The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Path of Daggers, Part 5

Happy suddenly summer, Wheel of Timers! This a-here is a Wheel of Time Re-read, in case it wasn’t screamingly obvious. Which it was. So THERE.

Today’s entry covers Chapters 7 and 8 of The Path of Daggers, in which we have a rather unexpected Moment of Awesome, as well as a Great And Possibly Completely Erroneous Epiphany. Hark!

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of information regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And that’s about the size of that, so click on for postally posted postage!

Chapter 7: A Goatpen



What Happens
Sweating in the heat, Perrin wonders if it is ever going to rain again as he studies the walled and heavily guarded town of Bethel through a looking glass, which is flying the flag of Queen Alliandre Maritha Kigarin. Alliandre has taken refuge here from the chaos sweeping Ghealdan, from the Prophet’s army to Whitecloaks raiding from over the Amadician border to common bandits; Perrin thinks of the rumors he’s heard, that Amador had fallen, though no one is sure to whom, and that Pedron Niall is dead. Perrin considers going in alone with just a few men, and Faile seems to read his mind, as she comes up to him and points out that he would never reach Alliandre without announcing who he is, when secrecy was supposed to be the entire point. Perrin knows she thinks she should go; she’s previously argued that her family name would get her through to Alliandre without a lot of fuss. Berelain comes up on his other side, drenched in perfume, and puts in that she thinks she should be the one to go, since it is the entire reason she came in the first place (Perrin rather doubts this), and Annoura will be admitted immediately so no one will know who Berelain is except Alliandre. Perrin notices that Seonid, who is sitting her horse a little way away, is staring at the sky, and her two Wise One keepers (Edarra and Nevarin) are doing the same. He asks if they see something, but Edarra says no; Perrin hopes she is being honest, and wishes the Asha’man, Grady and Neald, were there, as he is sure they would be.

More than half a week ago, now, a lace of the One Power streaking high across the sky had created quite a stir among the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones. And with Grady and Neald. Which fact had made a bigger stir still, as close to panic as any Aes Sedai was likely to come. Asha’man, Aes Sedai and Wise Ones all claimed they could still feel the Power faintly in the air long after that bar of lace vanished, but nobody knew what it meant. Neald said it made him think of wind, though he could not tell why. No one would voice more of an opinion than that, yet if both the male and female halves of the Power were visible, it had to be the Forsaken at work, and on a huge scale. Wondering what they were up to had kept Perrin awake late most nights since.

Nevarin demands to know if Perrin’s decided yet, and also what use their advice is if he doesn’t take it; Perrin thinks that choosing Seonid to go would give him an out re: Faile and Berelain, but is still unsure if he can trust Seonid. They are interrupted by Seonid’s Warders, Furen and Teryl, who have returned to report (to Seonid, ignoring everyone else) that all the local nobles are holed up just as Alliandre is, leaving the countryside to the Prophet and the bandits; Teryl thinks Alliandre will be thrilled to see a sister. Seonid gets permission to speak from Edarra (looking very irritated about having to do so), and argues to Perrin that having it appear to Alliandre that he has the Tower behind him will be more effective than either Saldaean nobility or a ruler of a tiny country like Mayene; Edarra adds that she and Nevarin will accompany Seonid to make sure she doesn’t say anything she shouldn’t (Perrin can hear Seonid’s teeth grinding). Perrin groans to himself that having the Wise Ones along will not help at all, considering the rumors flying around about Aiel, and reluctantly tells Berelain and Annoura that they will go. Berelain laughs and caresses his arm suggestively before he can stop her, but Perrin thinks Faile didn’t notice, as she only smells of disappointment. When he tries to apologize to Faile, though, she becomes outraged, though only Perrin can tell, and rides off. Berelain and Annoura listen impatiently to Perrin’s instructions, and he watches them ride off with worry; they are admitted with haste at the gates once Annoura shows her face. As Perrin rides back toward camp with the rest of the party, he tries to figure out why it was only after he tried to apologize that Faile had grown angry, when he’d been sure choosing Berelain would be what angered her.

