Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: Liking What You Become in Robert Jordan’s The Dragon Reborn (Part 3)

This week in Reading the Wheel of Time, I have a lot of feelings about Perrin and wolves and the question of destiny in the Rand universe. A lot of these chapters are still reminding us of what we learned and what happened in the previous books, so these themes aren’t exactly new. But there’s some added weight to some of them, including how Perrin understands his identity as a wolfbrother. We also get to see a few interesting insights from Min about the question of what it means to resent but still accept your destiny, which can reflect on the hidden feelings of other characters, such as Moiraine. And Rand too, although mostly our dear Lord Dragon is just very, very tired.

Perrin feels cold even in his dreams. He’s in a common room, trying to warm his hands by a hearth but unable to get any warmth from it. Still, he’s aware that the cold is a shield. He’s also aware of a distant “scratching” of something trying to get in.

“So you will give it up, then. It is the best thing for you. Come. Sit, and we will talk.”

Perrin turned to look at the speaker. The round tables scattered about the room were empty except for the lone man seated in a corner, in the shadows. The rest of the room seemed in some way hazy, almost an impression rather than a place, especially anything he was not looking at directly. He glanced back at the fire; it burned on a brick hearth, now. Somehow, none of it bothered him. It should. But he could not have said why.

The man is sitting at a square table, and Perrin feels like he should recognize him, and notices that the man sits stiffly and sometimes presses his hand to his chest as though in pain. Perrin asks what he means, and the man indicates the axe at Perrin’s side. Perrin realizes that he finds the solid presence of the axe comforting, more real than anything around him. He explains that he has thought of giving up the axe, but that he can’t. He is ta’veren. The man counters that there are ways to avoid fate, and urges Perrin to sit and talk to him about it, or at least to have a drink with him. But Perrin refuses, saying he is not thirsty, and turns away, suddenly wanting to be outside.

“You will not have many chances,” the man said behind him in a hard voice. “Three threads woven together share one another’s doom. When one is cut, all are. Fate can kill you, if it does not do worse.”

Perrin felt a sudden heat against his back, rising then fading just as quickly, as if the doors of a huge smelting furnace had swung open and closed again. Startled, he turned back to the room. It was empty.

Only a dream, he thought, shivering from the cold, and with that everything shifted.

Perrin looks into a mirror, seeing himself wearing a gilded helmet that looks like a lion’s head, and in ornate armor worked with gold leaf. Only the axe is plain, and he finds himself thinking about how he prefers it to all other weapons, and has carried it in a hundred battles. The thought horrifies him and he wants to throw it away.

He hears a voice say “A man destined for glory,” and turns to see a beautiful woman in a white silk dress. He’s entranced by her, but suddenly also feels cold. She tells him that a man should embrace his destiny with both hands, and Perrin starts to agree with her, then remembers that he has no interest in glory. It is only her suggestion that makes him want it. He removes the helmet and remarks that it isn’t his. She presses that any man with blood in his veins would want glory, as much glory as if he had sounded the Horn of Valere.

“I don’t,” he said, though a piece of him shouted that he lied. The Horn of Valere. The Horn rang out, and the wild charge began. Death rode at his shoulder, and yet she waited ahead, too. His lover. His destroyer. “No! I am a blacksmith.”

Her smile was pitying. “Such a little thing to want. You must not listen to those who would try to turn you from your destiny. They would demean you, debase you. Destroy you. Fighting fate can only bring pain. Why choose pain, when you can have glory? When your name can be remembered alongside all the heroes of legend?”

Perrin answers that he is no hero, but she answers that he doesn’t know half of what he is, and asks him to share a drink with her, offering him a silver cup filled with blood-red wine. Perrin feels a growling in his mind and pushes it away, refusing to listen and exclaiming “no!” out loud. She urges him to drink from the cup, which is suddenly golden, confusing Perrin, but the sound trying to demand his attention comes again, and again he refuses, throwing the helmet away and crying out that he is a man. Darkness covers him, but he hears her voice following him.

“The night is always there, and dreams come to all men. Especially you, my wildling. And I will always be in your dreams.”

Perrin finds himself back in clothes suitable for a blacksmith, but he’s more focused on his surroundings now.

He stood on a low-railed bridge of stone, arching from one wide, flat-topped stone spire to another, spires that rose from depths too far for even his eyes to penetrate. The light would have been dim to any other eyes, and he could not make out from where it came. It just was. Everywhere he looked, left and right, up or down, were more bridges, more spires, and railless ramps. There seemed no end to them, no pattern. Worse, some of those ramps climbed to spire tops that had to be directly above the ones they had left. Splashing water echoed, the sound seeming to come from everywhere at once. He shivered with cold.

Suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he caught a motion, and without thinking, he crouched behind the stone railing. There was danger in being seen. He did not know why, but he knew it was true. He just knew.

Perrin catches distant sight of a woman in a white dress hurrying somewhere, then notices a man on a ramp nearby, distinguished-looking and dressed in green and gold. Then another, shorter man, dressed in red and black, starts across the same bridge from the other side, and the two approach each other warily. They begin to talk, and Perrin notes that they do not trust each other, might even hate each other. Perrin glances around for the woman again, but she has disappeared, and when he looks back there is a third man with the others, dressed in black and white lace. Perrin feels like he recognizes him, and has a hazy recollection of an inn, and something else before that, but he can’t place it. There is something strange about his eyes.

The three men begin to argue, until the third man throws his hands wide and an expanding ball of fire envelopes the three of them, growing outward towards Perrin. He huddles behind the railing, arms over his head, buffeted by terrible heat. He can feel the fiery gale burning through him and cries out. Then it is suddenly gone, and Perrin finds himself unscathed, with only the memory of the heat left in his mind. He looks out at the spot where the men were, but there is only a burned-away section left of the bridge.

Then a prickling at the back of his neck makes him look up and he sees a shaggy wolf looking at him. Perrin runs, shouting that this is a nightmare and he wants to wake up, and as he runs his vision blurs and the scene shifts again.

Perrin knows for sure that he is dreaming as he looks around, seeing polished redstone columns holding up a domed ceiling. He has a vague sense that there might have been something before, but can’t remember.

And centered beneath the dome was the reason why all those feet had come to this chamber. A sword, hanging hilt down in the air, apparently without support, seemingly where anyone could reach out and take it. It revolved slowly, as if some breath of air caught it. Yet it was not really a sword. It seemed made of glass, or perhaps crystal, blade and hilt and crossguard, catching such light as there was and shattering it into a thousand glitters and flashes.

Knowing that he has done this every time before, Perrin steps forward and reaches out for the hilt of the sword, only to have his hand hit a barrier that feels like stone, even though there appears to be nothing there.

A voice from somewhere whispers the name of the sword. “Callandor. Who wields me wields destiny. Take me, and begin the final journey.” Perrin is frightened, having never heard that voice in this dream before, and takes a step back. Then there is another whisper, one he knows, telling him that “The Twisted Ones come.”

… A wolf stood there among the columns, a mountain wolf, almost waist-high and shaggy white and gray. It stared at him intently with eyes as yellow as his own.

The Twisted Ones come.

“No,” Perrin rasped. “No! I will not let you in! I—will—not!”

He clawed his way awake and sat up in his hut, shaking with fear and cold and anger. “I will not,” he whispered hoarsely.

The Twisted Ones come.

The thought was clear in his head, but the thought was not his own.

The Twisted Ones come, brother.

Perrin leaps out of bed and snatches up his axe, running out into the cold to wake everyone. But before he can, Lan emerges from his own hut, calling that there are Trollocs in the camp. Men come tumbling out of their beds and rush into battle with the Trollocs that are pouring out of the trees, shouting for Shienar and for the Dragon Reborn as Lan and Moiraine dance through the Trollocs, cutting them down with sword and saidar, respectively. Some trees burst suddenly into flame, causing the Trollocs to shriek but not to slow in their attack.

Then Perrin sees Leya step out of Moiraine’s cabin, and her expression is one of pain and horror and loathing. He calls to her to hide, but she doesn’t hear him as he cuts down a Trolloc that suddenly stepped in front of him and scrambles up the slope towards her. Then he sees a Trolloc with a spiked axe take notice of her.

He cries out to her and at the last minute the Trolloc turns and engages him, its blade cutting across his back as he throws himself down to avoid the blow. They grapple, and the Trolloc sinks its teeth into Perrin’s arm. He nearly loses consciousness, but somehow his axe remains in his other hand. When he strikes the axe’s spike right into the Trolloc’s temple, it slides down the slope away from him, still twitching.

For a moment Perrin lay there, fighting for breath. The gash across his back burned, and he felt the wetness of blood. His shoulder protested as he pushed himself up. “Leya?”

She was still there, huddled in front of the hut, not more than ten paces upslope. And watching him with such a look on her face that he could barely meet her eyes.

“Don’t pity me!” he growled at her. “Don’t you—!”

The Myrddraal’s leap from the roof of the hut seemed to take too long, and its dead black cloak hung during the slow fall as if the Halfman were standing on the ground already. Its eyeless gaze was fixed on Perrin. It smelled like death.

