Who’s a cute widdle Wheel of Time Re-read? Who is? Yes, you are! Oh, yes you are!
Ahem! Today’s entry covers Chapters 1 and 2 of Winter’s Heart, in which the excrement hits the revolving cooling apparatus, and I try not to be too pissy about it.
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 a post! Ta-da!
Chapter 1: Leaving the Prophet
Wheel, time, memories/legends/myth, wind. The wind blows past Tarabon, where the people are beginning to get used to their new Seanchan overlords, and past Amador, where they are not. It blows to Abila, where the people are more fearful than either of the first two places combined. Perrin marches out of Masema’s house, furious, and is gladder than ever he did not take Faile along when he smells the fervent madness of Masema’s followers as they watch him leave. As they reach the horses, Elyas comments that he thought they might have to fight their way out; Perrin thinks that’s the only thing that did go right, thinking of the four hundred leagues he was going to have to travel cross-country with the madman, since Masema thought only the holy Lord Dragon should be allowed to wield the One Power, and hours of argument had not convinced him otherwise. Masuri asks if Perrin understands now why Masema must be killed, calling him “rabid”; even though the Wise Ones agree, Carelle shuts her up and gets her and Seonid on their horses. Perrin sighs, thinking this a “fine boiling stew.”
Aram, bilious green Tinker’s cloak flailing the wind as he handled his reins, the hilt of his sword rising above his shoulder—Aram’s face was a map of excitement that made Perrin’s heart sink. In Masema, Aram had met a man who had given his life and heart and soul to the Dragon Reborn. In Aram’s view, the Dragon Reborn ranked close behind Perrin and Faile.
You did the boy no favor, Elyas had told Perrin. You helped him let go of what he believed, and now all he has to believe in is you and that sword. It’s not enough, not for any man. Elyas had known Aram when Aram was still a Tinker, before he picked up the sword.
A stew that might have poison in it, for some.
They ride out of town, Perrin thankful that he had managed to argue Masema down to only a hundred men to come with him when he meets Perrin at his camp tonight. Balwer rejoins them, and gets Perrin alone to give him two items of news. First, that King Ailron engaged the Seanchan near the town of Jeramel about ten days ago, and lost, resoundingly; Ailron himself was taken, and Amadicia effectively has no nobility (or army) left. The Whitecloaks had taken part, but withdrawn before the end; Balwer thinks Valda may have taken them east, which would mean toward Abila. Perrin tells Balwer that the Whitecloaks are unlikely to be more interested in them than in getting away from the Seanchan, and asks for the second item. Balwer tells him that the Seanchan have fought another battle in Altara, and lost; they were pushed back to Ebou Dar, and there was some mention of men channeling in the battle. Perrin comments flatly that it is good news, thinking that at least he doesn’t have to be worried whether Rand knows about the Seanchan or not. He sees a hawk overhead, which makes him think of Faile, and he calls for the party to pick up the pace, eager to get back to her.
Goodness, a short chapter. It’s been a while!
Of course, correspondingly there isn’t all that much to say about it, since it basically is just a mini-recap to get us back up to speed about what Perrin’s situation is, right before the fit hits the shan. I’m kind of proud of how I fit two pages of text into the first three sentences of the recap.
Also, I have to say that my impatient self would be utterly livid if my traveling companion’s stupid prejudices forced me into a journey that will take weeks (months?) when it could take literally ten minutes, even if he wasn’t a foaming nutbag into the bargain. Ugh.
(Much in the same way I’m still pissed that they haven’t invented flying cars yet. We were promised flying cars, dammit! Or even better, teleportation. Where is MY instantaneous travel method, eh? EH?)
The only other thing worth noting in this chapter is Aram, and how hindsight makes the quote above reek of deeply ominous ominosity. And, headddeskness. I remember complaining that Aram’s eventual betrayal of Perrin was too out of left field when it happened (in KOD, I think), but looking at this I really don’t know what I was on about. Between this quote and Egwene’s multiple Aram + Doom dream prophecies, how much more foreshadowing did I need? Sheesh.
