Monday, March 11, 2002

Perrin's Wolf-dreams

By Linda and Ruriha Sedai

In his trips into Tel'aran'rhiod, Perrin has had several visions. These seem to be related to the Talent of Dreaming that Egwene has, predicting the future or possible futures, although they happen when Perrin's mind is in Tel'aran'rhiod rather than within his own dreams. The Wise Ones Dreamwalkers say that one can see some of the future within Tel'aran'rhiod (The Shadow Rising, Beyond the Stone) and this may be one of the ways Perrin does so. More recently, he has had precognitive dreams. Both dreams and visions happen when he is personally under threat, usually from Shadowspawn or Isam. This article looks at possible interpretations of Perrin's dreams and his visions in Tel’arhan’rhiod, in chronological order.

The Dragon Reborn

Egwene and Nynaeve and Elayne stood looking at a huge metal cage, with a raised door held on a heavy spring. They stepped in and reached up together to loose the catch. The barred door snapped down behind them. A woman with her hair all in braids laughed at them, and another woman all in white laughed at her.

- The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers

This refers to Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve's decision to deliberately walk into the Black Ajah trap in Tear. The woman with her hair in braids is Liandrin; the woman in white is Lanfear.

Mat, rattling a dice cup. His opponent stared at Mat with eyes of fire. Mat did not seem to see the man, but Perrin knew him. "Mat!" he shouted. "It's Ba'alzamon. Light, Mat, you're dicing with Ba'alzamon!"

- The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers

It is probable that this refers to Mat's ‘bet’ with Rahvin/Gaebril that he would get to Tear in time to save the girls. It also ties in with Egwene's dream of Mat dicing with the Dark One.

What did it mean that Mat was dicing with the Dark One, and why did he keep shouting "I am coming!" and why did she think in the dream that he was shouting at her?

- The Dragon Reborn, Following The Craft

That refers to the same event, and the wording is almost the same—dicing with the Dark One/Ba'alzamon—so they tie together. In all his battles, Mat has been gambling with the Shadow.

The Shadow Rising

Rand stood amid swirling stormwinds, laughing wildly, even madly, arms upraised, and on the winds rode [dragons].

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This probably refers to Rhuidean, where Rand was marked with the dragons. Egwene had a similar dream:

And one of him [Rand] kneeling in a chamber where a parched wind blew dust across the floor, and creatures like the one on the Dragon banner, but much smaller, floated on the wind, and settled into his skin.

- The Dragon Reborn, Questions

There is a resemblance in the dragons floating on the wind, but there are differences too. Perrin seems to have picked up on Rand’s creeping madness, his rather hysterical laughter as he and Mat battled their way out of Rhuidean through the dust monsters, and on the storm of controversy that he is about to unleash among the Aiel when he shows them the dragons he wears while he tells them of their history. Life around Rand has become increasingly stormy and Rand himself grew stormier and madder until the end of The Gathering Storm.

hidden eyes watched Rand, and there was no way of telling whether he knew it

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This seems to be a kind of general thing about all the people watching and/or with eyes-and-ears on Rand—the Forsaken, anyone with political power and an ounce of sense, the Wise Ones, etc,—or it could be a more specific reference. Likely the general meaning applies, although possibly it could refer specifically to Dreamwalkers watching Rand in his dreams until he learned to ward them.

Nynaeve and Elayne stalking cautiously through a demented landscape of twisted, shadowed buildings, hunting some dangerous beast.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This refers to Elayne and Nynaeve going to Tanchico to hunt for the Black Ajah in a city where a Forsaken lurked.

Mat, standing where a road forked ahead of him. He flipped a coin, started down one branch, and suddenly was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and walking with a staff bearing a short sword blade.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This is almost literal; it seems to refer to Mat tossing the coin at Rand's request which took him to Rhuidean, and hence through the doorway where he got his ashandarei, and back through the Waste where he bought his hat.

