Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Perrin Struggles with Acceptance in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 2)

So… is there going to be a windy opening to every single one of the Wheel of Time books? Asking for a friend.

This week in Reading the Wheel of Time, we delve into the first three chapters of The Dragon Reborn. These chapters remind us of who’s who and where The Great Hunt left us, but there’s also new information about where everyone ended up and what’s going on in Perrin’s head, since these chapters are from his point of view. I’m always happy to have a section from Perrin’s point of view, and I suspect that there will be a lot more of that in this, and possibly subsequent, books.

In one of the last post of The Great Hunt, I observed that Perrin seemed to be much further along in the journey of accepting himself and what he is than Rand, and that is not proving to be the case as much as I thought. Then again, it makes sense that the adjustment wouldn’t be one steady incline, but rather a series of ups and downs, containing moments of resignation and moments of resistance, moments of determination and moments of fear. Whether you’re the Dragon Reborn or a brother of wolves, it’s not going to be an easy road.

Chapter One opens with Perrin and five of the Shienarans sitting on their horses and waiting on a mountainside, keeping watch. Perrin is feeling the winter cold as he sniffs the air, and considers why it’s so easy for the Shienarans to accept him as a leader over them. He can feel an itch in the back of his mind and pushes it away; he can’t ever stop it from coming but he has found that he can ignore it, with some effort. Still, he realizes that giving in to it would allow him to gain more information about the surrounding area and whether there’s anything dangerous lurking in the mountains.

In places like this, where men seldom came, there were almost always wolves. He crushed the thought before it had a chance to firm. Better to wonder. Better than that. Their numbers were not many, but they had scouts. If there was anything out there, the outriders would find it. This is my forge; I’ll tend it, and let them tend theirs.

Because of his good eyes, Perrin is the first person to see a rider in the distance, approaching from the direction of Tarabon. He’s about to tell the others when Masema notices a raven in a nearby tree. Since there is always the possibility that a raven might be a spy for the Dark One, they shoot at it to bring it down; Perrin’s arrow finds the bird first.

He asks if the bird has to report to its master, or if “he” sees what it sees, and is reassured by Ragan’s answer that a bird spy has to make a report, usually to a Myrddraal. They have a brief discussion about the differences between Perrin’s longbow and the shorter Shienaran bows, which Uno interrupts to remind them of the task at hand and to ask Perrin if he sees anything.

The Shienarans knew how far he could see, but they seemed to take it as a matter of course, that and the color of his eyes, as well. They did not know everything, not by half, but they accepted him as he was. As they thought he was. They seemed to accept everything and anything. The world was changing, they said. Everything spun on the wheels of chance and change. If a man had eyes a color no man’s eyes had ever been, what did it matter, now?

“She’s coming,” Perrin said. “You should just see her now. There.” He pointed, and Uno strained forward, his one real eye squinting, then finally nodded doubtfully.

“There’s bloody something moving down there.” Some of the others nodded and murmured, too. Uno glared at them, and they went back to studying the sky and the mountains.

Perrin suddenly realizes that the bright colors the woman is wearing means that she is one of the Traveling People. There have been women of all types and walks of life that have arrived with messages for Moiraine, but the arrival of a Tinker is something new, and draws some derisive comments from the group until Uno shuts it down again, pointing out the bravery of a woman riding up into these mountains, alone and unarmed.

They all wait impatiently for the rider to reach them, Perrin hoping that she’s brought some message that will mean Moiraine will finally move them from their hideout in the Mountains of Mist. When she gets close, Perrin realizes that she hasn’t seen them, and moves to intercept her journey. She doesn’t appear surprised to encounter them, and when questioned, admits that she is looking for a woman called Moiraine. Perrin tells the woman, whose name is Leya, that they can escort her to Moiraine and asks how she found them—Leya answers simply that she knew that if she came this way, someone would find her and take her to Moiraine. Perrin doesn’t ask what her message is; he knows that she will only tell Moiraine, and they will have to wait and see what information Moiraine chooses to pass on to them.

