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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Rereading the books can give you a whole new perspective.


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I read the Wheel of Time series for the first time when I was about 13 or 14. I've started reading them again now that I'm 18, and I have to say that the characters really do look a lot different to a child than they do to someone who's (supposedly) a grown up. A few examples:

 

I really didn't like Moiraine when I read the books the first time because she seemed really manipulative. While she redeemed herself killing Lanfear, I still didn't like her that much. The second time around I warmed up to her quickly, because her motivations are a lot more understandable than they were the first time. She's spent a large chunk of her life hunting Rand, planning to protect and prepare him to fight the last battle. Of course she's going to be more than a little clingy. While she has the Aes Sedai tendency to want to control Rand, she also has the decidedly un-Aes Sedai quality of actually doing what's best for him and the world. She is also one of the few Aes Sedai to give him any good advice: never trust Aes Sedai. 

 

I hated Nynaeve when I first read the books. She was bossy, headstrong and annoying. She was basically an annoying authority figure who decided to tag along and make things harder on everyone. When I reread the books, I found that she's the only powerpuff girl* that I don't hate. I liked buttercup in the cartoon, too, I guess. Where Elayne and Egwene have a completely misplaced sense of authority over everything, Nynaeve is generally intelligent. Sure, she makes some stupid decisions ("Hey, Thom, Juilin... look, I know you've both been living in cities and spying and hunting down criminals and shit like that for decades, but I was village wisdom so you should obey my every command. Same goes for Elayne and Egwene, because clearly these two teenage girls have a lot more sense than any men could have!") but aside from occasional faults, she has one of the more interesting internal monologues. She doubts herself, and her self-image is completely different from what all the other characters think about her. She's also capable and intelligent in a non-mary sue way (which can't be said for Egwene).

 

I liked Elayne when I first read the books, because she was this cool princess who didn't act like a princess, but in a lot of ways she's just an Egwene analogue. They're very similar in a lot of ways, both being stubborn as hell and thinking they know better than anyone, especially men, but at least Elayne has a reason to think that way, which makes me hate her less than I would. Elayne is believable because she was raised from a very young age believing she has the right to rule, and that everyone should obey her. Within Andor, that is completely true. Now, of course she seems bitchy when she tries to steal Mat's men, but in the context of how she was raised and all that jazz, it makes sense. 

 

Egwene used to be one of my favorite characters, and honestly on my second reading I don't understand why. Constantly, throughout the books, Egwene's misplaced loyalty has bothered the hell out of me. She meets Moiraine when she's like 15, and suddenly decides that she wants to be Aes Sedai. After Moiraine, every other Aes Sedai we meet is incompetent, headstrong and moronic (with the exception of Cadsuane, Verin and Siuan, and Siuan still meets one of the three criteria). And she knows this. And yet, she slowly becomes convinced that Rand must bow to the White Tower. Further in regards to Rand, she also says that the White Tower mustn't kneel to any man. This continues even after Rand has been repeatedly betrayed by the White Tower. That made me put the book down for a couple hours, because in what seems like the span of less than two years, she's more loyal to that den of darkfriends and incompetents than she is to the Dragon re-f*cking-born, somebody she grew up with and was going to marry. Her thoughts on Rand leave only two options: She thinks that she knows better than everyone else in Randland, including the Aiel, the Wise Ones, the Asha'man, Davram Bashere, Mat, Perrin, Rand, Berelain, and every other Dragonsworn (because I guess technically they all are), or she just really wants to lose Tarmon Gai'don, because the Aes Sedai are so idiotic that I wish I could find a portal stone, go to Randland with a gun, steal Mat's foxhead medallion, shoot the warders and then slap every aes sedai until they get some flaming sense. Essentially, Egwene is nothing but an obstacle for all the real heroes to surmount. Of the three powerpuff girls in the story, Nynaeve is the only one with any sense, and yet even she is occasionally brought out of character to do something stupid (kneeling to someone like Egwene and calling her mother). Every chapter that I read where Egwene is the POV character, I'll sporadically notice that I'm talking to myself, saying things like, "What? Why the hell would you do that? That's so stupid!"

 

The first time I read the books, I didn't really like the Aiel that much. They were just weird. This time around, though, they're awesome. I'm also especially glad that they completely lose their respect for Aes Sedai, because let's be honest, few of them deserve much. I can understand their misplaced respect for Egwene, because Egwene has no personality and simply emulates whoever is around her, leading them to believe that she has honor. 

