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 3: Reflection
Despite the late hour, a lot of people are moving about inside the Stone. Perrin and Faile see servants and soldiers alike as they move toward Rand’s rooms. Perrin mutters aloud about wishing people who see his glowing yellow eyes would not be afraid of him, and he also wonders why so many people are out and scurrying around. Faile speculates that the guards are not supposed to be out in this part of the Stone unless they are on duty. She speculates that they might be worried about Perrin reporting them. She also explains that most of the servants do their work at night. Perrin is relieved for an explanation that does not include other people having gone through what happened to him.
On their way they run into High Lord Torean Andiama. Perrin notices a scent of fear from the High Lord and his two guards. Torean angers Perrin with his too polite tone and the interested way he looks at Faile. Faile accuses Perrin of being uncivil, after the High Lord leaves, saying his tongue sounded like frozen iron. Perrin replies that he was looking at her, as if he wanted to dandle her on his knee. She tells him she can handle herself. He then points out that the High Lord’s guards never took their hands off of their swords, until they were well away from them. Neither of them know what to make of this, but Perrin speculates that perhaps being a friend of The Dragon Reborn is not as much protection as it used to be. Next, they see Berelain almost running from the anteroom, in the thin white robe she wore into Rand’s chamber. Perrin greets her civilly, to make the point to Faile that he can get on with the nobles, but this angers her, too. As she goes past, Perrin smells her rank and raw fear. Perrin stares at Berelain wondering about her panic, but Faile misinterprets his stare’s motivation, and asks if he is filling his eyes. As Perrin start to tell her what she smelled of, Perrin sees Torean step out of a corridor and grab the First of Mayene. Perrin can only make out words about her overstepping herself and an offer of protection. Faile mutters that Berelain does not hunt bears, she hunts the sun. Perrin asks her what she means and Faile decides to return to bed. She says she was never eager to meet Rand and now she is especially not eager. When Perrin tells her he does not understand, she bites her lip to say that of his qualities, she enjoys his incense most. She kisses him and then quickly returns back down the hallway.
Perrin makes his way to the anteroom of Rand’s bedchamber, passing fifty Defenders of the Stone on his way. He thinks they all smell of fear and uncertainty. Next he arrives at Rand’s real guards, the Maidens of the Spear. Two of the Aiel, Bain and Chiad, try to stop Perrin as he moves to enter Rand’s room. Despite being threatened with spears, Perrin picks up Bain and moves her out of his way so that he can enter. This seems to earn him the respect of both Bain and Chiad. They suggest that he play Maidens’ Kiss, but Perrin declines, suggests that he might play another time, and they let him enter.
Bain: On your head, be it. He has already chased out what most men would consider better company by far than you.
Perrin realizes that she must be referring to Berelain. When he opens the door, he is shocked by Rand’s appearance, thinking his friend looks like he took a bath in blood, he and shouts for one of the Maidens to get Moiraine. After hearing a gasp behind him, and soft boots running, Perrin enters. Rand tells Perrin to shut the door. Perrin tears a strip from a linen sheet and presses it against the old and unhealable wound on Rand’s side. Perrin asks Rand what he tried to do, suggesting that he looks like he tried to skin himself, before adding that he nearly killed him, too. Rand answers that it must have been an attack from one of the Forsaken. They both wonder about Mat and whether he was attacked also. Rand suggests to Perrin that if Mat is dead, he should get as far away as he can.
Rand; You and Mat must wish I had never been born, or at least that you’d never seen me.
Perrin says aloud that Rand sounds like he does not care if Mat is gone and asks what he plans to do if he is. Rand answers that he is going to do what they least suspect. Perrin tells himself that he needs to stop looking for signs of madness in his friend, because Rand has a right for taut nerves right now. He thinks though that the signs of madness will be coming soon enough. Rhuarc enters telling Rand that the Tairen soldier outside sent word to his commander that something has happened in Rand’s rooms and that rumors are already spreading throughout the Stone. He adds to Rand that he saw Berelain on his way here and that she told him the truth of what occurred. Rand barks a laugh to say that he told Berelain to keep quiet and he suggests that it seems the Lord Dragon does not rule Mayene, at least.
Rhuarc: I have daughters older than that young woman. I do not believe that she will tell anyone else. I think that she would like to forget everything that happened tonight.
Moiraine: [entering the room] And I would like to know what happened.
Moiraine’s warder Lan Mandragoran follows behind her. Perrin thinks that he notices silent sparks between Lan and Rhuarc, but then Lan makes a joke about Rand making a mess while shaving which amuses Rhuarc and eases the tension.
Moiraine approaches Rand, so Perrin drops the make-shift bandage and moves out of her way. She asks Rand to hold saidin so that it can be used to aid in the Healing. She explains that only some of the strength for healing comes from the healer. Rand tries but is unable to reach the Void because he is unable to concentrate. He smiles and adds sarcastically that he cannot understand why. Moiraine heals him anyway. After, all of his injuries are gone, except for the old wound which is merely a tender scar now. Moiraine murmurs to herself about the old wound not responding, and Rand adds that he believes that injury will be the wound that kills him.
Moiraine tries to send Rand to another bedchamber to rest, but Rand refuses to leave, saying he will not be chased anymore, not even out of a bed.
Lan: Tai’shar Manetheren.
