BS mentioned on his twitter feed that Perrin was in part based on the ancient Slavic thunder god Perun.
A fanmail tonight includes a request for Gawyn to die, and Egwene to hook up with Galad. At least it's not another begging for Rand + Egwene.
Wow. I did not mean to start an epic Gawyn/Galad/Egwene/Rand thread on my Facebook, but I appear to have done so.
Some interesting reading if you're thinking/talking about Gawyn as a character can be found here:
from the comments:
One other way to think of it is thus: The Wheel will keep on turning, and the Age that we live in (or like unto it) will someday arrive. Legends from what is happening in these books will have survived, and become the Arthur legends during our day. Or, in other cases, stories of other characters have survived in other mythologies. (Look up the Slavic god Perun sometime.)
Perrin is not a god, nor is Gawyn the knight of that story I linked. But perhaps someone who lived long ago, in another Age, gave birth to rumors about a young nobleman who made a mistake, and bore the weight of that sin for the rest of his days. And that gave birth to stories, which in turn inspired a poet to write a tale.
I've looked up some info on Perun and there are indeed a number of striking parallels. Unfortunately, since there are many forms of the myths about Perun varying greatly with time and place, different sources seem to give very different information.
- Perun's symbol is an axe crossed by a hammer.<A HREF="#symbol">1</A>
- Perun's sacred animal (some sources say animal form) is a huge wild bull.<A HREF="#animal">2</A>
- Perun was mostly a god of war, related to the Nordic god Thor. His most ancient weapons are thunder and lightnings.
But he is also mentioned as a fertility god. In particular, many slavs believed that the spring doesn't start until the first spring thunderstorm which brings moisture necessary for the crops to grow.
- Perun's main weapons are some sort of throwing stones, arrows (two kinds are mentioned - thunder arrows and lightning arrows) and war axes<A HREF="#russian-wiki">3</A>. (The arrows might be a parallel to Perrin's force of Two River's long-bowmen). In Russian Perun legends (but not in those of other slavs) Perun also has a "palitsa" (not quite sure how to translate that, it seems to be similar to a mace).
- Perun has a big coppery beard which is particularly important. In some Russian fairy tales derived from Perun myths it even has magical properties<A HREF="#main-myth">4</A>. Nevertheless, I can predict with 100% confidence that this will not be the case for Perrin's beard.
- There are several myths about Perun but there is one which is the main one which has persisted the best through the years in various incarnations. It revolves around a fight of Perun with his arch-nemesis who is a snakelike-creature (sometimes with several heads) that committed some grievous offense against Perun (the nature of the offense varies). In some instances he is the god of the underworld or a guardian of the entrance to the underworld. Perun pursues his quarry relentlessly who, while trying to escape hides in some unusual places such as in water, in a tree, in stone and inside another person. The names of the main antagonists (Perun and his enemy) change in various later versions of the myth but the main structure of the myth remains the same: The fight consists of two distinct stages. In the first Perun wounds his snaky enemy but does not kill him. In one version of the myth he wounds him with an arrow, in another by throwing a lightning at him and in yet another by throwing his hat at him. I'm not sure how this last one is supposed to work. I guess the guy is an early version of Oddjob from Goldfinger.
In the second stage of the fight they tussle some more and Perun eventually kills his enemy. In the versions in which the enemy has several heads all of them had to be cut off to finish him off. After the enemy is killed it rains and the rain brings invigorating water to the fields and lets the crops grow rapidly. <A HREF="#main-myth">4</A>. I wonder if something like this is yet to come in relation to as yet unfulfilled viewing that Min had about Perrin:The strongest things I see about the big, curly-haired fellow are a wolf, and a broken crown, and trees flowering all around him.
-tEoTW, Ch 15
- Perun's father Svarog is often mentioned as a blacksmith but Perun is a balcksmith too. However, his blacksmithing seems to be mostly limited to making weapons. In some Russian fairy tales likely derived from the main Perun myth mentioned above the person who defeats the snaky guy is a magical blacksmith <A HREF="#blacksmith">5</A>.
- As I mentioned earlier Perun who is a Slavic thunder god is related to the Nordic thunder god Thor. I didn't do much reading on Thor but he certainly has obvious similarities to Perrin too. His main weapon is a huge magical hammer called Mjöllnir<A HREF="#hammer-thor">6</A>. That pretty much speaks for itself.
Given that so much of Perrin's character seems to be based on Perun and Thor I wonder if the part about talking to wolves comes from some myth too. There doesn't seem to be much of a connection between Perun and wolves (although I've seen some people speculating about it). I don't know about Thor.
Actually, I dug around some more and it does look like in some stories Perun is associated with wolves although this is not mentioned very often and there seems to be some debate about it. In some stories he can even turn into a wolf like in this story about Perun getting married to the daughter of the sea king.
In general, in Slavic mythology wolves were considered to be related to the other world - the world of the dead.
The next part is highly speculative (based on some comments by terez) but I thought I'd throw it in just for kicks. There is an extremely popular Russian fairy tale (every Russian knows it) called "Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf."
Like many other such stories it has many variations and I've seen a number of suggestions that the character of the grey wolf in this fairy tale is loosely based on Perun. I don't want to recount the whole fairy tale but the grey wolf is a very wise character in it and it helps out the main character Ivan Tsarevich repeatedly out of a number of increasingly tight spots. The last tight spot is particularly tight. Ivan Tsarevich gets killed! Then the wolf gets magical "dead water" ("mertvaya voda") and "water of life" ("zhivaya voda"). When the wolf sprinkles "dead water" on Ivan Tsarevich his wounds close and when he sprinkles "water of life" on him, Ivan Tsarevich comes back to life.
Now, this is a wild speculation but maybe Perrin will be involved in bringing Rand back to life in some fashion (accrding to Min he has to be there twice for Rand and the second time has not come to pass). Also, "mertvaya voda" and "zhyvaya voda" may be somehow related to spilling of Rand's blood which is supposed to happen twice "once for mourning and once for birth".
UPDATE: At the Q&A session at Polaris convention (Toronto, July 16)
BS confirmed the mythology connection to Perrin being wounded in the leg in the fight with Slayer in ToM that was suggested by Hael Me in this thread. Perrin gets wounded in the leg like many mythical dieties like greek god Vulcan. Perun was also wounded in the leg by his arch-enemy.
- <A NAME="symbol">Eastern Slavic religion</A>
- <A NAME="animal"> http://rusvarga.narod.ru/perun.htm</A>
- <A NAME="russian-wiki"> Perun entry on Russian wikipedia </A>
- <A NAME="main-myth"> Perun - Slavic thunder-god. </A>
- <A NAME="blacksmith"> http://mith.ru/alb/slavic/slav4.htm </A>
- <A NAME="hammer-thor"> Thor wikipedia entry </A>