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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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  1. I don't mean to sound mean but I have no idea what compounding the word hate means. That's a lot of "mean" in what I hope comes across as a nice sentence! The first thing that popped into my mind was hate-screw. Well, not screw, but I'm trying to watch my language here. That's a compound word with hate in it. But I can't think of any compound words with hate in it that fits in the context here. It's like a puzzle, you know? I've got to figure it out or it'll drive me crazy! Ouch. Not funny? I mean, I could accept it not being academic since that's not what I was really going for. But not funny? You could be right. Stand up is not my forte, after all. Now that, in all honesty, was funny. I wouldn't say that. I view it with fascination, too. I view it with a sense of "is this it?" I don't know a single word that covers that feeling but there you go. Sometimes, sometimes, I even enjoy it a bit. So you agree that it's sexist but sexism is okay because no one complains about it? Well, then I'm halfway to my point already! I would argue that the women (or the men, even) don't complain because the very idea that their world is sexist hasn't occurred to them. It'd be more than a century from this point in time (in the real world) before books started to be written about feminism. Even then, it was in the urban centers and not backwaters like this place. So they are happy, sure. I'm happy for them! But life would be better for them, I think, and they'd find even more joy with true equality. Yes, even if they don't realize it, yet. That world would suck, yes, just as much as this one. But no one would be on the forums defending the sexism there, would they? Well, hardly anyone. It'd be obvious that this is a crappy world, we'd all agree, and then we'd enjoy the book for what it was. Think about it. Instead of putting men in charge and making women responsible for all the woes of the world Robert Jordan inverted it. But he didn't change the rest of the world! Women are still nurturers, the caretakers, the cooks, the adoring wives, the healers, the gossips, the sneaky sneaks. Men are the protectors, the fighters, the saviors, the hard workers, the bread winners, the Creators, the Dark Ones, the cannon fodder. It's still a world of "women and children first!" when the boat sinks, you know? Major points as they relate to the plot have been flipped, gender-wise, but the nuts and bolts of the world still conform to gender norms. Men penetrate and women surrender. Men take care of matters outside of the house while women take care of the inside. Men tackle problems head on by themselves while women work together to get around problems. So, yes, there are women on top. There are powerful queens and Aes Sedai and Aiel. I don't deny that. I can't deny that. But if we stop focusing on the named major characters and look at the background, at the bit characters that reveal the rest of the world, things stop being radically different than the real world. It starts looking the same. I will admit, though, that this could be because there is less written about the background characters so I'm filling in the gaps with my own biases. I realize that this might be the case. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong, does it? That's the thing I like about non-fiction: It doesn't need a plot to work. Novels, stories, they've got to have a plot. Non-fiction just needs a thesis. Imagine if the Wheel of Time didn't have a plot. Imagine if we just followed Rand al'Thor on his adventure with no prophecy, no cuts to other characters' POVs, no overall drive to save the world. Just Rand fighting the Trollocs, meeting new friends, seeing new cultures, and just ending up in the Last Battle as a result of his own choices instead of the author leading him there. It's be interesting, to be sure! Well, that explains who that guy is with the two crows. There's a picture in the comment section of the blog with a guy holding a pole-arm and crows. I guess he's Mat, then. It makes sense since everyone seems to love Mat around Book 3 or 4. Very good point! You read it to mean that Cenn's wife (I can't remember the actual quote but I think we can agree on the gist of what was said) owned the house when she said "my kitchen" and under "my roof." But I took it more like a teenager saying these things. If my teenage daughter were to say that I needed to get out of "her room" would that mean she owned the room, that her word was law there? It felt, to me, like a denial of service when Cenn's wife rebuked him rather than an authority figure telling her subordinate what would happen without obedience. If felt like a strike from an employee rather than an admonishment from an equal co-owner. It wasn't that I didn't care. It was more like I didn't see it that way. Try looking at it another way. What would a house with all men look like? Say, a bunch of brothers. One of them surely would have to cook and clean, right? Would that brother be considered equal, in the social hierarchy of brothers, to the ones that worked out in the field? Would he be looked down upon by his peers for doing women's work instead of what he's supposed to do? How about a house with nothing but sisters. That would mean some women would have to go out and toil in the fields. Would those women, with their sun-dried skin and calloused fingers, be considered "less womanly" than their dish-washing sister inside? What I mean to ask is this: does stepping outside the gender norms make a person seem less than they would otherwise be? If so then why? If the jobs are equal in status, if a plow driver and a soup cooker are equal in social standing, then why would doing a job with equal value in society make someone not as good? Or how about this: is a woman acting like a man (for example, Min dressing like a boy) more socially acceptable than a man acting like a woman (for example, Perrin dressing as a girl)? In the real world it is better for a girl to act like a boy because boys are valued more than girls (thus, you know, who wouldn't want to be a boy?). But in a world where both genders are equal it'd be just as acceptable for Perrin to wear a skirt as it is for Min to wear pants. Is that the case? When did I say this? If they help Egwene then more power to them! Everyone needs help. But if they help her because she's a woman then I have a problem. If they refuse to help those closest to them so they can go way over there to help Egwene then I have a problem. If they say that people need to pull their own weight on the trail but then proceed to make things easier for Egwene then I've got a problem. If she seems happy with a boy but they go out of their way to protect her from her own happiness then I have a problem. If they let her run up to a monster that's about to kill her, if they run up along side her and die next to her in a heroic last stand, then I've got no problem. If they don't make a big deal about how she wears her hair then I've got no problem. If they have a habit of knocking down both male and female friends to keep them from running into danger then I've got no problem. These characters can win! There are so many ways to win, it's not even funny! But they don't win. I believe the popular word these days is "fail". They are full of it sometimes. I'm going to have to disagree with you there. Over the weekend my Amazon.com shipment came in. Boy, that box was heavy! But in there were a few fantasy novels that I wanted to try. I finished one yesterday and I loved it! It was American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It was a story about gods (even Nordic gods!) fighting epic fights for the future of the world. It had dreams and monsters, too. It was great and really, really different than the Wheel of Time. It makes me want to read more by the guy (I hear he writes comics, too, but I've never been into those). Too bad I don't have any more of his books. Next up is Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, fiction-wise. Well, yes. Nothing is above critique, you know. And everything should be critiqued. We can't let some works enter our minds, bury themselves deep into our heads, without questioning what they really mean. Especially fiction! Gotta ask why, why, why! I wouldn't say I ignore ageism. I haven't seen much of it, to be honest. Are we talking about old folks not trusting young folks? Or are we talking about kids thinking adults are stupid? Or is it more serious, where once a person reaches a certain age they're considered dead weight and are killed so they don't hog resources for kids? Or even worse, are children considered to be little more than animals, to be worked and molested to death (or until they are old enough to fight back)? What kind of ageism are you talking about? Racism? There have been three races so far. Andoran, Shienaran, and Aiel. I've frequently pointed out how Emond's Field isn't racist enough! Such a small town shouldn't be so cool about having a half-non-Andoran growing up with them. But they're cool with it so maybe racism isn't such a big deal in small town Andor. The Shienar people don't like the Aiel too much and I do point that out when we get there in the second book. As for the Aiel? As of this point in Book 1 there hasn't been any of them on screen so how am I supposed to know if they are racist? Of course, we could include the Ogier and the Trollocs as "races" if you want. Then, yeah, there is a lot of racism against Trollocs. They've shown the ability to plan and execute coordinated attacks that limit collateral damage in order to achieve some sort of limited objective (kidnap Rand or free Padan Fain and steal the Horn). They have logistical skills to move armies across the continent, too. But everyone calls them dumb brutes, pillaging monsters who want nothing more than to eat babies. What they do and what the people think about them are pretty good proof of anti-Trolloc racism. I point that out and I'm told that this kinda racism is okay because that's what fantasy books are all about. Yes, I've read about the Red Ajah already so I know about this. And it is stupid. Gendercide? Really? That's not a good way to maintain your PR, Tar Valon! Plus, you know, it's morally bad. But that's Book 2 and further on. It has no impact on how I feel about the Aes Sedai (and the women in general) in Book 1. Really? How about the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, I Ching, Beowulf, the Odyssey? Those are pretty epic and took years to complete and have a huge readership. You want more modern? Shakespeare and Chaucer and Jane Austin and Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov have large bodies of work that people enjoy to this day. I didn't have to think too hard to come up with authors and works that people care about years after publication. Here's a question, though. Once this series is finished, once all of us who have read it so far have died of old age, do you think it'll still be as popular? A century from now people will read it, no doubt. But I doubt it'll be an icon of Western Literature. It'll be just another fantasy series that lots of people loved, lots of people read, and lots of people completely ignored. This isn't to say that it's a bad series, of course, or that the books were bad. I'm just saying it isn't as popular as you make it out to be. By the way, I have NO problem with you on a personal level, this is purely a response according to your response to my blogs. Annnnnnyway. I'm taking a break from Dragonmount for a week or two. I've got a pretty good epic tetralogy here on my desk that I plan on reading. It's called the Oxford History of the United States. The four books only go up to 1974 so I'm guessing there is another book out there yet to be published. Looking forward to it! I was inspired to buy it, indirectly, because of the Wheel of Time. See, these books got me interested in the 18th Century a bit. So I started reading Crucible of War, a book about the Seven Years' War (which, if the Wheel of Time world were real would take place, technologically, twenty or thirty years into the future). And that book was great so I wanted the "sequel." What was the sequel to the French and Indian War in US history? Yes, the Revolution. Thus I see Crucible of War as a prequel to the series I'm about to start. Sure, I know bunches about US history but it's never a bad thing to read and refresh, no? Consider it a re-read! But that means I'm taking a break from the internet (mostly) and all this social networking (definitely). Bad for my mojo, you know. But then I'll be refreshed and I'll come back better than ever. We can continue to talk here, too, and go way off topic since the topic has pretty much been discussed. I'll probably start a new thread for Book 2.
  2. Twas a joke, yah? No more than any of my other jokes. But the Fall of Malkier, which was around Lan's day of birth, was something like fifty years ago. Maybe forty-five. Maybe in between. And Nynaeve is something like 25 years old and looks even younger. While I'm not terribly opposed to May/December romances I feel no need to refrain from constantly mentioning it when I try to paint the picture of Lan and Nynave getting it on. I read that as "The main characters are pointless, other characters could have done everything they did and the story would still make sense". Well...that's pretty damn obvious. Lan is useless, just have Moiraine be a blademaster! Any character could be wrote out of the story(and story really) with little effort. It is true that you could get rid of Lan without too many major changes to the book. But that's because Lan isn't a main character. He's secondary. You could remove Thom, too. Or Master Fitch (a tertiary character, even further removed from the main characters than Lan is!). But there'd be a lot of fixin' needed in a normal story if a main character was removed. Think about Star Wars. You could remove Lando or Chewie without the story needing a major rewrite. But you couldn't remove Obi-won or Luke Skywalker! Think about Lord of the Rings movies. You could write out that dude who got a chestful of arrows or one of the extra hobbits but not Frodo or Gandalf. Not without some big changes! But the Eye of the World is different. Rand, Mat, and Perrin could be removed and all of the major plot points in this book (minus Rand killing Ba'alzamon) could be hit with the remaining cast without anybody doing anything differently. I can't help you, here. It is what it is. I read the books, get interested by things, make a little note about it, then go back and type those notes into a (sometimes) funny critique. I don't hate it the way I'd hate the Turner Diaries, though. I find it to contain things that aren't needed, missing things that would make it better, and is loved way beyond what seems reasonable by its fans. But it's got a few cool scenes and it isn't God-awful so it works as an introduction to fantasy novels. At least, I hope it does. I enjoy sharing my opinions, too, and this place seemed like the best place to share my Wheel of Time opinions.
  3. Okay. But what was he doing with that One Power? Lews Therin made a mile-high mountain when he drew too much power into himself. What did Aginor do? Even if the Forsaken wasn't half as powerful as Lew Therin he's still be able to cast some sort of fire ball or lightning bolt spell before being burnt up like that, right? Instead he just stood there, stared at Rand until Rand somehow disappeared, and then burned himself up.
