Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Eye of the World, chapters eight, nine, and ten, in which they bravely run away

I cannot believe how fast this book goes by, despite being a massive brick.  It doesn't ask to be engaged with at all, and the prose is pretty poetic at times, so it's really, really easy to skim through and not miss anything.  Plus so far all the characters have been recapping everything that happens to them at least twice, so if you do somehow manage to miss something, you get a second chance later on.  This is the essence of shut-your-processor-off fantasy.

The Eye of the World: p. 104--147
Chapter Eight: A Place of Safety

When I was in high school (I have now been out of school for as long as I was in school, which is very weird) I knew a guy who summed up his abandonment of the Wheel of Time by saying "Let me guess what happens in the next book: they're going to talk some more".  The quantity of unnecessary dialogue in this book really is spectacular.  It's like stream-of-consciousness writing, the type that is supposed to get edited later.  I'm sure to some readers it creates a sense of realism and makes it feel like the village really is full of lots of different people, but they're all so interchangeable they kind of blend together for me into a single six-armed eleven-eyed aberration, Rufus al'Plainspoken, the Son of the Soil, the Earth-Salted One.  So I hope you'll continue to forgive me for skimming swathes of dialogue that don't actually serve any long-term purpose.

I also hope it's supposed to be kind of funny that Rand continues to be so intense about being adopted:
While he was still coming through the door Rand's eyes went to his father--his father no matter what anyone said.
No one has said anything because no one knows except you and your dad, Rand, you can probably take a breath.  Sorry.  If I had feelings instead of this damned mechanical ticking contraption in my chest I'd probably think his anxiety was adorable and sad.  There is much shuffling and muttering as people get told where to go and then Moiraine settles down by Tam's bedside to work her mojo.
In the stories Aes Sedai wonders were always accompanied by flashes and thunderclaps, or other signs to indicate mighty works and great powers. The Power. The One Power, drawn from the True Source that drove the Wheel of Time. [....] For all he could tell, though, Moiraine might just as well have gone to sleep.
I am left wondering if there's going to be any explanation for any of the Capitalised Terms of this mythos, and if they will actually matter.  Why is it the One Power?  (Especially if it comes in male and female flavours and they apparently don't touch enough for the curse on the male part to infect the female part?)  Are there False Sources?

Lan notices Rand's sword, and explains that the herons are a mark of a master swordsman, and remarks like eight times on how strange it is for it to be in the hands of a sheepherder.  (Isn't shepherd a word here?)  Rand diverts to talk about the Black Rider, which Moiraine says doesn't matter much now and wouldn't have helped even if they'd known in advance.  She slanders carrion-eaters more as minions for the Dark One, and then Rand notes that his dad is looking better.  Moiraine explains Morgul Shayol Ghul blades for anyone who hasn't read Lord of the Rings already, and says that even her angreal can't do too much for a tainted wound.  (Not sure why exactly she flashes the holy irreplaceable relic at Rand.)  There's more capitalised talk about how the black rider was a Myrddraal which is also called a Halfman, Lurk, Fade, or Shadowman, spawned from early experiments by Dreadlords when they were making Trollocs.  There's a kind of unrepentant enthusiasm for just throwing in new words that I am starting to get caught up in again.  Dwerrow.  That's not in the book, I just like to say it.

Moiraine and Lan exposit further that the trollocs were in town searching for a boy of very specific age, in the range of Rand, Mat, and Perrin, who were all born within weeks of each other, and therefore the three of them must leave the village to protect it.  Why me, I'm not special, the Dark One couldn't possibly be interested in me, et cetera.  The threat of further battles torching the whole countryside before the Aes Sedai could kill all the trollocs and myrddraal reinforcements convinces Rand to go, and Moiraine advises him to leave his dad a note, since they'll have to take off that night.  (Rand hasn't slept yet after a day of hauling and farming followed by a night of running and murdinating; does she think he will just keep walking?)  I'm not sure if this is considered reasonable or if we're supposed to think Moiraine is heartless for being all "Time to go to the city of witches for an indeterminate length of time, leave your not-quite-dead Mystery Dad Swordsman a note on the fridge".  Rand still hopes to get to talk to his father before they leave, and et cetera domesticity and soup, he falls asleep in a chair by the fire.

