Well, lookie what we got here! If I don’t be mistaken, that thar is a Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn re-read!

Yeah, it’s me, and I’m back. It’s been a long time – almost a year. A lot of things have happened since then, and absolutely none of those things are going to be discussed here, because they matter not! You’re here (if you’re here) to read about MS&T, not hear my excuses. So let’s just do that.

First of all, you should notice a change in format. The summaries are much shorter now, with no block quotes filling them. I will be attempting to cover the important plot points in the summaries, and will be leaving anything else to the commentaries, which you may see soon, are just as long as they ever were. Sorry about that, hope you’ll read anyway!

And, as usual, if you have never read this series before, and have somehow found this site by accident, there WILL BE MASSIVE SERIES-BREAKING SPOILERS throughout this re-read and analysis. I do not believe I can stress this enough. DO NOT read this if you have never read the series before, unless you just don’t mind knowing how a many-thousand-page epic series concludes. There will be Spoilers. The will be MANY Spoilers. You have been warned.

Whoopy!

The Raven and the Cauldron

Summary

Maegwin and three of her maids are working hard to close a cattle gate, since all the men of Hernystir are out fighting, or planning to fight. Rhynn’s Cauldron, a massive warning bell, is being rung to warn outlying towns of danger from the battles being fought. She then visits her father in the Taig just as Eolair joins Lluth as well, and discussion begins on the attacks and scouting parties of Skali Sharpnose. Some strategy is discussed, including the fact that Gwythinn may return from Naglimund and help the rest of Hernystir’s men create a pincer attack with Skali in the middle. Lluth seems very troubled, and Maegwin attempts to comfort him, while Eolair in turn attempts to comfort the princess.

******

At Naglimund, Duke Isgrimnur and Prince Josua are visiting with Baron Devasalles of Nabban to ask for Leobardis’ and Nabban’s aid in the upcoming struggle, only to find that Devasalles had sent word two nights previously for Leobardis to come to Naglimund’s aid. Devasalles then warns the prince and duke that Leobardis’ wife Nessalanta, and eldest son Benigaris, do not side with Josua, so politics are currently tense in Nabban. Josua and Isgrimnur leave in much higher spirits, and decide to let Miriamele know the good news that her family will join the struggle on their side.

******

Tiamak is pondering a message he had received from Morgenes weeks ago, which warned of dire events to come. He also thinks of his treasure, a page from “Du Svardenwyrd,” and wonders if Morgenes had known he was in possession of such a relic. He wonders if he should travel to visit Morgenes, but then decides to wait for the doctor’s next message before making such a rash decision.

******

Josua, with Isgrimnur in tow, storms into Vorzheva’s room and demands to know what she has done with Princess Miriamele. Vorzheva admits to having forged Josua’s seal and sent Miriamele to Nabban to ask for Leobardis’ help, not knowing that word had already been sent of their aid to come. On top of this, they find that the “monk” Cadrach was sent along with Miriamele as protection, but Sangfugol speaks up to warn them of Simon’s dealings with Cadrach, and that the princess could be in danger. Josua and Isgrimnur rush to send out a search party at once.

******

Lluth, in full armor, visits his sleeping daughter Maegwin to let her know he is riding out shortly to engage Skali Sharpnose’s men. Afterward, Maegwin cries herself to sleep.

Commentary

After so long an absence, I had hoped my first post upon my return would be filled with a bit more splendor than this. I had forgotten about this chapter though. Not that it’s a bad chapter by any stretch of the imagination, I just feel that it does very little to move the plot along, and doesn’t really even provide a lot of extremely useful insights for the readers. There are a few items to discuss though.

During Maegwin’s section, we see for the first time the two recurring elements that seem to haunt Maegwin throughout the series. The first of which is the fact that she is tall and strong for a woman; these facts are often commented on by those around her, much to her emotional and psychological detriment. The second is her thoughts on how Eolair perceives here. It is obvious that she cares for him, and seemingly obvious to her that he thinks of her as nothing but the princess, and provides her simple courtesies for that reason alone. Of course, as we find out through POVs with the count over the course of the series, that is not quite the case, but alas, their love and the various hurdles in their way are part of what is possibly the saddest arc in the entire story.

Those of us who have read the story also know that the Hernystiri hopes of Gwythinn coming to their aid to help fight Skali is unfortunately not how things will play out. But we’ll talk about that later.

Josua and Isgrimnur’s scene with Devasalles struck me on this reading of being pretty insignificant, other than for it setting up their following scene with Vorzheva and Sangfugol. We do get to hear a bit about Leobardis’ problems with his wife and son however, which will prove to be extremely significant later on. Isgrimnur doesn’t seem to think much of Devasalles (despite the stories of him being a pretty good swordsman). Is it Devasalles who later becomes a bit of a hero during the seige on Naglimund for holding one doorway against countless enemies before finally being cut down? I can’t remember…

Anyhoo, during their confrontation with Vorzheva, Isgrimnur plays a bit of the role of “the guy holding the prince back,” but you can tell even he is baffled at Vorzheva’s actions, especially when he must inform her that a conman such as Cadrach could have memorized priestly lines just for the sake of conning, and not because he was a priest. Which is wrong in regards to Cadrach – he was a priest of course, but it’s still pretty goofy of Vorzheva, someone who keeps the company of a prince, and has been involved in his councils, to be so easily fooled by someone – especially since we saw the scene where she paid him, and he was drunk, but used a pretty inadequate excuse to deter her line of questioning on the subject.

