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This week we read the prologue through to the end of Chapter 7.
1) The prologue is a pretty bleak and dark place. Then we enter Two Rivers and meet the young folk, mostly farmers. Do you think these two very different scenes show the bookends of the spectrum we can expect for the book?
In many ways, the Prologue is kind of depressing because it suggests that whatever happens to our characters will have no effect upon the endless repetitions of the Wheel of Time. This creates the impression that fate is heavily involved with what will happen, but that there is a certain inevitability to the outcome of any attempts to avoid the Dragon being reborn and destroying the world again. It also makes us realize how fragile the peace of Two Rivers is when we first see it; just as the Shire thinks that it is well away from any bother created by Sauron.
I do not expect there to be much more of the peace and quiet that we see in Two Rivers. I predict that there will be a great deal of death and destruction, with a few moments of rest before the next terror arrives. I hope that we do have a few happy moments, but I expect them to be few and far between.
2) Overall are you enjoying the level of description and the portent telling (the crow, the black-robed man on horseback, etc.)?
The level of description seems to be about right. I like to have enough detail to create an image of where the characters are and what they look like, but some authors can go on a little bit too much. Mr Jordan gives us a good balance of world building whilst also including hints of darkness that make us as uneasy as the characters that we are following. This is much more satisfying than having a sudden, unheralded attack, which can often seem cliché. It also appeals to my logical mind that an attacker would want to identify the individual targets rather than simply slaughtering the whole village. This shows that we are not dealing with a stupid foe, and is far more scary than random violence.
3) What do you think the story is for Rand and Egwene up to this point?
It seems like your fairly typical teenage romance. I like the way that they banter, both unable to express their feelings, with Rand all tongue-tied and hopeless and Egwene much more aware of what is happening but frustrated that he never says what she wants. She wants him to sweep him off her feet, like the hero in a story, but he can hardly string two words together and so she gets angry and tries to provoke him by threatening to leave the village. He is just confused by her mixed messages and, in a normal love story, he would eventually surprise her by giving her a good kissing and they would live happily ever after.
4) The story takes a most serious turn once the trollocs attack the al'Thor farmstead. It also raises plenty of questions about Tam's past. Care to guess on what some of that past is?
The heron sword is obviously not just some random sword that he picked up in a market, especially as he seems able to wield it quite well. I would guess that he used to be a trained soldier, which fits with some of the things he was mumbling. This is also backed up by his reaction to the trolloc attack, where he immediately knows how to protect the house and does not run around in a panic, which is what the other villagers appear to have done.
His talk of finding a baby on a battlefield explains Rand’s unusual height and grey eyes, which show that he is not of the same stock as the other locals in Two Rivers. It would make sense that he would save a baby found on a battlefield, and take it home if he and his wife were childless. From the way he talks of that particular battle, it sounds like it was the final, decisive confrontation of a war, so it would be the perfect opportunity to leave the army and start life as a peaceful family.
I would assume that the other Village Councilmen know something of Tam’s pass. They will certainly know that he is either not from Two Rivers or that he went away to war and came home with a wife and child. His wife was supposed to be from elsewhere, so that might have explained Rand’s unusual coloring, although we do not know what color eyes she had. It will be interesting to know if anyone actually knows about Rand’s real past, or the fact that he is not Tam’s son.
5) Chapter 7 leaves us with many questions, like Rand has many questions: Why trollocs? What was his father going on about in his fever? Who are Moraine and Lan and why are they really in Two Rivers? Will Tam survive? Which of these (or other) questions are you most anxious to see answered in the coming chapters?
I doubt that Tam will survive, as he seems beyond Nynaeve’s help and she is obviously a talented healer. However, Moiraine might be able to save him, but we do not know the extent of her skills yet; being able to throw lightening bolts does not mean that she can even heal a cat scratch.
It would appear that both Moiraine and the trollocs are searching for young people of Rand’s approximate age, although I am not sure if this a general search across the whole country or if they have come to Two Rivers for some specific reason. The mention of only lads of a certain age seeing the black rider seems very ominous, as does the trolloc’s assertion that the rider wanted to question Rand. We also know that Moiraine gave Mat and Rand a different coin from Ewin, who is several years younger, and it seems that they could have a sort of beacon or binding effect.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we will need to wait to get answers to all our questions, as Moiraine does not seem the type to give out more information than she needs to. Also, if Tam does not survive, we may never know precisely what he was talking about.