Without Berelain, everything ran smooth as silk satin between them. Most of the time. But explanations that he did nothing to encourage the woman—far from it!—earned only a curt “Of course you don’t!” in tones that called him a fool for bringing it up. But she still grew angry—with him!—every time Berelain smiled at him or found an excuse to touch him, no matter how brusquely he put her off, and the Light knew he did that. Short of tying her up, he did not know what more he could do to discourage her. Ginger attempts to find out from Faile what he was doing wrong received a light “Why do you think you’ve done anything?” or a not-so-light “What do you think you’ve done?” or a flat “I do not want to talk about it.” He was doing something wrong, but he could not puzzle out what! He had to, though. Nothing was more important than Faile. Nothing!

Aram then points out a farm up ahead which is on fire, and Perrin sees a dozen or so roughly dressed men are trying to force their way into a high-walled goatpen, where three mounted women and a handful of men are trying to keep them out. Seonid advises him to leave it alone, pointing that killing the Prophet’s men will not help his task, but Perrin has no intention of leaving it, and asks Edarra if she can do something to “just frighten” the attackers, and she answers maybe. Perrin snaps for Aram, Furen and Teryl to go with him and takes off toward the farm; he is relieved that the Warders obey, but not that Faile decides to come along as well. He knows better than to say anything, though, and instead makes covert gestures to Aram to guard her. They are almost to the brigands when a monstrous clap of thunder and a wailing wheel of fire scatters them, to Perrin’s relief, but one of the women in the goatpen takes off too, galloping up the road. Perrin chases her, shouting that he means her no harm, and eventually catches up and grabs her horse’s bridle, asking forgiveness if he frightened her.

For the second time that day an apology did not get the response he expected. Angry blue eyes glared at him from a face surrounded by long red-gold curls, a face as regal as any queen’s for all that it was plastered with sweat and dust. Her dress was plain wool, travel-stained and as dusty as her cheeks, but her face was furious as well as queenly.

She starts to tell him off, but is interrupted by one of the other women, white-haired and bony, who gallops up and thanks Perrin, calling him “my Lord”. She starts at his eyes, but gets over it quickly and begins chastising the first woman, who she calls Maighdin, for running off. Maighdin accepts the tirade wearily, and Perrin notes that she doesn’t smell afraid of him even when she notices his eyes too. One of the others of the group comes up, a tall man with a wary scent, and Perrin realizes the wariness is directed at Maighdin, not him. He’s not sure what’s going on, but invites them to come back to his camp where they will be safe from brigands. Maighdin smells resigned, but refuses his offer politely, quashing the old woman, Lini, when she starts to say something; Perrin is further confused about their relationship.

Perrin glanced over his shoulder at the man trailing after. A hard-looking fellow, in need of a razor. Perhaps he liked fair hair. Perhaps he liked it too much. Men had made trouble for themselves as well as others for that reason before this.

Back at the goatpen, Teryl has captured one of the Prophet’s men, who informs Perrin that he’ll be “in deep muck” for this when the Prophet finds out; they were only obeying the Prophet’s orders, which is that if a man bothers a woman who doesn’t want him, he dies. He insists that the others were chasing Maighdin, and the Prophet will “have their ears” for this. Maighdin calmly says the man is mistaken, but Perrin is not so sure. The rest of her party, three more men and another woman, are approaching, but Perrin is distracted by the sight of Seonid, who has a scarf stuffed in her mouth; evidently the Wise Ones were not pleased that she had spoken out of turn earlier. Maighdin notices too; her mouth drops open and she gives Perrin a considering look, and Perrin thinks it a bit odd that a country woman evidently recognizes an Aes Sedai on sight. Teryl then tosses a bundle on the ground which he says their prisoner dropped. Perrin belatedly recognizes what the “tags of shriveled leather” are and snarls, recalling the man’s statement about “having their ears”. The man protests the trophies were someone else’s, not his, and nervously proclaims that the Prophet will hang them all if they do anything to him. Perrin gets up in the man’s face, making him shrink back in fear.

“If I could tie that to you, you’d hang from the nearest tree,” he growled. The fellow blinked, began to brighten as he understood what that meant, but Perrin gave him no time to regain his bluster. “I’m Perrin Aybara, and your precious Lord Dragon sent me here. You spread the word. He sent me, and if I find a man with… trophies… he hangs! If I find a man burning a farm, he hangs! If one of you looks at me cross-eyed, he hangs! And you can tell Masema I said so, too!” Disgusted, Perrin straightened. “Let him go, Teryl. If he isn’t out of my sight in two shakes…!”