They guide Leya up higher into the mountains, and Perrin finds himself fidgeting under her scrutiny—he’s uncomfortable as she notes his axe, and worried as ever to have a stranger notice his eyes. He remarks that he’s surprised to see one of her people here, given their beliefs, and is skeptical when she points out that it is possible to oppose evil without doing violence. Leya describes the philosophy of the Way of the Leaf, and when he lets his hostility show, she points out that he isn’t happy with his weapons.

“How did she know that? He shook his head irritably, shaggy hair swaying. “The Creator made the world,” he muttered, “not I. I must live the best I can in the world the way it is.”

“So sad for one so young,” she said softly. “Why so sad?”

“I should be watching, not talking,” he said curtly. “You won’t thank me if I get you lost.” He heeled Stepper forward enough to cut off any further conversation, but he could feel her looking at him. Sad? I’m not sad, just… Light, I don’t know. There ought to be a better way, that’s all. The itching tickle came again at the back of his head, but absorbed in ignoring Leya’s eyes on his back, he ignored that, too.

They bring Leya to their camp, a hidden bowl in the mountain accessed only by a small, narrow opening that could be defended against many men by only a few, if needed. As they enter, Min calls out a greeting, and the banner of the Dragon unfurls in the wind. Perrin welcomes Leya to the camp of the Dragon Reborn.

But Leya is more interested in the fact that there is an Ogier in the camp, and mostly just interested in being taken straight to Moiraine. Perrin isn’t surprised by this, since all the women who they escort to camp have behaved the same, refusing food or rest and carrying an urgency that Perrin feels is not always borne out by what Moiraine chooses to share with them. But he agrees to take care of her horse and directs her to Moiraine and Lan’s hut.

Perrin goes to sit by the fire and enjoy the scent of a cooking stew, which he is delighted to realize has meat in it. Seeing Min peering up after Leya, he asks what Min sees, only to regret asking when Min reports that the Tinker woman is going to die. He asks Min if she’s sure about Leya.

“Is that her name? I wish I didn’t know. It always makes it worse, knowing and not being able to… Perrin, I saw her own face floating over her shoulder, covered in blood, eyes staring. It’s never any clearer than that.” She shivered and rubbed her hands together briskly. “Light, but I wish I saw more happy things. All the happy things seem to have gone away.”

Perrin is concerned that the suggestion that Leya would die by violence could mean an attack on the camp, and is tempted again to reach out for the wolves. Again he resists, reminding himself that the Shienaran scouts and those on watch are enough.

He thinks of warning Leya, but he knows that it won’t help. Min has explained that she used to try to tell people what she saw, and how it only made matters worse, when it was believed at all. He asks when it will happen, and Min answers that she never knows that, that she can’t choose when to see or what to see, and how it can change, and how sometimes she’ll see something around someone one day and nothing the next. Aes Sedai and Warders always have something around them though, and she adds, with a pointed look at Perrin, that a few others do as well.

Perrin doesn’t want to know what she sees around him, which Min confirms most people don’t, but he wishes that there was something he could do to help Leya.

“Strange,” she said softly, “how you seem to care so much about the Tuatha’an. They are utterly peaceful, and I always see violence around—”

He turned his head away, and she cut off abruptly.

Hearing the word Tuatha’an, Loial comes over to join them, and Perrin and Min fill him in on Leya’s arrival, although not on Min’s vision. Min suggests that Loial should empathize with her, since they were both caught up in this Aes Sedai business that has nothing to do with them. She complains that her life has not been her own since she met Moiraine and got tangled up with farm boys from the Two Rivers. Loial only answers with his usual musings on ta’veren and how they shape the Pattern around themselves, and how other people are pulled if they get too close. But the ta’veren themselves are also affected, “woven to a tighter line” than ordinary people “with fewer choices.”

