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 29: Homecoming
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Perrin, Gaul, Loial, Faile, Bain and Chiad spend three days travelling through the Westwood to reach Emond’s Field. Perrin and Faile are still not speaking to each other, which exasperates Loial and amuses Gaul. They stop at Tam al’Thor‘s house and farm only to find all of the buildings burned and no one around. Faile gingerly asks Perrin who lived here, and is relieved to learn that it was Rand’s family farm and not Perrin’s. Perrin resolves to leave for Emond’s Field very early, with Gaul and without Faile, so he can turn himself in to the Whitecloaks before she can interfere.
The two men arrive at the Winespring Inn early and without being seen. Inside, Marin al’Vere and Brandelwyn al’Vere are polishing the inn’s silver and pewter and are shocked when they realize who Perrin is. Marin asks after Egwene and Perrin assures her that she is safe. They have received letters from Egwene and Nynaeve telling of their Tower training and their friends Elayne and Min. Perrin introduces Gaul who addresses Marin as roofmistress and gives her a valuable guest gift according to Aiel custom, offering to defend her roof. Bran and Marin then urge Perrin to leave the way he came immediately. The main Whitecloak camp is at Watch Hill, but patrols can be anywhere. Just as he mentions his plan to give himself up, Faile, Bain and Chiad come into the room. Faile tells Perrin he is being an idiot among other things so he tells her the reason they are after him is that he killed two Whitecloaks and they are convinced he is a Darkfriend.
Marin interrupts the argument to calm things down and Faile realizes her lack of manners. They introduce themselves and the Aiel women also give Marin guest gifts and ask to defend her roof. Bran frequently glances out the window, worried. They get settled at a table with clean hands and faces before Bran breaks the news to Perrin that his entire family has been killed. Trollocs killed his family and there are bands roaming in the Two Rivers. Padan Fain led the Whitecloaks who burned Tam’s farm and also the Cauthons’. Perrin tells them that Fain is a Darkfriend by his own admission. Haral Luhhan and Alsbet Luhhan and Natti Cauthon as well as some of their children have been arrested by the Whitecloaks. Fortunately, Abell Cauthon escaped when Tam was able to warn him. Marin points out that they currently need the Whitecloaks to protect them from the Trollocs, but the Maidens scoff at the safety provided by Whitecloaks and point out that they can defend themselves. Bran says that they are simple farmers and that Lord Luc, a Hunter of the Horn, has talked of organizing the village to fight the Trollocs, but nothing has been done yet. Finally Faile comes to Perrin, holds him and tells him to grieve over his dead family, and he does.
I’m not crying. You’re crying.
Perrin returns home and learns the worst possible news – everyone in his entire family has been murdered. You get a sense in the lead up to that revelation that Faile had internalized this as possibility. That’s why she worried over the ruins of the al’Thor farm so much. Perrin had not allowed himself to *really* consider this, though. He worried about his family, and the region more generally, but could not imagine *this.*
Faile forcing him to take a moment to grieve is probably her best moment in the series to this point. I have been an unabashed Faile fan throughout but I loved her in this chapter.
The one thing Faile had not considered is that Perrin intended to hand himself over for execution. She likely thought he planned to lead an effort to push the Whitecloaks out of the region. I’d guess that this new piece of information went a long way toward clarifying Perrin’s recent behavior, though. Let’s be clear. Perrin fits the description Faile provides:
“You addle-brained lummox! You don’t have to do any such crackpate thing! You goose-brain! If you try it, I’ll hang you myself!”
It never made any sense to turn himself in. Finding one Darkfriend would only increase the Whitecloak persecution of the region, not end it. If Perrin had talked to literally anyone about his plans, literally anyone would have told him that. (Lack of communication leading to problems is a strong theme in The Wheel of Time.)
I really enjoyed the interaction between the al’Vere parents and Perrin’s group. Of course Egwene’s parents bossed them around.
I also really enjoyed Perrin learning that Egwene and Nynaeve have written letters. Internally, he must have been thinking, “oh! I never thought of that!” Honestly I found that immediate rush of guilty and realization extremely relatable. I went on a long trip when I was roughly his age and didn’t think to call my parents to let them know I arrived safely for a couple of days. Once it finally occurred to me that they were probably worried about me, it was like an emotional lightbulb came on and I felt bad – just like Perrin does here.
Jordan really nails Perrin’s reaction to that news about his family. Perrin kind of goes on autopilot. I think that’s a very common way to deal with personal tragedy. There’s a part of your brain that has stuff to do in the midst of something like that (letting everyone know, making arrangements, etc.) and reflexively you go to those types of tasks to get away from the pain and loss. There’s a large part of you that isn’t really present while the rest of you is doing those things. Faile makes him ignore the details for a while to focus on the grief. Someone needed to speak up and give him permission to do that, and she steps up.
We learn a few other details in this chapter. Mat and Rand’s families are alive, though Mat’s mother and sisters are being held in a Whitecloak camp, along with family Perrin served as a blacksmithing apprentice. Perrin learns that Fain is in the Two Rivers, using another name, and apparently now working with the Whitecloaks. The al’Vere family learns that Fain is a Darkfriend.
We also learn that the Two Rivers folks are putting up with the Whitecloaks because the region is overrun with trollocs. The Whitecloaks have been protecting them. (No doubt seeing trollocs this far south only encourages the Whitecloak belief that this region is a cesspool of Darkfriends.) And we learn that Lord Luc, an outsider Hunter for the Horn, is in the region encouraging the locals to push back against the Whitecloaks.
There are apparently lots of problems for Perrin to solve now that he is back at home.