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 4: Shadows Sleeping
Perrin rub his hands together before the flames of the common room’s fire. He gets no warmth in them. There is an odd comfort in the cold and he feels a dim sound in the back of his mind trying to get in. A voice becks Perrin to sit and talk.
Perrin turns to look at the speaker. A man is seated in the corner, in the shadows. The rest of the room seems hazy, almost an impression rather than a place – especially everything he is not lookin at directly. He glances back at the fire. The man beckons again and Perrin notices that the tables in the room are square, They had been round before. Perrin has a feeling that he knows this man but the feeling is as vague as what he sees from the corner of his eye.
The man at the table is in his middle years, handsome, and too well dressed for a country inn. He sits stiffly, sometimes pressing a hand against his chest as if moving hurts him. His dark eyes are fixed in Perrin’s face. The man asks Perrin if he has thought of giving up the ax he is wearing on his belt. Perrin is surprised to see that he is wearing the ax at all. He tells the man that he has thought of it but that he does not think he can give it up yet.
The man: You are a blacksmith boy, and a good one from what I hear. Your hands were made for a hammer, not for an ax, made to make things not to kill.
The mad advises Perrin to go back to that before it is too late. Perrin finds himself agreeing before he blurts out that he is ta’veren. Somehow as he says the words, he knows the man knows already. The man replies to him that there are ways to change things. He tells Perrin to sit so that they can talk. The shadows around the man shift. Perrin steps back and declines the offer. The man asks Perrin to at least have a drink with him.
Man: To years past and years to come. Here you will see things more clearly after.
The cup pushed across the table had not been there a moment before. Dark blood red wine fills it to the brim. Perrin peers again at the man’s face. Darkness seems to shroud his features in the way a warder is shrouded by his cloak. Perrin thinks that there is something familiar about his eyes.
Perrin feels at itch strongly in the back of his mind. He says “no” aloud to the itch. The man’s face flashes with rage. Perrin decides that the ‘no’ can serve as an answer for the wine as well. He tells the stranger that he is not thirsty. Perrin suddenly wants to be outside – anywhere away from the man. The man tells him that he will not have many chances.
Man: Three threads woven together share one another’s doom. When one is cut, all are. Fate can kill you if it does not do worse.
Perrin feels a sudden heat against his back as he is walking toward the door. Startled, he turns back toward the room. The room is empty. Perrin shivers and thinks that it was only a dream. Everything shifts.
Perrin stares into a mirror. A gilded helmet, like a lion’s head, sits on his head as if it belongs there. Gold leaf covers his ornately hammered breastplate. Only the ax at his side is plain. A voice in his mind tells him that he would carry it over any other weapon and that he has carried it a thousand times in countless battles. Perrin says ‘no’ aloud again and this time he hear a sound in his head that he can understand.
“A man destined for glory.”
Perrin spins around and finds himself staring at the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Her eyes are pools of midnight, her skin creamy pale, and her dress is white silk. When she moves toward him his mouth goes dry. He realizes that every other woman he has ever seen is clumsy and ill-shaped.
“A man should grasp his destiny with both hands.”
She smiles. She is tall, with silver combs in her hair and wearing a broad band of silver at her waist. Perrin says “yes” aloud. Inside of him though, startlement fights with acceptance. The murmuring sound in the back of his mind digs at his skill. He shouts “no” again at the sound. It is gone and for a moment, so is acceptance. Almost. He puts a hand to his head, touches the golden helmet, and then takes it off.
Perrin: I don’t think I want this. It is not mine.
She is surprised and asks what man with blood in his veins does not want glory. More firmly, he replies that he does not. Something inside of him fights to accept what she is suggesting but Perrin firms and says once more, “no, I am a blacksmith.” She argues with him, telling him that he does not know the half of what he can be. She asks him to share a cup with her. A shining silver cup appears in her hand filled with blood red wine. She tells him to drink.
Perrin stares at the cup, frowning. A growling chews at his brain and he says “no” aloud again. She holds up the golden cup to him and bids him to drink. He thinks about the fact that the cup is golden and he thinks that it had been silver before. In his confusion, the sound in his mind fights to be heard. He shouts no again and then throws the golden helmet.
Perrin: I am a man!
Darkness enfolds him. Her voice follows whispering that the night is always there and that dreams come to all men – especially Perrin whom she calls a wildling.
Woman: And I will always be in your dreams.
Stillness. He is back in his own coat and britches again, sturdy and plain though well made. He stands on a bridge of stone with stone spires on either end, rising from depths too far for even his eyes to penetrate. Everywhere he looks he sees more bridges and more spires. He sees no end to them and no pattern. Worse, some of the ramps he sees climb to spire tops that have to be directly above the ones they have left. Splashing water echoes. From the corner of his eye, he sees motion. He crouches down and knows instinctively that there is danger in being seen. He peers over the top of the rail and sees a flash of white on a distant ramp. Perrin is sure that he is seeing a woman but he cannot quite maker her out. On a bridge below him, a man suddenly appears. He is tall dark and slender. He has silver in his black hair that gives him a distinguished look. He wears a dark green cloak thickly embroidered with golden leaves. Another man starts on the bridge from the other side. His appearance is as sudden as the man below him. Black stripes run down the sleeves of his puffy coat. Pale lace hangs thick at his collar and cuffs. His boots are so worked with silver that it is hard to see the leather. He is shorter than the first man, with close cropped hair. The two men approach each other warily.