Min isn’t mollified, complaining that she has no choice in remaining close to the three ta’veren, Perrin, Mat, and Rand, but Loial counts himself fortunate, and admits that he is considering writing a book about his experiences. They continue to discuss it, Perrin testily reminding Min that he didn’t choose to be ta’veren, when suddenly the camp stirs, and Perrin looks up to see Rand coming out of Moiraine’s hut.

The Shienarans bowed as one, heads held up but hands to knees. “Lord Dragon,” Uno called, “we stand ready. Honor to serve.”

Uno, who could hardly say a sentence without a curse, spoke now with the deepest respect. The others echoed him. “Honor to serve.” Masema, who saw ill in everything, and whose eyes now shone with utter devotion; Ragan; all of them, awaiting a command if it were Rand’s pleasure to give one.

From the slope Rand stared down at them a moment, then turned and disappeared into the trees.

“He has been arguing with Moiraine again,” Min said quietly. “All day, this time.”

This is nothing new, although Perrin still feels a little shocked that anyone could argue with an Aes Sedai. But he goes to Rand, knowing that Rand always needs someone to talk to after arguing with Moiraine.

He goes to where he knows Rand will be, in a narrow vale accessible only by one crack in the rock, similar to the bowl where the camp was and even more defensible, but without access to water. Rand, who lives in a small hut alone and keeps away from the others to avoid their constant awe, is the only one who goes there.

Perrin finds Rand staring at his palms and reciting the bit of prophecy about the Dragon being marked by two herons, and then two dragons. Perrin doesn’t say anything, just sits on a boulder and waits for Rand to speak.

Rand wonders about Mat first, who had looked so sick the last time they saw him. Perrin suspects Mat must be alright by now, must have been healed by the Aes Sedai after accompanying them as well as Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne back to Tar Valon.

“Lately,” Perrin said, “I find myself wishing I was still a blacksmith. Do you… Do you wish you were still just a shepherd?”

“Duty,” Rand muttered. “Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain. That’s what they say in Shienar. ‘The Dark One is stirring. The Last Battle is coming. And the Dragon Reborn has to face the Dark One in the Last Battle, or the Shadow will cover everything. The Wheel of Time broken. Every Age remade in the Dark One’s image.’ There’s only me.” He began to laugh mirthlessly, his shoulders shaking. “I have the duty, because there isn’t anybody else, now is there?”

Perrin asks if Rand and Moiraine were arguing about the same thing as usual, and Rand confirms it, speaking of all the people fighting on Almoth Plain and dying in his name, while he sits away safe and does nothing to help them. He admits that he knows Moiraine is right, that the Dragon’s supporters are scattered and if he joins any of them it will only make things worse, but Rand argues anyway because he feels like he will burst if he doesn’t do something. He expresses his frustration with Moiraine’s advice and directions, but Perrin reminds him that, whatever is pushing or pulling them, she isn’t the enemy.

“Ba’alzamon,” Rand said softly. An ancient name for the Dark One. In the Trolloc tongue, it meant Heart of the Dark. “And I must face him, Perrin.” His eyes closed in a grimace, half smile, half pain. “Light help me, half the time I want it to happen now, to be over and done with, and the other half… How many times can I manage to… Light, it pulls at me so. What if I can’t… What if I… ” The ground trembled.

Perrin says his name, but Rand doesn’t hear him, muttering that “it pulls so,” as the ground beneath Perrin begins to heave, dropping out from under him and then rising back up again, the valley trembling “as though a vast hand had reached down from the sky to wrench it out of the land.” Perrin has to call Rand’s name two more times before his voice reaches his friend. Then the tumult stops, as quickly as it began.

Nothing like this has ever happened before, and Perrin tries to ask about it. Rand answers that saidin is always there, calling to him, pulling at him, and that sometimes he can’t stop himself from reaching for it, even though he can feel the Dark One’s taint even before he touches it. Perrin asks what he was trying to do this time, and Rand, looking around at what is surprisingly little damage, admits that he didn’t mean to do any of it. He compares it to trying to open a tap and instead pulling the entire tap out of the barrel, and explains that he had to let it out somehow or it would have filled him and burned him up.

