The Wheel of Time Episode 8: The Eye of the World

Wow. I’m not sure what to say. I actually procrastinated on watching the episode because I know it’ll be another year or so for Season 2. This is why I never would have binged it. I was hoping to stretch out my viewings so that I will only have 43 weeks* to wait until the next season.

And then once I watched it, I had a bunch of “What even was that?” to unpack.

I’ve read some critical reviews of the episode and some less-critical ones and now I think I’m ready to tackle this task. Probably.

Empire State Building, August 16, 1988, 5:00 p.m.
The view from the Empire State Building at around 5:00 p.m. on, near as I can figure August 16, 1988.

We start the episode with a flashback to the tail end of the Age of Legends, with Lews Therin Telamon trying to convince Latra Posae Decume, the leader of the female Aes Sedai, to help him seal the Bore on the Dark One’s prison. She is afraid of what could go wrong and refuses to help him. He ends with a line that if the women will help, they won’t fail.

There’s a line in this scene in which Latra calls Lews Therin “the Dragon Reborn.” Is this an error, or has Judkins come up with a way to shorthand a plot point by having Lews Therin have also been the reincarnation of the soul known as the Dragon?

I’m leaning towards error, myself.

After the opening titles (and why is the Brown sister shown at such an odd angle? That’ll make it really hard for me to make it an icon), we pick up with Rand and Moiraine in the Blight. They had to create the Blight in a studio because they had a real-world location chosen, but COVID put an end to that.

We get a scene with Egwene and Perrin fretting over Rand. Now, at this point, it’s been hinted that Perrin had a thing for Egwene and maybe he still does. And when Egwene turns to him for comfort, he wraps his arm around her.

Now, someone (don’t know who! sorry!) on the WoT subreddit opined that. . . . Okay. I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the books, The Shadow Rising specifically, the ruler of the tiny city-state of Mayene, Berelain, starts to pursue Perrin romantically. Perrin is in love with Faile, though. So, when Perrin finds out that the Whitecloaks are in Emond’s Field, expecting that he will die, and knowing that he cannot bear to watch Faile watch him die, tries to make Faile stay behind by telling her that he prefers Berelain.

This gives Berelain hope that he will choose her and she becomes a real pain in the ass from there onwards.

Anyway, my fellow Redditor suggested that as part of the streamlining, maybe they were going to jettison Berelain and make Egwene the woman he tells Faile that he prefers. And since Perrin is certainly attracted to Egwene, there will definitely be more truth to the lie he tells Faile to try to drive her away than with Berelain.

Nynaeve sends Lan after Rand and Moiraine and they say a tearful goodbye, particularly since Lan has given up on them ever being together.

Rand and “the Dark One” have a confrontation in a dream in the Blight. Afterwards, Moiraine gives Rand a sa’angreal, which will make Rand much more powerful than he would be alone. Her big plan is for Rand to “put him (the Dark One) back where he belongs.” Wow. Thanks for that well-thought-out plan there, Rainey.

Meanwhile, Trollocs are approaching Fal Dara. They evacuate the foreigners who want to leave, which includes Min. I have to admit that I was wondering how the foreigners would get out of Shienar but when I looked at the map, I realized that the Trollocs are coming from the north and the foreigners are fleeing to the south.

Of course, while Min gets the heck out of Dodge, Egwene, Loial, Nynaeve, and Perrin are staying. What follows in this storyline is a battle scene and as I’m usually “meh” about battle scenes, I’ll try to sum up the interesting parts.

Since the Fal Darans believe that this is Tarmon Gai’don, they dig The Horn of Valere out from under Agelmar’s chair, assisted by Perrin and Loial. Meanwhile, Amalisa leads a circle of channelers to stop the Trollocs once they get through the first defense of the city. I assume that Amalisa was in charge because she is the only one who has been to Tar Valon. She may also be the only one who’s ever used the Power in battle.

