The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 50): The Hammer

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 50: The Hammer

Perrin can see shipyards as they dock in Tear. He can smell pitched, and wood, and rope. He starts to reach out in his mind, to feel for wolves, before he realizes what he is doing and snaps his mind shut. There are no wolves in a city like Tear and he wishes that he did not feel so alone.

As soon as the ramp is down, he leads Stepper up to the dock after Moiraine and Lan. He can see the huge shape of the Stone of Tear with a shadow like that of a mountain. He does not want to look at the Stone but it seems impossible to look at the city without seeing it. He thinks that if Rand has already tried to get into that, he might be dead already.

Zarine asks Perrin and Loial what they are supposed to find in Tear. Perrin tells her that she will find out when Moiraine decides to tell her. She suggests that Perrin does not know and that this is why he will not tell her. He just sighs and rides after the Aes Sedai and Warder.

Moiraine’s saddle bags include among other things the Dragon Banner. She is wearing a deep wide hood that hides her face. Her Great Serpent ring is on a cord around her neck. She told Perrin before arriving that Tear does not forbid the presence of Aes Sedai, only channeling, but the Defenders of the Stone keep a close eye on any woman who wears the ring and she does not want to be watched.

Perrin is surprised at the mud in the first streets they ride along. Only villages and small towns have dirt roads in the places he has traveled and Tear is one of the great cities. Perrin sees the baggy trousers and the straw hats worn by the local men, pictures himself in them, and chuckles, drawing Loial’s attention. Loial tells him that the people around them look defeated and that they did not look this way when he were here last.

Loial: Even people who let their Grove be cut down do not deserve to look like this.

Perrin studies the faces around them and sees that Loial is right. He thinks something – hope and curiosity – seems to have gone out of the faces of the people they see. The people they are riding past barely seem to even notice them including Loial.

The streets become paved once they enter through the city gates. The soldiers at the gates frown at Lan’s sword and Perrin’s ax but in a way there is something beaten in their faces, too.

Palaces and great buildings seem to be placed among the smaller and more ordinary haphazardly. A huge hall has a bakery on one side and a tailor on the other. Perrin sees that the wealthier people inside the city gates have the same look on their faces, as if they have given up, as the other people they have passed by.

Lan chooses an in named The Star, which has a weaver’s shop on one side and a smithy on the other with narrow alley ways between. The party hands their horses to stablemen and then enters the inn. The innkeeper is a balding man who bows to them with hands clasped over his stout belly. His face as the same look of weary resignation as he greets them and shares his own name, Jurah Haret. He leads them to their rooms himself as he believes Moiraine in her silk dress is a Lady and Lan is her guard. He believes Perrin to be some type of retainer. To Zarine’s visible disgust he does not know what to make her her. Loial to him is simply an Ogier.

After leading them to each of their rooms, Haret bows himself away. They all gather just outside of Moiraine’s room. Perrin asks Moiraine how they go about finding inn and she replies by telling him to remain close to the inn as Tear is a dangerous city for those who do not know its ways. She then tells Lan that they will leave together and attempt to see what they can discover without attracting attention.

After Moiraine and Lan go, Zarine begins muttering about who Rand is supposed to be, what is supposed to be in the Heart of the Stone, and whether this is a story she even wants to be in. Perrin replies that it is not a story and that she chose to tangle her threat in with theirs.

Perrin: It’s too late to untangle it now.

She replies that he sounds like *her* now. Perrin leaves her standing there with Loial and goes to put his things in his room. When he comes back out, they are both gone, and he hears the ring of hammer on anvil outside. It calls to him.

So much of Tear looks odd to Perrin that it feels like a relief to walk into the familiar-seeming smithy. Perrin watches the smith and thinks that the forge fire smells like home and the hot iron smells like home. Perrin approaches the man as he works and begins to work the bellows for him. The smith eyes him but says nothing as he does so. Perrin thinks that he might be making a barrel scrape. Finally the man speaks without looking up and asks Perrin if he is an apprentice, to which Perrin replies that he is. The smith hands Perrin a steel bar and asks him to see what he can do with it.

Perrin then sets out demonstrating he knows his way around a forge, heating the bar, and dressing himself in a vest and apron. He works the bellows and begins working on the bar wanting to make something simple. He ends up making a knife for smoothing barrel staves. When he’s finished, the smithy tells him that it was a neat bit of work and asks Perrin if he is looking for work. He shares that all three of his apprentices recently all walked away and that he has plenty Perrin could do.