 

I was a lot more interested in Rand than Mat or Perrin the first time I read through the books. Probably because the title "Dragon Reborn" sounds awesome to a 14-year-old. On my second readings, however, Mat and Perrin came to the fore as my favorites. I also noticed that Davram Bashere is one cool motherf*cker. 

 

The reason that I've fallen in love with Mat (no homo bro!) this time around is just how goddamn cool he is. And also the fact that despite his initial appearance, he's one of the more sensible characters in the books. That quality made me especially angry when Elayne tried to turn him into her lapdog. His chapters are also generally the most interesting, with memories from the lives of men spread over thousands of years. Him generallin' it up with the Band of the Red Hand is awesome. His distrust of Aes Sedai is also awesome. His lack of giveafu*kness in regards to hanging the Dragon banner in Salidar made me chuckle heartily.

 

Perrin on the other hand was interesting because he's so goddamn modest, even though he's essentially proven himself as a badass warrior, incredibly competent general, and landed a hot (albeit crazy) wife. He constantly displays intelligence and ability while simultaneously believing that he's not so smart. He's also the first of the rowdy rough boys (let's just keep the powerpuff girls reference going) to land a wife, because he's keepin' it straight gangsta like that, even though he (like the other two) thinks he sucks with women. The chapters where he was defending the Two Rivers against the Trollocs and whitecloaks were some of the most interesting I've read thus far. 

 

As you can probably tell I hate the so-called Aes Sedai of the third age, but reading through these forums I can see that that's a pretty common feeling. Their strength-based hierarchy is what pisses me off most, though, because Siuan loses all her clout even though she's clearly and demonstrably the best possible leader for the Aes Sedai. It really pissed me off when Robert Jordan decided to have her accept her new found place as the omega wolf, instead of rising above it. It was especially grating when she apologizes to Egwene for speaking her mind. 

 

Those were the major differences I noticed in my opinions of the characters, growing up. There are a lot of characters in the books you can't hate, or like, no matter what age you're at. The Seanchan are a godmode faction of evil douchebags, Juilin Sandar, Thom Merillin and Lan are just way too cool to hate, the borderlands are badass.

 

I have no clue why I wrote this terribly written post. I think it's because I've been yelling at my books more often than reading them lately, and for somebody who is otherwise considered psychologically normal that can't be a good thing. If you take anything away from this, I hope it's that Egwene is the most hate-able character in the series. Unless Ramsay Bolton hops through a portal stone. 

 

 

*Let's be honest,  Bubbles = Elayne, Buttercup = Nynaeve, Blossom = Egwene. It's not perfect, I know, but... shut up! I didn't watch Powerpuff Girls anyway! Because that'd be--girly!

Edited by Tranovious
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I've just started rereading the series myself as I just got AMoL, and I absolutely hate the Powerpuff girls. The way they treat Mat in A Crown of Swords just makes me want to strangle them, especially Elayne's reaction to Mat being freaking raped by Tylin...

 

"I have heard reliably that that is what young women do who attract the eyes of kings." Something cracked the sobriety
of her voice, and this time her lips definitely twitched. "You might try batting your eyelashes, too." Catching her lower
lip with her teeth, she turned away, shoulders shaking, dust-cloak streaming behind as she hurried toward the landing.
Before she darted beyond hearing, he heard her chortle something about "a taste of his own medicine."
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I hated Nynaeve when I first read the books. She was bossy, headstrong and annoying. She was basically an annoying authority figure who decided to tag along and make things harder on everyone. When I reread the books, I found that she's the only powerpuff girl* that I don't hate. I liked buttercup in the cartoon, too, I guess. Where Elayne and Egwene have a completely misplaced sense of authority over everything, Nynaeve is generally intelligent.

Nynaeve is way more bossy than Elayne, despite the latter being the princess.

 

 

I liked Elayne when I first read the books, because she was this cool princess who didn't act like a princess, but in a lot of ways she's just an Egwene analogue. They're very similar in a lot of ways, both being stubborn as hell and thinking they know better than anyone, especially men, but at least Elayne has a reason to think that way, which makes me hate her less than I would. Elayne is believable because she was raised from a very young age believing she has the right to rule, and that everyone should obey her. Within Andor, that is completely true. Now, of course she seems bitchy when she tries to steal Mat's men, but in the context of how she was raised and all that jazz, it makes sense.