Chapter Nine: Tellings of the Wheel

Is this going to be a prophetic dream?  Let me flip ahead.  Yes.  It is five pages of prophetic dream.  The landscapes are nicely described, first jagged stone ridges and mist-rivers leading to a huge black mountain where Rand feels Shai'tan demanding his service (hot), then the broken mountain from the prologue, which is now the site of Gondor Tar Valon, I think, and he's still being chased by the devil, smash cut to inside the city, full of all the wonders of architecture.  This bit is actually nicely creepy, as he keeps trying to delay going to a white tower that always seems to be up ahead, and everyone in the street gets sad and impatient, but when he relents and starts toward the tower they begin to cheer and dance for him.  At least, I think it's supposed to be creepy?  They all keep insisting only he can save them, and girls dance around him and throw flowers at him until he starts dancing, and when he finally steps inside the tower the doors shut and he's faced with a myrddraal, JUMP SCARE, fade to black.  So, he's being chased by the devil, we've had some establishing shots of Mordor and Gondor, and Rand subconsciously knows he's the protagonist.  (Unless Mat and Perrin have the same dreams.  How much fun would it be if three friends all thought that they were the only Chosen One and they had to stop each other because if anyone except the right Chosen One tried to fulfill the prophecy they'd ruin everything?  Betting we don't get that in this book.)

The food Rand didn't eat has been replaced by Mrs al'Vere, who is apparently an aggressive feeder (gender roooooles), and to my mild surprise Dad al'Thor actually wakes up and talks to Rand, there is much recapping.  Dad admits that Rand really should go to Witch City (Tar Valon) but he insists that Rand pay very close attention to the Aes Sedai's words, because she might not lie but she will happily and constantly mislead.  Women, amirite?

More exposition about how Warders are bonded (shockingly, not Bonded) to their Aes Sedai and get some generic Captain America powers out of it, fast healing and such, and Rand speculates that the Aes Sedai must get something out of it too or they'd never make a deal.  Superhuman bodyguards aren't good enough, Rand?  We've got dainty perfect lady wizards running around pair-bonded with super-ripped gruff brawlers, do we not think that most of them are doing each other like crossword puzzles?  Because I'd expect a lot of that, with or without associated romantic entanglements.

Rand never does ask his dad about Heroic Adoption, and then Lan drags him outside where there's a mob come to chase the witch out of town.  The mayor and smith intervene, pointing out how she healed everyone last night, but Moiraine steps in herself with white fire sparking off her staff and rants for about a page about how awesome this part of the world used to be, back when the river was called, I kid you not, Manetherendrelle.
"Their King was Aemon al Caar al Thorin, Aemon son of Caar son of Thorin [if I made a drinking game out of this there would be no survivors], and Eldrene ay Ellan ay Carlan was his Queen. Aemon, a man so fearless that the greatest compliment for courage any could give, even among his enemies, was to say a man had Aemon's heart.  Eldrene, so beautiful that it was said the flowers bloomed to make her smile."
So, as we guessed, al'Thor is 'son of Thor', and apparently the 'daughter of' thing was just tossed out entirely somewhere along the line.  I would have guessed that this was because the fall of the noble past led to more patriarchy, but then we find out that in the golden age the king was fearless (allowing him to take the right action in any situation, presumably) and the queen was hot (making it unnecessary for her to take any action in order to justify her existence, presumably).  This is billed as less sexist than Tolkien.  Absolutely, there are more female characters in this book, but their treatment is consistently lacklustre and they all have to be dainty and pretty (and implicitly white and straight).

