The Shadow Rising, Part 14

Greetings and salutations, and welcome to another Wheel of Time Re-read post! Today we are covering Chapters 39-41 of The Shadow Rising, whee!

Previous entries, as always, can be found here. Spoilers, also as always, apply.

A scheduling note before we begin: it turns out that this weekend marks a significant date in my inexorable progress toward senility, decrepitude, and really bad fashion choices, so to celebrate and/or console myself, I am giving myself a wee little holiday from blogging. Ergo, there will be no Re-read entry this Monday; we will resume on our regular schedule on Wednesday.

I’d apologize for this, but I’m the one on the fast track to Bermuda shorts and shirts with, like, sequined parrots or some such travesty on them, here. Just think of the horror I’m enduring, and your trials will seem so much lighter in comparison. This is just one of the manyservices I am happy to provide, along with excessive italicizing.Naturally.

So, there’s that. And now there’s this!

Chapter 39: A Cup of Wine

What Happens
Elayne joins Nynaeve, Jorin and Coine on deck as they prepare to disembark at Tanchico. She notes Juilin and Thom standing off to the side looking sullen, and recalls that Nynaeve had been right about the two of them trying to take over the mission once they found out it involved the Black Ajah; Nynaeve had had to threaten to kick them off the ship before they would leave off. Coine is telling Nynaeve that she intends to spread the word about the Coramoor as soon as Toram finishes his trading. She and Jorin trade fond farewells with Elayne and Nynaeve, and Elayne thinks she is going to miss Jorin. As they leave the ship, Thom and Juilin immediately bracket the two women and look dangerous; Nynaeve purses her lips, but Elayne looks at the number of shifty types lurking on the docks and thinks they have the right idea. Then they are accosted by a man who turns out to be Bayle Domon, who is amazed to see them alive, after he left them in Falme. Nynaeve and Elayne are rather cool to him, and Domon offers to help them find lodging as a way to pay off his debt to them. Nynaeve agrees, and introduces him to Thom and Juilin; Domon and Juilin dislike each other instantly. As they walk Domon tells them all about his success in the smuggling business, which make Juilin like him even less.

“I do no believe it will last much longer though,” Domon said when the Tanchicans had passed. “Things do be even worse in Arad Doman than here, and it do be bad enough here. Perhaps the Lord Dragon does no Break the World yet, but he did break Arad Doman and Tarabon.”

Elayne watches the crowds of hopeless, gaunt-looking people in the streets and wonders where their king is, and why he isn’t doing anything to help them. Domon takes them to an inn called the Three Plum Court, where the innkeeper Rendra’s close resemblance to Liandrin makes both Nynaeve and Elayne start. Rendra greets Domon warmly and gives them rooms and a private dining room. At supper, Elayne cannot eat, thinking of all the hungry people outside, and Nynaeve asks Rendra if there is somewhere she can donate for them. Rendra says she could give to Domon’s soup kitchen; Domon mutters that it be less than paying taxes. After Rendra leaves, Nynaeve tells Domon that they could use his help; when he asks suspiciously for what, she casually tells him that the Black Ajah may be in Tanchico, and they have need of eyes and ears to help find them. Domon gapes, and looks to Juilin and Thom for confirmation, which irritates both Elayne and Nynaeve, and says maybe it’s time for him to go back to Illian. Nynaeve replies that he might not find Illian particularly congenial, as it’s currently being ruled by Sammael. Domon’s eyes bulge, and Nynaeve continues that he can run, but there are no safe places left, and would it not be better if he fought back like a man?

Nynaeve was being too hard; she always had to bully people. Elayne smiled and leaned over to put a hand on Domon’s arm. “We do not mean to browbeat you, Master Domon, but we truly may need your help. I know you for a brave man, else you would not have waited for us as long as you did at Falme. We will be most grateful.”

“You do this very well,” Domon muttered. “One with an ox driver’s stick, the other with a queen’s honey. Oh, very well. I will help as I can. But I will no promise to remain for another Falme.”