Perrin, transfixed by its stare, can only manage to whisper for Leya to hide, as cold seeps into his body and he finds himself unable to move as the Myrddraal advances slowly, speaking to him: “Cut one leg of the tripod and all fall down.”

Then Leya throws herself at the Myrddraal, trying to wrap her arms around its legs. It cuts her down without even looking back.

Tears started in the corners of Perrin’s eyes. I should have helped her… saved her. I should have done… something! But so long as the Myrddraal stared at him with its eyeless gaze, it was an effort even to think.

We come, brother. We come, Young Bull.

Scores of mountain wolves tear out of the trees and attack the Trollocs, and their words reverberate through Perrin, their presence filling him until he can hardly remember that he’s a man. His eyes take in the light and shine yellow, causing the Myrddraal to hesitate. Perrin calls it “Neverborn,” the wolves’ name for Myrddraal, and attacks it. Despite the Myrddraal’s speed, Perrin, or rather, Young Bull, attacks with the fierceness of the wolves, completely determined to take it down no matter the cost. Like a wolf, he hamstrings the Myrddraal, then, as it falls and catches itself one hand, Perrin slices his axe into its throat and halfway through its neck.

Through the wolves, he’s aware of the Trollocs falling to the ground and thrashing with the death throes of the Myrddraal they’re connected to. The wolf part of him wants to join the others in finishing the Trollocs off, but the man part thinks first of Leya. As he turns her dead body over, he feels like she’s giving him an accusing stare, and he tells her that he tried to save her.

“What else could I have done? It would have killed you if I hadn’t killed it!”

Come, Young Bull. Come kill the Twisted Ones.

Wolf rolled over him, enveloped him. Letting Leya back down, Perrin took up his axe, blade gleaming wetly. His eyes shone as he raced down the rocky slope. He was Young Bull.

Perrin joins the battle. Lan’s sword flashes like lightning as he fights another Myrddraal, while Loial swings a huge club. Other men fight in the shadows, although Young Bull notices that many of them are down. He joins one of the small packs of wolves, fighting with his axe as teeth, thinking of the individual fights instead of the larger battle, the way a wolf does. He feels the urge to use his teeth instead of his axe, to run on four legs like his brothers and sisters, and the Trollocs appear even more frightened of him than of the other wolves. And then it’s done—all the Trollocs are dead and he can feel some of the wolves chasing the last Myrddraal.

Young Bull snarled as the first brother died, its death pain lancing him, yet the others closed in and more brothers and sisters died, but snapping jaws dragged the Neverborn down. It fought back with its own teeth now, ripping out throats, slashing with fingernails that sliced skin and flesh like the hard claws the two-legs carried, but brothers savaged it even as they died. Finally a lone sister heaved herself out of the still-twitching pile and staggered to one side. Morning Mist, she was called, but as with all their names, it was more than that: a frosty morning with the bite of snows yet to come already in the air, and the mist curling thick across the valley, swirling with the sharp breeze that carried the promise of good hunting. Raising her head, Morning Mist howled to the cloud-hidden moon, mourning her dead.

Young Bull threw back his head and howled with her, mourned with her.

When he lowers his head, Min is staring at him. She asks if he’s alright, and then he notices that everyone who is still standing is staring at him, too. But there are so many Shienarans down. And so many wolves.

He feels the urge to howl again and struggles to wall himself off from the contact with the wolves. When that’s done, he tells Min that he’s alright, and Lan distracts from the attention by commending him on how well he fought and crying aloud “Tai’shar Manetheren! Tai’shar Andor!” (True Blood of Manetheren. True Blood of Andor.)

Perrin is grateful that he doesn’t have to answer questions about his behavior, but he’s embarrassed by the honor he doesn’t feel he deserves. He murmurs to Min that Leya’s dead, and Min reminds him that he couldn’t have stopped it no matter what he did, and tells him to go to Moiraine to have his back Healed.

Perrin thinks of how he nearly didn’t come back from the wolves this time, but also of how, when he’s with the wolves, he doesn’t have to worry about what people think of him, of strangers being afraid of his size or people thinking that he’s slow because he is careful. With the wolves, he’s just another wolf. He struggles against that feeling.

Then Masema speaks up, declaring that the wolves are a sign to confirm their faith in the Dragon, since it is said that in the Last Battle the Lord Dragon will call forth the beasts of the forest to fight at their side. He insist that this means they are meant to go forth, that only Darkfriends will refuse to join them.

Uno tells him off, reminding him that they will go when Rand orders it, not before. He observes, tiredly, that at least they will have wolf hides to keep them warm, but Perrin snaps at him, reminding Uno that the wolves fought for them and declaring that they will be buried alongside the dead men. Uno yields before Perrin’s golden stare.