Of course, the channelers defeat all 10,000 trollocs in a scene that either presages or maybe will even replace, the little Roto-tiller trick the Asha’man will use at Dumai’s Wells, if we ever get there. The difference, however, is that where the Asha’man use earth and fire, the channelers here use lightning.

The channeling is so strong that most of the women involved end up not just burned out, but burned up. The only apparent survivor is Egwene, who somehow manages to heal Nynaeve’s death. I hope Nynaeve wasn’t completely dead, just mostly dead.

Meanwhile, after they unearth the Horn of Valere, Padan Fain and a bunch of Trollocs show up and start stabbing people. Fain says that the world needs the balance of the Light and Dark and Fain is, I guess, just doing his best for his side. We get hints that perhaps Mat will fall to the Dark at some point in the series, and boy will the Mat fankids be up in arms about that! Fain stabs Loial with the Shadar Logoth dagger and takes off with the Horn of Valere.

In the books, they need to get the Horn of Valere back because Horn of Valere and they need to get the dagger back to heal Mat, since they can’t break his connection to the dagger without it. I suspect that the urgency for the dagger will be to heal Loial.

Then we get to the big battle at the Eye of the World. Unlike in the books, where the Eye of the World is a big pool of untainted Saidin, here it is some kind of underground chamber. Rand remembers being there as Lews Therin and he reaches down to touch the “ancient symbol of Aes Sedai” in the floor, only to find himself back in the Two Rivers, now married to Egwene. They have a daughter, named Joiya, and seem to be very happily married.

Rand is suspicious of this, and tests Egwene. She remembers a shared childhood memory, but shows no interest in being either a Wisdom or an Aes Sedai.

“The Dark One” turns up and tells Rand that through the Power, he can make this dream a reality. He teaches Rand the achieving the void trick that we didn’t have time for Tam to have taught Rand, and Rand begins to channel.

Outside of that dream world, “The Dark One” is talking to Moiraine and taunting her about the possibility that Rand will turn to the Dark, at which point, Moiraine pulls out a knife and holds it to Rand’s throat. You see, Moiraine would rather there be no Dragon Reborn than an evil one. I can respect that.

Eventually, Rand denies “The Dark One’s” plans and fights him. You see, the Egwene that Rand loves would never just walk away from becoming an Aes Sedai and Rand would never do that to her.

I loved that part.

Happy New Year, by the way. I just finished that paragraph above before midnight and am picking up here on the night of January 1, 2022.

After Rand finishes blowing “The Dark One” away with the Power in the sa’angreal, he tells Moiraine that he’s done and that she should tell everyone else that he’s dead. He could feel the madness taking hold of him while he was channeling and since the madness causes men to kill everyone they love, he is leaving and he doesn’t want anyone to find him again.

After Rand leaves, Lan shows up and Moiraine tells him that Rand is “gone.” Then she tells him that she cannot unmask the bond because “The Dark One. He. I can’t touch the Source.”

This is going to give Moiraine something to do next season. She doesn’t have much to do in The Great Hunt, so while Egwene and Nynaeve are going to Tar Valon, and Perrin heads off to find the Horn of Valere with whoever is left of the Shienaran army, Moiraine will probably be looking for the solution to her shielding/stilling.

Later, Moiraine is holding a piece of something white, which is cuendillar and unbreakable, even by the Power. It seems that the penny drops there and she realizes what The Eye of the World is. Because it certainly seems to me to be the Bore, the place where the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends opened up The Dark One’s tomb and tried to destroy him/it. The “ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai” is the seal. In the books, there are seven seals all in that shape, all made of cuendillar. I guess we have one large one here.

Moiraine says that this wasn’t the Last Battle, it was the first.

The season ends on a tag in which a flotilla of ships is approaching the western coast of Randland and women in gray dresses with kinky-looking ball gag things in their mouths channel the water into forming a tidal wave. And the season ends.

