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 16: Leavetakings
Perrin wakes up after bad dreams, just as the dark sky begins to turn gray before dawn. His shoulder still hurts from an injury he sustained during the battle. The dreams he managed to have while sleeping, were fitful. He dreamed of mounting a gallows as Faile watched, or worse, trying to stop it. Her attempts to stop it led to her death as well. Sometimes in his dreams she watched them hang him with a smile of angry satisfaction. He even dreamed of wolves running out of the woods to try and save him, but they also died at the hands of the Whitecloaks in his dreams.
He washes, dresses, and hurries to Loial’s room. On the way, he sees servants cleaning up after the battle with the Trollocs. Despite the cleaning, Perrin still catches the scent of blood – human, trolloc, and myrddraal. In his room, Loial has been up half the night writing down in his journal what happened during the battle. As Perrin looks around, he sees that the room is filled with flowers and their scent fills the air. He also sees that Loial has bruises, including a knot on his head, from fighting. The Ogier tells him it is not serious enough to bother Moiraine. Faile abruptly steps out from behind a wall of flowers and announces that Loial is a hero. Perrin jumps because the flowers had masked her scent completely. She tells Perrin that Loial gathered as many children as he could, and some of their mothers, into a large room, and then defended them alone against trollocs and myrddraal until the fighting was done. She explains that the flowers in the room are from the women in the Stone.
Faile: Tokens to honor his steadfast courage. His faithfulness.
Perrin manages not to flinch. He thinks to himself that what he had done is right but also that he cannot expect her to see it. He adds to himself that even if she knew why she would not likely see it, all the while believing that it was the right thing to do. Loial says that his actions were nothing, and that it was just that the children could not defend themselves. Faile replies that this is nonsense, adding that not a woman in the Stone would not marry if he were human, and some would marry him despite his not being human.
Faile: Loial, well named, for your nature is loyalty.
Perrin realizes Faile is trying to butter Loial up so that the Ogier will agree to take her along with them. Perrin asks Loial if he has heard from his mother and Loial replies that he has not. He adds, though, that he saw an Ogier from his stedding in the city yesterday. Loial says he has no doubt that the other Ogier’s first words, upon returning to the Stedding, will be that Loial is in Tear. Loial says that he learned he has been named a runaway and that his mother promised to have him married and settled – and that she even has someone chosen. Loial bemoans the fact that his mother might be in Tear in a month’s time.
At this moment, Perrin tells Loial that he needs to go back to The Two Rivers. He adds that Loial’s mother will not find him there. Loial then begins to wonder what will come of his book about Rand, adding that he will be the only one to have witnessed all of it personally. Perrin presses him saying that he will write no book if his mother finds him, adding that he needs Loial’s help.
Loial says that he does not understand why Perrin needs him. Perrin tells him that there are Whitecloaks in the Two Rivers, hunting him. When Loial asks why, Perrin replies that the reasons do not matter, but says the fact is that they are. Perrin adds that they may hurt people, his family, hunting him. He says that he can stop them if he gets there quickly, but adds that it must be quickly. He then tells Loial that he needs the Ogier to take him to the Two Rivers by The Ways. Loial agrees to take him, but then Faile clears her throat. She reminds Loial that he promised to take her into The Ways, whenever she asked, and before he took anyone else. Loial protests that surely she will not put her need ahead of Perrin’s need, and she reminds him calmly that he swore to her.
Faile: You swore, Loial. Do you mean to break your Oath?
Loial looks like misery stacked on misery, just as Perrin tells Loial that she deliberately tricked him. With red stained cheeks, Faile admits that she did and says it was only because she had to and says she would not have done it otherwise. Perrin asks if it makes a difference that she tricked him and Loial shakes his head no, sadly, just as Faile says that Ogier keeps their word and that he is going to take her to the Two Rivers, or to the Waygate at Manetheren, at least.
