Hello, everyone, and welcome back to your briefly interrupted Wheel of Time Re-read!
My little birthday vacay was lovely, involving purple flowers, Cowboy Be-Bop music, filet mignon (OMGSOGOOD), and of course martinis. Oh, and kicking some random guy’s ass at darts, that was awesome. Two double bullseyes in a row, sucka!
And that was after the martinis. Phear my drunken dive bar game skillz, yo! It’s good to know I have something to fall back on.
Ahem! Anyway. Thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes, and for not breaking the site while I was gone, it is muy apprecianado. (Yes, I know I have just committed a crime against Spanish. As is only appropriate on Seis de Mayo!)
Today we are covering Chapters 42-44 of The Shadow Rising, whoo! Previous entries are neatly Indexed here, and as always please beware of rampant spoilers for the entire series in all of these posts.
Let’s get to it!
Chapter 42: A Missing Leaf
Perrin is in the wolf dream, standing among the empty Tinker wagons with no wound or pain. He puts his hand on his axe, but the hammer is there instead.
He frowned; once he would have chosen that way, had even thought he had, but surely no more. The axe. He had chosen the axe. Hammerhead suddenly became half-moon blade and thick spike, flickered back to stout cylinder of cold steel, fluttered between. Finally it stopped, as his axe, and he exhaled slowly. That had never happened before.
He thinks Slayer is out there somewhere, and is suddenly also armed with bow and arrow. He begins zigzagging across the Two Rivers, checking to see how far word has spread, thinking about how Faile is a queen’s cousin, and yet loved him, and that women were strange, yet wonderful. Then he sees a flock of ravens flying toward the mountains, and follows, to where the Manetheren Waygate sits. All seems normal, and Perrin is about to leave when he realizes that there is only one Avendesora leaf on the gate, instead of two the way Loial had left it, and in the next moment the Waygate is open. He examines the gate, and notes that he cannot pass through the reflective surface here. The gate begins swinging shut, and he jumps out of the way; he’s sure it means more Trollocs and Fades are entering the Two Rivers right at that moment in the real world. Suddenly Perrin senses he is being watched, and leaps aside just barely in time to avoid an arrow through his heart. He dashes away out of the valley in one step, and jumps back to a vantage point above the valley, searching for Slayer. He finds him lying in wait for Perrin to recross his path.
This was the first time Perrin had gotten a good look at him; a hundred paces was little distance for his eyes. This Slayer’s high collared coat had a Borderland cut, and his face looked enough like Lan’s to be the Warder’s brother’s.
But Perrin knows Lan has no living kin, and though this man wears his hair the same as Lan, he rejects the idea that he is Malkieri, because Lan is the only one left. Perrin prepares to shoot him from behind, feeling no remorse for doing so, but Slayer somehow senses him and streaks away. Perrin curses and follows, and as he stands in the Westwood trying to detect Slayer’s scent, Slayer begins talking to him from concealment, telling him it was a “neat trick”, locking the Waygate, and if he knew how many Shadowspawn had died there trying to get out, he would be thrilled, but now the gate is open.
“It was only a few hundred to begin, Goldeneyes. Just enough to keep those fool Whitecloaks off balance and see that the renegade died.” Slayer’s voice became angry. “The Shadow consume me if that man does not have more luck than the White Tower.” Abruptly he chuckled. “But you, Goldeneyes. Your presence was a surprise. There are those who want your head on a pike. Your precious Two Rivers will be harrowed from end to end, now, to root you out. What do you say to that, Goldeneyes?”
Perrin wonders why the man is talking so much, drawing him right to him, and then realizes it’s probably an ambush. He grins, deciding not to play Slayer’s game, and steps out of the wolf dream, intending to wake up. Instead he finds himself in a regular dream with Faile nuzzling him. He wakes up the next morning painfully, to find Faile and Ihvon in the wagon with him. Faile tells him to lie still after all the thrashing he did in his sleep, but Perrin tries to get up, telling them he has to get to the Waygate. Faile tells him under no circumstances is he running off to the mountains with an arrow in him; he’s going to Emond’s Field. He argues at first, but knows she is right and gives in with ill grace. Ihvon murmurs that there will be more Trollocs then, and leaves. Perrin is wild to get going, but Faile feeds him breakfast and grooms him, ignoring his protests.
