Join me for a re-read and review of Chapters 8 and 9 of The Eye of the World – the first book in Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” Series.
Chapter 8: A Place of Safety
Rand, Moiraine, and Lan enter Tam’s room in the Inn. Thom excuses himself to “smoke his pipe in peace” and to make sure nobody steals his Gleeman’s cloak. After Thom leaves, Lan comments that he does not trust Thom because he did not see him in the fray the night before. Bran speaks up. “He was there. His cloak did not get singed in the stable.”
Moiraine asks Bran to leave. Rand pleads to stay while she attempts to heal Tam and she allows it.
Moiraine closed her eyes and placed a hand on Tam’s chest. She remained that way a long while. Rand had expected use of the One Power to be more dramatic. He was startled when Lan broke the silence to comment on his sword.
L: I’d have not thought to find a heron marked sword in a place like this.
R: It belongs to my father. He bought it a long time ago.
Lan explains that the heron mark is a symbol of a master swordsman.
Suddenly a question occurs to Rand. He asks Lan whether they could have prevented what happened in Emond’s Field if he and Moiraine Sedai had known in advance about a man whose horse does not make noise, whose glance makes you afraid, and whose cloak does not move in the wind.
Moiraine answers saying “not without half a dozen of my Sisters.” She goes on.
Had I known when I left Tar Valon that I would find trollocs and myrddraal here, I would have brought half a dozen of my Sisters. A dozen. Even if I had to drag them by the scruffs of their necks. By myself, a month’s warning would have made little difference.
Moiraine blames herself for their lack of preparation. And Lan. She says that they should have been warned by the strange raven they saw when she first met Rand and Mat. Lan tells Rand that the Dark One uses carrion eaters as spies. The raven’s behavior was a clue that it was working as a spy.
Rand notices that Tam looks better. Moiraine says that she has not succeeded yet though she has eased his pain. Tam was injured by a trolloc weapon made in a place called Thankan’dar on the slopes of Shayol Ghul. Wounds from metal made in that place sometimes cannot be healed unaided. She tells Rand she will need to do more before she can complete Tam’s healing.
Moiraine unwraps a figurine and shows it to Rand. She tells him that it is an angreal to aid in her use of the One Power. Rand recognizes the term from the stories. In the stories, angreal are relics from “The Age of Legends” which are now used to aid in the greatest works of Aes Sedai.
Moiraine’s angreal is a figurine the size of her hand, in the shape of a woman with hair down to her shoulders. Moiraine tells Rand that it is well for Emond’s Field that the Amyrlin Seat gave permission for her to take the angreal on her journey to the Two Rivers. She turns and concentrates again on Tam.
Lan tells Rand that the rider he saw was a mydrraal. Rand is shocked. In the stories, “fades are twenty feet tall…” and he trails off. Lan gives him additional information. The stories might exaggerate where a “halfman” is concerned.
Halfman, lurk, fade, shadowman… the name depends on the land you’re in. But they all mean myrddraal. Fades are trolloc spawn, throwbacks to the human stock that the dreadlords used to make the trollocs. Almost. But if the human strain is made stronger, so is the taint that twists the trollocs. Halfman have powers of a kind, the sort that stem from the Dark One.
Lan lets Rand know that the myrddraal are the commanders of trolloc forces. Myrddraal are themselves commanded by Dreadlords. He also lets Rand know that there is no shame in being afraid at a look from a myrddraal. That fear is one of their powers. He tells Rand that in the North, in the Borderlands along the Great Blight, there is a saying:
The look of the Eyeless is fear.
Myrddraal see like eagles in darkness or in light but they have no actual eyes. He and Moiraine tried to kill the myrddraal in Emond’s Field several times the night before but failed. Rand then chimes in with news that “the trolloc said that the myrddraal wanted to talk to me” which shocks Lan. Rand then tells the story of what happened when he returned to the farmhouse to get supplies for his trip through the woods to Emond’s Field.
Just then, Moiraine says “it is done” and asks for Lan’s aid in standing. “A few weeks in bed, and he will be as good as ever.” Rand promises to do *anything* to repay her.
Moiraine says that they can discuss payment if Rand feels it is necessary. She then tells Rand that he will leave at the same time she and Lan leave. Rand assumes she means that the entire village will leave – due to the attacks. Moiraine clarifies that Rand, specifically, must leave.
