A Really Short Blog Post

You know how I’m always saying “this will be a short post” and then it never is? Well, I dictated this while being dragged at a run around the block by an anxious dog. So it probably is very short.

Not much new going on my life just dog. Oh, and reading my traditional three books. My current audiobook is A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan. My ebook is The Murmur of Bees by Sophia Segovia and my physical book is Florida Woman by Deb Rogers.

I’m really enjoying all three of these books. Well, of course I’m enjoying A Crown of Swords (Germane Amazon Link #1). If I didn’t enjoy the Wheel of Time, I wouldn’t’ve read it so many times. I mean, I know what all of the surprises are and everything.

The Murmur of Bees (Germane Amazon Link #2) is from Amazon’s annual World Book Day giveaway in . . . 2019? It’s a book about the Morales family and their foundling child Simonopio, who was found as an infant abandoned, covered in a blanket of bees. Simonopio has a cleft palate and a purpose in life that he knows but that he has to wait and prepare for, all while basically incapable of communicating with the family thanks to the cleft palate.

Florida Woman (Germane Amazon Link #3) is about a woman who committed a very fantastical crime. Rather than going to prison, she is sent to a sanctuary where they are rehabilitating rhesus macaques. Strange things are going on there. She hears the monkeys screaming at night, even though the three ladies who run the sanctuary say that no such thing is happening. I hope we figure out what’s going on. This was the July selection for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club and a lot of Jenny Lawson’s choices leave you with a lot to think about. I’m heading towards the halfway mark and I really enjoy it so far.

Oh, and I was just called for jury duty. Thanks to Covid, they’re doing jury duty remotely over Zoom, and the only Zoom-compatible computer I have is my phone. I don’t think I should be doing jury duty on my phone, so I’ll have to see if Alex has a laptop with a camera and microphone that I can borrow for that day/trial.

The Great Gatsby

Next up chronologically in terms of books I read in the past looks like The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Now as I mentioned before my mom was a misandrist and she blamed the men in women’s lives for all the troubles. One of her favorites was how F. Scott Fitzgerald drove Zelda crazy.

This next paragraph is the result of hours of research. I recently had someone say something about how bloggers just bullshit and I literally was “They don’t research everything obsessively?”

From what I’ve read, Scott may have taken advantage of any mental instability that Zelda had. It is possible that her behavior was the result of manipulation and gaslighting on the part of her husband, but it is also equally possible that she had what is now known as bipolar disorder. I have two very good friends who have both been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and they do, in fact, act a lot like Zelda is reputed to have acted. And, of course, it’s possible that both are true. That Zelda was unstable and that Scott knew which buttons to push to bring out those behaviors.

I read The Great Gatsby because it’s a classic of American literature and everybody should read it and it’s a fast read and blah blah but also I love Baz Luhrmann’s movies. I wanted to see the Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby, but I figured I should read the book first. As it turns out I haven’t seen the movie yet I. I should do that sometime.

I went on Amazon Prime last night to see if they have it, and ended up watching Marry Me instead. Oops.

Turn out that I’d have to pay to rent it. I did that once and never did rent the movie, so never mind.

One of the funniest things was a review of the movie where the reviewer said that Luhrmann totally misunderstood the message of The Great Gatsby because the movie is this big party and when the party’s over all that’s left is to pick the champagne bottles and cigarette butts out of the pool. Like, everything I had at that point read about The Great Gatsby made it sound to me like that was exactly the point.

Here’s the quote, from Connie Ogle at the Miami Herald: [T]he movie leaves you cold and weary and vaguely disgusted, like you’ve just spent a night of debauchery at Gatsby’s mansion, and now the sun is up, and it’s time to fish the cigarette butts and champagne bottles out of the pool.”

And, yeah, that is how reading the book made me feel. So Baz Luhrmann: 1, Connie Ogle: 0.

I also have a large problem with the show vs. tell of this book. Tell is winning by a lot, particularly when Nick follows up the story of Gatsby’s life with “Moreover he told it to me at a time of confusion, when I had reached the point of believing everything and nothing about him.” When does the conversation happen? We don’t know. At least if we had this conversation, I missed it. There was just the infodump and a sentence telling us when they had had this conversation.

The actual activity of the plot is so fast that you blink and you miss it. Skip the next couple of paragraphs if you don’t want to be spoiled for a hundred-year-old novel.

Nick moves to New York for a job. He ends up living near his cousin Daisy, who has married a gauche nouveau-riche guy, Tom. One of their neighbors is an enigmatic millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who had a romance with Daisy in their younger years and is basically stalking her.

They attend some parties. We find that Tom has a girlfriend, the married Myrtle. They attend more parties. We get long lists of the names of attendees. Gatsby finally tries to get Daisy to run away with him. Daisy hits Myrtle with a car, killing her. Gatsby takes the fall for it. Myrtle’s husband, George, shoots Gatsby in his pool. Nick decides that everyone in New York is a dishonest, greedy, asshole and leaves.

