I’m hoping to be able to do more than one post per book, but I’d already started EYE OF THE WORLD when I finally got time to write this. I’ll probably only do one post for the first book, then, which is a tragedy, since it has long been one of my favorites of the series. I also feel that it will be VERY important to writing Book Twelve. The Wheel turns; ages become new again and ideas return. I feel that the last book of the series should have numerous hearkenings back to this first book; that will give a sense of closure to this section of the Pattern and fit with the motif of the Wheel’s turning.
That’s just my gut instinct, and I’m not promising anything specific or even referencing material from the Twelfth Book. I’m only speaking of my general feelings as a writer, but Mr. Jordan’s notes are far more important than any of my instincts.
As I read through this first book again, I was shocked by how well he had foreshadowed the later books in the series. This is the first time I’m reading WHEEL OF TIME all the way through as a professional novelist. I see things differently than I once did. I know how difficult it is to foreshadow across an entire series, and am frankly astounded by how well Mr. Jordan laid the groundwork for his future books. Min’s prophesies are one great example, but equally potent is Mr. Jordan’s use of mythology and story as a means of preparing the reader for events such as the Great Hunt, future interactions with the Aiel (and the People’s relationship with them), and the coming of the Seanchan.
As I read, I also found myself having a very odd reaction. You see, when I first read these books, I was a teenage boy. It’s not odd, then, that I would empathize with Rand, Mat, and Perrin. Each previous time I read through the series, my major sympathies focused on them. I remember being frustrated by how much Nynaeve and Moiraine kept them out of the loop, ordering them around and not telling them anything.
Now I’m older. It has been years since I’ve read through these early books. Strangely—almost traitorously—I find myself looking on Rand, Mat, and Perrin as…well, reckless teenagers. I’m still very affectionate toward them and interested in their stories. Yet, every time they do something dumb (like run off in Shadar Logoth without telling anyone) I find myself wanting to scream at them “You wool-headed fools!”
Instead I find that…brace yourselves…Nynaeve is my favorite character in this book. I always found her annoying in a bossy-older-sister kind of way before. Now, she’s the character closest to me in age, and I can see her motivations and feel for her plight. In my opinion, she’s one of the most heroic people in this book, as she left the Two Rivers on her own (despite the recent attack) and tracked the others out further than she’d ever been before. Rand and the other boys have no choice but to do as told, buy Nynaeve could have gone home at any time. Instead, she stayed—all because of her determination to help protect those from the Two Rivers. She’s trapped between the boys thinking she’s bossy, but Moiraine treating her practically like a child. (Well, not really, but you know what I mean.) She’s got it rough, but she keeps on going.
I have to say, I’m impressed again with Mr. Jordan. It’s hard to write these posts without sounding like a base sycophant. Yet, if you’re an aspiring author, might I suggest that what he did here is something to study? He’s managed to craft a book which not only appeals to the teenage readers who see themselves in Egwene or one of the boys, he’s inserted characters who think and feel in a way that appeals to other audiences as well. I suspect this is part of why the books work so well. Perhaps after aging a little more and raising children of my own, I will find myself thinking more like Moiraine. (Though, to be honest, she’s always been one of my favorite characters. Still is.)
So, there you have it. Brandon’s favorite character of this book: Nynaeve. And I still think that’s really strange. Next week, I’ll give my reactions to THE GREAT HUNT.