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 3: News from the Plain
Perrin returns to the camp. The itch already returns to the back of his mind, stronger than before, and he shoves it away. It goes away. As he returns to the camp it is filled with odd shadows from the sinking sun. Moiraine is standing outside of her hut peering up toward the direction where Rand is.
Perrin tells her that Rand did not mean to cause the earthquake and that it was an accident. She repeats accident before returning to her hut and banging the door shut behind her. Perrin continues down toward the cook fires. He sees half a dozen trees toppled over at the slope of the bowl where their camp resides with roots ripped out of the earth. He sees Loial and some Shienaran soldiers rebuilding a hut that was toppled over. Min is by the cook fires with a disgruntled look upon her face. She has a small bruise on her cheek. There is a faint smell of burnt stew on the air. Min announces that she hates cooking.
Perrin asks Min if anyone was hurt. She tells him that nobody has more than bruises. Perrin suggests to her that she should leave the camp and he offers her some of his silver to help with a journey. He suggests that Moiraine would give her whatever else she might need to take passage with a merchant’s train leaving Ghealdan.
Min stares at Perrin until he begins to wonder if he said something wrong. Finally she tells him the offer is sweet but she rejects it. She tells him that fate has chosen her path and that it it currently means that she is to stay where she is. Perrin tells her that he does not understand at all what she is talking about and again tells her that she does not have to stay if she does not want to. Min surprises by standing up on her tip toes and kissing him on the cheek.
Min: You are a very nice man, Perrin Aybara, even if you don’t understand anything.
Perrin wishes that he could be sure that Rand was in his right mind. He thinks to himself that Rand has always known his way around with girls, as has Mat. Min asks Perrin if he ever thinks of going home. He replies that he thinks about it all the time but says that he does not believe he can, at least not yet. He looks off in the direction of where Rand is and thinks to himself that he and Rand are tied together.
Perrin: Maybe not ever.
Perrin thought he said that too quietly for Min to hear but the look she gives him is filled with sympathy and agreement. Perrin turns to see Moiraine and Lan approaching. A few moments later Min says that he must either have eyes in the back of his head or the sharpest ears she has ever heard. She asks if that is Moiraine and he tells her yes.
As Moiraine comes to the fire, Min asks her if Leya is alright. Moiraine tells her that she is resting. The Aes Sedai rubs her hands over the fire. She tells them that Leya fell and spit her scalp when Rand caused the earthquake. She tells them that she healed the Tinker woman and that she is sleeping now. Moiraine asks Min if she saw anything about the woman. Min tells her that she thought she saw the woman’s death – her face covered in blood.
Min: I was sure I knew what it meant but if she split her scalp…
Min sounds so troubled that Perrin is startled. He thinks that she does not like her ability but that ability is a part of her. He understands that it might be troubling to believe she knows how her ability works only to find that she is wrong. Moiraine states that she has never known Min to be wrong, even one time, but suggests that perhaps this is the first time. Min replies stubbornly that when she knows, she knows, so the Aes Sedai states that perhaps the viewing has not yet come to pass. She reminds both of them that Leya has a long ride in front of her through unsettled lands.
A moment later, Lan joins them at the fire with Uno and Loial. Moiraine tells them all that Leya has the usual report from the Plain. Everyone is fighting everyone. Villages are burning. People are fleeing in all directions. She tells them that Hunters for the Horn have also arrived on the Plain searching for the Horn of Valere. Moiraine says that Leya also has new information. Leya reports that the Whitecloaks have perhaps as many as five thousand men on Almoth Plain. Uno barks that five thousand men must be half of their entire strength and adds that they have never committed so many men to one place before.
Perrin asks if the Whitecloaks’ presence means that they are moving against the people who have declared for Rand. She says, to her surprise, that they have not. Leya reports that the Children of the Light have one thousand men who claim to be doing nothing else except hunting for Rand, however, they are also avoiding any and all groups of Dragonsworn containing fifty or more people. Loial suggests that this means Rand can go to them and that the Wheel is weaving a way for them.
