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, Season 1 Episode 7: the Dark Along the Ways

Today I will probably spend entirely too much time worrying about how one of my favorite Lan/Nynaeve scenes from the book will play out in the series, and wonder if they’ll just skip it. I will also wonder what Mat would have done in this episode if Barney Harris had returned after the COVID shutdown.

Lillies on the north side of the main building of Ellis Island
A bed of lilies on the north side of the main building of Ellis Island.

We start out where we ended last episode — with them calling for Mat to join them. After the Waygate closes, they demand that Moiraine open it back up. Moiraine tells them that she cannot because channeling in the Ways is dangerous and that Mat has made his decision.

In service to the medium, Judkins made changes to the way the Ways work. In the books, it is pitch black inside the Ways, but here there’s constant thunder and lightning. This allows the audience to see something of the bridges and islands.

Machin Shin is also different in the series. In the books, it mutters about blood and screams and will rip your soul out if it catches up to you. Here, the voices are individualized — Machin Shin picks up your doubts and fears and tells you that they are true.

They encounter a Trolloc and reflexively Egwene channels and pushes it off the bridge into the void below. This attracts Machin Shin, but fortunately they’re at the Fal Dara Waygate by then. Nynaeve does another amazingly strong bit of channeling and pushes Machin Shin away.

They arrive in Fal Dara and a lot of the things that Machin Shin said to them bear fruit while they wait for the morning so they can head to the Eye of the World.

We meet Min, finally. I mean, we couldn’t’ve met her earlier, because she can see who the Dragon Reborn is. She works in a pub and Moiraine takes the Emond’s Field Four to the pub so Min can read them. She sees stuff that we know is coming, like Perrin as Wolfbrother and Egwene and Nynaeve going to the White Tower. The scene of the darkness trying to swallow up the sparks was more understated than I’d hoped it would be, but you can’t have everything.

One of the things that Perrin heard from Machin Shin was that he killed Laila to be free of her because he was in love with another woman. That woman turns out to be Egwene. Now, if you’ve read The Eye of the World, you may remember that Perrin gets very jealous of Egwene once Aram starts paying attention to her. So, yeah. I don’t think that Judkins made that up out of whole cloth.

Lan and Nynaeve’s romance progresses. She stalks him when he goes to dinner with a family in Fal Dara. He knows she’s there, though, and catches her. Then he invites her to join them for dinner. After they return to the keep, they go to bed together. I was kind of disappointed by this development. I liked the kind of slow burn thing that book Lan and Nynaeve get, but I also acknowledge that Judkins thought that he might only get one season, so I can accept that he’d want Lan and Nynaeve to get together by the end of the season.

Now, for my concern about one of my favorite scenes. That’s when Lan calls Nynaeve “Mashiara.” The book explains “Mashiara” as “Beloved of heart and soul, . . . but a love lost, too. Lost beyond regaining.” And everyone here who’s read the books knows that Lan is counting his Mashiaras before they hatch, because Nynaeve isn’t going to give up that easily, dammit. And I just love that whole thing.

The problem is that we’ve established that Nynaeve in the series doesn’t speak the Old Tongue. I mean, the “Mashiara” scene will kind of lose its punch if she has to go to someone else for a translation. I’m hoping that since she had the conversation about not being able to speak the Old Tongue with Lan, she has been taking lessons offscreen. Then we can get our translation not from someone explaining it to Nynaeve, but from someone (maybe Nynaeve, maybe someone who overheard the conversation) explaining it to another of the Emond’s Fielders.

While Lan and Nynaeve are .. . doing whatever they’re doing, Rand cannot sleep. He gets out of the bed he’s sharing with Egwene* and goes back to the pub where Min works. Turns out that one of the things that Machin Shin told Rand was that he is the Dragon Reborn. We see the scene where a delirious Tam says that Rand is a baby he found. We also see that he channeled to break down the door in Breen’s Spring and that he pushed the Trolloc off the bridge. Or maybe he and Egwene both pushed the Trolloc off the bridge.

Min tells him her first viewing, in Tar Valon. She saw a man who was going to help a woman give birth on the slopes of Dragonmount and take the baby home and raise him in a small village between two rivers and that that baby was something impossible. We watch Tigraine give birth to Rand as Min tells the story.

After this, he asks Min what she sees now and she says that she sees rainbows, carnivals, and three beautiful women. I like this line because if the series had ended there, the three beautiful women would have been Egwene, Moiraine, and Nynaeve. As the series will be continuing, the three beautiful women are going to be Aviendha, Elayne, and Min herself. Well played, Mr. Judkins.

