Reading the Wheel of Time: Many Worlds, One Wheel in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 8)

This week while I was reading the Wheel of Time, I learned that I didn’t understand the Schrödinger’s cat theorem as well as I thought it did. Granted, I am not really a math and science person, and I’m still not sure I understand what quantum superposition is except in the very broadest sense, but what I do now understand is that Schrödinger’s thought experiment ultimately suggests the many worlds interpretation of physics over the idea of waveform collapse; Basically, Schrödinger was trying to say that every possible outcome of an event creates a new universe, and that there are an infinite number of universes created by every possible outcome.

How does this relate to The Great Hunt? you might ask. (Well, you’re probably not asking that because you’ve already read this weeks’ chapters, but please permit me the rhetorical device.) This week, Rand, Loial, and Hurin have accidentally ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: A Weaving of Themes in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 7)

Hello hello, Wheel of Time fans! This week we’re tackling Chapters 11 and 12 of The Great Hunt. They have auspicious names too, “Glimmers of the Pattern” and “Woven in the Pattern,” but they are definitely more about set up than important action moments. This makes sense, when I think about it; seeing glimmers of the pattern shows what is being woven, i.e. what is yet to come.

One of the story-telling techniques I really love in fiction in general–and am finding that I enjoy in Jordan’s work, specifically–is when character’s journeys parallel each other in unexpected ways. We saw some of that in The Eye of the World, as Perrin struggled with being a wolfbrother while Nynaeve dealt with the discovery of her own abilities, and as Rand and Mat traveled together while each was under a burden (Mat’s dagger and Rand’s unknown channeling) that he wasn’t ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Darkfriends and Dark Purposes in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 6)

Week 6 of reading The Great Hunt has been an interesting one, and although I have lots of musings and questions, I don’t have a lot of profound observations or a unifying theory for the section, although I did take note of the chapter icons this time around. Chapter 9, “Leavetakings,” has the Tar Valon teardrop flanked by little suns, and Chapter 10 “The Hunt Begins” has a horn for its icon. I guess that’s what the Horn of Valere looks like; I had pictured it looking more old-fashioned, like a viking horn or the way bugles looked before they added valves. But this is more complex in shape than I had imagined, more like a French Horn (also before they added valves. Wikipedia informs me that this is called a natural horn)

But before I get too far down into the depths of wikis on ancient brass instruments, let’s ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Facing Fate on Your Feet in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 5)

Last week I incorrectly labeled the post as Part 3 when in fact it was Part 4, which makes this Part 5 of the read of The Great Hunt. Somehow I can’t believe it’s been five weeks already!

After how dense the last recap and analysis was, I’ve decided to slow it down a bit and just focus on one chapter this week—the very important Chapter 8: “The Dragon Reborn.” I suppose, given the title, I should have expected the way that the chapter unfolded, but Jordan actually surprised me here. I really thought that there would be more of a slow burn for Rand’s realizations of himself over the course of the book; granted, just because he’s been told some things doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to struggle with before he gets to a place where he might feel comfortable accepting his true identity.

Rand walks through ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Literal Writing on the Wall in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 3)

It’s been a while since I missed my stop on the subway because I was engrossed in a good book. If memory serves, it was almost 5 years ago, when I got caught up in the imagery of C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra, but this week I have to admit, Jordan got me. And I was quite late to my appointment.

There is so much in the early chapters of The Great Hunt that, despite interludes of action, it gets very much into info-dump territory at times. I find I don’t really mind reading it, but it does get tedious to recap, especially since this is a first read and a lot of the new information the reader is given is only part of a whole, that will be revealed at a later date. I hope everyone will bear with me as I do my best not to gloss over ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Stones on a Board in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 3)

A packed two chapters await us this week in the third installment of the Reading of The Great Hunt. We begin to see the machinations of Tar Valon, and how they are not nearly as united as the people outside the Tower might assume, learn more about politics, and witness several characters sneaking off on their own agendas.

