The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 43): Shadowbrothers

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 43: Shadowbrothers

The dark eyed girl climbs back onto her table and begins singing again in an unsteady voice. The new song is, to Perrin’s disappointment, about an actual rooster. Perrin thinks to himself that he is getting as bad as Mat. None of the other patrons complain and some of them seem to be as nervous about what Moiraine might approve of as the singer. No one wishes to offend an Aes Sedai even if they have left the room. As the bodies of the Gray Men are being dragged away, Lan approaches Perrin and asks him how he knew the Gray Men were in the room.

Lan: Their taint of evil is not strong enough for Moiraine or me to sense. Gray Men have walked past one hundred guards or more without being noticed, and Warders among them.

Perrin answers quietly, conscious of Zarine’s eyes on him, and replies that he smelled them. He tells Lan that he smelled them before at Jarra and at Remen but that the smell always vanished. Lan suggests that they were following Rand in that case, at least before, though they are now apparently following Perrin. Lan raises his voice to a more normal level and says he is going to look around outside and he suggests that Perrin’s eyes might see something that his own miss. Perrin views it as a measure of Lan’s worry that he is willing to ask for help. Lan also recruits Loial because of how well Ogier see.

Zarine chimes in to ask what they are looking for. Lan replies that he will know it when they see it. Perrin follows an unarmed Lan outside while still holding a chair leg in his hand, and is relieved to see that Zarine is also still holding a knife in her hand. Outside, Perrin smells something like fireworks on the wind outside. It smells like burned sulfur. As he is thinking about the smell, Zarina taps the chair leg in his hand and comments that he really is strong, noting that he tore the chair apart as though it was made of twigs.

Perrin returns to looking around and wonders what he should be looking for. Loial appears to be thinking the same thing. Lan goes past them and into an alleyway. Perrin follows. Ahead, Lan has stopped and is staring at the paving stones on the street. The Warder starts suddenly back toward the inn and then stops in front of the inn door. When Perrin reaches Lan at the door, he sees what the Warder is examining. Pressed into the top of the stone mounting block are two prints – as if a huge hound had rested its forepaws there. The sulfur smell is strongest here. Perrin looks back to the alleyway and sees that there are tracks on the stones there, too, as if a hound was running and leaving prints in a plowed field.

Lan: Darkhound.

Zarine gasps and Loial moans softly. Lan explains to Perrin that a Darkhound does not leave any prints on dirt or mud but says they do leave prints on stone. He tells Perrin that there has not been a Darkhound seen south of the Mountains of Dhoom since the Trolloc Wars. Lan explains that this one was hunting for something, and now that it has found that something, it left to go tell its master. Perrin thinks to himself that the Darkhound was hunting for him.

Zarine mutters that Perrin had better lead her to the Horn of Valere and she then asks what else he has in store for her. Lan harshly reminds her she is not allowed to ask questions and then tells her that she knows little enough that Moiraine will still let her leave with an oath not to follow. Lan offers to accept that oath, in place of Moiraine, if she wishes to leave now. Zarine replies in turn that Lan will not frighten her away.

Perrin asks Lan why he and Moiraine did not sense the Darkhound. After some silence, Lan tells him that the answer is likely more than either of them want to know.

Lan: I hope the answer does not kill us all.

Lan tells them to go inside and get whatever sleep they can because he doubts they will stay in Illian all night and he suspects that they have hard riding ahead. Perrin asks Lan what he is going to do and the Warder replies that he is going after Moiraine to tell her about the Darkhound. He tells them that she cannot be angry at him for following her for that reason. Lan races ahead of them to his room, grabbing his sword and color-shifting cloak, before racing back out. Loial tells Perrin that he doubts his own ability to sleep. Zarine seems to want to stay with Perrin but he shuts the slatted door in her face and tells her to get to sleep. Perrin stares at his own bed, strips down, and thinks to himself that he has to find out.

Rain drums down outside and the thunder booms. His last thought before sleep claims him is that he has forgotten to light a candle.

Dreams tumble through Perrin’s head. Darkhounds chase him, as do fades and Gray Men, and a tall slender man, in richly embroidered coats and boots, flashes through his dreams again and again. The man is holding a sword that shines like the sun. Perrin thinks that the dreams about the man feel strange, as though they are not really his dreams at all. Finally the dreams change and Perrin knows that he is in the wolf dream he is seeking.

Perrin stands atop a high flat topped stone spire. He calls for Hopper and the wolf does not come. He stares across an arid landscape and a circle of darkness appears across some distant mountains. Perrin can see through the circle and beyond it.

He sees Mat rattling a dice cup as his opponent stares at him with eyes of fire. Mat doe snot seem to see his opponent but Perrin knows him and shouts to Mat that he is dicing with Ba’alzamon. As Mat makes his toss, the vision fades, and the dark circle is mountains again. Perrin calls again to Hopper. He looks around and even at the sky because he knows the wolf can fly now.

A darkness forms in the clouds and Perrin sees through it to somewhere else. Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne are looking at a huge metal cage with a raised door, stepping in together to loose the catch. The barred door closes behind them as a woman, with her hair all in braids, laughs at them. Another woman all in white laughs at the woman in braids. The hole in the sky closes and there are only clouds. Perrin calls again for Hopper.

