Spoilers for books 1-3, and The Shadow Rising ch. 1-37| More info and previous posts |Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on book 4, The Shadow Rising. This post covers chapter 27-37.
Out The Ways
Perrin’s party is still travelling through the Ways. Faile and he are still at loggerheads. They’re almost at the exit when they are attacked by Trollocs. Man, in all this excitement I totally forgot about them. Someone should really patch this huge security flaw that allows Trollocs to go anywhere they please and bypass all the security at the borderlands in the process. They manage to take out the Trollocs and the Fade that follows, but then Machin Shin crashes the party. Everyone wisely decides to run for the exit, and they barely make it. Loial seals the Waygate so that it cannot be opened from the inside. That should stop more Trollocs coming, unless someone reopens the gate.
And finally, home sweet home. Except not really, what with the ominous lack of wolves and presence of Whitecloaks and whatnot.
The party makes a camp. Tensions still run high between the guys and the gals though, and so they actually make two camps. Unable to find/sense any wolves, Perrin decides to try his luck in dreams.
The dream shows him updates of the rest of the characters – everything is pretty simple to us for a change. Except I can’t fathom what the forked road in front of Mat means. Presumably some sort of big choice – but what?
Perrin calls for Hopper, but he’s a no-show too. So he decides to look around, and accidentally teleports himself – kind of like Egwene. He’s jumping around from mountain to mountain, calling for Hopper, when he spots another man. This is the fellow who’s been killing the wolves it seems. The other guy runs off, and Perrin gives chase. Quite a weird sort of chase too, blinking from one spot to the next. The chase ends at some sort of ancient tower. And finally Hopper shows up, telling Perrin to give up the pursuit because Slayer is dangerous and stuff. Took your time, eh Hopper?
And then a mysterious lady shows up. I sure hope she isn’t like the mysterious lady Rand met. Who turned out to be one of the Forsaken.
Ooooh, the tower – the Tower of Ghenjei – is a doorway to the places Mat visited through the ter’angreals. The Aelfinn and the Eelfinn are the people there, and fire, music, iron (which are prohibited by the agreement) are in some way dangerous to them. And from what the woman is saying about Slayer, methinks he’s Padan Fain. Having given us these morsels of knowledge, the woman disappears. Except that Hopper claims there was no one. Spooky.
The party travels from the Waygate towards Emond’s field. Y’know, I was almost sure that that life had been left behind for good, that they would return – if ever – only after everything was done and over. Like Frodo and the Shire. But that is clearly not going to be the case. Man, Perrin’s folks – and everyone else’s for that matter – must have gone nuts when the kids up and vanished with Moiraine. Poor Tam and Abell even went to Tar Valon looking for them, much good it did them. Wonder how Perrin’s family will react when they see him now – accompanied by Aiel and an Ogier, yellow-eyed and a warrior.
They check on the al’Thor farm and find it burned down. Bloody Fain. They decide to stop soon after, and Perrin decides to go to Emond’s Field the next day – and early, so as to give Faile the slip. Dude, she has Far Dareis Mai with her. I doubt you can give them the slip. Also, just walking into Emond’s Field does not sound like a good plan.
But that is what they do – though Perrin is smart enough to skirt around the village and go straight to the inn. There are the expected surprised looks and hellos. They make some small talk, and then Perrin tells them of his plan to give himself up to the Whitecloaks. (Don’t do it dude!) The al’Vere’s are trying to convince him to be sane, when Faile and friends barge in. More surprised looks and introductions.
Perrin tells everyone that he’s killed Whitcloaks, and that’s why they’re after him. And then the big shocker – Perrin’s family is dead, his home burned. Oh no. It’s kinda weird – for Perrin, this is a huge shock. All these people, who he has known all his life, dead and gone. But for us, since we never really knew the Aybarras, it doesn’t have the same emotional impact. I mean, we’d be more shocked by say, Bela dying.