  4. Did I say I was sorry for writing so much in this reply? Well I am. There really is no excuse for such a wall of text! I think it's funny that in a place without war and violence the people still organize themselves into a society based upon competition between two government bodies. Still, I'd say this little utopia is approaching anarchy (and I'm not totally opposed to the concept of anarchy); they just need to lose the Mayor and Wisdom altogether! The bit about most politicians being male. Think about it: it's sometimes because women aren't allowed to run. Just like women aren't allowed to join the Village Council. Sometimes women are allowed to run, but their culture places a higher value on women taking care of the home and domestic affairs than on women in politics. Just like women in the Women's Circle. Let's just assume I'm wrong about the Village Council being in charge of the town. Let's assume you're right about an equal distribution of power between an all-female Women's Circle in control of domestic affairs and an all-male Village Council in charge of external matters. This sounds exactly like the "Man Leaves the Home for a Living While Woman Stays and Takes Care of the Home" concept plastered onto local government. But let's go with that for now. By definition, men have absolutely no say in domestic affairs. They can't choose who they want to marry, whether or not they can build an extension on their home, what color to paint their fence, or the decorations put up on Sunday. That's women's business. Similarly, women have no legal (or "traditional" since this isn't really a legal system by today's standards) right to bring in gleemen, sell tabac to incoming merchants, send runners to Watch Hill, organize a defense force, or interrogate visitors. The separation of powers prevents people from doing certain things based solely on that person's gender. That's a pretty good example of sexism. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree here. Everything in this book comes from Robert Jordan's mind. If he were writing a biography then then that'd be a good reason to think the people in the book had independent minds of their own. But they don't. Their minds are of the author's mind. I'm not saying he's as evil as the Trollocs or anything like that. I'm not saying that the characters core values are the same as his, either. I just mean that tiny bits here and there, unrelated to the Grand Plot, shine a light on his mind. Robort Jordan is Rand and Ba'alzamon, the Tinkers and the Whitecloaks. Ha, "the road to hell" and all that. But if we can agree that his behavior is questionable (I say "sexist" and you say "stereotypic") then what's the big problem with me pointing out each and every instance of him being "stereotypic" and hating on him for it? It's a character flaw that I find far more flaw-y than most other people so I'm more bothered than most when it shows up. When he gets better I will no doubt sigh with relief, at first, thankful that his old ways are falling behind him. Then I'll cheer him on as he sheds his former self to be the respectful man I hope he'll be. But he's a dick now and I won't pull my punches. Can I reword what you wrote to help make my point? See? It wasn't an accident that saidin and saidar divided the genders magically. That's not a natural phenomenon. Robert Jordan made the world that way because he liked it, because it's pretty cool, because it'd make a fun story. There aren't very many male cooks because Robert Jordan didn't want any there. I've never read Harry Potter. Maybe I should have had that book series be my first step into fantasy? But going by what you say (and all the Harry Potter information I get from the first two movies and from just by soaking in the pop culture) then I'd agree that Hogwarts is much more gender equal. That's a good thing, in my opinion. Acknowledging the differences that are completely made up for this story. Create a world that separates the genders, artificially created differences between them, and see where the story goes from there. Yes, I'll admit this does open up a lot of plots. "Two sides of the same coin" is just one of them. Imagine, if you will, Transformers. Someone said, "hey, let's create a race of space robots that can transform into trucks!" Then someone suggested that they make them into Autobots and Decepticons. This opens up a lot of plotlines to explore: civil war, brother against brother, different manufacturers for the trucks competing against each other, and so on. Something similar with gender in the Wheel of Time. Take men and woman (already separated, I'll admit) and force them to fight/cooperate as a mechanic of the setting. Basically, it's putting genders in two opposite corners, giving them different abilities/responsibleness/drinking fountains, and calling them equal. And, really, I hate to admit this but it isn't the inequality that bugs me the most. It's the fact that lots of folks don't see it or defend it as if it's okay because it makes a cool story. Ah! Yes. The duality could, maybe, be seen as the opposite of sexist. But the design and the execution here are far apart. So even though we are in some sort of Fallen World the "utopia" of Emond's Field is a place I'd never want to live in. The cosmology of the setting is supposed to be equal between the genders but the world, the people down there in the dirt, are certainly not. I'm not complaining about how the world is supposed to work when everything goes smoothly (though, to be honest, I'm not a big fan of separate but equal gender roles) I'm complaining about how the world actually is in the story. I'm not a writer (don't let all that writing in the blog fool you) so I'm not sure how to divide the world. Duality probably won't work with language. And Tolkien's "species" smells awfully like "race" to me. But I've never read anything by the guy (though I'm interested in "On Fairy-Stories" that he wrote) so this is just me talking out of my ass here. Of course there are differences between the sexes. But those differences are along reproductive lines. There is no biological reason women have to knit, be excluded from combat, and cast spells by surrendering to the magic. This discussion depends upon the other discussions about gender in Two Rivers. If you're right about everything being completely equal between the genders then I'd have to agree with you here. Yes, if gender doesn't matter then a young Mayor would and should receive the same treatment as a young Wisdom. But if I'm right, and the menfolk are, well, more equal than the women, then a young Mayor would be seen as a hot shot young ace taking advantage of his natural skill. This is just me, here, and my non-fantasy background in historic non-fiction. But I find it really hard to believe "best in the world" when it comes to anything. The world is big. This is earth in the future/past, right? So it's as big as earth. Even Rome was never the "best in the world". Neither the Vatican nor Caesar's Palace. Our world's largest empires, the Mongols and and Romans and the Greeks (even the Spanish and English) never controlled the world. The Aes Sedai don't have a monopoly on magic, either. I've seen wolfbrother magic, Aiel magic, Seanchan magic, Ogier magic, sniffer magic, the Dark One's own magic, Mashadar magic, and who knows what else will appear in the future. If anything, the Aes Sedai are a regional power with a monopoly of one local major magic power source. Their real strength lies in their influence, right? They don't influence the Blight, the Aiel, or the Seanchan. Their influence seems to fade the further from Tar Valon you get (even Andor has a large anti-witch population). Like Trollocs, I'll bet there are places who think Aes Sedai are myth. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This is what I think right now. There's nothing in the story so far to change my mind but you have to remember I'm not that far into it. Okay. We're nearing the end of this reply. I know what you're thinking: finally. So without any more fanfare I give you the last blog post on the Eye of the World: The Wheel Turns and Glossary
  5. Nynaeve is supposed to become the most power wizard ever, right? And the White Tower would have just rejected her application because of age even so? How do the Aes Sedai deal with wilders that survive into middle age if they don't bring them into their club? Do they still them? That doesn't pain the Aes Sedai in a very good light. I may have mentioned this in the blog comments some time ago, but when I first read the book I didn't even know there was a glossary. In fact, this is the first novel I've ever read that had a glossary! I feel as if a book can be just fine without a lot of exposition. The less the better, I say. But what kind of writer needs to have things explained at the end of the book? Why isn't his writing strong enough to stand on its own without having a cheat sheet tucked away in there? Knocked out 'two good guys' from a slaughter actually. Lan got owned, the best swordsman in the book. Egwene running in was suicide. He knocked her from the fight to save her life. Okay. Let's take this train of thought a bit further down the thinkin' tracks. Rand finds himself outmatched by these two evil wizards. He sees Egwene rushing to her certain death. So he jumps on her and holds her down, his friends running by him and seconds away from a grisly death. Then... then...? What was his plan after that? Sit on Egwene until Aginor walked over and decapitates them both? Was he going to pull Egwene kicking and screaming into the woods while Mat and Perrin and Nynaeve are killed? Let's say his plan works! Let's say that his best friends gave their lives so that he could get away. Then what? Is Egwene supposed to fall deeply in love with him for saving her from her own stupidness? Is she supposed to live the rest of her life (however short it will be without wizard training) not in a PTSD-related depression with a heap of survivor's guilt on top? Every year, back in Two Rivers, when they go to the cemetery to put flowers on Perrin's grave, on Mat's grave, and on Nynaeve's grave, will Egwene ever look at Rand and wonder why he pulled her away when she could have died there with her friends? I am pretty sure the Last Battle was never mention in the first book. So while the series may be about it the Eye of the World was not. And what do you mean "Aes Sedai failed at nothing"? I don't mean to sound flippant (any more than I usually do, I guess). I really don't know what you mean by that. That depends upon the rest of the story, just as the Aes Sedai hunting for a man depends upon the rest of the story. In and of itself, that basic plot is not sexist. But remember what I said about one instance of equality does not mean that the entire system isn't unequal? If the rest of the Wheel of Time stays the same then we still have a sexist world. You'd better believe it! Sexism is everywhere; it permeates everything (especially culture, like this book!). It isn't as if I'm hunting for it, though. I've learned how to see it. It's like how a regular person walking through a forest will not see the trees the same way an arborist would. They both see the same things but the person with more training or education would see things others might miss. It's the same with this book, the same with everything else, too. Thanks! It makes me happy knowing this. It really does. It's why I'm doing this, after all! I agree that men probably wouldn't have been able to keep the world together if the female Aes Sedai went crazy. But that's not what happened. What ifs aren't what I'm talking about, though. I'm talking about what happened. See what I mean? We're not talking about some female Champion counterpart to the Dragon that exists theoretically outside of the series. We're talking about this series. Specifically, what happens here and now in this series, in this first book. There might be a Light One out there that is the opposite of the Dark One, a Chaos to oppose the Pattern, an Unmaker for the Creator, and some sort of Anti-Wheel for the Wheel. That might all be true. But it changes nothing when it comes to Moiraine's quest to find a man to help her fix the world/fight the Dark One because she's not strong enough to do it on her own. Again, coulda/woulda/shoulda. If things were different then things would be different. You're saying to me, as I understand it, that out of all of the possible stories Robert Jordan could have written he chose this one on purpose. This is the story he wanted to tell even though he could have told lots of other ones. That means he favors this story more than the others, right? You do a good job of staying on point with your response, I'll give you that. But you're talking about what could have happened rather than what did happen/is happening. Yes, if we change a lot of things in the book then we might have a better book. But let's not deal with what might have been. Really, look at how much your argument relies on "if things were different then..." You know what? I can't argue with that. I don't know about the rest of the series. You might very well be right! What reason do I have to question you about that? I don't have a good reason so I'll just believe you. Hehe, for now... But that means I've got to go with just what I've got in this first part of the series. And this first part has gaps (gaps that will no doubt be filled later!) that I want filled. So I fill them with real world stuff. For example, the Women's Circle never does anything important in the series so far so I just assumed that they weren't important. I'll probably be proven wrong in the future but that's what I think now. That's what I see now. That's what's going in the blog now. Ha, yes! This is right. I am hung up on it because it is what it is. I see it as the way society is because that's the way the book has shown society to be. We might be able to jump in a Portal Stone and find a Bizarro World where things are different, sure. But that's not where we are. We are here in this setting with Rand being a man. Things could be different, yes, I'll admit. But they didn't turn out that way. They turned out this way. So this is what I'm dealing with, what I'm talking about, and what I'm hung up on. Incompetent? I wouldn't say that. I would say that they are culturally forced to do certain things, to take upon certain roles, based solely upon their gender. That might, for example, make women more incompetent than men in male jobs because "good girls don't do that sort of thing." I think here, though, we're talking about rebuilding the world post-Breaking. I wouldn't say that women are worse than men at rebuilding the world. I'll just say that the all-female Aes Sedai sucked at it. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe something in the series later will show that the world would have been much worse without them. Time will tell! Hey, I'm happy just to be noticed! Thanks for skimming! You forgot 3) because they were tired of me doing stuff like this to the Harry Potter movies. You see, one of those movies came out (like, the sixth or seventh in the series; it's like Nightmare on Elm Street in length!) so my roomie Netflixed all of the earlier ones for a marathon. Always up for a movie (I'm a big movie buff!) I sat in on them. Well, the first one. I kept on talking. Well, normally I don't but my buddies saw the movies a hundred times already so they were talking, too. But not only was I talking but I was asking question, pointing out little problems here and there. By the second movie they pretty much told me to shut up. I didn't watch the third one. But they thought I could make the same comments on the Wheel of Time, I guess. Whatever the reason, I'm glad they did. I wouldn't say I'm a Wheel of Time fan as of this point, but I am a reader! This is a pretty fair criticism. I'd really like to address it, too! So please indulge me. Please tell me specifically where I make these statements. I feel as if I've been rather consistent but I make mistakes all the time so I wouldn't be surprised I did so here. We disagree, obviously, about what's what in the story so I need you to know I'm not asking to be malicious or funny. I really want to know how we got on such different pages here. And is this your first time commenting on this thread, lilltempest? Welcome to the discussion! STFU? Really? That's your argument? And you're not even mentioning specific points! You're just rambling and insulting. Just look how different your post is compared to lilltempest. You're saying the same thing, more or less, but she wasn't nearly as silly about it. Ha, and I do notice the irony of it: *JustCharlie does thing* damn silly *lilltempest does thing* better than JustCharlie just 'cause she's a woman *Always Sunny sees sexism* but isn't that always true? Yeah, not all that funny. But if I can't laugh at my own cheesey jokes then who will? Whew, am I still writing this one reply? I had to split this sucker in half because of some forum rule about how many quotes I can include. So sorry for the double post!