Lan explains more about the attack from the night before. While several homes were set aflame to create confusion, only a small number of places were actually attacked by trollocs: Rand’s farm, the Aybara farm, the Cauthon home, Master Luhhan’s home, and Master Luhhan’s forge. Moiraine says that the attacks were directed at young men of Emond’s Field of a very specific age. When Rand brings up other young men who saw the black rider, Lan and Moiraine let him know that the homes of those other young men were not attacked. The age range of attacked young men is *very* specific. The “black rider” scouted the village to narrow his targets in advance of the Winternight attacks.
Rand asks the obvious question – why us? Moiraine does not know. She states that Trollocs have not been seen in the Two Rivers in 2,000 years. She says that the answers for why they are there, now, are not to be found in the Two Rivers.
In one of you – or all three – there is something that The Dark One fears.
Moiraine tells Rand that the myrddraal and the trollocs will be back. Rand realizes that if he stays, if the Two Rivers organizes and fights back against the invaders, and even if they get reinforcements from outside lands, his home district will be ruined in the struggle. He cannot risk his home on the hope that Moiraine might be wrong. Therefore, he, Perrin, and Mat have to leave in order to draw the pursuit away from their home. Moiraine suggests that there is a place of safety – Tar Valon – the home of the Aes Sedai.
Rand wants to say goodbye to Tam before they leave. Moiraine says that Tam will likely not have waken before they leave. She plans for that to be tonight after full dark. She suggests that he leave Tam a note. They want to leave at night to make the myrddraal’s pursuit more difficult.
Moiraine suggests that Rand eat and then get some sleep before their journey later. She and Lan leave the room.
Sometime later, Mistress al’Vere and her husband Bran bring food into the room where Rand is waiting with Tam. Rand asks the Mayor how many farms were attacked. The mayor answers that two were – including Rand’s place. Rand then asks about the attack on the village and the mayor again unwittingly confirms Moiraine and Lan’s information.
Mistress al’Vere allows Rand to sleep on the floor next to Tam. Rand decides to stay awake until Tam wakes up so that he can talk to him about what has transpired. However, he soon falls asleep.
Despite not leaving Tam’s room for the entirety of the chapter, we learn a lot of new information.
- Lan does not trust Thom.
- Rand’s sword *is* a special sword and Tam might be a master swordsman based on its heron markings. (That would explain how he fought off all the trollocs only taking a scratch.)
- The Black Riders was a myrddraal. We also learn about myrddraal more generally. They are trolloc spawn? Trollocs… spawn… with each other? Eww.
- Dreadlords are the next rung up the bad guy chain of command from myrddraals. We have not met one of those, yet.
- The Dark One uses crows, ravens, and rats as spies.
- The peddler – Padan Fain – is missing, assumed to be dead, and is possibly now… eaten.
- Angreal are objects that aid a channeler of the One Power in using even more of said One Power. Moiraine has one.
- Moiraine’s Aes Sedai boss is called The Amyrlin Seat.
- The Aes Sedai home is Tar Valon.
- The Dark One is after one of – or all three of – Rand, Mat, and Perrin.
- Rand, Mat, and Perrin need to flee The Two Rivers – for Tar Valon – in order to protect their district from further attacks.
- The three boys need to flee later today after full dark.
Chapter 9: Tellings of the Wheel
Rand is running in a desolate land with large boulders, jagged hills, and swirling black and silver clouds. Despite the clouds, there is no breeze. Trollocs are chasing him. He approaches the edge of a sheer cliff and below a 1,000 foot drop. A gray silvery mist shines on the floor of the canyon below. Lightning cracks the sky. Occasional flashes of red break the the mist as though magma is simmering beneath. Breaking through the mist at the bottom of the cliff is a distant mountain, taller than any he has ever seen. The mountain is black. Rand can remember the mountain tough he has never seen it before. He feels pulled toward the mountain.
Suddenly he feels something else. Anger. He refuses to be moved. Then he hears a whisper in the stillness of his mind. “Serve me.” The voice is familiar. As the voice becomes insistent, Rand shouts, “the Light consume you, Shai’tan.” Then a figure loomed over Rand with a cloak the color of dried blood. The figure reached toward Rand so he flung himself off the cliff.