Moiraine goes on talking about how the people from here were devastating warriors around the world, and how they rushed home when they heard the trollocs were attacking their homeland, how terrifying their enemies were.  All of them men, of course.  Only men.  It's a big deal when after ten days they think they're doomed and the men and women (with their husband, no single women allowed ever) finally came to their aid.

Ah, but no, Eldrene the Hot Queen is obviously a strong female character, because when she's busy evacuating civilians she can feel her husband die in battle, and on the spot she wills the whole evil army to burst into flames, at the cost of her own life as well, and the stones of her now-empty city.  (Call me ruthless, but the body count of her people at this point is, like, a billion, there's been slaughtering across the border for weeks; could she not have taken them all down with her on day one and let the army mop up with vastly fewer casualties?)  Moiraine finishes by explaining how the kingdom never recovered and now the villagers are the only descendants, so shame on them for being scared because a witch showed up in town and then orcs burned half of it down.  Bit by bit they apologise and shuffle away, and Lan tells the boys to get a move on already.
This was the real beginning, leaving the inn and following the Warder into the night...
YOU'RE NOT WRONG BUT WE'RE ON PAGE 135 COME ON.  I mean, I know Fellowship of the Ring has the slowest start in the world, book one is basically a six-month pub crawl, but of all the aspects to copy, who thinks that's the best possible one?  If Jordan is serious, I am curious if things will happen at any sort of meaningful pace now.

Chapter Ten: Leavetaking

Welp, they are going signature-weapon style: as Lan preps the horses, they tease Rand about his heron sword, while Mat's got a bow and Perrin's got a honking great axe.  They confer and recap with each other more about what's already happened (Mat and Perrin only left notes for their families, as ordered), and then Egwene arrives to declare they're not leaving without her, because she wants to see the world.  (Lan didn't hear her coming.  Lan was just chastising the others for not paying attention to their surroundings two pages ago.  Lan is bad at things.)  Twice in four pages Moiraine is all 'It's part of the Pattern now, nothing we can do about it' and agrees to bring her along.  What does that mean?  If someone starts to do something, they can't be stopped, because it's part of the pattern?  Why wasn't the destruction of the village part of the pattern?  Is this just going to be the Aes Sedai's go-to phrase for 'shut up I've made my decision'?  It turns out the gleeman Thom is also hanging out in the loft (Lan you're so bad at this) and he wants to perform in Tar Valon, and lampshades Moiraine's 'part of the pattern now' thing, so Rand fetches his family horse Bela for Egwene.
"I still think you shouldn't come," he said. "I wasn't making it up about the trollocs. But I promise I will take care of you." 
"Perhaps I'll take care of you," she replied lightly.
Strong Female Character is a go.  The seven of them finally head out (two more to go for a full fellowship?) and pass a patrol of ill-equipped villagers.  Lan judges that two trollocs would slaughter them all, but figures they're better than nothing.  I hate that.  Rand killed one trolloc by accident and Dad al'Thor took two out in two swings when ambushed.  If I'm supposed to be afraid of the Big Bad's lackeys, they need to actually be played as dangerous, not just described as more than a match for the NPCs.  (This was something that I thought Mistborn did very well--the Inquisitors are meant to be scary, and they are, to the point where it's a huge deal when they finally take one down, at terrible cost to the heroes.  More of that, less of this, please.)

Rand spots a thing that he hopes was just a bat against the moon, but he judges the distance and realises it's too massive, and they collectively identify it as a Draghkar, even worse than trollocs and myrddraal (though still under the myrddraal's command), and that means they'll be spotted soon, so they rush for the ferry.  ...The ferry.  They're fleeing the bad guys by ferry in the middle of the night.  All I can hear is Dominic Monaghan saying that the only other crossing is 'toenty muyales' away in an accent never before used by the human tongue.

