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 7: The Way Out of the Mountains
The way down out of the mountains is hard but the father they go, the less Perrin needs his fur-lined cloak. Hour by hour they ride into spring. Perrin feels wolves though they remain out of sight. Lan spends most of his time on his warhorse Mandarb, scouting Rand’s tracks, and leaving a trail behind him for the rest to follow.
Lan leaves a hundred different signs – scratches on rocks, bent branches, etc. – and Moiraine knows what all of them mean. The Warder rarely comes back to their group except when they make camp. Even then, he only confers with Moiraine quietly before setting out again. Perrin notes that Moiraine is first in the saddle in the mornings and last off at night. She would continue trying to track Rand after dark but for Lan’s admonition that they will move even slower if one of their horses breaks a leg. Perrin overhears her threaten to send him off to Myrelle sooner if he cannot move faster. He thinks it sounds like half irritated truth.
The first time Perrin hears the name mentioned, he asks Moiraine who Myrelle is.
Moiraine: Just a Green Sister, someone to whom one day Lan must deliver a package for safe keeping.
Lan: No day soon.
Perrin is surprised that there is open anger in his voice. He says that Moiraine will outlive him long as Perrin thinks to himself that Moiraine has too many secrets. He decides to ask no more about a subject that stirs open anger in the Warder.
Most of their meals are rabbit, killed by Perrin using his sling. He does not have enough arrows to risk losing them in the rocky country through which they are traveling. Sometimes when they camp near a stream, he and Loial catch mountain trout by sticking their arms elbow deep in the water. Once Moiraine even joins the two of them, undoing pearl buttons and rolling up her sleeves. She asks how it is done and Perrin explains. He explains that she needs to bring her hand up from behind the fish and underneath, as if she is trying to tickle its belly. He warns her that it takes some practice.
Moiraine’s hands slip into the water. A moment later she pulls out a fat trout. She laughs with delight as she tosses it up onto the bank. Perrin blinks at the big fish and thinks it might have weight at least five pounds. Perrin tells her that they will have to go upstream a bit and says that it will be a while before the fish settle there again. Moiraine tells them to go ahead and says that she will try the same spot again.
Perrin goes upstream. Before he can slide his hands into the water, Moiraine gives a shout.
Moiraine: Three should be good enough I think. The last two were bigger than the first.
Perrin gives Loial a startled look. Loial says simply that she is Aes Sedai. When they return to Moiraine, Perrin thinks of telling her that the person who catches the fish is supposed to clean it. She does not say anything, but the look she gives him seems to indicate that she knows what he is thinking and is dismissing it out of hand. Before Perrin can bring himself to speak, she has walked away and it seems too late to say anything at all.
He gets out his belt knife and sets out to gutting and cleaning the fish. He complains to Loial that they are not sharing the chores equally and he argues that it is not fair.
Loial: I doubt she sees it that way. First she had to put up with Rand arguing with her all the time and now you’re ready to take over for him. As a rule, Aes Sedai do not let anyone argue with them. I expect she means to have us back in a habit of doing what she says by the time we reach the first village.
Lan approaches and says that is a good habit to be in. In the fading light he had appeared out of nowhere and Perrin nearly fell over from surprise. Lan adds that it is a habit they should never have lost as he strikes off toward Moiraine.
Over the next few days, Perrin finds that he and Loial have taken to doing all of the chores. Perrin even finds himself taking care of Moiraine’s mare at night, too. Loial gives in to this as an inevitability but Perrin resists. He struggles though because each suggestion always seems reasonable and small, and each reasonable and small suggestion is followed by another of like kind. The force of her presence makes it difficult to protest. After a while, Perrin begins to feel like a piece of iron resisting a smith who is trying to hammer it into a scythe.
Abruptly, the Mountains of Mist give way to the forested hills of Ghealdan. Lan stops wearing his color-shifting cloak and he starts riding back to meet them more often so that they can know what lies ahead. They are once more in the lands of men. Soon, fields encircled by stone walls and farmers are common sights. Scattered farmhouses and barns are increasingly common as well.
A day after sighting the first field, they come to the village of Jarra.
Not a lot happens in this chapter except that Moiraine does not come across well.
Bullying the village boy ta’veren and the Ogier into doing the chores? I do not like it but I kind of understand it. They are all going to be better off in a pinch without Perrin questioning the chain of command. HOWEVER… threatening to send Lan to Myrelle? Yikes.
In case you have forgotten (The Great Hunt, Chapter 22), Moiraine arranged – without Lan’s consent – to pass his Warder bond to Myrelle Sedai in the event that she (Moiraine) dies. The moment Moiraine dies, Lan will be compelled by the One Power to seek Myrelle out. This is something pretty similar to compelled slavery. Lan will have no ability to resist going immediately to a new Aes Sedai who more or less completely controls him (if she wants.)
Moiraine’s reasoning for this is that she wants to keep Lan alive. That’s understandable. Passing his Warder bond decreases the likelihood that Lan dies attempting to avenge her. She also tells Lan that she envisions Myrelle eventually passing his bond to an Aes Sedai more to Lan’s liking (and the strong implication was that this might end up being Nynaeve.)
That’s all fine… I guess. But joking about that with him and doing that in front of others? Not cool. I guess we are supposed to take her attitude as reflective of her extreme anxiety over Rand staying ahead of them. [On that point… I feel like Rand is not limiting himself to traveling by daylight. How are the rest of them ever going to catch up?]
In hindsight, I kind of feel like Jordan must have added the “Moiraine goes noodling for fish” scene to soften her image a bit after writing all of the rest.