Egwene and a woman with long white hair were staring at him in surprise while behind them the White Tower crumbled stone by stone.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

The woman must be Amys. The interesting thing about this is that the surprised look on their faces suggests that this was actually a chance meeting in Tel'aran'rhiod, as well as a prophetic vision of the White Tower’s collapse. Or, it could simply be that it was entirely a vision referring both to the fact that Egwene is training with Amys to be a Dreamwalker and the destruction of the Tower as a whole. Egwene trained with all three Dreamwalkers, not just Amys. Either way, it is fulfilled. The Tower gradually crumbled until The Gathering Storm, when reunification finally began.

Egwene stood among a crowd of women, fear in her eyes; slowly the women knelt around her, Nynaeve was one of them, and he believed he saw Elayne's red-gold hair.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This refers to Egwene being raised Amyrlin Seat by the Salidar Aes Sedai and then the White Tower.

That window faded and was replaced. Mat stood naked and bound, snarling; an odd spear with a black shaft had been thrust across his back behind his elbows, and a silver medallion, a foxhead, hung on his chest.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

Tylin separated Mat from most of his belongings in A Crown of Swords except for his spear, medallion, ring and hat. She intimidated him into having sex with her (see Forced Attentions post).

Mat vanished, and it was Rand. Perrin thought it was Rand. He wore rags and a rough cloak, and a bandage covered his eyes.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

This vision seems to have connections to Min's viewing in The Eye of the World of Rand with a beggar's staff. It should also be noted that the Fisher figure in Moridin's Sha'rah game is depicted with a blindfold and is an allusion to, or ‘dim memory’ of, Rand, according to Moridin (The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances).

Brandon Sanderson confirmed on The Gathering Storm book tour that this dream was fulfilled in the latter part of The Gathering Storm when Rand wandered alone in Altara after nearly killing Tam. He stayed with Tinkers outside Ebou Dar, from whom he acquired the ragged cloak and staff:

Last night, he had traded his fine black coat to a Tinker for a common brown cloak, ragged on the bottom and stitched in places. Not a Tinker cloak, just one that a Tinker had sewn up for a man who had never returned to claim it. It made him stand out less, even if it did require him to carry the access key looped to his belt, rather than his deep pocket. The Tinker also gave him a walking staff, which Rand used as he walked

- The Gathering Storm, Just Another Man

The staff shows Rand has begun a pilgrimage, and needs not only spiritual guidance, but support. Exchanging his black coat with the pocket to hold the ter’angreal for a humble cloak symbolises a need to step back from the destructive role of being the Asha’man and from his link to Moridin (death), both of which have tainted him. Rand has seen too much death and dealt too much death. As a result, his access key, the link to almost unlimited power, becomes a more obvious and inconvenient burden now that it can’t be carried close to his chest, hidden against his heart. Jordan said that Lews Therin had ‘ultimate power’ in the Age of Legends. Yet while Lews Therin was able to save the world, it was at more than personal cost: the whole world is still paying. How telling that Rand received both the cloak and the staff from a benevolent and completely non-violent people whose ancestors served the Aes Sedai and were referred to as Children of the Dragon.

Trauma, death and his burdens have blinded Rand. Humbling himself was the first step to ‘meeting his toh’ and restoring his honour as an Aiel would, and the shame he felt in Ebou Dar when people innocently showed concern for him while he secretly considered committing genocide underlined this. Finally, after an intense spiritual struggle in his birthplace Rand became conscious of his blindness and saw where he had gone astray:

And Rand opened his eyes for the first time in a very long while.

