Hello, all! Welcome back to another edition of Dragonmount's Theory Blog, "WoT If?". After a long summer break, the Theory Blog is back! We'll pick up where we left off, covering chapters 31 and 32 of The Eye of the World.
Synopsis, taken from Encyclopaedia-WoT:
Rand and Mat travel the road from Whitebridge to Caemlyn. They hide when mounted patrols pass. Rand keeps hoping to see Thom come up from behind. Mat keeps fingering his ruby dagger. They spend their first night out of Whitebridge outside on the ground. They are running out of money and cannot afford to stay at an inn. Rand asks Mat about selling the ruby dagger, but Mat gets angry. They stay at several farms and get some meals in exchange for a few hours work. After several days they arrive at the Grinwell farm and Master Grinwell invites them to stay the night. The eldest daughter is Else Grinwell. She starts flirting with Rand. Mistress Grinwell has yellow hair, which Rand has never seen before. The Grinwells suggest that Rand and Mat play at inns. Mistress Grinwell is suspicious of Rand's intent for her daughter and is happy to see him leave. The next day, at dusk, they enter the village of Arien. There is only one inn, and the innkeeper lets them stay there and have a meal in exchange for them performing. The next morning, Eazil Forney gives them a ride out of town. Rand and Mat continue traveling in this manner for several days and then they arrive at Four Kings.
Rand and Mat arrive at Four Kings at dusk. The Caemlyn Road runs through the center of town. It is a rougher town than Rand and Mat are used to. They finally stop at the fourth inn, The Dancing Cartman. Saml Hake is the innkeeper. Jak and Strom are the bouncers. Rand and Mat have to bargain harder for their room and board than they have at any other place. They play for a very rough crowd. They figure out that Saml Hake is going to rob them. They take notice of a noble in the back of the room who is watching them. Rand overhears that he stopped and looked in all the other inns, including the Royal Inn, then came here. Rand steps outside and sees the man's carriage. The man's name is Howal Gode. Rand remembers seeing him in Whitebridge. Eventually all the patrons leave except for Howal Gode, who takes a room there for the night. Rand and Mat are shown to their room. After Saml Hake, Jak and Strom leave their room, Rand and Mat block the door. They try to escape through the window, but find it is nailed shut. Howal Gode comes to their room and tries to enter. Gode tries to get them to surrender. Rand and Mat look outside and see men outside, watching the window. Lightning then strikes their room. The wall with the window has a hole in it. Mat cannot see but he and Rand take their belongings and leave.
First off, let me apologize for taking such a long summer break. I was still reading, but unable to get the time to write anything! I'm sure you all understand. Second, I apologize for taking my summary from an outside source. I like to phrase my synopsis in my own words, paying attention to certain things I noticed while reading. However, Encyclopaedia WoT is such a fantastic source, and all the major facts are there. Using this is easier on me, which makes it easier to get the writing done.
Now we can get to the story. With the last two chapters focusing on Perrin and his conflicts, it's a nice change of pace to see Rand's and Mat's woes. Perrin's struggles are mostly internal—except the little Whitecloak problem. With Rand and Mat, all their problems are physical—except the nightmares of Ba'alzamon. This is a good juxtaposition of emotions. Both groups are running, but Mat's and Rand's adventure is a bit more reactive; they constantly have the Darkfriends nipping at their feet, forcing them to move on.
I also like the fact that Perrin discovered some inner talents and ran from them, while Rand and Mat are able to use their talents to get meals and rooms at inns. Obviously talking with wolves and juggling are two very different things, but it shows that Perrin is able to hide his skills, let them go unused because he is afraid of them. Rand, on the other hand, uses all that he has. This is very closely related to his attitude once he starts channeling. He does try to hide from it, at first, but he quickly accepts that it's a tool, and he must use it. Of course, Rand also gets to the point where he views people and friends in this same light. And, of course, Perrin wouldn't use people or friends—especially Faile—even when it was the logical thing to do.
Looking at it this way, Rand and Perrin are almost complete opposites. In literary terms, I think Perrin could be Rand's foil, a character that's used to highlight both their differences. Only when you look at them side by side do you see how drastic their distinctions are, and how strong their characteristics are. Despite growing up in the same town and raised on the same values, their innate personalities are nowhere near the same.
And where does Mat play into all of this? He's just the comic relief. At least, he is at this point in the story. He gets more important as the story progresses, but he's not as developed as the other two in this book. And I don't blame Robert Jordan at all for keeping Mat in the shadows at this point. That's what makes his rise to stardom in The Shadow Rising all the more interesting and fun.
Actually, Mat does function as more than just the comic relief. He's a red herring for the one Moiraine is looking for—when he randomly speaks the Old Tongue, we're forced to wonder if the Shadow wants him. And he also serves as a companion for Rand, aiding in Rand's character growth. The way Rand reacts to Mat's paranoia, and his blindness, and his weaknesses shows us more about him than about Mat. Personally, I love the way Rand cares for Mat during the next few chapters (one in particular, we'll talk about next time). This shows us Rand's true core. How deeply he loves his friends. Rand is so tender in these moments, and it's a great contrast to how callused and distant he becomes in later books.
Now, talking about all their troubles, we know that the Darkfriends are drawn to the ruby-hilted dagger from Shadar Logoth. We'll talk about this more later when we reach the end of the book—remember Aginor's "An old friend, and old enemy" line? But we can touch on it now. It's curious that there are men who are so far in the Shadow that they can feel the dagger. Gode says he can feel it coming off them in waves, that they are already halfway turned to the Shadow. That's a very creepy thought. Is the dagger so powerful, or is Gode so evil? And could you imagine what would have happened if Rand had grabbed the dagger instead of Mat? For him to be corrupted so much would definitely be a bad thing!
Also, this part of the journey is really teaching Rand and Mat about the real world. Before, they were pretty sheltered in the Two Rivers. When the innkeeper means to rob them, I think they learn some important lessons. Poor country bumpkins need to grow up quickly.
Rand channeling is another main part of chapter 32. I think it's interesting here that he's beginning to wonder where his luck is coming from. After the lightning hits the window, he thinks, "Luck. The Light's own ... Is it?" So even Rand is wondering if it's the Dark One's luck that's helping. Or could it be that he's wondering about channeling? Maybe that Mat is channeling? Or that he is channeling? It seems odd that he wouldn't notice the signs of the reaction. But, we see Nynaeve's point of view when Moiraine tells her she can channel, and it's very easy to understand how they could be in denial. But still, with Darkfriends and worse after them, wouldn't Rand begin to wonder a little? To look at the weird experiences his body has had over the past two weeks or so?
Maybe. Maybe not. But I think we'll stop there for now. I really like the next few chapters, with Rand's arrival into Caemlyn and the events that follow—especially meeting Loial. See you next time and thanks for reading!