Juilin and Thom proceed to interrogate Domon about the situation in Tanchico, Thom concerning himself with the high-end nobility/politics side of things and Juilin with the criminal underworld element, though Juilin and Domon refuse to speak directly to each other, instead funneling everything through Thom. Afterwards Nynaeve writes down a description of each of the Black sisters for Domon, which he takes uneasily. He and Juilin both leave in quick succession, and Nynaeve soon retires to nurse her post-seafaring stomach issues, leaving Elayne to follow Thom to the common room to watch him perform. She revels in the novel sensation of sitting in an inn with commoners, sipping wine and watching a gleeman perform. A handsome young serving man keeps refilling her cup, and as she gets drunker she becomes sure that she’s seen Thom perform before. When he finally leaves the common room, she follows, unsteadily, and knocks on his door; when he opens it she grabs one of his mustaches, and says she remembers sitting on his knee and pulling his mustache, and her mother leaning over his shoulder and laughing. Thom tries to get her to go to bed, but she demands explanations, and reluctantly Thom tells her he used to be Morgase’s Court-bard. She says he was Morgase’s lover, too, wasn’t he, and his flinch confirms it. She says she knew about Gareth Bryne, but now there was Thom, and this Gaebril Mat told her about, and is on her way to calling her mother a slut when Thom slaps her.

“You are a little girl with a skinful of wine throwing a temper tantrum,” he snapped. “And if I ever hear you say anything like that about Morgase again, drunk or sober, I’ll put you over my knee however you channel! Morgase is a fine woman, as good as any there is!”

“Is she?” Her voice quavered, and she realized she was crying. “Then why did she—? Why—?” Somehow she had her face buried against his coat, and he was smoothing her hair.

“Because it is lonely being a queen,” he said softly. “Because most men attracted to a queen see power, not a woman. I saw a woman, and she knew it. I suppose Bryne saw the same in her, and this Gaebril, too. You have to understand, child. Everyone wants someone in their life, someone who cares for them, someone they can care for. Even a queen.”

He sends her to bed, saying hopefully she will forget all this by morning. She stumbles back to her and Nynaeve’s room, and talks nonsense to Nynaeve, who leads her solicitously over to a bucket by the washstand and then shoves her head in it, twice. Elayne then throws up, and after letting her recover a bit (not without acid commentary) Nynaeve asks if she can stay awake to keep watch while Nynaeve goes to Tel’aran’rhiod to look for Egwene. Elayne assures her she can stay awake; Nynaeve is skeptical, but goes ahead anyway.

Nynaeve circles the empty Heart of the Stone, irritated at how stray thoughts of Lan here can make her clothes change most inappropriately, and worries about how they have not seen Egwene since she disappeared so abruptly out of the Stone. She calls for Egwene, uneasy at the silence, and thinks that Egwene was not here, and that Elayne had said something about Egwene being in the waste, at Rhuidean. She takes a step and is suddenly in the Waste, and sees a fogbank in the valley below with towers rising out of it. Then she notices a man in a blue coat walking along the edge of the fog, occasionally poking at it; Nynaeve thinks it looks like his hand will not go through.

“You must get away from here,” a woman’s voice said urgently. “If that one sees you, you are dead, or worse.”

Nynaeve whirls to see a woman with a long golden braid and silver bow. “Birgitte?” Nynaeve asks incredulously, and then says that’s impossible. The woman repeats that she must go, and draws her bow as if to shoot Nynaeve. Nynaeve flees, somehow ending up in Emond’s Field, where she seems to see a great shadow lying across the village. Then she sees Birgitte ducking around a corner and chases her, shouting for her to come back or else. She rounds the corner and sees, instead of Birgitte, a man striding toward her.

Her breath caught. Lan. No, but he had the same shape to his face, the same eyes. Halting, he raised his bow and shot. At her. Screaming, she threw herself aside trying to claw her way awake.

