone's got a sword.

 

The heron in the WoT is the mark of a blademaster, an expert swordsman. It's not much of a spoiler, but the only way to become a blademaster and earn the heron is to defeat a blademaster in combat, or to be judged worthy by I think five other blademasters.

 

Yeah, I haven't gotten that far, yet. I don't want to comment on it until I learn more about it. The only thing I can think about, though, is who does this? Is there some sort of international Blademaster Committee that handles applicants? I get the Aes Sedai because they're like the Catholic Church with their small capital and heavy influence. But the blademasters? Is that an official part of a government body or does it have the same legitimacy as the Justin Bieber Fan Club?

 

Don't answer that, by the way. I don't hate spoilers but I'd like them kept to a minimum. Thanks!

 

A person with the Heron-mark sword on the other hand you automatically assume can and will kick your ass if you give them reason to.

 

Again, are there no counterfeiters? Having that sword shouldn't make him dangerous (rather, no more dangerous than any person with a sword). Does Rand look like a soldier? Does he have the focused eyes, the stance, the whole vibe of a blademaster? No. He looks like a teenage farmboy with a fancy sword.

 

In my opinion, that is. I can be swayed pretty easily on this.

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I guess my comments about the Children and their authority were more semantics than anything else. Like I said you make a compelling point about them upholding the law vs the "good guys" doing bad things.

 

On the axe, I see your point about "if it bothers him then don't give it to him". I think Elyas recommends he keep it because he knows that Perrin and Egwene are in trouble and he'll likely need it to defend himself. Been awhile since tEoTW so I can't remember everything of how the conversation went.

 

On Kings I was thinking more along the lines of between two equally knowledgeable people who would make the more responsible ruler, the ambitious one who schemed to get there, or the person who would really rather not be the ruler. Again a trained person will generally be better at something than a novice (take your baseball example). No one's saying the TR boys would be better rulers in their current level of development than a person raised in the aristocracy from birth. Then again as you see later simply being a noble doesn't make one a good ruler.

 

This is probably true. In the real world' date=' swords were pretty uncommon. Peasants didn't have them. The upper middle class, maybe. This is the Renaissance so there's probably a middle class. Soldiers had them but do you think any self-respecting lord would let his peasants go home after a war with a sword? That's just asking for an armed uprising! They take a long time to train on properly, too. Better the common folk use spears and such.

 

But this isn't the real world. So maybe everyone's got a sword.[/quote']

 

I don't want to say they're common, but there are a lot of them. There are lots of armies from different countrires, merchant guards, and the equivalent of local police in the town guards. As to lords taking away swords from their peasants that's really not how this world works. I hate to say that, but I really can't think of a single ruler in this series who would disarm their departing soldiers for fear of a coup. Take Tam for instance. He joined the Illianer army, got his sword/training there, became a blademaster and then after the Aiel war went home to the TR with his sword stuck it in a chest and didn't touch it again for 20 some years.

 

Certainly everyone doesn't have a sword. Many common folk do use spears, pikes, axes, etc.

 

Yeah' date=' I haven't gotten that far, yet. I don't want to comment on it until I learn more about it. The only thing I can think about, though, is who does this? Is there some sort of international Blademaster Committee that handles applicants? I get the Aes Sedai because they're like the Catholic Church with their small capital and heavy influence. But the blademasters? Is that an official part of a government body or does it have the same legitimacy as the Justin Bieber Fan Club?

 

Don't answer that, by the way. I don't hate spoilers but I'd like them kept to a minimum. Thanks![/quote']

 

It wasn't a huge plot event, rather just a POV comment in someone's head that was made and then not mentioned again AFAIK. That's why I said it, it's really not a spoiler. I wouldn't say there's a IBC that takes applications for blademaster status. I'd say it's much more of a teacher student relationship where when the teacher thinks they're ready they would put something together for them to gain that level of acknowledgement. As to defeating another blademaster I guess the thought is if you can best someone with the heron mark then you deserve it.

 

Again' date=' are there no counterfeiters? Having that sword shouldn't make him dangerous (rather, no more dangerous than any person with a sword). Does Rand look like a soldier? Does he have the focused eyes, the stance, the whole vibe of a blademaster? No. He looks like a teenage farmboy with a fancy sword.

 

In my opinion, that is. I can be swayed pretty easily on this. [/quote']

 

I just want to clarify that when you're saying counterfeiters you're saying someone who added a heron onto an actual sword, and not someone carrying around a facimile sword which isn't actually for combat, right?

 

While I'm sure there are people who think well of themselves enough to have a heron added onto a sword, remember the type of world this is. Swords are expensive, so a regular person isn't going to go out and blow money on an awesome sword with custom engraving. So yes I imagine there are people holding heron-mark blades who don't deserve them. Still anyone who sees one is going to think that the person deserves it even if their eyes tell them it's just a farmboy and he can't possibly be a blademaster.

 

As to the .... presence of a blademaster. No for the most part Rand doesn't have it.... for the most part. In the first couple of books he does occasionally have that presence... for instance when confronting Bornhald and co. in Baerlon. His stance and demeanor were one of the things that gave the Whitecloaks pause to think that perhaps he was a blademaster.

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