I am doing a recap and reaction for each chapter of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” starting with Book 1, “The Eye of the World.” I will do a completed book review after the end of each book. Follow along here with Chapters 10 and 11.
Chapter 10: Leavetaking
Rand and Mat follow Lan to the stable and find Perrin there. Lan is hastily checking the horses – which appear to be among the best in the Two Rivers – to see that they are ready for a journey.
Mat notices Rand’s sword for the first time and asks if he is becoming a Warder. Or a merchant’s guard. Mat is carrying a bow. Perrin is wearing an ax at his belt. The blacksmith’s apprentice got the weapon from Master Luhhan. Luhhan had made the weapon for a merchant’s guard, two years earlier, but did not sell the ax when the buyer would not pay the agreed price. He gave it to Perrin sometime later after seeing Perrin “practice” with it.
Lan advised all of them that anything can be a weapon if a man has the nerve to use it. He suggests that they may need such nerve to reach Tar Valon alive.
Rand finds out that the other two boys have not told anyone they are leaving. They left notes. Moiraine walks into the stable. As they are about to leave, Egwene enters the stable and says they are not leaving without her. She has already packed provisions for a journey. She discovered that the group was leaving by noticing that Mat was trying not to be noticed, that Perrin was hiding an ax under his cloak, and by piecing together that information with the fact that her father – the Innkeeper and Mayor – had bought two horses.
Egwene believes the boys are leaving to see the world outside the Two Rivers. She is incredulous when they suggest that they are being chased by trollocs. Moiraine asks if anyone else noticed what Egwene noticed and Egwene says no. Egwene also says that she did not tell anyone. Moiraine agrees to let her travel with them.
Lan is furious. Moiraine tells him that Egwene joining their group is “a part of the Pattern.” He reluctantly gives assent. When Lan states that Egwene can buy the Gleeman’s horse – and that he will leave Thom enough money to buy another horse – Thom’s voice comes down from the hayloft above them. He states that leaving on his horse will not be possible. He will be going with them, too.
Rand suggests that Egwene can ride Bela. Rand saddles Bela and ties Egwene’s bundle to the saddle. After she mounts the horse, Rand tells her quietly that he is not making up the story about the trollocs hunting him but that he will take care of her. She says, “perhaps I will take care of you.”
Rand is riding Cloud, a horse previously owned by the Emond’s Field miller, Jon Thane. Cloud is fast but is also notoriously difficult to ride.
As they are setting out, an owl hoots. The Emond’s Fielders all jump. Lan comments that he wishes they had heard wolves. When Perrin is surprised, Lan says that trollocs hate wolves and dogs, and vice versa. Lan would feel better, that there are no trollocs waiting for them on the road, if he heard wolves.
The party moves slowly out of the village, occasionally stopping to avoid notice from the newly formed Emond’s Field patrols. They eventually reach the road in the countryside beyond the village. Not long after their escape from the village, Rand notices a shape that looks like a bat flying well above them in the sky.
For a bat to seem so large against the moon, it would have had to be almost within arms reach. He tried to judge in his mind how far away it must be and how big. The body of it had to be as large as a man, and the wings… it crossed the face of the moon again wheeling suddenly down to be engulfed by the night.
Lan suddenly approaches Rand to ask what he has seen. Rand describes it and Lan mutters, “draghkar.” The gleeman groans and Moiraine agrees with Lan.
Egwene asks “what is it?” Thom answers. “In the war that ended The Age of Legends, worse than trollocs and halfmen were created.”
Lan advises the group that they are taking to the North Road now and that their lives depend on taking his lead and staying together. The myrdraal will soon know where they are.
The Fellowship of the Escape from the Two Rivers emerges in this chapter. We have Rand’s sword, Mat’s bow, and Perrin’s ax. Another thematic element borrowed from Lord of the Rings is the race to a ferry. The hobbits had to flee The Shire via Bucklebury Ferry. The Two Rivers folk are in a hurry to reach Taren Ferry.
This chapter adds Egwene and Thom to the group and we get more of a glimpse of the Aes Sedai / Wheel of Time cosmology. In Randland, the Aes Sedai believe in a different kind of string theory. They believe in a Pattern of destiny. Thom and Egwene join the group because they are *supposed* to be part of the group. It’s the will of the Pattern. In the Wheel of Time, lives are strings in a Pattern that is being sewed.