I don't think they are all that similar, frankly. Elayne is nowhere near as stubborn and much more likely to listen to others and act as peacemakers instead of the "my way or the high way" attitude, which Egwene exemplifies. She's also more likely to listen to advice from men and think better of them than Egwene. Sure, she has plenty of the "women know better" attitude like pretty much any female character in this series, but nowhere near as much as Egwene or Nynaeve (before the last few volumes made Nynaeve reconsider somewhat).

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Still think the reason Nyn isn't annoying is that the story treats her jerkassery with a bit of irony. The story is aware that she's a jerk and treats her accordingly. With Egwene, not so much.

I really wish we could know what RJ intended when he wrote Egwene.  Did he mean for her to be so divisive in the fandom?  Or did he intend for her to be an adored heroine?  I think in some ways she is RJ's greatest success because she is a complex character that can interpreted in so many different ways.

 

Agreed on Nynaeve.  The first time I read through the series I totally missed the humour in her scenes.  Now when I reread you can see the author gently poking fun at her, and she has some of the funniest scenes in the series (after Mat).  Her reaction to Rand telling all three ladies he loves them in WH is priceless and makes it at even better scene than it already was.

 

Elayne, I used to dislike, but after a few rereads she has grown on me.  She never actively tries to cause problems.  She doesn't bully or boss like Nynaeve, and she isn't cruel or snappy like Egwene (in the earlier books).  She really tries to smooth things over all of the time and be nice to everyone.  She, she comes off as a bit of a spoiled princess sometimes, but that's exactly what she is by birth.

Edited by Rhienne
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I wouldn't call Egwene complex. The only reason she's so divisive is because as a character herself she's shallow, but at first glance she appears to be much more. Then you realize that her character traits are: Perfect, smarter than everyone, takes on the personality of those around her.

 

Also, I suppose Elayne isn't all that bad. I'm just in A Crown of Swords right now where she goes full on bitch mode on Mat.

Edited by Tranovious
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I'm in the middle of my first reread in at least 12 years, and without a doubt the thing I've enjoyed the most is "Dashiva" and his interactions with Rand in ACoS. I had no memory of those scenes, and reading them now with perspective is blowing my mind. His reactions to Cadsuane's jabs at Rand are too hilarious.

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Dashiva is probably one of my favorite characters because of the re-reads.  The first time though, you're just confused by why this seemingly half-mad Asha'Man is acting like he knows more about the One Power than Rand.  Could you imagine how he must have felt when Rand randomly chose him to be a part of the group that stays with Rand after Dumai's Wells.  He gets me laughing during every re-read haha.

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I hated the Aes sedai up until the world started hating them too. Then they just became so sad that I wanted to hug them. The protracted humiliation conga they go through skeeves me off... a lot.

I think that kind of needs to happen though.  Its one of the major parts of Egwene's plot that she is able to pull them back together from the mess they have become.  If Siuan hadn't lost the trust of some of the Aes Sedai, and then Elaida hadn't trampled on what was left, there would have been no reason to raise an 18 year old girl as Amyrlin.  The Aes Sedai in the Tower wouldn't have even bothered talking to her if the situation between the ajahs hadn't been so bad.  I do sometimes think its taken a bit too far - it is hard to imagine these women who have centuries of experience at healing illnesses, battling trollops, and mediating conflicts, etc. to be so petty, immature, and lacking leadership qualities.

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Well It could be RJ's attempt to show us that the world respects and fears the Aes Sedai for their abilities with the One Power, and thus keeps a healthy distance from them.  Not realizing that they are just women, who happen to have special powers. 

 

EDIT: The world not realizing they are just women, who happen to have special powers, and abuse the hell out of their privilege. 

 

PS: Haha! Can just see it *in Powerpuff girl announcer voice: Egwene, Elayne, and Nenaeve fighting crime and the forces of evil! 

Edited by Plato
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Wow!  I was 18 when I began reading the series and I felt exactly the same way about the characters as you do now.  Nyneave has always been one of my favorite characters.  I've always preferred Perrin and Mat to Rand (thought I really didn't like Mat until The Dragon Reborn, before that he just seemed like a little punk) I've always thought the Aiel were badass.  Never cared much for Egwene or Elayne.  I guess the only difference is that I never had a problem with Moiraine.

 

So how do you feel about Galad?  During my first read through I couldn't stand him.  He just seemed like a goodie-two-shoe, tattle tale, know it all older brother.  I really hated how he called the royal guard on Rand when he snuck into the Royal Palace at Camelyn.  However, now that I'm older I've really come to like Galad and realize that in that scene he was the only one who was acting sensibly.  I'm mean from his perspective Rand was an unauthorized intruder on palace grounds armed with a sword during a time of civil unrest in Camelyn.  Or course he's going to call the guards, it was beyond moronic for Elayne and Gawyn to immediately trust him.