Egwene, Nynaeve, and Perrin join up in Nynaeve’s certainly unslept-in room and decide that they all want to go to the Eye of the World. Meanwhile, Rand has already told Moiraine that he’s the Dragon Reborn and they’ve already headed off for the Blight.

Now, had the series ended after one season, I think that Rand would have won and, since we haven’t introduced the “the blood of the Dragon on the stones of Shayol Ghul” bit, or even the “she’s not for you, nor you for her, at least, not in the way you both want” part yet, Moiraine would have died and Rand would have survived. There’d be some kind of series tag implying, or stating outright, that Egwene and Nynaeve would have gone to Tar Valon and eventually that Rand and Lan would have been their husbands and Warders.

Now, the million-dollar question. Did they completely rework this episode when Barney Harris didn’t come back or what? Because the way it stands, I cannot see how he’d fit in. I guess that maybe he could be off establishing the uncanny luck that Mat has after he’s separated from the Shadar Logoth dagger, maybe? Like, when they’re at the pub he’d head off to a dicing game and when they meet in Nynaeve’s room he’d’ve spent all night dicing and be in a hurry to head to the Eye of the World because the people he’d beaten certainly wouldn’t’ve followed him into the Blight? I guess?

We also see Padan Fain come out of the Waygate and Loial disappears entirely at21:07. Maybe Loial is enjoying Fal Dara’s library. I bet Fal Dara has a great library.

* Several people on the Wheel of Time subreddit are upset about Egwene and Rand having sex together. I’m currently reading The Shadow Rising and when Berelain throws herself at Rand, Rand refers to her as wanting to act as though they’re betrothed. And Egwene and Rand have been promised to each other since they were children.

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.

Shower Thought on Wheel of Time Episode 4

So I was coming out of the shower today and it hit me . . . .

Lookout Mountain 1863
1863 lithograph of Lookout Mountain.

Okay, so they definitely seem to be hinting that Nynaeve is the child of Aemon and Eldrene, the last king and queen of Manetheren. The last thing that Nynaeve remembers her parents saying to her is the last thing that Aemon and Eldrene said to their children . . . ?

Now, maybe this is a red herring, but I think that might be where they’re going. Additionally, I’m pretty sure that if they did, it would be a way to make Nynaeve *way* stronger in the Power than any other woman in the modern era.

In the books, the number of novices is dropping significantly and modern channelers are way weaker than in the past. I believe it is Verin who suggests that the way things are working now, they may be culling the talent out of humanity. Or, at least, the parts of humanity that they’re in touch with.

Verin, or whoever, says that (a) Aes Sedai rarely marry and almost never have children, and (b) they gentle all of the men who can channel that they can find, and most of them end up committing suicide. I don’t remember if Verin actually follows the chain of thought so far, but probably the only people who can channel who reproduce are men and women who can be taught to channel or who are born with the spark but are so weak that it is never caught. *

There are other channelers, such as the Seanchan, and the Kin, but a similar thing applies there. The Seanchan clearly don’t allow their Damane to reproduce, and so the only channelers that can reproduce, again, are the Sul’Dam, the ones who can be taught. I’m surprised by how strong the freed Damane end up being, because the same thing should have happened in Seanchan.

And I don’t remember the Kin having descendants. They try to live by what they think of as Aes Sedai rules, so I’d think that their rates of reproduction should be pretty low. Also, the Kin are women who were put out of the tower, largely because they were too weak to advance. Some of the stronger of the Kin are ones who balked at the testing, but most of them learned just enough channeling not to hurt themselves and then they were sent away.

So if only weak channelers reproduce, the talent will get weaker.

If they want Nynaeve to be a valid option for Dragon Reborn, she would need to be incredibly strong. Like, up by where Rand is in the books. So, having the solution to the mystery of Nynaeve’s parentage be that she’s Aemon and Eldrene’s daughter would make her naturally way more powerful than the rest of the current Aes Sedai. She dates from an era when they weren’t culling their channelers.

As for how Nynaeve ended up so far in the future, maybe Eldrene had Foretelling as one of her Talents and she knew that Nynaeve would be needed, so she sent her to the future or put her in stasis or something?

It’s possible that I’m overthinking this, but Judkins is also a fan of the books, so maybe I’ve overthought this just the right amount. We’re going to find out who the Dragon Reborn is in Episode 8. It’ll probably be Rand, but you never know.

*D’you suppose there are men who are so weak that it just looks like, like, luck or skill rather than channeling? A silversmith who becomes rich and famous because he can make silver do things that silver just shouldn’t do? A trader whose ships just narrowly avoid the kinds of hazards that nearby ships get caught in? Would they also be affected by the taint, or is the amount of mental illness proportional to the amount of Saidin used?

