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jameson (ST)

The WoT Cycle Re-read #4

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Issue #4: Eye of the World chapter 1

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

Chapter 1, paragraph 1, of book 1. Damn I got a chill when I read that. I can recall the first time I read it thinking that if this wasn't the beginning then what was? Now I look at it and think that not only is it one of the better opening salvos in fiction, but also one of the things I love about the series. The re-used of this opener for subsequent books, with minor modification to suit the specifics, strongly links the books together, reinforces the cyclical nature of the series, and helps pull the reader in. It's like meeting up with an old friend for the first time in years and finding that everything you had in common before still applies.

And the rest of chapter 1 doesn't disappoint either. We get a rather bleak set-up of a winter that has gone well past when it should. Spring is a month or more past due and the usual Spring time festivities are approaching while the Two Rivers are gripped in the lingering grasp of Winter. The narration swoops up down out of the mountains, over the hills and into the forest where we catch up with two men, a horse, and a cart. Rand al'Thor. It is, of course, fitting that Rand is the first character we meet, but after so long away from these books it is still a reassuring thing.

As they walk Rand looks behind him and sees a rider, in black, on a black horse, who's features are all hidden. Rand gets the feeling, an instinct made palpable that this "man" hates him. Wants to kill him. It freaks him out. Rand's father doesn't see him and the boy is disturbed enough to dismiss the idea of checking for tracks because he wants it to be his imagination working with the season. The fact that the rider's clothes were undisturbed by the wind makes it easier.

Myrddraal? In the first 10 pages?! I had totally forgotten about that. Knowing what they are and having a hazy memory of the events to come the anticipation and tension is there for me. And I have always felt RJ was at his best when there was urgency and tension in the narrative.

We enter into the village and begin to get a feel for the texture of the place. Rand and his father stop at the Inn to deliver their goods and while the men discuss matters that are not yet relevant to the story we meet Mat. Fuck yes! Mat saw the rider too, and was equally as freaked out as Rand, but despite everything both boys are reluctant to say anything to their parents, after all it seems unreal. With nothing more than the word of Rand and the village's prankster Mat none of the adults is likely to give it second thought anyways. Well, perhaps Tam, but I only say that with the benefit of foresight; because I know damn well that there is more to Tam al'Thor than we have been given thus far.

Wrapping up with talk of fireworks and gleemen (as an aside RJ actually makes the much ridiculed Bard archetype awesome, which is something to thank him for) the chapter closes with Rand's thoughts on a woman, which at the time could not possibly have been foreshadowing of just how tangled his life would become because of women... or was it?

If you want to see a list of the other Blogs in this series click on the tags below this thread's title.

Prior Blog Things:

The WoT Cycle Re-read #1

The WoT Cycle Re-read #2

The WoT Cycle Re-Read #3

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One thing you can never underestimate with Jordan is foreshadowing. According to statements he made and that Sanderson has confirmed. The very first thing he wrote of the series was it's final scence. That is one reason I am looking forward to the final book, Jordan himself wrote the final bit of Rands battle at Tarmon gaidon. I think I read it in one of his Q&A sessions, he said that he had a dream in which he vividly saw that final scene, and that inspired him to write the series.

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And it is very possible that RJ planned for Rand to have women trouble at every turn. It's also possible, given that the Wheel of Time was originally intended to be a trilogy and not a ... um ... quattuordecology (i think?) ... that this is a case of after the fact foreshadowing.

I don't fancy myself a literary scholar, so a lot of the time I'll be guessing at what was intended to be foreshadowing and what wasn't. Kinda like a good prophecy where a reader can usually shoehorn meaning into it afterwards.

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