Hello, and welcome to part two of our reread of The Eye of the World! My name is Matthew, and I am a writer, artist, and game developer from Arizona.
This post will cover The Eye of the World, Chapters 1-2. If you haven’t been following this since the beginning, you can catch up on the Introduction and Prologue in my first post, here.
CHAPTER ONE :: “AN EMPTY ROAD”
Rand al’Thor tries to convince his father Tam that there is a rider cloaked in black following them as they are traveling into town for the festival, but Tam doesn’t believe him. Eventually they meet up with old friends in Emond’s Field and forget about the rider temporarily.
In the beginning of Chapter One: An Empty Road, we find one of the protagonists of the series, Rand al’Thor, on his way with his father Tam into nearby town Emond’s Field with a cart-full of apple brandy and cider barrels for the upcoming festival. Their horse Bela is pulling the cart. This road they are following, called the Quarry Road, cuts through the Westwood and takes them right from their farmhouse into the town of Emond’s Field. It is noted that winter has been especially harsh and still hangs on even when it should have been long gone. Also worthy to point out, Rand is unusually tall and fair with orange-brown hair and gray eyes.
During their journey, the feeling of being watched continues to gnaw at Rand. Eventually he glances over his shoulder to see a black-cloaked figure on a black horse following not that far behind them. Oddly, the wind doesn’t move the rider’s cloak at all, even as it is is twirling Rand’s cloak furiously. He can’t see all but the faintest outline of a face under the cowl, and feels nothing but hatred from the shadowed gaze. Rand trips over a stone in the road, but when he looks back up at where the rider and horse were, he sees nothing. Trying to explain this to Tam, he is just figuratively patted on the head and met with skepticism, albeit told that Tam believes him.
Tam uses this moment to remind Rand about the “flame and the void”, a concept he uses to win archery tournaments at festivals. It consists of focusing all of your thoughts on a single flame on a field of black, and then feeding the flame all emotion and passion until your mind becomes empty.
On the way through Emond’s Field to the Winespring Inn, they cross paths with a number of characters. Most notably, Wit Congar stops them to complain about the new Wisdom of Emond’s Field being too young, until his wife comes out to rebuke him. They continue through the town of neat, thatched-roof houses and see everyone setting up for the yearly Bel Tine festival.
At the Winespring Inn, Bran al’Vere, both the innkeeper of the Winespring Inn as well as the mayor of Emond’s Field, greets them. Bran is the father of Egwene, a village girl that Rand fancies and is, in some respect, all but betrothed to. Tam stops to talk to Bran, but they are interrupted by Cenn Buie, the village thatcher, who has nothing but bad things to say about the state of the Two Rivers, complaining about everything from the weather to the omens of wolves and ravens.
Here we meet Mat Cauthon, who tugs on Rand’s sleeve and pulls him away from the discussion. Mat is a mischievous young adult who never grew up, always describing his last immature escapade with a twinkle in his eye. He goes into the last one about how he and some friends caught a badger and were considering letting it loose elsewhere in town to watch the girls run and scream. Rand is less interested in listening to Mat’s childish antics than anything else, and tries to get out of it by explaining how he needs to help his father unload the barrels. In Mat’s complaining about work, he mentions something that reminds Rand of the black-cloaked rider, and they find out that they’ve both seen it. They compare details, but Rand doesn’t approve of Mat’s theories that it might be the Dark One or one of the Forsaken, the dark followers of the Dark One. He recites a childhood saying claiming that the Dark One and the Forsaken alike are all bound in Shayol Ghul until the end of time.
When Tam sees Mat, he recruits both of the boys to come help unload the cider.
CHAPTER TWO :: “STRANGERS”
Rand and Mat finish carrying the barrels into the Winespring Inn, have a run in with a strange raven, meet Lady Moraine and Lan, and discover that both a peddler and a gleeman are coming this year to Bel Tine.
Rand and Mat carry the barrels from the car into the Winespring Inn, depositing them in the cellar while Tam finds a place in the common room in front of the fireplace and mantel. Some of the Village Council is in the inn right now, but Rand is just nervous about running into Egwene. He tries not to think about it. Mat pulls him away from staring at some of the Village Council members as Mistress al’Vere, wife of Bran al’Vere, rushes in with honeycakes for the council. Mat remarks about how he covered some dogs in flour and set them loose near someone’s house in town, and then proceeded to spread rumors of ghost dogs in Emond’s Field. He suspects that Master Luhhan, the blacksmith, knows that it was him.