By the time she got around to brushing his hair and combing his beard, he had settled on dignified silence.
“You are pretty when you sulk,” she said. And pinched his nose!
Ila comes in and she and Faile help him dress; Perrin compliments Ila on the stitching job on his coat, and she tells him Faile did it. Faile flushes, and Perrin remembers her claim that she would never sew for him, and merely thanks her solemnly; she blushes even more. They help him outside, and the Two Rivers boys tell him all about the Tinker women dancing. Perrin says he’s seen it, and Faile tells him the tiganza is one thing, but one day she will dance the sa’sara for him, and “show you what a dance really is”. Ila gasps in recognition of the name, and Faile blushes redder than ever. Perrin decides he really really wants to see that. Perrin tries again to convince Raen to come to Emond’s Field, and Raen is again surprised that he considers listening, but again refuses.
“The Way of the Leaf is not only to do no violence,” Ila said gently, “but to accept what comes. The leaf falls in its proper time, uncomplaining. The Light will keep us safe for our time.”
The Tinkers give extended goodbyes to the Two Rivers party, except Aram, who is standing off to the side sullenly, and Perrin notices that somehow Faile is keeping any of the Tinker women below a certain age from giving him kisses. Raen and Perrin exchange the ritual farewell, and Perrin wonders if they will ever find the song, and hopes they will at least find safety. After they are a mile north of the Tinker camp, the Aiel reappear. Gaul joins Perrin and asks after his wound; Perrin lies that it is fine, and asks if Gaul spent a pleasant night playing Maiden’s Kiss. Gaul stumbles and almost falls on his face, and Perrin asks what’s wrong. Gaul asks who he heard suggest that game, and Perrin replies that it was Chiad.
“Chiad,” Gaul muttered. “The woman is Goshien. Goshien! I should take her back to Hot Springs as gai’shain.” The words sounded angry, but not his odd tone. “Chiad.”
“Will you tell me what is the matter?”
“A Myrddraal has less cunning than a woman,” Gaul said in a flat voice, “and a Trolloc fights with more honor.” After a moment he added, in a fierce undertone, “And a goat has more sense.” Quickening his pace, he ran forward to join the two Maidens. He did not speak to them, as far as Perrin could make out, only slowed to walk alongside.
Perrin asks Ihvon if he knows what that was all about, but the Warder doesn’t. Then he teases Faile about the sa’sara dance; she snaps at him that men have thrown their hearts and fortunes at the feet of women who have danced it, and he replies that there is no need for her to dance it then; his heart is already hers. Faile stumbles, and then laughs that he is too clever for her, and she will dance it for him one day and boil the blood in his veins. Perrin is in increasing agony, though, and soon cannot distract himself from it. They continue on to Emond’s Field, the men singing songs, but their first view of the village is a shock to all of them; all of the greenery has been cut back, and the village is surrounded by stakes and sentries. Ihvon points out the catapults, six so far, and Faile says proudly that Perrin’s people are almost as tough as Saldaeans. The crowd parts as they enter, murmuring “Perrin Goldeneyes”, and he wishes they wouldn’t; then he sees a flagpole on the Green, flying a red-bordered white flag with a red wolf’s head on it. Verin approaches and remarks that Alanna told the villagers that Trollocs fear wolves, and doesn’t he think it makes a good symbol? Faile observes that Morgase might have a problem with it, and Perrin says that’s just lines on a map; he didn’t even know they were part of Andor until he went to Caemlyn. Faile replies dryly that rulers have a tendency to believe maps. Perrin says to Verin that he thought she and Alanna were hiding, and she says after all the stir he caused they could hardly continue in hiding. She examines his wound and says it is bad, and needs Alanna. He asks again why she is really here, and she ignores the question and grabs a young girl, telling her to go find Daise Congar to tend to the wounded men in Perrin’s party.
