Monday, June 28, 2021

The Eye of the World by: Robert Jordan: A Place of Safety (Chapters 32 to 35)

 

“Rand shook his head weakly on the hay.  “No, Egwene.  I didn’t want to leave you. Please.” “We’re all dead,” she said sadly, “and death is the kingdom of the Dark One.  The Dark One has us, because you abandoned us.” “No. I had no choice, Egwene.  Please.  Egwene, don’t go.  Come back, Egwene!” But she turned into the shadows, and was shadow.” – The Eye of the World, p. 507.

 

“A Place of Safety” is the title of the eighth chapter of The Eye of the World and the search for safety with Rand and Mat is exactly what this stretch of The Eye of the World is all about.  That and the very odd moment of Robert Jordan repeating himself for one of the few times in the series (the other time being most of Crossroads of Twilight).  Specifically there is a technical error in the writing where what is intended to be a flashback of the boys going from barn to barn and inn to inn and facing all sorts of trouble and several Darkfriends and just generally bad people.  This weird repeat essentially lasts until Chapter 34, when Rand and Mat find a place of safety on the back of a cart taking them all the way to Caemlyn.  There are people gathering in Caemlyn to see Logain, this False Dragon, who will be paraded throughout the city.  This is the point where The Wheel of Time gives some human evil, truly human evil, at this point in the books.  Before this point we’ve only seen Shadowspawn: Trollocs, Myrddraaal, and Dragkhar; and the Children of the Light being zealots, but not irredeemable evil.  There are Whitecloaks who at least have some humanity.  There are two Darkfriends here, one of whom attempts to stab Mat, to which he retaliates getting ready to genuinely murder somebody:  ““She tried to kill me, Rand.  She’d have killed you, too.  She’s a Darkfriend.” Mat spat the word.  “But we’re not,” Rand said.  The woman gasped as if she just realized what Mat had intended. “We are not Mat.”” – The Eye of the World, p. 510.  They are only given passage to Caemlyn by Almen Blunt, who appears in one other book in the series, much later on, simply putting in one little bit of kindness and protection from others.  It is also Mat who is the one to find Blunt as Rand falls ill after a lightning storm, one that did not seem natural.  Second time readers will know exactly what that means and is implying, but it is a terrifying scene as it brings something right into perspective.  There is also this interesting connection between Queen Morgase, the ruler of Andor, and the Dragon, who is said to be one with the land.

 

The arrival in Caemlyn also provides a place of safety for Rand and Mat and a look into Thom Merrilin’s past.  After an earlier chapter where Rand says he will never trust a skinny innkeeper again after the one in Four Kings sells them out to Darkfriends and tries to steal from them.  The innkeeper in this chapter is Basel Gill, of the Queen’s Blessing, and is one of those supporting characters who can provide worldbuilding as well as giving insight into who Thom was.  He does not believe that Thom is dead for a moment.  He does believe the boys saw what they saw but not that he is actually dead.  Rand for the first time is able to think: “The worst meant seeking out Elaida, the Aes Sedai in the Palaec.  He would go on to Tar Valon, first.  He did not know if Mat remembered what Thom had said about the Red Ajah – and the Black – But he surely did.” – The Eye of the World, p. 533.  Elaida is the first named Aes Sedai we get and there hasn’t actually been an explanation of what the Ajahs are yet, but the mention of Red and Black make a start on definite structure of the Aes Sedai as an organization.  There is also this moment where it is revealed that words against Aes Sedai in Caemlyn are something that shouldn’t be tolerated, adding to the idea that there is something not to be trusted on the Aes Sedai.  They could still be a tyrannical group, while Rand puts his faith in Moiraine, it isn’t a faith in Aes Sedai as a whole.  Seeking out Elaida is what Rand sees as the worst, and something we will circle back to in the next section of the book.  The safety is one little ray of hope in the world: Rand was still sick and Mat is getting worst every day.  It is at this point where everything needs to come back together, there needs to be some guidance just as hope is something that needs to grow into something better.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Dresden Files: White Night by: Jim Butcher

 

The Dresden Files have just been continuing to climb to greater and greater heights since Dead Beat started this upward trend, moving the series to new heights while also being a throwback to a lot of the earlier novels with the ninth installment, White Night.  This book really focuses in on one mystery, but a mystery that has ramifications for the greater war plot, and allowing some exploration of the White Court of Vampires further than what Proven Guilty set out to do, playing around with the three different types of White Court Vampire (those that feed on lust like Thomas, those that feed on fear like House Malvora, and those that feed on despair), each having one or two representatives here.  The entire book is about Harry and Murphy tracking down a serial killer who is leaving biblical messages about not suffering a witch to live, magically, near the bodies.  There is a twist when one of the victims is found in a final state of ecstasy leaving Thomas as a suspect, exacerbated by him having gone missing and once he does appear he has promised his sister not to tell Harry anything.  This is of course all a ploy to get at Harry as there is something greater here at work, Harry of course is being manipulated once again and that manipulation is what brings everything to a head.  White Night is a book which ends with what might be a turning point, Harry giving up a specific piece of power, Johnny Marcone gaining more power in the supernatural, and Elaine having a plan to build up protection to those just discovering magic.

 

The entire book concerns an understanding of power.  The last few books have had Lasciel be representative of the power Harry could easily be holding if he wished to grasp it, a power that would eventually corrupt and kill him.  Molly Carpenter, at the end of Proven Guilty, was revealed to have been building her own power accidentally and now has to be kept in check and be trained.  Molly’s entire story in White Night, a fairly small subplot, but massively important one to the entire theme of the book.  She begins this book following Harry and trying to help, getting herself into trouble as she contaminates what could easily be (and technically is) a crime scene.  She’s the one just trying to help, as she was previously, and has a classic student not understanding the methods of the teacher storyline.  It may rely heavily on tropes, but the book builds to Molly understanding just the complexities that comes with magic and what it means to wield it.  There is this test of floating beads which has a point of not actually passing, but understanding what doing what she’s doing, controlling her own power and ensuring she uses it for good.  That is in parallel to Harry’s temptation by Lasciel which is something he nearly succumbs to as well as being fed upon, willingly, by Lara Raith in the climax.  Harry is a character who has always been resistant to power, but has used it whenever necessary, and here is no exception as he uses Hellfire once again here.  This is the first point in the series where this has been seen as a truly scary, and dangerous thing.  Harry is getting closer to power and is being tempted to use it, especially when children are involved.

