Monday, July 30, 2001

Perrin the Blacksmith

By Linda

This theory looks at other contributions Perrin may make to the Last Battle aside from his role as Wolf King and berserker warrior.

In the early books of the series, which so often set up themes or events that become crucial much later, Perrin’s training as a blacksmith is prominent. This culminated in Perrin working in a forge on-screen in Tear. The smith pronounced Perrin’s work as his master’s piece and gave him the hammer as a token of this and how Perrin should return to smithing. (The hammer also has Masonic associations: it is symbolic of the Master of the Lodge.)

In earlier times the whole society depended on their blacksmiths to forge their weapons and tools (it’s why Aiel blacksmiths can’t be taken gai’shain). Since The Dragon Reborn, the only forging Perrin has done is organising the armament and disposition of his forces, tempering them and himself into something stronger. The techniques he learned in his craft have been adapted by him quite effectively to his duties. Yet he may also make something physically that is needed for the Last Battle.

Perrin reminds himself (and us) regularly of his underused potential as an artisan:

Did he even remember what a good forge hammer felt like?

- A Crown of Swords, High Chasaline

but he hasn’t crafted anything of vital import yet.

What could Perrin make?

Perrin may have an input into the design or use of Mat’s gunpowder weapons in Caemlyn, just as Prometheus, a parallel of Mat, ‘borrowed’ the smith god Hephaestus’ fire.

Or perhaps an important sword, such as Justice, is broken and he reforges it.

Perrin may refuse to be involved in making weapons – he hasn’t made any, or assisted in the making of them before, even though his mentor Haral Luhhan made a battleaxe for merchant’s guard, the very axe Perrin carried for so long and of high enough quality that Child Byar said it was made by a master:

He [Byar] hefted the axe and gave a surprised grunt, then whirled it in a tight arc above his head that barely missed the top of the tent. He handled it as surely as if he had been born with an axe in his hands. A look of grudging admiration flickered across his face, but by the time he lowered the axe he was expressionless once more.
"Excellently balanced, my Lord Captain. Plainly made, but by a very good weaponsmith, perhaps even a master." His eyes burned darkly at the prisoners. "Not a villager's weapon, my Lord Captain. Nor a farmer's."

- The Eye of the World, Children of Shadow

This confirms the high standard of Perrin’s training. (And that Perrin and Byar yet have unfinished business. Note that one smith supplied Perrin’s axe and the other his hammer.)

Perhaps Perrin makes something crucial for the Last Battle or Fourth Age out of iron that is turned into cuendillar (by, say, Egwene). The women doing the forging of magical items need materials to start with - the coins that Elayne made into the a'dam, the iron articles that were turned to cuendillar – and these were made by craftsmen such as Perrin. It is an example of the balance theme, and the necessity for both sexes to work together.

Perrin is close to two groups with great craftsmen: the Ogier, who are brilliant artisans and slow like Perrin (he even fights with an axe, like Ogier do), and the Tinkers, who are brilliant menders. Both these groups have an important part to play in the Last Battle. I think that Perrin’s skills – on a physical as well as metaphorical level – will also directly contribute to that victory. Certainly representatives of all three groups – Ogier, Tinker and Aiel - were with Perrin and contributed to the great victory in the Two Rivers. From the beginning of the series the Two Rivers has been a microcosm of the whole World, so, as in the battle of the Two Rivers, Perrin will get these three groups – the Ogier, the Aiel and the Tinkers to work together to help Rand defeat the Shadow. And he will craft a crucial item. The Wolf King might use the hammer at the last to make rather than destroy.

It’s probably important – at least from the point of view of the Aiel or any ‘new Da’shain’, or even the Song-seeking Tinkers - that Perrin has never forged a sword or even participated in the making of such a weapon. Perhaps not many highly skilled blacksmiths can say the same.