The men with him were as stunned by what they found here as he was. Ban scratched his head at the banner, and a few just stared around in amazement. Most looked at Verin, though, wide-eyed and uneasy; they had surely heard the whispers of “Aes Sedai.” Perrin was not escaping those looks entirely himself, he realized, talking to an Aes Sedai as though she were just any village woman.
Verin tells him Alanna will take care of him, and Perrin wishes it didn’t sound like that might have more than one meaning.
The axe/hammer thing is interesting, in that in most symbolic choices in fantasy it’s pretty clear which is the “right” choice and which is not. I think this one is a lot more ambiguous, though; it’s clear (especially by KOD) that ultimately Perrin needs to choose the hammer, but it doesn’t feel to me necessarily that Jordan intends to imply that he is doing the wrong thing by choosing the axe in the short term. Though again I have to bring up the point that the choice is made a little less significant by the fact that a hammer to the face offends just about as much as an axe to same, and conversely an axe is just as useful in construction as a hammer is (I’d like to see someone try to hew lumber with a hammer, just for example). I still remain unsure whether the ambiguity of the axe/hammer-destruction/construction dichotomy is deliberate or not.
More clues to Slayer, whatever. This was definitely a lot more interesting when I didn’t have a clue what was up with him.
Re: the sa’sara, I note that one way in which authors of written media are allowed to cop out that creators of visual/audio media are not is that it’s really easy to write that a dance is so darn sexy that your blood will boil when you don’t have to actually produce the dance in question.
I wrote earlier that I wished we had seen some of the Two Rivers stuff from the Aiel’s perspective, but it’s also fun that their whole soap opera is just going on in the background and almost no one else is even aware of it. I also like that even with the sparse amount of concentration we get on him, it’s obvious that Gaul will most likely be just like Rhuarc one day, but is enough younger that things can still rattle him. Like Chiad, for example, who (going by the standard WOT pigtail-pulling formula) Gaul obviously is all about.
Verin and Alanna: so sneaky. “Oh, yeah, wolves scare Trollocs, make a flag!” Another really interesting thing to see would have been a POV from either of them. Ah, well.
Chapter 43: Care for the Living
Verin leads Perrin’s horse to the inn, and he hisses at her to get him inside, to escape the voices of those who were looking among his men for their sons and brothers and husbands, and not finding them.
The door cut off the heart-lost wails, and the cries of Dael al’Taron’s mother for someone to tell her where her son was.
In a Trolloc cookpot, Perrin thought as he was lowered into a chair in the common room. In a Trolloc’s belly, where I put him, Mistress al’Taron. Where I put him. Faile had his head in her hands, peering into his face worriedly. Care for the living, he thought. I’ll weep for the dead later. Later.
Faile demands that Verin do something, but Verin tells her Alanna is much better at Healing than she, and they must wait for her. They wait in the common room, which has been turned into an impromptu armory, and Perrin asks if anyone knows where Loial is; Dav Ayellin tells him that he’s out helping clear forest, but that someone went to tell the workers that Perrin is here, and Dav bets they all come to “get a look at you”. Perrin wonders if he’s a gleeman or something, and asks about Luc. Elam Dowtry says he’s off hunting the Horn or something, and says Luc told him he’s rightfully a king of somewhere, maybe Andor. Perrin says absently that Andor has queens, not kings, as he and Faile and the Aiel exchange significant looks, and Verin remarks that he has a way of causing trouble; yesterday he took a delegation out to the Whitecloaks without telling anyone and told them Emond’s Field was closed to them. Verin understates that she doesn’t think it’s a good idea to antagonize Whitecloaks unnecessarily. Perrin frowns, thinking that if Luc was doing all that yesterday maybe he wasn’t behind the Trolloc ambush after all, but he still wants to think he was.