Sangfugol gets somewhat thrown into the middle of this argument/discussion, and has a few humorous lines and thoughts as is his way, but other than that, this section is still just setup for what will eventually become Isgrimnur’s major story arc throughout the series.

Tiamak’s scene is another that provides us just a bit of information about something important, without really giving us enough information to know what’s going on. We, as readers, know that Morgenes’ message to him was not specifically about his piece of Nisses’ parchment, but rather as a warning to him as a friend and potential future member of the League. Of course, this piece of parchment becomes extremely important later, and we (being savvy genre readers and all) can assume a lot from a passage from “Du Svardenvyrd,” especially since we just heard about it in the story for the first time a few chapters back. It’s a method authors use of enlightening the readers to let us know something the characters don’t know. That way, we can always be asking the characters in frustration, “Why are you doing this action?!?” only to shortly thereafter say to ourselves, “Oh yeah, it’s because you don’t know what I know.” Williams really excels in this type of – I don’t think the proper word is “foreshadowing” for this type of technique, but it’s what I’m going to use – to amp up the anticipation and anxiety in his stories.

And that’s about it for now. Let’s move on, shall we?

Chapter 36 – Fresh Wounds and Old Scars

Summary

The first night after Simon, Binabik, and their friends leave Naglimund is uneventful. They take a short break close to morning for sleeping and eating, and Binabik, Simon, and Sludig have a quick (and somewhat tense) discussion on where they are going and why. The next day and night are also uneventful, except that when Simon wakes up that morning, it is snowing, and he is in pain from riding a horse for several days now.

Simon dreams that night that he is yet again snagged in the great wheel, rolling along the earth. At the pinnacle, he sees a great white tree in the distance, then falls off the wheel…

Simon’s party comes across the deserted town of Hullnir, where it appears all the Rimmersmen have fled from “Skali and his ravens,” and the northern snows and slows have claimed the buildings. They can see Aldheorte to the south as they move through the ruins.

******

Princess Miriamele and Cadrach have been riding for a day and a half when they come to the site of where a grisly battle has recently taken place. Even the princess and Cadrach can tell that the battle, which took place between Hernystiri and Rimmersmen at the Inniscrich, went very poorly for the Hernystiri – most of the dead are their own. Miriamele asks Cadrach to say some prayers for the dead, but the “priest” will not do it, and attempts to hurry them on. Miriamele stops them though when she sees a living man against a tree. The two investigate and Cadrach recognizes the man as Count Arthpreas of Cuimhne in Hernystir. The man awakens long enough to question where he saved Lluth, then calls Cadrach “Paedric” before dying. Miriamele is curious about this, but Cadrach dismisses it as the delusions of a dying man, then the two bury him.

******

Simon and his companions circle the lake Drorshull on their way to the mountains. After another day of traveling, they make camp and discuss whether or not someone may be following, especially with Qantaqa acting funny. Grimmric sings a song that worries Sludig, but that gives Binabik a clue as to what they may actually be searching for – not the “Rhymer’s Tree,” but rather the “Rimer’s Tree,” or the Uduntree, a legendary tree made entirely of ice.

The next day, the group comes across the burned ruins of Haethstad, and are attacked by nine men, one of whom – man wearing a hound-shaped helmet – Sludig says was involved in the attack on Hoderund’s Abbey. The group runs into the trees on their horses, with the armored men chasing them. Simon gets separated from the others, then is knocked off his horse. The man in the dog helmet finds Simon and dares Simon to shoot him. The man’s horse is shot by someone not Simon, and when he turns to investigate, three Sithi are standing behind him, one with an arrow knocked and pointed at Simon’s head.

Commentary

Cliffhanger!

So this chapter starts as just one of those typical “traveling from point A to point B” chapters that authors sometimes have to use to get their protagonists from one place to another, but turns into something much more intriguing by the end. It is interesting that this chapter is divided the way it is between Simon’s and Miriamele’s travels – there is almost something poetic in the way they are both traveling at the same time in almost opposite directions, both heading on the journey that will bring both of them to their end-series’ level of maturity by the time they meet again. Both of them are going to go through some pretty horrific things, and have their own adventures, and neither thinks of each other yet – but as we will see during the next few dozen chapters about them, both will start thinking of each other much more often. But that is for later.

For now, there are a few interesting things that happen in this chapter. In Miriamele’s section, the most important two things are that A – we learn of the off-scene battle which took place between Hernystir’s and Skali’s forces, which I believe is where Lluth receives his mortal wound, and B – we learn that Cadrach has even more of a secretive past than we previously thought.

