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Egwene's childhood illness. "Eye of the World" vs "Wheel of Time, Season 1." Cannoli Send a noteboard - 09/01/2022 02:52:59 AM

Nynaeve recalls Egwene’s childhood illness
Moiraine, in Eye of the World, convinces Nynaeve that she is able to channel, by relating her deductions of how Nynaeve has been unconsciously using the Power, including speculating that she had Healed one of the group who were in the inn when Nynaeve caught up with them. Nynaeve realizes this fits with her other experiences, and is forced to admit the truth to herself while she relates out loud the story confirming Moiraine’s guess.

“Egwene,” Nynaeve mumbled ... “She had breakbone fever.” She kept her head down and spoke to the ground. “I was still apprentice to Mistress Barran, and she set me to watch Egwene. I was young, and I didn’t know the Wisdom had everything well in hand. It’s terrible to watch, breakbone fever. The child was soaked with sweat, groaning and twisting until I could not understand why I didn’t hear her bones snapping. Mistress Barran had told me the fever would break in another day, two at the most, but I thought she was doing me a kindness, I thought Egwene was dying. I used to look after her sometimes when she was a toddler – when her mother was busy – and I started crying because I was going to have to watch her die. When Miostress Barran came back an hour later, the fever had broken. She was surprised, but she made more over me than Egwene. I always though she believed I had given the child something and was too frightened to admit it. I always thought she was trying to comfort me to make sure I knew I hadn’t hurt Egwene.”

The whole and sole point in this story is to suddenly add depth to a character previously shown as competent and formidable, but also mundane and something of an antagonistic role. She’s the domineering authority figure in the village where the other protagonists are high-spirited youngsters. She has to be the one to give Rand the bad news about his father. Moiraine, on the other hand, shows up to save the day and introduce the kids to the story the readers are looking for, she Heals Tam where Nynaeve was unable, and she has been guiding and protecting them to this point. Then Nynaeve shows up trying to quash all the fun and engaging in a clash of authority with Moiraine which is pointless in the eyes of a reader who is inclined to side with the person with special powers whom the narrative structure says is trustworthy. But in this first Nynaeve point of view chapter, we suddenly get inside her head and understand her feelings and her motivations are revealed, just as Moiraine breaks her down. At this point in the books, the Wisdom of Emond's Field is dead, and in her place is the Accepted with a Temper and a Black. Nynaeve is no longer the super competent authority figure, now she is just a channeler who does not know what she is doing. The implication is that she cheated, she was not a talented ordinary woman, with excellent knowledge and skills, she is doing it all with a preternatural assist.

But with this monologue, Jordan forever changes the image of Nynaeve. We see her motivation. She was a scared kid who cared about a child she knew and feared for her life, so she turned unknowingly to the One Power for something Moiraine says she “wanted more than anything else in the world, something (she) needed.” Healing for another person. Later details in future books will indicate this was remarkably selfless as spontaneous manifestations of channeling ability go as well as extremely complex and difficult on a scale of channeling feats. Here and now, though, it is enough to prove Nynaeve’s good intentions, establishe her relationships to the Emond’s Field kids and humanize her.


On the show, we get Nynaeve reuniting with Rand and Mat in Tar Valon and telling him the Two Rivers folk don’t need no Aes Sedai, she, Nynaeve, will take care of them, she’ll Heal what she can of Mat’s strange illness and they’ll go on without Moiraine. When Rand mentions he has not seen Egwene for a month, Nynaeve says “She’s alive,” and goes on with a similar story as in the books.

”You know, when Egwene was little, barely ten, her parents brought her to us, the old Wisdom and I. She had an infection already set into her muscles. They were cramping so badly that her legs were bent backwards on themselves. That’s why they call it breakbone fever. Usually, before the person dies, they snap their own legs and arms in half. The old Wisdom, she, um, she didn’t know what to do. So she started making a tea to ease her passing. But I couldn’t. So I took Egwene’s hands, and she held on so tight. She looked at me and she said ‘I’m not ready.’ She was so small. She just lay there the whole night, while her own body tried to break itself in half. And she didn’t cry. (chuckle, sniff) Not once. And she refused the Wisdom’s tea. In the morning, the fever had broken. Not her.”

Rand’s reaction is, “Sounds about right.”

“Egwene is many things, but above all else, she is unbreakable.”

The scene then cuts to Egwene about to pwn her Whitecloak interrogator, save Perrin and herself and escape with help from Moiraine’s distraction, Lan taking out their guards and Nynaeve disrupting pursuit and retrieving her horse no one.

This has nothing to do with Nynaeve. The whole point of this anecdote is how awesome Egwene is. However unrealistically. In the Nynaeve-centric anecdote from the book, the scale is played down. Mistress Barran is on top of it. Nynaeve’s distress is due to her inexperience and ignorance, seeing Egwene’s suffering and believing the suffering was an indicator of her danger, but we get her empathy and compassion along with her ignorance. She does not save Egwene’s life, but she acts believing she is in danger.

The show version, on the other hand, has “the old Wisdom” helpless and all she can think to do is prepare a tea to euthanize her ten-year-old patient. That ten-year-old Egwene is aware of her mortal peril, declares her unwillingness to die and refuses the tea. She goes on to overcome her illness by apparently her force of will. Nynaeve sums up the anecdote by announcing that Egwene is indestructible, all in the context of Rand being worried about Egwene and hoping she makes it to Tar Valon. The only meaning here is that Nynaeve literally believes that nothing is physically capable of stopping her or defeating or killing her.

In this case, the origins of the theme here is a hindsight perception resulting from Egwene’s arc as a captive in the Tower, where her more hyperbolic fans have raved about her being indestructible or unbreakable because she would not be broken by the Tower’s efforts. This is clearly fan-driven perception, somewhat at odds with objective facts in the plot. But Egwene’s fans sing the praises of Egwene as indestructible and pretend Books 2 & 3, where Egwene is, to a degree, destroyed and has to work her way back, don’t exist.

Which goes with the other aspect of how stupid this is, namely that even if you see Egwene’s arc in the Tower as evidence of her indestructibility, that’s at the end of the story. It was in the book that the author who created Egwene intended to be the finale of the series. The whole point of her character arc is to build her up to that point! Would Egwene have been so resistant to the Tower’s efforts without her experience with the Seanchan and the Wise Ones? Rather the show seems to be saying she was born with these qualities, and is somehow an inherently superior person, and that she does not need to grow or learn or improve, merely be exposed to skills for her to learn.

Worst of all, is that these changes to Egwene come at the expense of other characters. We don’t get backstory on Nynaeve, we don’t get a look at her interiority (a quality already difficult to convey on a medium limited to visual depictions and dialogue), because the incident has been repurposed to give Egwene absurd qualities.

Cannoli
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
*MySmiley*
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Egwene's childhood illness. "Eye of the World" vs "Wheel of Time, Season 1." - 09/01/2022 02:52:59 AM 96 Views
It's quite remarkable, really. - 19/01/2022 10:21:54 AM 11 Views

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