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 53: A Flow of the Spirit
Perrin puts on his coat and walks back toward the inn. His arms and shoulders are tired after the the blacksmithing work. Zarine is with him and says she thought the eyes of the man Perrin is working for would come out of his face when Perrin said he would not do a piece of ornamental work for a High Lord. Perrin notices that in the darkness she is pretty, though he cannot make up his mind about her. He found himself growing awkward with his hammer when her eyes were on him while working. He wonders again if she is the beautiful woman Min had warned him against and thinks to himself that it would be better if she is the falcon. That thought surprises him so much that he stumbles.
In response to Zarine’s comment, he tells her coldly that he does not want anything he makes to get into the hands of one of the Forsaken. When she seems visibly shaken by his mention of the Forsaken, he almost calls her Faile, instead of Zarine, and she smiles broadly, telling him that he will fall yet. She asks if he has ever thought of wearing a beard. At the front door of the inn, Moiraine and Lan meet them going the other way.
Moiraine speaks from the depth of a hood that obscures her face and says that Rand is in Tear. Perrin asks if she is sure and adds that he has not heard of anything strange happening – such as an unusual number of weddings or wells springing up or drying up. Zarine looks at Perrin in confusion as everyone has not been forthcoming with her regarding Rand. Lan answers Perrin’s statement though by asking him if he listens to rumors.
Lan: There have been marriages, as many in the last four days as in half a year before. And as many murders as in a whole year. A child fell from a tower balcony today, one hundred paces onto stone paving, she got up and ran to her mother without a bruise.
He goes on, telling Perrin that the First of Mayene abruptly changed positions regarding Tear, from stark refusal to even let a High Lord step foot in her country to submission to them entirely. Lan says that they had not yet brought themselves to torture her and that the First’s will is like iron. Lan concludes by saying that from top to bottom Tear bubbles like a boiling cauldron. Moiraine more quietly says she did not need all of this to know herself. She asks Perrin if he dreamed of Rand last night and Perrin admits that he did and that he was in the Heart of the Stone holding a sword.
Zarine shifts beside Perrin before he adds to Moiraine that he has been worrying about that so much it is no wonder he dreamed about it. Zarine asks if he is a tall man with reddish hair and gray eyes, holding something that shines so brightly it hurts your eyes, in a place that is all red stone columns. She turns on Perrin and tells him to tell her that this was not his dream. Before he can answer, Moiraine turns to him and tells him that she has heard this dream spoken of one hundred times today. Moiraine laughs mirthlessly and shares that the people she has heard from say he is the Dragon Reborn and that he is coming – they say it in hushed whispers and in corners but they say it all the same.
Perrin: And what of Be’lal?
Moiraine: I will deal with him tonight.
Perrin notes that there is no fear scent emanating from the Aes Sedai. Lan corrects Moiraine to say that they will both deal with him tonight and Moiraine accepts the correction. Perrin asks what they are supposed to do and she answers that he, Zarine, and Loial will all go to Tar Valon, adding that it will be the safest place for them. Lan asks where Loial is and says he wants all three of them on their way north as soon as possible. Perrin guesses that he is upstairs working on his notes. Zarine says she will find him and goes inside, adding that she is not ashamed that she is glad to run from this fight.
Zarine: Men fight when they should run and fools fight when they should run but I have no need to say it twice.
They follow her inside as she goes on ahead. Perrin hears “Dragon” whispered three times as they cross the common room. When they reach the top of the stairs, Perrin hears a thump sound, as if someone or something fell inside the private dining room. Perrin calls out Zarine’s name and there is no answer. The hair on the back of his neck stirs. When he pushes open the door, he finds her lying on the floor in the middle of the room, calling out to her as Faile. He starts to rush into the room but Moiraine calls for him to stop in a commanding voice.
Abreast of the door, Moiraine commands Perrin to move back. He stares at Zarine in agony. She looks as if she is dead. He notices for the first time that the hand he used to push open the door is tingling, as if he struck his elbow. Moiraine asks Perrin what is lying on the floor by her hand. Perrin looks in and tells her that it looks like a hedgehog, carved of wood. Moiraine murmurs as Perrin demands to know what is going on and she orders him to be silent so that she can thinking, adding that she felt the thing trigger. She says that the residues of the flows woven to set the hedgehog were of pure spirit and nothing else.
Perrin asks her what was triggered and asks if it was a trap. Moiraine, beginning to grow irritated with Perrin, tells him that yes it was a trap and that it was meant for her. She points out that she would have been first into the room if the girl had not rushed ahead. and then she orders Perrin to be quiet if he wishes her to help at all. She quickly orders Lan to bring her the innkeeper. Perrin does not see Zarine’s chest stirring at all, as if she is not breathing, and he is too far away even for his own ears to listen for a heartbeat.
Lan returns, holding the innkeeper by the scruff of his neck, and Moiraine rounds on him, telling him that he promised to keep the room for her and to not even allow a serving woman inside to clean unless she was present. She asks coldly who he let in. The innkeeper shakes as he admits he allowed two ladies inside who wished to leave a surprise for her. He trembles as he tells her that the showed it to him and that it was a little hedgehog. She tells him that she was surprised and then orders him to leave her presence adding that if whispers a word of this to anyone, even in his sleep, she will pull the inn down leaving only a hole in the ground. He whispers and swears that he will remain silent.
Moiraine says aloud that he – Be’lal – knows she is in the city and that he sent someone from the Black Ajah to set his trap. Seeing the positive, she wonders if maybe he thinks she is caught in the trap. Lan almost smiles when he says that he will not suspect that they are coming. Perrin stares at both of them, his teeth bared, and asks about Zarine. Moiraine tells him that she is alive and that she sleeps in a way. He explains that she sleeps now like a bear sleeps in the winter, with her heart beating so slowly you can count minutes in between. She tells Perrin that she fears Zarine is not there – not in her body – any longer.
