Chapter 29: Eyes Without Pity
“Eyes Without Pity” would be a great name for a heavy metal band. Observe:
Imagine wearing that on a black t-shirt. You could totally throw up the horns, and, like… mosh? Or whatever? I don’t listen to heavy metal.
Anyway, this is another Perrin chapter. On the positive side, it has evil ravens.
It’s been a few days since Perrin, Egwene and Elyas left the Wagon Bros behind. Elyas is taking great caution to conceal their path, but doesn’t seem to know what exactly is following them.
The land became long, rolling crests, too low to be called hills, rising across their path. A carpet of tough grass, still winter sere and dotted with rank weeds, spread before them, rippled by an east wind that had nothing to cut it for a hundred miles. The groves of trees grew more scattered. The sun rose reluctantly, without warmth.
This makes it sound like they’re getting pretty far north, but descriptions of the Evil Zone (I can’t remember what it’s called), which is even further north, don’t paint it as particularly cold. Unless I’m mis-interpreting “the sun rose reluctantly” and Jordan didn’t mean that it’s not rising very high.
No, we can’t just go in a straight line! How many times do I have to tell you? You have any idea, even the faintest, how a man stands out on a ridgeline in country like this?
You should tell Lan that. Dude had the entire party standing around on hills when they were being chased by Trollocs.
“We’re wasting time,” he said, starting to stand, and a flock of ravens burst out of the trees below, fifty, a hundred black birds, spiraling into the sky. He froze in a crouch as they milled over the trees. The Dark One’s Eyes. Did they see me? Sweat trickled down his face.
This is the only context the Dark One really works in for me– as this shadowy, looming force that uses seemingly-innocuous proxies as its scouts and spies. As opposed to a cackling jackass who shows up in the character’s dreams to taunt them.
A long, tense chase scene ensues, during which we see a fox get shredded by a flock of ravens as a portent of what will happen to Our Heroes if they don’t escape. Scenes like this are what really differentiate this first book from the later ones– my memory of Eye Of The World was mostly white-knuckle chases and the characters in constant peril (which, as we’re seeing, is actually wildly inaccurate) whereas I can’t remember a single scene like that in the following books. There’s plenty of danger, but there’s never the sense of urgency and dread we see here.
Oh and in the middle of this Perrin has another mope about being a Wolfbro. Boy am I looking forward to when he stops doing that.
Perrin looked at Egwene again and blinked away hot tears. He touched his axe and wondered if he had the courage. In the last minutes, when the ravens descended on them, when all hope was gone, would he have the courage to spare her the death the fox had died? Light make me strong!
Hey, maybe you should ask her if she wants you to kill her instead of just deciding to do it. Fucking asshole.
He doesn’t get the chance to try though, because all of a sudden they reach the place of safety that Elyas was bringing them to: a Stedding, a location belonging to a species called Ogier (about more which later), that agents of the Dark One won’t enter. Elyas doesn’t say why, but he does reveal that Aes Sedai also won’t go into them because they’re cut off from the True Source (Egwene notices the effect immediately), which is extremely unpleasant. This might actually be a very early clue to a major plot point: much later on you find out that the Dark One generates an alternative to the One Power that can be accessed by men and women alike; if the Myrddrall and Trollocs are connected to this power, it explains why entering the Stedding would affect them the same way it would affect an Aes Sedai, as they’d be cut off from the Dark One.
After walking a bit further they come to a pool of crystal clear and eminently drinkable water.
He shook his head, his long hair spraying a rain of drops. Egwene grinned and splashed back at him. Perrin’s eyes grew sober. She frowned and opened her mouth, but he stuck his face back in the water. No questions. Not now. No explanations. Not ever. But a small voice taunted him. But you would have done it, wouldn’t you?
Oh wait, is this about him planning to axe-murder her to stop the crows from getting her? How does she know he was thinking about that?
They stop to rest by some strange stones, which Egwene eventually recognizes as part of a massive statue. It turns out it’s a statue of Artur Hawkwing, the story’s King Arthur/Alexander the Great analogue. This prompts some exposition on Artur’s history, and the fact that he maintained a peaceful empire by being a huge douche-canoe. I’m not entirely sure why the book is spending so long telling us about him, to be honest.
Perrin could make out the eye clearly now, despite the failing light. It was bigger than a man’s head, and the shadows falling across it made it seem like a raven’s eye, hard and black and without pity. He wished they were sleeping somewhere else.
I guess that’s pretty ominous and spoopy and all, although frankly it seems like Perrin and Rand both have foreboding feelings of ominous forebodingness at the drop of a hat. I’m losing track of how many chapters end with AND IT WAS EERIE AND VAGUELY CREEPY AS SHIT.