Cadrach brings up some very interesting points when he discusses why he will not pray for his fallen countrymen’s or the Rimmersmen’s souls. Does he pray for the pagan Hernystiri, who are his countrymen but do not believe in or worship the Aedonite god? Does he pray for the Rimmersmen, who culturally are Aedonites, but are obviously in the wrong for this particular atrocity? It creates an interesting disharmony if I do say so myself – I mean, I’m not going to talk about Real World Politics here or anything, but I’m pretty sure there are at least a few modern-day examples of similar-type conflicts that human beings should at least think about once in awhile. And while I personally believe Cadrach’s digression into the philosophy of mourning is more of an excuse for him not to get down on his knees and say a prayer to a god he no longer believes in, it is worth Miriamele thinking about, I should say – after all, she is relatively naive in a worldly sense, and could probably use some lessons in Ethics 101.

In the more northerly part of the world, Simon’s group has a few interesting philosophical discussions as well, though possibly not quite as enlightening as the one above. Sludig, upon finding the ruins of Hullnir, wants to hunt down Storfot, one of Skali’s men, and the likely perpetrator of the crimes against the various ruined villages they come across. Binabik, however, forces Sludig to remember his pledge to Isgrimnur, his liege lord, and recognize that there are greater atrocities afoot, even than the destruction of Rimmersgard and northern villages. Sludig doesn’t like having this pointed out to him, but understands the troll is right, and leaves the argument alone for now. We will learn over the course of the series that Sludig is a bit of a hothead, and is constantly trying to avenge some horror, fight some bully, and right some wrong. It’s very good of him (in the ethical sense), and I actually do believe there is room in our world (and especially in fantasy worlds) for justified vengeance and capital punishment. For instance, even setting aside the emotional reasons behind vengeance (the “he deserves it” argument), there can also be logical reasons, such as the argument that you may be (and likely are) stopping future crimes. Obviously, at the car-jacking or pick-pocketing level, such punishments do not hold water, but at the more genocidal level (such as burning and destroying an entire village, and likely killing people within if they are there), I personal don’t have much of a problem with it. Especially since you cannot really say Sharpnose or Storfot are engaging in specific acts of war – they are not even at war with anyone right now – they are making preemptive strikes. Hell, they’re not even doing that – preemptive strikes usually at least are part of some sort of assumed tactical advantage – take out a military base, take out food reserves, etc, etc. Why would they be making preemptive strikes against these back-ass snowy country towns? They’re not – they’re just committing “crimes against humanity.” So yeah, don’t really have much of a problem with Sludig’s notion of vengeance here, and his ideas of hunting Storfot down and slitting his throat (thought that’s probably not how I would do it).

However, at the end of the day, as Binabik points out, we’re very much talking about the “greater good” here – and murdering Storfot in the middle of the night isn’t going to help prevent the Storm King from killing all the humans on the planet. So yeah… not really sure where I was going with that?

So, Grimmric’s song makes Sludig upset, which in turn gets Sludig ranting about Udun, the Rimmer, etc, which gets Binabik to realize that they are not looking for the “Rhymer’s Tree,” but the Uduntree. The conversation between the two lists at least four different names for the tree all in one sentence, along with a bit of confusing yick-yack about Udun himself. It’s an instance of showing the loss in translation which happens between different languages, and thus adds a bit of realism to the world (all the different nations/cultures with different languages don’t happen to just all call something the same name, which is realistic). Them talking about this tree leads to a somewhat weird scene with Simon going into somewhat of a trance. I always thought this scene was supposed to be relevant in somewhat, but other than it just being about Simon thinking about the White Tree (which he does anyways), I don’t really know what it’s meant to signify, and thus the scene just seems… well, I’ve already said “weird,” I guess I don’t need to go any further on that.

When Simon eventually curled up that evening between the humped and mossy roots of a nearly leafless oak tree he was feeling a little better, although the wine made him think he heard voices singing strange songs on the wind.

I always took that sentence to mean exactly what it said – he thought he heard voices, possibly as a trick of the weather, wind whistling through the trees, all that stuff. However, going by what happens later in the chapter, does he actually hear Sithi singing?

Which leads us to the crux of this chapter, the attack of Ingen Jegger on Simon and his party. We get a tense few pages of Simon fleeing through the trees, dodging arrows, being saved at least once by Qantaqa, then confronting Jegger himself (not that he knows who it is yet). This is their first confrontation, and while Jegger doesn’t actually start monologuing per se, he does make a pretty stupid decision to dare Simon to shoot him – after all, by the laws of just rewards, the fact that he stood there with an arrow pointed at him, daring someone to shoot him, means that he will get shot, whether or not by the person he is daring. Of course, it is not him that is shot, it is his horse, which means that he’ll be back to bother us again later. Which is fine, since as I’ve said before, I think he makes for a suitable nemesis for Simon.

Hello An’nai! We’ll talk with you more later!

******

And, that’ll do for now. Welcome back folks, hope to see you again!

