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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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I just finished up my reread before AMoL, and I noticed the passage where Rhuarc tells Rand about the meegerling. ToM: Chapter 13, location 3911 of the Kindle edition.

 

"'In the Three-fold Land' Rhuarc said, stepping forward, 'there is an animal. The meegerling. It looks much like a rat, but it is far more stupid. If you place it near grain, it will go straight toward it, regardless of the danger. No matter how many times it falls in a trench between itself and the food, it will repeat the same action if you move it back to the start. Aiel children amuse themselves with the game.' He studied Rand. ' I had not thought you would be a meegerling, Rand al'Thor.'"

 

This passage seems out of place, and I've seen some small discussion of its significance. Reading it through again, it struck me as Brandon Sanderson confronting the Dune parallels in the books. The Rand/Paul Atreides and the Aiel/Fremen similarities are well-tread territory, but here, Brandon Sanderson, through Rhuarc, calls out the differences between the two Messiah figures.

 

***Slight Dune spoilers follow***

 

Paul Atreides took Muad'dib as his Fremen name, which pleased them. In Dune, a Muad'dib is a desert mouse.

 

"Muad'Dib is wise in the ways of the desert. Muad'Dib creates his own water. Muad'Dib hides from the sun and travels in the cool night. Muad'Dib is fruitful and multiplies over the land. Muad'Dib we call 'instructor-of-boys.' That is a powerful base on which to build your life, Paul Muad'Dib, who is Usul among us."

 

Paul Muad'dib's professed task in Dune is to avoid a jihad. However, his corruption eventually leads to that jihad on a massive scale. In the passage from ToM, Rand has just let go of his corruption and is facing the Aiel for the first time as his new self. Rhuarc is telling him that in this Age, the desert rat is looked on as a stupid creature. It is an homage to Dune, where the Muad'dib was unable to shirk his corruption and it led to destruction on a massive scale. He is telling Rand they are glad he has bypassed his corruption and was able to overcome the flaws of Paul Muad'dib. It is almost a callout, Brandon Sanderson saying "our character is better," while on the surface it merely looks as though Rhuarc is chastising Rand for going to battle without the Aiel. The passages in ToM go so far as talking about Aiel children taunting the desert rat, which seems like a very strange sentence if not put there specifically to mirror the passage in Dune about the Fremen regaling the desert rat as an "instructor-of-boys." There may even be some significance in the name 'meegerling,' meager of course being a possible way to describe something that would make its own water and hide by day. The reputation of the desert mouse seems to come from the Aiel's cultural memory, which makes sense if the Aiel are a Fremen parallel.

 

Thanks a lot for listening, and please share any thoughts you might have on the subject.

Edited by TheDuffieldBomb
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Late reaction, but I never considered that it was any particular failing in Paul Atreides that caused the Jihad. It was either death (in the desert, or at the point of a crysknife) or being pushed into a position of authority among the Fremen for him. What was he to do, refuse to teach his fellows the 'wizarding ways', in so doing tipping the scales of their struggle against their Harkonnen overlords?

 

Therefore, while I do see this as a Dune reference, I don't read any judgment into it. It's merely a parallel (if reversed), one among many (they are truly too numerous to count).

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I do not really see a great parallel here, this is more Rhuarc telling Rand in a round about way to not be an idiot, while in Dune the Muad'Dib is a respected, admired animal which then Paul is named after. It is like the difference between someone saying don't act like a pig versus saying you are so beautiful that I will nickname you swan.

 

There is allot of Dune in Wheel of Time, Jordan was obviously inspired by the Dune books and there is huge similarities between Rand and Paul, but I do not think this example you bring up here is one of those similarities.

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