Welcome back to another edition of "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. We are going to continue our reread of The Eye of the World, chapters 5-6.
Before we start, I do want to say that there will still be SPOILERS! With the ending in sight, much of what I point out could allude to things that happen in A Memory of Light, so keep that in mind as you read. Don't continue if you don't want to be spoiled.
Chapter 5, "Winternight"
Rand and Tam return to the farm. After inspecting the area—searching for signs of the black rider, and finding none—they get to work on chores. They go inside to finish dinner, and while waiting, Tam gets out a key and locks the front and back doors, something that had never been done in Rand's memory. Then, as Rand fixes tea, Tam gets out a storage box from his upstairs bedroom and returns with a sword. Rand is instantly filled with curiosity about how Tam came to own a sword. Tam says Kari told him to get rid of it, but it might be a good thing that he had held onto it all these years.
There is a sudden knock from the door, and a few seconds later, it is broken down and a huge shape fills the doorway. Rand throws the kettle of boiling water at it and Tam kills it with the sword. Tam tells Rand to run, and he goes to the back door. The door is locked, so he climbs out the window. He warns Tam that they are coming in the back, then runs to the side of the barn. Tam emerges a few moments later, and heads towards the back of the house. Rand yells that he's not that way, and both run off in different directions to the forest.
They meet up in the forest, and Tam tells Rand the creatures were Trollocs—monsters out of stories. Tam has been slashed by one of the Trolloc's swords and is burning up with fever. Rand lets his father rest, and returns to the house for supplies. He takes Tam's sword with him.
Once inside the house, Rand gathers up some items. Then, one of the Trollocs on the floor gets up and begins to talk with Rand. Narg tells Rand that they won't hurt him, and that the Myrddraal only wants to talk. Rand lowers his sword and Narg attacks. Rand gets the sword raised in time, killing the Trolloc. Now he knows they will be back, so he grabs blankets, cloaks, water, and goes to find Bela in the barn.
There's no sign of the horse, or the cow, in the barn. Instead, Rand uses pieces of the shattered cart as a litter. He returns to Tam thinking of how he needs to get his father to Nynaeve.
Chapter 6, "The Westwood"
Rand looks over his father's wounds and wonders how a small scratch could cause such a fever. He cleans and bandages the wound, then gets Tam situated on the litter. Rand decides to follow the Quarry Road towards Emond's Field, but to stay hidden in the trees. They make their way towards town.
As they continue, Tam begins to murmur with fever-dreams. He talks about how "they came over the Dragonwall like a flood." Rand tires to keep him quiet. Rand hears approaching horse hoofs and crouches over Tam. The black rider appears on the road with a lot of Trollocs marching behind him. Rand waits until they have passed then begins to straighten. Without a sound, the black rider appears again, inspecting the woods to either side of the road. Soon, he passes on, then swiftly gallops back towards the farm.
Tam begins talking again, about Avendasora, the Tree of Life, and how its sapling had been cut down. Since Tam's voice is only a whisper, Rand pushes on for Emond's Field. But when Tam starts talking about running from a battle, Rand can't help but hear. He found a baby on the slopes of the mountain. Brought the baby back to Kari. Tells Kari that Rand is a good name. Rand dismisses the event as a fever dream, but instantly begins to wonder who he is.
Chapter 5 is the calm before the storm, so you don't really get a sense of much going on. It builds more on Rand's nature than anything else, how dutiful he is as a son, etc. We see how much Tam means to him, and how Tam's presence is able to focus him and motivate him. I think this is important later when they meet again in Towers of Midnight. As Rand grows more powerful, and more influential, he tires to distance himself from the boy he is in The Eye of the World. But, perhaps it was necessary for him to learn some lessons the hard way.
One ironic thing I'd like to point out in Chapter 5 is that Rand thinks, "there was no false Dragon here." No, Rand, only the real one.
Chapter 6 starts the real journey. Not just leaving the Two Rivers and going to the Eye of the World, but the whole journey of Rand's life as the Dragon Reborn. We learn that the Myrddraal wants to "talk" to him from Narg the Trolloc. We learn that other Myrddraal and Trollocs will be back—meaning that there is some reason Rand is being hunted. And perhaps most importantly, we learn that Tam is not Rand's biological father. More on this in a bit.
I'd like to return to the idea of Rand already being ta'veren. I know Robert Jordan said that he only becomes ta'veren after leaving with Moiraine, but there are several references to uncanny luck in this chapter. For instance:
How many times had he daydreamed about wearing a sword and having adventures? If he could kill one Trolloc with it, he could surely fight of any others as well. Only, he knew all too well that what had happened in the farmhouse had been the purest luck.
The trotting column [of Trollocs] disappeared westward, thumping footfalls fading into the darkness, but Rand remained where he was, not moving a muscle except to breathe. Something told him to be certain, absolutely certain, they were gone before he moved.
What is this "something" that tells him what to do. It could be instincts; he did grow up on a farm and hunted in the surrounding forests. But it could just as easily be the Pattern delicately pulling him the way he is supposed to go.
Of course, there could be another explanation. If we jump ahead in the timeline, Rand's first channeling would be less than twenty-four hours from this moment. Is it possible it's his connection to the One Power that warns him about the danger of the Trollocs and Myrddraal? Once he gets a better understanding of saidin, he is able to sense Trollocs—the same way Moiraine senses them. He could instinctively be reading the warning of the One Power.
If Rand being ta'veren is out, I think this could be the most likely explanation. I don't think he channeled to cause that "luck," or else there's be another reaction to touching saidin before his giddiness in Baerlon. But it would makes sense if it was related to the Power in some way.
And another ironic passage—now that we know the whole story, there's a lot of these that make me chuckle. After Tam mentions Avendasora being cut down by Laman, Rand thinks, "Next he might actually meet the Green Man, or an Ogier giant, or a wild, black-veiled Aielman." The Green Man they meet at the Eye, an Ogier in Caemlyn, and Rand himself is an Aielman.
Finally, there's the part about Rand discovering that Tam found him. I love this part because it adds to the depth of the conflict throughout the whole series. This happens very early on, and it's something that Rand doesn't put to rest until he meets Tam the second time in Towers of Midnight. This self-doubt begins a lot of Rand's questioning. It almost instantly cuts him off from the Two Rivers. Though he still thinks of Tam as his father, that blood tie is gone. It could be one of the reasons that makes Rand ignore the Two Rivers so easily when the Whitecloaks threaten.
And what a heart-breaking way for Rand to find out about his adoption. To have Tam talking as if to Kari was truly gut wrenching. It makes sympathy for Rand skyrocket. We, the readers, are instantly in tune with his pain and it brings us closer to him.
I don't think anyone could doubt the incredible character development shown by Robert Jordan in these early chapters. Right from the start, we get a strong sense of Rand, Mat, and a bit of Perrin. And watching them grow as the series continues is a wonderful experience—even the times when we know Rand is doing wrong. Later in the series, it's hard to remember Rand as the innocent farmboy. He himself has a hard time remembering. That why I love going back and starting the series over. It's amazing to remember his humble roots.
That's all for this week. Please join me next time for the next few chapters of The Eye of the World. Thanks for reading.