Reading The Wheel of Time

Reading the Wheel of Time: For Our Next Trick, We Hunt Trollocs in Robert Jordan’s The Shadow Rising (Part 24)

Hello and welcome back to Reading the Wheel of Time. A quick note before we start: I know that I’ve been a bit all over the place with communicating which chapters I’m covering each week. Mostly this is because I’ve fallen behind in my schedule and don’t always know/remember what I’m planning to cover the following week. Or it changes between postings. I am currently working on getting that organization back together, and will make sure to put “this week we’re covering X” at the beginning of each post and “next week we’ll do Y” at the end.

It is a privilege getting to share this experience with you all, and to be part of such a passionate community, especially in these difficult times.

Anyway, this week our read of The Shadow Rising will cover only one chapter, Chapter 33, in which Perrin gets to meet Lord Luc, has some strange conversations with Faile, and steps into a true leadership role. We also get the fun of watching him execute a rescue very similar to the one that Nynaeve, Moiraine, and Lan executed when Perrin and Egwene were prisoners, and the fun of watching Verin be extremely Verin-y.


Lord Luc comes in, finely dressed and looking every inch a lord. Perrin instantly despises him. The rest of the room, however, is nothing but excitement, everyone bowing and curtseying and grinning excitedly in their honor over a visit from a Hunter for the Horn. Perrin doesn’t like the way they are almost fawning over him, or the condescending way Lord Luc smiles back at them. They present Perrin and the rest to the Lord, explaining how he has been helping them, advising them in ways to defend themselves from the Trollocs and encouraging them to stand up to the Whitecloaks.

But Luc recognizes in Verin the ageless look of of the Aes Sedai, though he manages to hide his startled reaction from most of the room. He’s visibly tense to Perrin as they are introduced.

Verin smiled at him as if half-asleep. “A pleasure,” she murmured. “House Chiendelna. Where is that? It has a Borderland sound.”

“Nothing so grand,” Luc replied quickly, giving her a wary, fractional bow. “Murandy, actually. A minor house, but old.” He seemed uneasy about taking his eyes from her for the rest of the introductions.

He seems to dismiss Tomas out of hand, even though he must have realized that he was Verin’s Warder. He’s very attentive to Faile, however, at least until she tells him that she is also a Hunter for the Horn. She flushes under his attentions, irking Perrin further.

But Lord Luc’s reaction to Perrin is the strangest of all, and the start he gives when he sees Perrin’s face is less like a reaction to his yellow eyes and more like he recognizes Perrin from somewhere and is surprised to see him in this context, although Perrin is certain they’ve never met before.

Jac tells them that having the boys on the roof as lookouts was Lord Luc’s idea, which Perrin dismisses as useless, given how well Trollocs can see in the dark.

“We do what we can,” Flann barked. “Stop trying to frighten us. There are children listening. Lord Luc at least offers helpful suggestions. He was at my place the day before the Trollocs came, seeing I had everybody placed properly. Blood and ashes! If not for him, the Trollocs would have killed us all.”

Luc did not seem to hear the praise offered him. He was watching Perrin cautiously while fussing with his gauntlets, tucking them behind the golden wolf’s-head buckle of his sword belt. Faile was watching him, too, with a slight frown. He ignored her.

Perrin reminds Flann that it was the Whitecloaks who saved him from the Trollocs, and Flann backpedals, stammering about what they could have done, eventually settling for “at least Lord Luc doesn’t try to frighten us.’

Perrin observes that Trollocs frighten him, and the Whitecloaks keep them back, when they can. Lord Luc attacks then, pointing out the ways the Whitecloaks stir up trouble in communities, stalking into people’s homes, spreading fear and distrust, turning neighbors against each other. He tells Perrin that if he wants to be a “Whitecloak dog” he can be, but he should leave the others their freedom.

Perrin met Luc’s eyes stare for stare. “I hold no affection for Whitecloaks. They want to hang me, or hadn’t you heard?”

The tall lord blinked as though he had not, or maybe had forgotten in his eagerness to spring. “Exactly what is it you do propose, then?”