 

White Night also has a distinction of having one of the more interesting portrayals of authority in the series.  This book was published in 2007 and has some interesting implications about how authority reacts between classes.  Thomas has moved into a luxury apartment, something that surprises Harry.  There is an interaction with the security and Chicago Police (without Murphy) where Harry plays off their bigotry against the LGBT community to get out of the situation.  It doesn’t entirely sit well, but Butcher uses it to make a comment on the darker aspects of the police.  Now it isn’t nearly as well thought out or in depth as something like this should be, but it is an interesting aspect that a book published in 2007 was aware of the same problems that are inherent in the system today.  There is also an interesting setup of putting Harry as a role model to be emulated.  Obviously there’s the stuff with Molly, but what Elaine has been doing since her last appearance is essentially what Harry does, down to being in the Yellow Pages, out on the West Coast.  It’s something to show that while becoming a Warden was essentially done out of necessity, Harry is suited to having authority and leading people.  He inspires other Wardens and those in the SI unit of the CPD to follow him into battle.

 

Overall, White Night is another step forward in The Dresden Files, bringing themes of authority, power, and leadership to the forefront of the series with Harry having his best development yet.  It is not quite perfect as some of its messages and commentary could have been laid out better, and the final few scenes do have a problem with being rushed after the climax occurs.  Instead of introducing new characters, it deepens returning characters and builds up something absolutely brilliant for the books going forward.  The war is going to come to a head and there are going to be turning points very soon.  9/10.

Revenge of the Cybermen by: Gerry Davis and directed by: Michael E. Briant

 

Revenge of the Cybermen stars Tom Baker as the Doctor, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, and Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan with Jeremy Wilkin as Kellman, Michael Wisher as Magrick, Kevin Stoney as Tyrum, David Collings as Vorus, and Christopher Robbie as the Cyber Leader.  It was written by: Gerry Davis and directed by: Michael E. Briant with Robert Holmes as Script Editor and Philip Hinchcliffe as Producer.  It was originally broadcast on Saturdays from 19 April to 10 May 1975 on BBC1.

 

When Barry Letts was outlining what would become Season 12 of Doctor Who he realized that 1972’s Day of the Daleks was a smash hit and decided to try again, this time with the Cybermen who hadn’t been seen on screen through the entire Jon Pertwee era.  He commissioned Cybermen co-creator Gerry Davis to write the penultimate serial for the twelfth season under the title Return of the Cybermen.  The stipulation was that it had to use the same sets as what would become The Ark in Space (still at that time Christopher Langley’s Space Station), initially being exclusively studio bound.  The premise was that at some point in the past on the Nerva Beacon the Cybermen are using their Cybermats to infect the members of the station with a plague.  A man called Kellman has smuggled a few Cybermen aboard to help destroy an asteroid filled with gold and the Doctor would use the Cybermants to destroy the Cybermen by filling them with gold, which would be introduced as the greatest weakness of the Cybermen.  Davis would write these scripts, expanding them to include material on the asteroid once money was allocated to allow location filming, however Robert Holmes would perform extensive rewrites on these scripts, changing the title to Revenge of the Cybermen and changing many of the key characters and events.  It would be these rewrites that would mark one of this era’s very few missteps, as Holmes and Hinchcliffe’s disdain for returning monsters clearly comes across in the way that the scripts turned out, focusing more on the Vogans, the inhabitants of the planet of gold.  Big Finish Productions found the initial scripts different enough that Return of the Cybermen was adapted into an audio drama in March 2021.

 


The Cybermen in Revenge of the Cybermen don’t actually do anything until the second half of the story.  They are in a few shots on their own spaceship in the first two episodes, but the cliffhanger Part Two is where they actually enter the plot, invading Nerva Beacon.  The first cliffhanger is Sarah Jane being attacked and poisoned by a Cybermat which is used to get her and Harry down on the planet so the plot can focus on the internal politics of the Vogans.  The Vogans are all portrayed by brilliant performers, essentially brought down to bit parts.  Kevin Stoney, Michael Wisher, and David Collings, the former two having been in Doctor Who before, and the later going on to guest in classics like The Robots of Death and Mawdryn Undead, are all clearly putting in the effort to make these characters interesting, but the Vogan conflict is all about trying to join the rest of the galaxy to destroy the remnants of the Cybermen.  It’s one of those conflicts that feels like it’s just trying to pad out the first two episodes, especially when you take into account that the original scripts confined action to Nerva for the first two episodes and that the Cybermen were revealed to already be on Nerva at the end of Part One.  Jeremy Wilkin’s Kellman provides a human villain who is revealed to be a triple agent, working for both the Cybermen and then for the Vogans who also has a plan to defeat the Cybermen.  The Cybermen’s plan is start by attempting to blow up the planet with Cyber-bombs, strapping them to the Doctor and Stevenson and sending them down to the planet, leading to the Part Three cliffhanger where they are crushed and Harry Sullivan tries to get the bomb off the Doctor, which the audience knows will set it off.  This leads to the story’s most famous line, Tom Baker’s exclamation of “Harry Sullivan is an imbecile”, though the entire plotline fails and the Cybermen move to Plan B: just pilot Nerva into the planet with the Doctor and Sarah Jane on it.  The story is really just an excuse to get a collection of tense set pieces together without any real sort of through line.

 


Michael E. Briant is in charge of direction here and along with the genuinely great performances, everyone in the cast is giving this their all, are genuine saving graces in the story.  Briant sets up several really clever shots and makes great use of the caves at Wookey Hole for several great action sequences between the Vogans, the Vogans and the Cybermen, and Harry and Sarah Jane.  Harry and Sarah spend most of the middle of the story together trying to make the Vogan plot make some sort of sense, even if it really doesn’t.  There is this chemistry between Marter and Sladen which makes it even more of a shame that Marter would leave the show in the very next story making it a real shame.  This story is also special for really developing the threads of the Doctor and Sarah Jane’s relationship teased in The Ark in Space.  They are literally tied together for most of the fourth episode which makes for a lot of at least fun.

 

This story has particular note as the first Doctor Who story to be released fully on home media, being chosen as the inaugural VHS release in 1984.  That decision initially was to be another Cybermen story, The Tomb of the Cybermen, as voted by fans, however, at the time the serial was missing in the BBC Archives so this story was chosen in its place, edited into an omnibus format with absolutely no restoration (the Restoration Team wouldn’t come into existence until 1992 meaning any of the pre-1973 stories would be particularly rough around the edges).  In fact it would be the VHS release of The Tomb of the Cybermen in 1992 which would cause the restoration of the old tapes to begin.  This is a story that’s restoration does look great, once again thanks to Briant’s direction.  Though one odd production decision to be made was to have the serial scored not by regular composer Dudley Simpson, but Carey Blyton who previously composed Doctor Who and the Silurians and Death to the Daleks.  His use of woodwinds doesn’t really work for the Cybermen, and the rearrangements done by Peter Howell for the story really show through making the score one of the more obtrusive aspects of the story.  It is most definitely the weakest of Blyton’s three scores, feeling more like a greatest hits of the other two, changed slightly to fit.  It also follows the action almost too on the nose at points where it really shouldn’t be doing that musically.  There’s also the Seal of Rassilon making its first appearance here which is a great design, but would be used much better in The Deadly Assassin as a Gallifreyan symbol.