Loial perks up at Faile’s intended destination and says that this means he can help Perrin after all. He chides Faile for not saying so sooner and Perrin hears a touch of anger in his voice. Faile says that Perrin can come with them, so long as he asks. Perrin refuses to ask her, though, and says he will follow behind them instead. Loial tells Perrin that following behind is dangerous, adding that the Ways are dark, and if he gets lost, he could be lost forever, or until Machin Shin catches him. Loial insists to Perrin that he ask her but he refuses. Loial then asks Faile to relent and she says no. All of this causes Loial to grumble about hasty and stubborn humans. Perrin tells Loial that they will leave today, and leaves to go get his supplies. As he goes, Faile says the time they leave is her decision, hers and Loials, and she tells him to meet them in two hours or he will be left behind. Perrin hears Faile throws a book at him, hitting the door instead, just as he escapes the room. Perrin despairs that Faile will be with him when the Whitecloaks hang him but he thinks she might enjoy it now.
As Perrin turns to go, he sees Gaul approaching. The Aiel man stops him and asks to accompany Perrin to the Two Rivers. When Perrin growls aloud the question of if the whole Stoneknows his plans, Gaul tells him no, and explains that Rand pulled him aside, told him to keep it quiet, and Gaul decided to go. Gaul says he thinks others may have been told also but does not know how many will want to go. Perrin thinks to himself that if he has Aiel with him, there will be possibilities he had not dared consider before. Gaul is startled when he learns that they will be traveling the Ways, but he still agrees to come.
Egwene: I cannot believe Rand is that cruel.
Nynaeve: At least he did not try to stop you.
Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene prepare for their separate journeys. Egwene will go to the Waste with Moiraine while the others go to Tanchico. Moiraine has provided a substantial amount of gold for their journey.
Elayne is upset with Rand. She tells Nynaeve he did not try to stop her and that he seemed almost relieved. She bemoans giving him a letter, laying her heart open, and takes some solace in the fact that he will not open it until she is gone. Nynaeve asks her if she wanted Rand to ask her to stay and she asks Elayne if she knows what her answer would have been. Elayne says that she knew her answer but adds that Rand did not have to look happy about it. Nynaeve tells Elayne that men are difficult, at best, and Egwene mutters angrily that she cannot believe Rand, but Elayne does not learn what Egwene intended to say because at that moment the door crashes open and Lan enters angrily.
He has just learned that Nynaeve is off to Tanchico instead of Tar Valon, and complains that she let him believe the latter. She points out that she never specifically said so – acting exactly as an Aes Sedai would. Despite his fury, Nynaeve stands cooly in front of him, head high and eyes serene. He says he would not have known where they were off to if he had not heard they ordered a carriage to take them to the docks and a ship bound for Tanchico. He tells them that the city is no place for anyone but a full Aes Sedai who has a Warder to watch her back. Lan says he will not let her walk into that.
Nynaeve: So you question Moiraine’s decisions and those of the Amyrlin Seat as well. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood Warders all along. I thought you swore to accept and obey, among other things.
She tells him he must resign himself to the fact that they are going. Lan wants to know why but Nynaeve replies that if Moiraine has not told him that perhaps she has her reasons. She says they all have their tasks and that he must accept that. Lan trembles, clenches his jaw, and tells her that she will need someone to help her in Tanchico. He offers to accompany and protect her, shocking Elayne, despite his bond to Moiraine, but Nynaeve refuses and tells him that his place is with Moiraine. As he struggles with that, she tells him sharply that he will remain with Moiraine until she releases him from his bond. Then she shows Lan the letter from the Amyrlin, shocking Lan. He asks why she would give this to an Accepted.
Nynaeve: Ask no questions I cannot answer, just count yourself lucky I do not ask you to dance for me.
Elayne and Egwene supress laughter. The comment about making a warder dance is what Nynaeve had said when the Amyrling had first handed them the letters and they both knew at the time exactly who she had been thinking of when she made the comment. Lan comments that she is disposing of him very neatly, and when Nynaeve replies that he is very full of himself, he kisses her forcefully and thoroughly.