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!

Wheel of Time, Episode 2: Shadow’s Waiting

As always, there will be spoilers for both the television series and the books in this post. Probably more spoilers for the books, because The Eye of the World was published in 1990. Y’all’ve had between how long ago you were, like, 12 and 31 years to read it.

Today’s spoiler space photo is the San Antonio River from the Mission Reach part of the River Walk. I believe that I took this picture at least in part to show that the river is not always as calm as it seems when one is at the downtown portion of the River Walk.

Anyone who has read The Eye of the World will recognize the chapter title as the name of the city of Shadar Logoth.

Shadar Logoth was originally the city of Aridhol, and was dedicated to the Light. Eventually, the King took on a counselor called Mordeth, who advised him to try to use the Dark’s tactics against it, and the warmth of the people of Aridhol became cruelty. They believed that any kind of atrocity they committed, so long as it was in the name of the Light, was acceptable.

Eventually, every living thing in the city was consumed by the darkness that had come to call Aridhol home. The name of that darkness was Mashadar, and the city became known as “Shadar Logoth,” the place where the shadow waits. We get the “Reader’s Digest Condensed” version of this tale. I was pleased to get any of it.

In this episode, we also meet the Children of the Light and the Hand of the Light, more informally, and also slightly pejoratively, known as the “Whitecloaks” and the “Questioners.” Well, we get the names “Whitecloaks” and “Questioners,” which made me uncomfortable. I understand that Judkins is trying to pare it down and all, but it seems that a few seconds to establish that those are not the groups’ real names would be well spent.

I don’t remember if I mentioned this in the last post, but we have roughly 4.6 episodes for each book. A lot of stuff will have to be cut down, condensed, or removed.

For example, we finally hear the tale of Manetheren, which Moiraine tells the people of Emond’s Field earlier in the book. They fit it in by having the kids sing a song about Manetheren while riding their horses through the woods, so Moiraine tells them the story and explains to them that they are the descendants of the people of Manetheren. That was a nice bit of streamlining on the storytelling. We want to show that they’ve been traveling for a while, so let’s have Moiraine tell us of Manetheren while they move.

We end the episode in the place where I gave up on The Eye of the World back in 1993. Thomas and I went to the Bookstop that was where the Party City is now on 281 up near Bitters. I picked up The Eye of the World and got to the end of Shadow’s Waiting. That’s when the central group splits up. Then I lost track of who went where with whom and had to put the book down. I was determined to read it, though, so I skipped this whole chapter then read to the end. Once I knew where everyone was, my second and subsequent readthroughs went much better.

The Wheel of Time, Episode 1: Leavetaking

This will contain spoilers. So many spoilers. It’s downright spoiled. If you haven’t watched the first episode of the Wheel of Time and read all of the books, beware!

I’m also assuming that you know basic terminology like Aes Sedai, Ajahs, etc.

I need images to build up a bit more spoiler space, so I’m going back through my old photos in chronological order for now. I may take some new pictures over the next weekend. This is Vesuvius from 2014.

First off, I wasn’t expecting to spend so much time with the kids from the Two Rivers. Things people said about the focus of the first episode being on Moiraine and being about the rebirth of the Dragon Reborn, I was expecting more New Spring and less Eye of the World in the first episode. And, instead, the New Spring-y stuff is limited to the first few minutes. Then we get Moiraine and Lan watching a bunch of sisters of the Red Ajah catching a man who can channel (was that Logain?) and when it turns out that he isn’t the Dragon Reborn, Moiraine leaves for the Two Rivers.

Rafe Judkins, creator of the television series, is attempting to obfuscate who the Dragon Reborn will turn out to be in part by saying that the Dragon Reborn can also be female and making Egwene or Nynaeve (or both?) ta’veren as well as the three boys, to which I say, “about damn time.”

There’s a lot I liked about Jordan’s attempts at egalitarianism. I liked the fact that so many of the countries of Randland have female rulers, for example. But as with everyone, Jordan had some blind spots. Channeling is stereotypical and, kind of kinky. Men are more powerful and they take an active role in channeling. Women are weaker and channel by surrendering to the Power. The balance for men being stronger is that women can join their abilities together, while for men, they can only join together if there’s a woman in their circle. See? Kinky.

In one big departure from the books, it seems clear to me that Nynaeve knows that “listening to the wind” is channeling. She doesn’t know who her parents are (which is odd. Where is that going?) and she was raised by the former Wisdom of Emond’s Field (a name that I don’t think I’ve heard in the series yet, so far they’ve just called it The Two Rivers), who could “listen to the wind” and went to Tar Valon to train to be an Aes Sedai and was refused because of her ragged clothes and her “peasant accent.”