On reflection, though, the “hindsight” comment I just made is instructive. I don’t think I really noticed, initially, the significance of Elyas’s insightful observation about Aram’s desperate need for a belief system—any belief system—to cling to; or at least, it didn’t occur to me to place as much importance upon it as I (in retrospect) should have.
I suspect part of the problem here is my general lack of identification with the faith-oriented mindset, and its intrinsic need (by definition) to have rules and strictures rooted in some analogue of a higher/divine power. As an agnostic whose moral philosophy is probably best described as secular humanist (at least as far as I can tell), this is not a worldview which instinctually occurs to me. In a character-analysis sense, therefore, it would be well for me to recall that not everyone is content or comfortable with the notion that the rules of Life, the Universe, and Everything are mutable, and that this can make a vast difference in how that character reacts to life-changing events.
Chapter 2: Taken
Perrin’s party arrives back at camp to find the Mayener and Ghealdanin companies flanking the Aiel camp, facing off, while the Two Rivers men are arrayed between both armies and the Aiel, bows nocked. Perrin gallops to where Berelain, Gallenne, and Annoura are arguing with Alliandre’s First Captain, Gerard Arganda. Berelain turns to Perrin before he can demand to know what is going on, and tells him she, Alliandre, and Faile’s hunting party were attacked by Aiel, and no one else has returned yet; she thinks the Aiel may have taken prisoners, though. Perrin is at first stunned, then yells at her, demanding to know why they’re all just standing here instead of looking for Faile, but Berelain rightly replies that they cannot just stumble around without knowing what they face, or whether Faile is still alive to be rescued. Elyas quickly agrees, cautioning Perrin to take hold of himself, and volunteering to help the scouts track her, opining that she may well have escaped. Perrin knows Elyas is being deliberately over-optimistic, but agrees harshly, and Elyas leaves, followed by Aram and, to his surprise, Masuri and Seonid’s Warders. He manages to nod thanks to them. Arganda is arguing something, but Perrin doesn’t hear him, instead reaching out to the wolves in a near panic. He finds several packs nearby; they are sorry for the loss of his she, but they avoid the two-legs and can give him no useful information. They advise him to “mourn, and meet her again in the Wolf Dream.” Arganda repeats that they have taken Alliandre, and Perrin cuts him off to ask coldly why it looks like Arganda’s men are about to charge his own. Arganda furiously replies that it was Aiel who took Alliandre, and wants to interrogate Perrin’s Aiel about it. Berelain interjects that Arganda is overwrought, and Perrin informs Arganda that Alliandre swore fealty to him, Perrin, and therefore Arganda is under his command as well, and he is to stand down and wait for Perrin’s orders. Breathing heavily, Arganda finally agrees and wheels off, shouting orders to his men.
“You handled that very well, Perrin,” Berelain said. “A difficult situation, and a painful time for you.” Not formal at all, now. Just a woman full of pity, her smile compassionate. Oh, she had a thousand guises, Berelain did.
She stretched out a red-gloved hand, and he backed Stayer away before she could touch him. “Give it over, burn you!” he snarled. “My wife has been taken! I’ve no patience for your childish games!”
She jerked as if he had struck her. Color bloomed in her cheeks, and she changed again, becoming supple and willowy in her saddle. “Not childish, Perrin,” she murmured, her voice rich and amused. “Two women contesting over you, and you the prize? I would think you’d be flattered.”
She leaves with Gallenne, and Annoura pauses before following to comment to Perrin that he is sometimes a “very large fool.” Perrin doesn’t know what she means, but is disgusted with both her and Berelain, and takes off without a word. He goes up to the hill, where Gaul and the Maidens are still veiled. Dannil Lewin comes over to apologize, saying they weren’t sure what else to do when they saw the Ghealdanin go after “our” Aiel; Perrin tells him he did right, and sends two thirds of them to get ready to break camp, the rest to stay on guard. He goes up to where Gaul and the Maidens are preparing to leave and stops Gaul with a hand on his chest.
For some reason, Gaul’s green eyes tightened above his veil. Sulin and the rest of the Maidens strung out behind him went up on the balls of their feet.
“Find her for me, Gaul,” Perrin said. “All of you, please find who took her. If anyone can track Aiel, it’s you.”