Elayne wonders if this is how she looked with Rand, and then chides herself for thinking about him. She wonders if she has time to write Rand a second letter, letting him know that she is not to be trifled with. After Lan sets her down, she tells him that she will not be manhandled like that for the whole world to see. He agrees with not the whole world, but tells her that if they can see, they can hear as well.
Lan: You have made a place in my heart where I thought there was no room for anything else. You have made flowers grow where I have cultivated dust and stones. Remember this, on this journey you insist on making, if you die I will not survive you long.
He smiles at Nynaeve, tells her that he is not always so easily commanded – even with letters from the Amyrlin, before bowing and then leaving, Egwene asks why Nynaeve did not accept Lan’s offer to come with them, and Nynaeve replies it would not be good for their relationship if he broke his oath to Moiraine. She says that she means Lan to be hers, all of him, and that she will not have him remembering a broken oath to Moiraine. She does not want that for him or herself. Egwene asks her how she means to cause Moiraine to release him of her own accord. Nynaeve admits that she does not know, but adds that what must be done can be done.
They return to packing, confirm the schedule that they have set for meeting in Tel’aran’rhiod, before saying their goodbyes to each other. Elayne decides that Nynaeve has the right of it, that men need a firm hand, and decides to write another letter to Rand. She thinks that Rand will find it is not easy to get away from her and also not easy to get back into her good graces.
This chapter title and its singular form are used in The Eye of the World (Ch. 10), The Great Hunt (Ch. 9), The Shadow Rising (Ch. 16), and The Fires of Heaven (Ch. 48.) Leavetaking is also the name of Season 1, Episode 1 of the Amazon television series.
Rand pulled Gaul aside privately. I wonder if this has something to do with the answers he received in the red stone doorway ter’angreal with the snake people. Given that he went to Gaul almost right away after leaving… it must. Interesting.
What do I think about the Perrin and Faile squabble? I’m with Loial. They’re both being pretty irritating. Perrin is still being pretty dumb to think that he can walk into a region swarming with Whitecloaks, surrender himself for hanging, and not consider that this will lead to even worse outcomes for others as well. Perrin turning himself in is proof of concept that the Two Rivers is a backwater filled with Darkfriends. With this fundamental misunderstanding of the world, he *is* wrong to push Faile away, to let her think he might have cheated on her (or want to) with Berelain, etc.
Remembering that winning Perrin back is her top priority, Faile is not off to a great start. Her insistence that he ask to travel with her is an example of her pride getting in the way of good judgment. Of course, given what Perrin has let her believe, the wounded pride makes sense. It probably also sends him the wrong message to act as though she does not have pride. But letting him die in the Ways won’t get him back. It still counts to her credit, though, that I think she has a much better idea of what she is walking into than he does, even without knowing what Perrin plans to do once they get there.
OF COURSE Loial was thoughtful enough to gather the women and children and defend them against the shadowspawn. Successfully. I wonder what weapon he used against them, to hold the door, and whether Ogiers train to fight in the stedding. I would read a spinoff novel about life in the stedding.
In the Elayne POV section… she is mad at Rand for not being sad enough that she is not going with him. I suspect that if he had asked her to stay, she would be mad at him for not respecting her enough to let her go and do her own thing. I am not the biggest fan of Elayne and never really have been. This just deepens my feelings toward her.
I really wish we could be in Egwene’s head for this chapter. My theory remains that Egwene did not really mean it when she let Rand go romantically – and I think that’s why we are always in Elayne’s POV since then, when their group discusses Rand. Jordan is concealing Egwene’s true feelings from the reader.
I really love Nynaeve in this chapter. She is both wise and restrained where her own heart (and Lan’s) are concerned. She kind of presents a contrast with Elayne who comes across as flighty, and who does not even consider how her two contrasting letters might confuse Rand, or that her motivation for writing the second letter seems really poorly founded.
Is Egwene manipulating Elayne by playing up Rand being “cruel”? If that seems mean, keep in mind that Elayne manipulated things with Egwene to steal Rand from her, since the moment she and Egwene met. Or did Egwene mean something entirely different than Elayne’s perceived context when she called Rand cruel. I plan to continue to keep my eye on this dynamic moving forward.