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 18: Into the Ways
Perrin finishes packing, fastens the ax to his belt loop, ties his hammer to his saddle bags, and heads toward the stables, joined by Gaul who is alone. Perrin asks him if other Aiel are coming with him and he shakes his head, telling Perrin that the other felt they had been too long away from the Three Fold Land.
Gaul: These lands of yours are too wet, the air is like breathing water. There are too many people too close together.
Perrin says that he understands, and concedes to himself that there will be no rescue after all, to drive the Whitecloaks from the Two Rivers. Gaul informs Perrin that Faile and Loial have made no secret of their preparations. He says Faile has been searching for the gleeman and telling everyone she meets, in the process, that she intends to travel the Ways.
Perrin: If she gives me away, I vow she’ll not sit down for a week.
Gaul: [neutrally] She is very handy with those knives.
Perrin: Not handy enough. Not if she has given me away.
Perrin, thinking about how he will be hanged, asks Gaul to take Faile to safety, outside of the Two Rivers, should anything happen to him. Gaul agrees to try, for the blood debt that he owes Perrin, but he is skeptical that he can succeed. They see very few people on the way to the stables and Gaul says it is because Rand has summoned many people to an audience in the Heart of the Stone. Perrin grunts but hopes that Moiraine is among those who were summoned. He also wonders if this is Rand’s way of helping Perrin to escape her.
At the stables they find Faile and Loial, along with Bain and Chiad. Perrin asks Gaul quietly if the Maidens are why he only promised to try taking Faile out of the Two Rivers. Gaul says he will do what he can but confirms that the Maidens will help Faile resist him. He adds that he cannot fight them because of a water oath. Perrin asks why they are with her and Gaul reports that Bain says it is because they wish to see more of their lands. Gaul adds that he thinks their real reasoning is the argument Perrin is having with Faile.
Gaul: They like her and when they heard of this journey, they decided to go with her instead of you.
Perrin: Well as long as they keep her out of trouble.
Gaul throws back his head and laughs at this. Loial approaches to tell Perrin that Faile is growing impatient about leaving, and asks him please to hurry. Faile interjects, aloud, that she will not leave Perrin, adding that she promises to take care of him and let her follow him around like a lost puppy. When the Maidens double over laughing, Gaul leaps straight up into the air and shouts that they will follow like stalking ridgecats, like hunting wolves. Bain lazily combs her hair with her fingers, telling Chiad that she has a fine wolf skin with her bedding in the Hold. She says wolves are easily taken. Perrin growls deep in his throat and draws the eyes of both Bain and Chiad to him. For a moment Bain looked on the point of saying more but then frowns at Perrin’s yellow stare and holds her peace instead. Faile confides to the Maidens that this puppy is not well housebroken yet.
Perrin saddles his horse, Stepper. Gaul watches him. None of the Aiel ride horses and Perrin does not understand why. He thinks it might be pride in their ability to run long distances. He readies the pack horse as well, too. Once he is mounted, he is forced to wait on Faile, who takes her time examining her mount, Swallow, as if she has never seen it before. Once she finally mounts, she rides close to Perrin and asks softly why he cannot ask.
Faile: You tried to keep me away from where I belong so now you have to ask.
Abruptly, the Stone rings like a monstrous bell, shaking the ground and walls around them. Perrin knows that it is Rand as the pull of ta’veren drags at him. Straining not to dismount and run back to the Stone, he shouts that they ride now to the others. The group gallops out the city gate and into the countryside. Outside of the city, past the pull of ta’veren, Perrin finally reigns Stepper in and slows to a walk. Faile is pale and asks Perrin what happened, and if it was Rand. Perrin lies, telling her that he does not know, all the while talking to Rand, internally, about how he must go.
Faile looks around wondering where Bain and Chiad are, muttering that it will take them an hour to catch up, and that she wishes they would ride. Perrin holds back in telling her that she does know how as much about the Aiel as she thinks, though he alone can see the three figures running toward them in the distance. He does tell her that they will not have to wait long on the Aiel. She asks if he sees them, then comments to Loial that Perrin is very boastful about his eyesight, and she speculates that he is seeing Tairens running from the earthquake. However, not long after, she stares at Perrin as the three Aiel get close enough that she can see them herself. She says nothing when this happens. The Aiel are not even breathing hard when they catch up. The two Maidens joke that it is too bad the run was so short, because otherwise they could have run Gaul into the ground.