He asks after Rand, who Min tells him is once again refusing to talk to anyone, and goes up the slope to see him. Rand tells him, bitterly, that all he could do during the fight was light the trees on fire instead of the Trollocs and Fades, that he was first unable to grasp the True Source, and then when he finally had it, it was too much. He confesses that he even thought about pulling the mountain down on them.

Perrin tells Rand awkwardly that it’s alright, that they dealt with it and didn’t need him, and Rand answers that he felt them coming. But he took the sensation to be more of the taint, and was too late in realizing the difference. He could have given warning.

This brings back Perrin’s guilt as well, since he, too, could have given warning sooner if he’d listened to the wolves. But he’s not sure that he would have been able to remain here, now, if he had let the wolves into his mind before. He thinks of Elyas, who seemed to keep his sense of his own humanity, but Perrin never found out how he did it.

Lan and Moiraine join them, Moiraine clearly weary and being helped along by the Warder. She uses her angreal to heal Perrin’s wounds, and he can actually feel his muscles knitting back together, along with the shock of cold from the channeling. When she’s done, even Perrin’s bare feet are healed from the damage of running and climbing on the rocky slope. He’s also ravenous, and Moiraine tells him he needs to eat to replace the energy his body expended in the Healing.

She also tells him that she Healed those injured wolves that didn’t run off into the forest. Min refuses healing for her bruises, but when Moiraine asks Rand if he was nicked or cut by any blade, they discover that it’s not a new wound they have to be concerned about, but Rand’s old injury from his battle with Ba’alzamon in Falme, which has reopened.

Moiraine hissed and jerked her arm free from Lan, half fell to her knees beside Rand. Pulling back the side of his coat, she studied his wound. Perrin could not see it, for her head was in the way, but the smell of blood was stronger, now. Moiraine’s hands moved, and Rand grimaced in pain. “ ‘The blood of the Dragon Reborn on the rocks of Shayol Ghul will free mankind from the Shadow.’ Isn’t that what the Prophecies of the Dragon say?”

“Who told you that?” Moiraine said sharply.

“If you could get me to Shayol Ghul now,” Rand said drowsily, “by Waygate or Portal Stone, there could be an end to it. No more dying. No more dreams. No more.”

Moiraine tells him that if it were that simple, she would find a way to get him there, but cautions against interpreting The Karaethon Cycle literally. She Heals Rand as much as she can, telling him he must be careful not to open it again before she passes out. Lan catches her, remarking that it’s a pity that there is no one to Heal her. Min hesitantly suggests Rand, but Lan answers that, no offence to Rand, but he might kill her as easily as help her.

“That’s right,” Rand said bitterly. “I’m not to be trusted. Lews Therin Kinslayer killed everyone close to him. Maybe I’ll do the same before I am done.”

“Pull yourself together, sheepherder,” Lan said harshly. “The whole world rides on your shoulders. Remember you’re a man, and do what needs to be done.”

“Rand looked up at the Warder, and surprisingly, all of his bitterness seemed to be gone. “I will fight the best I can,” he said. “Because there’s no one else, and it has to be done, and the duty is mine. I’ll fight, but I do not have to like what I’ve become.” He closed his eyes as if going to sleep. “I will fight. Dreams…”

Lan looks at him for a moment, then nods and urges Perrin and Min to get Rand to bed, then follow suit. They have no idea what the next day might hold for them.

Perrin sleeps soundly, full and exhausted, and wakes to Lan shaking his shoulders, telling him that Rand is gone. Perrin dresses quickly and heads to Moiraine’s cabin, passing Shienarans slowly clearing away the dead. On his way Masema stops him, saying that Perrin must know why “the Lord Dragon” abandoned them, and what sin they committed to drive him to it. Perrin answers that whatever the Lord Dragon did was according to his plans, and that he would never abandon them, and while he’s not entirely confident of his own words, Masema is mollified.

Perrin finds Loial and Min waiting with Moiraine in her hut. He asks where Rand went, and why, and if anyone saw him go. He also asks if it’s Moiraine’s fault that Rand left, causing Loial to stiffen in anxiety.

Moiraine answers that this is not of her making, and that she hopes to learn when and why Rand left. She gives Perrin a note that Rand left behind.

What I do, I do because there is no other way. He is hunting me again, and this time one of us has to die, I think. There is no need for those around me to die, also. Too many have died for me already. I do not want to die either, and will not, if I can manage it. There are lies in dreams, and death, but dreams hold truth, too.

