So as my oh so faithful readers should know, I have been rereading the Wheel of Time, the most epic modern fantasy series. (I might contend ever, but let's not put the Lord of the Ring's people in an uproar). I just finished reading Lord of Chaos, which means I'm officially halfway through my reread. So I figured this was a good time to write about my thoughts and feelings, since this is my first read through the series as a "grown-up" shall we say.
In order to write about my reactions to what I've read I'm going to divide it up by characters and talk about my reactions to them. Here I will only discuss the Emond's Field 5. Later I might discuss others.
Rand al'Thor - The Dragon Reborn
When I first read the Wheel of Time series, I hated Rand. In the first book I liked him, but once he knew the truth, once he knew he was the Dragon Reborn, my feelings for him plummeted into loathing. As an adult reading, I don't hate Rand. I understand him better. He's a young man, younger than me now, who has been thrust into a terribly powerful and burdened position. The fate of the world is literally in his hands and as if that wasn't enough, he is slowly going mad. I think I initially didn't like Rand because he stopped trusting people, and the few people he did trust weren't the right ones. Now I understand why he doesn't trust the people who try to influence him. Rand is responsible for the entire world and if he lets himself trust the wrong person, he is letting the world fall into the Dark One's hands. I still don't agree with everything that Rand does. He still frustrates me, but right now I don't hate him. I appreciate his battle and I hope beyond hope that he can hold out to fight the Dark One.
Perrin Aybara - The Lord of Manatheren
When I first read through the WoT, I did not think much of Perrin. One of my friends recently described Perrin as "flavorless", and I think in many ways that is very apt. When compared to a character like Rand, Perrin just simply seems less. Why? Because to me Perrin represents the average, good man. Now in many ways that's why I like Perrin. If my future husband could only be like one of the three characters, in many ways I would want him to be the most like Perrin: faithful and true. Perrin is the character who in my opinion, changes the least. But his qualities are generally good. He's generally a good guy. I like Perrin, but he is a little bit "flavorless".
Mat Cauthon - the Blower of the Horn of Valere, the General
Mat is my favorite of the three male leads. He was my favorite the first time and he is my favorite again. The first, oh, four books I was a little iffy about Mat on my reread. I kept thinking "why do I like this guy again? He's such a player". But then he gets the ancient memories. Suddenly he finds himself unable to simply shrug responsibility. Suddenly he has hundreds of men willing to follow him to the ends of the Earth. I love Mat because he wins the most improved award. With each book he becomes a better person. With each book, he grows and changes into a better man, a man I like more and more. I love it when Mat takes Olver, the orphan boy, under his wing. I love it when Mat refuses to let Elayne go off by himself because he promised Rand. I love seeing a boy grow into a man.
Egwene al'Vere - the Amylrin Seat
Egwene was a girl with hopes of becoming an Aes Sedai who grew into so much more. She followed Rand to the Aiel Waste and spent a year training with the Aiel Wise Ones. She could have the love of the most handsome man in the world, Galad. Instead she choose to love the man who serves the other group of Aes Sedai and hates Rand, the man Egwene would do anything to protect. She is chosen to be the puppet of the Rebel Aes Sedai, but instead she rises to the challenge and bends the world to her. She will be the most powerful Amylrin, without a doubt. And yet, somehow she retains her normalness, her innocent farmgirl-ness. Sometimes I see myself in Egwene and that's why I love her.
Nynaeve al'Meara - Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah
Nynaeve started this all as the woman who wanted to rescue the innocent children of her village. Instead of "saving them", she falls in love with a man who refuses to have her, thinking he will only leave her a widow. Instead, she learns to respect and obey the girl she once clothed in diapers. Instead she learns to step lightly around the boy she once paddled for stealing. She learns the world is a much larger place than she originally knew, but she grows and adapts, becoming a person in that larger world. Oh, Nynaeve fights it the entire way - refusing to admit that those around her have grown beyond the children she chased after and everything she says to them is colored by the knowledge that she used to be their Wisdom. But Nynaeve slowly learns her place in the larger world, while keeping those around her from growing too arrogant in their power. Nynave is in many ways the humbler and I love her for it.
As I'm sure you can tell from my recounting of the characters, I have greatly enjoyed my reread of the WoT. I love the WoT. I enjoyed reading it as a kid, and now I enjoy reading it even more as an adult.
If I haven't convinced you yet, read the Wheel of Time. :)