Perrin explains that the reason the people are reliant on the Whitecloaks’ protection, such as it is, is because everyone is isolated and scattered. As long as each family tries to hang onto their own farm, or at least remain close to it, they have little ability to defend themselves from the Trollocs. And as long as they are such easy bait for the Trollocs (clusters of grapes, ripe for picking, is Perrin’s analogy) they have to suffer the Whitecloaks’ protection, and all that comes with it.

He reminds them of the imprisoned people, Haral and Alsbet Luhhan, Natti Cauthon, Bodewhin and Eldrin. There is some murmuring that of course it’s wrong, but it’s also over, and no one else has been arrested, but Perrin assures them it will happen again. Someone will say something the Children deem suspicious, or refuse to follow an order. He reminds them that some people will believe a dragon fang scrawled on a door: Even if nothing worse happens, do they really want to spend the rest of their lives bowing and scraping for the Whitecloaks? As long as they are at the mercy of one threat, they are at the mercy of all three.

After a moment, Jac asks Perrin what he would suggest instead.

Perrin was not expecting the question—he had been sure they would get angry—but he went right on telling them what he thought. “Gather your people. Gather your sheep and your cows, your chickens, everything. Gather them up and take them where they might be safe. Go to Emond’s Field. Or Watch Hill, since it’s closer, though that will put you right under the Whitecloaks’ eyes. As long as it’s twenty people here and fifty there, you are game for Trolloc taking. If there are hundreds of you together, you have a chance, and one that doesn’t depend on bowing your necks for the Whitecloaks.”

That does bring the arguments he expected, families talking over each other about what will happen to their farms without them there. But Perrin cuts them off, reminding him that homes can be rebuilt and fields replanted, but human lives can’t be. He tells them that it is their choice, of course, but that Trollocs can’t carry off the land; they can, however, carry off someone’s family.

When he’s finished there is a buzz of discussion among the people, and little arguing. Lord Luc, his face unreadable, remarks that Perrin’s plan is “interesting” and that he will wait to see how it turns out. And then he leaves, without as much attention paid to his departure as was to his arrival.

It doesn’t take much more discussion before everyone is on board with Perrin’s plan, and Jac decides to lead everyone down to Emond’s Field, gathering up others along the way. He is worried, however, that the inexplicable movements might make the Whitecloaks suspicious and put the captives in danger. Perrin assures him he intends a rescue.

Coming up to Perrin, Verin remarks that she has never had the opportunity to see it work before, confusing him.

“Perrin, when we arrived these people were ready to hold on here at all costs. You gave them good sense and strong emotion, but do you think the same from me would have shifted them, or from Tam, or Abell? Of any of us, you should know how stubborn Two Rivers people can be. You have altered the course events would have followed in the Two Rivers without you. With a few words spoken in … irritation? Ta’veren truly do pull other people’s lives into their own pattern. Fascinating. I do hope I have an opportunity to observe Rand again.”

“Whatever it is,” Perrin muttered, “it’s to the good. The more people together in one place, the safer.”

Verin asks after Rand and Callandor, then warns Perrin to be wary of Alanna before turning back to her air of distraction. He has a brief but confusing discussion with Faile about a bit of flirting she did with one of the local boys and her interest in Lord Luc, where she first apologizes and then gets cross with him for forgiving her. And then it is time for them to go, and their horses are brought.

Four young men decide to come with them, rather than to ride to Emond’s field, and Perrin is unable to dissuade them. They seem to think of it more like a gleeman’s adventure than serious business, but no one except Perrin seems concerned, so he relents. Faile plaits a crown of flowers and gives it to Perrin, who lays it across the pommel of his saddle.

They ride off, and after a brief bit of alarm and confusion when the Aiel rejoin them, they continue on. Each time they pass a farm, though, Perrin stops to give the same advice, and each time the occupants of the farms listen to him, packing up their things and heading for Emond’s Field. Their own party also grows as more young men join them, which results in a lot of confusion and hubbub until Perrin finally lays down the law, telling them that this isn’t a game and that they must follow orders or go home.