None of the Shienarans saw Rand leave, although Moiraine points out testily that none of them would have dared oppose the Lord Dragon in any case, prompting Perrin to ask her what exactly she expected of them, and of Rand, who only declared himself the Dragon because she directed him down that path. He asks if Moiraine really believes that Rand is the Dragon, and she replies that he “is what he is.” Unsatisfied, and ignoring Loial’s protests about angering an Aes Sedai, Perrin demands to know if this is the Pattern showing Rand the right path, as Moiraine claimed it would, or if he’s just trying to get away from her. Moiraine is clearly very angry, but Perrin doesn’t back down, and Moiraine admits that this may, indeed, be the Pattern directing Rand, but that she never intended for him to go off alone. She’s concerned about his vulnerability and ignorance of the world, about the fact that he could kill himself with the One Power as easily as learn to control it. But Perrin still isn’t having it, and points out that maybe, if Rand is really who she says he is, he knows what he needs to do better than she does.

“He is what he is,” she repeated firmly, “but I must keep him alive if he is to do anything. He will fulfill no prophecies dead, and even if he manages to avoid Darkfriends and Shadowspawn, there are a thousand other hands ready to slay him. All it will take is a hint of the hundredth part of what he is. Yet if that were all he might face, I would not worry half so much as I do. There are the Forsaken to be accounted for.”

Loial begins to repeat the recitation about the Forsaken being bound in Shayol Guhl, but Moiraine cuts him off, reminding them that the seals are weakening, and some are even broken. The Dark One isn’t free yet, but some of the Forsaken might have gotten loose, and she lists off some of the names of the thirteen; Lanfear, Sammael, Asmodean, Be’lal, Rahvin, and Ishamael himself, the Betrayer of Hope. All the Forsaken were bound in the sealing, not in the Dark One’s prison itself, and any of them could be free to come after Rand now.

Perrin is chilled by her words, remembering being frightened by stories of the Forsaken when he was a child, and turns his attention back to Rand’s letter. He’s struck by the mention of dreams, and points out that Rand was talking about dreams the day before. Uno and Lan come in, but Moiraine is focused on Perrin’s observation and doesn’t let them interrupt. She asks what dreams Perrin has had lately, and he reluctantly tells her about the dream of the sword, leaving out the part where the wolf had appeared. Even Lan seems stunned by the description.

When questioned, Uno admits that he dreams of swords all the time, and can’t remember his dreams the way Perrin does. Loial only dreams of the stedding, as all Ogier do when they are away from home. But Moiraine tells Perrin that she doubts that his dream was only a dream.

“You describe the hall called the Heart of the Stone, in the fortress called the Stone of Tear, as if you had stood in it. And the shining sword is Callandor, the Sword That Is Not a Sword, the Sword That Cannot Be Touched.”

Loial sat up straight, bumping his head on the roof. He did not seem to notice. “The Prophecies of the Dragon say the Stone of Tear will never fall till Callandor is wielded by the Dragon’s hand. The fall of the Stone of Tear will be one of the greatest signs of the Dragon’s Rebirth. If Rand holds Callandor, the whole world must acknowledge him as the Dragon.”

“Perhaps,” Moiraine counters. She tells them that the prophecy of Callandor is only one fulfillment of The Karaethon cycle, just like the first one, his birth on the slopes of Dragonmount.

“He has yet to break the nations, or shatter the world. Even scholars who have studied the Prophecies for their entire lives do not know how to interpret them all. What does it mean that he ‘shall slay his people with the sword of peace, and destroy them with the leaf’? What does it meant that he ‘shall bind the nine moons to serve him’? Yet these are given equal weight with Callandor in the Cycle. “There are others. What ‘wounds of madness and cutting of hope’ has he healed? What chains has he broken, and who put into chains? And some are so obscure that he may already have fulfilled them, although I am not aware of it. But, no. Callandor is far from the end of it.”

She continues to tell them of the difficulties Rand will face in even getting into the fortress called Stone of Tear, the Tairens dislike of the One Power and of any man who would claim to be the Dragon, and how only the High Lords of Tear are allowed to enter the Heart of the Stone. She insists that Rand is not ready.

Min, irritated, asks why they are just sitting there, and Moiraine replies that she has to be sure. She soothes Min as they talk about how difficult it is to be chosen, or adjacent to one who is chosen, having to wait for what comes. Moiraine explains to Perrin that those who can channel the One Power and are particularly strong in Spirit can sometimes force their dreams onto others. Rand was probably doing it without even realizing. When Perrin demands to know why it didn’t happen to Moiraine or Lan, she explains that, as an enemy of the Shadow, she always shields herself, and that Lan receives that same protection “in the bonding.” Perrin’s angry, asking why Moiraine only tells them things after something has happened, and she points out that she can hardly share a lifetime of knowledge in one afternoon.