I am very excited to see chapters from Moiraine! It’s different to see part of this story from the perspective from the character who, at least so far, seems to have the most knowledge of what is going on. It was also interesting to watch Jordan manipulate his close third person narration in order to show us Moiraine’s thoughts without giving too much away, and it was very interesting to discover that she and the Amyrlin have a secret plan that no one knows about.

Speaking of the Amyrlin, it took me ...

Reading The Wheel of Time: Dragons and Amyrlins in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 2)

Welcome to Week Two of The Great Hunt. We get some good world building this week, and a lot of running around Fal Dara. I enjoyed the way that these chapters did a lot of world building for Fal Dara, but also combined it with a sense of suspense that upped the interest and the stakes for the reader. We learn a little more about Shinaran customs such as the fact that men and woman might bathe together and yet their apartments are kept strictly separate, just how much respect the Aes Sedai and the Amyrlin Seat have in Shinar, and that the prefix “al” denotes royalty in their language. We also learn that people are really dumb about Padan Fain.

Chapter 1 opens with strange wind rising over the Mountains of Dhoom, flowing over the Blight and into the land of Shienar, where it finds Rand al’Thor atop a ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: A Masked Plot in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 1)

There is a challenge to writing the opening chapters of the second novel in a series. The early pages have to meet the expectations of those readers who loved the first installment and have been eagerly awaiting the second, but it also must be intriguing and not too alienating for someone just discovering the author’s work for the first time.  Once an author is several books into a beloved series, faithful readers might tolerate a slow start to a book, and someone just picking up book four or five won’t expect to be able to jump in and understand everything. But a second book is a real test for a series, I think, to see how it can stand up, how it can draw new interest and build a single novel, even a good one, into a story that reaches far beyond its origins.

If I picked up The Great ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Green Man and Creation in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 19)

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Well this is it. Part 19 of Reading The Wheel of Time, covering Chapters 50 and 51. There will be a part 20 next week, but this is the section in which all the action goes down. I have to admit, I had a difficult time recapping this one; when a chapter is mostly action it just starts to feel like I’m just plagiarizing the actual narration, and there’s a lot, particularly in Chapter 51, that is both complicated and unexplained. Also, I went on a sidetrack thinking about the Green Man. His death made me so sad.

Everyone follows the Green Man, and Rand is in awe of him even as he wonders uneasily what the Green Man meant when he called him “Child of the Dragon.” He also notices Perrin walking as far away from the Green Man as possible.

Despite Rand’s uneasiness, however, the peace ...

Reading The Wheel of Time: When Need is Greatest in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 18)

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Welcome, welcome to Week 18! This week Reading The Wheel of Time covers Chapters 48 and 49. We ride with Lan into the Blight and we will see monsters and green men and trees that would put the ones in Oz to shame. At the edge of the climactic battle, our heroes are drawn together, to thoughts of how the future could be happier, and who they want near them. And the Green Man gives us hope in a decaying land.


A note about comments: Before we get started just a little info (in case anyone missed it last week) about what we’re doing vis-à-vis spoilers and comments for the Read. Comments pointing out things I may have missed in chapters are very welcome as long as your comment doesn’t give away future events that Jordan later explains clearly to the reader. I’d love to chat about important information ...

Reading The Wheel of Time: The Beauty of Simplicity in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 17)

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My dear friends we are getting so close to the end! Only a few more posts until the conclusion of this book, and I. Cannot. Wait. It’s too much suspense for one poor reader.

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time we are going to cover Chapters 46 and 47, which are slower chapters after all the terrifying adventure in the Ways. But I found them a particular pleasure to read nonetheless; there’s some really tight and beautiful narration, we get some backstory for Lan, and most importantly: I was right about Padan Fain!

