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.
You can find my previous chapter recaps HERE.
Chapter 1: Waiting
High up in the Mountains of Mist, Perrin shivers against the still-clinging winter cold. He is on his newly named horse, Stepper, and the land around him feels impatient. He wonders if his five companions feel it too. He sniffs at the wind and can smell a trail where a rabbit had run not long before. He also smells the fox that had been chasing it. He feels a tickle at the back of his mind and ignores it.
The five men with Perrin are Shienarans from the Borderlands along The Great Blight. They are all soldiers, almost from birth. Perrin wonders at the way the men defer to him and follow his lead. All six of them are keeping a watch both in the valley below and on the sky above. The tickle at the back of Perin’s mind is becoming an itch and he tries to repress it. He can push the itch aside but he wonders if something unpleasant waits in the mountains around them. He knows that he can find out by talking to the wolves but he crushes the thought before it has a chance to become firm in his mind. He decides that it is better to wonder. He decides that if there is anything out there, the scouts in their camp will find it.
Perrin can see farther than the other five men so he is the first to see the rider coming. Even to Perrin, the rider is only a spot of bright colors winding through the trees in the distance. He opens his mouth to announce her – the rider is a woman as the others before had been – when Masema mutters as a curse, that he sees a raven. Perrin jerks his head up and sees the big black bird high up, one hundred paces away. He believes that the bird might be spying some carrion but he cannot risk being wrong. He does not want the raven to see the oncoming rider. Perrin lifts his bow and looses an arrow. He hears bowstrings snap beside him. Suddenly the bird cartwheels in a shower of black feathers. The other Shienarans search the sky to see if the raven has a companion.
Perrin asks if the bird has to return somewhere to report or whether *he* sees what the bird sees. Ragan, the youngest of the soldiers – less than ten years Perrin’s elder – answers as he fits another arrow to his short bow.
Ragan: It has to report to a Halfman usually.
There is a bounty on ravens inside of the Borderlands. No one there ever assumes any raven is just a bird. Ragan adds that if Heartsbane could see what the raven sees that they all would have died before reaching the mountains. Perrin shivers but not against the cold. In the back of his mind, he feels somethin snarling a challenge to the death. Heartsbane is one of many names given to The Dark One. No one in any land wants to speak The Dark One’s true name lest they also draw his attention. The Dark One uses ravens and crows as spies, as well as using rats inside of cities.
As Perrin draws another arrow from his quiver, Ragan tells him that his bow might be as long as a club but he admiringly adds that it shoots well. Masema, one of the other soldiers, chines in that the longbow is too large to use from horseback. Another soldier, Uno, tells Ragan and Masema to stop flapping their tongues. Uno is one-eyes with hard features. His eyepatch is painted to look like a red eye. Uno then asks Perrin if he can see anything yet and he responds that she is coming. He tells Uno that he should just be seeing her now. He points and Uno strains forward before nodding doubtfully.
Suddenly Perrin realizes what the bright colors mean on the distant rider. He says aloud, startled, that she is one of The Traveling People. So far, the group has met women from every station in life, rich and poor, arriving in this manner. However, this is the first Tinker they have seen. Masema says that Tinkers are cowards.
Uno: Cowards, Masema? If you were a woman, would you have the flaming nerve to ride up here alone and bloody unarmed?
Masema keeps his mouth shut. They watch her ride slowly up toward them. She gives no sign that she has seen them among the trees. Perrin rides out to meet her and the soldiers follow. Perrin thinks to himself as they approach that she does not smell afraid, before chastising himself for noticing her scent. Perrin softens his voice before addressing her and offering her help. She replies with a gentle voice that she seeks a woman. Perrin asks if the woman has a name. The woman replies that sometimes this woman is called Moiraine. She tells Perrin that her own name is Leya. Perrin nods and tells her that they will take her to her. Before he lifts his reigns though, he asks Leya how she found them. She replies that she simply knew that if she rode that way, someone would find her and take her to Moiraine. It is the same answer that the other woman gave. She tells Perrin that she has news for Moiraine.
Perrin gestures up the mountain and then leads her on. Perrin and Leya argue politely about The Way of the Leaf. Perrin views the philosophy as deficient when facing Shadowspawn or evil men. She notes that despite his beliefs, he seems sad about his own weapons. Perrin rides ahead to end their conversation. The itch returns to the back of his mind. He ignores that itch as well as the feel of Leya’s eyes on the back of his head.
After riding for a while, Perrin hears a bird call in the trees. The call is a bluefinch – a Borderland bird – which is not native to where they are riding. The call is a signal from someone in the camp to let others know they are returning. The path narrows as they continue on until abruptly a deep oval bowl opens between the mountains before them. Perrin sees a Shienaran up in the limbs of an oak to his left. This time he hears a redwinged jayfinch call. The camp is now in sight. A long white banner hangs limply from a tall pole nearby. Perrin sees someone, half again as tall as anyone else, holding a book in his huge hands while sitting on a log. A young woman speaks.
So you found her did you? I thought you’d be gone this night this time.
The woman wears a boy’s coat and britches with a short haircut. A gust of wind blows suddenly and the banner blows. On it is a four legged serpent scaled in gold and scarlet, golden maned like a lion, with each foot tipped with five golden claws.
Perrin: Welcome to the camp of The Dragon Reborn, Leya.
I hope Uno’s awesome eyepatch is done correctly and sold as fan merch in conjunction with the TV series.
This is a chapter designed to set the mood. It does that but not really anything else. You could probably summarize this chapter’s plot in about three sentences.
- Perrin and some Shienaran soldiers brave the lingering cold high up in the Mountains of Mist and shoot a raven while waiting for yet another woman to arrive carrying a message for Moiraine.
- The woman finally arrives, she is a Tinker, and she does not say how she knew where/how to find them.
- They all ride back to camp.
Of course, the description of the cold and the tone of the story-telling have me feeling antsy and wanting to put on something warm. There was also a little part of me that was like:
“Ooh, Min and Loial are here too?! I need to find out what they have been up to!”
I am not completely sure why Perrin is resisting the wolves in his head when they are clearly trying to tell him about something. Hasn’t he talked to enough of them by now to be beyond this? I guess not. To be fair, it’s hard to judge someone for being a little uneasy with wolves talking to him psychically. I like to think I would be fine with that. However, I am an introvert and maybe wolves are chatty creatures who invade the quiet space in one’s head. Almost every dog I have ever met is extroverted.
Wolf: hey, hooman, hooman, how you talk to me? here is my scent. give me your scent. ooh! deer! we run!