Hello, everyone. Welcome back to "WoT If?". Sorry to keep you in suspense for a week over what topic we would be discussing. This time, I want to look at one specific scene in The Shadow Rising and examine why Perrin finds it so difficult to leave the Stone of Tear. As always:
We all know that the Pattern swirls around our three ta'veren, but it's also true that the Pattern forces them to do its bidding. Loial is the one who brings this up the most:
Chapter 3, "Friends and Enemies"
"For a time, the Wheel will bend the Pattern around you three, whatever you do. And whatever you do is more likely to be chosen by the Wheel than by you. Ta'veren pull history along behind them and shape the Pattern just by being, but the Wheel weaves ta'veren on a tighter line than other men. Wherever you go and whatever you do, until the Wheel chooses otherwise you will — "
Chapter 2, "Saidin"
"It's said that if you were in the same room with Artur Hawkwing, you could feel the Pattern rearranging itself. I don't know how true that is, but I've read that it was. But it doesn't only work one way. Ta'veren themselves are woven to a tighter line than the rest of us, with fewer choices."
And even Hawkwing himself speaks of the Pattern's demands:
The Great Hunt
Chapter 47, "The Grave Is No Bar To My Call"
"The Wheel spins us out for its purposes, not ours, to serve the Pattern."
"The Pattern weaves itself around our necks like halters," Artur Hawkwing said. "You are here. The banner is here. The weave of this moment is set. We have come to the Horn, but we must follow the banner. And the Dragon."
So, if the Pattern—or more specifically, the Wheel—is deciding who goes where and who does what, why does Perrin have trouble leaving the Stone of Tear? We know he had to go back home, to become Lord of the Two Rivers, to marry Faile, etc. Why is there this conflict of interest? Let's look at the scene in The Shadow Rising.
The Shadow Rising
Chapter 18, "Into the Ways"
Rand. Perrin knew it was him. The pull of ta'veren dragged at him, two whirlpools in a stream drawing one another. Coughing in the falling dust, he shook his head as hard as he could, straining not to dismount and run back up into the Stone. "We ride!" he shouted while tremors still shook the fortress. "We ride now, Loial! Now!"
Perrin was right behind with his own packhorse, wishing the Ogier's animal could run faster, wishing he could leave Loial's lumbering mount behind and outrun the suction trying to draw him back, that pull of ta'veren to ta'veren. They galloped together through the streets of Tear, toward the rising sun, barely slowing to avoid carts and carriages. Men in tight coats and women with layered aprons, still shaken by the upheaval, stared at them, dazed, sometimes barely leaping out of the way.
At the walls of the inner city paving stones gave way to dirt, shoes and coats to bare feet and bare chests above baggy breeches held up by broad sashes. The folk here dodged no less assiduously, though, for Perrin would not let Stepper slow until they had galloped past the city's outer wall, past the simple stone houses and shops that clustered outside the city proper, into a countryside of scattered farms and thickets and beyond the pull of ta'veren. Only then, breathing almost as hard as his lathered horse, he reined Stepper to a walk.
Perrin assumes he is unable to leave because of the pull of Rand, ta'veren to ta'veren. But how does he come to this conclusion? When it is time for Mat to leave—after the victory in Cairhien—he does so with no problem. Also, after Perrin is reunited with Rand and leaves again, there is no resistance.
This seems to be an isolated incident. There's no doubt the ta'veren are drawn to one another, especially when one of them is in need. For example:
"I know," he said softly. "I can feel him tugging at me."
His voice was so strange that she reached up to grip his short beard and make him look down at her. His golden eyes, still as strange and mysterious to her as ever, looked sad. "What do you mean? You might think fondly of Gwil, but he — "
"It's Rand, Faile. He needs me."
After things settle in the Two Rivers, Perrin feels the tugging. He knows Rand needs him, and he does. Right after they reunite, Rand is kidnapped by the Tower Aes Sedai and Perrin is the one who leads the rescue mission.
However, this tugging is not the same one Perrin felt at the Stone. At the Stone, the pull seemed almost violent. Perrin physically struggled to get away from its grasp. In the Two Rivers, it's calmer, a sensation of nagging, a slight tickle. Notice Perrin doesn't jump on his horse in quick motions and run as fast as he can, as he did in Tear. His voice is "sad" rather than frantic.
To me, this shows that the tugging in Tear was something of an anomaly, and that makes me wonder why. I can only see two different reasons why there is such a pull.