Tam and Abell take them to a thicket where they can observe the Whitecloak camp without being seen. Leaving the boys behind, the three of them, along with Faile, Tomas, Verin, and the Aiel creep to where they can observe the camp. Abell points out the tent where the prisoners are being held, and admits that they’ve tried to creep into the camp themselves but could not make it past the careful watch. Perrin decides he needs to think on the problem for a while.

Perrin realizes that he’s been giving orders to the older men—to everyone—for some time now, and is perplexed by it. He hadn’t felt like he was taking charge, but both Abell and Tam assure him that he is doing well before heading off to take care of the rest of the group, as Perrin instructed. Verin simply remarks that Perrin may not be shifting the world as Rand is, but he is certainly moving the Two Rivers, though she wonders if he knows where to. Once she’s left, Faile expresses a possessive concern over the fact that she won’t leave Perrin alone.

They all talk over their options, and Perrin knows that they have to get the prisoners out immediately, since news of his presence in the Two Rivers will spread quickly. They settle down to wait till nightfall, and since Perrin knows he can’t stop her from following him, instead orders her to stay close. She remarks that close to him sounds like a fine idea, and puts the crown of flowers on his head. He feels foolish, but leaves it there anyway.

When the time comes, Perrin leaves Tam behind to keep everyone ready to ride the moment they return with the rescued prisoners, at which point he will lead them to hide in a farmhouse he knows. Perrin also instructs the Aiel to try not to kill anyone, since that will only incite more problems with the Whitecloaks, and heads off into the night with Faile, glad that it is too dark for her to see the fear of losing her on his face.

The stamping guards at the perimeter of the camp are easy enough to avoid, and Perrin leads the way through the dark camp, able to see where they are going even in the darkness of the night. At one point they are spotted by a Whitecloak, who knocks Faile down before throwing himself onto Perrin and nearly strangling him to death. But Faile recovers and knocks him out cold with a piece of firewood.

They tie him up and Perrin takes his cloak, hoping that if anyone sees them they’l mistake Perrin for one of their own. They hurry through the camp, knowing the downed Whitecloak could be found at any moment, and when they reach the tent, the Aiel quickly take out the two guards.

At the sight of Perrin in a white cloak, they nearly went for him, until they saw Faile. One shook her head and whispered to the other, who appeared to laugh silently.

Perrin told himself he should not feel disgruntled, but first Faile saved him from being strangled, and now she saved him from a spear through his liver. For somebody who was supposedly leading a rescue, he was making a fine showing so far.

They carefully wake the prisoners, and dress the Luhhans in the other cloaks and helmets. Perrin knows that they won’t be able to leave silently, but he’s already planned to steal horses and make a swift escape—the picket lines are only guarded on the outside, after all. They get to the horses without fuss, but just as Perrin is about to give the word there is a shout of alarm from the camp, and he shouts for everyone to follow him. They rush out, and the guards are so unprepared for trouble inside the camp that they are able to dash through, one Whitecloak throwing himself out of the way of the horses with a cry.

They reach Tam, and Perrin has to cut off the rounds of premature questions, congratulations, and celebration. He sends the rescued party, along with Faile, the Aiel, and two of the boys, off with Tam to the hiding place, instructing them to move quietly, rather than quickly.  The rest he prepares to lead off west.

Verin and Tomas had stayed behind, and he eyed her sharply. “Any chance of a little help from you?”

“Not the way you mean, perhaps,” she replied calmly, as though the Whitecloak camp were not in turmoil just a mile off. “My reasons are no different today than yesterday. But I think it might rain in… oh… half an hour. Maybe less. Quite a downpour, I expect.”

Perrin turns to the remaining Two Rivers boys, and tells them that their job now is to draw off the Whitecloaks, keeping them off the trail of the rescued prisoners until they can lose the Whitecloaks in the rain. He gives anyone who wants the ability to leave, but none do, and they ride off towards the North Road, whooping and hollering, the horns of the Whitecloaks sounding behind them.

“Perrin,” Wil called, leaning forward on the neck of his horse, “what do we do now? What do we do next?”