The end.

It’s all very heavy with symbolism, like the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, the giant eyes on the billboard, and Nick’s “you can never go home again” philosophy. Which is amusing when you consider that Nick is about to go home.

One of my friends was talking about which circle of Dante’s hell people who preferred Hemingway to Fitzgerald would end up in and I asked for permission to be put in the circle with the virtuous unbelievers because I don’t like either. My friend, amused, obliged. Needless to say there will be no Germane Amazon Link and, rather, we will have the Gratuitous Amazon Link of The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, the first book in the Kane Chronicles trilogy.

I Had My Tongue Surgery on Wednesday

And I’m going back to work on Sunday. At least, I hope I am

Boy, does everything between my ears and my clavicles hurt, though. It’s no fun to eat. It’s no fun to swallow. I have had to let a bunch of saliva drip out of my mouth twice.

For pain medication, I have Tylenol #3 and 400-milligram ibuprofen pills. The surgeon said that I can take the ibuprofen every 3.5 hours instead of every four, and I may have to start doing that.

There’s not much to say about the actual procedure. I was out for most of it. The block they used to hold my mouth open tasted horrible. I remember that much.

So now we wait. We wait for my mouth to heal, and we wait for the pathologist report to come back and see if my margins are clear. It there is any dysplasia in the apparently clear area the surgeon took, I’ll have to go back for more surgery. Fun.

But when I’m 80 years old and looking back on this, I’ll be glad I did it.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! I’ve read three books while convalescing, so I’m going to be able to get ahead a little on my Goodreads account. I’ve been kind of worried because I only have 366 read books, and there’s a bunch that I wouldn’t try to sell through Amazon Associates. Where did I leave off? Crap.

Okay. We were supposed to do the Monster High books by Lisi Harrison next, but it looks like they’re out of print, and not even available as Kindle books. So, onwards, to Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin, by Megan Rosenbloom, which is just like it says on the tin. Rosenbloom, a librarian, talks about the history of books bound in human skin, the rumors regarding them, actual examples of them, and the controversy regarding what to do with the books that they’ve identified (should they be rebound in ordinary bindings and bury the original bindings or left as-is or what?) A very interesting book demystifying a macabre topic.

The City & the City, by China Miéville

I loved this book.

I mean, I really loved it. Like, sometimes a strong ending can raise my impression of an otherwise lackluster book. But a little way in, I told a bookworm coworker, “I think I really am going to like this book.”

A while later, I told a bookworm friend, “This is turning out to be really good. You should check it out.”

Then, when the plot thickened, I told my coworker again, “Yes. This is great.”

And once I finished it, I told someone, “It’s a pity you aren’t a reader; you’re really missing out.”

So I think it’s safe to say that it was great all the way through.

It’s going to be a challenge to give a summary without spoiling too much, so maybe I’ll just talk about what I expected versus what we got?

Actually, first I’ll talk about the inspiration. Miéville’s mother was terminally ill, so she asked him to write a book for her. Most of his books are “speculative fiction,” an umbrella term that covers fantasy, science fiction, and some horror. This was not his mother’s interest, though. She preferred mystery and police procedurals.

And so, The City & The City (Germane Amazon Link!) was born. It is a tale about two cities occupying the same place geographically. I was expecting some kind of interdimensional shenanigans, but instead, they literally are geographically in the same place.

In our world, we have two towns, Baarle-Hertog, Belgium; and Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands*. These two towns are intertwined with one another in such a way that there’s a story (which I have yet to verify) that when they resurveyed the town, they discovered that the front door of a house, and thus the whole house, was in the wrong country. It would have been a bureaucratic mess to redo everything (I know the house would need a whole new address, because the street it was on has different names in each country, and I believe that the residents would even need to have changed their nationalities), so they just moved the front door to a different part of the house, where it would stay in the same country.

So. Think that, but larger. Much larger. Then to make things even weirder, the residents of and visitors to the two cities are not allowed to interact with the other city. They have to “unsee” the other city entirely. The only way to interact with the other city involves crossing the official border, at which point they can only interact with the city that they’re in after the crossing.

In the city of Besźel, Inspector Tyador Borlú is called to the location of a dead body. It turns out that the body was Mehalia Geary, a Ph.D student in the other city, Ul Qoma. Borlú has to investigate this murder without ever acknowledging the presence of the other city. He eventually has to go to Ul Qoma to assist in their investigation of the murder and that’s where an interesting book becomes really fascinating.

:chef’s kiss:

*Back in the days when I thought that Alex and I were going to be able to fly into Amsterdam, travel Germany in a big circle, then go back in through Belgium and back to Amsterdam, the Baarles (?) were on my list of things to visit. And maybe I will be able to do it someday.

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.

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