Shadow’s Waiting – Plot Jebaiting

Here we are in episode two, with our team out on their grand journey from Emond’s Field. And once again, we open with a major deviation from the book. The Children of the Light don’t appear until quite a bit later in the story, well after Perrin starts having Wolf things going on. More specifically, Eamon Valda, as well cast as he is, doesn’t appear in this book at all (Or indeed until book 6!)

There’s also no scene of the torture or murder of an Aes Sedai, this is just some more brutality added into the story that was never present. When we -do- meet Whitecloaks in this book, there is a slightly more fanatical character, Jaret Byar, but it doesn’t extend to torture and murder.

They do a tremendous job of setting up what the Children of the Light are, and what they’re about, and show you Valda’s extreme zeal, don’t get me wrong. But we’ve already added in so much extra violence already, this was just a little excessive.

The flight from Emond’s Field to Taren Ferry and across the river is less directly fraught too, there’s not super close hot pursuit like there is in the show, but I guess they want to keep some tension. In the book, the ferrymaster brings out some lads to do the hauling, and there’s a nice scene of worrying whether they’re going to try to rob them, and instead here they just go “Aaaand a million trollocs right there as soon as they leave” which leads one to wonder why the Myrdraal leading them doesn’t just have them cut through the cables that the ferry uses to cross. 

In the book, they do ‘accidentally’ break the ferry free and have it sink in a whirlpool, but Lan pays the guy some extra gold and he’s reasonably happy. There’s no ‘oh no my son!’ and there’s no ferrymaster drowning in the river. Once again, more death and violence than was in the book. They do call her to task for sinking the ferry, but it’s less justified of an anger than in the show because it didn’t involve making a guy drown himself to try and save his son.

By and large, Egwene’s first lesson in the One Power is how it is in the book, but the consequence of their rushing the plot so fast is that this is basically all we get of it. In the book, their travels now continue several days on the road where Moiraine gives Egwene lessons and also, Lan starts teaching Rand and Perrin how to use their weapons, something completely ignored in the show.

The boys do start to have some nightmares around this time, seeing the red-eyed man, but without this thing about all the dead bats. Moiraine does tell them to tell her about any more dreams, and they just…don’t because you know, stubborn idiots.

The dramatics between Rand and Egwene are also not nearly so melodramatic since they’re just like…teens who maybe held hands once or twice instead of being party to several sex scenes, so while they’re having issues about her desire to be an Aes Sedai, they’re not quite so personal.

The encounter with the Whitecloaks here also does not happen. The only characters to meet the Whitecloaks in this book are Egwene and Perrin after the group gets split up. They really just want to hammer home what a fanatic Valda is, which makes the later torture scene I guess a little more well established, but again, since none of those scenes happen, they all feel excessive.

There’s no road song in the book where they all just know a song about Manetheren. In the book, they’re informed that Emond’s Field was part of what used to be Manetheren, and in one of the scenes where they fight trollocs, Lan gives a war cry, and Rand, thinking it’s cool to do it, gives a Manetheren war cry, and Mat gives a war cry in the Old Tongue, which starts to establish his connection to the past which they’ve left entirely out of the show, leaving us with no real idea what his deal is yet.

We miss out on some good character development in the rush to move the plot forward. It’s around this time that Egwene unbraids her hair, because the Aes Sedai don’t do it ‘unless they want to’ despite tradition in Emond’s Field being that all women wear their hair braided. It’s part of her being the first one to make an active choice to have left Emond’s Field behind, and it’s important for her development as well as her relationship to Rand and Nynaeve, and I’m sad it got skipped.