Perrin figures there’s no point in telling him not to do it again, since Rand hadn’t meant to in the first place, and contents himself with a joke and suggesting they go to dinner. Rand asks if Perrin has good dreams; Perrin answers that he doesn’t usually remember much about his dreams. Rand remarks, more to himself, that maybe dreams tell them things, and Perrin reluctantly leaves him to his brooding.

Perrin returns the way he came, shoving away the itch that has returned stronger than ever. He finds Moiraine standing outside her hut, peering up towards the crack, towards Rand.

He dropped his eyes. She knew about him—she and Lan alone, of those in the camp—and he did not like the knowing in her face when she looked into his eyes. Yellow eyes. Someday, perhaps, he could bring himself to ask her what she knew. An Aes Sedai must know more of it than he did. But this was not the time. There never seemed to be a time. “He… He didn’t mean… It was an accident.”

“An accident,” she said in a flat voice, then shook her head and vanished back inside the hut. The door banged shut a little loudly.

Perrin finds some trees toppled over around the camp, and one hut has collapsed, although the men and Loial are already working on rebuilding it. Min is at the fire, with a bruised cheek, stirring the stew and complaining about how she hates cooking and how Rand spilled half of it. She remarks that she’ll thump him for it when next she sees him. She tells Perrin that no one was hurt except for some bumps and bruises, and once the Shienarans learned that Rand was responsible for the commotion, they accepted it the way they accept everything Rand does.

Perrin worries about Leya, but decides that Moiraine wouldn’t have acted so casually if Leya had been killed. He suggest that Min should leave, even offers her money for the journey, but Min, while finding it very sweet, declines. She explains that fate’s choice doesn’t have to be bad, even if it’s not what he would have chosen. Perrin insists that she doesn’t have to stay if she doesn’t want to, but Min only replies that Perrin is a very nice man, even if he doesn’t understand anything. She also asks if Perrin wants to go home; he answers that he very much does, but doesn’t think he can.

Perrin hears footsteps, and turns to seen Moiraine and Lan coming down the slope. Lan, in his shifting Warder’s cloak, splits off towards where the others are working on the hut. Moiraine continues towards them, while behind her, the dim form of Rand makes its way back to his hut, alone. Min asks Moiraine if Leya is alright, and Moiraine tells them that she fell and split her scalp when Rand did what he did—Moiraine Healed her and she is sleeping now. She mentions how much blood there is from a head wound and asks if Min saw anything, and Min is confused, since she was so certain of the meaning of her vision.

Moiraine observes that Min has never been wrong as far as Moiraine is aware, and suggest that there is perhaps something else to come, and Perrin is struck by how calm and uncaring her voice sounds. He wonders if he sounds like that, too.

As if he had spoken aloud, Moiraine looked at him. “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, Perrin. I told you long ago that we were in a war. We cannot stop just because some of us may die. Any of us may die before it is done. Leya’s weapons may not be the same as yours, but she knew that when she became part of it.”

Perrin dropped his eyes. That’s as may be, Aes Sedai, but I will never accept it the way you do.

Lan, Uno, and Loial come to join them, and Moiraine tells them all that Leya has brought the usual news about the fighting on Almoth Plain, with everyone against everyone else, and that Hunters have appeared as well, looking for the Horn of Valere. She also mentions that there are about five thousand Whitecloaks on Almoth Plain. Uno points out that this is half their number.

Perrin supposes that this means that all those who declared for Rand must be dead or scattered, but Moiraine counters that this, surprisingly, is not the case. They are trying to quell the fighting between the Domani and Taraboners, but they have not moved against any of those who have declared for the Dragon.

Uno suggests that the Tinkers might not have seen everything, since they tend to run from conflicts, but Moiraine says that enough have remained because she asked them to, and that she is confident the report is correct. The Whitecloaks declare that they will take down the false Dragon and have arrested a few of the “Dragonsworn,” but there is always some suspicious reason or delay that larger parties of Dragonsworn slip away from them.