Rand finds himself on winter grass. Another mountain looms in the distance. It stands alone on a plain with no other mountain in sight. A broad river flowed not far from the mountain. On an island in the middle of the river was a city as beautiful as any from a Gleeman’s tale. Rand walked toward the shining walls and was certain he would find safety there. Rand felt the figure from before appear behind him. He ran toward the city but it began to recede away from his reach. Soon it was only a speck on the horizon. As the pursuer reached for him, he fell, and shouted.
Rand’s face smacks paving stones and he is now on one of the bridges he saw moments earlier in the beautiful city. The streets are crowded with people speaking words he does not understand, though he feels as if he should understand. Rand walks with the people into the city. He sees ahead, on the street he is now walking, a tall White Tower. He knows that safety is in that tower. The city is so wondrous that Rand decides to take a detour to look around. As he turns down an alley, the tall White Tower remains in front of him. He turns another corner, and another, and each time the tower is in front of him. The people on the street are gesturing him toward the tower pleadingly. When he relents and begins the walk toward the tower, the people begin to sing, dance, and throw flower petals in front him.
Rand arrives at the tower. A voice whispers “it is your destiny.” He continues onward. As he enters, the doors crash behind him and suddenly myrddraal voices whisper, “we have been waiting for you.”
Rand wakes up. Tam is still sleeping on the bed. His side hurts from being jabbed by the sword hilt that he neglected to take off as he went to sleep. He finds a tray of food at the table and begins to eat ravenously. When Rand finishes eating, he touches his father’s forehead and Tam opens his eyes. After realizing that the events of the previous night were not a bad dream, Tam asks Rand about the farm. Rand filled him in about everything. Almost everything. He does not mention Tam’s fever dreams.
Rand tells Tam about what Moiraine said regarding himself, Perrin, and Mat. Tam sharply asks Rand to relay what she said as closely to verbatim as Rand is able.
You see, lad, Aes Sedai are tricksome. Now they don’t lie – not right out. But the truth an Aes Sedai tells you is not always the truth you think it is.
Tam then says that he should be going with them. Rand is surprised and had assumed that Tam would try to talk them out of going. Tam gives more advice about watching what he says to any Aes Sedai and to listen carefully to what he is told. Tam also advises Rand that anything he says to Lan is as good as said to Moiraine because they are bonded.
Tam asks when they must leave and Rand explains that they must leave tonight. Tam will not be able to go because he will be bedridden for a couple of weeks. Lan knocked on the door and told Rand to say his goodbyes quickly because there may be trouble. Rand began to unbuckle the sword belt but Tam told him to keep it. After a hug and a goodbye, Rand leaves the room.
Mat is waiting outside the room with a bow in hand and a quiver at his waist. The three men go look outside where they find Moiraine facing down a crowd of villagers with torches. Hari Coplin, Darl Coplin, Bili Congar, Cenn Buie, and others are in the crowd. Hari shakes his fist at Moiraine and shouts at her to leave Emond’s Field. They accuse her of bringing the monsters on Winternight. Abruptly Hari shouts, “get out, or we’ll burn you out.” Dead silence followed.
After another shout of “get out,” the Mayor and Harral Luhhan emerge from the crowd.
Did someone suggest burning my Inn?
The Congars and Congars begin to back down. Bran asks if they threatened to harm guests in his Inn. Hari shouts “she’s an Aes Sedai” at the Mayor, but he was cut off before he can say more by the burly blacksmith, Harral Luhhan, stretching, cracking his knuckles, and folding his arms beneath his chest.
Bran begins berating the townspeople in the crowd who were healed by Moiraine just the night before. “If you have no gratitude, have you no shame?” The men in front fall back into the crowd. But safely in the crowd once more, a few shout “why did they come if not for her?”
Suddenly Moiraine starts to whirl her vine-carved staff above her head. A flame emerged from each end of the staff. “Is this what Aemon’s blood has come to?… Little people squabbling for the right to hide like rabbits? You have forgotten who you were.”
Moiraine tells them that their region was once home to a mountain city so wondrous that 2,000 years ago, Ogier stone masons came to stare in wonder. Manetheren. Their king was Aemon al Caar al Thorin. Eldrene was his Queen. The Trolloc Wars ravaged the world for two centuries and the Red Eagle of Manetheren was always in the forefront of the fighting wherever that fighting occurred.
