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 2: Saidin
The Tinker woman looks expressionless at the Dragon Banner and then turns her attention to the people around the fire – especially the one reading.
Leya: You have an Ogier with you. I would not have thought…
She shakes her head and asks for Moiraine Sedai. Perrin gestures toward the rough hut that stands fartherst up the slope at the far end of the bowl. He tells her the hut belongs to her and Lan, her Warder. Perrin offers her something hot to drink but she declines and says she must speak to Moiraine first. All of the other women who have visited their camp also insisted upon speaking to Moiraine immediately and alone. Leya slips from her saddle and hands the reigns to Perrin. She asks Perrin to see that her horse is fed. Perrin tells her that the horse will have what they can give her. She nods before hurrying away.
After handing her horse and his own to other men, Perrin approaches the fire and a large kettle producing smells that make his mouth water. Perrin determines that someone had been lucky hunting today. The woman in men’s clothes peers at Leya who is just then disappearing into Moiraine’s hut. Perrin asks her, Min, what she sees. She comes to stand next to him and she tells him that the Tinker woman is going to die. She eyes the other men around the fire but none are close enough to have overheard her. Perrin feels cold and it has nothing to do with the weather. He mutters that he wishes he had not asked.
Even Aes Sedai do not understand what exactly it is that Min does. She sees images and auras around people. Sometimes she knows what the images and auras mean, too. Perrin asks her if she is sure about Leya. She replies that she saw Leya’s face covered in blood. Min tells him that auras are never more certain than that. Perrin asks if the blood on her face means that she will die by violence before wincing that he asked the question so easily. Min nods affirmatively. Perrin thinks to himself that if Leya dies by violence that it might mean an attack on the camp. Perrin thinks of the wolves but decides against it. He believes that the scouts will find anything out beyond their camp and he also remembers that Moiraine has the camp warded such that Shadowspawn cannot find it. He decides against talking to the wolves.
Perrin thinks of warning Leya but knows it will do no good. She will just spend her last hours or days worried before meeting the same fate. When Min first learned of her ability, she tried warning people. As often as not, her warning either failed to prevent what she saw or her warning caused it to happen. Perrin asks her when it will happen and she throws up her hands, exasperated, and says she can never tell when a thing will happen. Perrin tells her that he wishes he could do something for Leya.
She squints at him and notes that it is strange how much he seems to care for the Tuatha’an, the Tinkers, while she always sees violence… she had been going to say that she sees violence around him but Perrin turns his head away so she cuts off abruptly.
A rumbling voice like a huge bumble bee says “Tuatha’an” and asks what about them. The Ogier, Loial, joins them at the fire. His smile wavers as he realizes he interrupted Min and Perrin’s conversation. Min tells Loial of Leya’s arrival but leaves out what she saw around the woman. She diverts the conversation by talking about how her life has been nothing but upheaval since meeting the Two Rivers folk and Moiraine Sedai. Loial says that she is effected by ta’veren. She gestures at him to stop but he rumbles forward with a discussion of the Pattern and ta’veren. Loial adds that even though ta’veren effect the people around them, they are themselves far more limited in the choices they are able to make.
Min: I just wish that they didn’t have to be so bloody ta’veren all the time. Ta’veren tugging on one side and Aes Sedai meddling on the other. What chance does a woman have?
Loial tells Min that she has very little chance before adding that it is her good fortune, or misfortune if she sees it that way, that she fell in with three ta’veren. Loial says he would consider it good fortune even if he did not consider them his friends. Loial says shyly that he thinks he might write a book about the experience and he asks them not to laugh. Min tells him that is wonderful.
Suddenly the Shienaran soldiers stir and get to their feet. Rand leaves Moiraine’s hut. The soldiers bow to him and salute him as the Lord Dragon. Min whispers to Perrin that Rand has been arguing with Moiraine all day. Rand leaves the camp and goes into the woods. Perrin tells her that he had better go talk to Rand. He says that after Rand and Moiraine argue, he always needs someone to talk to.
Perrin follows Rand into the woods and finds him staring at the palms of his hands. Perrin knows that a heron is branded into each of Rand’s palms. Rand does not move when he hears Perrin coming. Perrin hears Rand talking to himself, too.
“Twice and twice shall he be marked,
twice to live, and twice to die.
Once the heron, to set his path.
Twice the heron, to name him true.
Once the Dragon, for remembrance lost.
Twice the Dragon, for the price he must pay.”
With a shudder he tucked his hands under his arms. “But no Dragons, yet.” He chuckled roughly. “Not yet.”
After a while, Perrin sits on a boulder and Rand turns to speak to him.
