In this entry of my first reading of Winter's Heart, Perrin starts his desperate search for Faile, thus beginning the apparent Subplot of Doom.
Chapter 1: Leaving the Prophet
Perrin and the others emerge from their meeting with Masema in Abila. Colors swirl in his head when he thinks about Rand. Perrin is infuriated with Masema’s refusal to travel to Cairhien by gateway. He has, however, agreed to bring only a hundred of his men. Balwer reports that King Ailron and his Amadician army were defeated by the Seanchan, although the Whitecloaks under Valda escaped to the east. The Seanchan, however, lost a large battle in southern Altara, driven back to Ebou Dar. Perrin thinks of Faile as he returns to the camp.
Not the best way to start off the book, with this very uneventful chapter. There’s little to comment on it, and it evokes the more tedious sections of TPoD. WH rarely receives the hate TPoD and CoT receive (probably becaue of the ending), so I hope this lull subsides. Maybe it’s just Perrin boredom. I want to be interested in this subplot, but the pace is gonna have to pick up to invest me. Jordan can’t spend an entire chapter on Perrin leaving Abila, just like the Supergirls’ departure from Ebou Dar should never have required three chapters.
There were a few things I noticed, though. Colors concerning Rand. What kind of ta’veren phenomenon is this? Interesting. I can sympathize with Perrin on Masema’s stubbornness. This is going to complicate absolutely everything. It looks like Amadicia has officially fallen to the Seanchan (well, it was all but conquered in the previous two books, but now the military response has been crushed), which doesn’t bode well for the Whitecloaks, which is a plus.
Speaking of the Whitecloaks, I’ve been noticing how little they’ve factored into the plot in the last few books. We haven’t really seen much of them since the prologue of ACoS, when the big coup occurred. I was expecting to see the ramifications of that, but beyond Morgase’s quick departure from Amador, I haven’t gotten to see Valda and his new Whitecloak force yet. I was hoping that would have more relevance on the plot, but it seems the Amador plots in LoC and ACoS were strictly to further Morgase’s storyline, the Whitecloaks just a backdrop. I hope Jordan brings them back into the focus, as they’re a very interesting antagonistic focus, and they’ve just had a political upheaval that should logically make them a bigger threat (considering Valda and Asunawa are definitely worse than Niall). Maybe Perrin will encounter the fleeing Whitecloak army in his travels?
Chapter 2: Taken
Perrin finds the camp in chaos due to a conflict between the Mayeners and Ghealdanin. Berelain explains to Perrin about the capture of Faile and her retinue by Aiel. She and Elyas attempt to reassure Perrin, Elyas and Aram dispatched to scout with the Warders. Alliandre’s First Captain Arganda intends to question the Aiel accompanying Perrin, but is assured there is no need. Basel Gill shirks away when Perrin approaches his tent. Lini confirms Maighdin was captured alongside Faile, but Perrin promises to rescue them all. He accompanies a mournful Tallanvor on a nearby ridge.
Again, this was an uneventful chapter, but I was waiting for the moment when Perrin learned what happened, and I admit it was pretty much what I expected. Perrin is gonna be a trainwreck here for a while. His obsession with Faile often shifts from endearing to irritating and detrimental, and I feel this is only going to increase as this so-called Subplot of Doom initiates. I’m still curious whether there’s a reason for Gill’s fear of Perrin. Is Jordan going to elaborate on this?
Chapter 3: Customs
Faile and the other captives are naked and forced to march through the snow alongside the Shaido patrol. Faile and many of the others are eventually carried due to the frostbite. Alliandre and Maighdin, overly proud, are beaten for their defiance. Faile attempts to remain focused to avoid the cold, but eventually descends into nightmares about Perrin, as well as freezing and burning. She awakens to receive tea while shrouded in a cloak. Faile notices there are thousands of Shaido nearby and starts to lose hope.
This was a slightly more interesting chapter. I sort of had a feeling Jordan was going to express in great detail the imprisonment and abuse of these poor girls. As if Morgase hasn’t suffered enough… Faile’s hardly the most likeable character, but I’m definitely not looking forward to watching her receive the same punishment that made Galina a little more sympathetic. I’m curious how their interaction will proceed, by the way. Outside of, you know, nearly freezing to death, Faile seems to have endured this first stage of her captivity relatively unscathed, but I’m sure Sevanna is gonna change that. As sympathetic as I am of Morgase, I’m hoping she starts acting more rational, because her and Alliandre’s defiance isn’t making escape any easier for Faile.