Perrin’s parallels with smith gods show that he may pay a physical price; many smith gods are lamed, usually by those who force them to work for them. In The Gathering Storm there has been some emphasis on Perrin feeling unable to run and jump freely with the wolves in the Dream:

'Jump down, Young Bull. Jump. It is safe.' As always, the Sending from the wolf came as a mixture of scents and images. Perrin was getting better and better at interpreting those — the soft earth as a representation of the ground, rushing wind as an image of jumping, the scent of relaxation and calmness to indicate there was no need to fear.
"But how?"
'Times before, you always rushed ahead, like a pup newly weaned. Jump. Jump down!' Far below, Hopper sat on his haunches in the field, grinning up at Perrin.
Perrin ground his teeth and muttered a curse or two for stubborn wolves. It seemed to him that the dead ones were particularly bull-headed. Though Hopper did have a point. Perrin had leaped before in this place, if never from the sky itself...
'Run,' Hopper urged, obviously confused at Perrin's reluctance.
"I can't," Perrin said, stopping.

- The Gathering Storm, Embers and Ash

He has ‘hamstrung’ himself. Wolves usually do the hamstringing rather than be victims of it. I wonder if this isn’t an indication that Perrin will be grievously wounded in the leg.

Byar for one, would jump at the chance to kill Perrin. So would Fain, who has a malignant dagger.

Even more suggestively Isam hunted Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod, where hurts taken don’t Heal as completely as those suffered in the waking world, and Tel’aran’rhiod is where Perrin felt hamstrung. Foreshadowing?


RabidWombat said...

Interesting idea about Perrin becoming lamed.

I have doubts about Perrin making something as a blacksmith, though. After all, he was never anything more than an apprentice. There has to be plenty of much better blacksmiths who don't have other more critical things to do.

As a really wild hypothesis, that might be related to this. I stumbled across a myth, iirc, about a Tua'ha'than King who lost his hand and had another forged for him. Maybe Perrin could forge the hand and have it saidared ;) so that Rand can control it. Ok, that is a major stretch from one myth that I only have a vague recollection of, but it is fun to go out on a limb you are sawing off every once in a while.

Jack o' Shadows said...

I believe that Perrin may take physical injury, and it will probably be his legs, but that it will not be beyond the healing of Aes Sedai, or Flinn. I think it is more likely that said wound will bring him to the brink of death, and that he has a more metaphysical/ mental injury that makes both fighting (fear of berserker becoming permanent) and the Way of the Leaf (self loathing for violence, wolf-like tendencies) impossible for him. I believe that he will reconcile himself with the wolves and himself as a wolf-brother, truly understand it for what it is, and this will help him in the end become the balanced character that he needs to be to save the world after the last battle.

This comment has been far too practical, so I will add that Faile will die, by the hand of dark friends, while carrying Perrin's child, that this will send him into the rage that gets him seriously injured and near to dying. This would be a greater wound that having his legs cut out from under him. Just a thought.

Linda said...

RW: That would be Nuada of the silver hand. Definitely a parallel of Rand.

Ewan said...

@jack o' shadows Oh god please don't say they'll kill faile after we've had to deal with so much moaning on perrins part about getting her back from the shaido. He was always my favourite character but the internal monologues wore on me so so much after a while.
If she dies they'll be no escaping it!

Jack o' Shadows said...

@Ewan: We will have to lose some of the main characters, and RJ planted some possible foreshadowing in ACoS:

Perrin: "If anything happened to you, I'd die, Faile. I would lie down on your grave and die!"

Faile: "As for you lying down on my grave,if you do, my soul will haunt yours, I promise you. You will mourn me a decent time, and then you'll find yourself another wife. Someone I'd approve of, I hope."

Which means we are all in for more internal monologues. Perhaps Brandon will be more succinct with this than RJ was. I really like Perrin as a character, but I think that RJ has used him as parallel to the common people of Randland (or just the Two Rivers) losing their innocence. He regretfully develops a taste for violence, loses his family to Fain/ Isam and their shadowspawn, and may lose Faile. How much loss can he take without falling into grief and madness? I hope that we will see him survive the tempering of loss and the fires of refinement, because he is made of good stuff, but even the highest quality ore can be overwrought.