This news at least puts an end to Perrin and Faile’s fight and to his plan of giving himself up. The Two Rivers has changed a lot. Ther’s Trollocs, and there’s Whitecloaks, and there’s a hunter for the Horn. (Poor Luc has no idea Mat has already blown the Horn, like ages ago). The people are caught between a rock and a hard place, with Whitecloaks being the only protection they have against the Trollocs, so they have to put up with them. The Abells and the Luhhans have been imprisoned by the Whitecloaks, and Tam and Mat’s dad have gone rogue.
Let’s just hope Perrin can resolve this mess without more bloodshed.
A Place to Hide
It is decided that Perrin and co. will hide in the ye olde Sickhouse. But it’s not like the place is a huge secret. If I was a Whitecloak, it would be the first place I would look for – assuming I knew it existed. But some people are cooperating with the Whitecloaks. Marin al’Vere insists on taking them there (even though Perrin knows the way!). They’re about to leave, when Cenn Buie bumbles onto the scene. He’s all for ratting out Perrin to the Whitecloaks, but Mrs. al’Vere shuts him up. I don’t know how long he’ll stay quiet though. I mean, the guy is clearly a sneak, and there’s a huge reward on Perrin’s head.
And – what’s this – Warders? The plot thickens! Not one but two of them. Ah, that explains Marin’s insistence on tagging along. There’s Aes Sedai in the two rivers, and the Women’s Circle is working with them. What the hell is up?
Recruitment, that’s what. At least – on the surface of it. The two Aes Sedai are Verin and Alanna. I remember Verin of course, and I think Alanna was there when Egwene’s Acceptance test went awry. They grumble about the declining numbers of Aes Sedai, and say they came here to look for recruits, since the OldBlood™ is strong.
I never considered the genetics aspect before now. If they gentle/kill every man who can channel (can’t blame them, really), then obviously the ability is dying out. But I don’t understand why Aes Sedai themselves don’t marry and produce kids. Why don’t any but the Green Ajah marry?
They catch each other up, Perrin is angry at the Aes Sedai for not helping the people etc. Verrin apparently knew the Trollocs were coming via the Waygate. Um, then why the hell didn’t you close it? I mean, it would’ve sucked for Perrin to come and find the gate closed from the other side, but Verin could hardly know they were coming. She should’ve closed the gate.
Tam and Abell join them, and there is much talking. There’s hundreds of Whitecloaks btw. Wow, I pictured like a few dozen or so. This is going to be a major undertaking. But Perrin is detemined to do something. Whatever needs doing.
Then a POV from Dain Bornhald, leader of the Whitecloak encampment. Major points – it was bloody Fain who killed Perrin’s family, not Trollocs; things are not well between Bornhald and Fain/Ordeith; Fain can feel Perrin (though he doesn’t know if it’s Perrin or Mat. This will really reduce Perrin’s ability to surprise them however); and Fain has somehow managed to capture a Fade. At this point, it’s clear he’s gone rogue – working not for the Dark One, but for his own ends. Still, it’s really scary that he can make a Fade sweat.
Perrin and friends decide to go scope out the Whitecloak camp at Watch Hill, leaving behind Loial and Alanna.
Verin warns Perrin to be careful about Alanna. Reading between the lines, I think she suspects her of being Black Ajah. Perrin makes the excellent point that if the Trollocs are not attacking villages, then what are they here for? Is the Dark One playing the same game as Fain – threaten Emond’s Field to draw Rand?
On the way, they make a pit stop at the al’Seen farm. They chat a bit. Most people are accepting of Perrin, though a few do raise questions which Perrin handles deftly. Lord Luc the Hunter also makes an appearance. Perrin doesn’t like him, but that is mostly a side effect of jealousy I think. Whatever the reason, Perrin is not happy with the state of affairs and tells everyone as much, and argues that instead of depending on the Whitecloaks to protect them from Trollocs, the people should abandon their isolated farms and unite in Emond’s Field. Crops can be planted again, but not families. Poor Perrin. But, his words work, and the people start packing their things. Verin thinks this is ta’veren at work – and I have to agree with her. I’m finally getting a handle on what it means to be ta’veren. And it seems mostly the same as being very persuasive, and having people listen to you and do as you say. At least, that’s part of it.