  6. The Wheel Turns This last chapter begins in the morning. Everyone is set to go but the Loial starts singing to the oak tree in the Green Zone. The song lasted hours, I think. Why does Lan let it go on for so long? I dunno. But eventually Loial finishes and says that the Blight would never corrupt this spot. Really? The Green Man was unable to magically keep the Green Zone free of the Blight (he had to constantly be on hand to tend his garden) so how does Loial have the power to purify this one spot and to keep it pure after he's gone? But it's nice, you know? It's poetic and pretty and it's what I want to happen. But it makes me wonder why the Ogier aren't enlisted in the centuries-long Purify the Blight Square Yard by Square Yard Project. They walk away and suddenly they are in the Blight with no Green Zone behind them. Could this be the same thing as Moiraine's invisibility shield? You can't see the Green Zone now but if you back up it'll be there. I'd like to think that. Things are working out for the fellowship because the Blight isn't fighting them. They're just walking right on by all the nasty things there. Faugh. Hate hate hate! The parade continues. The fellowship has killed Ba'alzamon, killed two Forsaken, won the Battle of Tarwin's Gap, stifled the Blight, and brought spring to the land. Flowers bloom beneath their feet. Babies laugh and women orgasm. Gold rains from the sky, all diseases cured, and no good person will ever have bad feelings again. There may be a little hyperbole there. The fellowship makes it to Fal Dara and Moiraine, laid out on a stretcher, demands to see Lord Agelmar. He might be doing something important in the post-battle clean up work or that he might be speaking with the wounded soldiers or the families of the fallen. He might be doing all of that but Moiraine doesn't care. She demands that Ingtar take her to his leader. Tarwin's Gap, by the way, went on without Ingtar there. He missed it (and any chance for promotion based upon acts taken in that battle) because he escorted Moiraine to the Blight. She didn't even need an escort. Poor guy. Taken to Lord Agelmar, Moiraine starts asking question. My only question is, "how is Moiraine injured?" Is she cut? Is she burned? Are her blue clothes stained red with blood? Does she have bruises? All I know is that she is "weak." What does that mean? Is she just tuckered out? Faugh! The Lord of Fal Dara tells what happened at Tarwin's Gap. Maybe what happened to Rand wasn't a dream. More likely, it was a dream. Only Rand, laying there on the cliff in the Green Zone, had a vision of what was going on. Probably not. The thing is that I wanted Rand to be normal, you know? Nynaeve and Egwene are going to become witches. Perrin is a werewolf. Mat is some sort of reborn Old Tongue speaker. But Rand? Rand was supposed to be some small town boy who was swept up in an epic adventure. But he isn't anymore. He's a wizard, too. He's going to be powerful in magic and with a sword, too. He will end up saving the world because he'll be All Powerful and Born to Be Great. It won't be because anyone with spunk can do it, no matter where they are from. No. Not in this universe. Here, only those born to be great will be great. If you were born to be a sheepherder (say, their friend Ewin) then you will always be a sheepherder. Ta'veren. Remember what Loial said in that conversation? If you make small changes in the Pattern then you're okay. But if you want big changes then the Pattern will work to stop you. If you are a slave then you'll remain a slave until the Pattern wants you free. If you are suffering and in pain then it is because the Pattern wants you to be that way. I hate this. I hate the metaphysics of this setting. But I don't want to blame the Wheel of Time because it's pretty common. Luke Skywalker wins because he was born with the Force in him, after all. It wasn't because he was a nobody moisture farmer who joined the Rebel Alliance and used a few tricks to save the day. He was the son of Darth Vader. He was a powerful Force user. He wasn't normal. You think normal folks wear hooded cloaks and talk like he does at the beginning of Return of the Jedi? That's a little off topic. Back to to this book! Shit hits the fan, briefly, when Moiraine shows Lord Agelmar the Horn of Valare. He knows that this could be a powerful weapon in the fight against the Blight. With the Trollocs defeated at Tarwin's Gap, with the Blight itself calming down (because plants and animals are affected by who wins a battle like that), they could press their advantage. They could use the horn to take back what they've lost. They might even retake Malkier! This isn't a part of Moiraine's plan, though. She shouts, "NO!" and says that Lord Agelmar can't have the Horn. See, there's a plan (that only Moiraine knows) and she's going to stick to it (like she stuck to the "get to Tar Valon" plan). The horn is hers. She got it fair and square. She will use it for her own goals and the Light burn anyone who gets in her way. Time skips ahead a week. Mat, who is still cursed by that dagger, who is still a walking time bomb that threatens to infect the entire world, is probably wondering just why in the holy hell he isn't on his way to Tar Valon to get cured. Actually, no. No one is thinking about that. Everyone seems to have forgotten about the dagger. Mat's not even rubbing it any more. In fact, Perrin is the one stroking his axe all the time. If you know what I mean. The Warder is on a balcony with Rand and they are training at swords. Rand says that he doesn't want to be a blademaster but Lan will have none of it. Do you think Lan wanted to be a blademaster growing up? Hell, no. But his adopted parents made him. He was forced to learn the sword, forced to learn to fight. Instead of being made to take violin lessons for three hours every day he was trained to strangle men with his bare hands. If Lan had to do it then by the Light so will Rand. How else will they spend their free time (Certainly not helping the locals rebuild in the aftermath of their evacuation! Do you think they'd need a trained blacksmith like Perrin to help out? Or healers like Nynaeve and nurse Egwene? Psht! The main characters are to be treated like nobles with free lodging and servants and food. No work for them!)? The chapter ends when Lan leaves and Egwene approaches Rand on the balcony. He says he's leaving and she says that everyone else is going to Tar Valon. Mat is finally going to get Healed! Rand vows to never use his magic again (I can see that vow lasting until about chapter 2 of the next book). It's a sad scene, really, in spite of the victory. I'm happy that they didn't end the book with a kiss between Rand and Egwene. How he's treated her has been awful. That scene on the balcony ends and we get a quick cut to Moiraine. She says that the Dragon has been Reborn. So Rand is the Dragon? He was born nearly two decades ago, genius. But, whatever. I honestly have no idea where this story is headed. Was Ba'alzamon the Dark One or not? Does using magic make men insane or not? There are about a billion questions in my mind. Glossary I didn't know this book had a glossary. It also has the Prologue of the next book. But we're going to ignore all that. First, I didn't like this book very much. It was solid, don't get me wrong. There were knights and farmboys and monsters and queens and castles and history and wizards. There was a beginning, middle, and end. As a story it was not total garbage. But the characters were just awful. Rand ran from every fight except the last one (and only then he attacked Fades trying to sexually assault his dead mother). Luke Skywalker tried to save the princess from the Death Star prison before his final battle with Darth Vader. Frodo Baggins actively planned to go into the Mordor from (very near) the start of his quest. Harry Potter did some middle school antics that somehow foiled the plans of the world's greatest evil wizard. But Rand al'Thor? He constantly ran away and only won accidentally at the end. Yes, yes, "first book in a series." But it wasn't a good book, first or no. Perrin murdered two Children of the Light. No one even asked why he had been captured in the first place when he was rescued. Mat spent most of the book being a dick because of that dagger. When he didn't have that dagger he was still a dick. He incited drama between Rand and Egwene, he provoked Nynaeve just because he could, he pulled pranks that generally pissed off everyone who wasn't him. We were constantly told that Lan was a great woodsman but they were constantly trailed by the enemy. He was crazy prepared with that "just in case" campsite. He was also quiet, brooding, and short with people. He wasn't a nice guy but he still got the girl (he turned her down, of course). No to mention that he's fifty years old and he's hitting on a girl barely out of her teens. Even worse? The three main characters don't even matter. I've said it twice before that Mat, Perrin, and Rand could be removed from this book entirely and there wouldn't be much of a change. Just have Egwene or Nynaeve kill Ba'alzamon at the end and the Two Rivers Boys would be completely pointless. Then the pointless subplots could be removed. No cursed dagger. No wolfbrother. No meeting the Queen of Andor. None of those things matter in this book. At all. I stand by my statement that the Two Rivers Boys could be replaced with shiny rocks and the book would be improved. The entire series? Sure, probably not. But we're not talking about a series right now. Now let us speak of the bad guys. Idiots. The entirety of the Dark One's forces managed to kill about dozen people. The people in Emond's Gap who were killed on Winternight. And then... Then.... There was that shopkeeper who Padan Fain killed just before getting into the Ways (and Moiraine could have made that part up). Other than that? Nobody died in Taren's Ferry. Nobody died in Baerlon. Nobody died in Shadar Logoth. Thom survived Whitebridge. Nobody died in Fal Dara. And there was no mention of casualties at Tarwin's Gap. We can assume that some soldiers died, though. The Green Man died, too. And a wolf named Hopper. But are plants and wolves people? Does the Dark One get credit for killing Hopper if the Whitecloaks did it? Now take a look at the forces of the Light. Moiraine killed a fist of Trollocs in Emond's Field. Moiraine killed four or five fists in Shadar Logoth. Rand killed half the Trolloc army in Tarwin's Gap. Balthemal was killed. Aginor was killed. Ba'alzamon was killed. Padan Fain was captured. All these forces of the Dark One killed before the main characters got their powers (I'm assuming they'll all level up and start casting spells and shit later in the series). It makes the Dark One look pretty weak. And the kicker? The main characters ran away most of the time. They ran from Emond's Field. They ran from Baerlon. They ran from Shadar Logoth, ran from the Whitecloak camp, ran from Whitebridge, ran from Caemlyn, ran from the Ways. When they got to the Eye of the World they all ran away and hid! It wasn't until Rand saw his dead mother get raped that he started fighting back. And all it took was one swing to cut Ba'alzamon's cord. That's it. That was the story. "Hero runs away for 750 pages before taking one swing with his sword and bringing spring to the world." Yes, I've heard it argued that the baddies are too powerful to fight directly. But every time the good guys fought the baddies the good guys one. Moiraine beat them in Emond's Field. Moiraine beat them in Shadar Logoth. Rand beat them in Tarwin's Gap, Lord Agelmar's soldiers beat them when they captured Padan Fain climbing the walls. The Aes Sedai beat them when they captured Logain (though I'm not sure if Logain works for the Dark One). Thom beat them when he fought that Myrddraal in Whitebridge. The main characters run away until they hit some resistance, they handily blow through that resistance in a fighting retreat, and continue on their way. The super-powerful and scary bad guys never win; the young and weak good guys run away even though they've come out on top (more or less) in every fight they have. Something else occurs to me. Now, I've never read the Lord of the Rings books but I did see the movies. This book is exactly like those movies! You've got Rand living in a small town/Shire that's far away from the elf and human kingdoms. But then a dark rider comes to get him just like those black riders came for Frodo and the Ring. But Rand and Mat (Merry) and Perrin (Pippin) leave before they are caught. Rand almost gets caught by a passing black rider but hides next to the road just like Lord of the Rings. Then they get to a river and they have to be ferried across (there was no haulers there nor did Gandalf sink the ferry). Then they get to a town, stay in the inn (in the movie the hobbits have a huge pint of beer but in this book Rand has a hardcore glass of milk), and have to flee the inn with the black riders find them there. In the movies they got Aragon and he's the same as Lan (both are swordsmen, mysterious, distant, secretly romantic, and even kings who don't want their throne!). Gandalf is the same as Moiraine, a wizard who propels them from scene to scene and gives only bits of info here and there. They get to the elf city/Caemlyn where they change objectives ("Give the ring to the elves" becomes "destroy the ring" while "go to Tar Valon" becomes "go to the Eye of the World"). Bilbo gives Frodo a magic sword here like Tam gives Rand his magic sword. Then they go through those ruined dwarf caves/the Ways where a crazy guy with multiple personalities (Gollum/Padan Fain, both tortured in Mordor/Shayol Ghul by the Big Bad). Finally they get to the Green Zone, only with one plant monster instead of a forest of tree people. There is a fight between two armies we've never really seen before and the good guys win. The Dark One/Sauron is killed in the end. I can forgive similar elements, sure, but the same plot points? The same characters? Ha, and is it any wonder that my favorite characters, Egwene and Nynaeve, were the only original ones? The movies came out after the Wheel of Time books so maybe the movies copied stuff from this series. Again, I never read Lord of the Rings so I don't know how faithful the movies were to them. Could the movies have been influenced by the Wheel of Time? Or was Robert Jordan trying to "ease the reader into his story" by rewriting Lord of the Rings with his own characters and then expanding the world the way he wanted? I dunno. I don't really care, either. It is what it is and if everyone this affects (the Tolkien and Jordan families, I suppose) are cool with it then I'm cool with it. Now, I want to see how this story ends (since it can't have any more similarities to the Lord of the Rings at this point). You see, as much as I pissed all over this book (and I can admit that I wasn't as kind as I could have been) I had fun reading it. I love to hate, I guess. I could be called a Wheel of Time anti-fan. But do I want to keep doing these recaps like this? I looked at the Wheel of Time wikipedia entry and there are more than six hundred chapters in this series. That's almost one year of updates. Not going to happen. I don't love to hate it that much! ETA: I'm writing this part about two months after I wrote the above. So I'm writing this part on the same day that I'm posting it instead of stored away as a draft. I've finished reading the Great Hunt and I'm not going to read any more until this blog catches up. That way I'll keep the books and the blog at the same page. That should keep the forum and the blog on the same page, too. But that means we've got to go through one more book with a delay. Too late to do anything about that, really. But it'll also mean more irregular updates since I don't read the books every day. Usually I just tear through several hundred pages on the weekends. But we'll see how it goes when we get there, right? I'm not going to worry about keeping a regular schedule. This isn't my life's work, amiright? This change will mean more feedback from my readers getting put into the blog. So that's a good thing, no? What do you all think?
  7. @Smittyphi: I would say all of those examples were deus ex machina. It doesn't matter if there is a reason behind what rescues the main characters. What matters is that the main characters didn't do it themselves. Imagine, if you will, a modern spy thriller. In the first scene of the movie the main character is given a laptop with a satellite uplink. Then the movie happens. At the very end the hero is on the ground, the villain gloating above him. So the hero says, "You can't do this to us, you meanie!" Little did the hero know that the laptop's voice authorization password was "you meanie." So by saying that the laptop turns on, sends a signal to the killsat in space, and a laser zaps down and kills the villain. That is a deus ex machina. Yes, the hero did cause it to happen and there is an explanation. But c'mon! Rand is a wizard but doesn't know it. He casts spells without knowing it, without wanting to. He is saved by outside forces just as much as our spy hero is saved by space lasers. To avoid a deus ex machina the characters have to puzzle the problems out themselves. They have to swing the swords and flip the switches and cross the bridges. They can't sit there while something else comes in and saves them. Ah. I get it, then. I guess I want to feel bad when people die. It reminds me of one of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut quotes: I don't like it when video game makers, authors, and movie directors force me to cheer when hundreds of people die. But I can accept it in a war movie, for example. But to create an entire group just so I can cheer for their deaths? Rubs me the wrong way. Also, Kurt Vonnegut is an awesome author! Everyone should read him. Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five are fantastic.