Chapter 4: Offers
Sevanna, Therava, and Someryn confront the new gai’shain. Alliandre reveals all of their identities and demands better treatment. Galina eagerly confirms that Alliandre indeed is the Queen of Ghealdan. Sevanna has Galina heal the captives, and Faile is stunned to find so obsequious a servant an Aes Sedai. Faile and the others are garbed in white clothes and distinctive jewelry befitting the direct servants of Sevanna.
They start marching amongst the Shaido, but are confronted by some Wise Ones. Therava claims she will free the girls from perpetual servitude if they spy on Sevanna. Galina appears, no longer acting like a sycophant, and Faile reluctantly reveals her own identity, which intrigues Galina. She promises to help them escape if they retrieve the binder rod from Therava’s tent.
This chapter is definitely more exciting than the previous, as I’ve always been a little intrigued by Sevanna and her interactions with the Wise Ones. The animosity between her and the likes of Therava will hopefully result in this whole procession collapsing and allow for Faile and company to escape. However, being pressured into the service of Therava and Galina isn’t exactly hopeful. This chapter reminded me Galina hasn’t been entirely broken and still retains some of her deplorable Black Ajah-esque traits.
Jordan has definitely written this feeling of despair well in these Shaido chapters, and I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Therava and Galina’s approaches. Sevanna definitely isn’t the only person amongst the Shaido the girls have to worry about. I imagine they’ll have to tread very softly if they want to steal the binder, because it seems better to fail Galina than Therava, considering what we’ve seen of her in the past. I’m hoping Alliandre doesn’t make any more stupid outbursts, now more than ever.
Chapter 5: Flags
Perrin searches for Faile as a wolf, and is confronted by Hopper. He awakens unclothed in a bed in Berelain’s tent. She tells them her scouts have been discovered dead. Perrin gets dressed while Berelain leaves for food, and is offered a truce when she returns. Perrin is confused, which angers Berelain. She announces that the Prophet is arriving with well above the agreed retinue of soldiers. She also knows that Masema was treating with Seanchan because of Faile’s spies. Perrin leaves looking for Masema and notices his plan to disguise the mission with the banners is now impossible because of the size of the Prophet’s forces, and fears for the ramifications of this.
Right after the previous chapter, which was rather strong, we have another relatively tedious Perrin chapter, one which reaffirms that when she’s not politicking for Rand, Berelain is incredibly annoying. She’s playing her insipid games with Perrin now, of all times? And it seems rumors are propagating too because of her advances. Won’t Faile be pleased to find the camp convinced that Perrin and Berelain are in love?
Who killed Berelain’s scouts if not the Aiel? The Dragonsworn? Unsurprisingly, it certainly seems as if Masema is gonna be a detriment to this entire expedition. Right off the bat, he ignores Perrin’s demands and arrives with an entire army. Although the significance of the ending to this chapter was confusingly worded, I think I understand now that the banners Perrin has been using are now defunct. Wandering Ghealdan with an army of ravaging Dragonsworn is not going to help Perrin’s chances.
Chapter 6: The Scent of Madness
Perrin speaks with Dannil, and decides for the army to ride towards the site of the ambush and then use a gateway. Gill explains Lini’s recent abrasive behavior as a result of the rumors about his relationship with Berelain, which infuriates Perrin. He lashes out at Cha Faile, and they agree to obey him. The scouting party returns, and Sulin reports that Faile and the others were taken gai’shain and therefore alive. Perrin decides to Travel forty miles south. Masema suddenly appears with a portion of his soldiers, and he mentions that some of his soldiers think of Perrin as Shadowspawn for his eyes. Perrin explains the crisis, and Masema agrees to Travel only once to help out. Perrin smells only madness.
So this is the end of Perrin’s arc for the book, and I’m surprised by how little happened, after TPoD’s cliffhanger. I suppose that’s why this is the Subplot of Doom. One book into it, and we’re only just setting the pieces into motion. Well, hopefully the pace picks up after this. It seems I was right about Berelain spreading rumors. I’ve always sort of liked Lini as an irascible old wise woman, but her role in all of this harmful rumor-mongering is definitely decreasing her worth in my eyes. Perrin’s anger is definitely justifiable.
At least he won’t have to worry about Faile being alive or not, now that he knows she’s gai’shain, although it’s still far from reassuring. The last bit really confused me. So Masema is actually agreeing to Travel, all to help out Perrin in finding Faile? He’s definitely up to something, but this still doesn’t make much sense. He seems much too zealous for this kind of ambiguity. Why’s he willing to Travel for Perrin and not to meet the Dragon Reborn, of all people? Confusing. I guess we’ll learn more in CoT.