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 14: Customs of Mayene
Perrin is in his room, having just said goodbye to Mat, thinking that Mat would rather hit himself in the head with a hammer than return home, and thinking that he would avoid it too, if he could. Perrin takes off his shirt, revealing a large bruise incurred during the fight with the trollocs. He thinks that Faile’s quick work with her knives is the only reason why he is still alive. He is packed and ready to go to the Two Rivers with Loial in the morning. As he thinks about how to leave Faile behind, the door opens, and Berelain enters his room uninvited. The First catches him without a shirt on.
She blinks due to the lack of light in the room and asks if he is going somewhere. When he tells her that he is, in the morning, she says that she is leaving in the morning also and closes the door behind her. She mutters that she should have returned to Mayene days ago, but adds that she had stayed hoping to work matters out, though that has turned out to be impossible. She says all the lightning tonight, flowing down the halls, convinced her. Perrin asks why she is telling him, and she replies that she wants him to tell Rand, because he is friends with Rand. When Perrin tells her that she can relay her travel plans herself, she says that she does not think The Lord Dragon will wish to see her. Perrin wonders if she was so frightened over the night she visited Rand’s bedchamber, or the trolloc attack earlier that night. He also believes she is not a woman to frighten easily.
Perrin forcefully refuses to deliver the message, after her insistence, and advises her to send a servant. She then reassesses him, notes aloud that he has such striking eyes. He thinks she is inspecting him, naked to the waste, in the way one inspects a horse before purchase. Perrin puts a shirt back on and asks her to leave as he would like to go to bed. She asks where he is going and he replies that he is returning home to the Two Rivers. She makes no move toward the door.
Berelain invites him to visit Mayene to “make ornamental ironwork” for her bedchamber before he heads to the Two Rivers. She hints overtly that she intends for him to do more than ironwork during his visit. Perrin refuses her offer and instructs her to return to her own rooms.
Berelain: Perhaps another day. I always get what I want in the end, and I think I want…
She eyes him up and down and smiles innocently. Just then Faile enters the room and stops when she sees Berelain. The First ignores her and steps close to Perrin, running a hand up his arm, across his shoulder. She whispers softly to him that she always gets what she wants before stepping back, sweeping past Faile, and then leaving the room. Perrin waits for an explosion from Faile but she instead sees his packed saddlebags and notes that he has heard the rumors already. She reminds him that it is only a rumor. He replies that the “yellow eyes” mentioned in the rumor make it more than that.
Faile asks if Moiraine will try to stop him, but he tells her that the Aes Sedai will not if she is not yet aware of his plans. Perrin’s hackles rise over the fact that she has been so calm. When she tells him that it will take weeks to reach the Two Rivers, he explains that he plans to take the Ways, with Loial, so that he can make the journey home in only days instead of weeks. She bursts out that he is mad for traveling via the Ways, launching into an explanation of how dangerous they are, before he replies that he has traveled that way before. He explains that Loial can read the guideposts while thinking to himself that he is sure Loial will travel with him when he learn how important it is. He thinks, too, that Loial is eager to get away from Tear after running into an Ogier from his stedding.
Faile says that she wanted adventure, and that this is it, before wondering aloud whether they can convince Thom to travel with them to compose the tale. She asks if they are leaving in the morning, and Perrin announces that he will be going without her. She ignores this and begins planning their supply needs for the trip, while asking him whether Two Rivers farmers will be able to fight Whitecloaks. When Perrin reiterates his intention, she snaps at him and says it makes no sense. She asks if Perrin thinks he can teach the locals to fight, and he replies simply that he will do what must be done and without her.
Faile bounds to her feet and asks if he thinks Berelain will go with him or guard his back. She asks if the First would rather sit on his lap and squeal.
Faile: Much good she will do you against The Children of the Light!
Perrin: She looks a pleasant armful, Berelain. What man wouldn’t want her on his lap?
Faile looks hurt, but he goes on, adding that when he is done at home, he may visit Mayene. She whirls around, leaves the room, slamming the door as she goes. He almost follows her but stops himself and talks instead to the door.
Perrin: I killed Whitecloaks. They would have killed me if I hadn’t but they still call it murder. I’m going home to die, Faile. That’s the only way I can stop them hurting my people. Let them hang me. I cannot let you see that, I can’t. You might even try to stop it and then they’d…
He thinks that she will not be sorry to see him go now, and that is what is important.
Faile furiously strides down the halls of the Stone, not realizing where she is going until she sees Berelain ahead of her. She darts ahead of her and turns to face her.
Faile: Perrin Aybara belongs to me. You keep your hands and your smiles away from him.