We're now 148 pages in.  We're keeping pretty good pace with Fellowship, actually; on page 148 of my copy they've just arrived at the inn of the Prancing Pony, just past the movie's scene with the ferry crossing.  But those 148 pages include Tom gorram Bombadil on top of the birthday party and pub crawl and Black Riders.  I will not hear a word against Tom Bombadil, but let's not pretend he was a vital plot force, and even with him Fellowship is moving faster.

Next week: Egwene's gonna be a totally sweet wizard.


  1. anyone else read "Mat and Perrin" as "Merry and Pippin"?

    *sigh* I'm beginning to suspect this book isn't really all that good. Let me read another FIVE HUNDRED PAGES OF ESTABLISHING WORLDBUILDING just to be sure.

  2. The whole thing does smack of ascended fanfic, all right. (Why are so many ascended fanfics not at all the fics that should ascend?)

  3. And it's poorly thought out, purely by-the-numbers worldbuilding too. An uninspired fifteen-year-old could write something just like this. Probably call it something like Eragon

  4. Un-Lun-Dun by China Mieville has some Chosen -One Setup. (SPOILER) The Chosen One is afraid to save the world so her best friend (a girl of color) saves it instead.

  5. See. Chosen Ones, much more interesting when the trope is played with or subverted.

  6. Be of stout heart, my friends! Rivendell will be quite different in this version, and once past Moria the plot definitely veers off onto a path of its own. (The bad news, of course, is that we have approximately 67 nine more chapters to get through before that.)

  7. Does all magic in Wheel-of-Time-landia come from the True Source?
    It doesn't. Myrddraal can see without eyes and teleport through shadows; hatred and paranoia in the cause of righteousness can turn into a corruptive murderous evil haunting a city; there's an alternate dimension (or possibly two closely-related alternate dimensions) where the fair folk live; there's whatever's going on with the Ogier steddings that is probably evidence for them being native to yet another alternate dimension; there's the World of Dreams; there's the wolfbrothers' power; there's whatever animates the Green Man; and there's the True Power, which the Dark One allows his most favoured servants to wield and is probably his own power.
    It's a mess, frankly.

  8. Well, at least it explains why it's the True Source. But that's a hell of a lot of different types of magic. *boggles* I think a D&D sourcebook or two fell into the mix.

    Not that a magic heavy world and/or a world with multiple types of magic is inherently bad. I'm just not holding out hope that it all holds together and makes any kind of sense in this particular series.

  9. That part sounds realistic though. It's like pro-life vs pro-choice, everyone picks their own names.

    And I like a messy magic system that defies human classification, it feels more like something discovered rather than made up.

  10. You've got a point, there. Though in this case, my first thought is that both sides are obnoxious. (Which isn't a fatal flaw, by any means, since I think that of Jedi and Sith in Star Wars and still like Star Wars. I'm just pretty sure that in neither case was the audience supposed to think that.)

    Oh, I think it could work great. I just have serious doubts that it works well here. Things are already having a lot of trouble coming off like Jordan just mashed up all his favorite things, and we haven't even gotten to multiple magics and such yet.

  11. Nah, that many magic systems is way too complicated for D&D. I don't tend to play many magic-users in D&D because I don't like the way the spell rules work, but if I recall correctly, there's pretty much just 3 types of magic there? Arcane, based in mixing the right things/saying the right words; Divine, where you exchange prayers for power from the god of your choice; and then the occasional extra-planar source where you make a deal with a demon or whatever for warlocks/sorcerers.

    I don't mind there being a lot of different worlds and realms that each contribute their own magic, but you have to do it right so that it feels like you did the worldbuilding on purpose and it's all part of one world, NOT that you put a bunch of fantasy cliches in a jar, shook them up, and then included the first 10 that fell out. Which is the feeling I get from Jordan.

  12. (This was something that I thought Mistborn did very well--the
    Inquisitors are meant to be scary, and they are, to the point where it's
    a huge deal when they finally take one down, at terrible cost to the heroes. More of that, less of this, please.)

