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 30: Beyond the Oak
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Faile holds Perrin as he grieves and recalls fond memories of his family. Since his family is dead, there is no longer a point to him giving himself up to the Whitecloaks to protect them. Bran enters and says there is an Ogier in the kitchen. Marin is trying to accommodate Loial and the Aiel while maintaining her composure. Marin tries to get them all to leave the village to avoid getting killed but everyone refuses. Perrin lays out his plan to find Tam and Abell, rescue the prisoners from the Whitecloaks, and eliminate any Trollocs and Shadowspawn that are still around. Marin will guide the party to the old sickhouse in the Westwood to hide out after they meet up on the other side of the village. The Aiel leave separately and have no trouble sneaking away undetected.
Cenn Buie is in the stableyard and starts a rant when he notices Perrin. Marin scolds Cenn firmly and convinces him to keep quiet about Perrin, at least for now. They see the Aiel waiting as they approach the sickhouse and Perrin smells someone ahead. Suddenly two men are standing in their path but Marin tries to keep everyone calm. Perrin realizes they are Warders which must mean there are Aes Sedai. Marin reveals that only the Women’s Circle know about them and even Bran, the Mayor, does not. Marin tells Tomas and Ihvon to put down their bows. Ihvon leaves to let the Aes Sedai know of the visitors. Marin explains to Perrin that the Aes Sedai were at Watch Hill when the Whitecloaks came, and the Watch Hill Women’s Circle passed them to the Emond’s Field Circle to conceal and keep safe from the Whitecloaks. Tomas is disturbed that Marin revealed their presence to Perrin and the others, but Marin assures him that she has good reasons. Perrin is leery of Aes Sedai as well, but at least he knows these must not be Red Ajah if they have Warders. Everyone can only wait tensely for Ihvon to return.
Perrin learns in this chapter that there are even more variables still in play. There are Aes Sedai hiding in the Two Rivers. I think it’s fun, too, that the Women’s Circle is the party who hid them – both from their husbands and from the Village Council. Jordan did a really nice job of setting up a gender-balanced society in the Two Rivers. The Women’s Circle has a lot of legitimate power and agency, vis a vis the Village Council. That leads to the feeling, for the reader, of balance and rightness. Emond’s Field is supposed to be the model for the rest of the world – in a similar way that the Shire is kind of the ideal place to be inside of Middle Earth. The gender balance is a big part of that. That kind of leads me to think of an interesting Jordan observation about how people interpret his world:
Now in most of these societies—Far Madding is the obvious exception—I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn’t all work perfectly. […] The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies.
Oct 6th, 2005 Robert Jordan’s Blog: AND ONE MORE TIME
The highlight of this chapter is probably the al’Vere’s meeting Loial. Just like all of the other Two Rivers folk, they panic at first, then a moment later act as though they’ve been interacting with Ogier their entire lives.
On the topic of Loial, he can finally relax around Perrin and Faile because the two of them have mostly made nice with each other. I hope they both apologize to him.