“Wanting won’t make a stone cheese,” he muttered. “But he still smells like cheese to me.”
Dav and the other two looked at each other doubtfully. Perrin supposed he must not seem to be making much sense.
The third man in the room turns out to be Ewin Finnegar, who Perrin is shocked to see has grown a foot and now talks in a deep bass voice. All three of them clamor to hear about his adventures outside the Two Rivers, and Perrin thinks they are idiots, but tells them an edited version of it, which seems to disappoint them. Ewin demands to know why Rand and Mat didn’t come home too, then, if it’s all being hungry and getting rained on. Tam and Abell have entered, so Perrin is careful to tell the same half-truths as before. Then Faile orders the boys to stop pestering Perrin and be on their way, and to Perrin’s surprise they actually bow to her awkwardly before leaving, passing Loial on the way in, who’s carrying a giant axe.
“You are hurt,” he boomed as soon as his eyes fell on Perrin. “They told me you had returned, but they did not say you were hurt, or I would have come faster.”
Perrin is startled by the axe, and notes that Loial does look angry, probably at having to chop down trees. Perrin rubs his face and is surprised to find it dry; he feels very hot. Faile wants to know what’s keeping Alanna, but Verin merely says she will come. Perrin tells Loial about the open Waygate, and Loial says mournfully that it is his fault, because he locked the Waygate but did not destroy it. He explains that he can’t actually destroy it by himself, but if he removes both Avendesora leaves, it will die. He says he will go do it now, but Perrin tells him no, there are Trollocs up there; Perrin will go as soon as Alanna Heals him. Then he asks for a drink of water, and Faile jumps up and feels his forehead and shouts that he is burning up. Alanna enters at that moment and checks Perrin, then instructs the others to lay him out on the table immediately.
“Mistress Luhhan,” he murmured, “Mother says I can come be apprenticed to Master Luhhan.” No. That was a long time ago. That was . . . What was? He could not seem to remember.
He dimly hears Alanna explaining that the arrow is caught on bone, and she will have to realign it before pulling it out; hopefully the shock will not kill him. They all hold him down, and Faile puts a leather-wrapped stick in his mouth, telling him to bite down.
Would she come hunting with him, running across the endless grassy plains after endless herds of deer? Icy cold shivered through him; vaguely he recognized the feel of the One Power. And then there was pain. He heard the stick snap between his teeth before blackness covered everything.
I definitely think in general that Perrin tends toward the emo-martyr end of the spectrum and needs to loosen up, but on the other hand, I fail to see how any non-sociopath could live through the scene at the beginning of this chapter, with everyone crying for their dead kin, without feeling like a giant pile of crap for at least a little while. Ouch.
That scene, plus the one where Perrin tries halfheartedly (and unsuccessfully) to tell Ewin et al how an adventure really goes, are the kind of scenes that make me abruptly remember that Jordan was a war veteran. My father’s father was in the Navy during WWII, and fought in the Pacific, and I have no idea what any of the specifics of his service were because he simply refused to talk about it. Granted, I was a young girl while he was still alive (he died when I was twelve), so it probably wouldn’t have been very appropriate to tell me about it, but I don’t think he talked about it to anyone. Not even my father. I guess after a certain level of intensity of experience, there just isn’t anything left to say unless you are a poet. Or a writer.
Perrin’s mention of Loial’s axe made it occur to me how appropriate it is that Loial is with Perrin and all the symbolism he’s got going on, as opposed to Rand. Later on, in my opinion, Loial becomes a character that Jordan didn’t quite know what to do with
(hence the long off-screen missions he kept getting sent on), but in the Two Rivers sequence he is quite thematically pertinent. And also, adorable.