Lan returns a bit later with news about the various Shienarans who remember dreaming of swords, or columns, and some who remember that the sword appeared to be made of crystal or glass. Uno, meanwhile, explains that he followed Rand’s tracks and discovered that the earthquake Rand caused opened a space in the far wall of the previously closed valley, creating enough of a slope that one could get a horse up it. Moiraine immediately begins to make plans to follow him, telling Uno that the Shienarans cannot come; too many of them are still healing and won’t be able to move fast enough to overtake Rand. She promises to send for them when she can, and Uno leaves reluctantly.

Min is harder to convince. Moiraine needs her to take a message to the Amyrlin about what has happened, and it cannot be a man to demand an audience with the Amyrlin Seat. But she does ask Lan, Loial, and Perrin to come. Loial agrees eagerly, saying that Rand is his friend and that he doesn’t want to miss anything. Perrin agrees too; it has to be done, so he will do it.

As Lan escorts Min, Loial, and Perrin out of the cabin, Min stops and asks Lan if he has any message for Nynaeve; Lan is momentarily surprised that she knows, then recovers himself and tells her that anything he needs to say to Nynaeve he will tell her himself.

Outside, Loial and Perrin are glad for the fresh air after the stuffy and candle-smoke filled cabin, and Min complains that at least Loial and Perrin were asked, rather than commanded. But Loial points out that this is probably only because their answers were already certain. Still, Min is proud of Perrin for standing up to Moiraine.

She asks to speak to him alone, and warns him that she’s seen things about him that he should know about. Perrin doesn’t want to hear anything she’s read about him, but Min insists that there have been some new appearances since he agreed to go after Rand.

“After a moment [Perrin] said reluctantly,“What did you see?”

“An Aielman in a cage,” she said promptly. “A Tuatha’an with a sword. A falcon and a hawk, perching on your shoulders. Both female, I think. And all the rest, of course. What is always there. Darkness swirling ’round you, and—”

“None of that!” he said quickly. When he was sure she had stopped, he scratched his head, thinking. None of it made any sense to him. “Do you have any idea what it all means? The new things, I mean.”

“No, but they’re important. The things I see always are. Turning points in people’s lives, or what’s fated. It’s always important.” She hesitated for a moment, glancing at him. “One more thing,” she said slowly. “If you meet a woman—the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen—run!”

Perrin asks why he would run from a beautiful woman, and Min insists that he just take her advice. Mulling it over, Perrin comes to the conclusion that Min must like him, and tries to let her down gently, but it turns out his impression is mistaken. She teases him, then repeats that he must take her advice and heads off down the slope. But Perrin follows her, realizing that it’s Rand she likes. He asks if Egwene knows and Min says that she does. Rand does not; she could hardly tell him that she did a reading of him and saw that she had to fall in love with him, and that she had to share him, too. Hiding tears, she tells Perrin she doesn’t know what she’ll do if he dies.

Perrin promises to do what he can, and tells her to go to Tar Valon where she will be safe. She is incredulous that he thinks Tar Valon is safe, and goes off to get ready to leave.

 

While I was going through these chapters, I struggled a little to make up my mind about which dreams were Rand’s and which were Perrin’s. Once Moiraine gave us the information about a channeler’s ability to push their dreams onto others, I briefly wondered if all of Perrin’s dreams were really Rand’s, since I wasn’t sure what interest Lanfear would have in him, or what the third dream even means. But on further consideration I don’t think that any but the last dream was Rand’s. This is the only one in which Perrin is aware that it’s a dream, perhaps suggesting that he doesn’t really belong there. The key to why Ba’alzamon and Lanfear might come to Perrin even now they know that he isn’t the Dragon Reborn seems to lie in the Myrddraal’s comment about cutting one leg off a tripod: Dragon or not, the other two ta’veren are still important. Lanfear and Ba’alzamon still have a vested interest in Perrin because of this tied fate, as Ba’alzamon mentioned, and perhaps also might have some interest in the wolfbrother thing, given that Lanfear calls him her “wildling.”

The well-dressed man in the first dream is definitely Ba’alzamon: There’s the little detail of him pressing his hand to his chest in reference to the injury he took from Rand in their last encounter, the question about there being something strange about eyes, and of course the sensation of heat like a furnace when he leaves Perrin. And then there’s the blood-red wine that both he and Lanfear kept trying to get Perrin to drink—Ba’alzamon tried to get Rand to drink spiced wine from a goblet in the very first dream he appeared in, and we still don’t know what would happen if anyone actually accepted one and drank from it. Nothing good, obviously, but I really would like more info on what Ba’alzamon—and now Lanfear too—is trying to accomplish. Is the drink poison? Does it establish some connection between the giver and the drinker? Is it like accepting the Dark One but for Forsaken folks instead? It’s interesting to note that sometimes in the dream Rand and Perrin have an instinct to resist the goblets, while other times they refuse to drink accidentally, as happens to Perrin here—he’s actually saying “no” to the call of the wolves, not to Lanfear’s urging.