The man takes off in a dead run, and Perrin is disgusted with himself for his threats, though Faile’s look of pride does much to assuage that. The others are not so thrilled, though Seonid can’t say so. The Wise Ones glare, and Teryl comments casually that he thought Perrin wasn’t supposed to let Masema know he was here until they met in person.

“I’m supposed to stop… that,” Perrin said, gesturing angrily to the rawhide string on the ground. He had heard the rumors, and done nothing. Now he had seen. “I might as well start now.” And if Masema decided he was an enemy? How many thousands followed the Prophet, out of belief or fear? It did not matter. “It stops, Teryl. It stops!”

The Murandian nodded slowly, eyeing Perrin as though seeing him for the first time.

Maighdin suddenly pipes up, and Perrin expects her to say she’s leaving, after overhearing who he works for, but to his surprise she tells him they accept his offer to rest in his camp. He nods, slowly, wondering if this is ta’veren work, for he recognizes two of the men in her party.

Hokay. First, the obligatory headdesk:


Ah, refreshing.

However, since Berelain leaves almost immediately, this actually wasn’t a bad chapter otherwise. Perrin even has a Moment of Awesome when he scares the crap out of the Prophet’s henchman. I have to say I enjoyed that quite a bit.

One of my—well, the only term I’m coming up with here is “kink”, and that’s not correct, but it’s close enough for horseshoes—one of my things that particularly make me happy in fiction is things like this, where two previously unrelated groups/plotlines/characters meet up unexpectedly, as Morgase and Perrin’s do here, and the whole dynamic of the story changes as a result. It’s just fun, sez me.

What I especially love about these plotline collisions is how they afford an opportunity to see familiar characters and/or situations through fresh eyes, and thereby gain a possibly unexpected perspective on those characters or situations. I guiltily love these collisions even more when, as here, we get to see the ways in which Our Heroes are badass and/or awesome that they themselves do not see on their own.

I last remarked on this in ACOS, I think, during the whole bit where Rand dethroned Colavaere, and how that scene reminded us of how very scary Rand is in the eyes of those who don’t know him even though we saw it through the eyes of someone who does know him (Perrin, in fact). And I ain’t gonna lie, I loved it.

So, too, here. Even though this chapter is from Perrin’s POV, it’s very easy to see how he is coming off in the eyes of Morgase/Maighdin and Co., and that is not an image of some bumbling jumped-up blacksmith (which is how Perrin thinks of himself), but of a very formidable and intimidating figure indeed. And again, I somewhat ashamedly adore it.

As for his inadvertent spilling of the beans re: his purpose to Masema by proxy, enh. I don’t really remember how all this goes (though I certainly remember how it ends), but I say, let the idiot know what’s coming for him. Maybe he’ll actually sweat a little; and if not, in the end I don’t see it making a lot of difference. Nor do I think it did, except possibly in speeding up the whole process, which is nothing but full of Yay in my opinion.

And plus Perrin was right to do it. Ears? Gah. Goddamn little slime.

As for the Faile/Berelain thing, please see the commentary to the next chapter, in which I have an epiphany!
Chapter 8: A Simple Country Woman

What Happens
The camp is in a secluded area, but Perrin knows that a small army moving around had to have generated rumors in the area even before he went and spilled the beans just now; he thinks he still would not have done differently, though. The camp is actually three camps, one for the Mayeners, one for the Aiel, and one for the Two Rivers men. Perrin sees Masuri glaring at him from the Aiel camp; Seonid (still gagged) looks anxious, but the Wise Ones look at him darkly, and Perrin sighs. He notes that Maighdin obviously recognizes the Mayeners’ uniforms, and thinks that she seems familiar somehow. He also sees Balwer noting the camp, and thinks that despite his appearance he sees even more than Maighdin does; the man makes him think of “a wolf testing the air”. The rest of her companions hang back. Perrin sees Grady and Neald are with the Two Rivers camp, watching him expectantly, and he thinks that they make him even more uneasy than the Wise Ones or Aes Sedai together. Servants come to take the horses, and Perrin grumbles to himself about having to let them curtsy to him, as well as the ostentatious tent he and Faile had. Then he notices the wolfshead banner and the Red Eagle banner are out again despite his orders to the contrary, and growls to himself. Maighdin has noticed them too, and says she’s heard about banners like these, raised in rebellion in the Two Rivers against Andor, and comments that Aybara is a Two Rivers name. She smells angry, and Perrin growls that they don’t know much about “lawful rulers” in the Two Rivers, since they mostly had to fend for themselves. He realizes that she reminds him of Elayne, then, but doesn’t attach any importance to this. Supposing she is Andoran, though, he tries to soothe her by telling her the Dragon Reborn means to put Morgase’s daughter Elayne on the throne, but to his surprise this infuriates Maighdin, who informs him icily that no man puts a queen on Andor’s throne, and Elayne will earn it by her right. Lini jumps in:

“You apologize!” the old woman barked. “This man saved your life, Maighdin, and you forget yourself, a simple country woman speaking so to a lord! Remember who you are, and don’t let your tongue land you in hotter water! If this young lord was at odds with Morgase, well, everyone knows she’s dead, and it’s none of your affair in any event! Now apologize before he grows angry!”

Perrin expects Maighdin to blow up at Lini, but to his surprise she apologizes humbly, even though her teeth are grinding, and he hastily accepts, wondering if women are all crazy. Faile proposes that she take the women off to clean themselves up, and the men go with Aram to do the same. Perrin nods, and adds that when Master Gill is done he’d like to talk to him.

He might as well have made that spinning wheel of fire. Maighdin whipped around to gape at him, and the other two women froze in their tracks. Tallanvor was suddenly gripping his sword hilt again, and Balwer rose on his toes, peering over his bundle, head tilting this way then that. Not a wolf, perhaps; some sort of bird, watching for cats. The stout man, Basel Gill, dropped his belongings and leaped a foot in the air.

Gill stammers a greeting, saying he’d thought with everyone calling Perrin lord he wasn’t sure he’d want to know “an old innkeeper”. Lamgwin then greets Perrin laconically, saying they’d heard about “young Rand” being the Dragon Reborn, and that he should have guessed Perrin would come up in the world too. He tells Maighdin that Perrin is a good man, and that he thinks they can trust him “with anything you’ve a mind to”. The two groups go off very reluctantly, and Perrin notes that Gill smells afraid.

Of him? Of a man tied to the Dragon Reborn, calling himself lord and leading an army, however small, threatening the Prophet. Might as well throw gagging Aes Sedai into it, too; he would take the blame for that, one way or another. No, Perrin thought wryly; nothing in that to frighten anybody. The whole lot of them were probably afraid he might murder them all.

He tries to put Gill at ease, chatting about his time with him in Caemlyn, but it isn’t working, and finally Perrin says he wanted to ask what brought him to Ghealdan. Before Gill can say anything, Lini barges in and admonishes an exasperated Gill to tell it straight and not go telling the young lord “more than he wants to hear”. She and Gill tell Perrin their story about how they all met up while Gill was trading wine in Murandy and have been running from “the troubles” ever since. Perrin grimaces at himself for wondering if their story is true, but Gill takes his silence as a demand for more information, and begins babbling nervously; when he mentions leaving Amador after the Seanchan took the city, a shocked Perrin grabs his collar and demands to know if he’s sure it was Seanchan. Uneasily, Gill confirms it, and Perrin is dismayed that they are back so soon; he thinks that if they have Amador, they surely have Tarabon too. He tells Gill that he can’t send him back to Caemlyn yet, but if he stays a while he’ll see to it. Lini studies Perrin, and suddenly declares she thinks he’s a good man, and should know the whole truth. Gill nearly panics, but then Lini informs Perrin that Maighdin was running from them—specifically, from Tallanvor.

“Well, it’s no wonder she doesn’t know her own mind half the time; you men snarl up a woman’s wits so she can hardly think, then you pretend you’ve done nothing at all. The lot of you ought to have your ears boxed on general principle. The girl’s afraid of her own heart! Those two should be married, and the quicker the better.”