Loial suggests that the Wheel is giving Rand a way to go down, as he wishes to, but Lan suspects that it is some kind of Whitecloak plot.

“And there is another thing,” Moiraine said. “Three young men have died in villages Mistress Leya’s wagons passed near.” Perrin noticed a flicker of Lan’s eyelid; for the Warder, it was as “much a sign of surprise as a shout from another man. Lan had not expected her to tell this. Moiraine went on. “One died by poison, two by the knife. Each in circumstances where no one should have been able to come close unseen, but that is how it happened.” She peered into the flames. “All three young men were taller than most, and had light-colored eyes. Light eyes are uncommon on Almoth Plain, but I think it is very unlucky right now to be a tall young man with light eyes there.”

“How?” Perrin asked. “How could they be killed if no one could get close to them?”

“The Dark One has killers you don’t notice until it is too late,” Lan said quietly.

Uno gave a shiver. “The Soulless. I never heard of one south of the Borderlands before.”

Moiraine cuts off the conversation, leaving Perrin unable to ask what the Soulless are. Instead he remarks that nothing has changed; Moiraine counters that everything changes, that they must ride the Pattern and not the changes of the moment. She asks Uno if the scouts have noticed anything, even something small; Uno is confident of the skill of his scouts, as good as any Warder, he claims, but also remarks that nothing is certain now that the Dragon has come again. Moiraine worries that Rand’s display could call the attention of Myrddraal, and Min suggests that Moiraine place wards to keep them out. Moiraine answers that the wards she set will hide them from the Soulless and the Myrddraal, but she can’t set wards strong enough to keep them out, or set that type of ward alongside of the ones that hide them, and so she relies on the scouts and Lan to defend them, if it comes to that.

There is a feeling on the air, she says, and Perrin finds himself agreeing.

“Waiting.” The word left Perrin’s tongue before he could stop it. When Moiraine looked at him—into him—he wished he had it back.

“Yes,” she said. “Waiting. Make sure your guards are especially alert tonight, Uno.” There was no need to suggest that the men sleep with their weapons close at hand; Shienarans always did that. “Sleep well,” she added to them all, as if there were any chance of that now, and started back for her hut. Lan stayed long enough to spoon up three dishes of stew, then hurried after her, quickly swallowed by the night.”

Perrin checks when his watch is, then decides the best thing he can do is try to sleep. He returns to his own hut, undresses, and covers himself with a single blanket, so that the cold will stop him from sleeping too deeply. But when sleep comes, dreams come too.

 

It’s interesting to see the Shienarans accepting Perrin as a leader. We know that their sense of command order is very strong, and if Moiraine told them to follow Perrin, no doubt this would make him more or less worthy in their eyes; we saw Masema and Uno accepting that Rand was Ingtar’s second back in The Great Hunt, and they didn’t even know or like him yet. And of course, the fact that Perrin is Rand’s friend and childhood companion probably gives him a great deal of status as well, given their dedication to the Dragon Reborn. I wasn’t entirely sure if Perrin’s thought “maybe it’s just my friends” was in relation to his friendship with Rand—as well as Moiraine and Lan—or to the wolves, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has found out about the wolves yet. The Shienarans know that Perrin has unusually keen eyesight and no doubt they have thoughts about the color of his eyes, but that seems to be the extent of it.

Speaking of eyes, I love Uno’s new eye patch. I actually just love Uno, if I’m honest—I wasn’t sure about the character at first and found his constant cursing a little monotonous to read, but the bit where he was trying to talk to Moiraine without swearing had me laughing out loud. He and Masema both add a nice bit of color to the very ordered and somewhat reserved tendencies of the Shienaran soldiers. I also find the Shienaran readiness to accept just about everything in their shifting world quite enjoyable, given how much certain other characters like to complain.