The men of Manetheren were a thorn to the Dark One’s foot and a bramble to his hand.
During the days of King Aemon, the men of Manetheren heard news that a Trolloc army moved against their home while the army was far away fighting. It seemed that they were too far away to get home to help. Nevertheless, they marched. Despite the distance, the army moved more swiftly than seemed possible. When the trolloc army arrived at the river crossing into Manetheren, the army was there, too, with their back to their river.
The trolloc army numbered in the tens of tens of thousands with dreadlords to command. They carried the banner of Ba’alzamon at their head. Ba’alzamon means “the heart of the Dark” and is an ancient name for the Dark One. The army of the Dark One was more than Manetheren could defeat alone. Aemon sent out pleas for aid and it was promised if the army could hold for three days. Against an army that should have overwhelmed them in an hour, Manetheren held for three days and prevented the forces of the Shadow from crossing the river. No help came. Manetheren fought on for seven more days before it was clear that he had been betrayed. No help was coming.
The army of Manetheren crossed the river and destroyed the bridged behind them. Aemon sent word for his people to flee. Queen Eldrene organized the flight. But most of the people of Manetheren joined the army in the fight with whatever tools and weapons they could find. Slowly the army of King Aemon was driven back to a place now called Emond’s Field. Eventually the army of Manetheren was destroyed down to the last man. When King Aemon died, Queen Eldrene felt him die. She was an Aes Sedai Queen. Driven by grief, she channeled more of the One Power than was safe. She channeled enough to kill the remaining Dreadlords. She channeled enough to set them all aflame. The army of the Shadow fled. They were hunted down and killed by other peoples once they fled Manetheren. Queen Eldrene died as the enemy generals died. The fire that killed her, and the enemy generals, also burned the city of Manetheren down to the ground.
But some of the people had been saved.
In the subsequent years, the people who lived saw their corner of the world forgotten. Manetheren never rose again but the people continued to hold the land.
Weep for Manetheren. Weep for what is lost forever.
One by one, the crowd began to apologize and disperse. Lan tells Rand and Mat that it’s time to go. Rand tells himself that he will come back to Emond’s Field someday, however far or long the journey is.
This could have been two chapters instead of just one. Rand’s dream has the feel of something either symbolic or prophetic. His goodbye to Tam again lets us know that Tam has a lot more experience in the outside world than Rand has been led to believe.
Given that the entire book has been a Rand POV so far, given that Rand is apparently an Outlander, given that he has the special sword from his father, and given that dream sequence, I feel it’s pretty safe to assume that Rand is the one that the Dark One is after.
I am glad that Rand was able to say goodbye to Tam before leaving.
The second half of this chapter is fantastic. Moiraine’s history lesson would have felt info-dumpy in the hands of a lesser writer than Robert Jordan… but it did not. It was magic. This is the kind of chapter that shifts readers from being interested in the story toward being fanatical fans of the universe in which the story is written.
General substantive thoughts about things:
- The bad guy from Rand’s dream, in the blood red cloak, seems like a level up from a myrddraal. Even during my first read of this series, I was pretty sure I would be seeing him again.
- I think this is the chapter where we really confirm that Aes Sedai cannot lie outright. But they are famous for bending the truth to their own advantage.
- Warder bonding comes up twice. Lan is bonded to Moiraine and gets extra strength, endurance, healing ability, and the ability to sense creatures of the shadow when they are close (which is why Lan and Moiraine were the first to realize Emond’s Field was under attack.) We also find out that King Aemon was probably bonded to Queen Eldrene – which is how she knew he died from a great distance.
- This isn’t really an issue in the United States, where I live, but I am fascinated by the idea of a place being so old that the people who live there have forgotten where the name of their town/city originates. I would guess that places on earth, with a long-forgotten town name origin story, do not have one as epic as Emond’s Field.
- Some fun with names: Aemon al Caar al Thorin. I think you can pull al’Thor from that pretty easily. Maybe the al’Thors are descendants. But what about Cauthon (Mat’s surname)? That one fits, too. Over time, Caar al Thorin becomes CaarThorin which becomes Cathorn which then becomes Cauthon.