I’m not sure what the purpose is of Perrin’s doubts about Luc here, because it seems like a little late in the game to be trying to introduce uncertainty about his role as a Bad Bad Man. Maybe it’s hindsight talking, but I’d say that ship has pretty much sailed, n’est-ce pas? Though I did find it amusing that apparently both the Luc half and the Isam half are bitter about their “lost” royal status. Maybe that’s supposed to be the motivation for Luc’s Darkfriendliness?
Other than that there’s not a lot to say about this chapter, which is mostly vamping while Perrin goes from “badly injured” to “about to bite the dust”, so we’ll move on.
Chapter 44: The Breaking Storm
Perrin wakes in one of the inn’s bedrooms, weak but Healed. Faile tells him Alanna said he must rest for at least two days, but he senses that she is not telling him something, and finally drags out of her that Loial and Gaul are gone. Perrin realizes they’re going after the Waygate, and gets out of bed, ignoring Faile’s commands to stay put. She tries to physically pull him back into the bedroom as he walks out, and they end up falling down the stairs together, landing in a heap at the bottom. He anxiously asks if Faile is all right, and she grabs his collar, and tells him he cannot do everything himself, and even if he were strong enough to go after them, he must not. Marin comes out and finds them on top of each other at the base of the staircase, and can’t decide whether to be appalled or amused. Faile jumps up , embarrassed, and complains to Marin that Perrin is stubborn and won’t listen to her. Marin tells her in an undertone (though Perrin hears every word) that she is going about it wrong.
“He was an easy little boy to manage most of the time, if you handled him properly, but when you tried to push him, he was as muley as any in the Two Rivers. Men don’t really change that much, only grow taller. If you go telling him what he must and musn’t do, he will surely lay his ears back and dig his heels in.”
She offers to demonstrate, and turns back to Perrin and offers him pie if he’ll go back to bed. Perrin gets up and asks her to have Hu or Tad saddle Stepper. Marin and Faile both take his arms as a cry of “Trollocs!” goes up outside, and Marin tries to tell him that it’s none of his concern. Perrin keeps on, and suddenly Faile sighs and tells Marin to do as he asked. Marin goes, reluctantly, and Perrin asks Faile why she changed her mind.
Tucking his shirt in for him, she muttered under her breath. Doubtless he was not supposed to hear well enough to understand. “I musn’t say must, must I? When he is too stubborn to see straight, I must lead him with honey and smiles, must I?” She shot him a glare that surely had no honey in it, then abruptly changed to a smile so sweet he very nearly backed away. “My dear heart,” she almost cooed, pulling his coat straight, “whatever is happening out there, I do hope you will stay in your saddle, and as far from Trollocs as you can. You really are not up to facing a Trolloc just yet, are you? Maybe tomorrow. Please remember you are a general, a leader, and every bit as much a symbol to your people as that banner out there. If you are up where people can see you, it will lift everyone’s heart. And it is much easier to see what needs doing and give orders if you aren’t in the fighting yourself.” Picking his belt off the floor, she buckled it around his waist, settling the axe carefully on his hip. She also batted her eyes at him! “Please say you will do that. Please?”
Perrin reluctantly admits to himself that she is right that he wouldn’t last very long against Trollocs, and tells her he can’t refuse her anything when she smiles so prettily. She answers that he’d better, or she will do to him what he did to her the first day in the Ways; he chuckles and says it sounds like he’d better let them kill him, which Faile does not find very funny. They go outside to find Jon Thane and another man Perrin does not know being Healed by Alanna, surrounded by a crowd of what looks like everyone in the village. Tomas tells Perrin that the forest-clearing party was attacked by a lone Trolloc. Then Bain and Chiad emerge from the forest and tell Faile that there are some five hundred Trollocs a mile or so away. Perrin asks why Verin and Alanna, who are fussing around the catapults, haven’t cleared these people off the streets then, and Ihvon replies that they do not seem to want to listen to outsiders, and suggests Perrin try. Perrin is sure they could have done it if they really wanted to, but goes over to Bran and Tam and Abell and tells them Trollocs are on the way. Bran says they knew it had to happen sooner or later, and shouts to the crowd that Perrin says Trollocs are coming and to get to their places. The crowd begins breaking up, with many of the men saluting Perrin in a way that makes him very uncomfortable. He mutters to Faile that he wishes he knew what the Aes Sedai were doing, and Faile replies that she thinks they mean him to be a leader, and adds that she thinks he was born to do so. Perrin snorts, thinking he was born to be a blacksmith. The villagers form up in ranks with Tam directing them. Perrin is surprised when Dannil and Ban and the rest who had ridden with him come up and form an honor guard around him, and disgusted to see that they are carrying a smaller version of the wolf’s head banner. He looks at the village’s defenses, and debates trying to send Faile back, but thinks better of it.