Lan: More likely, it is some Whitecloak plot, though the Light burn me if I can see what it is. Bt when the Whitecloaks give me a gift, I search for the poison needle hidden in it.
Uno nods grimly. Lan adds that in any case, the Domoni and the Taraboners are trying as hard to kill the Dragonsworn as they are each other. Moiraine adds that there is one other thing. She says that three young men have died in villages where Leya’s wagons passed near. She says one died by poison and two by the knife and that all three died in circumstances where no one should have been able to get to them and leave unseen. She says that all three young men were taller than most and had light colored eyes. She adds that light eyes are uncommon on Almoth Plain.
Moiraine: But I think it is very unlucky to be a tall young man with light eyes there.
Perrin asks how anyone could kill them without being seen. Lan tells him that The Dark One has killers that one does not see until it is too late. Uno shivers.
Uno: The soulless. I’ve never heard of one south of the Borderlands before.
Moiraine tells them that is enough of such talk but Perrin has questions about the soulless. He leaves his questions unasked.
Min: Light! You don’t notice them? Light!
Perrin then says aloud that nothing has really changed then. He says that they cannot go to Almoth Plain and The Dark One wants them dead. Moiraine says that they must ride on the Pattern before asking Uno if he is certain that his scouts missed nothing. Uno says that there is never any certainty, particularly with the Dragon Reborn involved, but he says that he will stake his life on the fact that his scouts did as good a job as any Warder.
Moiraine: What Rand did might as well have been a fire on the mountaintop for any myrddraal within ten miles.
Min asks her about setting a ward against Shadowspawn and when Lan stares at her for questioning the Aes Sedai, she stubbornly adds that she does not like the idea of a Shadowspawn that can creep into their camp unnoticed. Moiraine explains that the wards she has set will hide them as well as she can. She adds that setting anything greater would only pin them in their current location and allow the Shadow to surround them. Lan offers to make a circuit around the camp. Moiraine tells him that if he is needed tonight he will be needed inside the camp. She looks at the dark mountains around them and says that there is a feeling in the air.
The word is gone from Perrin’s tongue before he can stop it. Moiraine stares at him and then says that she agrees. She leaves and bids them all to sleep well, as though there is any chance of that now. She starts back for her hut. Lan stays long enough to fill a bowl with stew and then he hurries after her in the darkness.
Perrin leaves the fire for his own hut. He strips down into his small clothes to try to sleep. He thinks that the night is too cold to sleep deeply. He knows that in deep sleep dreams come that he cannot shake off. For a while, he lays shivering under his blanket. Finally sleep comes and with it… dreams.
This is another chapter of anticipation building for whatever is coming in the next chapter or two. You can almost feel the cold mountain air, and smell the fire and the cookpots, while you read. Other than that, though, not a lot happens. Strictly speaking, chapters like this are not really necessary. You could cut this from the book without really missing anything. This is Jordan’s style and it no doubt adds to his page counts. That said, I enjoy the scene setting and I wouldn’t change it.
We are finally reintroduced to Moiraine and Lan. She is as knowing and mysterious as always. He is as stony faced and dangerous as always. We learn a little bit from Moiraine about what is happening on Almoth Plain… but that does not include a lot of new information.
I suppose we are left to wonder whether Min’s gift did not work the way she thought it would… or whether Leya is doomed sometime later. My money is on the latter.
This chapter also introduces us to Shadowspawn called “the soulless.” Their unique power seems to be walking right up to you without you or anyone else noticing that they are there. I guess this is like the assassin guy of The Dark One’s minions (to go alongside big monster trollocs, spooky Nazgul-like myrddraal, dracula-ish Draghkar, and the one power wielding Forsaken.)
At any rate, it feels like the dam is about to burst in this story so… onward we go!