 

Revenge of the Cybermen is one of those stories which actually would have worked better in its earlier draft.  It is only brought up by some genuinely great performances by Baker, Sladen, Marter, Collings, Stoney, and Wisher, though many of their talents are wasted.  It is perhaps mostly the issue of Robert Holmes for not trusting Davis’ scripts and ideas.  4/10.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Ship of Fools by: Dave Stone

 

The last Dave Stone book I read was Heart of TARDIS, which was decent, but was essentially one big reference to The Simpsons.  This made me a little apprehensive going into Ship of Fools, his first book for the Bernice Summerfield range, as one thing this range must stay away from doing is being overly referential to Doctor Who.   Virgin Publishing no longer had the Doctor Who license so these references would have to be veiled, so it became a welcome surprise when outside of one big name drop of the Doctor being someone Benny travelled with, it is confined to interludes.  These interludes are humorous sendups of the classic cinema serials with a Doctor Who twist, though the main character is Doctor Po and is revealed to be a character in the actual book in one of Stone’s many twists (and yes as with any Stone book there are many twists).  This is also one of those books that’s a bit more disconnected from the arc, though not enough to make it unnecessary.  Benny in particular gets a lot of follow up to Beyond the Sun where she had to confront for the first time that she still loves Jason and actually has to see him in that book.  This book ends up really giving Benny a distraction, which makes a small Jason cameo right near the end hit a lot harder, especially once he is shacking up with his secretary/assistant (that fact isn’t quite made clear but it’s Jason Kane so you know how it is).

 

The story is a sendup of murder mysteries, sending a group of eccentrics into a secluded location and slowly killing them off with the notorious thief, the Cat’s Paw, who has stolen from Krytell Industries CEO, Marcus Krytell.  Benny is the first on the list to help get it back and she must don a new persona: Bernice Summersdale, young widow looking for love on the Titanian Queen, and of course trouble follows.  There are of course several detectives on the ship, the most important being Emil Dupont, who is apparently the greatest detective in the galaxy, but of course is more of a bumbling idiot while Benny tries to piece things together.  There is also a minor character who is a parody of Miss. Marple, Agatha Magpole, a detective who attracted murderers which causes her to wear a headdress to stop that from happening.  The bodies eventually drop after Benny gets to the bottom of who the Cat’s Paw is, and why they are not actually the murderer as they’ve never killed anyone.  There is just something incredibly fun about this dynamic with Benny being surrounded by people who can’t see through an obvious alibi.  Stone is clearly using it to make fun of the rich, Benny being in the lower-class role.  Yeah she’s a professor and in academia, but she also faked most of her credentials, that’s a point of her character that she’s a traveler and having her here makes a great contrast.

 

The book itself also has some of Stone’s absolute best prose, giving each chapter a tongue in cheek title referring to one of the great mysteries or one of the great mystery tropes (or cliches if you prefer).  The Cat’s Paw is also a really fun character once their identity is revealed with the pulp style of the interludes blending with the more traditional murder mystery pastiche throughout the rest of the novel.  There is also a very small, but welcome, cameo from Irving Braxiatel, whom I was almost convinced would be behind some of the goings on, though if that is the case it’s something not revealed in this book.  The elements of the book involving ARVID feels like a plan from Irving Braxiatel, but isn’t something that actually happens here with ARVID having a much different duplicitous nature.  Overall, Ship of Fools is perhaps the perfect title for a book which is all about a ship full of detectives who really just stumble onto their own solutions.  It contains some of Stone’s most accessible, yet most fun, prose and a story which really gives the general audience a good point to get what even the standalone Benny books can do.  9/10.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Eye of the World by: Robert Jordan - Traveling Alone (Chapters 25 to 31)

 

“It was coming on evening as they went through the village and he felt a pang of homesickness as lights appeared in the windows.  No matter what it looks like, a small voice whispered in his mind, it isn’t really home.  Even if you go into one of those houses Tam won’t be there.  If he was, could you look him in the face? You know, now, don’t you?  Except for the little things like where come from and who you are.  No fever-dreams…You might as well stop” – The Eye of the World, p. 458.

 

It isn’t easy to write something that makes the reader feel so isolated in what is essentially a vast world.  This entire sequence, and the sequence to come, just pushes each of the three parties to their lowest points.  Rand and Mat are struggling to find places to hide, with people finding them around every corner and each bit of help feeling like a drop in a lake.  There is fear as the Darkfriends are always at their backs, and for some of them, the Children of the Light at their fronts.  None of them actually know if the others are alive: Moiraine is the closest to having an idea, believing that Rand, Mat, and Perrin are alive.  It’s really just something which is built on a hope.  That hope is one of the very few things being kept alive in them, and is something which can be broken.  Rand and Mat’s journey is perhaps the one with the least hope: they are truly on their own, Rand is having a crisis of identity while Mat is clearly losing any bit of his previously jovial self.  The quote above clearly shows that there is this one little voice, sitting right in Rand’s head, telling him that he has absolutely nothing back for him at home, and that there is nothing for him going on.  The dreams are getting worse, and Rand has this idea that he might be going insane.

 

With Mat, however, we come upon one of the early problems with The Wheel of Time, aka the Mat problem.  This problem is mainly one of perspective: The Eye of the World is told nearly exclusively from Rand’s point of view, only eight of the previous 31 chapters have split off from his point of view, and that is only after the splitting of the party.  This means that the character with the most development and personality is Rand, and that is mostly spent on the crisis of identity.  Now Perrin and Nynaeve have gotten the next most character development as we have been given glimpses into their perspective, while Moiraine, Lan, and Egwene all get discussions on what the others think of them and through interactions.  Mat Cauthon is an anomaly as he has either been lumped with Rand or Perrin in the group, almost echoing just what the group has said already.  Rand and Perrin are discussing their dreams, Mat is there chiming right along.  His introduction is great at giving him a trickster archetype, but there really hasn’t been enough given that he did maybe one trick in the second or third chapter.  Post the splitting of the party, Mat has essentially been grumpy and protective about the ruby dagger.  It is implied to be the poor conditions mixed with something about the dagger, reacting terribly when Rand dare suggest selling it because “That ruby would fetch enough to take us all the way to Caemlyn in a carriage.” – The Eye of the World, p. 459.  It’s clearly affecting Mat, but there isn’t enough of Mat pre-ruby dagger to make the difference apparent as to whatever he was before that.  It also isn’t effective, and will be something which plagues Mat for a long while yet.

