Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 22-23

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Chapter 22: A Path Chosen

(Note: I am aware that I’ve spelled “Myrddraal” about fifteen different ways over the last few posts. This is because I don’t care how you actually spell it)

We’re entering the Perrin Zone people, prepare for boredom.

So Perrin does some stuff and, like, whatever, and then Egwene shows up. They debate what to do next and Perrin suggests that if they stay and wait for the others the Trollocs will probably find them first, so they need to move. Not to Whitebridge though, because that’s what the Myrddrall will expect.

“I don’t understand then, Perrin. Where do we go?”
He blinked in surprise. She was waiting for his answer. Waiting for him to tell her what to do. It had never occurred to him that she would look to him to take the lead.

Why is she looking to him to take the lead? This is another example of the natural born leader Great Man bullshit all the two rivers boys have going on.

(If you’re about to say that Mat hasn’t displayed any unwarranted leadership yet, just wait)

Anywa Perrin suggests skipping straight to Caemlyn, the next step on their planned journey after Whitebridge, on the basis that that no pursuers would expect them to do it. Not discussed is the fact that this involves heading away from the river into territory that they have only the vaguest knowledge of, without a map and almost no supplies.

If he was the leader, it was time to start leading.

You’re not the leader Perrin shut up.

Well that chapter was mercifully short, now we can move onto someone more interesting right?

Chapter 23: Wolfbrother

From the start Perrin knew the journey to Caemlyn was going to be far from comfortable

Fuck.

Perrin and Egwene start bickering and acting like stubborn jackasses over who should ride Bela on the journey.

“Anyway, you’ll take the first turn.” Her face turned even more stubborn, but he refused to let her get a word in edgewise. “If you won’t get in the saddle by yourself, I’ll put you there.”

Oh great we’re already getting into this shit.

Egwene seems to find this entertaining instead of insulting and teasingly goes along with it.

In stories leaders seldom flinched, and they were never bullied. But, he reflected, they never had to deal with Egwene, either.

You know what, my memory was inaccurate: Perrin starts being annoying way earlier than I thought. Case in point: he finds out that Egwene has been starting campfires with the One Power and convinces her not to because oh no light Egwene Aes Sedai blood and ashes light. The annoying thing is that he could have had a perfectly legitimate reason for not wanting her to use the Power: Moirainne has stated several times that Myddrall can sense it, and it could give away their position. But instead it comes across as him not letting her use her skills because he’s closed-minded and ignorant.

Nowhere did they see a road, or a plowed field, or chimney smoke in the distance, or any other sign of human habitation—at least, none where men still dwelt.

I feel like one of them should have brought up this possibility at the outset. They were travelling through trackless wilderness before escaping to Shadar Logoth; they have absolutely no reason to think that the landscape they’re heading into will be any more inhabited.

Luckily this is Fantasy Wilderness where water and enough sustenance to keep them alive and strong enough to travel are in easy supply.

(Note: real wilderness is not Fantasy Wilderness, if you actually head out into uninhabited land with no supplies and no idea where you’re going you will almost certainly die)

After a few days of wandering they see a campfire in the distance and run toward it in the hope that it’s one of the others. But it turns out it’s actually… some guy!

At least he was not a Trolloc, but he was the strangest fellow Perrin had ever seen. For one thing, his clothes all seemed to be made from animal skins, with the fur still on, even his boots and the odd, flat-topped round cap on his head.

Or Davy Crockett.

No, his name is actually Elyas, and he’s been following our intrepid heroes and watching them totally suck at getting food in the wilderness.

Perrin gasped, and nearly dropped Elyas’s hand. The man’s eyes were yellow, like bright, polished gold.

I’d say he’s either the romantic lead in a YA novel (doubtful considering his age and beardliness) or there’s something unusual going on here.

I remember the basics of what this character is about, but I cannot for the life of me recall what he does later in the book or whether he has any role beyond it.

Elyas tells them that they’re on course to miss Caemlyn by a hundred miles, and will in fact not come across any inhabited areas until they reach the distant mountains that separate Fantasy Europelandia from Fantasy Desert. Then some wolves show up and he’s like “hey these are my friends oh by the way I can communicate with wolves cool huh.”

“It isn’t exactly talking,” Elyas replied slowly. “The words don’t matter, and they aren’t exactly right, either. Her name isn’t Dapple. It’s something that means the way shadows play on a forest pool at a midwinter dawn, with the breeze rippling the surface, and the tang of ice when the water touches the tongue, and a hint of snow before nightfall in the air.

Since wolves’ dominant sense is smell, wouldn’t they identify each other more by scent than by visual concepts? I always get annoyed when people anthropomorphize dogs or wolves and leave scent out of the equation entirely. That would be like writing about humans without ever filtering out perception of the world through sight.

Anyway Elyas says he was born with the ability to sense and communicate with wolves, which made him something of a pariah so he started living out in the wilds.

“Wolves remember things differently from the way people do,” he said. His strange eyes took on a faraway look, as if he were drifting off on the flow of memory himself. “Every wolf remembers the history of all wolves, or at least the shape of it. Like I said, it can’t be put into words very well. They remember running down prey side-by-side with men, but it was so long ago that it’s more like the shadow of a shadow than a memory.”

I guess they’ve got ancestral memory or something? Sure, why not. Some of the humans in these books have similar traits, after all.

Elyas snorted again. “It can’t be taught. Some can do it, some can’t. They say he can.” He pointed at Perrin.