- The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold

Crossroads of Twilight

He ran easily through the night in spite of the snow that covered the ground. He was one with the shadows, slipping through the forest, the moonlight almost as clear to his eyes as the light of the sun. A cold wind ruffled his thick fur, and suddenly brought a scent that made his hackles stand and his heart race with a hatred greater than that for the Neverborn. Hatred, and a sure knowledge of death coming. There were no choices to be made, not now. He ran harder, toward death...
This dream was fading quickly, in the manner of dreams, yet he remembered being a wolf and smelling…What? Something wolves hated more than they did Myrddraal. Something a wolf knew would kill him. The knowledge he had had in the dream was gone; only vague impressions remained. He had not been in the wolf dream, that reflection of this world where dead wolves lived on and the living could go to consult them. The wolf dream always remained clear in his head after he left, whether he had gone there consciously or not. Yet this dream still seemed real, and somehow urgent.

- Crossroads of Twilight, The Forging of a Hammer

This appears to be a prophetic dream in the manner of Egwene's dreams, rather than the visions of the future, while his mind is in Tel'aran'rhiod, that Perrin usually sees. The dream is a warning of the Darkhounds that are circling the camp, or about to. It also warns that Tarmon Gai'don is imminent, the Last Hunt when many wolves will die, even though they participate in the certain knowledge that they will probably die, and it is time the Wolf-King picked up the hammer. Much has been made of the choice Perrin had to make between the hammer and the axe, but for Perrin there is vanishingly little choice. He was prepared to do anything to get Faile back, make any deal, and his disgust at using his axe to mutilate someone in the unlikely chance they could tell him where Faile was made him hurl his axe into an oak and keep his hammer.

Towers of Midnight

Perrin had a long dream of working at a forge making three poor pieces while meditating on his problems: his reputation ruined by Berelain, his fragile relationship with Faile, his people’s dependence on him and his fear of losing his humanity. The work turns out wrong, which stresses Perrin because he knows this item is important. Part of the problem is that Perrin does not know what he is making. He wants to show his former Master a worthy work—his own “master’s piece”. The important object Perrin is failing to make is his hammer Mah’alleinir. The pieces become hundreds of figurines of his people.

Hopper is there as his Guardian Wolf. When Hopper dies, he will be replaced by a human Wolf Guard. Hopper says there is little difference between the way Perrin currently uses his axe and his hammer.

Perrin relives the Battle of Malden, but with a different outcome: he kills Aram instead of an Aiel doing it, and takes responsibility for how Aram became corrupt. There is laughter in the distance coming closer, forcing Hopper to push Perrin out of the dream. This is probably the Dark One’s laughter, as Mat dreamt in Crossroads of Twilight.

This dream appears to be a precognitive dream—more than an ordinary dream and not a vision in Tel’aran’rhiod:

He was dreaming, though he wasn’t in the wolf dream. He knew this, though he didn’t know how he knew...
This dream was so odd. In the past, Perrin’s ordinary dreams and the wolf dream had been separate. What did this blending mean?

- Towers of Midnight, Prologue

Just as Egwene is using need to gain knowledge in Tel’aran’rhiod, so Perrin is beginning to Dream.

The dreams continue:

he had bigger worries to bother him, not the least of which were his strange dreams. Haunting visions of working the forges, and being unable to create anything of worth.

- Towers of Midnight, Questions of Leadership

and the three shoddy pieces actually appear in Tel’aran’rhiod, correctly linked to Perrin’s problems:

I can't ignore my problems! Perrin thought back. Yet you often do, Hopper sent.
It struck true—more true, perhaps, than the wolf knew. Perrin burst into a clearing and pulled to a halt. There, lying on the ground, were the three chunks of metal he'd forged in his earlier dream. The large lump the size of two fists, the flattened rod, the thin rectangle. The rectangle glowed faintly yellow-red, singeing the short grass around it.
The lumps vanished immediately, though the simmering rectangle left a burned spot... Hopper suddenly shot back through the air, landing beside Perrin, skidding to a stop. The wolf wouldn't have seen the holes; they had never appeared to his eyes. Instead, he regarded the burned patch with disdain and sent the image of Perrin, unkempt and bleary-eyed, his beard and hair untrimmed and his clothing disheveled. Perrin remembered the time; it had been during the early days of Faile's captivity… You couldn't make a thing until you understood its parts. He wouldn't know how to deal with—or reject—the wolf inside him until he understood the wolf dream.

