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 45: The Tinker’s Sword
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Perrin and Faile rush to the south of Emond’s Field in response to shouts of Trollocs attacking. Cenn Buie, Hari Coplin, Darl Coplin, and Bili Congar are in high spirits after successfully defending the village. That is until Perrin spies one of the attackers and tells them that it is Tinkers, not Trollocs. Raen and Ila survived along with about twenty other adults plus some children. Some residents are prejudiced against the Tinkers but Perrin angrily tells them that all will be accepted.
As the Tinkers file past into the village, Perrin notices all of the smoke he can see from farms burning in the area. He starts trying to guess how many Trollocs it would have taken to start all of the fires as well as attack the Tuatha’an. Perrin is about to head off after Loial and Gaul to destroy the Waygate when Haral Luhhan asks him a question. Before he can do anything, he has a constant stream of people asking his advice that prevents him from getting away. Perrin provides practical solutions to all the issues that have arisen (usually by asking each person what they think they should do).
Luc arrives with a Myrddraal head and a tale of defeating a band of Trollocs by himself. Perrin is finally exhausted from trying to respond to all the questions. He hasn’t had anything to eat yet and it is almost noon so he heads to the Winespring Inn to get something to eat. Natti Cauthon is making bandages while keeping on eye on her daughters Bode and Eldrin Cauthon, who are attracted to Aram. When Faile comes in from the kitchen he complains about how the Two Rivers residents are treating him. She tells him they are just trying to sort out how to treat a Lord and that he will likely end up Perrin of House Aybara, Lord of the Two Rivers.
Aram suddenly asks who owns the spears on the wall and the swords that are in a barrel in the common room. Perrin tells him they are for anyone that needs a weapon. Aram wanders around the room for a bit while Perrin is being fed by Faile. He finally stops and pulls a sword out of the barrel and asks if he can use it. Ila sees him and tries to wrest away the sword from him. Perrin tells her that Aram has a right to defend himself. Perrin tells Aram to find Tam al’Thor and ask to be taught.
A company of Whitecloaks arrives at Emond’s Field, with Dain Bornhald in command. Bornhald announces that Taren Ferry has been almost completely wiped out, although some crossed the river. The Whitecloaks lost fifty men during the fight. The news seems to surprise Luc and he asks Bornhald if Ordeith was at Taren Ferry last night. From Bornhald’s reaction to the question, Ordeith probably was. Bornhald declares Perrin under arrest and that he will be taken back to Amador to be tried. Bran says there will be no arrests without proof. Seeing that Bornhald is on the verge of ordering an attack, Perrin proposes a compromise, that the Whitecloaks take refuge in the village and help with defending against the Trollocs. Perrin does not wish men to fight men when the Trollocs are the current menace.
When I was young and read this for the first time, I found it almost implausible that the good people of Emond’s Field would balk for an instant at the idea of letting Tinkers into the village. As an adult, wiser to the world and human nature, I completely buy the initial reaction. “Tinkers steal children” is a big enough motivation to explain the knee-jerk reaction. Perrin pointing out the consequences of that reaction, and those same people pretending that their jerk of the knee was the opposite of what it was, also rings true.
Have you ever met someone, who once they are proven wrong in an argument, pretends that your argument was theirs all along? Most of the time the switch of sides is something they don’t even notice. An inability to deal with the pain of cognitive dissonance makes even highly intelligent people quite foolish, sometimes.
A lot of this chapter is Perrin taking the reigns of leadership. It makes sense – even if not to Perrin. None of the people of Emond’s Field have been in this situation before and despite Perrin’s age, he has more experience in the world than anyone other than maybe Tam al’Thor (who is choosing to be Perrin’s assistant rather than to lead himself.) Yes, most of the time, they think they know what is the right thing to do, but they’re afraid to do it because they don’t want to inadvertently mess up the bigger picture. They know they need to be led.
Luc showing up with a Fade’s head is highly suspicious. Even if one guy beats a myrddraal in a fight, how does one guy alone deal with all the trollocs that usually accompany a myrddraal? We know he didn’t go with the Whitecloaks to fight a band of shadowspawn, or anyone from the Two Rivers, so how does one man alone pull that off?
Bornhald is a drunk at this point, and also completely blinded by hatred. We’ll see if those feelings begin to be eroded by reality and sobriety.
Notable: Perrin did not really promise to hand himself over to the Whitecloaks. He gets a concession from Bornhald that he will not attempt to arrest Perin until after the trolloc threat is gone. Perrin never says that he will then at that point allow himself to be arrested.
The heart-tugging scene from this chapter was Aram picking up a sword, and it was reminiscent of Rand’s trip through the columns in Rhuidean. As a reader, you’re left feeling sympathy for all sides. Aram wanting to fight, after witnessing his mother’s murder, is natural. Ila feeling as though she lost a grandson to Perrin and the sword makes sense, too. Perrin feeling guilty, but not regretful, for being involved works – especially in the context of Perrin recently losing his entire family.
Faile is great in this chapter. Her sympathy for Perrin, with Aram and the Tinkers, is the perfect reaction, as is her opposition to Perrin letting Whitecloaks stay in Emond’s Field. I even loved that she started sharpening a dagger, openly, after she relented to his demand.
Perrin’s relationship with the Tinkers is subtle and interesting, and I think it reflects his struggle internally to find the balance between war and peace, wolf and man, axe and hammer. Maybe more than any of the other main characters, there’s an idealism in Perrin that wishes the Way of the Leaf was realistic. The problem he has now, though, is that he knows it is not.