Gill and Perrin both gape at her, and Perrin says he’s not sure what she’s getting at. Lini answers that since this Dragon Reborn does whatever he wants, she wants Perrin to marry them, with or without permission. Perrin stares, then makes a hasty excuse and leaves, deciding that women are all crazy. He heads to his tent, which is surrounded by twenty of Faile’s hangers-on, who almost challenge him before letting him pass, and he growls to himself about their Aiel-imitating idiocy. He goes inside to find Faile and Maighdin having very cautious tea with each other, and tells Maighdin that Gill told him their story, and assures her that she’s safe here. She smells wary in response; Faile agrees with Perrin, and offers Maighdin and her party places in her service, promising them fair pay and treatment. Maighdin chokes on her tea, but then strangely turns to look at Perrin thoughtfully, before accepting. She asks permission to leave, which Faile gives. Faile laughs in delight when she is gone, commenting that she has spirit, and would have “singed [Perrin’s] beard” over those banners if Faile hadn’t rescued him.

Perrin grunted. Just what he needed; another woman to singe his beard.

He tells her that Lini had asked him to marry Maighdin and Tallanvor, and also that the Seanchan have invaded Amadicia; to his consternation, Faile is more interested in the former news at first, but then reassures him that Amador is a long way away, and she is confident that Perrin can handle whatever arises.

“After all, you taught me to perch on your wrist, didn’t you?” That was what she claimed, though he had never seen any sign of it.

“They might be a touch more difficult than you were,” he said dryly, and she smiled again. She smelled extremely pleased, for some reason.

They argue briefly about the wisdom of contacting Rand with the news about the Seanchan, but Faile convinces Perrin that Rand surely knows already, and Perrin moves on to the banners, vowing this time he’ll burn them. Faile advises against this, pointing out that anyone who hears a man is going around raising the banner of Manetheren in rebellion will not think that man is doing anything else. Vastly impressed by her quick thinking, Perrin agrees, but adds that Alliandre will need to know the truth. Faile becomes wary at the mention of Alliandre, and reassures him that the Queen of Ghealdan is “a netted bird” for Perrin Goldeneyes.

If only he were half what she thought him. Alliandre was a netted bird, the Seanchan would fall over like dolls for Perrin Goldeneyes, and he would snatch up the Prophet and take him to Rand if Masema had ten thousand men around him. Not for the first time he realized that however much her anger hurt and confused him, it was her disappointment he feared. If he ever saw that in her eyes, it would rip the heart out of his chest.

He vows not to fail her, and they begin studying maps.

Faile waits until Perrin is deeply asleep before getting up, amused that he thought she wouldn’t figure out that he had arranged to “lose” their bed (which he had considered ostentatious), and wonders if her mother had found the art of managing a husband this difficult.

She loved Perrin with every fiber of her being, and he confused every fiber. Actually understanding men was impossible, of course, but he was so unlike anyone she had grown up with. He never swaggered, and instead of laughing at himself, he was . . . modest. She had not believed a man could be modest! He insisted that only chance had made him a leader, claimed he did not know how to lead, when men who met him were ready to follow after an hour. He dismissed his own thinking as slow, when those slow, considering thoughts saw so deeply that she had to dance a merry jig to keep any secrets at all. He was a wonderful man, her curly-haired wolf. So strong. And so gentle.

She sneaks out of the tent and heads through the camp, coming upon Maighdin and her companions; Tallanvor is arguing fiercely with Maighdin about something, but they all jump up when they hear Faile’s approach. She tries to put them at ease, but they remain wary as she moves on; Faile dismisses them to worry about later and heads to a secluded clearing where her people are waiting. Some of them bow or curtsy before catching that as non-Aiel-like, and Faile thinks that Perrin is right in some ways to consider them fools, but they had sworn fealty to her, which is the important thing. They had seen the importance of keeping their name for their “society” (Cha Faile, or the Falcon’s Talon) secret, though. The ones she had sent to Bethal are changing out of their disguises, the women trying to pretend they don’t mind being half-clothed in front of everyone and the men trying to pretend they don’t notice. Faile is annoyed that she couldn’t go herself instead of “that trollop”, but steers her mind away from it.

No, she would not think about Berelain. It was not Perrin’s fault. She repeated that to herself twenty times a day, like a prayer. But why was the man so blind?