Shadowrise
Shadowrise by Tad Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where Shadowplay really picked up the pace from Shadowmarch not only in terms of action, but in terms of originality and creativity, Shadowrise continues forward in one direction, but I feel steps backwards in the other. The story really comes into its own in this book, with all the characters starting to sound much more like full entities instead of cardboard cut-outs, and a lot of really great ideas are introduced (or expanded upon). Despite this, however, I found myself feeling restless throughout large portions of the book – other than Barrick’s various adventures beyond the Shadowline, very little in the way of action happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for R.A. Salvatore-style nothing-ever-stops-happening fantasy, but I felt through reading this book that I would really like to just skip passed major sections and get back to the story, which to me, seemed odd considering its placement in the series. In particular, I found Captain Vansen’s storyline to be extremely dull, and seemed almost like filler to me – which is a shame, because during the first two books, Vansen was my favorite character.

Something else I’ve noticed is that I feel that Tad Williams’ prose doesn’t have the grace it once had. I did not pick up on this through the first two books, possibly because I was enthralled by the origins of the story as well as by a lot of action, but during the slower parts of Shadowrise, this really stood out to me. When I look at series like Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Otherland, where I have memorized passages of text because of how they stand out to me as being so beautifully-well crafted, I definitely feel that Shadowmarch is a slight step down. Some of it these feelings I attribute to my overall unrest with the book, but some I feel come from some new stylistic choices Williams had made in these books – such as becoming a bit more graphic in his speaking of sex (though nothing like Martin, who I often call the Stephen King of fantasy).

Without a doubt though, one of Tad Williams’ greatest strengths as a writer is his ability in a series for the penultimate volume to finally begin putting together all the plot pieces like a puzzle – and like a puzzle, the picture becomes clear in a way that is very satisfying to the reader. This story does not disappoint in that regard – the way Barrick’s history with the Qar is slowly revealed, similarly overlapping various reveals of his father Olin, and the slave girl Qinnitan, is pure genius, and I found myself being very delighted to read the last few chapters where the reveals became more important. This made me hunger for more, which is another of Williams’ stronger authorial techniques, and one that he has not yet failed at delivering as far as I’m concerned.

Overall, I would say this book is a pretty strong B+ for the fantasy genre as a whole, but well below average for Tad Williams (who I make no excuses for being my favorite author – fantasy or otherwise).

I will not be able to start Shadowheart until next week, but from the non-spoiler reviews I’ve read, I expect it to really pick up the pace to go out with a bang.

View all my reviews

Lots of thingies coming up, just wanted to let people know if there is any interest.

Firstly (and in my opinion, most importantly), I will be restarting my re-read and analysis of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. I will pick up where I left off, doing shorter summaries, but just as much detail in the analysis.

Secondly, I am also reading through Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch series for the first time now, and have some thoughts on it, and plan to do a few blogs that are half-review/half-analysis of those as well.

Thirdly, I will be updating my Wheel of Time Casting Call with a few items that have been discussed a bit in the blog. It won’t be huge, but several characters’ actors are being changed after much thought and consideration, and I really need to create some sort of “Master List.”

Finally, as for the reason I have been extremely absent, this blog will also soon become the home of my original novel I have been working on for the last year or so, to be self-published in the not-too-terribly-distant future.

Cheers!

Welcome back to the Very Last Week of The Wheel of Time Casting Call! It’s been a fun (and occasionally bumpy) ride, but after this week, there is no more to cast (assuming A Memory of Light doesn’t add any new and super-important characters). This last casting call brings us back fully to Team Light, and to the characters who most tend to agree are the most important protagonists in the series.

First though, a note on the art: For most of the art I use for characters, I am getting it from the amazing Seamas Gallagher gallery, who does some of the best WoT art out there. Some of the other I’ve used is from the equally amazing Jeremy Saliba. A lot of the art I use is cropped, so that I can fit the most character on the screen without having to deal with fancy borders and such, so you guys should definitely check these guys’ sites out (where you will find the full, beautiful pictures) and support them if at all possible. Some characters, no matter how important(ish) they are, do not have art though.

I had no art controversies this week – there is no shortage of Egwene and Rand art, so the big deal was choosing the art I find to be most representative of the actual characters.

And finally, for the last time, there will be spoilers up to and including Towers of Midnight. You have been warned.

So let’s see what happens.


This last week, we go to (arguably) the two most important characters in the series – Egwene al’Vere, the Amyrlin who saved and united the White Tower in time for the Last Battle, and Rand al’Thor, The Dragon Reborn, destined to die to save the world from the Dark One. I say arguably because, as ta’veren, Mat and Perrin are likely going to be more important in the actual Last Battle than Egwene, but Egwene’s actions have made it safe for Rand to trust the Aes Sedai to do what they need to do, and she’s also much more likely to (quite frankly) end up in the history books than the other two guys. Just sayin.’

Egwene and Rand, by Seamas Gallagher

We’ve been following these two characters since the very beginning – Rand was the first character we were ever introduced to, and Egwene was basically the first person Rand thought about, then was introduced very shortly thereafter. Egwene, as stated above, was one of the main contributors to getting the Aes Sedai – likely the most powerful force in Randland that was hobbled by arrogance, stupidity, and unbeneficial rules and regulations – whipped back into shape, to perform at the Last Battle. Rand is, of course, the main Hero and protagonist of the story, and the person who the entire book is written for and about – he is The Wheel of Time‘s Jesus, Buddha, Tyr, and various other mythological parallels all wrapped up into one tragic hero, and if the last book is any evidence, he is going to make sure, if nothing else, he goes out with a bang.