First, Perrin believes in it. He assumes it is the pull of ta'veren, but that doesn't mean it's true. The whole thing could be in his head, due to his strong sense of duty. He, unlike Mat, recognizes his role in Rand's life, but still wants to go home to save his family, if he can. When he and Mat discuss going home, Perrin acknowledges that he is straying from his duty to Rand:
The Shadow Rising
Chapter 13, "Rumors"
"You don't have to," Perrin said quietly. "Nothing I heard mentioned you. Only Rand, and me."
"Burn me, I will g—" He could not say it. Thinking of going was easy enough, but saying he would? His throat tightened up to strangle the words. "Is it easy for you, Perrin? Going, I mean? Don't you...feel anything? Trying to hold you back? Telling you reasons you shouldn't go?"
"A hundred of them, Mat, but I know it comes down to Rand, and ta'veren. You won't admit that, will you? A hundred reasons to stay, but the one reason to go outweighs them. The Whitecloaks are in the Two Rivers, and they'll hurt people trying to find me. I can stop it, if I go."
"Burn me, Perrin. Burn me! I want to g-g— See? I can't even say it, now. Like my head knows I'll do it if I say it. I can't even get it out in my mind!"
Notice how Mat isn't able to say he'd go. If Perrin can plan, and Mat cannot, it seems the Pattern is okay with Perrin making the trip, or else he'd be in the same boat as Mat. So, the Pattern is fine with it, Rand's thread is fine with it, and it's only Perrin's disappointment in running that holds him back.
The second reason, which is a stretch, I'll admit, is interference by the Dark One or the Forsaken. We know Lanfear was wandering around the Stone the previous night. We know she visited Perrin in his dreams (The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 4, "Shadows Sleeping"). It's possible that she used Compulsion on him, to make him stay. Mat does hear from the Aelfinn that he will be killed by "those who do not want that fate fulfilled" (The Shadow Rising, Chapter 15, "Into the Doorway") if he doesn't go to Rhuidean. Perhaps Perrin would suffer the same fate if he didn't go back to Emond's Field? And at this point, the Dark One does want all of them dead.
On a side note, after Perrin being tugged to Rand during Lord of Chaos, I can only recall two times when the ta'veren pull comes into play. And both of them are in regards to Mat pulling someone he needs. First is Talmanes:
Chapter 18, " A Peculiar Calling"
"I thought it might be so," he sighed. "I have...felt...something, for weeks now. Others in the Band have, too. Not urgent, but always there. As if he needed me. As if I should look south, anyway. It can be peculiar, following a ta'veren."
And later, in The Gathering Storm, the Pattern forces Verin into Mat's path:
The Gathering Storm
Chapter 36, "The Death of Tuon"
"Do you realize how strongly ta'veren you are, young man?" Verin asked.
Mat shrugged. "Rand's the one you want for that sort of thing. Honestly, I'm barely anything compared to him." Blasted colors!
"Oh, I wouldn't consider downplaying the Dragon's importance," Verin said, chuckling. "But you can't hide your light in his shadow, Matrim Cauthon. Not in the presence of any but the blind, at least. In any other time, you'd undoubtedly be the most powerfully ta'veren individual alive. Probably the most powerful to have lived in centuries."
Mat shifted on the bench. Bloody ashes, he hated the way that made him look as if he was squirming. Maybe he should just stand up. "What are you talking about, Verin?" he said instead. He folded his arms and tried to at least pretend that he was comfortable.
"I'm talking about how you yanked me halfway across the continent." Her smile widened as a soldier entered with a steaming cup of mint tea. She took it gratefully, and the soldier retreated.
"Yanked you?" Mat said. "You were looking for me."
"Only after I determined that the Pattern was tugging me somewhere." Verin blew on her tea. "That meant you or Perrin. It couldn't have been Rand's fault, since I'd been able to leave that one easily."
All this ta'veren tugging seems random and inconsistent, to me. Why is the pull so strong in Tear? Why does the sensation get milder as the series continues? Perhaps their urgency to be together decreases with the ability to see what the others are doing? There is a spike in the swirling colors in the last few books, so maybe.
That's all for this week. I'd really love comments about things I've missed or overlooked in relation to the ta'veren tug. Next week, as Metal Head requested, we'll take a closer look at Padan Fain and his role in the rest of the series.