    Not to mention the Inquisitors had some truly creepy-ass body horror going on, with their awful spike eyes. have the trollocs even been described properly beyond generic trollish monster dudes? Because that's not very scary at all.

  13. "It's a mess, frankly."

    It reminds me of all the different types of kryptonite.

  14. I seem to remember the first of the Prydain books had an orphan protag and a magic sword that can only be wielded by the special chosen person of royal blood, and the chosen person was not the orphan. Which I found absolutely fascinating at the time. An orphan in a fantasy book goes on an adventure, finds a magic royal sword, tries to use it and then finds out that he can't because he's not a secret hidden royal orphan? Unheard of!
    I suspect that he becomes rather chosen one-ish by the end of the series, but the first book was pretty neat in that way. Much more fun if there's some question hanging over the whole chosen one thing.

  15. I'd like to see John Belushi as the Samurai Sheepherder. He could use his katana to shear the sheep.

  16. Technically, in core there's just arcane and divine. BUT even in core there's multiple flavors of each (wizard book learning vs sorcerer cause I said so and cleric god granted power vs druid nature power.) Then you add in splat books and you get fully a billion more such variations plus some totally new power sources like psychic powers, supernatural kung fu and the ability to make soul energy into a spiffy hat. Each of those also with several variations.

  17. The scenario where everyone fails to consider that the Chosen One could be female appears to be happening in A Song of Ice and Fire, where people are waiting for The Prince That Was Promised, and only after the apparent chosen one has been active for several years do people realize that in the prophecy's original language the term was gender-neutral.

  18. Nonononono, the good guys wield either saidar or saidin (yes, those words are supposed to be cursive; I suppose Jordan wanted to mix it up a bit with the Significantly Capitalized Official Terms). Together those make up the One Power (so called because it consists of two different parts), which flows from the True Source. The main bad guys do that too, but in a pinch some of them can also dip into the True Power, which flows from the Dark One whom they call the Great Lord (the villains themselves are correctly addressed as Great Master/Mistress).

    Glad I could clear up your headache for you!

  19. There's also Hurin's ability to smell violence, and Min's prophecies.

  20. Hmmm. I suppose it just all feels the same to me because of the rigid rules system. But then, like I said, I don't really play casters that often.

  21. Oh god, I'd forgotten about Hurin. (Although I think so did Jordan after book 2.)
    I thought treesinging was connected to the Green Man, wasn't it? At least that's the impression I got from the ter'angreal flashback in book 4.

  22. have the trollocs even been described properly beyond generic trollish monster dudes?
    I think so? They're generic beastmen: basically humanoid with animal heads and I guess talons or claws or something.
    Yes this means that a lot of the carnivorous shock-troops of evil have herbivore mouths.

  23. These villagers really are odd - "the woman with magic saved us from the trollocs! Let's thank her by forming a mob to hurt her!" And nobody has the follow-up thought - "She turned me into a newt!"

    What the hell, villagers? And also, who's got the One Ring?

  24. You joke about the One Ring but just wait until we get to Shadar Logoth...

  25. I always liked Granny Weatherwax's solution, don't turn someone into a pig. Make them think they are a pig. It takes less energy and is a much better object lesson. This book would be much better with Granny.

  26. Nonsense. There's not similarity between the One Ring and this completely different magical artifact that has an evil corrupting influence on good people and calls to its master's evil hench..... oh never mind.

  27. Many books would be better with Granny. This one happens to be obvious about the need.

  28. He does-ish, but only after several more books of the world beating lessons about responsibility and maturity into him. I like that aspect very much, actually. Taran matures in each book, but growing up isn't like flipping a light switch. It takes time. There's an entire book dedicated to him abandoning any and all pretense of noble destiny by traveling among the common people of his world and trying to find A) his parents and B) some trade that he's good at and could spend his life doing. It's a very difficult journey, but contains about zero glamor. The book that actually has all the save-the-world business comes after that one, and is pretty much about how war is awful and heroic sacrifices are actually painful and difficult. Lloyd Alexander: basically a champ. A lot of his stories are good examples of how a fairly basic Hero's Journey can be resonant and powerful in part because of the broadness of the theme. Growing up is one of the few universally shared experiences.