Perrin strains his ears but he cannot hear so much s a murmur. Perrin glances up searching for the woman but she is gone. When he looks back down, another man has joined the first two. Somehow, from somewhere, Perrin knows him with the vagueness of an old memory. He is a handsome man in his middle years.
Perrin: The Inn. And something before that.
The memory will not come. The first two men stand side-by-side, uncomfortable allies in the presence of the newcomer. The man from the inn shouts at them and shakes his fist while they refuse to meet his glares. Perrin thinks that the first two men might hate each other but they fear this third man even more. Perrin thinks about the third man’s eyes and he tries to remember what is strange about them. The three men begin to argue until the third man throws his arms wide. A wall of fire spreads outward. Perrin hides behind a stone. Even with his eyes closed he can see and feel the fire. Then as abruptly as it began, it ends. He opens his eyes to utter stillness. He is unburned. He peeks to where the men had been standing at they are gone.
A tickle on the hairs on his neck causes Perrin to stare upward. A shaggy grey wolf is staring at him from a bridge above. Perrin scrambles to his feet and runs. Everything around him shifts.
Perrin opens his eyes in a familiar place. He knows that he is in a dream. Huge columns of polished red stone standing fifty paces tall surround an open space in the center of a great dome. The floor is paved with great slabs of pale gray stone worn by countless generations of feet. In the center of the dome is a sword hanging hilt down in the air – seemingly where anyone could reach out and take it. It revolves slowly as if some breath of air has caught it. It is not really a sword though. It seems to be made of glass or crystal. Perrin walks toward it and puts out a hand. He remembers doing this before. A foot from the the shining sword, he hand splays out against empty air if it has touched stone. Perrin somehow knew that this would happen. The sword turns, sparkles, a foot out of reach, but as far away as if it were on the other side of the ocean.
Perrin is not certain if the whisper comes from inside his head or from outside. It seems to echo around the columns.
Callandor. Who wields me wields destiny. Take me and begin the final journey.
Perrin steps back. That last whisper has never come before. He is aware that he has had this dream for nights in a row. This is the first time anything has changed in it. Another whisper.
The twisted ones come.
This is a different whisper and from a source he knows. He jumps as if a myrddraal has touched him. A mountain wolf stands among the columns. It stares at him with eyes as yellow as his own.
The twisted ones come.
Perrin rasps a no and shouts that he will not let the wolf in. He then sits up in his hut shaking with cold and anger. “I will not.”
The twisted ones come.
The thought is clear in his head but the thought is not his own.
The twisted ones come, brother.
Oh boy, a LOT is going on in this chapter. This feels a little bit like a chapter where everything – even off-handed – is important. Let’s dig in.
Perrin’s first dream: He meets a man with strange eyes, shrouded by shadow, and we also get an off-handed comment that the man seems to be recovering from a chest injury. Do we know anyone who fits this description? Yes we do! Ba’alzamon. He and Rand both survive Falme, I guess. In case we are not sure who this guy is, Perrin even feels tell tale heat coming from the guy more than once. Apparently he can turn off that whole furnace face thing when he wants to do it. What does Ba’alzamon try to do here?
- He wants Perrin to trade his axe in for a hammer.
- He wants Perrin to drink a cup of wine.
Perrin’s second dream: He meets Lanfear. He does now know her by that name… but we should. She perfectly matches the description that Min gives of her at the end of The Great Hunt. Lanfear gives her name in that scene and it nearly scares Min to death. The description here also perfectly matches the descriptions given of Selene (who as you know I believe to be Lanfear.) What does she try to do here?
- She tries to convince Perrin to pursue glory.
- She tries to get Perrin to drink a cup of wine.
In the third dream sequence, Perrin sees a woman in a white dress at a distance. This is most likely Lanfear again. He also sees the man from the inn (Ba’alzamon) talking to two other men.
In the fourth dream, Perrin is standing in a room of red stone columns where a crystal sword is hanging hilt down in the middle of the air. The sword is named Callandor. It is a special sword, apparently.
Finally, the wolf – both in the dream and then after he wakes – tells him that the twisted ones are coming. That has to mean trollocs, I think.
I think the two men who were talking with Ba’alzamon on the bridge are likely other Forsaken. The only other people we see in that weird bridges and spikes setting are Forsaken. We know that other Forsaken are eventually joining the story. My guess is that this is happening now. So let’s keep an eye on that. I also think that Lanfear is working for/with Ba’alzamon. She follows up his attempt to get Perrin to drink wine with an offer of her own. They were clearly coordinating their efforts to mess with his mind.
Why are they doing this? I suspect nothing good happens to Perrin if he drinks the wine. Maybe they are trying to keep him from getting the warning from the wolves? Lanfear at least seems to know what Perrin is. She calls him a wildling. Is there some reason that they cannot just do something else to Perrin in the dream though? I don’t know. Ba’alzamon also tries to get Perrin to give up being a fighter. He wants to divert Perrin from the path he is on. Lanfear conversely seems to try to encourage him to pursue his fate/destiny more earnestly. Maybe those are both opposite tactics toward diverting Perrin from his actual destiny (“don’t do anything” vs. “do too much.”)
Speaking of red stone columns and Callandor:
Let me reiterate again how much I love the names that wolves give for things / people. “The twisted ones” is just a chef’s kiss perfect name for trollocs.