Not that I don’t understand those complaints! Min’s comments about her own situation are very similar to things we’ve heard Rand say, either to others or to himself, in the past two books, and it serves as reminder of how frustrating fate is in the universe of the Wheel of Time. Rand has it the worst, of course, since he is the key player and given the heaviest burden, but it is easy to forget that the Chosen One of a narrative isn’t the only person burdened with duty and sacrifice. The Dragon must face the Dark One in the Last Battle, but wars are not won by a single soldier alone. We don’t see Moiraine bemoaning the amount of work and suffering the Pattern has heaped on her doorstep—partially because she, as an Aes Sedai, accepted it long ago and partially because she’d never let anyone see her doubts and pain—but so many people carry the burden of helping in this fight. And I think that might be what Perrin is missing when he talks to Leya.

He’s ready to offer Min money so she can leave, because he understands her pain and frustration at being caught up in Rand’s wake and everything it entails. Perrin doesn’t want to be involved either, but while he’s able to recognize the ways in which he can’t escape his fate, he can’t see how it could be the same for Min, in her own way. Neither can he understand how a Tinker, who has chosen a life philosophy that Perrin can’t quite wrap his head around, could still want to—never mind be able to—help in the same fight Perrin has found himself in.

Leya (who just looks like Carrie Fisher in my head now) tells to Perrin that there are ways to oppose evil without violence, and at first I had a hard time understanding why this was such an anathema to Perrin. After all, it’s not like the Darkfriends are just running around stabbing people—they’re plotting and scheming and carrying out secret missions and laying the groundwork for infiltration in every corner of the world. Perrin knows this, even if he doesn’t know the details. And he knows that Leya is a spy for Moiraine, bringing her information much the way that the raven he shot down might have been carrying information about them to the Shadowspawn. But I think there are two reasons that Perrin can’t quite understand the Tuatha’an and their way of life.

The first is that Perrin is very afraid for himself. You can’t blame him for that: He’s had Ba’alzamon (who he believes to be the Dark One himself but who is nearly as terrifying just as one of the Forsaken) in his mind, he’s been hunted by Myrddraal and Trollocs, captured by Whitecloaks, and has a strange new ability that he has never even heard of before that changes his tastes and sight and sense of smell, alters his appearance, and enhances his desire for physical violence—and we’ve seen in the first two books that Perrin has a strong dislike of violence. Since he is a big man, he learned early to be more gentle and careful, lest he hurt someone accidentally. Reluctantly, he has chosen to take up arms against the Darkness that has come after him and his friends because he believes that is the only way to protect himself. And while the Way of the Leaf does not mean surrendering to those who would harm you—you can run away from an attacker or seek other forms of non-violence defense—but it does increase one’s vulnerability. It requires a certain acceptance of the possibility of death, to accept the idea that it is less harmful, perhaps, to die by violence than to enact it upon others.

And that is something Perrin cannot do, not for himself, but also not for the people around him. Whether he is right or wrong, morally speaking, isn’t really the issue. The issue is that Perrin is so afraid of good people being hurt and killed that he can’t accept the choices they make for themselves, to the point where it makes him hostile to an idea and a people with whom he actually has a lot in common. He gets cranky when faced with the Tuatha’an directly, but when he’s staring down his own capacity for violence he’s filled with self-loathing and a longing for a better way. He even wanted to throw his axe away not that long ago, after he considered the possibility of mercy-killing Egwene rather than letting the ravens kill her. I think if Perrin was willing to be vulnerable enough with himself, he might realize that his annoyance with and anger towards the Tuatha’an is actually closer to jealousy. When Perrin tells Rand he’d like to go back to being a blacksmith, he’s longing for safety but also for a life that doesn’t require that he take another’s life. He wants to make tools, not wield weapons. But he’s also unwilling to accept that the Tuatha’an have a right to make their own choices, and that his pain at Leya’s possible death doesn’t outweigh her need to live her life in the way that makes sense to her.