I put “The Dark One” in quotes throughout, by the way, because we don’t know if we’re going the same way as in the books, but in the books, that character turns out to be the Foresaken Ishamael.

*An interview with someone behind the scenes said something about The Wheel of Time being a holiday thing, so my guess is that it’ll start eight weeks out from Christmas 2022, which somehow ends up being October 30, 2022.

Wheel of Time, Episode 5: Blood Calls Blood

I totally wasn’t sure what to expect from this episode going in. “Blood calls blood” is from Chapter 7 of The Great Hunt*.

I may end up going into more detail in the spoiler zone on exactly the circumstances, but maybe not. We’ll see what we see when we get there.

Original Statue of Liberty Torch
The original torch of the Statue of Liberty, which is now inside Fort Wood. Just underneath the flame, you can see the hinges of the door where people used to emerge from the statue to stand.

I loved New York City and if I ever win the lottery or hit that perfect “will translate for money” spot or whatever, I’m moving to Queens.

Why Queens? Because it’s the most linguistically diverse urban area on Earth. I mean, Papua New Guinea beats Queens by a mile (823 languages versus 138), but I don’t know if I can get my city on in Port Moresby, you know?

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Episode 5. I really am amazed at how much they can cram into a 50-minute episode here. I mean, we see the funeral for the people outside the cave and that Nynaeve couldn’t save. We see Nynaeve, Moirane, and Lan arrive at Tar Valon and get Nynaeve settled into a room in the Warders’ quarters and for Liandrin to track her down and be all friendlythreatening (she was like threatmantic, but less romance and more creepy phony friendship) at her.

We see Mat and Rand arrive at Tar Valon, Rand meet Loial, and Mat and Rand watch Logain being brought into the city. Later, Loial brings Nynaeve to Mat and Rand’s room at the inn, which includes more development of how sick Mat is.

We see Egwene and Perrin approaching Tar Valon with the Tuatha’an, where they are intercepted by Whitecloaks. Valda wants to detain Egwene and Perrin but the Traveling People refuse to let the Whitecloaks have them. The Whitecloaks catch Egwene and Perrin after all, and hold them hostage, insisting that Egwene is an Aes Sedai. Valda tells them that one of them will have to die, which leads Perrin to tell Egwene that he killed Laila. Egwene then channels for the second-ever time (the first being when she made Moiraine’s blue stone light up) and she and Perrin escape.

And there’s still plenty of time for two more death-related rituals. Kerene was one of the Aes Sedai who died when Logain’s followers attacked and her Warder, Stepin, returns her ring to the boiling pool of gold that they apparently make the Aes Sedai’s rings from (I actually wondered if it was going to be a self-immolation ritual).

Alanna has offered to bond Stepin and when Lan asks, Stepin says, “First you lose Moiraine and then you tell me how easy it is to jump from one woman to the next,” which is a nice bit of foreshadowing there.**

Then Stepin does end up committing suicide. Lan is on suicide watch and Stepin drugs him then leaves the room and disembowels himself. We end the episode on Stepin’s funeral.

And we still had time for scenery and emotion and the Whitecloaks to scrub Egwene clean before bringing her to Valda’s tent and for Valda to torture Perrin in a passage that was truly disturbing. All in 50 minutes.

Maybe Judkins et al. really will be able to do justice to the scope of the series.

A few questions remain. Does Moiraine know that the Mat and Rand are in Tar Valon (Nynaeve is at Stepin’s funeral, so there’s reason for Moiraine to know they’ve arrived)? Where are Egwene and Perrin? I mean, they could see the White Tower from where they were stopped by the Whitecloaks, and it sure looks to me like Egwene and Perrin escaped the same night as Stepin’s suicide. Granted, Valda sliced Perrin up pretty good, but the Whitecloak camp was still close to Tar Valon, I’d think. Did they manage to throw together a funeral for Stepin within hours of his death?

*Germane Amazon Link!

