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 30: Children of Shadow
Egwene sat by the fire while Perrin left to be alone by the pool of water. Perrin took the ax from the loop on his belt. He hated the ax.
Elyas asks Perrin if he hates Egwene that much. He suggests that Perrin was willing to kill her because he despises her. Perrin says that he does not hate her; he loves her. He says she is like a sister to him.
Elyas asks him, if she were to choose the way of her dying, whether she would pick the ax or the ravens. Perrin protests that he does not have any right to choose for her. He states that he hates the ax and that he does not know what he is even doing with it. He says he does not want to use it again.
Elyas: You’ll use it.[…] You’ll use it, boy, and as long as you hate using it, you’ll use it more wisely than most men would. Wait. If ever there’s a time you don’t hate using it, then will be the time to throw it as far as you can and run the other way.
Suddenly Perrin and Elyas receive an urgent sending from the wolves. Elyas hurries back to the fire and tells Egwene to douse it. She moves slowly, not understanding what is happening. Elyas states that they will not have a chance to hide that someone has been there. Perrin hurriedly saddles Bela. Egwene asks what it is but Elyas answers with instructions. He tells Perrin and Egwene to go either east or west and to find a place to hide. He darts off into the shadows.
Egwene demands an explanation from Perrin and he tells her that a lot of men are approaching on horses, heading toward the pool. He tells her that Dapple thinks that the men smell wrong, like the way a rabid dog smells. Egwene complains that the stedding was supposed to be safe. Perrin looks for a place to hide. He sees a spot on a tall hill not too far off. Perrin realizes that they have found the hands from Artur Hawkwing’s fallen statue.
P: Fingers. We’ll shelter in Artur Hawkwing’s hand. Maybe some of his justice is left here.
Perrin motions for Egwene to follow but she does not move. She asks how he can see anything. The sun is down and all around them is pitch black. They hear shouts from the pool of water at some distance. Perrin tells Egwene that the men saw Wind. He also learns that the men have torches and that they are breaking up into parties to search the stedding.
Egwene abruptly asks Perrin if he will dance with her at Sunday if they are home by then. He tells her that he will.
The wolves are dating through the darkness and trying to encourage the men to return to their fires and make camp. Perrin can see the fire in the distance from his hiding spot and he can also see events though the eyes of the wolves. Suddenly he realize that the torch lights are moving in a pattern, ever more closely to their hiding spot on the hill. While Perrin is considering a plan to run, rather than hide, but the decision is taken away from him. He sees a group of men approach at the base of the hill.
Perrin can now see the white cloaks of the Children of the Light. One of the men shouts.
There is something up there[…]I told you somebody could hide in that. Isn’t that a horse?
One of the Whitecloaks shouts up the hill that if they can understand human speech they should come down and surrender. He states that they will not be harmed if they walk in the Light. He tells them that if they do not surrender they will all be killed.
Perrin stands and stumbles down the hill. Egwene follows. Perrin wonders to himself why the Whitecloaks are so persistent, as though they hate wolves with a passion. He wonders why they smell wrong. The leader barks that Perrin needs to drop his ax.
Out of the night comes Hopper – the wolf cub who wanted to fly as the eagles did. He is the wolf who never lost the yearning to soar through the sky. Hopper leaped toward the man with his lance leveled at Perrin. He ripped the man’s throat out.
Hopper sends a message to Perrin as he landed, ready to leap at the Whitecloaks again.
A lance pins Hopper to the earth. A second lance is thrust through Hopper’s ribs. Hopper dies. Perrin screams. He leaps forward with his ax. Something crashes into Perrin’s head and he does not know if he died or whether it is Hopper who died. He mumbles “soar like the eagles.”
When Perrin opens his eyes again, he is with Egwene inside a square tent. She is relieved that he woke up. She says she was afraid they had killed him. Perrin looks around the tent. Its furnishings are nice but not showy. A whitecloak is with them. He is older and with what Perrin believes is a kindly face. Perrin sees the contents of his belt pouch dumped out – including the coin from Moiraine.
He realizes that both he and Egwene are tied and with enough rope to hold a horse. The gray haired man is studying them thoughtfully. Another man enters the tent with a gaunt face and deeply inset eyes. The tall man’s name is Child Byar. He tells the gray haired man – who he refers to as Lord Captain – that nine men died in the night. He tells them that thirty horses were hamstrung. The gray-haired man tells Child Byar that they will nevertheless ride at dawn. They have plans in Caemlyn.
Byar tells the Lord Captain that he had the wolf killed with Perrin and Egwene skinned. he states that its hide should make a fine rug. Perrin growls and struggles against his bonds. Byar examines Perrin and Egwene. His eyes shine with hatred. Byar tells the Lord Captain that he believes they were attacked in a coordinated ambush by as many as fifty wolves and many more men in addition to the two prisoners they have captured.