Elayne jumps up as Nynaeve screams and sits up. Nynaeve tells her what happened, and examines a shallow slash on her arm, saying the arrow would have gone through her heart if she hadn’t jumped. As Elayne doctors the cut, Nynaeve tells her about Birgitte too; Elayne tries to discuss it intelligently, but is still drunk and about to pass out, and Nynaeve sends them both to bed. The next morning an extremely hungover Elayne meets Thom in the common room and lies to him that she doesn’t remember anything after listening to him perform the night before, to Thom’s relief. Nynaeve joins them as Juilin returns from being out all night talking with thieves; he tells them that he talked to two men who say they’ve seen a woman who fits the description of Rianna Andomeran, and one of them joked he couldn’t put an age to her. Nynaeve chastises him for going too fast, and Juilin flushes and insists that he is being careful. He and Thom trade barbs over which one of them is going to find the Black Ajah first, and Elayne wonders if Thom and Domon will get in a fistfight just to complete the circle. Nynaeve observes dryly that she and Elayne might also stand a chance of finding them. Thom and Juilin immediately join forces to try and talk them out of leaving the inn, and Juilin brings up the point that the Black Ajah know Elayne and Nynaeve’s faces. To Elayne’s surprise, Nynaeve agrees that this is a problem, but then Rendra enters with breakfast, and tells Nynaeve that it will be no problem to find the clothes for her and Elayne to disguise them. Nynaeve discusses the particulars with Rendra, blithely ignoring Thom and Juilin, and Elayne abruptly remembers that if the Black Ajah are in Tanchico, then that means so is whatever is a danger to Rand, and loses her appetite.

Commentary
Bye, only nice Sea Folk we ever meet! Okay, not really. But pretty close.

Juilin’s kind of a funny character. He’s all primly disapproving about Domon being a smuggler, and law-breaking in general, and yet seems to hang out/get along with criminals more often than he does with ordinary folk. I don’t think this is hypocrisy, as such, but more like the standard brand of self-delusion that so many characters in WOT seem afflicted with (Nynaeve and The Boys being particularly egregious examples of this). Jordan seemed to be generally of the opinion that most people don’t know themselves very well, and… well, there’s a pretty strong argument to be made for that position, actually.

Again, I may be alone here but I have always gotten a huge kick out of Nynaeve and Elayne’s entirely-by-accident good cop/bad cop routine, which Domon sums up perfectly in the quote above. They should have a theme song and a dramatic voiceover and stuff. No, not really.

This is mostly an Elayne-centric chapter, and an interesting example of how different people get different things out of the same chunk of character development. Elayne’s POV here makes me very sympathetic towards her, but other people have cited her remarks about “ooh, look, the common people!” and her rushing to the conclusion that her mother is a tramp to be evidence that she’s a snotty brat. And I certainly grant that that might be a valid way to read it, but I personally don’t get that out of this.

I see a young woman who is spoiled, yes, but not spoiled, if you get my meaning, and is doing that teenager/young adult thing of trying to work out where in the world she fits, and discovering that her parent is not in fact a blameless peerless paragon of humanity, queen or no, and being very angry over that. Oh, and getting really stupidly drunk. The reader who is without embarrassing teenage rebellion memories may cast the first stone, is all I’m saying.

(Drunkenness, by the way, is one of the greatest plot-advancing devices ever invented, which I bet is a compliment it doesn’t get that often.)

Now here’s a possibly flammable conundrum for you guys to have fun with: this is the second chapter in TSR so far to feature the S-word (the act, not the actual word). So speculate, if you dare, on why Thom’s threat of it to Elayne did not particularly bother me, while the other made me go up in flames. I’m interested to see if y’all hit on it.

(Actually, this might be the third instance in TSR, depending on what you think happened between Rhuarc and Berelain during his “talk” with her. That one I ain’t touching with a ten-foot pole.)

Nynaeve’s bit here is really only noteworthy in that we get another piece of the Luc/Isam/Slayer puzzle in it, and Birgitte’s first appearance to Our Heroes where she is recognized as such. Which, yeah, are both very noteworthy, but are much better to talk about later.