The tightness in Gaul’s eyes vanished as suddenly as it had come, and the Maidens relaxed, too. As much as Aiel ever could be said to relax. It was very strange. They could not think he blamed them in any way.
Gaul assures him they will, and each of the Maidens kisses her fingers and then touches Perrin on the shoulder as they pass. Perrin doesn’t know what that means, but notes that they are letting Gaul lead, which is odd, and wonders if it has to do with Chiad (and Bain) getting captured as well. Then Perrin curses himself for not thinking of the others who had been taken until now. Grady and Neald approach him to offer their services in looking for Faile, and Perrin is strongly tempted to agree, but realizes that he may need them to deal with Masema, not to mention the factions in camp, and tells them no. The Wise Ones have gathered in their tent with the flaps tied; Perrin goes over and prepares to cut his way in, but Nevarin comes out first and asks what he wants. Swallowing, Perrin asks how they will treat her; Nevarin shows no sympathy, and answers that she doesn’t know, as the Shaido have already broken with Aiel law in taking wetlanders as gai’shain in the first place.
“Light, woman, you must have some idea! Surely you can make a guess—”
Do not become irrational,” she broke in sharply. “Men often do in such situations, but we have need of you. I think it will do your standing with the other wetlanders no good if we must bind you until you calm down. Go to your tent. If you cannot control your thoughts, drink until you cannot think. And do not bother us when we are in council.”
She goes back in; Perrin considers busting in anyway, but finally decides against it and walks back to camp, wondering why all the Two Rivers men are staring at him. Gill flinches when he sees Perrin and hurries off, but Lini comes up and tells him he must take care of himself; food will make him look less like “murder walking.” He thanks her distractedly, and then sees her pinched look and realizes Maighdin had been with Faile. He promises her roughly that he will get them all back before hurrying away, out of camp, to a stony ridge where he knew he would be able to see Elyas and the others returning. Tallanvor is already there, and jumps up when he sees Perrin, perhaps expecting Perrin to be angry with him for not being there with Faile et al, but Perrin thinks that he has a right to keep watch. The two men stand there until darkness falls, waiting.
And the Plotline of Doom officially kicks off. DUN.
And man, what a letdown that we finally get some Wolfbrotherness after, what, two whole books of Perrin resolutely ignoring the wolves—and then they’re all, yeah, haven’t seen your chick, bummer dude, keep it reals, kthxbai. And then they’re gone! That SUCKS. Faugh, I say! Want more wolves!
Berelain: Okay, she is shortly going to make me see red, but I have to say that here it really is Perrin being the dick, and not her. I mean, I get why he reacted that way, and it is a fair bet that I would have too in his position—you can only, heh, cry wolf so many times before no one will believe in your sincerity—but still, I think she was really trying to be nice there. And even if she wasn’t, it was the wrong move on Perrin’s part anyway, and one that will cost him. As we will see, I think.
Actually, Nevarin pissed me off more than anyone else in this chapter. It would have killed her to be a little sympathetic? Everyone else, including Berelain, the Aes Sedai, and Tallanvor (all usual suspects in the Annoying of Me), acts pretty cool in this chapter. Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t last.
Well, except Arganda, of course, who is today playing the role of the Bigotry-Impaired, I see. There’s always one. Another mindset I can only grasp with difficulty is the one that seems to believe the whole world operates via the Law of Contagion. Example: the terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center were Muslim, ergo, all Muslims are terrorists. I mean, forget being screamingly racist, I’m going to be contemptuous of that just for the appalling logic fail. What do they teach in schools these days?
I mean, besides in Texas. (Oooh…)
(Just for the record, I went to college in Texas. I therefore have earned my right to mock, by gum.)
ANYway. Am a little confused about Gaul. Though I applaud his going out there, Bain and Chiad are the only “legit” captives in the bunch, going by ji’e’toh, so why exactly is he going after them? Unless Perrin’s Aiel have all decided “fuck that noise” when it comes to the Shaido, in which case, yay, but also, wow.
And, yeah. That’s what I got for this one, kids. Happy Tuesday? Yeah, doesn’t really work, does it. Well, do your best, and I’ll see youse on the much happier day of Friday!