  8. No, of course not. I don't want Perrin or Rand or Nynaeve or Mat or Egwene to go rushing into a such one-sided battle. But if they do go rushing into a battle like that, I want them all to go in together, as friends and comrades. That's not what happened. Rand was working against the group. He tackled Egwene thereby knocking out two good guys from the fight. I would love it if they found some other clever way of defeating the Forsaken (I dunno, maybe TNT to blow up the cave and bury them in there). But if they have to fight then I hope they all fight together and die together, if necessary. Maybe this comes up later in the series. But I don't see why she couldn't be a forty or fifty year-old woman. I mean, she's getting with Lan and he's an old dude. She doesn't need magic training in her youth since she got over that deadly hump on her own. If some wizard woman managed to avoid the Aes Sedai for four decades would the witches just let her go on her way or would they still try to bring her into the Tower? Or is there something I'm missing from the future that simply would not work if Nynaeve were older? Maybe there is and I can accept that. But so far? Not really. Ha, I'm sure I could use that quote for a lot of things. It does you no favors, though, I'm afraid. Here you have a point. Several other share it, too. And the fault is mine, of course. I didn't mean to say that women caused the Breaking. No, men did that. The male half of the Aes Sedai went crazy and destroyed the world. Though I'm 100% certain that there is an Eve or Lilith character in there somewhere, tempting a man into doing something that ruins the world. In my gut I just know that women were somehow made responsible for the Breaking, but that's my gut and not in the story so we can all feel free to ignore it. So, yes, the men Broke the world. That wasn't what I was talking about. I was talking about the three thousand years after that Breaking. Those years saw the fall of kingdoms and empires, the loss of groves and ancient things, the expansion of the Blight, all sorts of good stuff like that. Stuff that didn't happen when and women worked together. It was only when women were alone did things fail. However you slice it, without men the Aes Sedai can't maintain the world. And the Aes Sedai aren't helping, either, what with the Reds doing their hunting and killing. This never happened. It would have been bad but I would have accepted it. But Perrin never got on that horse off camera. Egwene said they'd share, Perrin agreed, and Egwene kept riding the horse. The narrator, remember, is Perrin. He never said that he rode the horse. He was always walking next to it. One could infer that he rode it during the Nynaeve or Rand POV chapters. I didn't infer. I waited for him to get on that horse. Even if it were a "I've ridden this horse too much already today, Egwene. You take your turn" would have been fine. But nope. Never happened. If what the other posters say about the Dragon only being a man then you're basically saying the world needs a man. The story is about an organization of women who can't keep the lid on a jar of Dark One. And I could say that the first book is about a female wizard protecting three male characters. I would agree with that. You can't do that, I'm afraid. Well, you can, but it renders the whole conversation pointless. I'm trying to discuss gender and how the world treats men and women differently. Therefore you can't just say that gender is irrelevant. Otherwise what are we talking about? Besides, how can you strip a character of part of their identity? Take away their gender? Might as well take away the fact that he's a kid, or that he's straight, or that he's half-Aiel, or that he believes in the Light, or that he's from Emond's Field, or that he's a wizard, or any other aspect of who he is. Besides, in a setting where women are in control and hunt down male wizards, how can the gender of the savior be irrelevant? Yes. I've tackled this before in this thread. Sexism exists when it is one gender over another gender. Across the entire organization/culture/world. One instance of equality doesn't negate the rest of the world. Here, wait a second. Do-to-do. Okay, I've did a little google search. I'm pretty sure most people here either won't click on it, or if they do read it, or if they do agree with it, or if they do thinks it applies to the Wheel of Time. But I might as well try, no? This is a link to a piece about reverse sexism. Do with it what ya'll will! So the women need someone to fight the Dark One. He just happens to be a man. And he can never be a woman in any other Turning of the Wheel because the Dragon is always a man. This is just plain awful. Whitecloaks aren't "just any group of people?" Their organization's reputation is all that it takes to feel good about killing them? "I killed them, officer, but they were [insert ethnic group here] so it's okay. They probably deserved to die." I remember being this pissed off at the Star Wars movie when Darth Vader killed those sand people when he was a kid. We can't say that because the Whitecloaks have a bad reputation it's more okay to kill them than people with a better rep. There is no justice there. I stand corrected. Though I doubt I can be blamed for thinking this one line has nothing to do with the book's theme. I mean, mention after mention of the Wheel and the Pattern and the Threads and the Weave and the Turning. But the real theme was balance? And we know this because of one line? If I were writing this story I would have made balance show up a little earlier and a little more prominently. I really have no idea about what the Breaking was. All I know is that the Aes Sedai did it. Then later we learn that only the male Aes Sedai did it. What was the Breaking? I have no idea. The Eye of the World prologue makes it look like a war of some sorts. It could be like the story of Eden but I don't know enough about it to know for sure. But I like guessing! So let me guess. Eden. Age of Legends. A time of happiness and peace and plenty. But then Eve wanted to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That means the men in the Wheel of Time (probably the male Aes Sedai) wanted knowledge. Maybe the men were getting into super-science or super-magic. Maybe they metaphorically dug too deep and the men released the Dark One from his prison (this would be Adam eating the apple, finally knowing evil). Then the men tried to give this knowledge to the female Aes Sedai and they ate/learned/whatevered. Then the world fell apart, the men went crazy, and then we have today's world. That sounds pretty cool. Again, though, nothing like this has been mentioned in the books so far. At least, I don't remember reading it. Well, just because he didn't want to doesn't mean he didn't do it. I didn't mean to cause such a dustup with my blog but here we are. The best invert of that is the Epic of Gilgamesh. In fact, you could say that the Christian creation myth is an inversion of the Epic (seeing as how the Epic was written earlier!) I wouldn't say that I enjoy trolling. I am completely honest in my views here. I won't lie to you all just to get a rise, you know? But I'll admit I'm not above stating my case in colorful language. If it helps, I'm taking this book apart the same I would the other books I read. You've got to see the details, see where the writer is coming from, see how little facts here relate to little facts there. In non-fiction this just leads to questioning the research skills of the writer. Here in the Wheel of Time it just hints at inconstancies in the fictional universe and biases of the author. That's just how I read, I guess. Anyway, it's time to get on with the story! You'll probably be unhappy with today's two posts but I don't know what to tell ya. The story has gotten fuzzy. Lots of weirdness going on. Well, you'll see. Just read on. Against the Shadows and There is Neither Beginning or End
  9. Against the Shadows Oh, I'm excited about this chapter. Let's just jump right in, Okay? C'mon! Rand is doing his thing: running away. Nynaeve and Lan are down, most likely dead. Perrine, Mat, and Egwene have scattered. Loial is still inside the cave, most likely (either that or looking at the tree corpse of the Green Man). Moiraine is somewhere, her screaming ended. Rand, though, is leaving all that behind him as he runs away. Unfortunately, he soon comes to a cliff. Ha, but don't they always? Aginor, the shriveled mummy-like Forsaken, is right behind him. Instead of killing or capturing Rand he talks at him. "I'm powerful! I'm awesome! I'm — hey where you going?" But Rand doesn't run away this time. No. Instead he sees some sort of glowing rope attached to the Forsaken. Okay...? Is that supposed to be a Thread in the Pattern? Is it some sort of umbilical? I don't know! Nothing in the past 756 pages have prepared me for this particular weirdness. They stand there, looking at each other. The glowing umbilical behind Aginor pulsates. Sweat beads on Rand's head. They continue to stare at each other. The Forsaken is all, "No, it's mine!" What's yours? What is going on? Suddenly Rand is no longer in the Green Man's grassy Green Zone. Instead his sweaty, uncloaked self is in a cold mountain pass. What the hell just happened, man? Rand is now in the middle of a battle. Trollocs on one side and humans on the other. He should be shivering in the cold but he isn't. There's a terrible heat. No one seems to notice him, either. Where is he? Tarwin's Gap? Faugh! He looks up and sees lightning strike Draghkars in the sky and I am officially lost. Is Rand using magic or something? He's not waving his hands around like Moiraine does with her staff. He just looks up and lightning happens. He's not asking for lighting or fireballs or volcanoes but that stuff just happens. Faugh! And what kind of magic transports people from one place to another? You'd think Moiraine would have used that one once or twice by now. And if he is using magic then why is he not insane? I thought that was the whole point. Anyway, Rand starts punching the ground. Hundreds of Trollocs and Fades die because Rand's punches make earthquakes. There's fire, too. I guess it was pretty lucky that the humans and Trollocs separated into two camps just before Rand started going violently psycho. Otherwise somebody might have been hurt (remember: Trollocs aren't people no matter how many languages they speak or how many tribes they organize themselves into. Unlike wolves who are people.). Rand calms down and then the ALL CAPS voice of god or whatever tells him that "it isn't here" and "only the chosen one" can do it. Whatever. I'm all out of Give A Fuck at this point. What happened to Aginor? Did he turn around and kill the rest of the fellowship? Faugh! Anyway, ALL CAPS creates some steps in front of him and Rand takes those. Where do they lead? I dunno. Darkness. So he goes. The battle of Tarwin's Gap continues below him. I don't know if Rand is still in "reality" or if he's in another realm of pure darkness. He's got a white umbilical of his own now. He may have had it for a while, now, but I don't know. Honestly, I don't care. This book has gone off the deep end of crazy. At the top of the dark stairs there is a room, the room from Rand's dream. And inside is Ba'alzamon! Whoa, alright. So maybe Rand is asleep somewhere and the weirdness is a dream. Maybe Rand is dying back there on that cliff and his mind is having one more encounter with the Big Bad. Rand says he is tired of running. Good for him! I've been tired of him running since Shadar Logoth. Rand notices that Ba'alzamon has a black umbilical of his own. What are these cords? I don't know. But I picture the one from the baddie to be rigid, like a thick shaft. That way I can say BA'ALZamon and Shaft. God, I'm immature. Ba'alzamon then lays out his master plan to our hero (our hero who ran away and left his friends to die back in the Green Zone). He did something to the Aiel, he sent Farstrider somewhere, and he did something with the Black Ajah. Really, it isn't important. It didn't work. He's about to die so who cares about his plan, right? Of course, this is Book One so either Ba'alzmon doesn't die here or some other evil dude will take over and continue the nasty plan. Rand goes on denying and denying. He is shown a vision of Nynaeve and Egwene and his mother, Kari. Rand disbelieves. Yada yada yada. I'm not moved. Soon the Fades start molesting his naked mother and Rand loses his shit. He pulls out a lightsaber and starts hacking at the Fades. Thus Rand saves his dead mother from Hell. Faugh! Rand then symbolically castrates Ba'alzamon by cutting off his thick, rigid, black, veiny cord. The chapter ends with Ba'alzamon screaming and (I assume) dying. I am supremely disappointed. Rand spent this entire novel dragging his dad's sword across the continent even though he caused him nothing but problems. But instead of using it he used a weapon made of Light? Or was it his dad's sword that started glowing? The last chapter was so good! Why did it have to be followed by this? So sad. There is Neither Beginning or End Rand wakes up. He's laying in the physical remains of Aginor. So he crawls away from the rags and ashes that was once a Forsaken to a cliff and throws up over it. From the surroundings I gather that Rand is back in the Green Zone, near the Eye of the World. Rand then says his own name, says he's Tam's son, and utters the name of the Dark One. He claims he killed the Dark One but as soon as he says "Shai'tan" the world lurches. So, umm, you didn't kill him, did you? You may have cut Ba'alzamon's black umbilical but you didn't kill the Dark One. How arrogant is Rand? Didn't the Creator build a prison for the Dark One a long time ago? If the Creator can't kill the baddie what makes Rand think he can? And how did he get back here? I can buy that he accidentally cast a teleportation spell from the Green Zone to Tarwin's Gap. I can buy that ALL CAPS created a staircase for him to the Dream World. And I can buy that Rand found his own way out of Dream World right back to Tarwin's Gap. But how did he get from there to here? And once he got here, why did he pass out at that exact moment in this exact place? Anyway, Rand goes looking for Egwene. You'll remember Egwene, right? She's the one he tackled in the middle of their fight against the Forsaken. And the Forsaken? Yeah, I have no idea how Aginor was killed. The climax made absolutely no sense. At all. I mean, those cords were introduced (color-coded, of course) with no explanation as to what they are (yet Rand knew that cutting Ba'alzamon's cord would kill him somehow), there was a sword of light that came from nowhere, Rand went from the Green Zone to Tarwin's Gap to Ba'alzamon's hideout Just Because, there was an ALL CAPS talking to him, Aginor died somehow, and Rand learned to use magic. What the Faugh? Where was I? Oh, yeah, Rand is looking for his friends. By "friends" I mean Egwene. He eventually gets to them. Nynaeve is alive, somehow, with only bruises. Dude, Balthemal was holding her a foot from the ground by her face! She was thrashing around, kicking, trying to pry his fingers out of her cheeks, before being thrown (her head like a baseball!) across the room into a stone wall where she fell down, her body gone limp. All she got were some bruises? She should be missing a jaw, at least. Nynaeve, I have nothing but love for you, but you should be dead. You're one of my favorite characters but it would be better for the story if you had died here. Moiraine was hurt, too. That explains the screams. But how was she hurt? I think Aginor attacked her with magic. So why isn't she burned to death or lightninged to death or earthquaked to death? She's just tired, it looks like, lying down on grass. Did Aginor use a fatigue spell on her? Is her hair even disheveled? Is her silly forehead gem tiara thing knocked askew? Even a little bit? Rand then says that the Dark One is dead. He says that he killed him. Nynaeve, Egwene, and Moiraine look up to this farmboy, this nobody from nowhere, who was brought to the Eye of the World because he as a connection to the Dark One, and wait for him to tell him how he could have killed the Dark One. Especially since the last thing the three women saw of him was his ass and elbows as he ran away from them. Rand, of course, doesn't say how he killed the Dark One. Just that he did and they were supposed to believe him Just Because. Then something unbelievable happens. Egwene apologizes to Rand! Yes, Rand shoves his ex-girlfriend down to the ground so that she'd be unable to save her mentor, Nynaeve. Rand pins her there, robbing her of her heroic sacrifice (Would he have done the same to the Queen defender of Manetheren, preventing her from going to save her husband? Would he have done the same to the Queen of Malkier, fighting the final fight against the Trolloc hordes?). And she thinks him for it! Faaaaugh! Nynaeve tells Rand al'Thor that he is dangerous. Now, notice that this comes before he tells his story about using the One Power. Nynaeve was knocked out before all that happened, anyway. She says that Rand is too dangerous because of something else, then. He's dangerous because he refused to attack the Forsaken (all he did to either of them was prevent Egwene from saving Nynaeve and ineffectively throw a rock at Aginor). He's dangerous because he tackled Egwene during the fight. Rand has no sense of teamwork, solidarity, or working as a group to achieve the final goal. His goal, his one single goal, was not to win the battle but to keep Egwene alive. And only through author fiat did he manage to survive. Anyway, under the witch's glare, Rand tells his story about glowing cords and swords of Light and all that. Lan is probably dead somewhere. Mat and Perrin? Who knows where they are. Loial? Psht. Rand doesn't give two shits. It's recap time! So Moiraine tells the boy that she knew all along that he could use magic. He de-fatigued Bela, don't you remember? He didn't actually cast a "de-fatigue" spell he just wished that Egwene not fall behind. Why did that "de-fatigue" the horse? Why didn't that cause Egwene to fly? Or for her to teleport? I thought I understood magic. But I guess not. Magic is more like wishing. "I wish to get out of this inn closet" somehow translates to "lightning bolt to blow up the wall" instead of "wall melts away" or "I teleport a few feet outside" or "I turn into a gas and waft out the window." Magic seems to mean that the wizard wishes something and Robert Jordan makes it happen. Whatever Finally, after all that time, Rand asks about the others. Good for him. Lan is inside the cave. Turns out the Eye disappeared in the fight. So what the hell was it for? It was pure Man Magic and now it's gone. Am I supposed to believe that Rand channeled the liquid in the Eye? Is magic like oil, then? Huge underground reservoirs of liquid mana that needs to be burned to power magic? And they know, for sure, that Rand used it up instead of Aginor? I just don't understand. Anyway, who cares? Let's just move on and maybe I'll puzzle out just what happened later. All I need to know is that Rand can use magic and only Moiraine, Lan, Egwene, and Nynaeve know. Also, Rand using magic is evil because of the taint (I guess). So no one else is supposed to know. I guess Rand values his friendships more than the lives of his friends (since he might go mad and kill them; best they not know until it's too late). It's just like back in Baerlon. Rand could have warned the town that Trollocs were coming but by saying so he'd risk his own hide. So he keeps mum. Here, he could warn them that he might go insane at any moment and blow his friends to tiny bits but doing so would risk his own hide. Best keep that to himself, then. The other half of the party comes back with some loot. They killed the boss in the dungeon so they get a treasure chest of loot, right? Is this a book or a video game? This is no ordinary chest, either. It's three thousand years old! The same technology that built the White Bridge built that chest. It should be made of crystal or plastic, like EVE from WALL-E. It should require voiceprint identification to open or require a sliding unlock like my cellphone. But, no. It's just a gold pirate chest. As an aside, what happened to the horses? There's eight or nine horses tied up somewhere. Nobody has mentioned checking on them. And considering how Rand was tiptoeing around the Green Zone, avoiding stepping on planets, you'd assume the horses wouldn't be allowed to eat anything here. And there have been no mention of streams for them to drink from. They must be hungry by now. So everyone left the horses, went into the cave of the Eye, came out, ran from the Forsaken, hid from the Forsaken for a while, then rejoined each other, then started exploring the caves. Did the violence not scare them off (Lan has a warhorse and maybe Moiraine's mare is trained for loud noises but would Bela or the others stand still when there is all this combat going on?)