 

It becomes completely apparent with the mirroring of Rand with Perrin and Egwene.  There are two legs of their journey here: first the time with the Tinkers and second being captured by the Whitecloaks.  The sequence with the Whitecloaks is equally as chilling as Rand and Mat’s internal strife, as with every question answered, Perrin and Egwene, trying their best to save themselves, only seal their fates.  The wolves only hurt them, with one scene where Perrin nearly loses himself to the wolves.  He attempts to shut them out throughout, but the death of one of them affects him greatly: “Pain filled Perrin, and he screamed, a wordless scream that had something of a wolf’s cry in it.  Without thinking he leaped forward, still screaming.  All thought was gone…Something crashed into his head, and as he fell, he didn’t know if it was Hopper, or himself who died.” – The Eye of the World, p. 446.  There are thoughts from the wolves which permeate Perrin here and it’s something that the Children of the Light, use.  The Children are led here by Geofram Bornhald, and his underling Child Byar.  They make an interesting double act as it’s a very obvious that Byar is out for blood.  Now, Perrin did end up responsible for deaths of Children, really using the axe for the first time.

 

This is also the first time Jordan shows his flair for building cultures with the Tuatha’an, or Tinkers.  They are a travelling people who go and repair things, have a bad reputation for theft, and follow the Way of the Leaf, an extreme form of pacifism.  A song is lost and they are searching for it.  There are clear influences from the Roma people of Eastern Europe, though the prejudices don’t seem to go as deep as in the real world.  The group of Tinkers that Perrin and Egwene meet with Elyas have one of their member, Aram, being slowly soured with the Way fo the Leaf.  There are those who leave the Tuatha’an, but it is a sad day, like someone leaving their religion and being shunned.  This is also a period to show Egwene as someone who really explores culture at each opportunity.  She is the one who blends the best with the Tinkers, even with Perrin thinking she’s going to eventually leave and travel with the Tinkers, forgetting her recent plans to become an Aes Sedai.  This is clearly an idea Jordan wants to get across, that Egwene is na├»ve and in a way it is true, but it is also something which will be reversed going forward.  It’s also a point where Perrin essentially has to start the long process of accepting himself, the denial phase.  He has to be told that he can let his guard down and enjoy himself, that there can be some bit of safety.  Of course, it is cut short, and even the little safety of Rand and Mat’s is cut short with the ominous telling of what is to come for them.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax by: Andrew Cartmel

 

When you’re writing a mystery story, the eventual reveal must be something which can be seen by the audience, but must not be too obvious too soon, or else the twist become ineffective in buildup.  That is perhaps the largest flaw with Andrew Cartmel’s The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax, where the reason that people are after a collection of fourteen records by a company which only lasted about a year in publishing.  The conceit is that written on each of the records are two letters which when placed together end up reading a message.  This is what drives the last third of the book’s plot as Cartmel falls into the trap of having this essentially be two separate books in one.  The book is divided into “Side One” and “Side Two” to make up a whole with the idea being that the main character, the Vinyl Detective, navigating finding one of these records for an international client before being asked to track down all fourteen records.  The “Side Two” portion of the book is the one which falls really flat, as Cartmel makes the big twist and explanation for a loud bang on the master tape of one track be part of a very obvious twist which when eventually revealed doesn’t seem to have any repercussions on the rest of the book.  It’s a portion which just drives towards a finish before kind of stopping dead in its tracks, without any real resolution for the main character, his relationship with the two women who hired him, and his newfound fame from the first two thirds of the book.

 

The Vinyl Detective as a character is at the very least a fun, pulpy protagonist.  Cartmel is clearly inspired by detective stories and the like, having this narration style that should be soundtracked with jazz.  He is never really named, yet is at least given motivation and character, even if there isn’t much of a backstory.  He’s protective of his collection and his two cats, will take up any case, and is kind of seen as a joke as someone who tracks down rare records.  It’s an interesting protagonist for Cartmel, though he is a very static one throughout, moving from relationship to relationship without really feeling like there is any growth.  This is odd considering Cartmel’s previous work all being large scale science fiction adventures critiquing the worst aspects of humanity and how people grow and change throughout their lives.  It makes Written in Dead Wax feel very different, although that’s something which Cartmel makes apparent to what he’s doing with this writing.  He’s writing something small scale, and to reflect that the main character is small scale.  The relationship he builds with Nevada, the woman who initially hires him, is perhaps the best that Cartmel puts in until “Side Two” where that falls apart.  There is a reveal which plays into several tropes and the Detective immediately moving on but then flip flopping back to Nevada just seems weird.  It’s very much Cartmel not doing a fully developed story in what is essentially his first non-Doctor Who novel.

 

Overall, The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax is honestly a book that is described as fine.  There’s still that great writing style which gets the reader invested, even if the plot feels quite thin and the last third feels a lot like a book that needed to be its own thing.  Though as an introduction to a standalone series of mysteries it works fine, even if there are improvements to be made with the rest of the worldbuilding and characters.  5/10.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Eye of the World by: Robert Jordan - Don't Split the Party (Chapters 21 to 24)

 

““You have very little room to talk, Wisdom.” Moiraine showed more interest in her hot tea in anything she was saying.  “You can wield the One Power yourself, after a fashion…Do you think I can stand face-to-face with a woman who can touch the True Source, and channel the One Power, even if only now and then, without knowing what she is?  Just as you sensed the potential in Egwene.  How do you think I knew you were behind that tree?  If I had not been distracted, I would have noticed the moment you came close.  You certainly are not a Trolloc, for me to feel the evil of the Dark One.  So what did I sense, Nynaeve al’Meara, Wisdom of Emond’s Field and unknowing channeler of the One Power?”” – The Eye of the World, p. 318-319.

