As part of the reread challenge that my friend Dianne Gardner and I have set ourselves, I’m rereading and making observations about The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Dianne and I are not blogging about the same things so be sure to take a look at her blog as well.
This week, I’m late on posting due to my household coming down with breakthrough COVID. So this particular post will be shorter and probably a bit more scattered than usual. The brain fog is real.
In rereading this set of chapters from the Eye of the World, I was struck with how very different the pace is between book and show. Neither one quite works well for me – Jordan meanders quite a bit at times whereas the show hurtles through both time and space in a way that often makes the world feel smaller, rather than bigger. In many ways, on this reread, Eye feels as if Jordan is writing his way into the world. As countless others have noted, much of what happens owes a huge debt to Tolkien and to Arthurian mythology and in fact, I recall thinking this the first time I read it.
This set of chapters focuses on Baerlon, and is where the group meets Min. In reading her prophecies again, I wondered how much of the prophecies were from Jordan knowing exactly where his series was going and how much relied on using the old magician’s trick of keeping things so vague that anything could be read into it later on. As someone who’s myself a mix of plotter and pantser when writing, I’ve generally stayed away from prophecy so that I don’t write myself into a corner later on (I also don’t like “chosen one” stories but that’s a whole other post).
I read an article not too long ago about the missed opportunities around Min’s gender identity. On the one hand, I agree that making Min non-binary is a no-brainer. On the other, one of the many ways in which Jordan consistently let me down in this series was how female characters often changed once they hit relationships and became either stereotypically compliant or shrews whose primary purpose seemed to be nagging their partners, often in collaboration with other women. I think that the show has a lot to address (and hopefully improve upon) where it comes to gender relationships and Min is part of that.
I’m hoping that we do see more/continued gender fluidity from that character further on down the road in the show; however, we saw Min most through Rand’s eyes. Given what little we have seen about Rand in show, I don’t think that he’s nearly sophisticated enough (nor honestly does he care enough about non-Two Rivers folk) to pick up on relationships and dynamics not seen in the Two Rivers. From Nynaeve’s quiet surprise about warder relationships, I think we can infer that the fab five haven’t had much experience outside of what I’d call conservative familial and sexual relationships. I find myself wondering if we’ll see one of the Two Rivers folk get involved in a queer relationship or if, in this regard, the showrunners will choose not to go that route.
(For what it’s worth, imho, Moiraine as a queer character is completely canon, given her relationship with Siuan as “pillow friends” in New Spring. I wish there’d been more of it in the books but it was still pretty clear to me at the time.)