? It's like the horses were parked cars, turned off and waiting patiently to be used again. Anyway, Mat says he wanted to go look for Rand but Moiraine, Egwene, and Nynaeve wouldn't let him. And he listened! What the hell kind of friend sees his best bud running away into the woods, chased by a three thousand year-old mummy, and decides he won't go help but would rather look for treasure in a cave? Did Mat wait around until Nynaeve regained consciousness before trying to get Rand instead of running after him immediately? And why would they not let him go look? At what point did they figure Rand could use the One Power? Was that when he disappeared from the edge of the cliff about a hundred yards away, unseen through the foliage? And when did Moiraine get together with Egwene and the unconscious Nyneve to compare notes? So the timeline was this: battle in the cave knocking Nynaeve out, everyone running away and Moiraine screaming, Mat hides, Egwene finds Moiraine, those two find Lan, Mat continues to hide, Moiraine heals Lan, they then find Nynaeve, Mat still hides, Moiraine heals Nynaeve, Moirane tells Nynaeve and Egwene and Lan about the possibility of Rand's One Power ability, Mat finally decides to go looking for Rand, the three women tell him to stop looking for his best friend, Mat agrees that treasure hunting would be better, Mat and Loial and Perrin and Lan go into the cave of wonders, Rand walks back in the scene, Rand talks to Nynaeve and Egwene and Moiraine while not even asking if the others are alive. Did I get that right? Faugh! Everybody gets one paragraph to tell Rand just how awesome he is. Perrin wants to go home, Lan says Rand should try to learn to use his sword (which makes Rand blush and go "Aw, shucks"), and Loial gets the best line of all. He says that he's had an interesting time. Any more interesting, though, he'll run home and confess to the Elders everything he's done and never leave his books again. Yes, I love Loial. Rand lies to his friends about what happened. He says he just ran away and was knocked out all night. In fact, that's probably what happened. The Tarwin's Gap fight and the Ba'alzamon fight were probably Dream Fights. Probably not, but it's the only way I can make sense of it. Anyway, they find a broken piece of Heartstone. This is supposed to be the toughest material ever. Nothing can break it. Now, I can ignore the obvious fact that it is broken. Thus I can ignore that Moiraine is full of shit. But think back to when it was made. How could they shape it and carve the Aes Sedai symbol onto it if it was unbreakable? Did they pour it into a mold? That doesn't seem very stone-like. I'm going with the fact that Moiraine is just a fountain of lies. That solves so many problems. Wizards can't lie, right? That's what the forum says. So Moiraine holds a broken Heartstone. She identifies it as a Heartstone. She then says Heartstones can't be broken. But she's holding a broken one. Proof of her untruth is right there before her. Moraine proceeds to open the chest. How does she know how to do that? I picture an ancient Roman knowing how to open a modern wall safe with a ten-digit push-button combination lock. And ignoring the goodies inside, the chest itself is a terrific find. Alchemists and engineers from across the world would love to have a chance to study it, to unlock its secrets. But, no. The characters treat the chest, an artifact of the Age of Legends, as if it were just a mere storage box. What a shame. Inside the chest is the Horn of Valare (Valor). It's gold and curved with some silver filigree. I'm trying to imagine it. I think it is supposed to me a musical instrument. But solid gold? Shit must be heavy! I picture it like a golden kudu horn 'cause that just looks neat. Finally, the box contains the Banner of the Lord of Morning. Not only is this a fantastic anthropological find (I remember Moiraine introducing herself at the beginning of the book as a student of history) but also a technological one. There seems to be no dye, no seams, no weave in the fabric. This could revolutionize the textile industry. Rand, a sheep shearing expert, should appreciate that (maybe not at this moment as he has other things on his mind right now). The chapter ends with the group resting some more. The Green Zone is dying around them without the Green Man to maintain it. They need to prepare for the dangerous journey back to Fal Dara. There are Worms out there and vicious trees and who knows what other monsters. They've got a massive chest to carry, too (or are they leaving that behind?). It'll be two days, at least, until they leave the Blight. They barely made it coming in (actually, they didn't: they were teleported in when they got close enough) and they were fully supplied and rested. Now they're tired, wounded, burdened, and starting out in the most dangerous part. It'll be a touch march back.
  10. Sorry it took me so long to get back on here, folks. I've had a busy, busy time these last few days. I'll try to keep this post short, too. I suppose I could respond to everybody, you know? But that would mean a lot of reading for you all and writing for me. Instead, I'll try to hit the highlights. Okay? Great! You've complained that it doesn't seem as if I'm considering other people's differing opinions. I do consider them. Take what you wrote here. It makes a good case and it has the potential to change my mind. So I read it, think about it, and come to the conclusion that while you're right in what is going on inside Perrin's mind you're way off on how I should judge him because of it. Yes, Perrin has an unnaturally strong attachment to Hopper. Yes, Perrin feels Hopper's death in his very soul. Yes, this stirs up feelings inside of him that he doesn't understand. How does that excuse him from killing the two Children of the Light? Hopper attacked first, remember? Hopper, if he's supposed to be a real person with real feelings (enough that I'm supposed to treat his death as I would a person close to me) then I'll hold Hopper to the same standards as I would a real person. Not a human, but a person. The same I would for Loial or E.T. or a Vulcan or Legolas (all non-human persons). So Hopper attacked a Whitecloak, killed him, and died as a result. Then Perrin, messed up in the head, killed two more. There was no violence when this encounter started. Everyone was standing around and talking. Then Hopper jumped in and then Perrin jumped in. If Perrin isn't arrested for murder then he should be arrested just to keep him from losing control again. Will he go apeshit every time a wolf dies near him? How are the Whitecloaks supposed to know? How is Perrin supposed to know? Is Egwene safe around him? He deserves to be locked up for any number of reasons (I still say for murder, though). See, it isn't that I don't have an open mind. It isn't that I ignore what everyone else is saying. It's that what they say doesn't follow through with what I read. Am I supposed to think that Perrin is a gentle guy who has some sort of brand new mental defect that will cause him to enter a bloody rage whenever he feels threatened? And I'm suppose to cheer on this guy when he kills people 'cause, gosh darn it, he doesn't mean to kill? I mean, look: See? Even Perrin supporters define him as an animal, terrified and backed into a corner. If squirrels do it then it's okay for people to do it, too. And it's okay to kill Whitecloaks, too. Are they human beings? Yes? But does that matter? They felt wrong. What does that even mean? Are they truly wrong or is this another wolf-sense that is confusing Perrin? Imagine this in the real world. Seriously, even if Hopper was a human being and really close to Perrin, do you think Perrin would be found not guilty of murder if he went to trial? If you heard this story on the evening news (without being in Perrin's head, of course) then would you automatically jump on the Justified Homicide bandwagon? Besides, look at Egwene. She was trapped in a corner like a terrified rat. She didn't fight back. Why not? If one argues that fighting back is natural then Egwene isn't acting naturally. If one argues that we can act naturally in more than one way then we have to ask why Perrin acted the way he did instead of acting the way Egwene did. Really, how can you say I'm too closed minded to consider other opinions when I get this deep into one tiny part of one chapter? I think we are confusing closed-mindedness with coming to the same conclusion as before even after careful consideration of new evidence. I've been trying to keep my opinions based upon where the blog is. For example, in Book 2 we learn that Moiraine is in some sort of conspiracy with the Amyrlin Seat that the rest of the White Tower wouldn't approve of if they knew about it. I ignore all of that in these discussions because it doesn't matter to my opinion of Moiraine here in Book 1. But Perrin doesn't get any better in Book 2 and neither does Mat (in fact, Mat backslides since he got better from his Dagger sickness but still acts like a dick) so it helps that my opinion of him here, in Book 1, is about the same as Book 2. Yes, it is. We don't know what happens off camera. We have to imagine it for ourselves. And how can we imagine Perrin on the horse if we've never seen him on it. We've never seen the menfolk shave but we assume they do (no mention of Rand's scratchy beard, for example). But I get increasingly bothered when it is never mentioned. The same with clean clothes and free food. I was frustrated that Perrin never got on that horse, that I had to imagine it. Why? Why did I have to imagine that one thing? I came up with the idea that Robert Jordan didn't want to write a scene where Perrin was on the horse, relaxing, while Egwene was struggling along in her skirt next to him. There may be many reasons for it coming out this way, though. Maybe scenes were edited out. But I judge the story by what happens in it, not what was edited out. That is just not true. Lan, for example, is obviously a master swordsman. That doesn't mean I hate him because there are no women just as good or better than him. I don't hate Moiraine because there are no men more powerful than her! And I don't hate it when men have authority. Look at Tam. He's a dad and in the Village Council. He has authority and I like him. I like Bran al'Vere, too, and he's top dog! Other men in authority, like the various innkeepers and Whitecloaks, are not hated by me, either. I don't have a problem with men being in positions of power over women. The problem comes when there are no women in positions of power over men. Moiraine is a big one. She's in charge of Lan and the Two Rivers Boys. But Nynaeve was supposed to be the Wisdom, the Mayor's equal, but no one respected her. Yes, her age. I understand that argument but to me it doesn't matter that they all have good reasons to ignore her. What matters is that Robert Jordan wrote a character that was supposed to be respected, made up reasons for her not to be, made that a character a woman, and then said everything was balanced between genders in Emond's Field. But other than Nynaeve and Moiraine? What other woman has authority over a man? Queen Morgase. Yes, she's in charge of a kingdom. I've got nobody to compare her to in this book (no other monarchs!) so I can't tell if she's got more power than your average ruler, less power, or is about average. I just don't know. I do know that her kingdom is in an uproar over bad winters. There's folks in the mines west of Baerlon abandoning their jobs to the cold and the wolves to come cause a ruckus in town. I know that there is an almost-riot in her capital city. I know that she has a tenuous grasp on the throne and a puppet behind her pulling her strings. So that's three women in this book with real authority over men. One is awesome, one isn't respected, and one is about to be thrown into a civil war. This is balanced? Again, this isn't really true. I don't want women to always excel over men. I want them to be given a chance to excel. I want some to be better and some to be worse. I want some to be at the top of their fields and some to screw up so royally that it'll take years to clean up their mess. I want them to be in charge of men and I want them to take orders from men. I want male generals to send female soldiers on suicide missions and I want female Aes Sedai to order their Warders to stay behind and die to buy time for their escape. What do you want, Seth Baker? Are you saying that unless there is mass killings and men in charge of women that the story will be boring and unsatisfying? How is it a bad thing for me to want things to be more equal but a great thing for things to be out of whack? I like lots of killing in my fiction so we can agree on that, at least! Oh, you almost got it there. More than "might seem," it would be idyllic for there to be a world where women don't rely on men at all. But the rest? You start to lose it when you say that no men have any skills that are superior to women. That's not right. It's okay for some people to be better than other people in some things. All women don't have to be better than men. Just like all men don't have to be better than women. What matters is that, overall, all genders are represented at the top levels of all skills. There should be male and female chefs, admirals, engineers, janitors, IT techs, and painters. There should not be only male generals and only female knitters (especially if you want to say the world is "balanced"). Then you kinda/sorta got back on the right track with that third part of your statement. Yes, an idyllic world would have men always listening to women. And women would always listen to men. There would be lots of communication between everyone, everyone being heard, in this utopia. But obey? Only if the woman was in charge. A mayor wouldn't obey the farmer no matter what the genders are. But after that point you set up a straw man. You assume what I'd say if the roles were reversed and they you attack what you assume I'd say. The best way to argue would be for you to ask me what I'd think if the roles were reversed and then attacked that view. But my idyllic world (which isn't the real world and isn't the Wheel of Time world) would definitely be pro-woman. But anti-man? That's absurd! It'd be pro-man, too! Finally, this last bit seems to be in everyone's posts. So instead of quoting everything I'll sum it up: The magic system is based upon equal parts male and female. Individually, the genders can only go so far. But together, they can do truly amazing things. So I am wrong when I say that women need men when it comes to magic. Far enough. But I should explain things a little better. One, this is all fake. None of this is real. So everything in here must be thought up out of thin air by the author. Everything here, then, comes from the same biases and world view. All the magic and characters and conflict and problems in this story come from the same source and were chosen for a reason (whatever that reason may have been). Basic stuff, right? I just wanted to make sure ya'll know that everything is artificial. Nothing about the world can be said to be "natural," especially the magic. Okay. Now, this is a universe that needs balance. Male magic and female magic working together can achieve great things. But three thousand years ago the male half was tainted and the men died off/were killed off. Then in today's world there is only female magic (for the most part). Follow me so far? We are all agreed that the world was better when there was men and women working together, right? So when women were put in charge of magic the world went to hell. In Seth Baker's vision of feminism, the women were given the keys to the world car and proceeded to crash it into today's hellhole. Robert Jordan could have written a story that took place anywhere and in any time in this balanced Wheel of Time universe. But he choose the one moment women were in charge and when the world was screwed up. Why? But we are here. This is the story being told. One gender is in charge and they can't solve the world's problems. They need a man. They literally need a man to bring balance back, to set things right. The first book was about a female wizard trying to find a male wizard to fix the world because women can't do it alone. Yes, men can't do it alone either. I agree with that. I see that. But this isn't a story about a male wizard organization looking for a woman to save the world. That is not the story being told. The story being told is of women looking for a man. In a deliberate decision Robert Jordan made a world with women in charge of magic and that the only way they can fix the world is to get a man to help them. He made a backstory and magic system (all artificial, nothing natural here) to make that story logical. So you see? Yes, balance between genders is something that would save the world. It is something I want in this story, too! It is something Seth Baker thinks would make this story boring and short. But no one has mentioned "balance" in the first book. I don't think "balance" was mentioned in Book 2, either. It's all been about getting the Dragon so he can fight the Dark One. Nothing about fixing the male half of magic. Nothing about bringing male wizards back to Tar Valon. I gather that this changes later in the series but right here, right now, that is not the story I'm reading. Anyway, there was some other stuff I wanted to say but this has gotten to be pretty long as it is. I've got enough chapters remaining for two more Eye of the World posts. So this book gets wrapped up on Friday. I won't lie, either, I was confused as all get out by the climax. You'll see when you read about it! So until then, readers! Thanks for following this far.