Selande, the acknowledged leader of Cha Faile, reports that everyone in Bethel is petrified of the Prophet; Alliandre makes regular tours of the town to keep the people’s spirits up, but it isn’t really working, and in Selande and Meralda’s opinion, if Masema were to actually show up, the townsfolk would likely surrender immediately. Selande also has maps of the palace where Alliandre is staying, though she doesn’t know why Faile wanted them, and confirms that no one searches wagons leaving the town. Faile tells them they have done well, and tells them they will return to Bethal at first light, and explains what she wants them to do; they are shocked by her instructions, but all only say they live to serve Lady Faile.

And that meant they would serve her beloved wolf, whether he wanted them to or not.

Maighdin lies awake in her blankets, trying to reconcile herself to her new name and the new life it signifies, and notes the Lady Faile returning to camp. She thinks that Faile’s husband may not be nobly-born, but Faile certainly is, and her youth and inexperience may be of benefit to Maighdin. She catches her breath as Tallanvor kneels by her side (shirtless), and asks what this madness of taking service is all about. She tries to turn away, but Tallanvor puts a hand on her shoulder, which stops her, and she answers that a lady’s maid is better than a tavern maid; she has to make her way in the world now, and he is free to ride on if he doesn’t like it. He replies she abdicated her throne, not her wits, and Maighdin curses Lini for revealing that.

Angrily she sat up, brushing his hand away. “Are you blind, and deaf as well? The Dragon Reborn has plans for Elayne! Light, I wouldn’t like it if he simply knew her name! It must be more than chance that brought me to one of his henchmen, Tallanvor. It has to be!”

Tallanvor angrily says he knew that was why, and tells her Elayne is safe in the Tower, and no one will let her near the Dragon Reborn, and in any case there’s nothing Maighdin Dorlain can do about any of it except get herself killed. Maighdin retorts that she can watch and listen, but trails off. She realizes she is only in a shift and pulls the blankets around her, flushing, and says any chance to help Elayne is worth the risk. Tallanvor thinks it is dangerous, pointing out how Aybara threatened to hang anyone for looking at him wrong; he says he can believe it of a man with eyes like that, “like a beast”. If Aybara finds out who she is, or if Balwer decides to betray her… Maighdin pretends to be contemptuous of his fear of Perrin, though she shares it, and tells him again to ride on, then.

“Ride on if you wish, you say. Once, there was a soldier loved a queen from afar, knowing it was hopeless, knowing he could never dare speak. Now the queen is gone, and only a woman remains, and I hope. I burn with hope! If you want me to leave, Maighdin, say it. One word. ‘Go!’ A simple word.”

She tries to make herself say it, but cannot, and Tallanvor leans over and kisses her eyes before standing; she watches him wide-eyed. He tells her if she’d said the word, he would have buried hope, but he could never leave her. He goes away, and she berates herself that he is too young, and worse, he is right.

A lady’s maid could do nothing to affect events, and if the Dragon Reborn’s wolf-eyed killer learned that he had Morgase of Andor in his hands, she could be used against Elayne instead of helping her. He had no right to be right when she wanted him to be wrong! The illogic of that thought infuriated her. There was a chance she might do some good! There had to be!

A voice in her head mocks her for being unable to give up being Morgase, and for being unable to give up a man just because of how he makes her feel, either. She tells herself she will put Tallanvor in his place, but realizes she no longer knows what that place is.

So, I kind of just had a revelation here, which may be wrong, but if it is right, puts a completely different light on the whole Faile/Perrin headdesk-ness, and I’m kind of all “whoa” over here.

My possibly-wrong revelation is this: I don’t think Faile knows that Perrin is aware of how angry she is all the time.

See, it occurs to me that while Faile definitely knows about Perrin’s super-hearing and vision, and may even know that his sense of smell is also more than ordinary, I can’t recall any point at which she indicates knowing that his sense of smell basically makes him empathic.

Which, honestly, is a quite the leap to make. If I may digress for a moment, I’ve thought before about pointing out that Perrin’s emotion-detecting nose is one of the most blatant examples of Star-Trekkery in WOT—by which I mean, the handwaving of more or less accurate scientific principles to extrapolate effects far beyond the realistic bounds of those principles in the real world. In this case, the maybe kinda sorta truth that animals can smell fear, extrapolated into an olfactory ability that can detect any emotion at all, even to fine gradations like the difference between puzzlement and irritation and so on. Which is, in a word, impossible.