Faile has a conversation with Perrin that leaves him as well as me thoroughly confused. Pfft, women. No one can understand them. Certainly not the way Jordan writes them.
Perrin does the same on several other farms on the way, and gathers a following of young men eager for adventure along the way. Ha! Mat, Rand and Perrin were like that too, until all the craziness they went through in The Eye of The World sobered them up.
Perrin’s party gets into a hidden vantage point, and Perrin decides to wait until dark to make a rescue attempt. Which goes surprisingly well, thanks in large part to the ninja skills of the Aiel. The prisoners are rescued and sent their way on stolen horses, while part of Perrin and his group draw the Whitecloaks to them and run off so as to give the escapees a better chance to get away. Mission accomplished. That’s great, next step: hunting trollocs. Though I’m also quite apprehensive about what the Whitecloaks reaction towards the villagers will be after the escape.
He Who Comes With The Dawn
We return to the Aiel Waste as Rand and Mat are making their way back from Rhuidean. Mat is in bad shape after the attack of the dust devils. They reach Rhuidean, only to be attacked by Couladin and his clansmen, who claim the death of Muradin is Rand’s fault. Actually, why did Muradin go crazy? The revelations are big, yes, but I don’t think they’re so huge that someone would claw their eyes out on hearing them.
The Wise Ones break up the fight, partly by reminding them of the peace of Rhuidean, and mostly by showing Rand’s badass tattoos. Not one Dragon – which maks a clan chief – but two Dragons, marking him the chief of chiefs, the Leader of the Aiel. That upsets all the Aiel. Understandable, given the part of the prophecy says he will destroy the Aiel. Also, big shocker : they’ve been in Rhuidean for a week. A bloody week? That was hardly one night’s worth of adventuring. Also, Moiraine and Aviendha are yet to return. I wonder what they are going through. Is is the same sort of series of flashbacks?
This upsets Rand. He’s still planning something, and in a huge hurry to do it. But what? He came to Rhuidean to gain an army, a people who follow him and whom he can trust, but what’s next? War? He could’ve done that with Tairen forces.
Rand calls a general assembly of the Aiel chiefs. More background is given on Rand’s parents, no doubt it will become more relevant later on, especially the fact that Rand’s mother had another son. Also, turns out what Rand saw was the memories of his ancestors – everyone sees different stuff – and that the place where the Aiel were given water wasn’t Shienar but Cairhien. That’s why the Aiel were so good to the Ciarhien – until that is, Laman cut down the Avendesora, which in turn cause the Aiel War, which led to Tam finding Rand on Dragonmount, which led to… The nature of the Aiel prophecy is clarified. Basically, the poor Aiel are screwed either way. If Rand dies, they will all perish. If Rand lives, they will still die, but some small remnant will survive. Can’t blame them for not being thrilled about Rand’s arrival.
The chapter closes with Aviendha and Moiraine finally returning.
Egwene and Elayne are chatting in tel’aran’rhiod, nothing major, just bringing each other up to speed with recent events. But then Egwene is rudely pulled out by Amys, who scolds her for entering the dream world against her orders. Egwene acts all hurt and angry, but I side with Amys on this one. If the woman told you not to enter the dreams, then you should at the very least have asked her permission before going to meet Elayne. Amys soon puts Egwene in her place though.
Amys then takes Egwene into a sauna. Yes, in the middle of the Aiel Waste where water is super scarce. The women plan on how best to handle Rand, and decide to have Aviendha shadow him. Uh, why not Egwene? Trust issues? Aviendha is none too happy with it either. Damn man, all Rand did was not try to stop Elayne when she herself wanted to go, was determined to go, and for this Aviendha seems prepared to carry a lifetime grudge. On Elayne’s behalf. For a woman who’s expected to become a wise one, Aviendha sure can be childish.
Sidenote, whatever Moiraine saw in Rhuidean has hit her really hard.