I can’t decide whether to be amused or appalled at Nynaeve’s “remedy” for Elayne’s drunkenness. Let’s just say I’m really glad no one ever tried to do that to me (and they should be glad they didn’t either, as a punch to the mouth often offends). But at the same time, it’s funny when it happens to other people. Mmm, pie.
Chapter 40: Hunter of Trollocs

What Happens
Six days after Verin’s storm hid his party from the pursuing Whitecloaks, Perrin sits on the ground under the apple trees and gazes at the fourteen new graves added to the Aybara burial grounds. He smells Dannil coming up behind him and asks what he wants without looking, ignoring Dannil’s start of surprise; he no longer cares if they find his abilities strange. Dannil tells him Lady Faile and Lord Luc have arrived, and Perrin gets up and heads back to camp, where there are over fifty young men now, all of them currently gaping at Faile and Luc in their midst.

Luc stood idly flipping the reins of a tall black stallion, the very pose of indolent, red-coated arrogance, cold blue eyes ignoring the men around him. The man’s smell stood out among the others, cold and separate, too, almost as if he had nothing in common with the men around him, not even humanity.

Faile comes over to him, and he hugs her, saying he missed her, and she says he looks tired. She tells him everyone is in Emond’s Field now, including the Aes Sedai, Bain and Chiad, and Loial, who caused quite a sensation, and that they are ready to send the Whitecloaks packing. She also says Loial told her to tell Perrin that Alanna disappeared twice, and the second time Ihvon seemed surprised she was gone. Perrin says that Verin said he shouldn’t trust Alanna, but then he doesn’t know if he can trust Verin. Perrin doesn’t like that Luc knows about the Aiel; when Faile asks why, he tells her that he’s talked to the farmers, and Luc was at five of the farmsteads the day of or the day before they were attacked by Trollocs. Faile shakes her head.

“Perrin, the man’s an arrogant fool in some ways—I hear he’s hinted at a claim to one of the Borderland thrones, for all he told us he’s from Murandy—but you cannot really believe he is a Darkfriend.”

She continues in amazement that there are hundreds of people at Emond’s Field now, all responding to Perrin Goldeneyes’ warnings. He gasps “Perrin who?” and Faile laughs and says the word has spread far, and they will tell tales in the Two Rivers for a thousand years about Perrin Goldeneyes, Hunter of Trollocs. Perrin thinks there hadn’t been much to justify the title so far; he and his followers had only found and killed two packs of Trollocs before all trace of them seemed to disappear. Luc is talking to the men now, and as Perrin approaches, Kenley Ahan tells him Luc is saying they should all go back to Emond’s Field now, to join with the force there; Wil concurs, pointing out that they haven’t seen hide nor hair of Trollocs for days. Maybe they’re all dead already. There are mutters of agreement, and Luc smoothly adds that he does not intend to sow dissension, but there are heroes’ welcomes waiting for them at home. Perrin says flatly anyone who wants to leave is welcome to go, but he doesn’t think the job’s done yet. The others look at their boots, but no one leaves. Luc begins bringing up how the Whitecloaks want to hang them all as outlaws, but is interrupted by Gaul, who trades stony stares with Luc and tells Perrin he’s found a company of thirty Trollocs moving up the Waterwood.

“Well, Wil?” Perrin said. “Do you want to go to Emond’s Field? You can shave, and maybe find a girl to kiss while these Trollocs have supper tonight.”

Wil flushed a dark red. “I will be wherever you are tonight, Aybara,” he said in a hard voice.

The others all agree, and Perrin invites Luc to accompany them, but Luc demurs, saying he must look to the defenses of the village. He holds out a hand to Faile, but she tells him she will stay with Perrin. Luc murmurs “a pity” and shrugs, and wishes “Master Goldeneyes” luck before he leaves. They break camp and move out, and Faile observes that he truly does not trust Luc; he answers that he trusts her and his bow and his axe, and she looks sad and pleased both. Gaul leads them to where the Trollocs should emerge, and they set up an ambush. They wait for over an hour, and suddenly the wind changes and Perrin catches Trolloc scent from behind them. He yells a warning just as the Trollocs attack, and gets off one shot before taking a Trolloc arrow in his side. In agony, Perrin manages to snap off the shaft, pulls his axe and charges, howling.