“We hunt Trollocs!” Perrin shouted over his shoulder. From the way the laughter redoubled, he did not think they believed him. But he could feel Verin’s eyes drilling into his back. She knew. Thunder in the night sky echoed the horses’ hooves.

 

Evidence that Lord Luc is slayer, a list:

  1. He reacted to Perrin as if he had seen him before, but Perrin doesn’t recognize him, which would make sense since Perrin did not see Slayer’s face in the Dream.
  1. He has a wolf’s-head buckle on his fancy belt.
  1. He is stuck up but also useless, which is exactly the kind of person who would be an animal murderer.
  1. He wants to fight Perrin for control over the people but gives up quite easily, kind of like how Slayer fled at the first sight of him.

Granted, a few of those reasons are a bit more petty than others. Either way, I feel like there’s probably a lot more to Luc than meets the eye. I’m curious how much of his haughty and disinterested attitude is an act, if he actually is Slayer; I imagine there’s more cunning and danger hidden behind his fancy appearance. Also, what is his motivation for being involved in Two Rivers affairs? Even if he is what he claims to be, just some Hunter for the Horn, his altruism seems dubious, as he’s not actually doing anything or leading anyone, nor is he getting anything apparent out of lending his aid.

I did enjoy the somewhat petty way Perrin engaged with his dislike for the man, especially “So Luc wanted to know where the Horn of Valere was? It was hidden away in the White Tower, that was where. He was tempted to tell the man, just to make him grind his teeth in frustration.” Also, the sassy retort about the Whitecloaks wanting to hang him was gold.

Verin has been very interesting to watch these past few chapters, especially because Perrin’s hyper-observant nature means we get to catch all those little shifts in her personality as she pretends to be an absent-minded Brown. (I also loved the way she used it on Lord Luc after he recognized that she was Aes Sedai.) Her interest in Perrin’s newfound leadership skills are no less than my own; I’m thinking of Tam’s observation from earlier about how Perrin might not know what to look for to see the signs that he is ta’veren. We, the readers, also struggle with this problem where Perrin and Mat are concerned. Because Rand’s power is so much greater we can see effects that can’t be written off by other factors, like the rash of weddings and other strange events he left behind him while traveling in The Dragon Reborn. But now we have someone in the narrative actually pointing out what’s going on.

Verin tells him that he spoke with good sense and strong emotion, but that those same words from her or Tam or Abell would not have shifted people who were ready to hold on at all costs:

“You have altered the course events would have followed in the Two Rivers without you… Ta’veren truly do pull other people’s lives into their own pattern.”

What I wonder is, does she have any reason to believe this, other than the ones she gives, like some extrasensory Aes Sedai perception that helps her feel the tug of Perrin’s ta’veren power, like Siuan can. (Loial also mentions at one point that there is a Talent related to being able to feel the Pattern move around a ta’veren.) That doesn’t seem to be the case, here, however which would mean that she is making something of an assumption. She can’t know for sure that no one else would have been able to stir the people as Perrin did, because no one else actually tried. She can’t know for certain that another with the same conviction and the same leadership couldn’t have done it too.

There is something weirdly hierarchical about the nature of the Pattern. I can’t quite decide how I feel about it. When Loial first explains it to Rand, he explains that while the Pattern is not always fixed, it sometimes will not accept changes, especially big changes, no matter how much someone tries. But with ta’veren, the Wheel chooses the change for the person, and that changes forces other threads to swirl around them. I suppose in the end there isn’t much difference in how much free will is involved in either of these scenarios, but it feels weird to suggest that the ability to affect change is preordained somehow.

I keep thinking about the analogy people use sometimes about how small actions can have a big effect. They compare it to throwing a pebble in a pond: The initial splash is small, but the ripples move outward, expanding as they go. The Pattern is a tapestry, not a pond, but in this comparison, only a ta’veren would get any ripples from their initial splash.