 

This small, four chapter sequence, is perhaps one of the most important thematic segments of The Wheel of Time.  It’s not very long, can be read in one sitting, and spends time with each group of the party.  It is this section which is the first to resonate with those who have had to come to terms with aspects about themselves.  In the book, it’s their connection with magic (and in Rand’s case, seeing his friend slowly change personality as Mat it is revealed took a ruby hilted dagger from Shadar Logoth).  That quote heading this essay is Moiraine pulling out the big stop that Nynaeve can channel the One Power, she, like Egwene, is essentially destined to become an Aes Sedai.  This is something she viscerally reacts to, denying it, and Moiraine goes point by point.  As trainee to the previous Wisdom, she saved Egwene from a fever, which she thought was a death sentence.  The previous Wisdom, it is implied, knew exactly what Nynaeve did to Egwene, but never let her know.  “Light burn her! Using the Power like an Aes Sedai.  A filthy, Darkfriend Aes Sedai!” – The Eye of the World, p. 322.  This quote is in reference to Egwene and is essentially in the denial phase about herself.  Nynaeve, deep down knows that she can channel, and is disgusted that Egwene, who isn’t even there, could possibly be excited and happy with her fate.  She has been brought up in an environment and culture that’s told her to hate Aes Sedai, for no real reason, because they are tricky and, as she claims, evil.  Jordan is also interesting in how Moiraine and Lan react: Moiraine is content to give her time to accept what she is while Lan is more acerbic, silently adding the Sedai.

 

This also happens with Perrin, who gets to be the point of view of two chapters.  The first, “Path Chosen”, is quite simple and doesn’t exactly play on this theme.  It does contrast Egwene and Perrin working together more, with Egwene forcing Perrin to actually take advantage of the horses and not kill himself walking.  Perrin, being the quiet and contemplative type, still doesn’t want to be a bother.  He doesn’t think of himself as a leader, but a follower.  Yet, he is the one to eventually choose the path of the title, the path towards Caemlyn, something that Egwene notices.  Egwene knows he is a leader, and is starting to realize just how out of her own depth she has been, something which will have greater implications for her character.  They come upon Elyas Machera and the wolves.  Elyas is essentially a wanderer in the wilderness: he describes himself as not liking people or especially Aes Sedai due to their thought that his communication with the wolves.  It isn’t connected to the One Power, but the Red Ajah, the group of Aes Sedai most often responsible for gentling (cutting someone off from the One Power) are too superstitious, as is revealed here.  He is a Wolfbrother, something which Elyas describes becoming one such: “The wolves find you, not you them.  Some people thought me touched by the Dark One, because wolves started appearing wherever I went.  I suppose I thought so too, sometimes.  Most decent folks began to avoid me, and the one who sought me out wheren’t the kind I wanted to know, one way or another.  Then I noticed there were times when the wolves seemed to know what I was thinking, to respond to what was in my head.” – The Eye of the World, p. 341.  The sequence ends with Perrin feeling one of the wolves leaving, not seeing it feeling it, indicating that he is a Wolfbrother.  This is in parallel to the previous sequence with Nynaeve, as Perrin, in his own way fears this power.

 

Finally, Rand and Mat on the Spray, a scene which is depicted on the cover featured by this essay.  There are a few things of note here: first, Rand seems to be able to do gymnastics down from the mast while Thom teaches him and Mat gleeman’s tricks.  Rand’s fear is in the dreams, another of which occurs here.  There is this idea that these dreams are using reverse psychology to egg Rand on towards the Eye of the World, though it doesn’t ever explain what that is, leaving it a mystery for if they ever meet up again, as all three parties are resolved on heading towards Caemlyn by the end of this sequence.  There is also the fear that Mat, who has become distant, stole that dagger from Shadar Logoth and blames Rand and Perrin.  Rand also ends the chapter with an interesting thought: “He had to find out.  He had to get to Tar Valon before he went mad” – The Eye of the World, p. 361.  Something is happening to everyone, each character is essentially being forced to confront something unknown (at least consciously unknown) about themselves, and that’s where the beauty is.  Jordan doesn’t make them automatically understand, their judgments are cloudy, their lives are still shifting, and they don’t accept that they have these aspects.  It may not be what Jordan intended, but it resonates through the ages to a lot of minorities and is one of the reasons that The Wheel of Time will last.  Next time, though, we’ll be talking about the travel portion of the book and what it means to be separated from support.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Genesis of the Daleks by: Terry Nation and directed by: David Maloney

 

Genesis of the Daleks stars Tom Baker as the Doctor, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, and Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan with Michael Wisher as Davros, Peter Miles as Nyder, John Scott Martin, Cy Town, and Keith Ashley as Dalek Operators with Dalek Voices by Roy Skelton..  It was written by: Terry Nation and directed by: David Maloney with Robert Holmes as Script Editor and Philip Hinchcliffe as Producer.  It was originally broadcast on Saturdays from 8 March to 12 April 1975 on BBC1.

 

The Daleks throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s had enjoyed something of a renaissance.  1967’s The Evil of the Daleks showed what was meant to be their final end as Terry Nation decided to pitch a Dalek show for an American audience.  It would be repeated in 1968 in what was the first ever repeat of a full serial (“An Unearthly Child” was repeated ahead of the first serial’s second episode due to the low viewership of the original broadcast).  The Daleks would essentially be replaced with the Cybermen as the Doctor’s main recurring foe, though the Ice Warriors and the Great Intelligence would make returns during Troughton and Pertwee’s time as the Doctor after their initial introductions.  This would change in 1972 with Day of the Daleks bringing the Daleks back and invading Earth, however, there was a communications error with Terry Nation when it was found the production office did not give Nation the first right of refusal to write Dalek stories from that point on.  This meant that the next two Dalek stories, Planet of the Daleks and Death to the Daleks, would be written by Nation.  As Dalek stories were popular, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks believed a Dalek story in the twelfth season would assist in the changeover as well as the general ratings boost.  Nation’s original pitch was, like Planet of the Daleks, a rewrite of the very first Dalek story.  Letts and Dicks demanded a rewrite, not wishing to saddle the new production team with a repeat story and incoming script editor Robert Holmes only agreed to continue once Letts spoke to him about what the script would become.  The suggestion was to explore the genesis of the Daleks, and as such the serial was titled Daleks – Genesis of Terror, and later Genesis of Terror.

 

Once the handover to Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes was done, Nation submitted his final scripts for editing by Holmes.  The pair were already less than enthusiastic in making the story, it would be the third story that season to feature a returning monster (though it would be broadcast second).  It would be no surprise than that after this season it would be a near two year gap before a monster would return.  Directing duties were assigned to David Maloney, who had previously directed Planet of the Daleks as well as three Patrick Troughton stories, and he would be responsible for finding the performer for the Daleks’ creator, Davros.  Initial plans were to go with Roy Skelton, who had been providing Dalek voices since The Evil of the Daleks, as well as Cybermen voices in The Tenth Planet and The Wheel in Space alongside Peter Hawkins.  Skelton proved unavailable, though he would return to voice Daleks in the serial, so Maloney approached Michael Wisher who accepted the role.  While Nation’s script was suitably dark for a race born out of nuclear war, it is actually much of Maloney’s directorial skills with Dudley Simpson’s effective score which gives Genesis of the Daleks its emotional weight.  Maloney altered the script in key settings, to ensure that from the first shot the viewer knows that this is a hopeless situation.  The opening shots are of soldiers being gunned down in war before the Doctor finds himself wandering into a warzone.  Much of the first episode is the Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry attempting to get through the wastelands.  This sequence is nail bitingly tense, especially once the Doctor steps on a landmine and has to attempt to step off without setting it off.  Maloney is sublime and while usually there would be a complaint that the first cliffhanger is a Dalek reveal, even though the Daleks are in the title, but as the entire premise is that the Doctor is supposed to be there to avert the genesis, the fact that the genesis has already happened is a surprise.