Leaving the Waygate, Rand and company find themselves in Shienar, in the Borderlands. There are rolling hills and mostly dead trees, a few of which are even split open as if struck by lightning. Lan explains that in the area, it can get so cold that the sap of the tree actually freezes, causing the ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Learning Courage in the Darkness in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 16)

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Welcome back to Reading The Wheel of Time, my friends! This week we’re covering Chapters 44 and 45, “The Dark Along the Ways” and “What Follows in Shadow”. It’s been a bit since The Eye of the World heavily reminded me of its The Lord of the Rings homaging (other than all the innkeepers, but that appears to be a continual adventure all on its own). But we definitely get a bit of that “mines of Moria” feeling this week. I compared Shadar Logoth to Moria before, and I think that there is certainly a comparison to be made between Mashadar and the Black Wind, although the Black Wind seems to be at least a somewhat sentient entity, rather than the mindless force of Mashadar, which makes it even more dangerous. Mashadar can’t chase you deliberately, but Machin Shin will, apparently, delight in it.

Chapter 44 opens with Master ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Almost Everything Finally Gets Explained in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 15)

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And so we arrive at Week 15 of Reading The Wheel of Time! It’s a wordy one this week, lots of exposition, and my fingers are tired from typing it all out! Still, despite these chapters being a bit of an info dump, it’s been really nice to get some clarity on certain events, and I am quite happy to see the gang all back together again.

Rand runs all the way back to the inn, and goes straight to the library to find Master Gill, who is playing stones with Loial. He tells them everything, except what Elaida whispered to him and the fact that Gawyn thought that he looked like an Aielman. After hearing everything, Gill tells Rand that he can no longer sit in Caemlyn waiting for his friends: if Elaida decides to search for him it won’t take longer than two days for the Queen’s Guards ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Two Rivers or Aielman in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 14)

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Welcome once and again to Reading the Wheel of Time. This week, week 14, we’re going to cover Chapters 39 and 40, in which Rand gets himself into one heck of a pickle. Seriously, if Mat is the Pippin of the group, then this is Rand’s Frodo moment of climbing up onto the table to sing and accidentally putting the ring on in front of everyone at the Prancing Pony. It seems like Rand just generally wants to climb up onto high things, and it is usually a bad idea that attracts attention he definitely does not want.

We’re also going to see a lot more Arthurian-sounding names from Jordan, and get to know a little more about politics in Caemlyn. While working on the recap, I was particularly struck by the chapter titles of 39 and 40: “Weaving of the Web” and “The Web Tightens”. Until now the chapter ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Bonds of Wolves and Warders in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (Part 13)

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Welcome welcome esteemed readers, to Week 13 of Reading the Wheel of Time. Today we’re going to cover Chapters 37 and 38 of The Eye of the World, one from Nynaeve’s POV and one from Perrin’s, and it’s a really fun little adventure rescuing Perrin and Egwene from the Whitecloaks. I have definitely been wondering how they were going to get away when they were so outnumbered, turns out it’s through Aes Sedai and Warder heroics and some good old fashioned sneaking from Nynaeve.

Chapter 37 opens with Nynaeve in her usual miffed mood, sulking because she’s been left to look after the horses while Moiraine and Lan scout ahead. She thinks back on their journey out of Whitebridge, how Moiraine finally decided to go after the one boy who still had his coin, repeating her mantra of “as the Wheel weaves” as they left the road and struck ...

Reading the Wheel of Time: Can You Lucid Dream in Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World? (Part 12)

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Hello readers! Did you notice the byline at the top of the page? (Don’t worry, it’s still me, not my brother taking over the read or anything. I don’t even have a brother!) I’ve changed my name! Think of it like when your favorite soda brand does a redesign; new look, same great content!

Here’s hoping, anyway.

Today, in Part 12 of Reading The Wheel of Time, I’d like us to cast our minds back to the terrible dreams that have been afflicting our three young heroes on their journey towards a hopeful reunion in Caemlyn. Perrin, Rand, and Mat have all suffered from dreams of Ba’alzamon since those terrible visions of dead rats back in the Stag and Lion. (Although since we have yet to get any story from Mat’s point of view, we don’t have quite the same detail to analyze from him that we have ...