Gaul: Do you know why Maidens are so often used as scouts, Perrin? Because they can run so far. And that comes from being afraid some man might want to marry them. A Maiden will run one hundred miles to avoid that.
Faile: Very wise of them.
Loial leads them to the Waygate after Faile asks him to go on. Walking through grassland, Loial moans over the loss of the Ogier Grove of trees that the Tairens cut down to make a grassland for their horses. Perrin watches him, thinking that he smells of fury. An old saying comes back to him as he looks at the Ogier’s face.
“To anger the Ogier and pull the mountains down on your head.”
The saying now refers to trying to do something that is impossible but Perrin thinks the saying had a different meaning originally. He does not think he would ever want Loial to ever become angry with him.
Finally, they reach the Waygate. Loial opens it, Faile gasps, and the Aiel murmur. Perrin removes a pole lantern from his packhorse. He comments that it is too hot outside and boots Stepper through the Waygate. Gaul follows him and prepares another pole lantern. Inside, the Aielman informs Perrin that Faile is upset with him.
Gaul: She seems to think you have broken some sort of agreement. Bain and Chiad… do not let them get you alone. They mean to teach you a lesson for Faile’s sake. You will not sit on that animal so easily if they manage what they plan.
Perrin says he agreed to nothing and that he is only forced to follow due to her trickery. He then points out a line on the ground. He tells Gaul that the line leads to the first Guidepost and that they will need to wait at the Guidepost for Loial to read and interpret it. He tells Gaul that Faile can follow them at least that far.
Gaul: Do you know what you are doing, Perrin?
Perrin: No, but there’s no reason for Faile to know that.
Gaul laughs at this and comments that it is fun to be so young. Perrin is unsure of whether the other man is laughing at him. Perrin wants to be completely out of sight by the time Faile comes through, thinking that if she worries about him for a few minutes, that it is the least of what she deserves.
I think the normal reaction to this section is to side with Perrin, in his dispute with Faile, but I’m fully on #TeamFaile. She even went to him quietly to ask him to relent – which was definitely her making the first conciliatory move – and he rejected it. Despite what he says to Gaul, he definitely agreed to follow her and is thus definitely breaking that agreement by going into the Ways first. He’s also kind of maliciously letting her (and Loial and the Maidens) worry that something happened to himself and Gaul after he rode through. That’s messed up.
Nothing Perrin has done makes me believe he’d ride with them, if she relented, without pulling some shenanigans of his own.
Faile is not perfect in all of this, don’t get me wrong. She’s letting her pride potentially endanger Perrin, though she knows he has insanely good eyesight and she is publicly and privately asking him to relent. She also might not be doing this if she’d traveled The Ways before, as Perrin has. He and Loial are not talking about it, in front of her, as though it is as dangerous as we the readers know that it is.
Consider also that Faile is trying to make sure that Perrin respects her after they get to the Two Rivers. I’m not sure that he would respect her if she just rolled over and ignored how he’s been acting toward her. He shows obvious signs of not respecting her already. Let’s summarize: 1) He tried to “find an adventure” for her, so that she would break up with him, instead of talking to her, 2) He isn’t being honest with her now about what’s in front of him at home, and he definitely could have once the reality of her traveling The Ways was placed on the table, and 3) He let her think he is already cheating on her, or that he wants to, despite sending the mixed signals of essentially living with her for weeks and nearly dying to protect her more than once – both during the dream ter’angreal trap and during the Trolloc attack on the Stone.
As I mentioned already, Perrin’s plan in the Two Rivers is really dumb. He will make everything worse for Emond’s Field by showing up and turning himself in, and if he’d been willing to talk to anyone, that would have been pointed out to him. There is no indication that even Rand knows he plans to let the Whitecloaks hang him because Rand almost certainly would have pointed out the obvious, too. Faile seems to understand that regardless of anything else, the people in The Two Rivers are going to have to push out the Whitecloaks if there is any hope of getting them to leave.