Anonymous said...

This is definately a looney theory, but maybe Perrin will craft a new prison for the DO.


Nameless Asha'man said...

I like the comment about the Wolf King using the hammer to create rather than destroy. The whole symbolism of choosing the hammer over the axe is weakened if he continues to use the hammer as nothing more than a weapon.

Ewan said...

@Jack o' Shadows i know that we will inevitably lose main characters, i just don't see that RJ would have put so much time and effort into getting Faile back only to have her shot up in a darkfriend driveby.

Speaking of main characters being killed I think that Elayne is going. Her babies will be born and then she'll be killed. Her parallels to Ilyena are undeniable and its been mentioned enough that Min only saw her babies being born, not Elayne living to see them grow up.

Maybe Aviendha raises them and that explains the vision of her with children? I think that was a vision anyway, i cant remember....

Anonymous said...

@Ewan, it is one of mins visions. and that they'll be odd children, and I've been trying to think of ways they'd be odd and still hers without min outright going 'they're four in one connected at the hip EEK!' so maybe Avienda raises them and mins children, or someone else... Egwenes (have no reasoning for that other than Aviendah likes Egwene)

I can actually see Faile dieing because half of the whole Faile's been kidnapped is Perrin needs to learn to let go of things he holds to the past far to much.
I know there's parallels to the three main guys as creator destroyer preserver, not which guy is which though, but I'd put Perrin as Creator, Rand is supposed to Preserve (hence the libraries, cleansing saidin, and wanting to survive the Last Battle, all things that preserve the world). and Mat making Cannon puts him as destroyer.
Anyway Point is i think Perrin will make something important. and create. Maybe he will be the first to become a Da'Shan again and Sing, but he's never sung before so far as i know, so maybe not on that part.

Misopogon said...

Landro's suggestion actually seems to make the most sense.

Linda is coming at this from the wrong angle, seeing that Perrin is a maker and then casting about for things to make.

Take it from the other side: what still needs to be wrought? A prison for the D.O. of course.

Anonymous said...

I think TGS ave us the final foreshadowing of Perrins role In the last Battle. First Unlike many I do not see Perrins part in TGS boring, he had many issues and growing up to do like the other main chatacters. Perrin needed to make his decisions, and accept the role of leader, he is still working through theese and will need to catch up in tToM. As of the end of tGS he is leading all the people, All not just an army bt the regular people, farrier's carpentters, craftsman, and from what we learn they want to follow him, not go back.
Add this to the Prologue foreshadowing of the farmer and blacksmith, feeling the storm, and heading North. The Burried Anvil and tools to be given to someone that eill appreciate them. Perrin will lead the regular people, the army of support troops that the armies of the Last Battle will need, all people are going to need fight the Last battle Weapons, tools and wagons, all will need to be made, food and supplies.

Kathryn Oaken said...

The whole of Perrin as a blacksmith seems more metaphor for his simplistic but brilliant way of looking at the world. both how to run it and treat it's people. Though Mat as the Prince of Ravens if a much higher rank, Perrin seems more of the kind of the three to make a legacy of the Dragon's coming. Mat is merely moving from conflict to conflict. and Rand, well, Rand. And the Dragon Reborn and all that that entails.

@Anonymous, it makes more sense that this approach makes Perrin the Preserver. But with Mat making the Dragons and Rands new outlook it is unclear which of the two is Creator and Destroyer.

Linda said...

Perrin the Blacksmith is the Creator, Mat is the Preserver and Rand is like Shiva the Destroyer.

Kent said...

" Tel’aran’rhiod, where hurts taken don’t Heal as completely as those suffered in the waking world..."

This fact was given by Verin when she was trying to impress the dangers of Tel’aran’rhiod on Egwene. Since then, we've seen injuries from Tel’aran’rhiod be completely healed, such as when Elayne saved the sitters from that roaming nightmare. I think Verin was just lying to scare Egwene into being careful.