As part of the attempt to make it uncertain who will be the Dragon Reborn, we also see way more than we do in the books. We see the ceremony where the Women’s Circle braid’s Egwene’s hair and we see the events of Winternight, rather than just seeing the destruction afterwards, which was nice. Well, watching the people of Emond’s Field be slaughtered by Trollocs wasn’t nice. But having those blank filled in was nice. Oh, you know what I mean. I think.

Now for the biggest, most spoilery, question, was Laila fridged? For those who have never heard the term “fridge” used that way, it’s based in a Green Lantern comic book featuring the stupidest Green Lantern of them all, Kyle Rayner. The villain Major Force kills Kyle’s girlfriend, Alexandra, and sticks her in the refrigerator. This leads Kyle to develop as a character. It has come to mean any time a female character is sacrificed (to death, or to incapacitation or whatever) to advance a man’s storyline.

Now, at first glance, Laila’s accidental death at Perrin’s hands (or axe, I guess) does look like fridging. Perrin will change and grow or otherwise develop (maybe in a maladjusted way) to this trauma. I hope that they find a way to subvert this trope in further episodes, but if that’s the only major problem I have with the show, then we’re doing pretty well.

Mega Spoiler for a book that won’t be adapted until season 3, I think, follows:

And what will happen when Perrin returns home with Faile after leaving town before Laila’s funeral? I suspect we may not have the happy Emond’s Field wedding of the book series.

Foreshadowing and Prophecies

This contains spoilers for The Wheel of Time and The Scholomance (or at least the first two Scholomance books, since the third hasn’t come out yet). I think the spoilers are fairly mild, but still, if you’re like me and want to go into things unspoiled, you might want to read something else for now.

In books, television shows, etc., there’s almost always some form of foreshadowing and, in the kind of books, television shows, etc, that I like, there’s a good chance that there’ll be at least one prophecy.

Like, one of my favorite television shows in recent years was Gravity Falls (OMG. So good!). In Gravity Falls, twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to stay with their Grunkle Stan for the summer. Dipper finds a book with a handprint and the number 3 on the cover. Soon, Dipper is noticing all sorts of weird things about Gravity Falls and he wants to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, Mabel is willing to help Dipper, but mostly she just wants to have fun. Alex Hirsch, the creator, foreshadowed things and dropped clues, and so on. When a group of the fans started poring through the series, Hirsch is quoted as saying that he created an army of Dippers.

I’m a Mabel. I’m along for the ride, just having fun. Sometimes I’ll catch a line that sticks out to me, but like as not, I won’t actually say, “Wow. This will be important later.”

This is not to say that I don’t have fun on rereads finding the foreshadowing. But for my first reading/watching, I like finding out things as the author intends to reveal them.

Strangely, though, I tend to worry at prophecies like a terrier with a rat.

In the Wheel of Time series, it is predicted that Rand will “break the world again,” and everyone’s terrified of what he will do, etc., but after people have been fleeing their homelands and settling elsewhere, someone is all, “Rand will break the world,” and I’m, “dude, he already is breaking the world.”

The exact words of the prophecy are “and he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind.” I mean, people leaving their homes and moving to new places and putting down roots there? The characters are clearly expecting a physical breaking, but the breaking that Rand brings is more of an interpersonal breaking.

This is brought on by my recent read of The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik. In the Scholomance series, we find that our protagonist, El, is the subject of a prophecy in which El is supposed to “destroy” the enclaves of the wizards. I think I know how she’s going to do it, and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right.

I’m Nervous About the Upcoming Wheel of Time Series

What follows are some mild spoilers (should be mild spoilers) for the early books of the Wheel of Time series. I’m avoiding one major one that I’ll be going into in more depth later, because dammit.

Specifically this article, which says that the series won’t introduce characters and then have them disappear to bring them back later. Our initial group is Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Moiraine, Lan, and Thom.

Rand, Mat, Perrin, and Egwene grew up together in the town of Emond’s Field. Rand, Mat, and Perrin are almost exactly all the same age and Egwene is two years younger, but everyone in town expects her to marry Rand.

At some point, Thom disappears and then returns later. They’re going to circumvent this by having Thom not show up at all until “later.” Does this mean that the plot point where Thom disappears won’t happen at all?

Will Rand just . . . have a flute? Thom’s flute shows up a lot. Mat and Rand get free room and board at a number of inns thanks to Thom’s flute.

Alanna (rant deleted) is supposed to be a major player from early in the series even though she doesn’t (spoiler deleted) until the sixth book in the series.

Welp. There’s nothing I can do is watch the show and see how they work it all. out.