But while the first two dreams seem to be the standard Darkfriend-invades-your-mind-in-your-sleep that we’ve seen from Ba’alzamon before, the third is very different. I wonder if anyone actually knew Perrin was there (unlikely, given his instinct that it would be dangerous to be seen) or if he somehow ended up in that dream place accidentally. The description of the space where Perrin sees the three men reminds me a lot of the Ways, with the long bridges and ramps that lead to places exactly above or below each other, and it made me wonder if there is some kind of metaphysical path one has to follow to get into someone else’s dreams—like the Ways but for minds. Moiraine mentioned something called a Dreamwalker back in The Eye of the World, and said there hadn’t been one for a long time, but I imagine it’s not a huge stretch for Aes Sedai as powerful as the Forsaken to do it.

My real question, however, is: Can wolves do it, too?

As we’ve seen more of Perrin’s communications with the wolves, it’s been shown how complex, and strong, their form of telepathy is. In The Great Hunt, we saw that the wolves were able to protect Perrin’s dreams to a certain extent. At first I thought of this presence as being more symbolic than literal, but now it appears as though the wolves may actually be able to come into Perrin’s mind, much the way Ba’alzamon does. And if wolves can do it, perhaps wolf brothers can also. It’s possible, even likely, that Perrin was never meant to be in that space in the third dream, but managed to navigate there somehow in time to witness Lanfear hurrying away and Ba’alzamon having an argument with the other two men. I wonder which of the Forsaken those guys were.

I guess I’ve been rather critical of Perrin’s resistance to the wolves up until now, but I hadn’t picked up on this danger of losing himself to the wolf identity. If the chance of forgetting who he is is really as strong as Perrin believes, that’s a more complicated and compelling concern than the general fear of being different and having strange powers. Any time Perrin has connection with the wolves, I’m always thinking of how human Elyas seemed and how at peace he was with himself. Perhaps Elyas’s training as a Warder helped him maintain a certain level of mental discipline and so hold onto his human side more easily. I wonder if he ever intentionally slips deeper into the wolf side for certain activities and becomes more human again for others, like when he greeted Egwene and Perrin that first time.

The parallel between Perrin and Rand still holds strong, though. When Perrin was telling the wolf presence that he wouldn’t let it in, I was reminded of Rand struggling with his desire for saidin as he talked to Ba’alzamon in the mirror world, back in The Great Hunt.

“I will not touch it!” Rand felt the void around him, felt saidin. “I won’t.” (tGH, pg 241)

“No,” Perrin rasped. “No! I will not let you in! I—will—not!” (tDR, pg 107)

I love how the wolves completely accept Perrin, even without Perrin accepting them in kind. Perrin’s thought about how he is just another wolf when he is with them, how he doesn’t have to worry about the judgments and prejudices of humans, really struck home with me. It’s a slightly different way to explore Perrin’s struggle with who he is, his capacity for violence and his capacity for peace, and his desire to assert his own intelligence. I thought his questioning of Moiraine was pretty fair, particularly his points about pushing Rand away and about not telling them anything about their own fates. Of course, Moiraine is right when she says that she can’t teach them everything she knows, but also… well, it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t really want to try. All her work to find the Dragon has been necessarily secret, but she’s going to have to start giving over a little of that control now that she’s found the man destined to fulfill those prophecies. And not just to Rand, but to the other important players as well. She’s no longer capable of holding all the cards, and I expect that change might be difficult for her to accept. After all, she’s been mostly on her own with this for a long time, and keeping secrets from even her closest friends. The way she comforted Min during the conversation about how hard it is to be chosen or caught up with those who are chosen reminded me that Moiraine, for all her knowledge, is still almost as helpless in the face of destiny and the Pattern as everyone else. The way she always repeats “the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills” can get a bit grating at times, but she must be trying to comfort and bolster herself with the recitation as much as trying to convince anyone around her.

In other discoveries this week, I’ve been waiting for the whole “sword that isn’t a sword” thing to come up more specifically in Rand’s journey, and I’m happy we’ve finally gotten to Callandor—I guess Rand needs a new “sword” now that the heron-marked blade is gone. At the moment I’m assuming it’s some kind of sa’angreal but who knows? I am, however, ready to take a guess at the meaning of “shall slay his people with the sword of peace, and destroy them with the leaf,” though. Since Rand is Aiel, and the Aiel are a warrior race, bringing them to a path of peace would fundamentally change (aka destroy) their current identity as a people. The word “sword” here could very easily be a metaphor, and I’m also reminded of the Shienaran farewell “May peace favor your sword.” And “leaf” obviously refers to the Way of the Leaf, a way of peace rather than violence.