Berelain arches an eyebrow, says she saw no collar on him, and asks if she is a serving girl or a farmer’s daughter. Faile bites her tongue to avoid giving her true background, thinking to herself all the while that there are estates in Saldaea larger than all of Mayene.
She would not last a week in the courts of Saldaea. Could she recite poetry while hawking? Could she ride all day and then play the cittern at night while discussing how to counter trolloc raids?
Faile is surprised to see a knife in her hand but then threatens to shave Berelain’s head, as bald as an egg, if she does not swear to forget Perrin Aybara. A moment later though, she finds herself flying through the air while Berelain is holding her knife. Berelain explains calmly that it is a custom of Mayene to train the First in hand to hand combat in the event a Tairen assassin gets too close.
Berelain tells her that she despires being attacked and vows to take Perrin from her, as a pet, and to keep him for as long as he amuses her. She vows an “Ogier’s Oath” on it. She explains that her courtiers can teach him how to dress and to rid him of the awful beard. Faile stands and draws a second knife. As Faile advances, Rhuarc suddenly appears and disarms both of them.
Rhuarc: Have you not seen enough blood tonight?
He twists Faile’s arm when she attempts to punch him in the ribs. He then orders Berelain to return to her room and stay there, with no breakfast in the morning. When she draws herself up indignantly, Rhuarc threatens to repeat their first talk together. She runs. Faile stares after her in amazement and thinks that this is almost worth having her arm almost disjointed.
Faile asks if he means to hold her all night, so Rhuarc releases her, but keeps her two knives as her punishment. Rhuarc refuses to tell her, when asked, what their first talk consisted of. He warns her of harsher penalties if she or Berelain do not keep the peace and he adds that he does not believe Berelain started this fight. After Rhuarc leaves, Faile thinks that he reminds her of her father. Faile laughs to herself, about the fact Berelain took an Ogier’s Oath, and vows that Perrin will be hers once more before Berelain ever sees Perrin again.
Perrin… Perrin… Perrin…
It’s important to remember that his character is supposed to be young and inexperienced in the world. He does not seem to realize that turning himself in would almost certainly put the Two Rivers into greater danger from the Whitecloaks than if he’d just stayed away. If the CotL find one admitted murderer in the Two Rivers, said murderer having unnatural yellow eyes to boot, they will assume the whole region is filled with Darkfriends. That will make tings worse. Perrin should understand that much but he apparently does not. (Obviously we know there is more to this than just Whitecloaks, though, so his presence will be needed – BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW THAT.)
Faile likely would have explained why his thinking is dumb if he had bothered to respect her enough to actually communicate with her. She already understands that she is signing up for a military engagement in the Two Rivers with no trained soldiers on their own side. She wants to go anyway. Perrin, the protagonist, seems to be in an on-going physical relationship with Faile, he just fought back-to-back with her earlier in the night, but instead of just breaking up with her cleanly, he decides to let her think he is (or wants to) cheating?
I want to hold Faile’s reaction to Berelain against her but I cannot. She saw Perrin eye Berelain once already. They appear to be in some kind of physical relationship, but he has been disappearing from time to time without telling her where he is going… ever since that first Berelain encounter happened. We know he is hunting for rumors to convince her to leave him but she does not know that. They also just had the emotionally charged experience of literally fighting back-to-back, for their lives, against monsters, earlier that night. Then that same night she finds the other woman in Perrin’s room? Fury makes a lot of sense. That said… I think Faile made a long term problem for herself, with Berelain, in this chapter.
One notable thing we get from Faile’s inner monologue, during her fight, is that we learn for sure she grew up in the Saldaean courts. Some of her anger at Berelain is likely the anger of a person who (might) outrank The First – or come close – if she were open about who she is. So… maybe I should hold this against Faile. Berelain probably keeps her hands off of Perrin if she has an inkling of Faile being powerful in her own right. Mayene cannot afford unnecessary enemies. Maybe Faile only learned to operate in Saldaean courts as her real, powerful self… not as someone low ranking. If Faile had only respected Perrin enough to tell him who she really is, she would not have this problem. In fact, not only would Berelain not go after Perrin, maybe instead of pushing her away, Perrin comes up with a different plan to protect the Two Rivers. (I’m talking myself into being annoyed at Faile now, too.)
Berelain definitely baited Faile. She likely hoped that Faile would react in rage, was prepared for it, and she may have hoped that this would work to break them up. Perrin, single, would probably be susceptible to her, uh, advances. Through Perrin, she would secure Tear/Rand as an ally. She also likely believes that Perrin would enjoy life as her significant other. She might also relish a relationship that would shield her from having to use her sexuality in the way her circumstances seem to force her to do so, now. This is all cold, manipulative, it makes sense for her people, it’s arguably self-empowering… so it was kind of well-intentioned on a macro-level.
Is Berelain actually the good person in this situation?