  11. Yes, exactly! The women in this book need to be killed off, bruised, and bloodied as much as any of the men. They need to be idiots and morons, grizzled veterans and wise scholars. They should not be protected or kept from seeing the harsh realities of life. Empowering women doesn't mean protecting them from all harm or giving them advantages that men don't have. It means letting them do what they want to do and failing to do it when they are way outclassed. It means Egwene running up to the the Forsaken and getting her head smashed in. Perrin's going it. Lan's doing it. Mat's doing it. The Green Man's doing it. My problem with that is that it's just thrown in there. We are told, flat out, that these are bad guys. They don't do anything bad on screen. They don't even do bad things off screen. We're just told that they are up to no good and that the main characters must fight them. That's lazy. There are other characters that have been doing bad things in this book that would have been fine to fight. Allowing two unheard of Forsaken to fight here just shows how unprepared the Dark One is, how weak he is. Two of the thirteen most powerful evil wizards in the world can't defeat this fellowship? What hope do the other eleven have? I did not know we could post pictures. That's interesting. I might start doing that in the blog itself. It adds a little something, don't you think? And maybe we do have a misunderstanding about what a deus ex machina is. It is when something other than the people involved solve the problem. For example, back on the Arinelle River, on the Spray, Rand was about to die when the boom spun around and knocked out a Trolloc. Now, we now know this was because of Rand's magic but even he didn't know it at the time. He didn't outwit the Trolloc, outfight it, run away from it, or anything like that. He was about to die when something from somewhere else saved him. The same happened with the lightening in Four Kings, with Queen Morgase's summons during the Elayne/palace guards stand off, and with the Green Man coming in to save the group that would have otherwise died on their own. In this book, if Rand isn't getting saved by Moiraine, he's being saved by the Wheel. Being a ta'varen is just a way to explain how so many of these things can happen to one guy. You have a really limited idea of what scifi is if you think they must contain ray guns and warp drives. Just looking at the movies, I can bring up Children of Men, Blade Runner, Avatar, the Abyss, Inception, and who knows how many others I've got in my tiny DVD collection. I played Mass Effect and they had an evil race serving their dark god, the Geth, and even then we learned more about them in the sequel. Or maybe you mean the terminators? They are an artificially created evil race that serves their dark god. But, darn it, in the sequel we learn more about them, too. But are you serious about fantasy books? Is this something I've got to sit through if I want to read fantasy? Book after book after book of nameless, faceless, living beings that are gunned down for being born different? That's awful.
  12. Hey, folks. I don't have time to reply to what you've all written. I am sorry about that. But as soon as things calm down over here later today (or maybe tomorrow morning!) I'll say something. Until then, though, I've got a new blog post up. Here it is for your "enjoyment!" The Blight, The Dark One Stirs, Meetings at the Eye
  13. The Blight The 48th chapter and the 720th page. Ingtar is leading a group of mounted soldiers as an escort for the fellowship. Rand thinks that these battle-hardened soldiers are somehow "grander" than the more colorful, rested, and probably better groomed Queen's Guard. I thought that Ingtar was leading a band of gritty Border soldiers in a fight for survival against hordes of demon monsters. But it's more of a majestic honor guard of noble defenders of the Light. But since only Main Characters are allowed at the climax of the book, Ingtar and his soldiers turn around and ride towards Tarwin's Gap. They might be late for the battle there, sure, but they stil want to fight. As the fellowship heads off we get a flashback to that morning. While still kinda/sorta in Rand's POV we get a list of every major Good Guy participant in the upcoming battle. We learn of the cities involved, their banners, their king, their colors, and all kinds of facts that means nothing. Not only does it mean nothing it is listed in the most boring way possible. If it were exciting then I might enjoy it, meaningless as it may have been. But this isn't a scene where an excited Rand is looking out the window at all of the amazing pageantry marching by outside. No, it's just a bland telling. A narrator's list of what's going to be in a battle that the main characters are going to miss. That's boring. It's like the boring parts of the Bible that lists unknown cities being conquered by armies before being freed and conquered again, in a list format. It's as if we wanted to describe the Battle of Tora Bora by listing the states the soldiers came from. "Eastward they would join elements of Delta Force, from North Carolina, behind General Tommy Franks himself with his generals at his side, and from Tennessee that held Nashville and guarded Graceland; from Montana and Florida and California and all the other states in the US, great and small." Come to think of it, that second one was kinda cool. The weather starts getting warmer and Nynaeve says it "feels wrong." This is more of that magical detection powers that people seem to have with no reason given. I can almost forgive it (almost) because Nynaeve is a Wisdom and somehow her training involves meteorology. I don't know how this equates to telling the "wrongness" of this place, though? She can detect storms with her weather sense, right? Storms are "wrong." So what does she sense? Mat takes off his coat and covers his eyes with his scarf, breaking any number of local anti-head covering laws. In fact, everyone is disrobing and fanning themselves. Well, almost everyone. Lan keeps his magical mulit-colored cloak on. He doesn't sleep and he is unaffected by heat and cold. I think he may be a Terminator or something. I wish, how I wish, that he'd have some sort of failing (beyond being too much of a cartoon bad ass to care about anything). Lan talks about an animal called the Stick. Getting stuck by the Stick requires an immediate and emergency amputation in order to save the person. I like this! But why has no one ever been shown to be missing an arm or leg? None of the civilians or soldiers mentioned have been the victim of Stick attacks. Does that mean that people are so experienced to not fall victim of Sticks any more? In the real world people are smart enough to avoid rattlesnakes but someone dies of its bite every year. Just like the Fades and Trollocs, Sticks are supposed to be so dangerous. But there is no evidence of them doing anything bad. No one injured. No one killed (Have the Fades killed anyone in this entire book? Other than some unnamed, off-camera Emond's Field deaths, have Trollocs killed anyone?). I like the Sticks even if the story doesn't do much with them. They continue north into the Blight and it gets worse and worse. It is here that I have an epiphany. It is here that it occurs to me: the Trollocs are running away from the Blight! This is a disgusting place full of death. Who would want to live there? Nobody, not even the Trollocs. So they try to go south. But Malkier stood in the way. With old prejudice and stereotypes against the "evil" Trollocs they prevented the exodus. So for who knows how long the Trollocs have been fighting to get the hell out of Hell. The Dark One offered them help in the form of Whatever (food, weapons, unholy strength?) if they served him. What were they supposed to do? Let the Blight kill them? Maybe the Dark One opened up the Waygates for them in exchange for their help in finding Rand. This probably isn't true. But we will never know. We never know the motivations of the Trollocs, do we? They are evil monsters that deserve to die. Every band. Every tribe. Anyway, the Blight starts to stink and Mat throws up. My original thought was that he was a farmboy. He should be used to bad smells. But my second thought was, "What did Mat do for a living?" I mean, Rand was a sheep herder who lived on his farm. Perrin was a blacksmith who lived on a farm (Why did he not live in town? That must have been a hell of a walk every morning and evening). Mat was what? He lived in town and he was a troublemaker. Did he do anything to make him used to spoiled meat, like butchering or tanning? I dunno. And I don't care enough to go back and look. Loial is pissed at the Dark One corrupting the trees. But is the Blight caused by the Dark One or does the Dark One just live up here? I wonder. What matters is that my favorite curse, "blood and ashes", is being replaced by Loial's awesome, "Faugh!" I might even use "faugh" to replace all the "ughs" I usually make. Faugh. They continue to ride. Perrin, with killin' still in his heart, caresses his axe. Lan, being too cool for school, is completely unaffected by the Blight. Yes, I continue to hate Lan. If not because he's immune to everything (I seriously doubt open flames would affect him) then because he's too macho to admit to being uncomfortable. But it's getting late so they need to camp. Moiraine, always thoughtful, decides that they should sleep where Lan's parents died. Really, right there where Mister and Missus Man Dragon were killed, eaten, and shat out of a Trolloc. Sweet dreams, Lan. Well, maybe not that exact spot. But clearly within sight of it. Anyway, they stop and Mat the Hero begs the witch to put up a magical barrier. Egwene, of all people, tell him that attracting the Dark One's minions would be a bad idea. Put in his place, Mat fumes and remains quiet. That doesn't keep Moiraine from making a magical invisibility shield over the camp. Hmm, that would have been very useful in Shadar Logoth, don't you think? What the hell? Did Moiraine somehow get enough XP during the fight with the Whitecloaks to level up? And this invisibility shield isn't going to attract the forces of evil? What is it about magic wards that draw notice that magic shields do not? Faugh! Egwene talks about how she'll be able to cast Invisible Shield soon. Nynaeve says that she'll tag along with Egwene in Tar Valon to help ease her transition there. She has that vow, remember, to bring Egwene and the boys home and to stop Moiraine at any cost. If she has to sell her soul to the Tar Valon demons then so be it. Whatever it takes for her people. Sweet, innocent Egwene asks the boys if they'll come, too. Why the hell wouldn't they? I mean, Mat needs to go or else that dagger's curse will kill him and later spread to the rest of the entire world, plunging all of humanity into a nightmare of murderous insanity. So, yeah, he'll have to go there pretty soon. Rand and Perrin, well, only have the Dark One after them. And outside of the Aiel Waste, Shadar Logoth, a stedding, or any small body of water, Tar Valon is the only safe place for them to go. So, yeah, Egwene, they're going to Tar Valon. Have you forgotten the last seven hundred pages of this book?! Faugh! Whatever. Everyone goes to bed. Except for fifty year-old Lan, of course. He literally never sleeps. Ever. But Rand notices that twenty-five year-old Nynaeve is awake, too. The stench of the Blight must have altered her brain chemistry or something because she makes her move on Old Man Lan. Now, Nynaeve has never been the most open character. I think it takes a lot for her to expose herself emotionally like this, telling the al-Qaeda witch's aging bodyguard that she wants to be with him. She's a very guarded person, no? But here she is, handing him her heart. This chapter ends with Lan tearing Nynaeve's heart into tiny bits. He does the whole "it's not you, it's me" routine. He says he's too poor. He says that Nynaeve's going to be a powerful wizard and some dudes (not him, of course! He'd never be pissed that you found his trail, sneaked up on him, talked back to him, and generally showed the world that he was a shitty ranger) don't want powerful wives. Plus, he's got this whole "destined to die avenging his kingdom" thing going on. He likes her, sure. She's... umm, well, she's got spunk! But he's not the guy for her. The fact that he's older than her own father is never brought up. Nynaeve, heart in a million little pieces, cries herself to sleep. On the one hand, I hate Lan and his treatment of my favorite character isn't helping his case. On the other hand, I'm ever so glad they didn't get together. Here's hoping Lan sacrifices his life at the end of this book. The Dark One Stirs Having fallen asleep to the sound of his Wisdom crying last chapter, Rand wakes up pretty refreshed at the beginning of this one. There was no dream so we're off to a pretty good start. Let's see if we can keep it up. Egwene, immediately seeing something was bothering Nynaeve, goes to comfort her. Rand, Perrin, Mat, Moiraine, and Loial (the last two, I can forgive) don't do anything for Nynaeve. It could be because they're just boys. It could be because she's an authority over them. I think it's because they're not heroes, because they're not good guys, because they want Nynaeve to be happy but don't want to do anything to make that happen. And that's pretty normal for most human beings, right? Just not caring about others. But aren't they supposed to be heroes? It shouldn't be superpowers or Old Blood that makes these guys heroes. What's important, though, is that Egwene is a good person. She helps out those who need a helping hand. Nynaeve is cheered up, gives a short laugh, and the fellowship can continue on their quest. Moiraine undoes the magic invisibility shield from last night. Egwene and Nynaeve get goosebumps from watching her. I can't help but think this is important. Rand does, too, but neither one of us can figure out what it means. Mat is eager to get going at this point. He has his bow all set to go, too. I wonder why no one in this entire book has had to string their bow. Do they walk around with the strings already strung? They must be going through bowstrings like hotcakes. Off they go to find the Green Man. No one knows how to find him but that's okay because the Green Man senses need. Like Trollocs sense the cursed dagger (yet they don't sense it up here in the Blight, only in Caemlyn). Like Elyas senses upcoming danger. Like Warders sense Trollocs. Like wolves sense danger. Like Moiraine senses other Aes Sedai. Like Loial senses Waygates. Like Nynaeve senses the "wrongness" in the weather. Like Perrin senses wolves. Like Padan Fain senses the Two Rivers Boys. I'm sick of people sensing things! Anyway, they go on. Lan kills something (off camera, of course) and Mat shoots a single arrow into an attacking monster described as a "body" and a "thing." It's the size of a bear with bristles and too many legs. Whatever it is it's dead now. The party keeps on trucking. I guess these small town farm folk have seen so much that monsters with too many legs are easy to kill and walk away from. It's as if the wonders of the world that they witness are getting boring to them, now. Trees that want to eat them? Monsters jumping out of the woods? Yawn. I loved the wonder they had when they first saw Baerlon, or the White Bridge. Will we ever see them stare at wonder at something again? Somehow Moiraine's magical protection is failing them. The Blight attacks and the fellowship runs away. Every single time something happens they always run away. Run away from Emond's Field, from Baerlon, from