**In the books, at least, Moiraine knows that the bond between them will be broken and she also knows that this will happen before Nynaeve can become a full Aes Sedai and take Lan’s bond (because almost all married Aes Sedai are married to their warders). So she arranged for a sister named Myrelle, who is known for saving Warders from the death wish that comes with the end of the bond, to take Lan’s bond without consulting Lan first. I fully expect something like this to happen in the series.

Educated, by Tara Westover

Today’s randomly chosen book is Educated, by Tara Westover. I was going to flip through it to refresh my memory, but I can’t find it anywhere.

There are a lot of books that I can’t find. I’ve been messaging Alex to see if maybe he accidentally took them with him when he moved out, but I know there’s no way he has them. I texted Evelyn and Phoenix and neither have it. I must have books somewhere else in this house. Where, though?

Westover was raised in a strict Mormon family in Idaho and grew up helping her mother create herbal cures and her father at his scrapyard on their property. Since her father distrusted the public education system, her parents considered themselves homeschoolers. The schooling that Tara received was sporadic, at best.

After years of conflict and drama, her elder brother Tyler encourages her to take the ACT (a college entrance exam) and go to Brigham Young University. She gets a good enough score on the ACT to get into Brigham Young, but she feels that she doesn’t fit in.

Despite this, she finally rose above her upbringing and the neglect and abuse she suffered and earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge.

All in all, this is an excellent book and it deserves all of the praise it got.

I just wish I could find my copy.

Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton

Here’s the world’s shortest book blogger entry — my thoughts on a 16-page board book that I bought for Alex when he was a baby.

I love Hippos Go Berserk! I used to sit in the glider rocker with him when he was a baby, reading this to him and I can still recite big chunks of it from memory.

The plot, such as it is, is about, well, hippos. And counting. “One hippo, all alone, calls two hippos on the phone,” it starts. Our “one hippo” is having a party. We collect a total of 45 hippos in groups of, well, two, three, four, etc. Then in the morning, after the party, the hippos return home in groups of nine, eight, seven, etc.

And since it’s a Sandra Boynton book, the illustrations are friendly, lively, and full of details.

Gee, I love this book!

I leave you with Sandra Boynton and Yo-Yo Ma with special guest Weird Al Yankovic: Chanson Profonde

Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh

Solutions and Other Problems took seven years to write. Well, it took seven years to publish. I attended a virtual book tour for Solutions and Other Problems which was attended by Brosh’s mom and her mom said that the book took much less time to actually write, but getting up her courage to send it to the publisher took longer.

And that makes a lot of sense. Brosh went through a lot in those years. She took a long sabbatical from her blog not too long after publishing a two-part cartoon on her fight with depression. During those seven years, she also lost her sister and got a divorce. Her parents split up at some point during those seven years as well.

Hell, I haven’t gone through anything like that in the last seven years, and I’m still having trouble getting my courage up to put myself out there.

Brosh has a wonderful sense of humor and she’s an amazing artist (she actually works hard to make her pictures look that amateurish). Solutions and Other Problems is largely about how weird and maladjusted Brosh is. In showing us how weird and maladjusted she is, though, she shows us how weird and maladjusted we all are.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I hope it’s not just me.

The Wheel of Time, Episode 4: The Dragon Reborn

As always with these posts, there will be spoilers for the episode and also for just about any point in the book series. If you don’t want to be spoiled, just move along.

Today’s spoiler space image:

Cincinnati, from Covington, Kentucky
Cincinnati, August 1987, taken from across the Ohio River, in Covington, Kentucky.

Two of our three groups, Egwene and Perrin and Mat, Rand, and Thom (I’ve decided to list groups alphabetically) are still on the move.

Egwene and Perrin are with the Traveling People, who are traveling east. When they make camp for the night, Egwene dances with Aram after failing to convince Perrin to dance with her. Perrin gets the explanation of the pacifist Way of the Leaf that the Traveling People follow from Ila and this scene is one of the most beautiful scenes so far.