The grizzled wolf appears, warning Young Bull that what he is doing is dangerous. Perrin tells Hopper that he needs to know more. He asks Hopper if what he sees is real. The wolf sends back, almost as though the question is too simple to answer, that what is real is not real, and that what is not real is real. He tells Perrin that flesh is a dream and that dreams have flesh. Perrin replies that he does not understand and Hopper looks at him as if he just said that he does not understand that water is wet.

Perrin asks Hopper why he showed him Ba’alzamon and Lanfear, Heartfang and Moonhunter, the last time they talked. Hopper replies that The Last Hunt comes. Sadness fills Hopper’s sending and says that what must be will be. Perrin tells him that Gray Men came to kill him tonight. Hopper inquires about The Not Dead hunting Perrin. Perrin also adds that a Darkhound was right ouside the inn where he is staying. He says he wants to know why they are after him.

Hopper: Shadowbrothers.

The wolf crouches and looks to either side as if expecting an attack. He tells Perrin it has been long since they have seen the Shadowbrothers. He warns Young Bull that he must go and says that he is in great danger. Perrin asks him why they are after him and Hopper replies by jumping against Perrin, knocking him over the edge of the spire. He tells Perrin to flee the Shadowbrothers. As Perrin falls, he asks Hopper again why this is happening.

Hopper: The Last Hunt comes.

Just as Perrin is about to hit the ground, he wakes up. Lightning flashes through the window and he sees a candle burning. He remembers that he did not light a candle.

Zarine: You talk to yourself and thrash in your sleep.

Perrin jumps and immediately curses himself for not noticing Zarine’s scent in the air. She is sitting on a stool next to the candlelight with her chin on her fist – watching him.

Zarine: You are ta’veren. Stoneface thinks those odd eyes of yours can see things his can’t. Gray Men want to kill you. You travel with an Aes Sedai, a Warder, and an Ogier. You free caged Aiel and kill Whitecloaks. Who are you farm boy? The Dragon Reborn?

Her voice says that this is the most ridiculous thing she can think of but Perrin still stiffens uneasily. She adds that whoever he is, he can do with a little more hair on his chest. Perrin twists around, cursing, and pulls one of the blankets over his up to his neck. He remembers that Min once warned him to run from a beautiful woman. He had previously come to believe that she must have meant Lanfear, but Lanfear was only in a dream. Zarine is in his room. He asks her harshly what she is doing in here and what she wants. She laughs and tells him that she is Faile, a Hunter of the Horn. She asks Perrin why he jumped that way.

Before Perrin can find words, the door crashes open and Moiraine is in the doorway, her face as pale and as grim as death.

Moiraine: Your wolf dreams tells as truly as a Dreamer’s, Perrin. The Forsaken are loose and one of them rules in Illian.

REACTION:

This is a really fun chapter. We meet Darkhounds officially (though Perrin saw a track a few chapters back without knowing what it was.) We further learn that wolves call Darkhounds “Shadowbrothers.” So… that cannot be a good thing. And then Lan tells us that Darkhounds have not been seen south of the Blight since The Trolloc Wars – two thousand years ago. That’s definitely not a good thing. Even for people used to Shadowspawn, this is ratcheting things way up. Then add to that that something is shielding the creatures in such a way that Moiraine and Lan cannot sense them… and that implies someone who can channel. As we might recall, a channeler shielded a dragkhar from being sensed by the Aes Sedai (Moiraine, Vandene, and Adeleas – and also their Warders) in The Great Hunt.

For some reason, the Darkhounds and their master have abruptly gone from hunting Rand to hunting Perrin. Did something happen recently to change Perrin’s level of importance to the Forsaken giving orders? Since they’ve been following Rand for the entire book, it stands to reason that Ba’alzamon is giving the orders and as we have reason to believe, Ba’alzamon = Ishamael (though Jordan has done a good job of keeping that conjecture from being conclusive at this point.) That implies that Ba’alzamon has decided Perrin needs to die. Maybe the wolf dream encounter Perrin had with Furnace Face and Lanfear spurred the change of plans? Alternatively, these could be different Darkhounds working for the person running things in Illian.

On that point, Moiraine apparently learned that one of the Forsaken is ruling in Illian. How do we suppose she learned that without being caught? I’m going to guess she just went around asking questions and figured out that lots of people are having shared dreams of the same male person (and that person not being Rand.) She then put two and two together. Either way, that big reveal is an awesome cliffhanger. There’s no way a first time reader isn’t moving on to Chapter 44 with that new information.

Faile is obviously both interested in Perrin and *interested* in Perrin. He is feeling similar things. I enjoy their relationship at this point. With all the “farm boy” jabs, it’s fun that she has the revelation that Perrin is A VERY BIG DEAL. Like… to world events and all of history.

The other big point of interest in this chapter is “The Last Hunt.” The wolves apparently have their own version of the apocalypse. That’s strangely cool. We spent the first two plus books with the primary end times views of Randland proper, but we have added the Aiel end times prophecies and now the wolves to the mix. Perhaps the Aes Sedai are not seeing the entire puzzle.

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3 thoughts on “The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 43): Shadowbrothers

  1. Jordan is an absolute master at getting the reader to keep reading that next chapter.

    I love Faile’s rundown of all the reasons Perrin is interesting.

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