We see another type of bad guy at the end of the chapter – the draghkar. It is the size of a man, it flies, and it apparently serves as a scout for the bad guys. If it sees them, then it reports back to its boss. Thom tells us that these creatures are worse than any we have seen so far. Moiraine and Lan do not correct him.
Chapter 11: The Road to Taren Ferry
The group of horses race forward up the North Road in a single file line. Rand is last in their line. If something appears behind them, it will be up to Rand to sound the alarm.
Rand strains against Cloud who wants to race forward. Rand is also keeping an eye on Egwene and Bela. When he suggested earlier that Egwene ride Bela, he did know that they would be running. However, to his surprise, Bela is keeping up. Rand decides to himself that if Bela flags, he will stay with Egwene – regardless of what Moiraine and Lan might say. He will stay with her even if it is where the trollocs, myrddraal, and draghkar might be.
Rand tries to will Bela to run. His skin begins to prickle, his bones feel like they are freezing… and Bela runs. Abruptly after a long run, Lan slows. Rand notices to his astonishment that they are approaching the neighboring Two Rivers village of Watch Hill. At a distance, he can hear music from their Bel Tine celebrations which have lasted well into the night. Watch Hill was not visited by trollocs. Rand reckons that this is the fastest the journey between Emond’s Field and Watch Hill has ever been made.
The Two Rivers folk within the party assume they are stopping to rest for the night. Lan lets them know, though, that they cannot stop until they get beyond Taren Ferry. Rand protests that they will run the horses to death. Then he notices that Moiraine is walking past the horses and placing her hands on them. She uses the One Power to wash away the fatigue from the horses. Moiraine tells Rand that he was right about Bela’s fitness for the journey. Strange as it seems, she says, Bela is the least weary of all the horses.
A scream ripped the darkness, a sound like a man dying under sharp knives. And wings swooped low above the party. The night deepened in the shadow that swept over them. With paniced cries, the horses reared wildly. The wind of the dragkhar’s wings beat at Rand with a feel like a touch of slime.
Cloud leaps into the air and pulls Rand off of his feet. Rand struggles to keep Cloud from running away. After he regains control over his horse, he looks around to see that the party is in chaos. Everyone else from the party, excepting Lan and Moiraine, are trying as Rand did to regain control over their mounts.
The music from Watch Hill has stopped. They must have heard the draghkar’s scream, too.
Lan tells them to get on their horses and ride. The draghkar shrieks again, this time from higher in the sky. Lan informs the party that it must have already reported their location to the myrddraal. Now its cries are to mark them so that the trollocs can know where they are. Rand is last on his horse. He realizes, to his embarrassment, that he has unsheathed his sword and is looking into the sky for the draghkar, as if o fight it. He re-sheaths the sword and mounts Cloud to ride. Nobody seems to notice what he did. They gallop away quickly toward Taren Ferry.
The draghkar shrieks, periodically, as the party rides in a tight cluster. An icy fog begins to envelop the riders. The draghkar screams in a rage and frustration. Rand realizes that Moiraine has created the fog to hide their movements and is uncomfortable with the idea of being touched by something made with the One Power.
The cries of the draghkar fade and soon are gone. Their horses continues to run. They run for what seems like hours. Suddenly, Lan calls for them to slow. Rand realizes that they have reached Taren Ferry. Rand has only ever met a few number of people from Taren Ferry. Their reputation in “the lower villages” of the Two Rivers is as people who are not to be trusted.
Lan bangs on a door. When no answer comes quickly, Lan continues banging on the door. Eventually a man answers the door and goggles at the party in front of the door as well as at the fog. Lan tells Master Hightower that they need him to ferry them across the river. He tells Lan that the ferry never runs at night, nor in the fog. He tries to close the door on them when Lan grabs his wrist and shows him enough gold to change his mind. Master Hightower hurries to rouse his haulers.
The party successfully reaches Taren Ferry before daybreak – a feat that any of the Two Rivers folk would have believed impossible before they started. The longevity of the horses and the draghkar’s scream provides the dramatic tension for the chapter. Moiraine has the solution for both problems – first by removing the fatigue from the horses with the One Power and second by shielding their passage with the creation of a fog.
The primary “new” information we learn in this chapter is that the bad guys have air support and that Moiraine has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. We also learn that Bela is mysteriously the least weary horse in their party. That seems like a breadcrumb we may revisit later.