In this jumbled section, Rand and Mat evade Darkfriends galore as they flee across Andor.
A variety of countryfolk are encountered, which give the reader an appreciation for daily life in Andor. We see innkeepers, farmers, bartenders, soldiers, travelers, a farmgirl, and more, all going on with their daily routines. Some people are good, others bad. As the boys get closer to Caemlyn, the villages get larger and less rural, until farms continuously blanket the countryside. They will soon be entering true civilization. We get many hints that things are a bit off in the villages due to the harsh weather, varied peculiar misfortunes, and the excitement about the False Dragon Logain being brought to Caemlyn.
Ba’alzamon has turned to Darkfriends, figuring they are best suited to find the boys and signal a Myrddraal to fetch them. Time and again, the boys elude them. Rand is beginning to find some strong resolve as he states “We’re not going to lie down and let them take us.” He’s been tired, frustrated, scared, desperate, and many other things so far, but faced with a human foe that is less menacing than the others he’s faced, he strikes back and shows determination.
Rand’s dreams are of the normal variety, it seems, given their short description, lack of detail, and nightmarish qualities. Ba’alzamon or Myrddraal appear in some dreams, but there’s nothing convincing about them. Thom appears in a dream telling Rand the Dragon is one with the land and the land is one with the Dragon. A message from the Creator or the Pattern? Or just a remembrance of something Thom said?
Andor is large, so this travel takes up a number of chapters. In other travel sections for the other characters, the author has not told the travel chronologically, but focused on a particular aspect of the voyage in each paragraph, such as the plants, or how the nights were spent, or the type of discussions they had while walking. The summary of the voyage usually lasted a couple of pages then went back to linear storytelling when they had made a significant encounter.
For the Rand and Mat sections, everything is told out of order over several chapters, and it is confusing. The repeated dialogue of the farmer who gives them scarves, and meeting Hyam Kinch after spending a chapter in discussion with him leave a reader perplexed as to when events happened. It might be that the intent was to give the feel of how the days on the road blend in with each other. Rand does feel like his sense of time is getting skewed by the time they reach Carysford. Here’s how the events unfold chronologically (numbers) and the order in which they are presented:
7? They watch the road
4 A farmer gives them scarves
8? They hide from riders in a hedge
1 The long road from Whitebridge (working farms, the Grinwells, playing inns)
2 Mat is blinded as they escape the Dancing Cartman in Four Kings
10 They leave Hyam Kinch’s wagon
3 They sleep in the rain
4 A farmer gives them scarves
5 Paitr finds them in Market Sheran
6 Rand is sick when a female Darkfriend assassin strikes
9 They get in Hyam Kinch’s wagon
11 They walk to Carysford
12 They avoid a Myrddraal in the last vIllage ,and hitch a ride with Almen Bunt
13 They reach Caemlyn
Another thing accomplished with this reordering , is that a quick two page description of the typical efforts the boys make to avoid detection is given immediately. The rest describes how the boys came to take such serious efforts in the first place. I don’t know that it is particularly effective or more engaging to the reader this way. Of the many events in the book, one of my clearest memories was how messy and confusing this part of the story was. It’s still true on a reread.
Writing Lessons:If you’re going to deviate from straightforward linear storytelling, have a good reason to do so.