“Trollocs!” half a dozen voices shouted, and bestial, blackmailed shapes flooded out of the Westwood, howling as they ran across the stumpy ground, waving scythe-curved swords and spiked axes, spears and tridents. Three Myrddraal rode behind them on black horses, darting back and forth as though driving the Trolloc charge before them. Their dead black cloaks hung motionless no matter how their mounts dashed or whirled. The horn sounded continuously in sharp, urging cries.
A few men shoot immediately, and Tam curses at them to hold till he gives the word. He asks Perrin, “Three hundred paces?”, and Perrin wonders why Tam is asking him, but nods. The Trollocs charge, and at three hundred paces Tam gives the order to shoot. Arrows fly, and so do the catapults, and Perrin jumps when the stones explode on contact, ripping swaths of Trollocs into shreds. They continue the bombardment until all the Trollocs are down, and after a moment of shock the villagers begin shouting in victory. Bran comes over to shake Perrin’s hand and tells him he has led them to a great victory, ignoring Perrin’s protest that all he did was sit there.
The Two Rivers folk raised a thunderous cheer, for him. “Perrin Goldeneyes! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!”
Perrin mutters to Faile that the Fades had to know that this sally wouldn’t work; why didn’t all the Trollocs come? Tomas joins them and says it was a test, and points out the raven spy flying away from the village; he says they will attack again, now that they have a better idea of the village’s defenses. Perrin worries that there could be ten thousand Trollocs out there, but Verin joins them as well and disagrees, opining that they can only be moving the Shadowspawn through the Ways in small parties, for large groups would draw Machin Shin within minutes. She wanders off, and Faile threatens to stuff him in bed if he even thinks of trying for the Westwood; Perrin lies that he wasn’t thinking of it. Then he hears a commotion coming from the south, and hurries off to investigate.
Preview battle, yay! With Shit Blowing Up, even, heh. Everything’s better with explosions!
It was fun to see Tam getting some of his martial spirit on, as well. I’ve always felt that except for this part of TSR we never got to see enough of Tam, or Abell either. I guess it would not be cool to let them horn in too much on their sons’ screen time, but still, I really like them.
I try not to quote too excessively in general (hah), but I had to include Faile’s entire “honeytalk” speech above because I found it hysterical, mostly because I was picturing her looking like she wanted to chew rocks the whole time.
I am carefully passing over the part after that – not the part where she threatens to return in kind what Perrin did to her in the Ways, but the part where Perrin laughs it off. This is to prevent undue mastication of mineral aggregation on my own part. You know that scene in A League of Their Own, where Tom Hanks barely restrains himself from screaming bloody murder at Bitty Schram for missing the cutoff man, and kind of vibrates for a while afterwards? Yeah. I’d really rather not harsh my buzz of liking Perrin ‘n Faile until I absolutely have to.
Oy, I’m a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: does Verin and Alanna’s (and Faile’s and Tam’s) rather blatant maneuvering of Perrin into a position of authority diminish his achievement of Lordly status, or is it just an indication that even feudal leadership is only successfully achieved by committee? Discuss.
And that’s all the time we have! I love you all, you’re like butter. I’ll see you Friday, it will be so Prince of Tides. Buh-bye!