For Adora. For Deselle. “My mother!” he screamed. “Burn you! My mother!”

He cuts down the Trollocs before him, realizes he is alone, and shouts for the men to rally to him. He screams for Faile, and a Fade appears and tells him she was delicious. Perrin howls and attacks, but his wound is slowing him down, and right as the Myrddraal is about to kill him Ihvon appears out of nowhere and beheads the Fade from behind. Ihvon tells Perrin calmly that Alanna had sent him to find Perrin, and there are perhaps a hundred Trollocs out there. Perrin gapes at him, but shouts again for the Two Rivers men to rally. Finally they begin to appear, bloodied and shocked, and the Aiel and Faile soon follow; Gaul remarks that the Trollocs did not come as expected. Faile immediately starts examining Perrin’s wound while Perrin does a head count and realizes twenty-seven men are missing. Ban al’Seen tells him the rest are dead. Perrin asks Ihvon if the Trollocs are likely to attack again, but the Warder is not sure. Faile makes Perrin get up on Stepper, and the company shambles painfully off, only Ihvon and the Aiel (and Faile) in any condition to fight, but the illusion appears to be enough to keep the Trollocs from engaging. Perrin occupies himself by reciting the names of the missing men in his head, berating himself for his pride and stupidity. Then they hear music ahead of them.

Commentary
It’s a measure of how far gone Perrin is at this point that he’s being all blasé about people knowing he’s Not Normal. This, of course, eventually works to his advantage. Nothing like having semi-superpowers to make people think you deserve a title. People are funny that way.

Speaking of which, even though I know this is all by authorial fiat and it’s at least a little bit of a cliché of the genre, I do enjoy watching Our Heroes fall ass-backwards into being brilliant leaders. Both sets of trios, really, even though the girls don’t resist it the way the boys do once it happens (well, the way Mat and Perrin do; Rand’s pretty much already resigned to the deal by this point). It may not be terribly realistic, but then it’s not like we’re all here reading epic fantasy for itsdocumentarial attributes. If I wanted reality, I could go outside and catch swine flu.

*knocks on wood*

Luc: Grr. I hate moles. I’m now finding myself wanting to smack Gaul, of all people, for giving intel to Perrin in front of him, even though that’s completely unreasonable of me. I get so antsy whenever an author puts the reader in a position to know that one character is an utter snake in the grass, and the other characters are just blithely all MY PLANS, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM and you just know the whole thing is going straight to hell and there’s nothing you can do. Which is something Jordan does fairly frequently, I might add. Grr, argh.

It’s kind of hilarious, though, that Luc/Isam is apparently still so bitter about his mom’s failed plot to take the Malkieri throne that he has to keep bringing it up, even when it might blow his cover. These villains and their entitlement issues, I swear. (Literally, in this case. Heh.)

Alanna: do we ever find out what she was supposed to be up to? I mean, I’m guessing she was at the very least seriously contemplating bonding Perrin against his will (until she decided to go after the grand prize, evidently), but I’m not sure we ever get an explanation of what her disappearances were all about, unless we’re supposed to infer that she was out spying on Perrin and, like, admiring his shoulders or whatever, I have no idea. I heart Verin, but I do kind of fault her a little for not realizing just how much Owein’s death had evidently screwed Alanna up. Girl needs therapy, is all I’m saying.
Chapter 41: Among the Tuatha’an

What Happens
Perrin’s company soon comes upon a circle of garishly colored wagons, and Perrin knows they are Tinkers. Gaul says stiffly that he will sleep elsewhere, and leaves; Bain and Chiad try to convince Faile in undertones to come with them and not stay with the “Lost Ones”, but Faile refuses, and finally the Aiel women leave. Perrin hears Chiad suggesting to Bain as they head off that they get Gaul to play some game called Maiden’s Kiss. Silence falls in the Tinker camp as the party approaches, and finally a man steps forward and tells them they are welcome to the fire, and asks if they know the song. Perrin recognizes Raen, and wonders what the odds are that of all the Tinker bands in the world, the one he’s visited before comes to the Two Rivers; he dislikes coincidences.