Perrin asks what she means and if they took her soul like with a gray man and Moiraine shakes her head no. He asks her where Zarine is and Moiraine says she does not know though she has a suspicion. He asks for what she knows in a voice fierce enough that Lan shifts. Finally she tells him that she knows very little, but that she does remember the hedgehog is a ter’angreal, last studied by Corianin Nadeal, the last known Dreamer of the White Tower. She tells him Dreaming is a thing of Spirit and is not something she has ever studied. Moiraine guesses that Zarine is trapped inside a dream, perhaps even the World of Dreams. She warns Perrin that if Zarine does not return soon to her body that her body will die. She says she does not know more and Perrin tells her that there is too much she does not know before demanding again that she do something.
Moiraine tells Perrin that a trap has been sprung and that it will take anyone who enters the room. She says she could not reach Zarine’s side before it takes her, too, and tells him that she has things she must do tonight. He asks her fiercely if the World of Dreams is like the Wolf Dream and she replies sharply that she has told him what she can.
Moiraine orders him to be on his way and says that she and Lan have business at the Stone. Perrin coldly tells her no and that he will not leave her. In an icy voice, Moiraine tells him that he can remain if he wishes and suggests that perhaps he will survive the night anyway. She then calls to Lan and they disappear down the stairs together. Perrin things to himself that he has to do something and thinks about the Wolf Dreams.
Loial calls to Perrin and asks what this is about as he strides down the hall. He shares with Perrin that Lan instructed him to leave the city and mentioned something about Faile in a trap. Perrin quickly explains, thinks about the Wolf Dream, and whether he might be able to use it to help her. He is surprised when Loial growls that trapping Faile is not right. Seeing the look on the Ogier’s face, Perrin remembers the old stories about Ogier as implacable enemies. With Loial’s ears laid back along the side of his head, and his broad face as hard as an anvil, Perrin understands those old stories.
Finally Perrin tells him that he is going to try to help her. He adds that he will be helpless himself while he does.
Perrin: Will you guard my back?
Loial: No one will pass me while I live, Perrin, not myrddraal or the Dark One himself.
Perrin nods and looks through the door again. With a snarl, he leaps through the door toward Faile, reaching out his hand. He thought he touched her angle before he is gone.
Whether the Dream is tel’aran’rhiod, or not, he knows it is the Wolf Dream. He is wearing the blacksmith’s long leather vest and he feels a weight at his side – instead of the axe hanging from the axe belt, there is a hammer there through the loop. Perrin thinks to himself that it feels right just as Hopper alights in front of him.
The wolf calls him a fool and warns him that the danger is greater than ever. He sends to Perrin that evil things walk the dream. He explains that the brothers and sisters avoid the mountain of Stone and almost fear to communicate to one another. He warns Perrin that he must go but Perrin tells the other wolf no. He tells Hopper that Faile is here somewhere, trapped, and that he must find her. Perrin looks at his body and sees that he is a wolf, an even larger one than Hopper. The wolf tells him that he is in the Dream too strongly and warns him that he will die.
Perrin: If I do not free the falcon I do not care, brother.
Hopper: Then we hunt, brother.
Noses to the wind, the two wolves run across the plain seeking the falcon.
This is yet another great chapter. LOIAL!!
Loial: No one will pass me while I live, Perrin, not myrddraal or the Dark One himself.
Hopper: Then we hunt, brother.
This turn of events with Faile in the trap is a nice bit of storytelling and story architecture. The book’s various “World of Dreams” and Perrin threads all built up to this pretty well but still connected in a surprising way. We know Perrin’s Wolf Dreams are in the World of Dreams – even if none of the characters in the novels are sure of that fact, yet. We know that the Black Ajah has Dream ter’angreal in Tear and that they are using them in Tear. Perrin’s relationship with Faile has been building for a long while so his reaction to her danger makes sense.
Well, let’s examine that last. Does Perrin’s sudden realization that he cares so much for Faile makes sense? To me… yes. She consumes his thoughts and has for several POV chapters. They spend a lot of time alone together (especially since arriving in Tear) and some amount of that time has included her eyeing him shirtless after he finishes blacksmithing. She is always bantering with him – and for some people this is a form of flirtation. Even Moiraine thought Zarine *liked* Perrin – from the way she looked at him – the moment they first met. Just because the introverted reflective guy does not know what to do with her, exactly, does not mean that he wants this attention to stop. We also know Perrin has a “wolf frenzy” side – and in case anyone has forgotten we saw it at the beginning of the book when Rand’s camp was attacked and Perrin nearly lost control over himself fighting in his underwear. We also saw it again when he fought the Whitecloaks after freeing the Aiel from the cage. Perrin has always been quick to fight. He was the tip of the spear when the Emond’s Field Five fought their way through Shadowspawn into the Eye at the end of The Eye of the World.
Perrin’s reaction here is in character. Loial and Hopper are extraordinarily awesome rescue adventure sidekicks.
What do I think of Moiraine and Lan’s plan to go after Be’lal? I think they’re wildly overconfident. She knows that Be’lal has Black Ajah in his employ who recognize her face and have been keeping tabs on her – without her knowledge. Forsaken from the Age of Legends are VASTLY more powerful than Aes Sedai from the current age. The good news though is that a lot of the good guys are descending on that location right now so they will not be alone. Mat Cauthon will probably pull Moiraine’s bacon out of the fire, too.