Edited by Leopoled Boothe
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So how do you feel about Galad?  During my first read through I couldn't stand him.  He just seemed like a goodie-two-shoe, tattle tale, know it all older brother.  I really hated how he called the royal guard on Rand when he snuck into the Royal Palace at Camelyn.  However, now that I'm older I've really come to like Galad and realize that in that scene he was the only one who was acting sensibly.  I'm mean from his perspective Rand was an unauthorized intruder on palace grounds armed with a sword during a time of civil unrest in Camelyn.  Or course he's going to call the guards, it was beyond moronic for Elayne and Gawyn to immediately trust him.

I think knowing some of Galad's later actions really help in being sympathetic to him early on.

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 The main issue I have with Galad is that he swore to kill Uno and Ragan if something happen to Nynaeve and Elayne (and since he's galad, he meant it). This was a major WTF moment for me. Why the hell was he holding them responsible? He didn't even know what their connections were to Nynaeve, whether they are more than guards she hired to take her through the city or more.

 

 Also Galad joining the Whitecloaks when he knew very well they were enemies of Morgase (who he adored) and wanted to see her and Elayne dead was just baffling. It worked out at the end, but what the hell was Galad thinking at the time? 

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 Also Galad joining the Whitecloaks when he knew very well they were enemies of Morgase (who he adored) and wanted to see her and Elayne dead was just baffling. It worked out at the end, but what the hell was Galad thinking at the time? 

 

That it was the right thing to do. A greater calling.

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Posted Today, 01:52 PM

 The main issue I have with Galad is that he swore to kill Uno and Ragan if something happen to Nynaeve and Elayne (and since he's galad, he meant it). This was a major WTF moment for me. Why the hell was he holding them responsible? He didn't even know what their connections were to Nynaeve, whether they are more than guards she hired to take her through the city or more.

 

 Also Galad joining the Whitecloaks when he knew very well they were enemies of Morgase (who he adored) and wanted to see her and Elayne dead was just baffling. It worked out at the end, but what the hell was Galad thinking at the time? 

I think Galad was actually having a bit of a crisis at that point.  Elayne points out how he has to face the issue of helping her (which is 'right') and following the law against Aes Sedai (which is also 'right').  I think Galad eventually resolves this conflict once he becomes Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light and informs the Children with him that they will be fighting with the Aes Sedai at Tarmon Gai'don.  Initially, I think his character is shown as choosing the 'right' option even if it seems to be missing a greater good, while by the end of the series, Galad has grown, and is able to distinguish the greater good, and bigger issues, from making the 'right' decision based on points of law, and minor scruples.

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I also felt that Galad was kind of a bitch when I first read through the books. He did grow on me, though, and honestly while I had a problem with him joining the whitecloaks the first time around, this reading I'm completely fine with it. The Tar Valon witches need to be brought to heel anyways.

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I hope I hate the Aes Sedai as much as EVERYONE else in the universe does when I next read the series. Because reading them getting treated like garbage is painful

I think that to be fair, the Aes Sedai are still respected by the majority of non-channelers (at least in nations where they're not outlawed).  At the beginning of the series the Aes Sedai are the only channelers we (and the people of Randland) know about, and part of their aura of mystery and power comes from their uniqueness.  As the reader, we then see other channeling groups begin to interact with the Aes Sedai: the Wise Ones come to the Westlands for the first time, the Windfinders leave their ships and spend prolonged periods of time on land for the first time, the Kin come out of hiding for the first time, damane and sul'dam reach the Westlands for the first time, channeling men come into the open and form their own organisation for the first time.  From the perspectives of these other channeling groups there is no reason why they should consider the Aes Sedai above them (apart from the Kin).  However, the Aes Sedai are not used to interacting with other channeling groups, and carry on as normal, e.g. expecting everyone to defer to them and act as they dictate.  Unsurprisingly this doesn't really work as the Wise Ones and Windfinders are used to having their own way.  I think the Aes Sedai would need more time than they are given in-series to adapt to this change gracefully.

 

Furthermore, for plot-related reasons, its important that the Aes Sedai don't seem too competent, particularly for Egwene's arc, but also to Elayne's at a lesser extent, and even a little for Nynaeve's Healing discoveries to be meaningful.

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