However, the way Verin phrases it might provide a slightly different interpretation than the one I’m outlining here, as she specifically says that Perrin is pulling people into his own pattern. We’ve seen Mat’s luck powers shape events through improbable chances, but we’ve never seen him affect people’s minds. With Rand we’ve seen both—there were the towns where the crops died or the wells dried up, but we’ve also had examples of him affecting people’s mental states or even the moment in the Heart of the Stone when everyone could feel his will drawing them in. With Perrin, Verin seems to be suggesting that he is bending people’s minds to his own will. He isn’t directly affecting events (no Whitecloaks tripped over and knocked themselves out at the perfect moment, for instance) but he is changing people’s minds to match his own.

And that brings us back to this question of free will. I’m not sure how much free will is being exercised by the farmers Perrin is affecting with his ta’veren power. But the reason he is drawing them along is because he has made a choice, one that I don’t believe had anything to do with the Pattern forcing his hand. In deciding to fight, even when it means enacting violence, Perrin is choosing a path which will change the Two Rivers, as it has changed Perrin himself. He doesn’t think of it as a choice anymore than he thinks of what he is doing now as being a soldier and a leader, but what Perrin calls “doing what needs to be done” could just as easily be called “stepping up to the plate” or “choosing to do the right thing.” And if he is applying his ta’veren powers to bring that same choice about in others, that’s actually really interesting.

Perrin really is my favorite character. Also, it is really hard to talk about ta’veren because it’s not really a noun? It’s mostly used as an adjective. Except when it is used as a noun and it is very confusing thank you Jordan.

Everyone is in agreement that the Whitecloaks will take the changes in the Two Rivers—not to mention the rescue of the prisoners—as a sign of plotting and maybe Darkfriend activity. But I personally am more curious how Ordeith-Fain will react to Perrin’s rescue of the prisoners. They were his bait, after all, but not his only play, or his biggest one. Part of me thinks he’ll be more focused on upping the destruction in the Two Rivers—which is probably what he’s planning to use his captured Fade for—to draw Rand’s attention, and might not want to spare a lot of thought for the “tidbits” he lost. On the other hand, Perrin might not be Rand but he is one of the ones that Ordeith hates. And Ordeith is definitely the sort to throw a fit about distributions to his plans just on principle.

I really enjoyed the rescue section, because it is so much like the first time we saw someone get rescued from the Whitecloak camp. I remember Nynaeve lying in the grass watching the guards stomp around, and Lan appearing out of the dark to take Byar out as neatly as the Aiel do here. Also, Perrin definitely got the idea to wear the cloaks from Lan putting them on him and Egwene. And of course there’s the stealing of the picket horses, easily accomplished from inside the camp where no one is on their guard. The narration doesn’t really spend any time on Perrin actually making his plan, so we just get to draw those parallels on our own and it is excellent.

Speaking of the Aiel, what is going on with Bain and Chiad and their weird energy with Gaul? Something seems to be shifting from their uneasy water-oath truce.

There is something going on with Faile. The whole flower crown thing seems somehow more than an idle game she’s playing with him, although I’m not sure what. Some kind of declaration of intent, maybe, a way of indicating they are together, like a jock giving his girlfriend his letterman jacket, or the Hawaiian tradition of putting a flower behind your left ear to show that you’re in a relationship/unavailable. I think her need to apologize to Perrin for flirting with Wil and blushing at Lord Luc is partly what brings me to that feeling. It’s hard to say so more specifically, because all their interactions are still put in that annoying Perrin-can’t-tell-what she’s-thinking-or-if-he-said-the-wrong-thing way, which I’m quite over now. They should start being able to understand each other better as their relationship deepens. I mean, I know it won’t happen because women aren’t people, they’re the sun, but a guy can dream, right?

Next week is Chapter 34 and 35, with Rand and Mat returning from Rhuidean and Egwene getting to catch up on what Elayne and Nynaeve are doing. I’ve been nervous for them since Perrin’s dream vision, so it’ll be good to check in. Until then I wish you all a very good week. Stay safe, take care, and wash your hands!

Sylas K Barrett actually got chills at the end of this chapter. We hunt Trollocs! He could almost get behind hunting some Trollocs himself, right about now.

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