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 13: Rumors
Mat is sitting with an untouched cup of dark wine in a tavern in the Maule of Tear. The Maule is filled with people from all over the continent. He avoids the dice games and the serving girls. Occasionally someone thinks to share his table but the look on his face then keeps them away. Mat dips a finger in his wine sketches aimlessly with it on the tabletop. Nobody in the room knows what happened in the Stone earlier in the night. Mat thinks about what happened. During the attack on the Stone, he killed a Gray Man that had targeted him personally. Then immediately after, a Myrddraal approached him. Mat threw a knife at it, but its black blade knocked it away casually. It called him “Hornsounder,” and was about to kill him until a dozen Trollocs suddenly attacked and killed the Fade, leaving Mat alive.
Mat looks to see what he has drawn with the wine and it is an open door. He scrubs it out angrily. He still wants to escape Tear, but feels pulled back to the Stone. He listens to the conversations occurring around him. One man still denies that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, despite the signs. He says Rand is not even a match for Logain or Mazrim Taim at this point. Mat sees that he has sketched the door way again, and scrubs it out again.
Just before he is about to actually drink his wine, he hears someone mention the Two Rivers. He approaches their table and questions a merchant who explains that tabac production will be stopping, out of the Two Rivers, because Whitecloaks are there, supposedly hunting the Dragon Reborn as well as a Darkfriend with yellow eyes. The merchant is nervous, talking to Mat who has the appearance of a young Lord, and counts it all up to “wind in a bucket.” Mat asks if they are hunting anyone else, and the nervous merchant tells him no one that he has heard.
Leaving the merchant with an Andoran gold crown, Mat runs back to the Stone, directly to Perrin’s room, and finds him there already packing and preparing to leave. When Mat asks if Perrin believes the rumor, he replies that too much of the rumor is close to accurate for it not to be true. Perrin tells Mat that he has already told Rand of the news, and that Rand gave a a strange reply.
“He said he’d do it. He said he would. I should have believed him.”
Perrin continues, saying that Rand told him that he had to do “what they don’t expect,” meaning that he cannot return with him to the Two Rivers. Mat mutters that Rand is not doing anything and that he could blast a thousand Whitecloaks with Callandor. He asks Perrin if he is going alone, and Perrin says that he is unless Mat wants to come with him. Mat thinks about his family, and how none of them should be in any trouble over this. He tries to say he will go with Perrin but his throat tightens and will not let him get the words out. Mat asks Perrin whether he feels any reasons to stay, and Perrin says he does, but he adds that the reason to go outweighs the reasons to stay.
Mat asks why Perrin has to return, and points out that nobody in the Two Rivers will know anything about a man with golden eyes. Perrin tells him that the Whitecloaks know his name and that they will be a threat to his family. He tells Mat that he will stop them if he goes. Mat tries to say again that he wants to go but again cannot say it. Perrin chalks it up to the two of them being sent down different paths. Mat asks Perrin to tell his family that he is alright. Perrin promises to do it. Mat leaves, thinking about his family and how he has trouble remembering his sisters’ faces thanks to the holes in his memory.
Mat sees Berelain in the hallway. He bows to her and becomes angry when she ignores him.
“Are you deaf as well as blind, woman? I’m not a carpet to walk over, and I distinctly heard myself speak. If I pinch your bottom, you can slap my face, but until I do, I expect a civil word for a civil word!”
The First stopped dead, eyeing him in that way women had. She could have sewn him a shirt and told his weight, not to mention when he had his last bath, from that look. Then she turned away, murmuring something to herself. All he caught was “too much like me.”
Mat watches her walk away in amazement. He then blames himself for speaking to the likes of Berelain or Elayne. He then thinks of a plump cook’s helper named Dara who will not look down on him. Suddenly he realizes, between asking Perrin to speak to his family, and this, that he seems to have already made up his mind about his plans. He decides that he will not be so easily controlled. Hee thinks there might be another way. He flips a coin, a Tar Valon mark, and it lands with the Flame of Tar Valon showing.
Mat: Burn all Aes Sedai! And burn Rand al’Thor for getting me into this!
This startles a passing servant and Mat gives him the coin. Mat tells him that it is from the biggest fool in the world and advises him to spend it well on women and wine. Mat leaves him standing there, as the servant thanks him, and thinks to himself that he really is the biggest fool in the world.
Mat is still thinking about the redstone doorway ter’angreal. I really like the way Jordan brings our attention to it, with the wine drawings, but subtly so. Again as the chapter ends, it is hinted at again and only subtly.
The encounter with Berelain is probably the highlight of this chapter. It feels almost – almost – out of character that Mat would talk to her the way that he does here. But extremely agitated Mat might do it. Her reaction though is great. “Too much like me.” I think she realizes that her um, feminine wiles, will not control Mat the way that they might control someone else. But she’s back in that thin white silk outfit, just outside of Perrin’s room…
This chapter is a pretty good illustration of how the ta’veren thing works. Being ta’veren really leaves someone with less say in their “path” than other people. Perrin was drawn to hunt out rumors so that he would find this one. He is compelled to return home. Mat was drawn to hear the same rumor as the last nudge to push him through the ter’angreal doorway. Mat cannot even say he wants to return to the Two Rivers without his body preventing him from doing so.
I wonder… if this were a real thing, in the real world, are any present day people strong candidates for being real life ta’veren?