So let’s find out who will play them.

Egwene al'Vere
Egwene al’Vere started off as Rand’s . . . uh, I guess girlfriend? . . . promised wife? . . . whatever, but had to move on with her life once Rand came into his power. By dint of fate, she was not destined to be with him, and eventually came into some pretty serious power of her own. As explained up above, Egwene, as the new Amyrlin, pretty much single-handedly beat the rebel Aes Sedai into submission, and ended the White Tower schism. It wasn’t an easy road for her, but she was up to the task.

She is a favorite character of many people. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t particularly like her either. I find her methods to be disingenuous – she has bullied and lied to her friends and allies, just to get what she wanted, often while hypocritically preaching about how bullying and lying doesn’t work. I do see though, that she has accomplished some great things for herself and the Aes Sedai, and she may be pretty much the only reason we will have a good force of Aes Sedai in the last battle.

Egwene is described as beautiful, with large brown eyes and long dark hair. She briefly wore her hair in a braid, the Two Rivers symbol that a woman has come of age, but once she began taking lessons from Moiraine she decided to take it down because “Aes Sedai don’t braid their hair. At least, not unless they want to.” Her height is often commented on, as she is pretty short. Rand thinks about her large, dark eyes that he “could drown in,” so I guess they’re important, too.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge internet consensus on who should play Egwene, so that makes my job a bit easier. I will say, though, for all you people who think Kristen Kreuk would make a good Egwene, well you, sirs and ladies, can go to hell. And I say that with the utmost good intentions. Seriously, KK couldn’t act her way into Clark Kent’s pants, so don’t feed me that BS for The Wheel of Time!

I’m going with Rachael Leigh Cook on this one. Yup, like all my other main peoplez, she’s older than Egwene, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to put some decent actors in this thing. Rachael is a very pretty (natural) brunette, and she definitely has those large eyes Rand can dream about. Plus, at the end of the day, she seems to really be into the sci-fi/fantasy thing, doing a ton of voice acting for shows and video games, which means she’ll respect the material. So I’m down with this.

Rachael Leigh Cook as Egwene

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Psyche
She’s All That
Various other TV Shows and Video Games


Rand al'Thor
And here we are, to Mr. Rand al’Thor, The Dragon Reborn, the Savior of the World, he who will die for our sins and be resurrected in three da . . . oh, wrong savior (though it may happen anyway!). Rand al’Thor, who the entire series is about, he is the climax of the Third Age, he is the dénouement to our Wheel of Time drama, and he is awesome. I’m not going to lie – Rand is my favorite character in the books. Sure, sure, he’s not funny like Mat, and sure, he’s not all emofuzzy like Perrin (wait, is that a good thing, or what?), but at the end of the day, Rand is solid. He was thrust into destiny without being asked, and while he makes mistakes, he (very deontologically, I may add) goes on about his duties, because that is what is needed for the world to survive. He may have been on some shaky ground for awhile after Moiraine went bye-bye, but he still kept going, because he knew he was the last, true hope. And I just kinda like that kind of hero, the one who doesn’t wine about it, but just sucks it up, takes his nasty chest and hand wounds, and keeps on trucking.

The most important features about Rand have always been his height, and his hair coloring. Both of these get him into some risky situations, with people thinking he’s an Aiel (guess what!?!). He is very tall, taller than even most Aiel, he has broad shoulders, and is pretty muscular. His hair is red, his eyes are gray, and nowadays, he seems all carved from wood and rock, as he has forced himself to be hard. Now that he’s finally smiling again, I imagine people find him handsome as well, but that’s not what’s important. He is super charismatic – when he stands in a room, people look up to him even before he becomes the Dragon Reborn.

I just don’t know what people are thinking when they throw actors like Josh Hartnett, Garret Hedlund, and ::shiver:: Hayden Christensen up for Rand. Not only are they not even remotely like Our Hero in physicality, they don’t even embody the charisma needed to be someone like Rand. Someone I’ve not seen cast often for him is Chris Hemsworth, and if I weren’t using the person I’m using, he would be a pretty reasonable choice, I believe.

So who did I go with? Who is meant to save the world from the Dark One, and inspire thousands and millions of other little boys to take up the sword, learn about duty, and fight Trollocs? None other than Alexander Skarsgård could fill those shoes for me. He is everything Rand is (minus 18 years old, of course – though I definitely believe he looks young enough to pull off Rand with no problem) – he is tall and broad, he has the right hair and eye colorings. He is extremely charismatic – just go watch some interviews with him, he dominates any conversation he’s in. And he’s one of the finest actors that no one knows about right now. He’s close enough to an “unknown actor,” that people would probably be able to look positively on him if he were in the movie. Which, in my mind he is. The photos I chose below look like he’s even ready for it – he’s in some black Asha’Man garb in one of them, and in the other, he looks like he’s holding a sword. He is Rand al’Thor.