Rand: Do you think Mat is alright? He looked so sick the last time I saw him.
Perrin tells him that he must be in Tar Valon by now and healed. He adds that Nynaeve and Egwene will keep him out of trouble. Perrin tells Rand that lately he finds himself wishing he was still a blacksmith. He asks Rand if he ever wishes to just be a shepherd again. Rand mutters “duty” in reply. Rand says that he is the only thing standing between The Dark One destroying time itself and remaking the world in his own image. He laughs and the raw edge of it makes Perrin’s skin crawl.
Perrin asks Rand about his argument with Moiraine. He tells Perrin that the argument is the same one that she and he have been having for weeks. Rand hates that men down on Almoth Plain are righting and dying, because he raised a banner and allowed himself to be called The Dragon. He says that he feels he owes them something more than to hide up in the mountains where they cannot find him all winter.
Perrin points out that the arguing has not done much good and Rand laughs again, the same raw laugh, and says that Moiraine is right.
Rand: They are all split up in little groups across the Plain, all across Tarabon and Arad Domon. If I join any one of them the Whitecloaks, and the Domoni army, and the Taraboners, will be on top of them like a duck on a beetle.
Perrin laughs and asks why he is arguing with her so much if he agrees with her. Rand, frustrated, says that he has to do something or he’ll burst like a rotted melon. Perrin tells him that regardless of who is pushing them or pulling them he knows who the real enemy is. Rand whispers in answer “Ba’alzamon.” Rand babbles in frustration.
Rand: Light, it pulls at me so. What if I…
The ground trembles and Rand shivers. Suddenly the ground heaves with a vast rumble. Perrin falls and the valley shakes. Perrin yells for Rand who does not seem to hear him. Perrin yells for Rand to stop. As abruptly as it had started, it ends.
Rand: It is always there, calling to me, pulling at me. Saidin. The male half of the True Source. Sometimes I can’t stop myself from reaching out for it.
Rand says that he can feel the taint on it even before he touches it – like a thin cloak of vileness trying to hide the Light. He says that he cannot help himself. He adds also that sometimes when he tries to touch Saidin on purpose he cannot. Rand finally looks around and sees a fallen tree and the rest of what he has just done. Surprised, he says that he did not mean to do this. Perrin tells him that they had better get back into the camp. Rand tells Perrin to go on alone and says he will be along in a while.
As Perrin leaves, Rand asks if Perrin ever dreams. He suggests to Perrin that maybe the dreams tell them things, true things, before he falls silent again, brooding. Perrin tells him that supper is waiting.
This chapter marks our re-introduction to Rand. Given that for so much of the first two books we are in Rand’s head, it is fun to approach him from the outside in this chapter. Our young hero from The Two Rivers is having a bit of a mental health crisis it seems. The reason for this, it seems to me, is not due to the Saidin yet (or at least not only that), but instead due to being told that he is the savior of the world. Rand is having to live with the fallout of that. People are already dying in Rand’s name.
I also wonder to what degree we were shielded from Rand’s mental health issues by the fact that the story almost always was told from Rand’s perspective in the first two books. Rand has objectively done a lot of, um, unusual things since early in the story. He had the insane Whitecloak staredown in Baerlon during Book 1. He also did the bizarre acrobatics work aboard Bayle Domon’s ship, The Spray, in Book 1. He has not been well for a while but he feels particularly unwell in this chapter. I think the reason for that is that we are seeing him through Perrin’s eyes.
I don’t want to completely dismiss the Saidin element of this story, though, (it is the chapter title after all,) and the role that plays with Rand’s well-being. Rand is compelled to draw in the One Power and he apparently does not always know what to do with it after. This is clearly a stressor to him and an immense danger to everyone. Rand knows that. If Rand’s new role in the world is the elephant in the room, Saidin is the asteroid on a collision course with the earth. In this chapter he puts Saidin back into the ground after channeling it and that causes an earthquake. I mean… yikes. Just imagine being around someone who can do that when he is even less whole in the mind.
This chapter also reintroduces us to Min. We are reminded of what her talents are and of what her personality is like. She tells us that the Tinker woman Leya that we just met is going to die by violence. Between that, the wolves trying so hard to talk to Perrin, and Rand’s edginess, I feel like the story is a dam ready to burst.
Loial is here also and he tells Min and Perrin that he wants to write a book about all of this. It’s adorable. We also see that he has a habit of rambling on, like an unstoppable avalanche of information, about his own esoteric interests – even when nobody around him really cares that much. Maybe eventually somebody will nudge him to start a blog instead.