In this entry, Perrin hunts restlessly for Faile's Shaido captors, contending with Masema undermining his authority and a colossal Darkhound pack passing the encampment.
Chapter 5: The Forging of a Hammer
Perrin smells a horrific stench in the wolf dreams. He suddenly wakes, and calls to wolves in the hopes of identifying it. Their only response is that the Last Hunt is coming. It has been 22 days since Faile was kidnapped. Initially, Grady and Neald Traveled rapidly, searching and eventually forced to backtrack to find the Shaido turned east. Perrin has been proceeding with more caution since. Upon awakening, Perrin is approached by Balwer and Selande with news. Selande reports that Haviar and Nerion sighted Masema sending a rider towards Amadicia. Masema has gathered followers amounting to 10,000. Selande adds that Masuri and Rovair, and sometimes Annoura, have met with Masema. After Selande leaves, Aram, Perrin, and Balwer walk through the camps. Perrin has been treated differently because of the rumors about Berelain and him. He discusses with Balwer whether Masema treats with Whitecloaks or Seanchan. Perrin suggests inserting members of Cha Faile in the Aiel camp and with Berelain. Balwer enjoys working for Perrin.
Now we return to Perrin’s storyline… At least I liked Mat’s! I can’t say I’m all that invested with Perrin searching for Faile for another book or two. This is the alleged Subplot of Doom, after all. And it doesn’t help I’ve never been terribly interested in Perrin’s character from the start. This chapter itself served to reacquaint us with Perrin’s storyline, but did we really require 5 pages to describe the variety of soldiers in his army? We already know about the Two Rivers’ folk, and the Aiel, and the Mayeners, etcetera…
Masema’s still rather interesting, however. Whether he’s conspiring with Whitecloaks or Seanchan, it’s trouble for Perrin. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who found Masema’s agreeing to Travel in order to locate Faile incredibly uncharacteristic. Does he not have a problem with Gateways, and just wants to avoid Rand? And why the hell would Masuri be treating with him? Very suspicious. Hopefully Balwer finds answers, I’m trusting him more as a character. Of course, his flattery to Perrin might just be that, flattery, but hopefully Balwer actually retains some loyalty to Perrin.
Chapter 6: The Scent of a Dream
When Perrin and Aram ride from the camp, the former smells the scent from the dream, recognizing it as that of Darkhounds. Perrin finds the huge paw prints in stone. He follows the trail by himself, thinking about his past experiences with Darkhounds. Their trail circles the entire camp, but eventually heads south. Perrin finds a party waiting for him when he returns, and receives a hidden note stolen from Masema’s desk, written from Suroth. Annoura advised Berelain to destroy the note. Perrin explains to Berelain that Annoura and Masuri have met with Masema. Perrin then reveals to the party the Darkhound tracks.
This was actually a somewhat interesting capture, reintroducing the Darkhounds. It’s felt like literally forever since we’ve encountered them. What was it, the beginning of TFoH? What I do remember of Darkhounds is that they’re a rather nasty creation of the Shadow. The threat of an entire pack of them amounting to at least fifty attacking Perrin’s encampment is certainly ominous, but it seems they have a different target in mind, logically Rand, although I suppose it could be anyone. I hope something becomes of this mystery, because the Darkhounds are rather interesting.
This chapter has reminded me how much this series has changed since the earlier entries. Not only have we not encountered a Darkhound in novels, what about the trollocs who used to be everywhere? Has it really been since ACoS that we’ve seen them, the footsoldiers of the Dark One’s army? Not to mention other Shadowspawn like draghkar… That’s not to say I prefer the mystical fantasy elements of the series to the political and whatnot, but I would love for the mystique to return to the series a little. There’s just something highly nostalgic about the older novels, when the constant threat of the Shadow attacking loomed over readers. But I suppose the heroes have graduated from trollocs to bigger foes now.
Also of note is Masema. Just what the hell is he up to, working with the Seanchan? It’s been obvious since TFoH that the man is a zealous nutcase and hardly has Rand’s interests at heart, but he’s recently displayed some alarming cunning, working behind Perrin’s back with some hidden agenda. His image being that of a rabid dog, his machinations are surprising and I’m fascinated to see what becomes of them.
Chapter 7: Blacksmith’s Puzzle
Perrin explains about the Darkhound tracks. Masuri inspects the tracks, being an expert in Darkhounds, and explains what she knows about them, and their packs. She claims this pack is unfamiliar, and numbering to a staggering fifty, traveling with a sense of urgency. Masema approaches, arriving with three hundred men. He announces his men discovered a large town, So Habor, with large stores of food. Perrin refuses to change course with Faile still imprisoned. Two scouts return from the east.
There’s not too much to comment on concerning this chapter. The confrontation with Masema is rather tense. If there’s one thing Jordan’s been describing about this plotline’s setting, it’s the sheer contrast in the forces involved, with Mayeners, Ghealdanin, Wise Ones, Aes Sedai, Two Rivers’ men, Dragonsworn, etcetera, all under one tentative banner. Infuriatingly enough, Perrin’s losing what little control he previously had over this disparate army because of the rumors. Even if Berelain didn’t propagate them, she should have the decency to quash debilitating slander like that, but of course she wouldn’t. Anyway, I’m rather curious to see how far these escalating tensions will go. Obviously, conflict with Masema is inevitable, but will there be further dissension among Perrin’s ranks? I suppose we’ll see.