Alexander Skarsgard as Rand al'Thor

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
True Blood
The Last Drop
13


And that’s a wrap, folks. I am officially done with The Wheel of Time Casting Call. I’m not going to get all ego-maniacal and say “my casting call is the best one out there,” but I will tell you, I have put a literal shit-ton of work into this project. I’ve gone and watched movies to check out actors and actresses, I’ve spent hours and hours debating various actors with my brothers and friends (who also read the series), and I’ve really put my mind into this project at a deep . . . philosophical . . . level to make sure I did the best job I could possibly do.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I hope you’ve liked my Cast. I hope Tor, Harriet, Brandon, Universal Pictures, and Red Eagle have caught glimpses of this along the way, and know that if they ever do this thing, they need to do it right. And I hope that if Mr. Jordan was looking down every now and then to check up on this crazy world, he would be pleased with this project as well, and realize that this whole thing comes from the love of a fantastic series.

Please keep an eye out here for other projects in the future.

Cheers!
-Brandon Daggerhart

Hey, it’s me again. I feel like I do this a lot, huh? Anyway, for anyone who reads the other big thing on my blog, The Wheel of Time Casting Call, you’ll know I’m about to have some free Fridays. The Casting Call is ending, and I plan on taking its place with the MS&T Re-read. Sorry it’s been such a hectic schedule the last two months, but quite frankly, those two projects are too large to fit in the same week with each other, especially when I’m writing my own stories on the side, and am a full-time musician. So anyway, one more week, I promise, and MS&T will be back and ready for action.

Also, there may be a cool surprise for all you Tad Williams fans soon, collaborated between myself and Olaf Keith of A Gentle Madness. Keep an eye out for it!

Cheers,
Brandon Daggerhart

Welcome back to the NEXT-TO-LAST The Wheel of Time Casting Call. We’re in week 4 of our Tier 1, or primary characters, and we’re going to do a little bit of a Yin Yang thing in this week’s episode.

As a note on the art: For most of the art I use for characters, I am getting it from the amazing Seamas Gallagher gallery, who does some of the best WoT art out there. Some of the other I’ve used is from the equally amazing Jeremy Saliba. A lot of the art I use is cropped, so that I can fit the most character on the screen without having to deal with fancy borders and such, so you guys should definitely check these guys’ sites out (where you will find the full, beautiful pictures) and support them if at all possible. Some characters, no matter how important(ish) they are, do not have art though.

Speaking of the art, I’m not going to mince words here – there is literally no art of Moridin out on the webz. Seriously. Google it. You’ll come up with a fake CCG where someone used some art that only barely looks like Moridin, you’ll find some weird boy-love fanart of Moridin and Voldemort, and you’ll come up with a lot of pictures of Jude Law and Ishamael. That’s it. It’s stupid – he’s one of the most important characters in the series, and no one’s done any serious art of him. I even tried to find art that looked close enough to what I imagined Moridin to look like, all to no avail. DeviantArt, Google Images, and ConceptArt all failed me. So yeah, I had very little to go with here, as you will see. I promise, if anyone can send me some actual Moridin art, I will put it in this post.

Oh, and there will be spoilers, up to and including Towers of Midnight. You have been warned.


The penultimate Casting Call goes to two characters who were very much behind the scenes, super important characters for the second half of the series. Moridin shows up around A Crown of Swords, and though Rand doesn’t know it, Moridin begins gathering up and putting in line the Dark One’s key players – the other Forsaken, and various other evil peoplez. Rand finally pulls back this curtain (accidentally) in The Gathering Storm, but it leads to Rand walking down the darkest path he’s yet walked. Moiraine Damodred, on the other hand, only became “behind the scenes,” when we realized, as readers, that she had to be alive (due to Min’s Viewings of her). It became so important, because we knew she was the first name on Rand’s list of dead women, and she was going to be one of the keys to Rand’s triumph. Her rescue was one of the most anticipated arcs for the last half of the series, and now we can only wonder at what her importance will be (though I’m hoping and betting that the keywords “Rand getting his ass balefired by Moraine to prevent him from turning to the Dark in a 13/13 move” are involved in some way ;)).

M&M are, as far as we can tell, going to be two key players in the upcoming Last Battle. Most people seem to agree (though some don’t like it) that Moridin will be who Rand has to fight, as the avatar of the Dark One versus the avatar of the Creator (or something like that). Of course, Our Hero still has to seal the Bore after that, but as sneaky, sneaky Verin said, the Dark One is not fighting this battle like the Heroes think, so there are likely to be some major surprises to be had. As for Moiraine, on the other hand, we have no idea why she is so important that Min literally had a Viewing to the effect of “Rand has no chance without Moraine.” There are theories, many of them involving Moraine being the second of the two woman Rand will take with him (along with Nynaeve) to seal the Bore. We’ll see.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

We met Moridin as simply “the Wanderer” in Shadar Logath, who helped Rand during his battle with Sammael. Despite all of Egon Spengler’s warnings, Moridin and Rand crossed their balefire streams, and shit got seriously frakked up. Somehow, seemingly due to this event, the two of them have begun merging in some weird, metaphysical way – Rand can’t channel saidin without feeling nauseous, and Moridin begins feeling some of Rand’s physical pain, including our poor boy’s arm getting blown off.

