Welcome back to another edition of "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. We are continuing our reread of The Eye of the World, with chapters 22 and 23.
Chapter 22, "A Path Chosen"
Perrin wakes up and it takes a moment for him to remember where he is and what happened the night before. He decides that if Egwene made it across the river, she would be further down than Perrin. He sets off to see if he can find her. He finds hoof prints with Master Luhhan's signature double crossbar, and knows that Bela made it across okay. He finds Egwene and Bela inside a small clearing—a fire lit in front of them.
Egwene has him sit down and dry off. They discuss what to do; Egwene wants to wait for Moiraine to find them, Perrin insists that they should keep moving. Perrin's plan is to cut across the wilderness and bypass Whitebridge, meeting the others in Caemlyn. Egwene agrees, though Perrin does wonder what will happen if the Aes Sedai isn't in Caemlyn. They might have to go to Tar Valon on their own.
Egwene has most of her supplies still, so they eat quickly, then begin to walk.
Chapter 23, "Wolfbrother"
As they walk, Perrin struggles with who is the leader between the two of them. Sometimes, Egwene is ready for him to make the decisions, other times she won't listen. They travel through the wilderness, not seeing anyone or anything. They run out of food quickly, and have to resort to hunting.
Perrin catches a rabbit, while Egwene is supposed to light the fire. When he comes back, the fire isn't lit and he realizes that Egwene was trying to use the Power. He asks her to stop using it, but she refuses.
They travel for a few miserable days when they smell smoke in the air. Perrin goes to investigate and finds a man who is roasting rabbits. Perrin calls for Egwene and they are both allowed to eat. The man is Elyas Machera, and he has golden eyes. Elyas chats with them for awhile before warning them to be still, that his friends are coming. His friends turn out to be four wolves: Dapple, Hopper, Burn, and Wind. Elyas says he can talk with them, and that Perrin can talk to them too.
Elyas asks them what they are doing out in the middle of nowhere, and Perrin and Egwene quickly launch into a rehearsed story about being from Saldaea and running away from home. Elyas knows it all lies, and what's worse, the wolves sensed Trollocs and Halfmen in their thoughts as they told the story. Elyas demands the truth, hoping they aren't Darkfriends. The wolves growl threateningly, so Perrin tells the whole story.
After he's finished, Elyas talks about his dislike of Aes Sedai, and how the Red Ajah tried to gentle him—he had to kill a few Warders to escape. But, he invites Perrin and Egwene to stay with him. They refuse, but he agrees to travel with them for a while.
When their plans are settled, Burn angrily stares at Dapple, then runs off into the night. Elyas says that Burn thinks they are wasting time with Perrin and Egwene, but Dapple runs the pack and she will go with Elyas and the Two Rivers folk. As Burn leaves, Perrin can feel him go.
Only a few chapters this time, but I think there's enough her to look at. Namely, Perrin and his Wolfbrother abilities. We get a very detailed description of Elyas' gradual awareness of the wolves:
"They found out,” Elyas replied, “I didn't. Not at first. That's always the way of it, I understand. The wolves find you, not you them. Some people thought me touched by the Dark One, because wolves started appearing wherever I went. I suppose I thought so, too, sometimes. Most decent folk began to avoid me, and the ones who sought me out weren't the kind I wanted to know, one way or another. Then I noticed there were times when the wolves seemed to know what I was thinking, to respond to what was in my head. That was the real beginning. They were curious about me. Wolves can sense people, usually, but not like this. They were glad to find me. They say it's been a long time since they hunted with men, and when they say a long time, the feeling I get is like a cold wind howling all the way down from the First Day."
From the sound of this, it was very gradual. And when we hear of Noam later (The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 8, "Jarra"), his transformation also seems to have happened slowly. Yet, here is Perrin, being told he can talk to wolves, and after just an hour or two, he can feel the wolves. He also puts a name to Hopper, and then wonders how he did it.
But, maybe it didn't happen so quickly. What if the wolves had been tracking Perrin for a while? In chapter 1, we learned that there are more wolves in the Two Rivers than before.
"An Empty Road"
Winter had been bad enough on the farms, worse than even the oldest folk remembered, but it must have been harsher still in the mountains, if the number of wolves driven down into the Two Rivers was any guide. Wolves raided the sheep pens and chewed their way into barns to get the cattle and horses.
Those wolves might have been able to sense Perrin already. We have no contextual proof, but they could have been lurking near Perrin. Perrin might have been exposed to the Wolfbrother bonds already. I am certain that if Perrin hadn't left the Two Rivers, he still would have been turned into a Wolfbrother—probably just not as quickly.
There's also a phrase Perrin uses, when we get his first point-of-view chapter. When he see's Master Luhhan's double crossbar horseshoe tracks, he is able to follow the trail using his "sharp vision." However, later in the book, Rand wonders about Perrin's vision:
Chapter 46, "Fal Dara"
Rand glanced sideways at Perrin, trying not to stare. His eyes were sharper than Perrin's — or had been, when they used to hunt rabbits together — but he had not been able to see that scythe-blade well enough to make out any rust.
So, Perrin thinks of his eyes as sharp, but Rand thinks of Perrin's eyes as weak. Or, had the transformation already taken place before they left the Two Rivers, and Rand had never been around to see it? He's been on the farm for a while—only coming to Emond's Field rarely—so Perrin's abilities could have increased without Rand noticing. In fact, as quiet as Perrin seems to be, it's not something he would likely tell others about, or maybe he didn't even notice it himself.
Of course, the other explanation is that Perrin's ta'veren nature sped up the Wolfbrother skills. This is likely, as well, but too much of a convenience. I'd like to think that not everything in the story happens because of the ta'veren. But, it's possible.
Another thing about Perrin is that he already balks at being the leader. Many readers complain about how he drags his feet when he's put in charge of the Mayeners and the Ghealdanin, but it was in his character all along. That was the way Perrin would have acted—we can see the beginnings of it here.
Also, why are so many Talents (including Wolfbrother abilities) connected to the sealing of the Bore? Elyas says:
"This is an old thing, boy. Older than Aes Sedai. Older than anybody using the One Power. Old as humankind. Old as wolves. They don't like that either, Aes Sedai. Old things coming again. I'm not the only one. There are other things, other folk. Makes Aes Sedai nervous, makes them mutter about ancient barriers weakening. Things are breaking apart, they say. They're afraid the Dark One will get loose, is what."
With the weakening of the Seals, all these Talents come back. It isn't a link to the Dark One, right? It's more that the world will need these abilities for the hard times ahead. Or is it that since the Dark One was locked up, the Pattern, to compensate for the loss of so much evil, had to remove some of the forces of good?
And what other Talents has the world lost? Hurin's sniffer abilities? Min's viewings? These do seem to be forces of the Light, which would need to increase as the Shadow's influence was increasing as well. I think that's what makes the most sense.
I did get a bit sidetracked on the talk of Talents and Seals, but it's all in good fun. I think we'll have to stop there. Next time, we'll get to see Rand and Mat sneaking downriver on The Spray. Thanks for reading!