Ila explains that she follows the Way of the Leaf not because it will benefit her or even Aram, her grandson, but because someday her late daughter (Aram’s mom) will be spun out by the Pattern again and she wants to leave a better world for her.

Mat, Rand, and Thom spend the night at the Grinwell family farm. After Dana said that the fastest way out was a riverboat, and we established that they have money, I was expecting to meet Bayle Domon. Surprise! I guess.

Instead of being a boy-crazy teen girl, Else is a little girl who reminds Mat of his sisters. Thom tells Rand that he thinks that Mat might be able to channel because Thom’s nephew Owyn got surly like Mat is after the taint on Saidin got to him. Neither knows about the Shadar Logoth dagger.

The Grinwells are attacked by Trollocs and Mat and Rand escape with their lives. The last we see of Thom, he is fighting off a Fade with his knives, just like in Whitebridge in the books.

Don’t tell me we’re going to skip Whitebridge! OMG. It’s Whitebridge!

Based on the books, which is no guarantee, we won’t see Thom until next season now, since he rejoins the story in The Dragon Reborn*. Maybe Judkins et al. are still in negotiations with John and Taupin.

Okay. Now for the exciting part. Lan, Moiraine, and Nynaeve. First, just to throw this out there. We meet Alanna and she is very strong. I still don’t like her. I have my reasons.

We see the first real sign of the Lan/Nynaeve romance here. She catches him praying for Malkier and she shows him her ritual, the last words her parents spoke to her. They are in the Old Tongue, which she doesn’t speak. Lan tells her that the words she spoke are the words that the King and Queen of Manetheren told their children before they left for their final battle.

Are they telling us that Nynaeve is the rightful ruler of Manetheren? Has she been frozen in an iceberg for hundreds of years? How will this work out?

And then there’s the real spoilers. Like, Turn Back Now. I almost want to throw another spoiler space photo in here.

Moiraine takes a turn shielding Logain so she can see how strong he is, so she can hopefully eliminate Logain from the running as the Dragon Reborn. It turns out that he is very strong indeed, but not as strong as the Dragon Reborn is supposed to be. And she tells him so.

Then Logain’s followers attack the Aes Sedai camp. Logain uses the distraction to break free of his shields and everyone except Nynaeve dies. Lan’s death makes Nynaeve angry, and, to paraphrase David Bruce Banner, you wouldn’t like Nynaeve when she’s angry.

I half expected this to be the big balefire scene, replacing the one where Rand balefires Rahvin in The Fires of Heaven. And I’m thinking, what will happen to the Pattern if Nynaeve erases Logain from the timeline?

Instead, she heals everyone. So I guess she can heal death after all. Okay.

Logain decides then and there that Nynaeve must be the Dragon Reborn. O. Kay.

After they recover from their deaths, the Aes Sedai do an extrajudicial gentling of Logain.

*Germane Amazon Link!

Wheel of Time, Episode 3: A Place of Safety

The usual disclaimers apply to this post. Spoilers for the series up to and including this episode are certain. Spoilers for any and all of the books are likely.

The episode titles so far have all been chapter titles that pretty much matched the events of the episode. This one, however, is not a match and, well, I guess . . . Okay, that belongs below my spoiler space image. Speaking of which . . .

Look! It’s my original header image. I still love this panorama. It just didn’t fit the aspect ratio for the header image in this theme. This is San Pedro Park in San Antonio.

We start with two of our three groups, Rand and Mat, and Egwene and Perrin, haring off into the unknown. I believe they’re both heading east towards Tar Valon.

Our third group, Moraine and Lan? Are now a trio with the addition of an absolutely furious Nynaeve. We see flashbacks of how Nynaeve escaped the Trollocs. The Trollocs got to fighting amongst themselves and she made her escape. I swear that happened in the books at some point, but not here. I’ll have to think about it. Once I hit that point in my audiobook reread, I’ll try to remember to come back and edit this post.