Shadar Logoth, from Whitebridge, from Caemlyn, from Machin Shin, and now from the haunted forest. Never, not once, have they stood and fought. I guess they're going by the "he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day" motto. Maybe the only fight that counts is the last one. But the vegetation is unrelenting. They shout their battlecries ("Manetheren!" for Perrin and Rand, "Mumbo Jumbo" for Mat) and do their hack and slash. Mat, with his arrows, is somehow effective against trees and blob-shaped monsters. Moiraine throws fireballs everywhere, forgetting that women use Air and Water magic. Lan runs into the thick of things, cutting and getting cut. I guess there are no Sticks there because he doesn't amputate any of his own limbs. Remember when the Blight was so deadly that a single Stick monster was dangerous? So long ago. When was it? Last chapter. Now they're fighting slobbering monsters, one after another. They're getting bloodied and sliced and diced (the men, only; the women aren't getting hurt) but nothing seems to be poisonous, now. Nothing is corroding their swords and armor, either, even though things were dissolving their stuff a page or two ago. Just when things looked to be lost the attack stops. A deus ex machina called "Worms" has appeared in the distance. These Worms scare everything, even the trees. So the fellowship rides as fast as they can to get away from the Worms. During this flight Lan and Loial answer any questions the kids might have about Worms. Yeah, exposition! Uncrowned King Deathwish wants to stay behind to fight the Wormpack (did I say that there were more than one of these creatures that even the trees fear?). Mat, his Tourette's coming back, says "arrows" and is promptly ignored by everyone. Nynaeve begs Lan not to do this. Moiraine says it's suicide. Rand is having a cardiac arrest: . Then he died, I think. One second he was there in the Blight, Wormpack stampeding down on him. He prayed for strength or something like that. Then boom! The Blight was gone. He was somewhere else. He was in a grassy place. There were flowers and a sweet spring breeze. There were butterflies and bees and birds. It was literally that fast. Moiraine didn't wave her staff around to cast a Teleportation spell (and if she did I would have slapped her for waiting until now to do such a thing) or anything like that. They were in one place and then they weren't. I don't get it. Another deus ex machina that sent them from danger to exactly where they wanted to be without any effort on the main characters' part. Can the main characters ever get themselves out of a spot of trouble without some external heretofore unknown person or event saving them? Moiraine saved them from Emond's Field and Baerlon, right? But since then? Faugh! Rand asks how in the world they got there if it's supposed to be on the other side of the mountains. Moiraine says "this place is where it is. All that changes is where those who need it are." What the hell kinda koan is that? The fellowship needed this place, right? They've needed it since Caemlyn. Wait, no. They've only known they needed it since then. They've actually needed it since it was created, right? So why are they only transported to it now? Why didn't the Green Man bring them there a month ago? Faugh! Let's pretend that the Eye of the World is a key. I need that key to open a door. Even if I don't know about the door, even if I don't know about the key, I still need the key if I'm ever going to open that door. The moment that door is locked is the moment I begin needing that key. So my need is constant. Why is it that I have to get within five feet of the key before the Green Man decides to transport me there? Because the book says so, that's why. Just ignore this and move on. Just move on. So the Green Man finally shows up and he lives up to his name. He's a humanoid mass of vines. This chapter ends with the Green Man giving shout outs to Loial the treehugger and Perrin the Wolfbrother. He gives Rand some funny looks, calling him a Child of the Dragon and getting weirded out by the heron-marked sword. Whatever that means. Moiraine is told that people can come to the Eye of the World only once in their lives but the witch comes back with, "Yeah, but this time I really need to." The Green Man accepts this answer because, hey, main characters get to break the rules of metaphysics, and he escorts them away. Meetings at the Eye Having gone through so much in the last two months, Rand is pretty cool about walking behind a giant talking mound of plants in a patch of spring weather in the middle of a diseased Blight in the Mountains of Dhoom about a thousand miles from home. I can honestly say I have no idea how I would handle a similar situation. Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moiraine, Lan, Loial, and the Green Man (along with eight horses) trot down a garden path. For the Two Rivers folk, these are the first flowers they've seen in half a year, at least. I bet it smells nicer than the Blight. Because they are girls (even though the Wisdom is around twenty-five) Egwene and Nynaeve are smelling flowers and smiling. Perrin, to contrast, is still simmering with his anger and bloodlust. The Green Man proceeds to pick flowers to "decorate" the girls. Imagine this! They come up to his knee, maybe, and he's bending almost completely over to put plants in their hair. Umm, they have a world to save so maybe you can put that off until after? Also, why isn't he decorating Rand or Lan? Does the Green Man also observe contemporary cultural gender norms? You'd think an ancient plant monster would be above that. You'd think he'd have trouble even telling males and females apart (I mean, can you tell the male and female sexual organs of a plant apart?). But I know you readers are annoyed to no end about me pointing out how the book treats men and women differently. I'm sorry, but I can't just ignore it! I mean, the Green Man is more than three thousand years old. His ideas about culture and women's roles should be vastly different that kids from a backwater living today. I think it's weird that his ideas match up almost perfectly with the way Rand's people see things (which, I would guess, is in line with how Robert Jordan's community saw things). How many people from 1000 BCE, if we were to bring them to 1700 CE, would have the same values as somebody from the boondocks? I dunno. I should probably stop thinking about it and just go with the fantasy. They continue down the path. Rand secretly promises to protect Egwene no matter what. Faugh. Hate hate hate. Finally they make it to a cave that the Green Man will not enter. He says his ending is linked to what's inside. You think? Most fictional guards' endings are linked to what they guard. But the Green Man gives some exposition, here. And it isn't all that bad, either. It's sad, even. Not the part that one hundred Aes Sedai died making the Eye. No, what was sad was the Green Man's story. He wasn't created to be a guard, you see? He was just there when the Eye was created. The Aes Sedai, knowing that they'd die, asked him to protect it. And he said yes. So he's guarded it for three thousand years! That's loyalty, there. My sympathies go out to that mass of plant matter. So inside the cave there is a chamber. There are crystals everywhere for light, of course, and a large pool of water in the center. That pool is the Eye of the World. But I'm 744 pages into this book and I still don't know what it's for. Faugh. Oh, but I spoke too soon. Moiraine calls it the essence of saidin, the male half of the True Source. It has the power to break or mend the seals imprisoning the Dark One. Okay, that's something. This is pure Dude Magic that is untainted by the icky sticky that's turning male channelers crazy. And pure Dude Magic, unlike pure Chick Magic, is needed to deal with the Dark One's seals. Well, now we're getting somewhere. Well, according to Moiraine. Who knows what it really is? As for why the thing exists or what it's for? Moiraine doesn't know. Of course she doesn't. All she knows is that it'll be used when it is most needed. Well, mystery solved. Now, the female witches have been trying to tap into this Dude Magic but simply can't. But a male witch? Oh, it'd be a piece of cake for him to tap that. If only they had a male witch. As far as I know the only dude wizard is in the dungeons of Caemlyn being watched by eight female Aes Sedai. Looks like that false Dragon is important, after all. Has he been tapping into the tainted saidin or has he been hooked into this pure shit? Moiraine continues to say how all the most powerful witches in the world can't do jack shit without male channelers. Because, you know that strong women need men to do things. Even if those men are slowly going insane. Just ask Nynaeve, am I right? She seems to be doing well on her own but she still needs Lan. Faugh. The fellowship decide to leave the cave that they've desperately tried to reach since Caemlyn. They made it here, sooo..... Yeah, time to go outside, I guess. It's like when Rand and Mat finally made it to Caemlyn. Just wait there until the book gives you something to do. And the book does indeed giveth! Two men stand in the cave entrance, blocking their way. Lan, I thought you were good at hiding your trail. How could you be followed like that? Oh, that's right, because you suck at things like that. Also because these two newcomers were drawn to Mat. Maybe his dagger? Still think skipping Tar Valon was such a good idea, Moiraine? If you would have stopped there and cured Mat of his deadly dagger curse then those two dudes wouldn't be following you, would they? But, no, you just had to prove yourself right. You had to get to the Eye as fast as you could. Faugh! The two baddies are called Aginor (Agincourt) and Balthemal (Ball Thermal). You know they are baddies because they aren't pretty. Ugly is evil, remember? One is an old guy (oh, the horror!) and the other is Voldo from Soul Calibur. Turns out that they are Forsaken and aren't as bound in Shayol Ghul as everyone thought. They say (or Aginor does since Balthemal has no tongue) that they're going to take over the world and that there is no stopping them. You know, classic villain. At this point you'd expect Lan to have chopped off a head mid-sentence but, no. We have to listen to them monologue. It occurs to me, too, that these Forsaken have never appeared in this book. This is part of the climax, the last fight of the book, and there are two new villains here? Why not use established villains? Where is Child Byar? Where is Padan Fain? Where is the ghost of Howal Gode, even? Where are any of the unnamed Fades or even a Zombie Thom? There is no reason for me to think Aginor and Balthemal are bad other than A) they aren't beautiful and B) they work for the Dark One. I don't know what you'd call them. Designated enemies? They have no buildup and I have no stake in their defeat. What I mean is that I want them to lose only because they oppose Rand and not because they've done anything I hate. It would as if the end of Star Wars Luke Skywalker would have to fight some random, never before seen pair of Sith guys. And not just as random guards but unique individuals with names and all that. Or Sarah Connor fighting two different, as yet unmentioned Skynet robots at the end of Terminator. It makes no sense to introduce Aginor and the other guy right here. No buildup means I don't care. Anyway, when Lan finally does attack he is tossed aside like yesterday's garbage. I let slip a tiny cheer. Lan runs up and with a flick of his old man wrist Aginor eliminates the best melee fighter in the group. The fellowship is really screwed now. I'm getting excited. Nynaeve pulls out her tiny knife and rushes to attack. She knows she's boned. They all are. But she isn't going down without a fight. She isn't going down like Lan, either. But Balthamel reaches out and grabs her face, his fingers digging her her cheeks. He lifts her up and she spits out blood. Hell yeah! I mean, I love Nynaeve and I hate to see her get killed like this but she's fighting! She's getting bloody. She isn't evacuating or cowering or whimpering. For the first time in this entire book an Emond's Fielder is making a stand instead of running away. She's dying like a hero. Fuck yeah! Ha! Oh, my God. This is perfect. This next part is perfect. Egwene had rolled the third highest in Initiative so she gets to go next. Without a cool battlecry (which sucks), she rushes into the fight. Then, oh god, then Rand gets his turn. He attacks Egwene. I shit you not. Egwene is running towards the bag guy, her best girlfriend dying in front of her, and her ex tackles her! Oh, my hate for Rand is now total. With Egwene beneath him, thrashing around, trying desperately to get up and fight for her life, Rand yells at Perrin and Mat to stop fighting. They can't win! We've been running this entire book! There's no need to stop now! So holding Egwene down he reaches for his buddies to stop as they rush past him. Hate hate hate. Faugh. But the Forsaken stopped the Boys as easily as they did Lan. Nynaeve is still being held up by her face while the rest of the Two Rivers Folks are on the ground. Rand isn't about to kneel before the Baddies, though, so he stands up. He has the balls to offer his hand to Egwene but she slaps that hand right the fuck out of the way. Screw you, Rand. She gets up on her own. Love love love. Soon everyone but Lan is standing, too. Nynaeve is still hanging by her cheeks. Moiraine is AWOL 'cause she hasn't done anything for nearly a page. I can't remember the last time Loial did anything. Soon another deus ex machina, the Green Man, walks in and attacks Balthemal. Really, the fight is going badly for our heroes so some outside force comes in to save them. Awful. Might as well have the Creator itself come into save them. Why not? Nynaeve's lifeless corpse is tossed aside, rendered in the best rag doll physics possible. Balthemal and the Green Man go man-to-man. Er, well, leatherbound zombie man-to-twenty foot-tall plant creature. In the end the Green Man burns to death and the Forsaken is gardened to death. Aginor is still "alive," though. And so is Moiraine, too. For the first time in the whole battle (what has she been doing?!) she uses magic to attack. And it's Dude Magic, too, more Fire and Earth. Some kind of chasm in the earth and lava down at the bottom of it. But Aginor just stood in the air as the ground beneath him fell away. The group, like every other battle in the book, went to Plan A: Run away! This chapter ends with the Forsaken Aginor, wreathed in flames, walking across superheated air towards Egwene. Rand threw a rock at him but that rock just turned to powder before it ever got near the baddie. Moiraine is somewhere, screaming. Nynaeve and Lan are done, possibly dead. Things look bad for our heroes. This chapter has been one of the better ones. There was little exposition to slow things down. There was action, tension, and the protagonists actually did something! They didn't run away, not at first. And Rand tackling Egwene? That's the proof I never really needed to convince me how awful Rand really is. He's not Perrin-level bad but he's well on his way. It was a good chapter. This is what the chapters should all be like. Action, movement, danger! We didn't get a history of the cave or the Green Man's garden or what this spot of land used to be before it was consumed by the Blight. None of that matters when it comes to the story being told right now and it was good that it wasn't told. Since this is the climax I have no doubt the final chapters will be full of action, too. Here's hoping!