Perrin cautiously feels for Elyas and the other wolves in his mind and he finds nothing. He decides that either they are dead or they have abandoned him. The Lord Captain laughs at Byar’s report. He suggests they were more likely attacked by six or eight wolves and by no humans other than the two in his tent. He also says that he suspects that the wolves were in the stedding for the water.
The Lord Captain asks Byar what he thinks of Perrin’s ax. Byer gives it a look of grudging admiration and states that it is well maybe, perhaps by a master weapons smith, and that it is not a villager’s weapon. This time, the Lord Captain agrees with him.
The gray haired man introduces himself to Perrin and Egwene as Geofram Bornhald. They introduce themselves as just Perrin and just Egwene. Bornhald suggests that they are hiding information about themselves because they are Darkfriends and Perrin protests. Byar hits Perrin with the handle of his own ax. When Egwene shouts that he has no right, he swings the ax at her. She ducks and narrowly avoids it. Byar tells them that they will keep a civil tongue or they will have no tongue.
Bornhald tells Byar to go easy but he suggests to the two Emond’s Fielders that they not shout for Child Byar’s sake. He guesses that they do not know much about Children of the Light. Bornhald muses that he has heard of men running with wolves but he has never seen it before. He implies that wolves are creatures of the Dark One.
Perrin replies that wolves are not creatures of the Dark One and that they hate the Dark One. He clarifies that they hate Fades and trollocs, at least. When Byar asks who told him that, Egwene tells them a Warder told them.
Bornhald replies that Warders are creature s of the Tar Valon witches and that they should expect him to say such things when he is a Darkfriend himself. Bornhald continues.
Do you not know that trollocs have wolves’ muzzles and teeth, and wolves’ fur?
Egwene mutters that not all of them do.
E: Some of them have horns, like rams or goats, or hawks’ beaks, or all sorts of things.
Bornhald replies that they are digging themselves deeper with every word. He notes that they have admitted to running with wolves, creatures of The Dark One, that they are acquainted with a Warder – another creature of The Dark One, that Perrin carries a Tar Valon mark in his pocket when most men outside of Tar Valon get rid of them as quickly as possible, and that they are acquainted with Myrddraal and trollocs when almost everyone south of the Borderlands does not even believe those creatures still exist.
Perrin decides to tell Bornhald a partially true story about how they came to be at the stedding. However, his mostly true story excludes how he came to be acquainted with Warders, Myrddraal, or trollocs. He also uses the name Shadar Logoth in his story – which Bornhald tells him is known to very few people in the world.
Bornhald orders Byar to give them back their possessions other than their weapons. He tells Perrin and Egwene that they will accompany him first to Caemlyn and then Amador. In the latter, they will be tried as Darkfriends.
He tells Egwene that if they have not come to the Light by the time they reach Amador, they will be turned over to the Questioners. He says to Egwene that Byar’s zeal, compared to them, like like a candle beside the sun.
Repent. Renounce The Dark One. Come to the Light. Confess your sins and tell what you know if this vileness with wolves and you will be spared that.
Bornhald then looks at Perrin. He tells him that since Perrin killed two of the Children, a gibbet waits in Amador.
Before we got to that, Elyas kind of turned the corner from weird-guy traveling companion to wolfbrother advice-giver and guide. Keep the ax until you like using it. Good advice in the circumstances. He does seem to lose some points after that, though, either by dying or leaving Perrin in the Whitecloak camp.
Jordan does a great job in this chapter hiding the fact – until the very end – that Perrin killed two of the Children. In hindsight, it makes sense that killing them is what happened. We are not shown it on the pages though and I remember being surprised the first time I read this section when Bornhald delivers the line about the gibbet.
Jordan is clearly not a fan of fanaticism. Bornhald’s fanaticism in some ways is more terrifying than Byar’s. Bornhald is a calm, measured, kind, well-reasoned… fanatic. He does not know his worldview is wrong. You get a sense that if he figured it out, he would change his behavior. But he is also uninterested in figuring it out. At least with the Children like Byar, you can assume they probably would have found their way into some kind of cruel fanatical order of some sort, one way or another. Bornhald seems like a Child of the Light who might have ended up a good man under different circumstances. He most likely believes himself to be a good man. He clearly hopes that his two village youths will help themselves out in their interview at some point and is disappointed when they do not do so.
Speaking of that interview… this is the most jarring example in the book so far of the Emond’s Fielders being in over their head. Their total ignorance of the world is their downfall. A couple of more worldly people might have understood not to mention certain things in front of the Children, made up a better lie, etc.
One more thing: I definitely thought that Perrin and Egwene were going to end up together after my first read of this chapter. Perrin says he loves her. Egwene asks him to dance with her if the survive. I thought we were in for a story where Rand moves onto someone new and Egwene ends up with Perrin. (Let’s RAFO if I was right.)