Finally done with the barrels, the boys run into Ewin Finngar, a friend of theirs who came to tell them about the “strangers” in Emond’s Field. One is a man named Lan with a cloak that changes colors and seems to fade into whatever is behind him, and wears his sword like it’s a part of him. The other is a woman named Lady Moiraine who they think is some kind of highborn lady. Mat says that he forgot to tell Rand about them. They arrived the night before and are staying at the Winespring Inn. Apparently, Moraine had a meeting with Nynaeve, the town Wisdom, and accidentally offended her by implying that she was a child.
Mat announced that there will be a gleeman, raising excitement from Rand and Ewin. They follow Mat out of the cellar and through the common room, where all eight of the Village Council has gathered. Outside, Rand feels the eery feeling of being watched again, and notices a raven staring at them from a nearby roof. They throw rocks at it, but it just steps aside and lets the rocks sail past. The boys are greeted by Moiraine from behind them, at which point the raven takes flight.
Moiraine is a beautiful woman with dark, deep eyes and whose age is nearly impossible to guess, with a regal grace and air of command. She is short, but lived up to any and all of their stories and gleeman’s tales. Moiraine gives all three of the boys each a coin, and tells them that she is a student of history. She implies that the Two Rivers had not always been called that, before telling them that she will talk to them later. Slipping away, a tall man follows her, and Ewin is quick to point out that it is Lan.
Eventually, the sound of the peddler’s wagon coming over the bridge breaks up their banter and sends the three boys in that direction.
As stated before, The Eye of the World draws a lot of inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Here we learn about boys in a small town who begin seeing things out of the ordinary and realizing that there is a lot more out there than they’ve seen in their lifetimes. With the arrival of strange newcomers, they get to catch a glimpse of what they’ve old heard of in stories. A lot of things in Emond’s Field parallels Hobbiton in many ways, as you’ll see in following chapters.
THE BREAKDOWN :: Chapters One and Two
The Two Rivers - The Two Rivers, Emond’s Field, The Westwood, The Sand Hills, The Mountains of Mist.
The Two Rivers is a small, often forgotten section far in the western side of the country of Andor. Within it are several towns, including Taren Ferry, Watch Hill, Deven Ride, and the aforementioned Emond’s Field. To the east are the looming Mountains of Mist and the Sand Hills which lead into the Westwood. The Winespring Water, the river for which the Inn is named, runs from the mountains east through Emond’s Field and out into the Waterwood at the eastern edge of the Two Rivers.
Emond’s Field - Bel Tine festival, mayor, Village Council, Wisdom, Women’s Circle, Winespring Inn.
Emond’s Field is where the story begins, and is one of the four main towns in the Two Rivers. Bel Tine, the celebration of the end of winter and beginning of spring, is the reason Rand and Tam are making their way into town.
In town, you are introduced the Village Council. There are eight men on the council, but only seven are named in the book. Including Tam al’Thor, Bran al’Vere, and Cenn Buie, the others are Rowan Hurn, Samel Crawe, Haral Luhhan, Jon Thane, and an eighth left unnamed. Bran al’Vere is also the mayor of Emond’s Field, as well as serving as the innkeeper of the Winespring Inn. His wife is Mistress al’Vere and his daughter is Egwene al’Vere.
Conversely, the Women’s Circle is a council of women. Both the Women’s Circle and Village Council are often at odds with each other. The Women’s Circle is responsible for certain duties such as the timing of planting and harvesting crops, while the Village Council handles matters that affect the village as a whole or overlap with other towns.
Nynaeve is briefly mentioned in Chapter Two: Strangers and confirmed as being the town Wisdom, which is a woman in a village who has a great knowledge of healing and is usually gifted at foretelling the weather. The Wisdom is chosen by a village’s Women’s Circle and serves her entire life, often at a level regarded as equal or above even the mayor.
The Darkness - Shayol Ghul, the Great Blight, Ishamael, Aginor.
As the saying goes, the Creator imprisoned and bound the Dark One and the Forsaken at the moment of Creation far north past the land called the Great Blight in Shayol Ghul. The Forsaken are the thirteen most powerful Aes Sedai that ever lived who went to the Shadow, and whose names are used to frighten children to this day. Two are mentioned in these chapters — Aginor and Ishamael.
The Strangers - Lan, Lady Moiraine.
Lan is described as being a tall man with long hair that is turning gray at the temples and held back with a leather cord around his head. He wears a cloak that shifts colors and blends in with whatever is behind him, and wears his sword like it is a part of him. The boys speculate that he is a Warder, a mystical warrior that does battle against the Shadow in the stories far north in the Great Blight and in Shayol Ghul. Other than that, not much is known about Lan, other than he seems to be in service to the Lady Moiraine.
Until next week....