Perrin’s dedication to Faile, which I presume won’t decrease anytime soon, is commendable and all, but it’s always clouded his judgment and that’s getting increasingly apparent. I mean, Rand never lost sight of things in his relationship with his three women, why must Perrin consider everything irrelevant when Faile’s safety is threatened? Certainly, rescuing Faile is important, but there’s plenty else to consider, like feeding a wandering army in wintertime. I’m thinking this visit to So Habor might be important, although if Masema’s recommending it, perhaps caution should be retained.
Finally, Masuri’s little speech on the Darkhounds was pretty interesting, providing more information on them, although I’m not certain how much it will matter if the Darkhounds really do pass Perrin by. I hope we actually see them again, because they’re rather intriguing. This specific pack obviously has an important purpose. Not only is it unnaturally large (seriously, fifty sounds like quite a number, given how many Darkhounds have been present at a time earlier in the series), but it has that sense of urgency. That suggests an important target, naturally.
Chapter 8: Whirlpools of Color
Perrin hurriedly rushes to Elyas and the Maiden. Elyas reports the Shaido have camped around a city to the east, with ten thousand soldiers and four hundred Wise Ones. Arganda suggests a ransom, and Annoura negotiation, but Perrin refuses. Elyas explains that Darkhounds are wolves corrupted by the Shadow, and that they’re fated to battle wolves in the Last Battle. Grady and the others Travel to a slope to the east. They survey the surrounding region, and find the Shaido encampments swarming the city. Colors suddenly erupt in Perrin’s head and he sees Rand and Nynaeve facing each other. The Aes Sedai witnessed it as well. Perrin decides to ignore it and orders Sulin to procure Shaido prisoners.
Well, this is the end of this clump of Perrin chapters, although there’s some more later in the novel. I would say these chapters were slightly more enjoyable than the Mat ones, as there were some important developments. Of course, these chapters could’ve been easily condensed into two or even one, but nonetheless, I’m interested in the Darkhound, Masema, and Shaido storylines, if only they’d go somewhere. At least there was progress in the latter, Perrin finally locating the city where Faile’s held. But naturally Perrin has an entire army of Shaido to contend with now.
I’m not certain whether I agree with his refusal to negotiate or consider a ransom. I’m thinking Perrin lacks the sufficient numbers to assault the Shaido, especially given the amount of Wise Ones present, so subterfuge might be the only solution. Perhaps setting a trap for the Shaido under the ruse of a ransom could work? Or an infiltration? But maybe the old-fashioned metho would be most effective, we’ll have to wait and see. This chapter also has Perrin’s storyline caught up to the cleansing of saidin. I’m starting to sense a pattern. Will Elayne and Egwene’s chapters also conclude with the cleansing? If so, I can further understand the frustration with this book, if it’s all essentially catching up. A little catch-up with neglected storylines is necessary, but this…
Chapter 9: Traps
Faile reports to the Wise One Someryn concerning Sevanna while doing her master’s laundry. There are about seventy thousand Shaido in the camp. The Wise Ones are suddenly stunned by something in the northwest. Faile proceeds through the city of Malden, and Chiad reports she and Bain ensured Lacile and Arrela’s escape earlier. Although the two Aiel pledge to help Faile escape, they refuse to violate ji’e’toh by escaping themselves. As Faile continues on her way, she is carried away by the huge warrior, Nadric, but rescued by Rolan. Faile considers befriending Rolan to secure his aid.
Faile approaches Alliandre when delivering the laundry. Maighdin is attempting to retrieve the Oath Rod from Therava. However, she appears, caught and punished. Galina berates Maighdin, but the gai’shain Aravine intervenes, summoning Faile to Sevanna. They discover Arrela and Lacile, recaptured, naked, and hogtied. Aravine pledges her loyalty to Faile, hoping to escape. Sevanna argues with Therava, who wishes to flee eastward because of the unknown channeling. Sevanna refuses, and then shows Faile the knife Galina brought her. As punishment, Faile is left like Arrela and Lacile for the night. However, Rolan appears, warming and massaging her. Faile vows to escape.
I mentioned while reading through Perrin’s chapters in WH that I most enjoyed the Faile developments out of them. Faile’s experience in Shaido captivity continues to be more interesting than Perrin sulking and dealing with a very frustrating and divided army. This very long chapter didn’t follow up much on the things established in WH (Therava, Galina, and Sevanna’s contradicting agendas, and Faile’s plans to escape), but it was still a rather entertaining setting to read about. I’m starting to hope Faile escapes rather than Perrin rescues her. I think it’d certainly make for a more interesting resolution to this prolonged plotline.
Faile’s encounter with Nadric was rather surprising, and emphasizes how, well, terrible her present situation is. Faile was very much nearly raped here, which is horrifying by itself, but I didn’t expect it on top of the other abuses she’s been subject to, ranging from humiliation to punishment to, as seen in the chapter’s conclusion, being trussed up on a table. And Robert Jordan’s no George R.R. Martin, rape and attempted rape, as unfortunately likely as it would be in situations like this, very rarely evident in Randland. So that was a certainly alarming scene.
I’m not certain what to make of Aravine. I’m not prepared to trust her so quickly, considering how precarious Faile’s situation is, but if she stays true to her word… Arrela and Lacile’s recapture was surprising, I was hoping at least they’d make it. Finally, Rolan… I really hope Faile doesn’t warm to him too much, because his behavior is rather discomforting. No way that massage wasn’t sexual, whether Rolan ‘likes woman that way or not’ (by the way, I believe that’s the first implication of a gay or bisexual man in Randland, just as a note). I’m all for Faile securing his trust to escape, as long as she doesn’t actually get too close to him…