  29. Like many things in life, any summary of the Wheel of Time sounds several thousand times more stupid than experiencing it does. I don't much care for Game of Thrones, so every time someone tries to tell me why it's good their summaries just make the plot sound more and more needlessly convoluted. But I don't doubt that if Game of Thrones works for you, then the experience of reading/watching it is more than the sum of its parts.
    I also find earnestness in media very charming, to the point where a stupid thing that was clearly fully embraced by an author that loved it to bits gets a lot more respect from me than it might honestly deserve on merit alone. And if it is nothing else, the first few WoT books are very earnestly told.

  30. Yeah, lots of things are better than the sum of their parts including some things I like dearly. (Star Wars once again comes to mind here). And I get your earnestness thing, though I'm more of an enthusiasm person myself - you know, when it feels like the author and the audience are sitting down to have fun together.

    Why is this in response to me.

  31. Honestly I can't remember. Maybe it was supposed to be in response to someone else who responded to you but I screwed up? Very sorry about that!

  32. I am genuinely embarrassed about that mistake. A blowhard am I! A poltroon, an uncouth yammerer, a veritable windbag.

  33. Disqus can be flaky sometimes. Maybe it was a general comment that got lonely and decided it wanted to be a reply?

  34. All things are possible.

  35. Not that a magic heavy world and/or a world with multiple types of magic
    is inherently bad. I'm just not holding out hope that it all holds
    together and makes any kind of sense in this particular series.

    Yeah, I think it works well in the sort of story that's deliberately small-scale and open-ended, e.g. a wandering, illiterate "barbarian" protagonist struggling to survive amid cultures and forces they barely understand. Magic can be endlessly varied and uncertain and confusing as viewed by such a character, because everything beyond the current circle of firelight is varied and uncertain and confusing; that's just the nature of the world as far as they know.

    This doesn't seem like that sort of story, though. This is a very ordered, rationalist, cyclical world where pretty much everyone seems to agree on what forces drive the universe and what their intentions are and when they last clashed and when they'll clash again. In that kind of setting, it's very jarring when wolves suddenly turn out to be telepathic or elves pop in from another dimension.

  36. Because better writers are often harder on themselves, and more hesitant to publish before they think they've gotten it right? Mebbe?

  37. I think so? They're generic beastmen: basically humanoid with animal heads and I guess talons or claws or something.
    Yes this means that a lot of the carnivorous shock-troops of evil have herbivore mouths.

    That wouldn't necessarily reduce the intimidation factor, I suppose. Who wants to get chomped by a wild boar or a beaver?

    Speaking as a modern Westerner, though, the whole idea of beastmen seems fairly non-horrific. I mean, we tend to like animals. Our cultural legacy includes the Island of Dr. Moreau, Cats, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. By and large, human-animal hybrids make us think "cute," "majestic," or "tragic victim of mad science."

    Don't get me wrong, I'm sure an angry beastman with a big-ass spear would be terrifying. But it just wouldn't feel very Satanic. Men, pigs and bears aren't monsters, so why would a ManBearPig be pure evil?

  38. iirc, the world encyclopedia said that Aginor just had no idea what would make a good soldier and smushed together anything that looked cool. (Odd to find an author self-insert in such a minor role but there you go.)

  39. Well, Mat would be both Merry and Legolas (archer), while Perrin both Pippin and Gimli (axe), so Rand has to be a mash-up of at least two people, right? (I suspect there's supposed to be some Aragorn in there.)

  40. Hah, ouch. So why did he bother making monster soldiers at all? The Shadow can corrupt people, and plain vanilla humans can become mages or warriors who are vastly more powerful than Trollocs or most other Shadowspawn. So if the Forsaken needed a bigger army, why not just hire or enslave or mind-control a bunch of guys? I mean, Joseph Kony made an effective army out of 70,000 abused children and he doesn't even have superpowers.