Rhuarc looks started by what Lan says, but Moiraine moves on to wanting an explanation. Like Perrin, she assumes Rand is responsible for what happened. Rand tells her what happened to him, omitting any mention of Berelain, and theorizes that one of the Forsaken attempted to murder him, possibly Sammael. When Moiraine tells him that Sammael could not reach the Stone with the One Power, from Illian, Rand telsl her that one of the Forsaken must be in the city in that case.
Moiraine says that the attack seems both too simple and too complex to have been one of the Forsaken. She suggests that what happened is the Dark One reaching out, creating bubbles of evil. She says that as the seals on the Dark One’s prison weaken, that it is likely that bubbles of evil will float along the threads of the Pattern before bursting.
When Perrin audibly expresses horror at this idea, she says that ta’veren are more likely than others to be present where these burstings occur – at least at first. She seems to be aware of the fact that Perrin also suffered a waking nightmare, though she does not mention it or require that Perrin give his story as well. Rand asks her what she knows about Mat and she replies that she will know soon enough. Rhuarc then speaks up to tell them that he saw Mat on his way to these rooms and that he is well. Moiraine asks where Mat was going and the Aiel responds that Mat looked to be going toward the servants’ quarters. Rharc adds that Mat is not going toward the stables but was going in the other direction, toward the river. He adds that there are no boats at the docks.
Bain and Chiad enter the room without their spears. Bain is carrying a large white bowl and Chiad is carrying towels. Moiraine asks why they are carrying this, and Chiad says that the servant would not come inside. Rand laughs and says that even the servants now know to stay clear of him.
Moiraine pushes Rand to make a decision, saying that the Tairen’s fear of him will only last so long before they try plotting against him. Rand tells her not to harry him, but she replies that he needs to choose his way soon and to inform her when he does. She points out that her knowledge cannot aid him if he refuses to accept help.
Rand: I will take your help, but I will decide, not you.
Rand seems to try to communicate something to Perrin, non-verbally, before he dismisses the group. Moiraine speaks quietly to Bain and Chiad before leaving. He suspects that she is using the One Power to prevent him from eavesdropping, but he can still smell the wariness of the Aiel women. Perrin tells Rand before leaving that they do what they have to. He thinks Rand smells afraid. The two Aiel women remain in the room and Perrin realizes they intend to wash Rand.
Outside, Perrin and Rhuarc discuss the similarities between the Dragon Reborn and He Who Comes With Dawn, and the two related prophecies. Perrin tells the Aielman that he thought the Dragon Reborn and He Who Comes with the Dawn are the same man, but Rhuarc says only that they might be the same man. He says Rand and Rand alone will know what to do if he is to fulfill the Aiel prophecies. Rhuarc adds that if Rand should Rand fail to meet the Aiel prophecy, they would leave to continue their search. Rhuarc bids Perrin a good night. After Rhuarc leaves Perrin studies the Tairen officer’s face and feels that it won’t be safe in the Stone of Tear should the Aiel leave. He moves back to his room to convince Faile to leave the Stone.
This is a chapter title that should have been the chapter title of Rand’s fight against the Mirror Rands. This one could be “The Wolf and the Wounded Dragon.” There. Done.
This is another long chapter so we’ll have to break it down by scene: In hindsight, obviously the High Lord Torean knew in advance what Berelain attempted to do with Rand, he did not approve, and that is why he was fearful and antsy outside Rand’s rooms while waiting for her exit. Faile reads the situation with Berelain mostly correctly. She figures out before Perrin that Berelain had tried to seduce Rand and been shot down roughly. She misreads Perrins’ staring at her as him being interested in her. Perrin correctly reads that Berelain was terrified but does not figure out why until he meets up with the Aiel at Rand’s door. If Perrin had finished the “she smelled…” sentence with “afraid” then the young couple probably lands entirely on the same page. Alas, that is not what transpired.
Faile seems to excuse Perrin’s staring in part because of Perrin’s innocence and in part because she believes that Perrin is below Berelain’s notice (you might roll your eyes but then forgive your boyfriend for staring at an attractive celebrity… so long as the celebrity does not stare back.) I think Faile runs away after this hallway encounter to go learn more about what happened with the First of Mayene and because she likely assumes Rand is going to be quite angry when they arrive.
I’m not sure what to make of Perrin picking up a person with a spear to his throat. He seems to guess that they would not actually kill him, and they seem to respect him for calling them out on that in the way that he did. I’m guessing that if someone else had tried that, then that someone else would be dead.
The other big notable plot thing from this chapter is the introduction of the “bubbles of evil” device. If “the Pattern” is like a fantasy version of string theory, or something, then I guess it makes sense that a cosmic evil might travel along the strings. Jordan was a physicist and a nuclear engineer among other things. The metaphysics of his fantasy world are at least somewhat informed by real world science. I am not smart enough to parse it all out, though.
The brief back and forth between Perrin and Rhuarc was also interesting. Rand’s hold on the Aiel is only temporary.
Character moments that really stand out for me in this chapter:
- Rand telling Perrin that he (Perrin) must wish that he (Rand) was never born. It is really easy to pity Rand here, especially as this chapter is a Perrin POV.
- I really liked Perrin’s observation about Moiraine’s reflexive habit of hiding her own motivations. Her unwillingness to share information is a source of conflict between herself and the other characters. It’s also a completely understandable habit as she has been living a covert life for twenty years. Her decision to be evasive with the Two Rivers folk – to this point – has usually been correct, too. However, now that they are growing to a point where more can be put on their plates, Moiraine will have to evolve from “authoritative secret-master” to “less powerful but more knowledgeable teammate.”