And this is one of the reasons he continues to resist the wolves. They are hunters, fierce creatures for whom killing and death are a way of life. The first time Perrin killed was in response to the death of one of Elyas’s wolves, Hopper, and he was connected to the wolves while he did it. No doubt he is afraid of connecting to his wolf brother abilities for a variety of reasons, but he knows that, the more he connects with the wolves, the more wolf-like he will become.

In this way he is not unlike Rand, who cannot change that he can channel saidin and who also will be irrevocably changed by it. The more Rand touches saidin, the more he wants to touch it, and the more the taint will affect him. Perrin is careful to restrain himself from telling Rand not to cause the earthquake again. He knows what it is to fight against a nature you can’t control.

Rand and Perrin have really important reasons to resist certain parts of themselves, but I can’t help being a little frustrated, especially with Perrin, because I can see how this denial is harming their psyches. For Rand the taint is inevitable but more than that, touching saidin is very dangerous for him because there is no one to teach him how to do it safely and with control. But the ability will never stop being a part of him, and although caution is always needed, his struggle to emotionally accept what he is may very well make it more difficult to learn control. He says he fights with Moiraine because he must do something or explode, and I think that it true for more than just his desire to help the Dragonsworn. I think being cooped up in the mountain hideaway is not good for Rand because he must remain in this passive dialogue with himself and what he is, rather than going out and doing something that might allow him to begin to define what being the Dragon might mean to him, specifically.

And I think Perrin needs to do the same thing. Rather than argue with Leya, I think he would be better served to ask himself what his options are, how he might take what limited options he has and shape them to the best of his abilities. I have no doubt that the itch in the back of his mind is important, that there will be consequences for not listening to that instinct, that message. What if his impulse is correct, and the wolves could warn him about an impending attack? He could learn information that would save lives, information that he could acquire without violence or harming anyone, just as Leya is able to deliver information to Moiraine without ever having to lift her own hand to a sword or bow.

Min knows that Leya is going to die. If an attack comes and Leya is a casualty, Perrin will have spent his time angry that she won’t defend her own life when he might have had the ability to save her. What will that mean for his choice, however reluctant, to accept violence as his only option?

It takes all kinds of work and services to fight a war against Evil. Armies of fighting men must be fed and clothed. They need healing when they’re hurt or sick. The news Perrin has heard so far from Moiraine might not seem important to him, but communication is vital in a war effort, and spies in enemy territory are necessary for the planning of both attack and defense.

And it’s true, also, that there needs to be somebody left for the Light to fight for. The Tuatha’an believe, and with good reason, that violence harms those who enact it as well as those it is visited upon. Who will the forces of the Dragonsworn return home to, if victory is achieved? Who will hold the ideals of love and peace and comfort in the face of war and death? Perrin may be resentful of the Tuatha’an perspective, may talk down to Leya, but he would also protect her if it came to that, possibly with his own life. She sees sadness in him because he wants to believe in her way of life, and yet can’t. And that, I think, is a tragedy.

Wolves might not understand a life of non-violence, but as creatures of nature, they do understand peace and joy, and I think Perrin might find some happy lessons in his brother and sister wolves, if he is brave enough to look for them.

Next week we’ll cover Chapters 4 through 6, and we get some more dreams—hurray. I haven’t finished reading them yet, so we will also see whether the expected attack arrives, and if we’re going to find out who the Soulless are sooner rather than later.

I will leave you with my appreciation for, despite their personal suffering and despite their sometimes flawed ways of showing it, how much Perrin and Rand are protectors, and how dearly they want to take care of the little people. I don’t fault Moiraine for her big-picture approach—someone has to take that perspective—but I like the idea that Perrin is going to hold onto his need to focus on individuals and those who may not be so important to the Pattern as he himself is.

See you in the comments!

Sylas K Barrett hates to see ravens get such a bad rap, but he would really like the wolves back soon please. Their perspectives and the way they communicate with Perrin are fascinating.

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