We finally meet Thom Merrilin. I wasn’t expecting him this early in the series, since Judkins doesn’t want characters showing up and then going away. Thom disappears, presumed dead, after Whitebridge in the books and we don’t see him for, like, a book’s worth of pages (from the middle of The Eye of the World until the middle of The Great Hunt*) and then it takes still longer for him to become a major character again. I don’t know. I just work here.

I’m also a bit nervous about Thom’s portrayal. As Fred Clark says about Buck Williams in the Left Behind series, it’s difficult to include the greatest writer in the world as a character in a book, because the reader will expect to read the greatest writing in the world, and the writer will fall short. Thom is an amazing musician, we’re told, who has the greatest works of music committed to memory and used to be the court bard for Morgase, Queen of Andor. I hope they have Elton John and Bernie Taupin on payroll here, because the readers of the books will be expecting something amazing and I’m afraid that it’ll be a letdown.

The only characters who actually do reach a place of safety in this episode are Egwene and Perrin, who meet the Traveling People and stay at their camp. They haven’t introduced Elyas, so they did a workaround on the greeting that the Traveling People use by having Aram coach them on what they are to say. It was a little bumpy, but it works in the context.

I was expecting to watch Episode 4 today, but instead I went for an 8-mile walk on the River Walk. Not so much television watching (or, unfortunately, writing), but it was nice to go out and clear my head.

*Germane Amazon Link!

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy. I discovered Narnia when I was 10 and then Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Greensky trilogy when I was, oh, 12 or so. So L’Engle’s Time Quintet should be right up my alley, no?

And, yes, but also kind of no. The no is for whoever at Dell Yearling came up with cover the book had when I was its target age group. Like, what part of a bloated blue man with rainbows sticking from his shoulder blades floating above weird, deformed flowers with a large bug on one of the leaves says, “Read me!”?

Over the years, I became maybe a bit more receptive to the possibility of reading A Wrinkle in Time.* Then in 2019, when I was shopping for my annual Christmas book at our local Half Price Books, I saw a copy of the movie tie-in version and while I wasn’t real sure what the palm trees had to do with anything, since the Murrays live in New England, I figured sure.

And it really is an excellent book. We start out in the home of the Murry family. The father, Alex Murry, has been missing for years. He is a scientist who works for the government in some secret role. The mother, Kate Murry, is also a scientist.

The Murrys have four children, Meg, twins Sandy and Dennys, and Charles Wallace. Our protagonist is Meg.

Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keeffe travel to a world called Camazotz where everyone is exactly the same — the kids play outside of their houses bouncing balls at exactly the same time and then their moms come out and call them all in to dinner at exactly the same time. This is the result of the influence of “The Black Thing,” the source of evil in the universe. The kids achieve what they need to while on Camazotz and apparently they never go back. I like to think that’s an effect of the time in which the book was written and that if it’d been written nowadays, we’d revisit Camazotz towards the end of the series.

I hate to admit it, but I still haven’t read the other books in the series. They’re on my list, but I have hundreds of unread books, and dozens of books that I’ve read and that don’t have read dates on my Goodreads page, so I probably won’t get to them until much, much later.

*Germane Amazon Link!

The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson

Yesterday’s randomly chosen book was Firefight, the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy. I have read the books, but it was a few years ago and didn’t make it into my “read” list and so I do kind of need to refresh my memory.

But first, I’ll write about my downloaded spreadsheet. As this shows, the books from my “to read” list are in that spreadsheet. Perhaps that was a mistake. If those numbers come up for a book that I really haven’t read yet, what am I going to do? Write 200 words on what I think the book might be like?

The Reckoners takes place in a world with superheroes. Well, when I say “superheroes,” the ones of this world aren’t so heroic. They are, in fact, supervillains. The name they carry in this world is “Epic.”