A Fine and Well-Rounded Bosom
The next morning, the Aeil clans and Rand set off from Rhuidean. We are reminded yet again that the Waste is indeed very hot and dry. Aviendha is following orders in that she is hanging around Rand, but is clearly pissed at having to do it. Then comes a hilarious conversation wherein Aviendha tries to convince Rand that Elayne is the one for him, by way of describing how totally hot she it.
Is she not beautiful? Her back is straight, her limbs supple and strong, her lips like plump loveapples. Her hair is spun gold, her eyes blue sapphires. Her skin is smoother than the finest silk, her bosom fine and well-rounded. Her hips are—”
He cut her off frantically, his cheeks heating. “I know she’s pretty. What are you doing?”
“I am describing her.” Aviendha frowned up at him. “Have you seen her in her bath?
I died laughing.
Also, it seems Aviendha is under the impression that both of Elyane’s letters were full of love. This obviously confuses Rand, but what confuses me is why he doesn’t tell Aviendha that Elayn’es second letter was not quite the same as the first one. That should make Rand has just fooled around with Elayne and abandoned her.
Shift to Mat’s POV – and wait a minute, he got the medallion from the ter’angreal? I thought he only got the spear…
Anyway, the party runs into some Peddlers. Rhuarc berates them for being in the Waste without a guide, and tells them to tag along. Mat buys a hat. Ahh, so this is the hat. Shoutout to /u/MatCauthonsHat.
Also, I think there’s something fishy about the Peddlers – no way they just happened to be so deep in the waste without encountering any other Aiel. Rand agrees – and he senses something evil about them. Dude, then why don’t you warn everyone instead of just calmly riding along?!
The Aiel decide to stop for the night at Imre Stand, because there’s water there. The Wise Ones are very intersted in something blingy that Moiraine has. What? Come on Rand, go take a peek! “Sparkling like a gem”. Maybe the blue stone Moiraine habitually carries with her? Doesn’t seem right though. Something she found in Rhuidean?
Imre Stand is reached, and there has been an attack. A very vicious and violent attack. Mat suspects trollocs, but Aviendha is all “pfft, we hunt trollocs, they wouldn’t dare come here”. Except – does the Aiel Waste have any waygates? Because the Trollocs could be using those to bypass the Aiel defenses.
And just to make things them even fishier, a very pretty woman called Isendre appears from the Peddler’s wagons. And call me crazy, Selene has made me very suspicious of super pretty mysterious women. Aviendha somehow miscontrues her creeptalk with Rand for flirting, and start off on her “Elayne is the one for you” speech. Rand decides to take his frustration out by sword practice, and then to appease the Aiel, also does some spear practice.
I still don’t entirely get the Aiel’s anti-sword stance. Yeah, I understand at the start they used spears and not swords when they were turning to violence, because the sword is used only for killing but spears can be used to hunt and stuff. That made littel sense then too, but worked as a half-assed self justification. But now, centuries later? Come one, they’re the most violent and deadly people around. And swords are pretty good for killing. Yet they maintain a prejudice against swords.
Mat meanwhile is considering his newfound memories – memories of battles and fights and stuff. If this is not confirmation of the reincarnation theory, I don’t know what is. (The theory is basically that Mat is some old Manetheren warrior reborn, in the same way as Rand is the Dragon Reborn). Also, the gleeman with the peddler’s is super interested in Mat’s experiences in Rhuidean. Fishier and fishier.
The part is suddenly crashed by Trollocs and Myrddraal. There are casualties, but no plot relevant ones – just poor nameless Aiel warriors. Also, the attack was specifically targeted towards Rand (or maybe Mat, though that’s unlikely). Rand’s also having some trouble producing his firesword. He hopes it was only because he’s exhausted. You and me both buddy, you and me both.
Aaand we’re over the halfway mark. Damn but this is so much longer than the last three books. Longest in the series in fact, if Wikipedia is to be believed. I still don’t know what the book is building up to though. Perrin’s subplot is the only one that’s clear to me. Rand has something planned, we’ll have to wait for that, and I have no idea what Nynaeve and the rest will face in Tanchico.