  14. I knew it! Chapter 1: The Dark One's Good Idea Rand and Tam al'Thor walk down the Quarry Road with a cart and horse. Even though spring should have arrived, the wind is still carrying an icy chill sending gusts of cold through Rand. He is holding a bow and arrow, ready to draw quickly. It doesn't help as thousands of ravens swoop down upon Emond's Field and kill every woman, infant, and man over thirty. Bool! The End! That's a good idea. But the book doesn't have to end there. Maybe, being ta'vaern, Rand wasn't in town at the time. Maybe he was out with the main characters in the stedding, playing whatever game Two Rivers kids play, so they weren't noticed by the birds. What happened in the real book, though, was that the Dark One proved to be completely ineffective. What kind of Dark Lord lets his troops get taken by surprise like that? Like USA in World War Two, the first enemy surprise attack needs to be devastating and in your face. That raven attack that slaughters everyone would have worked. But I'd just prefer no attacks at all, really. I'd like my hero motivated by something other than protecting his town. But that is just me, I'll admit. I've finished reading The Great Hunt. I started the first chapter of The Dragon Reborn and then decided to take a small break from the Wheel of Time to catch up on other books. Thanks for reading, Vieira151! I love people reading this blog. It makes me happy. And I've been under the impression that Egwene is about fifteen years old and Rand is seventeen or eighteen. No one has given actual numbers in the book so I'm going by how they act, generally, and other little clues. So maybe Egwene is sixteen? I love the open mind part. I get sorta the opposite feeling here in this forum. It seems to me that if I don't see the book exactly like everyone else then I'm wrong. I need to toe the line, so to speak, and read the characters in line with their interpretations. For example, I see Perrin as a murderous loser. But because I don't take into account all those orphans he saves from a fire that one time in Book 33 I've got the completely wrong idea of him. It makes me angry sometimes (though I try to not let it get to me) that some people (not always the same people as I was referring to in that last paragraph) say mean things about the characters, too. There are whole threads on this forum about who we hate the most, who we'd like to strangle, who the book needs to kill off so we don't have to deal with them any more. I just don't get why I get flak for hating characters, too. Do I hate for the wrong reasons? Would I get more respect if I hated Egwene for not being understanding enough? Would I be considered to have an open mind if I hated Nynaeve for being bossy, too, like nearly everyone else? In this book? Unless the Aes Sedai are involved, then yes. Rand only protects Egwene, a woman. He tried to leave Mat and Perrin to fight the Trollocs south of Shadar Logoth as he went to find and rescue Egwene. Perrin tried to save Egwene from Aram. In the flight from Emond's Field Rand was wishing Egwene's horse to go faster, not his own or his male friends or even all of theirs. He's slapping her horse's rump to get it to go faster, he's telling her to go home to stay out of danger, and (later in the book) he's holding her back in the climax. The one time there was male/male protection was when Rand was sick and Mat was blind on the Caemlyn Road. Why didn't Rand stop Mat from doing that crap to the Whitecloaks in Baerlon (or doing something after the fact to save his buddy from trouble) Why didn't Rand talk Mat out of exploring Shadar Logoth, protecting him from the dangers out there? Does Rand not love his best friend, care for him? So it isn't just this one scene that shaped my mind about "protecting women." It was a series of events throughout the whole book, each individual one not that big of a deal, but when put together paint that picture. See, this is not why I dislike the character. I dislike him, most of all, because he doesn't do much in this entire book. He just tags along, you know? Drifts from one encounter to the next, letting the plot have its way with him. But the sexism isn't that he doesn't want women to get hurt. Nobody wants women to get hurt (that's a bit of a fib, though. I want women to get hurt in this story. There is so much slaughter and killing and death but hardly ever do women even get an injury in the parts that I've read. There was a scene in the next book where some women and children get chopped up and I hate to say that I cheered, "about damn time!"). The sexism comes when he doesn't care about men getting hurt to save the women. We can't say that he doesn't want the people he loves to go into the Blight because he's got Perrin and Mat with him. And we can't say that he wants younger and weaker people to stay behind because he doesn't want Nynaeve to go, either. This post is already getting to be too long so I won't bore you with going into the other, non-protecting the ladies reasons why I cry, "sexism," and clutch at my pearls. It's just the subtle clues about who talks first and who keeps silent, who walks and who rides the horses, who does things and who asks permission, who seems confident and who seems meek, what's expected of men and what's expected of women, and other little clues like that. I don't suppose I have to keep pointing it out. Then again, other people don't have to keep bringing up the fact that they don't like my opinions. This isn't directed at you, Vieira151. This thread has more than four hundred replies in it. About a fourth are mine, a fourth are those by people who sometimes agree with me, a fourth by those who disagree with everything, and a fourth are people telling me that they'll never read my blog again. This goes out to them, I think. I get that it is supposed to be seen as a joke. I'm pretty sure I said that it'd fit right in in a teen comedy. But I think it is a cop out to just write it off as a joke. How many racist things, sexist things, or just personally insulting things have been said only to have the teller say, "It's only a joke. Lighten up." The Two Rivers Boys could say anything they wanted to Egwene and if she started crying then they could have said, "Sorry, Egwene. We didn't mean to hurt you. It was only a joke." When they are laughing and she is walking away from the camp to sleep away from them (in a Hell Dimension, by the way) then the joke fell flat, to say the least. And yes, I used to joke like that with my friends. I now realize that it's stupid and mean. Let's give the Indian girl the nickname "Paki," let's make fun of how much the big girl eats, let's stir up trouble in the relationships between our friends just to see what happens. It seems fun and harmless when we're teenagers but we grow up we come to realize that jokes should boost out buddies, not tear them down. A good joke around a camp fire should cause so much laughter that the monsters are driven scared back into the darkness, not so embarrassingly probing that members walk away rather than stay and look at the faces of her friends. I have never read the later books. I have no idea how the kids were brought up. I assume a 1700s era England (so around George I's reign, I'm guessing, or maybe around the time of Queen Anne's War, or maybe later in the Pirates of the Caribbean era) but without a church. That's like being told to imagine a 2011 US high school but with not internet or cellphones! The point is, without the church telling the kids not to have sex then they'll have to have some other sort of monolithic authority to keep them in line. The Women's Circle? I could get behind that idea if they constantly brought it up. If all of them said "Women's Circle this," and "Women's Circle that," as often as they said, "Light," or "Burn me!" then I'd believe that that institution was pervasive enough in their society to keep tabs on sexual behavior. But that's all way off point. I only mean to say that I can't be told to ignore what I'm reading now because thousands of pages from now one line of dialogue will change everything. I mean, Perrin jumps in on Rand's side to attack Egwene's behavior with Aram, right? Why did Perrin not jump in on Egwene's side and question what Rand did with Elayne? Why did he not stay neutral and condemn them both for acting like a couple of adulterers? Perrin took the sexist Bros Before Hoes position instead of a thoughtful (or pious) "we've been taught that this behavior is wrong and I don't like seeing it from either of you" one. Don't be too hard on yourself! I think you know what my jokes are and what my opinions are. It's just my opinions are not — I dunno, mainstream? — so you think I might be joking when you really know I'm not (well, not too much). Besides, if a joke is told poorly it is the joke teller that is at fault, not the listener! I'm going with the classic "It's not you, it's me" routine on this one. Woohoo! I'm glad people are fascinated by what I write. I'm not 100% even I'd describe it as fascinating but I love the compliments when I get them. I'm glad to have you back! I spoke too soon. Sorry to see you go, Mighty Chin. It was fun having you stop by. I hope you eventually come back. I mean, we're so near the end! I can see your bewilderment. Sometimes even I wonder why I'm reading these books. I started off not knowing anything about them (or the genre, really) and found that they really aren't my cup of tea. But they aren't that hard to read (really, if I didn't take notes I'd finish them in about two days) so when I've finished a chapter in a book I'm "actually reading" I'll pop on over to the Wheel of Time and read a chapter or two there. But the #1 reason I'm still reading? I'm not a quitter. I told myself I was going to read these books and, gosh darn it, I am going to do just that! I might not take notes (even now I'm taking far fewer than I used to) or even blog about it but I'm going to read them all come hell or high water. Then, after a long break from non-literary fiction, I'll come back and try one of those other fantasy books. Maybe an award winner, though, so that I get an example of the best of the genre instead of the most popular. Amazon tells me Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, and China Mieville are pretty good so I might check them out (what do you forum goers think? Any good?). This must be something mentioned in another book because not once did I get this impression. Engaged? The very first scene with Egwene, one of her very first lines, was her telling Rand that she wanted to leave Emond's Field to be a Wisdom in some other village. She didn't ask him if he'd come along with her. He didn't demand she stay behind for him (he demanded she stay behind because "nobody leaves Emond's Field"). They never said that maybe they should talk about what her decision meant "for us." There never was an "us," in my opinion. Then, after Emond's Field, they spend most of the book not talking to each other. Rand does things to piss Egwene off and she ignores him to talk to Moiraine and Nynaeve. He never talks about how "he lost her" or how "his future will be different without her in my life." He never thinks about how happy she makes him, how much he wants to be with her, or even that he has any romantic feelings towards her at all. All he thinks about is how he's got to protect her. I don't see any love. I may have answer this somewhere above in this unreasonably long reply. One can't say something sexist, get called out on it, and have the excuse that "it's only a joke." For example: how many black guys does it take to screw in a light bulb? It doesn't matter because no matter what the answer is the joke is racist. It could be the funniest joke you've ever heard. Doesn't matter. So while I'm open to debate about whether or not the joke was appropriate to the situation or if it were just jokes among friends I'm not very keen on the idea that calling something a joke excuses what's in that joke. Now, having said that, I am a hypocrite. I've used sexist jokes in my blog. Because, damn it, sometimes they are funny. That's the world we live in, where sometimes mean and degrading things are gut-bustingly hilarious. It's stupid but it's the way it is (until we all change it, that is!). I've even been called out on it in this thread before (though not because they were offended by what I wrote, usually, but as a way to attack my point of view by attacking me personally). I try to avoid it, no doubt, but sometimes my own sexism and racism and classism seeps through. Nobody's perfect. I just wish these characters were a little more aware of what they do, you know? Or if not them then the author. Whew, and I am done with this reply. Way too long for normal people, don't you all think?
  15. I know today is April Fool's Day but I expect no shenanigans from you people. Wheel of Time is serious business. Ha, I think you fail to understand just how far I can stretch things! I hope there comes a time when a good character does something bad. It'd make the book seem more real. So far most of the characters are one trick ponies. Moiraine is an Aes Sedai and nothing more. Lan is a reluctant super-warrior and nothing more (though he's been getting romantic here lately). Rand is a confused messiah, Mat is a prankster jerk, Perrin is a confused wolfman, Egwene is a wannabe, and so on. I want Rand to start doing super heroic things (or super evil things, just to break up the blandness). I want to see Moiraine do an act of undeniable good (it'd be out of character for her but I'd still like to see it!). I'm looking forward to all that. Okay, three more chapters down. We are in the home stretch! I can see the end from here. I've got about ten more chapters to share with ya'll. So that means we'll be done with this book next Friday? Yeah, that sounds right. Not very much happens in these chapters. You may have guessed, but chapters where nothing happens are the chapters I like the least. Two thirds of what I'm writing about happen in the same room. One third is about the fellowship getting from the Waygate to that room in Fal Dara. A lot of cool things happen off camera, though. There's torture, war, violence, anguish. But that's all glossed over to get to Moiraine and Agelmar talking about stuff. Lan's history and Padan Fain's history, to be specific. I wasn't impressed with 'em. I enjoyed the rescue from the Whitecloaks. I enjoyed Moiraine fighting the Whitecloaks in Baerlon. I enjoyed Rand getting away from the Trollocs and saving his father back at the farm. I don't like reading a story about people telling stories. That's what these chapters are all about. Wouldn't it have been awesome to read the Fall of Malkier as a short story in some Wheel of Time anthology collection? Get to see the characters up close and personal, see what they're doing and their feelings? Instead we get Rand sitting at a table listening to Agelmar's one-sided retelling of the story, fifty years after the fact. It has the same impact as someone telling you about the Eye of the World book instead of you reading it for yourself (or reading my blog about the book). But maybe that's the way fantasy books go. It is the way fantasy movies go. The same with RPGs. Maybe it's an aspect of the genre that rubs me the wrong way. Anyway, faithful readers, on with the show!
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