Welcome back to my re-read, recap, and reaction to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This post will only have spoilers through the current chapter.
Chapter 29: Eyes Without Pity
Elyas, Perrin and Egwene push hard to the south. He is also now far more careful in leaving behind any sign of their travels. He goes so far as to straighten overturned rocks and straightening bent down weeds.
Perrin knows that there are no trollocs close because the wolves do not sense them. However, fear of something else is driving him and even Elyas is not sure from where that fear stems. The wolves know nothing but they begin to scout due to Elyas’s wariness. Elyas will not even allow the party to top any kills for fear of standing out along a ridge line. As a result, he complains about how long their travels are taking.
Perrin is growing increasingly nervous. He crawls up to a ridge line to scout their crossing with Elyas. After staring for a long time, Perrin announces that they are wasting time and he crouches upward. As he does so, a flock of ravens burst forth from a thicket of trees some distance ahead.
P: The Dark One’s eyes. Did they see me?
Every single raven in the flock suddenly veers toward the south, the same direction the three of them are traveling. In the east, another thicket releases even more ravens and they fly south, too. Perrin asks Elyas if this is what he had been afraid of and Elyas says that he had been unaware of what the danger was. Far to the west another flock of ravens emerges and flies south.
Perrin feels Elyas communicate with the wolves. He warns them to watch the sky. Perrin can also hear the reply from the wolves.
Elyas tells Perrin that he knows a place safe from ravens if they can get there by dark. They will have to follow the flocks of ravens ahead of them to the south. Elyas worries that there are more ravens behind them. Perrin worries that the ravens flying in front of them might double-back. Dark is a long way off.
Perrin explains to Egwene about the ravens while he is running. At the next ridge, while scouting at the ridgeline, Perrin sees only a small copse of trees. Suddenly a small fox runs out from the trees and a black whirlwind of birds swarm it. As suddenly as they descended, the ravens rose and flew to the south. A misshapen lump of torn fur marked what had been the fox.
Light! They could do that to us!
Elyas urges them to move as fast as possible. As they reach the copse below where the ravens had been, a single raven flies off from the trees. Perrin fumbles at his sling knowing that it’s too late. However, the bird suddenly crumples to the ground in a heap. Perrin sees the sling hanging from Egwene’s hand. She grins at him.
While they hide in the trees, they see more ravens flying at a distance. They continue following the flock of ravens to the south, hoping that there are not more ravens moving south behind them. As they travel, they narrowly avoid flocks of ravens on several occasions. They also continue finding small animals dead animals along the way.
He remembered something Lan had said.
“All the Dark One’s creatures delight in killing. The Dark One’s power is death.” And if the ravens found them…
The wolves in the north send images of ravens. Perrin can taste raven’s blood and feathers in his mouth. The ravens attack and injure the wolves in turn. Suddenly the ravens break off the attack and fly south. Dapple, Wind, and Hopper survive, though Wind has an injured leg and Hopper has an injured eye.
P: Ravens. Behind us.
E: He was right! You can talk to them.
Perrin feels tainted or cursed as Egwene looks at him. The three of them move as fast as possible to avoid the ravens coming behind them. They stay as close to the birds in front of them as they dare. Perrin worries about even one of the birds in front of them looking back.
Perrin figures out from the wolves that the ravens behind them will be on them in an hour or less. They are still at least two hours until full dark. Perrin thinks to himself that they will all die with the setting sun.
Perrin blinks away tears and fingers his ax. He wonders if he will have the courage to spare Egwene the death that the fox had died. The ravens ahead of them have vanished.
Abruptly a chill runs through him. It seems to carry away some of his fatigue. He stumbles to a halt, afraid. Elyas watches them with a gleam in his eyes.
Egwene: It’s strange. I feel as if I’ve lost something.
Elyas cackles. He tells them they feel the safety of a stedding. He tells them even a trolloc and a myrddraal would need to be pushed to enter a stedding. He explains also that the One Power does not work inside a stedding.
Elyas warns them that they need to go deeper into the stedding so that ravens cannot see them standing so close to its edge. Perrin and Egwene feel their exhaustion return. Elyas encourages them forward for another mile or two to the stedding’s water. He seems to be concerned that “another evil” might find them in the stedding, though.
They reach the water. Perrin sticks his head into the water. Seeing Egwene splash him with the water, Perrin wonders if he would have been willing to kill Egwene to help her avoid the type of death she might have been given by ravens.
Elyas calls them away from the pool of water to eat. A somber mood descends on their group. Perrin begins to study the stones next to where Elyas has started a fire. Egwene does, too.
Egwene: That… looks like an eye.
Elyas tells her that it is Artur Hawkwing’s eye. Elyas explains to them about Artur Hawkwing had intended the stedding they are in to be his capital city. A giant statue was constructed but the city never materialized because he died before it was built. He says that eventually the statue was torn down and they are camped beside it now. Elyas tells them that Artur Hawkwing’s death began “The War of 100 Years” as the lands that were united under him fought over who might succeed him.
Perrin wishes to himself that they were not sleeping under the gaze of the statue’s eye.
Most of this chapter is just a chase scene… a terrifying chase scene. If the TV series decides to re-create this scene? Wow. I’m not sure I want to imagine being beaked and clawed to death by hundreds of ravens.
We do not know Egwene that well yet, in the first book, but I do not think that her real feelings about Perrin talking to wolves are negative. This is a girl who readily threw away all of her homeland’s superstitions about Aes Sedai and decided that she wants to join their ranks. If Perrin had just talked to her, here, I bet he would find out that she thinks the wolf thing is cool.
On the topic of Perrin just talking to Egwene, I further suspect that if Perrin had simply confessed to Egwene, afterwards, that he was considering killing her to help her avoid that death by 100 ravens fate, she probably would not have been bothered by the confession. I mean… yikes.
We get some more info-dump in this chapter, too. This time we learn about Artur Paendrag Tanreall (i.e. Artur Hawkwing) and the War of 100 Years. Obviously this character is based on King Arthur to some extent. Artur Paendrag is clearly inspired by Arthur Pendragon. Artur is also clearly inspired by Alexander the Great. Like Alexander, Hawkwing expanded his empire as far as it could be expanded and like Alexander, Hawkwing died prematurely, with successors squabbling over the empire and unable to hold it together.