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 56: Goldeneyes
NOTE: The following chapter summary comes from wot.fandom.com:
Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Perrin is sitting in the common room of the Winespring Inn, writing a letter to Faile. Aram is with him as Ban al’Seen enters and reports that the scouts have reported thousands of Trollocs both to the north and south. Perrin walks outside and finds that Wil al’Seen carries the Wolf-Head Banner. Perrin reviews the women and children who are prepared to run for the woods if the Trollocs break through. He apologizes to them for arranging for Faile to escape. Perrin rides to the center of the village and sees that the four hundred Whitecloaks, led by Dain Bornhald and Jaret Byar, are preparing to leave. He offers them a deal to arrest him if they stay and Dain agrees.
The defense is organized and Perrin rides up to Verin. She says that he is a very interesting subject of study along with Mat and Rand. She asks him if he knows what it actually means to marry Zarine Bashere and looking at his axe, she says “When are you going to give this up for the hammer?” As Perrin contemplates what she might mean with these words they hear Trollocs roar from the forest surrounding the village. The Trollocs shout “Isam!” three times then attack. Verin comments that that is interesting. The Trollocs are so many that they quickly overrun the village defenses and Aram saves Perrin as a Trolloc grabs him. All around them people are fighting.
A boy comes to Perrin and reports that people from Deven Ride have come to help and are fighting the Trollocs from the south. Perrin then sees the Manetheren banner to the north―men from Watch Hill have arrived with Faile and Bain and together they kill the Trollocs and Myrddraal. They meet up with Faile and her party and she is ecstatic that men followed her in battle. Dain and Byar rides up to arrest Perrin, but he tells them that the deal was broken as the Whitecloaks did not help them. Dain says he will see Perrin dead if the world burns, but the Whitecloaks retreat reluctantly on Perrin’s command as the entire village is behind him. The mayor of Watch Hill asks Perrin if he should accompany the Whitecloaks to make sure they do nothing stupid, and Perrin agrees. The Women’s Circle wants to talk to Perrin once all is safe, but all he wants is to be an ordinary blacksmith. Faile tells him it is too late for that and as they ride back to the inn they hear the people shouting “Lord Perrin Goldeneyes!”
Point of view: Padan Fain
Watching from a tree a mile north, Ordeith does not understand how things went wrong. Why did Isam stop bringing in more Trollocs? He really wanted the entire Two Rivers totally destroyed in order to get Rand’s attention. He gathers his band of ex-Whitecloaks and a Fade and heads to Caemlyn, then on to Tar Valon.
The actual battle in this chapter is quite short and yet it is SO satisfying. These non-violent and generally good-natured people have been pushed by evil forces into assuming a fighting force. They meet the challenge way beyond anyone’s reasonable expectations. And at the moment when it seemed the size of the opposing force was just about to overwhelm them anyway, the two neighboring villages show up with help just in time. At the risk of sounding like Fain… the Two Rivers survives and comes out of this with relatively minimal losses. It was perfect that Deven Ride and Watch Hill showed up to save Emond’s Field, too. This entire book arc was about the Two Rivers rescuing itself… and it did.
I said a couple chapters back that the scene where Nynaeve takes on Moghedien is the type of scene that explains why people read fantasy. This chapter is why people read The Wheel of Time. Jordan was not a perfect writer but he was a master at setting up and then dramatizing a battle. The Two Rivers arc in this book is one of my favorite story arcs in all of fantasy literature.
I really appreciated that the drama of this last stand of Emond’s Field was earned on the pages throughout this book. The villagers had to suffer losses, learn from them, accept changes and outside help when it arrived, and they had to grow a lot before they were ready to meet the challenge of the big battle. This journey helped us as the Readers to care about them and to be invested in the fight’s outcome. This entire sequence wouldn’t have worked at all if we had seen the women and children standing side by side with the men, and fighting successfully against the trollocs on Winternight in the first few chapters of The Eye of the World. What would have been the point? Why would we have cared? Why would we be invested?
::gives a side eyes glance at the TV series::
Will the Shadow live to regret waking up the spirit of ancient Manetheren? It just might.
It was hard not to be swept up in Faile’s joy as a reader. If we’ve been on a journey with anyone in this book, it’s her. She’s gleeful not just for arriving in time to save Perrin, she’s also ecstatic that she was able to lead men into battle and that they readily followed. I liked that we saw both motivations for her in that moment because the layering made her more three dimensional and likeable. Apparently, she’s close enough with the Queen of Saldaea to know that Tenobia will be jealous that she has done this. I don’t know if the Two Rivers needs Lord Perrin, but Lady Faile works for me. Everything is lost if she doesn’t consistently either ignore, forgive, or fight Perrin’s efforts for most of this book (letting her think he wanted Berelain, reneging on his agreement with her by entering the Ways before she did, *spanking her like a child* in front of their friends in The Ways, trying to send her away to Caemlyn, etc.) And we should also not forget that she saved Perrin’s life during the Whitecloak camp hostage rescue, too. Perrin absolutely does not deserve her… at least not yet. He clearly needs her, though. That much is clear.
I cheered when Bornhald tried to arrest Perrin and heard arrows being knocked in response. Even if Perrin would have agreed to be arrested, there’s no way that the Children of the Light were leaving Emond’s Field with him as their prisoner. They would have all died in the attempt. Perrin’s ta’veren power might be in surrounding himself with people who will override and ignore his bad decisions while simultaneously loving him unconditionally. Either way, Perrin’s speech in kicking them out of the Two Rivers was a great moment for him and cathartic for me. I’ve had enough of the Whitecloaks.
- Why does Verin know about the axe and hammer situation for Perrin? (I know the books tell us later… but have they done so already?)
- “Isam!” The trollocs cheer the name of their presumed leader. Since we are at the end of this arc, it’s okay to look back at what we know of Isam. From the “Blood Calls Blood” chapter of The Great Hunt, we see Isam and Luc mentioned in a Dark Prophecy:
“Luc came to the Mountains of Dhoom. Isam waited in the high passes. The hunt is now begun. The Shadow’s hounds now course, and kill. One did live, and one did die, but both are.” So… Luc and Isam are kind of merged somehow? That fits. Does the fact that the trollocs cheer “Isam” mean that he is the more dominant of the two in the merger? In that chapter from Book #2, we learn that Lord Luc was brother of Tigraine, the once Daughter Heir of Andor, and he vanished in the Blight. Isam was the son of Breyan, wife of Lain Mandragoran, whose attempt to seize the throne of Malkier for her husband brought the trolloc hordes crashing down on them.
I suspect we will be seeing Luc/Isam again.
- Fain appears to have a new scheme in mind and mentions both Caemlyn and the White Tower.
Great chapter. Now we move on to the big finish in the Aiel Waste!
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