He could not manage the bow, but he remembered the ritual. “Your welcome warms my spirit, Raen, as your fires warm the flesh, but I do not know the song.” Faile and Ihvon gave him startled looks, but no more than did the Two Rivers men. Judging by the mutters he heard from Ban and Tell and others, he had just given them something else to talk about.

Raen replies that they seek still, then, and welcomes them into camp. He looks at Perrin, and recognizes him by his eyes. Ila comes up and recognizes him too, and asks after Elyas; Perrin replies he hasn’t seen Elyas in a long time. The Tinkers assist the wounded men into the camp, and as Ihvon helps Perrin down from his horse, Perrin tells Raen he shouldn’t be here, and that he should take his people to Emond’s Field. Raen looks surprised at his own hesitation, but then says he cannot; they would not be welcome there, and anyway there is violence everywhere these days. He worries that they must find the song soon, else they never will.

“You will find the song,” Perrin said quietly. Maybe they abhorred violence too much for a ta’veren to overcome; maybe even a ta’veren could not fight the Way of the Leaf. It had seemed attractive to him once, too. “I truly hope that you will.”

They get Perrin inside Raen’s wagon; Ihvon tells him quietly that anyone can be surprised, and not to take it too much to heart. Perrin is not comforted by this. Ila examines the wound and says she is uneasy about removing it, and Ihvon comments that Trollocs arrows are barbed. Ila kicks him and Raen out of the wagon, and tells Faile worriedly that she is not competent to remove a barbed arrow. They discuss what to do about the wound, and Perrin irritably reminds them that he’s right there; they ignore him and go right on. They get his shirt and coat off and treat the wound as best they can; Ila mourns that once she thought Perrin would come to the Way of the Leaf, but it seems not, now. Faile replies gently that the Way is not for everyone, but Ila disagrees sadly, and leaves. Perrin tells Faile that he screwed up, and she argues that he did what seemed right at the time, and it’s not his fault that circumstances changed. Perrin thinks that all he did was get twenty-seven men killed, and Faile counters that all the men would have died if Perrin had not held them together.

Sighing, she sat back down again. “Perrin, my father says a general can take care of the living or weep for the dead, but he cannot do both.”

Perrin continues to berate himself, and Faile gets angry and demands to know if the Trollocs are going to stop being vile and killing people because he thinks he’s not good enough, and says her father also says the worst thing a general can do is desert his men. They are interrupted at this point by Aram, who has come in to smile smarmily at Faile, disapprove of Perrin’s eyes, proof that he followed Elyas’s violent ways to run with the wolves, and to ask where Egwene is. Perrin growls that Egwene is Aes Sedai now, and would rip Aram’s heart out with the Power if he asked her to dance, and kicks him out. Perrin mutters that Aram smiles too much, and Faile chokes down a laugh, and offers Perrin the powder Ila left to help him sleep.

“I don’t want any powder,” he said. “Faile, who is your father?”

Her back went very stiff. After a moment she turned with the mug in both hands and an unreadable look in her tilted eyes. Another minute passed before she said, “My father is Davram of House Bashere, Lord of Bashere, Tyr and Sidona, Guardian of the Blightborder, Defender of the Heartland, Marshal-General to Queen Tenobia of Saldaea. And her uncle.”

Perrin is stunned, and asks what was all the stuff about her father being a fur or ice pepper merchant, and so on; Faile replies lamely that technically it’s true, since all those things are produced on his lands. She explains that when her father took her younger brother to the Border, it was too much for her, even though girls are not taught warfare in Saldaea, so when she heard about the Hunt for the Horn, she left. Perrin supposes she is really the Lady Bashere, or some such, and asks how she came to like a common blacksmith.