Now why Rand would lead/force the Aiel to a path of peace is another question, one I am less able to predict at this time, unless it just means that once Sightblinder is defeated they can all lay down their arms. In any case, the idea of leading the Aiel to a way of peace raises some interesting questions, especially on the heels of the conversations that Perrin has been having about nonviolence and the way of life of the Tuatha’an.

Speaking of Perrin and prophecy, Masema mentions that the Dragon is supposed to summon the beasts of the forest to fight alongside them in the Last Battle, but it’s possible that it’s actually Perrin who will do that, just as it will have to be Mat calling the Heroes of the Horn, unless he dies somewhere in the books. If these things are done while fighting with the Dragon, in the Dragon’s name, I think that should still count towards fulfilling prophecies. A tripod indeed, and each of them important to what ultimately unfolds.

It makes me wonder why Jordan chose to make the three boys ta’veren, but neither Egwene nor Nynaeve have the same status. Ba’alzamon tried to have them taken away across the sea by the Seanchan explicitly because their existence is critical to Rand’s success, as Perrin and Mat’s appears to be, but there is still this distinct difference between what they are and what the boys are. That isn’t to say that one who isn’t ta’veren can’t be important or helpful. I also imagine that the concept of ta’veren wasn’t fully fledged when Jordan began The Eye of the World—the main reason to have all three boys be ta’veren might just have been so that it was unclear which of them was the Dragon Reborn. But the choice still feels glaring to me, and there’s no real way to avoid the obvious divide based on gender.

Brb, just taking a moment to imagine Perrin as a badass lady blacksmith wolfsister. It’s a nice thought.

And as for Rand, well, he said that he caused the earthquake because he drew too much power and had to release it somewhere, and I think I believe him. But it sure is convenient timing that he also provided himself with an escape route right before he needed it, and there’s always a possibility he might have done it on purpose. I do feel for Rand; he’s already at that point in the hero’s journey where he just wants to sacrifice himself and end it, which makes sense for a trilogy, but since I have the perspective of knowing how many more books are to come, it changes what that level of determined despair means to me as a reader. I don’t doubt Ishamael is going to be around for most if not all of the series (although there’s always a chance I’m wrong about that!) and we can’t keep ending every book with Rand thinking that he’s killed him, only to find out at the beginning of the next that the dude has more lives than a black cat. So something is going to have to shift in that formula—and I’m interested to see what it is.

I’m also starting to see some of those distinct categories of channeling. Moiraine mentioned being strong in Spirit as a necessary component in pushing one’s dreams on others, and I went back and looked at when she first explained the Five Powers to Egwene: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, and Spirit. I guess we now know that Rand has strength in Spirit and also in Earth. Ba’alzamon must have a lot of strength in Fire, since that’s a good half of what he does and it’s coming out of his face all the time. I’m curious as to which Power Healing belongs to… Spirit as well, one supposes. But that makes Spirit a much broader category than the other four, which are just the elements. That feels a bit boring right now, if I’m honest, but I’m sure that it will become much more complicated than that. Nothing in channeling is simple.

So perhaps wolves are strong in Spirit, not quite in the same way as a wielder of the One Power, but in some other way that relates to the natural world. And perhaps that is also what Min has, some kind of sensitivity to this side of the Power, an ability to perceive it but not to control it. It’s interesting too because I think that Min’s ability to see part of the Pattern is actually the closest thing to proof of free will in Rand’s universe that we’ve seen so far. Ta’veren might be held to a tight line by the Pattern, and the Pattern might generally direct courses of events, but Min’s readings can change when people make big decisions, and I think that shows the truth of actual choice. If the Pattern was always going to send Perrin one way, already knew or created his decision to go with Moiraine, then it seems unlikely that different images would suddenly appear around him. It happened with Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne when they chose to go with Liandrin to Falme too. I’d love to know more about how Min’s abilities work, but then, so would the Aes Sedai. I wish she were going with Moiraine and the others to find Rand… hopefully she won’t be too cooped up at Tar Valon.

Three more chapters next week, and more dreams await us. I’ll try to keep the summaries to a reasonable length while I’m at it. Until then, see you in the comments!

Sylas K Barrett supports Perrin’s need to eat a good amount of meat whenever he can. We can’t all be vegans, Young Bull.

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