This article contains spoilers for the entire series.
Any time a person reads a book, they are bound to miss things. While I have lost count of how many times I have read each of The Wheel of Time books, I still always catch new things when I read through them again. Here is a list of some of the things that I missed when I read through the series for the first (or second… or third…) time.
Padan Fain’s Influence Is Everywhere
We see him everywhere from the Two Rivers to Tar Valon to Shayol Ghul to the Ways. He interacts with our heros, as well as Lord Luc, Mordeth, Agelmar, Barthanes, Elaida, etc. with varying levels of influence. I definitely noticed that he popped up a lot, but I didn’t realize just how much he mucked up everything Rand tried to do.
Rand Is King Arthur
He takes a sword from a stone and becomes recognized as The Dragon Reborn.
It’s no secret that Robert Jordan liked tying this world to events and stories from our world, but this one is shockingly obvious… and yet I missed it.
Mat Died in Caemlyn, Freeing The Horn of Valere to be Blown by Someone Else
There had been more than one bolt [of lightning] in that first volley, but not all had been aimed at him. Mat’s smoking boots lay a dozen paces from where Mat himself sprawled on his back. Tendrils of smoke rose from the black haft of the spear, too, from his coat, even from the silver foxhead, hanging out of his shirt, had not that had not saved him from a man’s channeling.
( The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 54, To Caemlyn )
Of course, he was also un-killed by balefire, which was apparently enough to prevent him from dying. However, the tie to the Horn must not have reasserted himself. Time travel is confusing and causes problems, which is kind of the point of balefire; to bend the laws of time, but keep in mind that it causes problems in the Pattern. I actually like this handling of pseudo-time travel here. Robert Jordan acknowledges that it causes problems but doesn’t try to explain them away. He says the Pattern can handle the problems in small quantities, but if it happens too much, it can pull the entire Pattern apart.
Chemtrails and Lasers, For Real
While traveling by way of Portal Stone in The Great Hunt, Rand, Loial, and Hurin stumble into a land that has pretty convincing evidence of chemtrails and lasers. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure I missed everything in this point of the story on my first read through. I really didn’t find this sequence particularly gripping, but I am a bit surprised that I missed the lasers and chemtrails…
Again they crossed land blackened and burned, even the soil crunching under the horses’ hooves as if it had been seared. The burned swaths, sometimes a mile wide, sometimes only a few hundred paces, all ran east and west as straight as an arrow’s flight. Twice Rand saw the end of a burn, once as they rode over it, once as they passed nearby; they tapered to points at the ends.
There was no sign of life; at least, Rand thought it must be so. Twice he saw a wispy streak crawling across the sky like a line drawn with a cloud. The lines were too straight to be natural it seemed, but he could not imagine what might make them.”
( The Great Hunt, Chapter 15, Kinslayer )
Now imagine how much fun it would have been if they had landed in a downtown area of that world!
Sheriam was Totally Black Ajah
Another darkfriend slipped past my radar. Sheriam always seemed like a wise, dependable Aes Sedai; she wasn’t unhinged or blatantly evil like Liandrin. Looking as back as The Dragon Reborn, I should have caught it.
He was an average-appearing man, of average height and average built, with features so ordinary Egwene did not think she would have noticed him in a group of three.
“Calm yourself,” Nynaeve said, but she peered both ways along hte gallery, jerking at her braid. “Just be calm, and we will figure out what to—” Her words cut off at the sound of steps on the ramp leading up to their level.
Sheriam Sedai stopped at the top of the ramp, frowning at what she saw. “What in the name of the Light has happened here?” She hurried forward, her serenity gone for once.
“We found him,” Nynaeve said as the Mistress of Notices knelt beside the corpse.
Egwene curtsied, and tugged at Nynaeve’s sleeve, but Nynaeve said, “Why did you come up here, Sheriam Sedai?”
For a moment, Sheriam looked startled, but on the instant she frowned. Fists on her hips, she regarded Nynaeve with all the firmness of her office. “Does the Mistress of Notices now need an excuse for coming to the novices’ quarters, Accepted?” she said softly. “Do Accepted now question Aes Sedai? The Amyrlin means to make something of you two, but whether she does or not, I will teach you manners, at least. Now, the pair of you, go, before I haul you both down to my study, and not for the appointment the Amyrlin Seat has already set for you.”
( The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 15, The Gray Man )
When people are lying, they are more likely to get defensive when questioned. Reading through this again, it sends flashing lights and blaring horns, but I completely missed it on my first read through.
Combining that defensiveness with her rather convenient timing of coming upon the girls in the hall way, as well as the knowledge that a Gray Man was found dead in her bed sometime later, Robert Jordan really did give us plenty of clues as to her allegiance.
Moiraine Used Compulsion on the Boys?
I always thought she was just really persuasive, and yet on a subsequent read through, it definitely seems like there was a bit more going on than just a significant look. It wasn’t full Compulsion, but it was meant to make them a little more open to her suggestions – looking back at how disagreeable they were, she needed every bit of help she could get – as well as to track them.
“I may have some small tasks to be done from time to time while I am in Emond’s Field,” she said. “Perhaps you would be willing to assist me?” She laughed as their assents tumbled over one another. “Here,” she said, and Rand was surprised when she pressed a coin into his palm, closing his hand tightly around it with both of hers.
“There’s no need,” he began, but she waved aside his protest as she gave Ewin a coin as well, then pressed Mat’s hand around one the same way she had Rand’s.
( The Eye of the World, Chapter 2, Strangers )
She pressed the coin into Rand’s and Mat’s hands, but just hands it to Ewin. Right away the boys knew that there was something different about their coins than Ewin’s coin, as they tell him that he ought to spend his while they keep their own.
Flirting Between Moiraine and Thom
After Mat was Healed from his connection to the dagger from Shadar Logoth, he discovered Thom drunk as a skunk in Tar Valon.
“Rand is still well, then?” Thom’s eyes sharpened to almost the keenness Mat remembered. “I am not sure I expected that. Moiraine is still with him, is she? A fine-looking woman.” A fine woman, if she were not Aes Sedai. Meddle with that sort, and you get more than your fingers burned.”
( The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 31, The Woman of Tanchico )
Okay, full disclosure, I did not miss this one, but apparently my entire family did. I remember reading this and wondering, “Wow, are they going to end up together?” and then my entire family was flabbergasted by it.
All of Verin’s Shenanigans
Verin was totally my BFF throughout my first read! I would have followed her anywhere. And then she was evil (eh… evil-ish). I completely missed all the red flags from her on my first read through. I think I might have trusted her even more than I trusted Moiraine.
There were the slightly sketchy things she did, such as in The Great Hunt when discussing The Prophecy of the Shadow they had discovered with Mioraine and Siuan. She intentionally let “slip” that she knew one of the boys Moiraine was traveling with was able to channel and was The Dragon Reborn. She apparently did this mostly to verify that the two of them were working together.
Then, there’s her outright lie:
“Moiraine Sedai sent me, Lord Ingtar,” Verin announced with a satisfied smile. “She thought you might need me.”
( The Great Hunt, Chapter 14, Wolfbrother )
She also had the uncanny ability to show up at unexpected times. If she had truly been off in unrelated studies, her path might have crossed the story a time or two, but in hindsight, the way she kept coming back was not unlike the way Padan Fain kept coming back (though decidedly less overtly).
Did anyone else miss these, or was I the only one?