“The word is ‘love,’ Perrin Aybara.” The firmness of her voice was at sharp odds with the gentle way that the cloth moved on his face. “And you are not such a common blacksmith, I think.” The cloth paused. “Perrin, what did that fellow mean about running with wolves? Raen mentioned this Elyas, too.”

For a moment he was frozen, unbreathing. Yet he had just berated her for keeping secrets from him. It was what he got for being hasty and angry. Swing a hammer in haste, and you usually hit your own thumb. He exhaled slowly, and told her.

He tells her everything about the wolves, including his fears about losing his hold on humanity. He waits for her to flinch away from him, but she calmly remarks that if his hearing is really that sharp she will have to watch what she says around him. Perrin asks whether she heard him correctly, and what her father will think of her taking up with a half-wolf blacksmith. Faile thinks her father will approve; he’s always saying their blood is getting soft.

She gave him a smile fierce enough for any wolf. “Of course, Mother always wanted me to marry a king who splits Trollocs in two with one stroke of his sword. I suppose your axe will suffice, but could you tell her you are the king of the wolves? I don’t think anyone will come forward to dispute your claim to that throne. In truth, the splitting of Trollocs will probably do for Mother, but I truly think she would like the other.”

Perrin stares, and thinks that meeting Trollocs again might possibly be less frightening than meeting her parents. She gives him water, and he splutters as he realizes she’d stirred in the sleeping powder, but Faile is having none of his protests, and forces him to drink it. He tries to mutter imprecations at her, but slides quickly into sleep, and she strokes his forehead.

“Sleep, my wolf king. Sleep.”

Commentary
Absolutely, hands down, no question my favorite Faile and Perrin scene ever. One of the best scenes in TSR, as well, and probably in the top twenty for the series as a whole. Not least because it features the oh-so-rare occurrence of characters in WOT actually being honest with one another, but mostly because Faile is totally and completely awesome in this chapter. Even in sneaking Perrin drugs.

Her reaction to his revelation about the wolves was perfect, and the one thing about their relationship that tells me they really are meant for each other. Faile when she’s not letting herself be all afflicted with insecurity and jealousy is a fabulous thing to behold. Even though I have to think that Faile had to have at least suspected something of the truth before he told her, because otherwise I think it stretches credulity a little bit that she would have been able to take it so calmly. But still, awesome.

I remember being so relieved that Perrin had finally told someone about the wolves. I mean, plenty of people know, or at least suspect, what Perrin’s deal is, but now he finally has someone he can just talkto about it, without worrying about what she’s going to think of him afterwards. Anyone who doesn’t think secrets are a terrible burden has never had to carry one. I can put up with Faile for her Perrin-stress-relief properties alone.

Plus, she gets to give out one of the subtler bits of foreshadowing in the series. Maybe this was not so sharp of me, but until we got that bit of prophecy in KOD it never occurred to me to think of her calling Perrin the King of Wolves way back in TSR was ever going to be anything other than a clever inside joke between the two of them. This seems dumb in retrospect, but, well.

It also makes me wonder, now, if someone is going to dispute Perrin’s claim to that throne. Probably not, but if it happens my money’s on Slayer, with his possible Darkhound connection and wolf-killin’ penchant. This doesn’t quite make sense, but whatever. I don’t have to make sense when I’m doing my once-daily wild theorizing exercises, so nyah!

Speaking of prophecy, lots more hinting here about Perrin’s symbolic connection to the Tinkers and the Way of the Leaf, especially from Ila, and Perrin’s thought that even a ta’veren might not be able to fight the Way of the Leaf. I’m still really interested to see how that plays out, since where we left Perrin at the end of KOD is about as far from the Way of the Leaf as he’s ever been, if I recall correctly.


And that’s all, folks! Have a lovely weekend. Mine will involve martinis. Oh, yes, there will be martinis. Wish me luck, and see you Wednesday!

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