We also completely skip over their arrival at the city of Baerlon, where they stay at an inn, get some nice hot baths, and this is actually where we’re first introduced to Min (as opposed to multiple episodes later, in Tar Valon, a city that nobody goes to in the whole first book) find out some about the Whitecloaks, Nynaeve catches up to them, and Rand runs into Padan Fain, establishing that he’s still alive and creeping around. Rand gets attacked by a Myrdraal, and they flee the city, stopped by some Whitecloaks, to whom Moiraine channels her inner Gandalf and does a ‘do not take me for a conjurer of cheap tricks’ move on him, and they flee off down the road. All skipped in the show.  

This wolf interaction with Perrin is out of order, the scene as it happens just doesn’t happen in the book, but it’s not until after they’ve split up that he starts to have any real interactions with the wolves. But since they also appear to have completely cut from the show a significant character to Perrin’s understanding of being a wolfbrother, I guess the more they can give us the better.

Now we head to Shadar Logoth and for once we’ve skipped a chance for some cool and violent special effects. In the book, they’re being pursued and before they are forced to flee into the city, Moiraine does some super cool channeling, an earthquake and a big wall of flame, but ah well. We’ll make it up with more violence later.

So now we enter Aridhol, now Shadar Logoth where once again we miss out on a whole bunch of really cool and significant scenes that I don’t know why we skipped. 

Of course, in the book, Thom and Nynaeve are also with them, so it’s a bigger crowd, but Rand, Mat and Perrin go exploring together to look around, and they meet a man named Mordeth who tells them that he’s found a treasure and needs their help carrying it to his horses outside the walls. They follow him down into essentially a giant treasure hoard before realizing there’s something not quite right about this dude at which time he basically turns into a creepy smoke and vanishes through a wall telling them they’re all going to die. There’s a mad dash back to the gang, and then they find out that Mordeth was the person basically responsible for the fall of the city all those centuries ago.

Mordeth is basically the Grima Wormtongue to Aridhol’s King Théoden, sort of turned the city super suspicious and distrusting, they fell to evil, and everybody in the city killed each other on one night of slaughter.

This whole story from Lan about how they were the richest and most powerful city who just opted to stop helping is not at all what the book tells us about them. They were manipulated, fell, and became a great tragedy rather than a greedy selfish city who got their comeuppance. 

They also don’t warn anybody beyond ‘Don’t touch anything’ and that’s the end of it, while in the book, because Mordeth is present and they tell Moiraine and Lan about him, they can be asked whether they accepted any gifts from him or let him touch them etc, to set up that Mat having grabbed that dagger from the treasure pile as a much bigger problem than we’re led to believe here in the show.

This conversation between Mat and Perrin about Leila’s knife obviously didn’t happen since Leila, as Perrin’s wife, didn’t exist in the book at all. It’s just some more heavy-handed setting up of Perrin’s ‘am I killer or am I creator’ character dilemma. I guess it also makes Mat no longer have a knife so he decides to take the ruby dagger.

In their escape in the book, it’s not fissures in the ground that split them up, but the presence of Mashadar, the evil force that is sort of like a smoke or a mist that causes them to have to split up. In any event, the roughly correct set of split parties happens in the show as in the book. Except that Thom is here and ends up with Mat and Rand, and Nynaeve is here and ends up first on her own, but then finding Lan and Moiraine like she does in the final scene of the episode, except her threat was delivered back in Baerlon when she first met up with the group instead of now.

Thom, Rand and Mat also end up on a boat heading downriver to Whitebridge instead of their continued overland trek. Moiraine had given all three boys a coin at the start of the story when she arrived in Emond’s Field which she didn’t do here. In the book she can track them by the coins, which sends her after Perrin, who still has his, Rand and Mat having spent theirs for passage on the ship that doesn’t exist here.

On the ship, Thom teaches Rand and Mat the basics of being a gleeman, Mat learns to juggle, Rand learns to play the flute. That ends up being how they continue on travelling, going from village to village, staying in inns where they perform for their supper.

The deviations really start to cascade going forward from here, so stay tuned for Episode Three, coming soon!

Next Episode
A Place of Safety – Misplaced Characters

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Author: Dan Ruffolo

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