Moridin seems to play a bit of that “calm, cool, and collected” villain, where little gets under his skin, but he definitely has a temper. Physically, he is strikingly handsome, with blue eyes and black hair. He has a deep voice and a square chin, and looks to be in his mid twenties. We also know him to be very tall now, with broad shoulders.

I’ve seen a lot of people calling for Jude Law for the role, and while I don’t disagree with that choice (and would even support it should the movie/TV show be made without my input!), I think we can do better. My ideal choice would be David Boreanaz from the Buffy/Angel days, back when he was younger and . . . ahem . . . thinner.

I know he’s going to have to grow some of his hair back, but I like Wentworth Miller for this role. Miller has an aura about him that just seems to ooze malicious intentions. He always looks like he’s planning for two steps ahead of everyone else around him, and quite frankly, he looks like a bit of a dick. Which I think Moridin should be. Granted, he’s only a couple years younger than Boreanaz, but he’s aged a bit better. And in other news, he’s thinner.

Wentworth Miller as Moridin

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
Prison Break
Underworld
Various TV Shows


Moiraine e-Book cover

And then we come up to Moiraine Damodred, who is possibly going to give me the largest headache I’ve had since starting this project, due to the unwavering fanboy/girl-ism of using a specific actress for her part. We’ll get to that in a bit. In the meantime, here’s what we know. Moiraine was held prisoner by the Snakes and Foxes after she supposedly killed Lanfear at the docks of Cairhein, in one of the most awesome and heroic scenes in the series. She has lost a lot of power since then, but has become a bit of a legend amongst the Aes Sedai. There’s even the possibility that she will get a spanking from Cadsuane – Cadsuane promised in New Spring, and being bound to the Oaths, that technically must happen, right? :) Even before her heroics, she was one of the most important characters, being the person who found and trained Rand to become the person he is.

Moiraine

She is a short woman, which is talked about often. She has large, dark eyes, and long, dark hair that hangs in ringlets, and is very pretty, with a smooth, ageless face of an Aes Sedai. She is often noted for her very pale Cairheinen skin tones. She has a lot of charisma, and her face and eyes seem to demand attention. She has a melodious voice and laugh, and pretty smile.

So let’s get this out of the way. I just don’t like Rachel Weisz. Believe me, I’ve tried. As it has become apparent over the years that everyone things she should play Moiraine, I have tried to fit her into the mold in my mind, and I just can’t do it. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about. It’s not that I think she’s a bad actress (though I think she sucked in The Mummy – but then again, everyone sucked in The Mummy), and it’s certainly not that I think she doesn’t look the part. I think it’s her voice. For whatever reason, her voice just doesn’t do it for me. Moiraine’s voice is constantly called “melodious,” “chiming,” or some other metaphor for “musical.” Granted, this is very subjective, but I just don’t see Weisz doing what I want her to do. Maybe I’m just nit-picking.

So, I’m going with Mary Louise Parker, who has easily become one of my favorite actresses in the last five years or so. She has pale, creamy skin, naturally long, dark hair, and big, dark eyes. She is gorgeous, and I really like how her voice sounds, especially thinking of Moiraine. She also has an appearance that, to me, demands attention, which I believe would be necessary for Moiraine. I do admit that there is a bit of a height issue – Moiraine is very short, while Parker is pretty tall for a lady, but I figure in scenes where it really matters, they could use LotR-style camera tricks to make her appear shorter. So there you have it – one of the most-asked-about casting choices in the entire series (which is why I left it for next-to-last). Feel free to disagree!

Mary Louise Parker as Moiraine Damodred

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Weeds
Red Dragon
Red


That’s it. We can agree to disagree if you have problems with Mary Louise Parker. You ain’t changing my mind on that one.

So tune in next week for the very last Casting Call. I feel there may be some (hopefully pleasantly) surprised faces once I reveal Rand and Egwene. We’ll see what happens.

Cheers!
-Brandon Daggerhart

Welcome back to The Wheel of Time Casting Call. We’re in week 3 of our Tier 1, or primary characters, and we’re coming back to Team Light this week (yay!).

As a note on the art: For most of the art I use for characters, I am getting it from the amazing Seamas Gallagher gallery, who does some of the best WoT art out there. Some of the other I’ve used is from the equally amazing Jeremy Saliba. A lot of the art I use is cropped, so that I can fit the most character on the screen without having to deal with fancy borders and such, so you guys should definitely check these guys’ sites out (where you will find the full, beautiful pictures) and support them if at all possible. Some characters, no matter how important(ish) they are, do not have art though.

Oh, and there will be spoilers, up to and including Towers of Midnight. You have been warned.