Our protagonist is David Charleston, who is present when the Epic Steelheart (think an evil Superman) makes his move to take over Chicago. In addition to invulnerability and being able to fly and Steelheart has the ability to turn things to steel. He turns every building in Chicago to steel and gets another Epic to block out the sun, turning the city into eternal night. He then dubs the city Newcago. Considering the resistance to the renaming of Marshall Field’s department store, Comiskey Park (home of the White Sox), and the Sears Tower, I suspect that the locals may call it Newcago out of fear of being turned into steel, but they privately still call it Chicago.

Anyway, most of the cities in the world are now dominated by Epics and David has made it his life’s work to find all of the information on backgrounds and weaknesses of the Epics as he can. His dream is to work with a group of rebels called the Reckoners, who intend to bring down the reign of Epics.

Apparently Sanderson has written a fourth book, Lux. It is currently only available as an audiobook, but there are supposedly plans to publish it as an ebook and in hard copy. It is about the Texas Reckoners and I know literally nothing about it other than that. I guess it’ll probably take place concurrent with the original trilogy, maybe?

Today’s Germane Amazon Link is for Steelheart, the first Reckoners novel. We’ll probably see it again as a Gratuitous Amazon Link once I’ve finished my reread.

FoxTrot, by Bill Amend

My first random-number-generated choice was Welcome to Jasorassic Park, by Bill Amend. This is a compilation of FoxTrot comic strips, so I deleted all of the FoxTrot books I could find in the spreadsheet and decided to do one post on the comic strip as a whole.

FoxTrot is the story of the stressors and confict and, yes, occasionally love and affection within the Fox family: Roger, the father, Andy, the mother, and their three children, 16-year-old Peter, 14-year-old Paige, and 10-year-old Jason.

Jason is pretty much the standout character because so many of the strips focus on his math/science/science fiction geekiness. Amend has a degree in physics, so I wonder how much of Jason is a self-insert. Jason loves school because it’s easy for him. He is shown working ahead in his textbooks just for fun.

Paige is a pretty stereotypical 14-year-old girl, interested in fashion, shopping, boys, and so forth. She has almost completely failed in her pursuit of boys, only ever attracting geeky Morton Goldthwait. She has no head for math or science and Jason will give her incorrect answers unless she pays for the correct ones.

Peter is interested in stereotypical boy things like rock music, cars, and sports. He is on the baseball team, but the running gag is that he is a benchwarmer — he barely gets to actually play, if ever. He is also a perennial procrastinator, waiting until the last minute to finish anything.

Dad Roger is also into stereotypical “dad” things like golf and barbecuing. He also fancies himself to be a good chess player, but both Jason and Andy can defeat him easily. Roger clearly loves his wife and children.

Andy is a good mom who loves her husband and children. She may be a bit too concerned about their welfare, because she is constantly trying to get her family to eat “healthy” food that also happens to be completely disgusting. She also harasses them to stop what she thinks are unhealthy habits like procrastinating or watching trashy television. Back in the day, I had a LiveJournal icon of Andy with her head down on the table in front of her in frustration, because, well, when I was frustrated, I felt just like that.

Jason has an ongoing rivalry with Paige. Some of the things Jason does would be beyond the pale for real life, but as it’s a comic strip, the readers give him a pass. It is revealed that Paige would intentionally scare Jason when he was a baby, and that the rivalry stems from those events.

I mostly came to FoxTrot as a young married woman. The strip started in 1988 when I was already in my early 20s and ran in the Chicago Tribune. My family were Sun-Times readers, so for the first couple of years I only got to read it when we were on vacation and the local paper had the strip or when I caught the comics at my in-laws’ (they read the Tribune).

When I got married, Thomas wanted to read the Tribune, and I loved that largely because of FoxTrot. Then I remembered that there should be actual books of FoxTrot strip compilations and I didn’t need the paper anymore. So, for today’s Germane Amazon Link, I bring you the earliest of the larger compilation books that I can find on Amazon: FoxTrot, the Works, by Bill Amend.