This part of the story always confused me. Rand’s magical sparkle destiny is fairly straightforward, and Mat’s makes sense in relation to all the ancient-noble-bloodline stuff that gets brought up a lot, but this wolf business feels like it comes out of nowhere, completely disconnected from anything else, as if it’s an element of a different story that got shoved into this one.

Then again maybe I feel antagonistic toward Perrin’s wolfiness because he spends a metric assload of time wringing his hands about it and trying to deny that it’s true (contrast with Nynaeve and Egwene, who only needed about a chapter each to accept the fact that they can channel).

Perrin and Egwene start telling Elyas the cover story they’ve cooked up about where they came from and where they’re going, but the wolves aren’t having any of it and can smell Trollocs off them.

You’re mixed up with Trollocs, somehow, and the Eyeless. Wolves hate Trollocs and Halfmen worse than wildfire, worse than anything, and so do I.

Why would wolves hate Trollocs? Are these special magical noble savage wolves, as may be found howling in groups of three on T-shirts?

This is an old thing, boy. Older than Aes Sedai. Older than anybody using the One Power. Old as humankind. Old as wolves

Definitely T-shirt wolves.

Elyas gets the truth out of them and “offers” to escort them south, since the wolves super want to murder Trollocs and they’ll be safe with the pack.

He wanted to believe it was all Elyas playing on his imagination, but he could not. Just before the departing wolves faded from his mind, he felt a thought he knew came from Burn, as sharp and clear as if it were his own thought. Hatred. Hatred and the taste of blood.

Guess you’re a wolfbro, Perrin. Better get used to it.

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Wheel of Time: TEoTW ch. 22-23

  1. 0x23mahjong

    I thought trollocs were created by Satan or one of his dudes, but suddenly “This is an old thing, boy. Older than Aes Sedai. Older than anybody using the One Power. Old as humankind. Old as wolves”? Or is that referring to something else?

    Reply
  2. Lissa

    “I always get annoyed when people anthropomorphize dogs or wolves and leave scent out of the equation entirely.”

    The description of a “tang of ice when the water touches the tongue” and a “hint of snow” in the air seems to indicate the sense of smell rather than vision. You can smell rain or snow in the air before they start falling. Plus, dogs have scent organs in their mouths, so it makes sense that they can pick up scents from whatever they taste.

    Reply
  3. reveen

    Does it say things about me that I reflexively interpret the wolf-man thing to be homoerotic? I mean, bears would fit more but I find there’s a pretty heavy overtones of “strip off your clothes and go traipsing through the woods with your wolf-bro buddies”.

    Well, like, it’s Wheel of Time. Of course there’s a kinky Freudian context. Maybe it’s not the Freudian context Jordan intended, but that’s was his hangup.

    Reply
  4. Nerem

    Sorry to connect this to the previous chapters, but the whole explaination for the ‘Trollocs can just appear anywhere’ thing kind of creates as many issues as it solves, since if Satan really COULD just teleport his armies around, he shouldn’t have any trouble just over-running everything.

    Reply
  5. UBM

    I remembered Perrin as gentle and a bit stubborn in the early books. Seems he really is annoying from the get-go, though :(. And he is really creepy and overbearing around women, too.
    But I also remember getting fed up with his unwillingness to embrace his bond with the magic power wolves real fast. The wolves are obviously ultra noble, have some sort of genetic memory and kick arse. So why doesn’t he just embrace his awesome wolf bro powers?
    But no, he keeps moping around and suffering from his “horrible burden”. And it doesn’t get any better in the later books, just continually worse (same goes for his behavior around women).

    Reply
    1. Elspeth Grey

      Yeah, I liked Perrin the most of the three during my embarrassing Wheel of Time phase, but on reflection I suspect it was that I liked the idea of Perrin – big but careful and introspective guy, plus wolves – and actually glossed over most of the stuff on the page.

      Reply
    2. Ida

      Wolves hate Trollocs because Trollocs kill wolves. Wolves in this world are supposed to be some kind of ancient carriers of purity, wisdom and light, not unlike the ravens in Norse mythology, and the Myrddraal know this, so they order Trollocs to kill wolves whenever they encounter them. Wolves are able to sense the Shadow and the Shadow is a threat to all that live; since Trollocs are created by the Shadow, it’s not really that strange that wolves see them as threats. Wolves in Wheel of Time are not regular wolves. I think it’s even possible, even though as far as I know it’s never been outright stated anywhere, that they are supposed to be representations of the Light.

      As for the reason why Perrin is a Wolf whisperer, like everything else it connects to the Pattern of Plot Convenience. SPOILERS: the three ta’veren each are connected to some part of the magical life web shit. Rand has the One Power, meaning the Creator, Mat has the memories of humanity, and Perrin has the memories of wolves, who are like the most super-awesomest animals ever. This makes them sort of like the Holy Trinity. Deep, man. This series is so heavy with symbolism it sometimes forgets that it’s supposed to tell an actual story.

      I don’t really blame Perrin for being apprehensive about the concept, actually. He lives in a world where everything even mildly different is treated as if Satan himself is involved. Especially if it concerns a man. Female Aes Sedai are distrusted, sure, but male channelers often end up getting lynched even before the Power itself kills them because people fear them that much. And while the wolf thing isn’t connected to the One Power, don’t expect regular people to know that. Regular people think (and rightfully so, honestly) that it was channelers who brought about the Breaking of the World.

      Doesn’t make it any less frustrating to read about, though.

      … also, MAN, I’ve become like one of these annoying fans who keep jumping in to defend things I like every time someone criticises it, haven’t I? And I swore that would never happen.

      Reply

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