 


Looking at the premise to avert the creation of the Daleks is an interesting place for the Doctor to actually be in.  The idea is that there will be a time where the Daleks threaten time and even the Time Lords, an idea eventually developed in the revived series as the Last Great Time War, but that isn’t actually an element of Nation’s script, just retroactively becoming involved.  Tom Baker takes on the heavy task so early on in his run as the Doctor of dealing with a morally complex script, as the idea is that the Doctor doesn’t want to actively make this choice at the end.  There of course is the famous speech in Part Six which is the culmination of the five previous episodes’ growth.  The Doctor at every point is subtly trying to avoid the Dalek project from continuing past the initial point, going to the Kaleds outside of Davros and convincing them of the danger, and going to the Thals to save Sarah Jane and possibly find some sense of peace.  This is one of those stories where the Doctor’s actions are obviously futile, though not for the lack of trying.  Nation’s script is smart by making both sides be responsible for great atrocities and every character is morally complex, outside of the Doctor, Sarah, and Harry.  Davros, played by Michael Wisher and Nyder, played by Peter Miles, are the most outright total evil villains, but neither are without their complexities.  Nyder in particular only appears in this story but makes this lasting impression.  He’s just as evil and calculating as Davros and the Daleks, he’s the one who is betraying his own people in aid of Davros’ great plan to keep the Kaleds on the path to survival through the Daleks.  Miles changes his performance on a dime and it is such a brilliant little change in every scene it occurs in.  Wisher as Davros is also chilling as this megalomaniac, going on about how he is going to make sure he has power.  There are several famous speeches which in context are brilliantly written from the villain’s perspective, drawing on truly evil historical figures for the script and performance.  The makeup job on the mask and design of human/Dalek hybrid is brilliant.

 

Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter also have interesting roles to play throughout Genesis of the Daleks, as this could easily have been a story where they are sidelined.  Terry Nation clearly likes Sarah Jane quite a bit as he gives her plenty to do in terms of creating rebellion of prisoners of war and the Mutos living in the wastelands.  She provides this human element throughout the story and provides the negative aspects of humanity when it comes to the Doctor’s decision.  She is the one telling the Doctor that he should wipe out the Daleks, and it is never actually treated as cruel.  It is misguided, perhaps, but it is not treated as cruel or evil.  The rebuttal of course is that even with evil some good must come out of it so if someone was able to go back and change the evil, they should not.  This is also reflective in that the Doctor only ever rejects being active in stopping this, he doesn’t touch the two wires together in the end.  The incubator is delayed when a Dalek trundles over the wires completing the circuit and delaying them.  The end of the serial has the Daleks essentially in the position that they were seen in the very first Dalek story, the city essentially being cut off and the war is essentially over with the Thals trying to rebuild their own society and the rest of the Kaleds being destroyed.  Ian Marter’s Harry Sullivan is also an interesting foil for the Doctor as here he essentially provides human comic relief, but not in an over the top manner.  He is a character who is trying his best to survive and find his friends throughout the story, and just stay with the Doctor to keep things moving.

 

Overall, Genesis of the Daleks is one of those stories that people always bring up when discussing the possible best Doctor Who stories.  While it may not be my personal favorite, it is clearly a contender with perfect direction, music, and performances, and a script which has been carefully crafted to revive the Daleks and give Tom Baker one of his best performances as the Doctor.  This is the story which cements the Fourth Doctor’s characterization and is the first time that everything seems to have clicked and shown where the production team of Hinchcliffe and Holmes would take the show.  10/10.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Eye of the World by: Robert Jordan - Into the Shadow (Chapters 16 to 20)

 

““Here,” Lan said.  He stopped Mandarb in front of what had once been a gate wide enough for fifty men to march through abreast.  Only the broken, vine-encrusted watchtowers remained; of the gates there was no sign.  “We enter here.”  Trolloc horns shrieked in the distance.  Lan peered in the direction of the sound, then looked at the sun, halfway down towards the treetops in the west.  “They have discovered it’s a false trail.  Come, we must find shelter before dark.”  “What name?” Mat asked again.  Moiraine answered as they rode into the city.  “Shadar Logoth,” she said.  “It is called Shadar Logoth.”” – The Eye of the World, p. 274.

 

The idea of the cursed city that the travelers are waylaid to by their encroaching enemies is one straight out of The Lord of the Rings.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, the four hobbits and Strider are sent to Weathertop where they are attacked and Frodo is stabbed.  The entire setting of The Final Empire could be described as a cursed city.  However, it is Robert Jordan’s Shadar Logoth that is perhaps described as the most haunting of these cursed cities.  Jordan creates this atmosphere of dread and sorrow by introducing the history of the city in these chapters: it was once on the side of Manetheren during the Trolloc Wars, bearing the name Aridhol and becoming zealous against the Dark One and his armies.  This zeal would become their downfall as the city became corrupted and fell into its own form of evil, being abandoned and eventually decaying.  An army of the Dark One entered Aridhol after its corruption and never returned, and this is where the party must spend a night to potentially have a pause.  This is not the first time in The Eye of the World Jordan has included something trying to be good and falling into fanaticism as its own form of evil, and will not be with the last.  These chapters also see a grander encounter with the Whitecloaks as the party leaves Baerlon.  It is these two sequences which are the primary makeup this sequence of The Eye of the World and is perhaps the first true look into the fear the Dark One creates and continues that through line of never being able to stop for anything.