    And, honestly, why does the Shadow need an army? I don't really get the point of this whole apocalyptic war deal. The Dark One doesn't want to conquer the world, right? He wants to destroy it, or ruin it, and he wants to escape from his prison. I don't see how any of that really requires him to wage a war. In fact, it only makes things harder for him because it alerts everyone to his existence and forces them to band together to stop him. He'd be better off just slowly and steadily degrading the environment, tempting and corrupting as many mages as possible, and arranging his next prison break.

    From what little I know of the series, it seems like all the most effective feats o' evil the Dark One has pulled off have nothing to do with military success. He lured the ancient channelers into breaching his prison, he managed to taint saidin basically by losing a war. and he creates the Blight just by sitting around and being evil. Why not just do that stuff?

  41. Well, if you're sealed away from the world you may as well extend what influence you have until you're actually free - I think the Dark One's interest in military strength (such as he has one) is that if he can break things he will, in person or via intermediary.
    As for why the Forsaken made Shadowspawn instead of training a human army... I think it was basically "hey, the Light hates genetic impurities! Let's make supersoldiers!" Trollocs themselves are pretty rubbish compared to vanilla humans but at least on paper Darkhounds are pretty dangerous to anyone who isn't a protagonist and gholam - if the Forsaken hadn't been paranoid about the whole "immune to channelling" feature they could have built an army of gholam and won decisively. And in the centuries/millennia/whatever that Travelling was a lost art, Myrddraal were a horrifically underused advantage, so it really comes down to non-Trolloc Shadowspawn being amazing, humans being absolutely stupid, and the Dark One being sealed away too well and/or too stupid to use his tools properly.

  42. Agreed. When you grow up watching all kinds of anthro animals as heroes (The Ninja Turtles, many children's book characters, Disney's Robin Hood, etc etc), "generic beastman" just isn't all that scary. You need a much more specific description to get the proper body-horror reaction. And for that you want something much more viscerally upsetting to most humans. A pig-bear-man doesn't sound that bad in the abstract. A spider-human hybrid, though? Much creepier. Especially if you get specific.

    You can even keep monsters mostly human in form if you get just enough uncanny valley in there. There's a monster in Pan's Labyrinth that has eyes in the palms of his hands instead of his face, and even though I only saw that movie once the thought of that creature STILL freaks me out.

  43. Hurin comes back to die tragically in the last book. Very traumatizing.

    No, but I feel way sadder about the horses. Sanderson is murdering horses so I will actually feel bad about some of the dying and it's working. Like six more hours of this and then I have to find something else to hate.

  44. I would just like to tell you all that this is the fast paced book where stuff actually happens. This first book in this fourteen book series is the fast paced book where stuff actually happens. And nothing has happened yet. A hundred pages in.

    This is the fast paced book in the series, in which stuff actually happens. *cries about it*

  45. "So, as we guessed, al'Thor is 'son of Thor', and apparently the 'daughter of' thing was just tossed out entirely somewhere along the line."

    Well, Perrin's last name is Aybara, so maybe there were some female names that survived as surnames.* I seem to remember an Ayellin family in Emond's Field as well, and a few others (though it's been many years, so I forget what the names were…but too many to be a coincidence). I don't think this occurred to me until book 5 or so, but once it did, it seemed to me like a fail** had been avoided.

    *Not knowing who Ellan and Carlan were, I guess we can't tell whether these names were patro- or matronymic in the case of women.

    **Maybe not "fail", since this is what happened in real life in, for instance, Sweden.

  46. Brandon Sanderson himself plays with this in his Mistborn books, where like a zillion people think they're the Hero of Ages because the language is gender neutral. (There's some...iffy stuff with how it actually works out but the actual issue of lots of people fitting the skeleton of the prophecy is kinda cool.)