I’m not really knocking it, however, because (a) It’s The Magic, Stupid, (b) it’s an extremely common (possibly even ubiquitous) side-effect of super-smell abilities in fiction, and thus one of those illogical logical things that people just expect at this point, and (c) it’s cool.

And (d), it’s the only way Perrin would have a clue about 99% of what the hell is with the people around him anyway, so it gets a pass under the “whatever moves the plot forward” caveat.

That being said, though, I don’t think it’s something a non-genre-savvy character (like Faile) would necessarily deduce without being specifically told about it. Which, to my knowledge, she never is.

This occurred to me when I read Faile’s POV in this chapter, and she thought this:

It was not Perrin’s fault. She repeated that to herself twenty times a day, like a prayer.

Which is in striking contrast to Perrin’s assumption that that’s exactly what it means every time she gets angry—that it is his fault. And of course Perrin is right to a degree—she does get angry at him and not Berelain, which certainly implies that she thinks it is his fault—but the thing is, if she doesn’t know that he can completely tell she’s pissed, it’s not actually an attack on him or an attempt to blame him or make him feel bad. In fact it’s the opposite; from her point of view, (most of the time) she’s hiding her feelings perfectly, and not giving Perrin any cause for stress at all.

That, as I say above, puts a wholly different interpretation on her refusal to tell him what’s wrong. If I’m right and she doesn’t know he smells her anger, then what she’s doing is not getting mad and then refusing to tell him why, which is infuriatingly juvenile behavior, but rather believing that she is hiding any sign of her anger from him altogether.

Which, granted, is still not stellar relationship-management, but definitely casts Faile in an astronomically more charitable light than I had previously seen her. I dunno, maybe everyone was aware of this and I’m just stupid for not seeing it before, but I think I had always made the assumption that Faile knew Perrin knew she was pissed, and was basically, like, brandishing her anger-smell at him in petulant accusatory fashion. But if that’s not the case, it’s much harder to blame her for not controlling her emotions when (if I’m right) she’s not even aware she needs to. Beyond outward facial expressions, I mean.

I’m not sure if this is making sense, but, there you have it. This doesn’t mean I’m giving Faile a total pass on all this, since she still ought to be communicating clearly with her husband about her feelings, and additionally even a guy with no sense of smell at all would have twigged by now to the fact that Faile is not exactly thrilled with the whole situation (especially since she has blown up verbally at him before now), but it does at least mitigate my annoyance at her to a certain degree.

We’ll see how well that charity holds up as this plotline trundles on. And, of course, if someone comes along with a quote that proves Faile knows about the Empathicness of Perrin’s nose and blows my whole theory out of the water, well, that’s something different again.

In other news, I wonder if I figured out here if Faile was planning to kidnap Alliandre or if that was sufficiently obscure at this point that I had no idea. Can’t remember, oh well.

In other other news, the fresh-perspective coolness continues, though I was a little startled to hear Perrin described as a “henchman” and a “wolf-eyed killer”, because wow. But, not unreasonable under the circumstances. I remember at this point being all impatient for Tallanvor et al to become as equally impressed by Perrin as they are currently intimidated. Because intimidated is vicarious fun, and all, but naturally I also want them to realize he’s awesome as well as scary.

The thing with Basel Gill I especially loved, mostly because of how they all clearly assumed that Perrin had deliberately waited to drop the bomb on them that he knew who Gill was for greatest psychological impact, when of course Perrin was doing no such thing. Again, I am always fascinated by this dynamic of how an outside perspective can have such a radically different interpretation of the point of view character’s actions and motivations.

As for Morgase (or Maighdin, as I suppose we must start calling her, at least for the nonce), sigh. She hurts my heart, I swear. I just want to fix her. Or alternately, make Perrin take Lini up on the marriage thing, even considering how insanely that goes against the grain. (Really, not in favor of forced/arranged marriages! And yet!) And the crazy thing is, this scene with Tallanvor at the end of the chapter actually represents progress. I really hope Morgase’s character manages to get some kind of redemption/closure before all is said and done, because I really don’t want to always feel nothing but pity for her.

Aaaannnd that’s what I got for this one, kiddies. Have a splendiferously fantabular weekend, and I’ll see you next week!


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