 

The sequence in Baerlon ends after Nynaeve al’Meara catches up to the group and has some of her big character moments.  As stated previously, before they left Nynaeve showed just how much care she had for Rand on Winternight, and that standard of care is present here, responding to the claim that they are safer with Moiraine by saying ““Safer!” Nynaeve tossed her head dismissively.  “You are the one who brought them here, where the Whitecloaks are.  The same Whitecloaks who, if the gleeman tells the truth, may harm them because of you.  Tell me how they are safer, Aes Sedai.”” – The Eye of the World, p. 236.  It is at this point where even Thom Merrilin, who was wary of Moiraine, has at least come to her side that Moiraine is the best bet at least until they stop being followed.  Interestingly, Nynaeve, who has already sent for someone to replace her while she is gone, doesn’t ever actively agree to follow the party, instead the conversation ends with her staying at least the night (something she had already planned for) and going to take a bath.  There are hints of softness and quiet as the party is allowed to dance and get to know one another, giving the boys some sense that maybe they can just do this and shows more of the human side to Nynaeve.  Of course, it is later in the night when they are caught and have to flee, causing another encounter with the Whitecloaks.  Moiraine is the one to get them through this encounter, using essentially an illusion and fleeing as the inn they were staying at caught fire.

 

The encounter in Shadar Logoth, which begins with a strict warning to not wander off and not take anything, is an instance of cosmic horror.  There is this figure, Mordeth, who appears and lulls Rand, Mat, and Perrin into a sense of security: he will share treasure if they’ll help him carry it to his cart, before becoming enraged and formless: “Rage twisted Mordeth’s face, and fear too.  His lips pulled back from his teeth.  “Tar Valon!”  He shook his clenched fists at them. “Tar Valon! You said you were going to this . . . this . . . Caemlyn!  You lied to me!”” – The Eye of the World, p. 283.  This is what forces them out of Shadar Logoth, and as such it is at this point where something that every RPG group knows should never be done.  The party is split.  Chapter 20, “Dust on the Wind”, describes the fear and terror as the characters lose their way as well as featuring the first portion of the book not from Rand’s perspective, seeing Perrin escape and find Egwene stumbling through bushes.  Having Perrin’s perspective immediately gives the reader an indication of his skills at writing different perspectives.  Perrin is already more contemplative than Rand, much of this section coming across as waiting and reflected with Egwene, who is only focused on finding the others quickly, thought be damned.  That is an interesting look as it means that the next stretch of the book will be looking at everyone separately:  Perrin and Egwene together, Rand, Mat, and Thom finding their way onto the Spray a ship captained by Bayle Domon, and Nynaeve, Moiraine, and Lan obviously making up the third group together.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Eye of the World by: Robert Jordan - Leavetaking and Foreshadowing (Chapters 10 to 15)

 

“Every few minutes he craned his neck to peer behind while he clung to Cloud’s mane and reins.  The Draghkar. . . . Worse than Trollocs and Fades, Thom had said.  But the sky was empty, and only darkness and shadows met his eyes on the ground.  Shadows that could hide an army.” – The Eye of the World, p. 148.

 

It is perhaps telling that this is the shortest quote that has been opening while this is covering a longer stretch of the book.  This small quote is perhaps the best encapsulation of what the tone of The Eye of the World will be from now.  This is not Frodo, Sam, and Merry slowly and deliberately disappearing from the Shire because the One Ring needs to be destroyed.  Those only familiar with Peter Jackson’s excellent adaptation will perhaps think that The Eye of the World is drawing directly, though that is something that is not in the original novel, just numerous adaptations.  Tolkien’s version of leaving one’s home for an epic quest was essentially a calm affair with urgency, but not fear.  The Eye of the World works on fear and this sequence in particular is one built on fear.  This covers Chapters 10, “Leavetaking”, to 15, “Strangers and Friends”, and even in the back half of this section when they make it through to a safe place, if even for a moment, that safe place has its own threats.  There is this musing on the idea of this being an adventure, like the stories that Rand, Mat, and Perrin heard as children.  They are being attacked on all sides, physically and mentally.

 

The Draghkar adds this element of the air and fact that the boys don’t know who to trust puts this mental strain on everything.  Thom in particular is a source of mistrust, as there is mention of men long dead, all men who could channel and claimed to be the Dragon Reborn: ““You might say the White Tower killd hem.  You might say that.” Thom’s mouth tightened momentarily, then he shook his head again. “But used . . . ?  No, I cannot see that.  The Light knows the Amyrlin Seat has enough plots going, but I can’t see that…I say hold your peace…Don’t tell anyone, for the time, at least.  You can always change your mind, if you have to, but once you tell, it’s done, and you’re tied up worse than ever with . . . with her.” – The Eye of the World, 227-228.  These dreams are important as it is the first time the figure gives a name, Ba’alzamaon, a name for the Dark One.  Now, this will be something which will eventually become clear with what it actually means by the end of this book, but these dreams are essentially a scare tactic, trying to get the boys to go to some place called the Eye of the World using reverse psychology.

 

The entire sequence only sees people mistrusting Aes Sedai: Moiraine and Lan use pseudonyms throughout the traveling sequences and their intentions are clear.  This is the point where the Children of the Light first appear and in this appearance they are simply fanatics, digging into inns where they are convinced Aes Sedai are staying, in a broken clock is right twice a day sort of way.  Mat is the one to provoke them, filling into his trickster archetype, though Rand’s wit comes through claiming that sometimes accidents happen, even to Whitecloaks.  There is also a reappearance of Padan Fain, the peddler from Chapter 3, who disappeared and runs away at the sight of Rand and Mat.  There is one kind face, and that’s Min, who is a young girl who knows Moiraine and Lan, only because she can see the threads of the Pattern of the Wheel of Time when she looks at people.  First and foremost, these foreshadowings here as they pertain to each character, though this is direct from the book and not going to include what the spoilers are:

1.     To the group, sparks and shadow

2.     About Egwene, mutual love with Rand, but neither are for one another, the same as Moiraine’s path (we’ll return to that in a moment)

3.     About Thom, a man, someone else, juggling fire and the White Tower

4.     About Perrin, a wolf, trees, and a broken crown

5.     About Mat, a red eagle, eye on balance, a ruby dagger, a horn, and a laughing face

6.     About Rand, “A sword that isn’t a sword, a golden crown of laurel leaves, a beggar’s staff, you pouring water on sand, a bloody hand and white-hot iron, three women standing over a funeral bier with you on it, black rock wet with blood, lightning all around you, some striking at you, some coming out of you.” – The Eye of the World, p. 216.

Looking at all of these, even the happy ones seem to show dark portents for the future which is paramount to understanding.  Even Min, who is jovial and written as a lot of fun, not understanding and trying to comfort Rand, but she is not really able to do that.  The section leaves all three boys cold.