Perrin shakes his head, adding that he does not know how long he will be in Tear, before asking if he can work a little longer saying that it has been a long time and that he misses the work. Perrin suggests that maybe he could do some of the work his apprentices were supposed to do and the smithy laughs saying that he is a deal better than those louts, who mostly muttered about their nightmares. He then tells Perrin that he can work for as long as he wants and then shares some of the orders he has out. He tells Perrin to start with the draw knives.

He loses himself in the work, as he helps out the smithy. There comes a time eventually when he finds the smithy, Dermid Ajala, taking off his vest. He also sees Zarine not far away, watching him as she sits on an anvil.

Zarine: So you really are a blacksmith, blacksmith.
Dermid: He is that, mistress. Apprentice he says but the work he did today amounts to his master’s piece as far as I’m concerned.

Perrin shifts his feet at the compliments before removing his vest and aprons and returning them to their pegs on the wall. Once they are off, though, he is suddenly aware of Zarine’s eyes on his back. It is as if she is touching him and he quickly pulls his shirt over his head, tucking it in quickly. When he turns around Zarine is wearing a small secretive smile that has always made him nervous.

She asks him if this is what he means to do and if he came all this way to be a blacksmith again. Ajala stops to listen as Perrin tells her no, though he hopes to return to it one day. He picks up a hammer and starts to hang it on the wall when the smithy tells him to just take it with him. He explains that he usually dos not give away good tools but says the work Perrin did today is worth more than the price of the hammer by far.

Dermid: And maybe it will help you to that “one day.” Man, if I have ever seen anyone made to hold a smith’s hammer it is you.

Perrin closes his hand around the haft, thinking that it feels right, and thanks him. As they leave, Zarine asks him if he has any idea how strange men are before answering her own question with no, and then darting ahead.

No one in the Common Room looks at him twice, a golden eyed man holding a smith’s hammer. Perrin goes to his room and remembers for once to light a candle. His quiver and ax hang from the same peg on the wall. Perrin hefts the hammer with one hand, the ax in the other, and thinks that the ax feels heavier despite being considerably lighter in weight. Perrin returns to the axe to its loops on his belt and sets the hammer on the floor against the wall.

Some time later, Lan peaks his head into the room and tells Perrin to come with him as they have things to talk over.

Perrin: I am a blacksmith.
Lan: [frowning] Don’t go winter-crazy on me now, blacksmith. If you cannot carry your weight any longer you may drag us all down the mountain.

Perrin growls back that he will carry his weight and do what must be done. Perrin follows him into the hall and to the front of the inn. Perrin follows him into the inn’s only private dining room. Perrin begins to tell Lan that he has had enough of being called blacksmith, and farmboy, but is cut off by Moiraine as he enters the room. The rest of the group is there also. She tells them quickly that one of the Forsaken is in Tear.

Moiraine: The High Lord Samon is Be’lal.

Perrin shivers as Loial groans and begins muttering that he could have remained in the stedding. Moiraine tells him that he can go back to his stedding, now if he wishes, and that she will not stop him. He is surprised at her offer but says he will stay, before rambling about needing more notes for his book and how he does not wish to leave Perrin or Rand. Moiraine cuts him off in a cold voice and tells him that she is glad he will be staying.

Zarine: I suppose there is no chance of me leaving? I thought not. Blacksmith, if I live through this, I will make you pay.

Perrin opens his mouth to argue with her but sees the look in Moiraine’s eyes and closes his mouth again quickly. After a moment he asks her if *he* is after Rand to stop him or kill him. She replies that she does not think so. She adds that she thinks he means to let Rand enter the Stone, take Callandor, and then take it from him after he does.

Zarine asks if they are going to run again and Moiraine replies that this time they do not run and dare not run. She says that this time they fight. Perrin points out that she is saying things right out that she has told htem before not to even think about. He asks if she has at least set a warding against eavesdropping and she tells him she has not as it is possible he might sense her warding from a mile away, rip all of them to shreds in seconds, and do so possibly without even stirring from where he stands.

Perrin asks what they are supposed to do and she replies that even the Forsaken cannot stand up against balefire. Perrin wonders if this is what she used against the Darkhounds. Moiraine tells him that she has learned things over the previous year and that she is more dangerous than when she came to Emond’s Field.

Moiraine: If I can get close enough to Be’lal I can destroy him. But if he sees me first he can destroy us all, long before I have a chance.

She then asks Loial what he can tell her of Be’lal. Perrin blinks in confusion at her question and Zarine bursts out angrily and in confusion that at least she has sense enough not to say she will fight someone before she knows what she needs to know about them. Moiraine’s stare cuts her off and the Aes Sedai tells her coldly that Ogier have long memories.

