Chapter 2: Strangers
The town council meets, about something very important. But since weíre still in Randís point of view, we donít get to hear what it is just yet, and instead get a bit about Mat having the blacksmith and his wife after him over a prank that ended up with flour all over their house. Iím hoping he goes through some character development, because this character type can get pretty darn tiresome. They meet up with Ewin Finngar, a younger kid who really wants to be their friend and is completely oblivious to their annoyance with him. I have to confess, Iíve come to realize this was me quite a few times in school, so I empathize a bit with him. Also, Jordan does a nice job making him just annoying enough that Rand and Mat donít look like jerks for their attitude toward him, while still keeping him sympathetic on his own.
Ewin lets Rand know that complete strangers have arrived in town for the first time in years: a noblewoman named Moiraine and her bodyguard Lan. All anyone knows is that Moiraine has been trying to ingratiate herself with a bunch of people, and asking for information about every single person in town. This also lets us see the pretty fun dynamic between them, with Rand as the Kermit the Frog-like calm center between the bigger personalities of the other two. Iím starting to think theyíll be our main heroes, and I look forward to more of this.
They go outside, where they see a raven thatís a wizardís familiar, or being possessed, or something, because it shows human-level intelligence. And oddly enough, it also seems to work as the Black Rider in reverse, causing other people to hate itself on sight. Weird. But seeing as this predates A Song of Ice and Fire
, Jordan is off the hook there.
Then itís time to meet Moiraine herself, and she comes off distressingly like a Mary Sue, described as impossibly beautiful with all three enraptured by her. Though I do have hope that this isnít whatís going on; in fact the way they instantly become obsessed with her is kind of creepy, and it would be great if it turned out she was putting some kind of spell on them. For now, she gives a hint that sheís Really 700 Years Old
, except even more than that; the seriesí title, as far as I can tell, comes from this world having a finite lifespan that keeps repeating like a wheel, though thereís always the chance for the people who are reincarnated to act differently than before. And Moiraine indicates that sheís like a Watcher from Marvel, existing outside the Wheel of Time and having watched all its permutations up until now. Then she gives each of them an unfamiliar but valuable coin for some vague future task (bad idea, guys) and thereís a weird bit with Lan looking them over. And though the chapter was light on the Lord of the Rings ripoffs until now, itís brought back by his wearing an Elvish cloak. Seriously, itís described exactly the same way.
Weíre still in character introduction mode, with any greater plot just being in bits and pieces that are hard to figure out. But until then, the interplay between the three friends is engaging enough to pull me through, and Moiraine offers a promising view into the worldís mythology. Though I am also keeping another eye on her, on whether sheís a Mary Sue or Jordanís just indulging in the trope a bit while building to something else.