 

This section is also where we get some genuine time dedicated to Egwene al’Vere.  While she has appeared, it isn’t until now where her character arc actually begins.  She was introduced as apprentice to Nynaeve as Wisdom, but throughout this there is something important as to how she comes along.  She is hiding in the hayloft of the barn, hiding like Thom who similarly pushes his way into the party.  There are protests about both, especially Egwene who Moiraine simply says is part of the pattern.  Egwene through these chapters is essentially a child who doesn’t know what she wants, not yet at least.  “I wouldn’t have known.  Do you think you three are the only ones who want to see outside?  I’ve dreamed about it as long as you have, and I don’t intend to miss this chance” – The Eye of the World, p. 141.  It is important to note the perspective of all of these chapters are Rand’s, we are seeing the world through Rand’s eyes and this means that any fear Egwene feels, something she is feeling, goes underneath the radar.  The reader is meant to think she’s being a bit silly, and later on she is.  She is attracted to getting out and seeing the world, she wants to have an adventure.  She is essentially a Disney princess and this allows her to have her general wanting.  It is at this point where it is revealed that Egwene is able to use the One Power and has the potential to become an Aes Sedai.

 

This sequence sends Rand into a rage, something as he sees Moiraine taking away Egwene’s life, her freedom, and not Egwene realizing something about herself: “Rand’s fingers dug into his knees; his jaws clenched until they hurt.  She has to fail.  She has to.  Light bloomed in the stone, just one flash of blue and gone, no brighter than a firefly, but he flinched as if it had been blinding.  Egwene and Moiraine stared into the stone, faces empty.  Another flash came, and another, until the azure light pulsed like the beating of a heart.  It’s the Aes Sedai, he thought desperately.  Moiraine’s doing it.  Not Egwene.” – The Eye of the World, p. 170-171.  This is something that break’s Rand’s world, but Egwene isn’t entirely innocent.  Throughout this she is the one who becomes excited and is ready to learn, but this causes a paradigm shift within the party.  Egwene is losing innocence, and coming into her own.  The two halves of the One Power are explained in the most outright exposition thus far: saidar is the female half, saidin the male half, and only the female half can be used.  The section also ends on a revelation, that Nynaeve has followed them out of the Two Rivers and the further away the party gets, the more into shadow they become.

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Eye of the World by: Robert Jordan - Breaking Normalcy (Chapter 5 to 9)

 

““Don’t worry,” Rand said…“I’ll get you to Nynaeve just as quick as I can.”  As he went on, as much to reassure himself as for Tam’s benefit, he peeled off his bloodstained shirt, hardly ever noticing the cold in his haste to be rid of it, and hurriedly pulled on the clean one…“We’ll be safe in the village in no time, and the Wisdom will set everything right.  You’ll see. Everything’s going to be all right.”  That thought was like a beacon as he pulled on his coat and bent to tend Tam’s wound.  They would be safe once they reached the village, and Nynaeve would cure Tam.  He just had to get him there.” – The Eye of the World, p. 79.

 

Last time we discussed normalcy in terms of The Wheel of Time as setup and cut the analysis short so this second installment could discuss how normalcy is ripped away.  Starting with the fifth chapter, the normalcy is ripped away when the mythic creatures right out of the stories which mothers told their children to scare them.  Much of the criticism against The Eye of the World is that Jordan stands in the shadow of J.R.R. Tolkien, something he admitted much of the book was an homage to, however, Jordan starts from where Tolkien ends.  The Lord of the Rings includes a point where the Shire, the home of our four main hobbits, is razed to the ground and taken over by Saruman, the human villain.  That is essentially what Jordan does for Emond’s Field here, though the reader only sees it from the secluded perspective of Rand on his farm.  That fifth chapter drips with tension as there are knocks on the door and Tam slipping upstairs to grab a sword, before being attacked by Trollocs.  This is the first time in the book the reader gets a real sense of Rand’s age, he is a child, he only goes into a fight or flight response.  He confronts Narg, a Trolloc who can speak, something which is seen as out of the ordinary and later commented on as something showing the Dark One rising and the reason he, Mat, and Perrin must leave their quiet lifestyle and go on the run.  The threat is coming from outside and encroaching.

 

The idea of an outside threat is also not entirely accurate.  This is the last time for a while where the reader will get interaction with Rand’s father, Tam, and the last things he does is put doubt into Rand’s mind.  Through his delirium he is speaking of a baby in the snow, his wife, and much of the ramblings come to the point that he may not have been from the Two Rivers and left.  He knows something about the Trollocs.  ““I’d not have thought to find a heron-mark sword in a place like this,” Lan said…Strange thing for a sheepherder to buy” – The Eye of the World, p. 106.  Tam introduces concepts in his delirium of the Trolloc Wars and clearly goes outside and his passes that outsider heritage onto Rand, giving him the sword.  He is an outsider hiding among those on Emond’s Field.  It’s also important as Jordan includes, subtly, this idea that the Two Rivers and Emond’s Field has a more complex and deep history as Manetheren.  Chapter 9, “Tellings of the Wheel”, has Moiraine giving the Two Rivers folk a history lesson after deducing that Rand, Mat, and Perrin are what the Trollocs are after.  Manetheren is a land which defended itself “Not a step of ground was given up until it was soaked in blood, but at last the army of Manetheren was driven back, back to here, to this place you now called Emond’s Field.  And here the Trolloc hordes surrounded them.” – The Eye of the World, p. 133-134.  The inciting incident, on the surface, is an attack, but metaphorically it is the reveal that this quiet little town is actually part of the great history and it’s own nation.  This is something which will become more important as the book and series progresses.  Things are changed. 

 

This section of The Eye of the World is also the first point where we get to deal with perspective and assumptions.  As stated previously, the Two River’s folk are generally superstitious, posting the Dragon’s Fang on the door of the Winespring Inn, a mark associated with Lews Therin and the breaking of the world.  This is all because of Moiraine being an Aes Sedai, a group of women believed to be incredibly tricky and possibly evil.  Rand essentially makes a deal with the devil in allowing Moiraine to heal Tam, but he has to leave with her and Lan.  It’s only Moiraine’s speech in the end which gets them to back down.  The reader reads Moiraine as untrustworthy, but only through Rand’s perspective.  Rand, who has dreams specifically telling him not to trust Moiraine from an evil figure and seeing his home destroyed.  There are also little hints that Moiraine actually does have Rand, Mat, and Perrin’s best interests at heart and is clearly caring.  She is just as important for the healing of the Two Rivers as Nynaeve.  Nynaeve’s cold first impression is also different here as she and Egwene both become emotional at the destruction and Rand’s state, starting one little relationship between the characters which we will discuss in future.  Finally, Lan’s first impression is that of a protector and more standoffish than Moiraine.  Moiraine shows herself as more compassionate while Lan is questioning and almost looking down on the Two Rivers folk which is important.  Normalcy has broken and now it’s time to take leave of home and set out on the quest.