Moiraine: It has been well over one hundred generations since the Breaking for humans but less than thirty for Ogier. We still learn things form their stories that we did not know.

She asks Loial to tell him what he knows, again, and to give the information briefly. Loial shares what he knows, including that Be’lal was called “the envious” because he forsook the light over envy of Lews Therin. He is said to have envied Ishamael and Lanfear, also. He says that in another story, Be’lal is called “the netweaver” though he does not know why. Under Moiraine’s stare, he tells her he is attempting to be brief. He shares that both Be’lal and Sammael were leaders of the Light before forsaking it during the War of the Shadow, and that both men were said to be masters of the sword. He apologizes for not telling her anything useful but Moiraine replies that perhaps he has. She says she did not know of the name, “the netweaver” or that he envied his companions of the Shadow as well as Lews Therin. She says that this strengthens her belief that he wants Callandor. She tells netweaver is a name for a schemer – a patient and cunning planner.

Perrin says that if he is inside the Stone, waiting for Rand, that they must go inside to reach him. He asks how they will do that. Lan tells him that he will not go in, but that he and Moiraine will be the only ones to enter. Moiraine begins to protest but Lan overrides her and says that he will not be left out this time. She relents and Lan relaxes. He then tells the party to get some sleep and that he will be out late, studying the Stone, looking for a way inside.

Before he goes, Lan stops and tells Moiraine that her news drove out something he has learned, from his mind, but that it needs to be mentioned now though he does not know its meaning.

Lan: There are Aiel in Tear.

Loial bursts out that this is impossible as the entire city would be in a panic over the sight of just one Aiel. Lan replies that he did not say they were walking the streets. He tells Loial that the rooftops and chimneys of the city make as good for hiding as the Waste. Lan says he saw no less than three though apparently nobody else in Tear has seen any of htem.

Lan: And if I saw three, you can be sure there are many times that I did not see.

Moiraine tells him slowly that it means nothing to her before noticing that Perrin is frowning. She asks him about it and he replies he is thinking about the Aiel they met in Remen.

Perrin: He said that when the Stone falls the Aiel will leave the Three-Fold Land. That’s the Waste, isn’t it? He said it was a prophecy.

Moiraine tells him that she has read every word of the Prophecies of the Dragon, in every translation, and that there is no mention of the Aiel. She wonders aloud of the Aiel are the Wheel’s weavings or Be’lal’s? She tells Lan that he must find her a way into the Stone quickly before correcting herself to say he must find them both a way in. Lan vanishes through the door leaving Moiraine behind, frowning at the table.

Zarine asks Perrin what he is going to do and adds that they mean for them to wait and watch.

Perrin: First I am going to have something to eat and then I am going to think about a hammer.

He thinks to himself that he is also going to try to puzzle out how he feels about her.

REACTION:

It’s interesting to me that the Be’lal effect on Tear is different than the Sammael effect on Illian. Be’lal’s city has hopeless defeated people. Sammael’s city has angry hate-filled people. I wonder if that reflects their personalities? I don’t remember Caemlyn’s Forsaken personality very well. I suppose we were not there long, though.

I loved Perrin’s scene in the forge. This is who he was before we met him and his life went bonkers. I also love to think of Robert Jordan making a point of showing off his blacksmithing knowledge in this scene with all of the excessive detail. I like that in that scene, we are beginning to see glimmers of understanding from Perrin that Zarine might be hot for him – and he might reciprocate that feeling. We also get some outwardly expressed turmoil from Perrin regarding his preferred hammer verses the axe he carries.

In this chapter, we learn that Moiraine again figured out on her own that Be’lal is the Forsaken in charge of Tear. How does she figure this out? It’s pretty easy to know a Forsaken rules in the city once we know the signs to look for (uniformity of bad vibes, nightmares, a recently arrived new leader.) But to know specifically which one? She must have read physical descriptions of the Forsaken at Vandene and Adeleas’s house. I assume Lanfear’s description was “black hair, wears white and silver… think of the best looking woman on earth and then upgrade that in your mind.” Now I”m trying ot imagine what the people in a city ruled by Lanfear would act like. Would they just all be sultry and obsessed with Lews Therin? Would Lanfear then kill everyone for acting that way?

Back on track – Vandene and Adeleas are probably also where Moiraine learned balefire – since we know Moiraine learned it after leaving Emond’s Field. (What are those two old ladies *really* up to?)

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