Top 10 Sentimental Objects of Time
Cherished Items from the Wheel of Time Series and Why They Make You Cry
This article contains full spoilers for The Wheel of Time book series.
Moving has a way of stirring shit up. When you start packing, you become aware of all the things you own, and as you place them one-by-one into boxes, you think, "I do not need all these things...or do I?" Part of you recognizes it as an opportunity to clean house, get rid of that which does not serve you, reassess your priorities. And yet you still end up using twice as many boxes as you thought you'd need.
I am currently moving into a smaller space than where I live now, and I need to pare down. This requires a certain amount of ruthlessness that I was able to muster for about 1/4 of the dust cloud that was my bookshelf but was nowhere to be found when I looked at my basically useless CD collection. I couldn't imagine never again being able to hold Little Earthquakes in my hands, or the Cranberries albums that, along with my Sony Walkman, got me through every family road trip, or any of the countless little 5x5 plastic squares I was given as gifts in my adolescence.
I can have every intention to start living my best minimalist life. I can fully admit that there are objects I have not used, touched or even looked at in over 10 years. And yet, when the time comes to throw something away, it suddenly becomes the most important artifact of my life that I will certainly need someday and would be devastated to find gone.
So as I packed boxes and started hugging random items, I wondered: when does an object become more than just a thing? How does it become a cherished token, a symbol, an inside joke, an irreplaceable item you can never throw away? From what I can tell so far, it's when the object connects you to the memory of another person. Sometimes, that person is your past self.
Because I am a sucker for catharsis of any kind, I love when sentimental objects are used in books and movies to mess with our emotions. These objects appear innocently enough only to be brought back later to punch you in the gut. They call back a memory, a theme, or a connection. They tell a whole story with one picture. Despite the problematic personnel involved, one of my favorite examples of this is the gift of a thistle from Braveheart.
In The Wheel of Time, our main characters tend to pack lightly. Often on the road or on the run, traveling with whatever they can carry, there isn't much room for sentimentality in their blanket rolls. So it's all the more powerful to encounter an object that links one WoT character to another, or to their own past.
And that's what makes the things on this week’s list so special. The 10 sentimental objects listed below become symbols, sometimes iconic ones, that generate an immediate and deep emotional impact through their presence alone.
10. Moiraine’s Kesiera (TEOTW, Ch. 53)
“It had no power in itself, the stone, but the first use she had ever learned of the One Power, as a girl, in the Royal Palace in Cairhien, was using the stone to listen to people when they thought they were too far off to be overheard.”
You never forget your first time, so what could be more sentimental than a reminder of it? Like the most beautiful set of training wheels, Moiraine’s signature blue-stoned head chain will always remind her of her first flows of saidar, back when everything was simple and she wasn’t tasked with saving the guy who is saving the world. It must have been so exciting for little Moiraine to discover this eavesdropping trick, and you know she used it to her benefit all the time. Her kesiera is a sentimental object that has assumed iconic status but never forgets where it came from.
9. Aviendha’s Ivory Bracelet (TSR, Ch. 50; COT, Ch. 20)
“He thought it would suit Aviendha; whoever made it had carefully shown thorns among the blossoms.”
It’s usually a good thing when someone is honored by a gift you give them, especially when the gift didn’t cost you anything but a 70-woman tea party. But in this case, it doesn’t seem Rand is too pleased with Aviendha’s bizarre reaction to his attempt to soothe her temper with some nice jewelry.
In one of the first of many culturally-driven misunderstandings, the Maidens read way too much into the gift, Aviendha facepalms, and Rand is left trying to figure out which would dishonor Aviendha more—giving her the bracelet or taking it back (for all you Wetlanders, it's the latter).
Later on, the bracelet becomes a symbol of respect between first-sisters, as Aviendha begins to wear it regularly only after meeting her toh to Elayne. And Aviendha certainly does wear it regularly, carrying the memory of Rand close to her while they are apart, even going so far as to make sure it stays on her wrist in tel’aran’rhoid.
8. Elayne’s Feather Flower (TSR, Ch. 8; WH, Ch. 10, 12)
"How could he understand that she would keep the feathers because he had wanted them to be a flower?"
Elayne gets a lot of shit for having the least believable, most utilitarian relationship with Rand out of the three women he loves. But you’d be lying if you said you never felt stupid puppy love at first sight during a meet-cute in your garden with your doofy brother by your side.
Sure, Rand and Elayne's relationship is politically sensible and gets awkward almost immediately, thanks to Elayne’s letters, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for romance, and you know Elayne loves a good rom-com. So it stands to reason that of course there would be a flower involved, and, like Murron's thistle in Braveheart, one that is kept and cherished by a partner for years.
Though, we can't really call it a flower, can we? It's actually quite adorable and a bit heartbreaking to watch Rand try and fail to use saidin to fashion some feathers into a flower for Elayne in the Stone of Tear (sure, he did it for the majhere the night before, but performance anxiety is a thing).
Books later, even the coldest heart can’t help but melt a little when we discover that Elayne has kept the stray feathers in her purse all this time—"her greatest treasure," carefully wrapped in a silk handkerchief.
When Randayne finally get to get together and make some babes, Rand gets to compensate for the feather debacle by bestowing Elayne with a real saidin-infused flower—a golden lily left on her pillow. As she weaves protective wards around it, Elayne intends to keep the lily dear to her heart, too, but I'm willing to bet she'll always treasure the feathers more.
7. Mat’s Hat (TSR, Ch. 36)
“Stout, good sir, and nearly new. You will need its like to survive the Three-Fold Land. Here a man can die…like so.”
Artist: Corey Lansdell (IG: @coreylansdell)
Best. Impulse buy. Ever.