So next up on our list come two of the characters that, in my opinion, are very similar – both characters seem psychologically invested in other people not seeing their interior, or their core character. Nynaeve comes about it from needing people to accept her – first as a Wisdom, then as an Aes Sedai – in situations where she would not typically be accepted as those. She was considered by many to be too young to be a Wisdom, and then she skipped novice training, and didn’t get to pass the Aes Sedai tests, so constantly had to battle people not believing she was who she said she was. This put up some pretty serious walls. Mat’s is a little different, but it comes from the same place – he fears being an important person, and fears being responsible for the lives (and deaths) of people around him, so he runs from his responsibilities for many books, before finally shouldering the burden of being a general and a hero. These psychologies are very important for the characters’ Castings.

Mat and Nynaeve, by Seamas Gallagher

Anyone who’s made it through three chapters of the series knows who these characters are, and they are two of the most important in the series. Mat, of course, is a ta’veren, and one of Our Heroes who will be leading the ranks of Light into the final battle (presumably?), while Nynaeve has been extremely important for the Light in a bit more of a background role. She is, as Masema once said, “like a mother” to Rand, and without her, Saidin would likely not be cleansed. She is also (once again, presumably), heading to Shayol Ghul with Rand to do the final deed, whenever that is. Possibly will even be the one to bring back Rand from death. So yeah, kinda important.

So what do I have in mind for them?

Nynaeve, from The Path of Daggers e-book cover
Well, the actress to play Nynaeve al’Meara has to be someone who can play a temper-tantrum-prone lady. The main characteristic we know about Nynaeve, all the way from back in The Eye of the World, is that she gets angry. And you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry, nosiree. She screeches like a cat, yanks her braid out of her head, crosses arms under her breasts, and starts calling people “woolheads.” Of course, there’s another characteristic of her that is worth mentioning – that is, she’s very pretty.

She has (up until the latest book, anyway) long, dark hair, tied in a braid that she likes to keep drawn over her shoulder (the better to yank it with). She has dark eyes, and is often drawn looking pouty (or angry), but is said by many to be very pretty, or even beautiful. She is often described to be on the shorter side as well, but I’m going to have to bypass that one, unfortunately.

So, a lot of people really like Evangeline Lilly or Beckinsale for this role. As for Beckinsale, I don’t see it at all. I honestly believe that someone, somewhere, saw that one picture of her looking pretty with a long braid, and said, “Hey, that looks like Nynaeve.” For Lilly, I think there’s a possibility she could do the role, but my main problem with her (other than some minor, nit-picky acting issues I have with her based on her performances as Kate) is that she just looks too . . . cute. I don’t know how else to describe it. She looks like someone that you could hug in place of your teddy bear when you’re having a bad day, not like someone who could thump you with a stout stick.

Therefore, I will be going with Laura Mennell. Mennell is a beautiful young actress, with long, dark hair, and the perfect shape to her face to play the angry/pouty look we see in so many Nynaeve portraits. She hasn’t been in a ton of films yet, but I’ve been suitably impressed by what I’ve seen of her. She also looks to be exactly the right age to still look young and girly (and thus, not be taken as seriously as she may should be), while actually being old enough to be the Wisdom and Aes Sedai she becomes.

Laura Mennell as Nynaeve

Places you’ve possibly seen her:
Watchmen
Flight 93
Various TV Shows


Mat, from The Fires of Heaven e-book Cover
And now we come to many peoples’ favorite character in the series, Mat Cauthon. While he is not my personal favorite (though he is one of them), I can certainly see his appeal. He’s smart, witty, funny, clever, and apparently pretty good-looking to boot. He is the best general on the planet right now, due to all those memories shoved into his head, and he has a very strong moral and ethical code by which he lives, which should lead to some interesting conversations with his wife in the very near future.

Physically, he is not as tall as the other heroes (I’ve seen his height listed as between 5’9″ and 5’11″), but is wiry and long-limbed. He has brown hair and eye(s), a bit of a permanent smirk on his face, and walks with a “confident slouch.” I’m assuming that means he walks in a manner that would put off would-be attackers? Make-up-wise, he has a pretty gruesome scar around his neck from being hanged, and is currently sans one eyeball.

Mat is another of those characters who there seems to be very little consensus on who should play him, though Sean William Scott (ugh) h as come up a few times. I don’t know what I think about that other than, “wha-huh?” You can quote me on that.

So I’m going with Emile Hirsch, a very fine actor who has gotten more popular in recent years. Quite frankly, he looks to me exactly how I picture Mat in my head, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time and energy justifying this choice. He has the right hair and eye color, I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard for him to have the right build (he’d need to lose a few pounds), and he’s even not that old – he’s the youngest of the actors I’ve cast for Our Heroes. Plus, look at that picture of him in a hat. Just look at it! That’s frakkin Mat bloody Cauthon right there!

Emile Hirsch as Mat Bloody Cauthon

Places you’ve possibly seen him:
The Girl Next Door
Into the Wild
Milk


Well, that’s it for this week. Hope you’ve enjoyed. Next week will finally get to one of the characters that people have been asking me about since I first started this blog. Maybe I’ll stir up some trouble.

Cheers!
-Brandon Daggerhart

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