- Towers of Midnight, The Pattern Groans

There will be no creation of Mah’alleinir (Thor’s hammer Mjolnir), his masterpiece so vital to the Last Battle, until Perrin works on his problems, the pieces of himself he does not understand.

Hopper can’t see precognitive visions in windows but he does see the burned patch that the three pieces left and links it to Perrin’s poor psychological state after Faile was captured. Perrin is in a poor psychological state again—or is it still? He has to sort himself and his responsibilities and abilities out.

Perrin looked up, searching for the wolves. Ahead of him, in the sky above the trees ahead, a large hole of blackness opened up. He could not tell how far it was away, and it seemed to dominate all he could see while being distant at the same time.

Mat stood there. He was fighting against himself, a dozen different men wearing his face, all dressed in different types of fine clothing. Mat spun his spear, and never saw the shadowy figure creeping behind him, bearing a bloody knife.
"Mat!" Perrin cried, but he knew it was meaningless. This thing he was seeing, it was some kind of dream or vision of the future. It had been some time since he'd seen one of these. He'd almost begun to think they would stop coming.

- Towers of Midnight, The Pattern Groans

The shadowy creature is probably the gholam that was tracking Mat. Mat fighting himself in different guises may refer to Mat’s memories or to his different roles that pull him in different directions. Or both these things.

He turned away and another darkness opened in the sky. He saw sheep, suddenly, running in a flock toward the woods. Wolves chased them, and a terrible beast waited in the woods, unseen. He was there, in that dream, he sensed. But who was he chasing, and why? Something looked wrong with those wolves.

- Towers of Midnight, The Pattern Groans

Perrin has an insight into some of the meaning in this vision:

"My armies here, they're being herded, Faile. Like sheep being driven to the butcher."
He suddenly remembered his vision from the wolf dream. Sheep running in front of wolves. He'd thought himself one of the wolves. But could he have been wrong? Light! He had been wrong about that. He knew what it meant, now. "I can feel it on the wind," he said. "The problem with gateways, it's related to something happening in the wolf dream. Somebody wants us to be unable to escape this place."

- Towers of Midnight, Judgement

The terrible beast waiting in the woods is probably Isam and his dreamspike holding Perrin’s forces in one place so they can be wiped out. The wolves that are wrong are likely the Shadowspawn that Graendal ordered brought through a Portal Stone.

A third darkness, to the side. Faile, Grady, Elyas, Gaul…all walked toward a cliff, followed by thousands of others.
The vision closed.

- Towers of Midnight, The Pattern Groans

All the people are walking toward the Last Battle and the possible end of everything. Rand has not yet had his epiphany, so the Light are likely to lose at this point.

Rand’s battle against despair and his epiphany were such important events that they showed in Tel’aran’rhiod. What Perrin saw in the Dream was slightly different to how the events were described in the waking world in The Gathering Storm.

This horrible maelstrom was the wolf dream's reaction to something great, something terrible. In this place, sometimes things were more real than in the waking world. The dream reflected a tempest because something very important was happening. He worried that it was something terrible.
Finally, Perrin heaved atop one last stone and found himself within a dozen feet of the top. He could make out the figure now. The man stood at the very heart of the vortex of winds, staring eastward, motionless. He was faint and translucent, a reflection of the real world. Like a shadow. Perrin had never seen anything like it.
It was Rand, of course. Perrin had known that it would be.

Rand wore a coat of black and red. Fine and ornamented, with a sword at his waist. The winds didn't affect Rand's clothes. Those fell unnaturally still, as if he really were just a statue. Carved from stone. The only thing that moved was his dark red hair, blowing in the wind, thrown and spun.

- Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here

Rand’s red and black coat shows his link to Moridin, whose colours are red and black. His clothes are unaffected by the wind as though he is like a Myrddraal, so affected by the Shadow is he. Perrin describes Rand as “like a Shadow”. Rand’s features are stony because he has crippled his emotions. Only his hair moves. Hair is symbolic of the vital force of a person and Rand’s is buffeted by a tempest.

Perrin actually sees (Witnesses) Rand’s battle with Shadow-induced despair:

Something black began to spin around Rand. It wasn't part of the storm; it seemed like night itself leaking from him. Tendrils of it grew from Rand's own skin, like tiny hands curling back and wrapping around him. It seemed evil itself given life. "Rand!" Perrin bellowed. "Fight it! Rand!"
His voice was lost in the wind, and he doubted that Rand could have heard him anyway. The darkness continued to seep out, like a liquid tar coming through Rand's pores, creating a miasma of pitch around the Dragon Reborn. Within moments, Perrin could barely see Rand through the blackness. It enclosed him, cutting him off, banishing him. The Dragon Reborn was gone. Only evil remained.
"Rand, please . . ." Perrin whispered.
And then—from the midst of the blackness, from the center of the uproar and the tempest—a tiny sliver of light split through the evil. Like a candle's glow on a very dark night. The light shone upward, toward the distant sky, like a beacon. So frail. The tempest buffeted it. The winds stormed, howled, and screamed. The lightning beat against the top of the rocky peak, blasting free chunks of rock, scoring the ground. The blackness undulated and pulsed.
But still the light shone.
A web of cracks appeared down the side of the shell of evil blackness, light shining from within. Another fracture joined it, and another. Something strong was inside, something glowing, something brilliant.
The shell exploded outward, vaporizing and releasing a column of light so bright, so incredible that it seemed to sear the eyes from Perrin's head. But he looked on anyway, not raising arm to shade or block the resplendent image before him, Rand stood within that light, mouth open as if bellowing toward the skies above. The sun-yellowed column shot into the air, and the storm seemed to shudder, the entire sky itself undulating.
The tempest vanished.
That column of fiery light became a column of sunlight streaming down, illuminating the peak of Dragonmount. Perrin pulled his fingers free from the rock, gazing on with wonder at Rand standing within the light. It seemed so long, so very long, since Perrin had seen a ray of pure sunlight.

- Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here

and Rand’s transfiguration from his epiphany. Rand vanished after his epiphany, perhaps because Perrin was no longer watching and witnessing, having joined in with the wolves’ celebration.

Perrin’s reading of Tel’aran’rhiod is that creation is now going to hell in a hand basket:

The sky rumbled; the grass around Perrin shivered. That grass was spotted black, just as in the real world. Even the wolf dream was dying.
The air was full of scents that did not belong. A fire burning. Blood drying. The dead flesh of a beast he didn't recognize. Eggs rotting…

- Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

This corruption started in the real world first. Creation is Blighted and Tel’aran’rhiod reflects that.

- A Memory of Light

"Light…" Perrin whispered to Gaul, looking across the landscape. "It's dying."

The boiling, thrashing, churning black sky of the wolf dream was nothing new, but the storm that the sky had been foreshadowing for months had finally arrived. Wind blew in enormous gusts, moving this way, then that, in unnatural patterns… The landscape seemed less real than it usually did. The raging winds actually smoothed out hills, like erosion at high speed. In other places, the land swelled up, forming ripples of rock and new hillsides. Chunks of earth sprayed into the air, shattering. The land itself was coming apart.

He grabbed Gaul's shoulder and shifted the two of them away from the place. It was too close to Rand, Perrin suspected. Indeed, as they appeared on the familiar plain to the south—the place where he'd hunted with Hopper—they found the storm less powerful.

- A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot

As Perrin intuits, the storm represents the last confrontation between the Dark One and Rand. It has been threatening or foreshadowed for a long while but has now arrived.

It overlies the damage that the Shadow has done to reality, the landscape breaking and less real, and the wrongness.

Everything was dead. In the wolf dream, Perrin stumbled across a rocky wasteland without plants or soil. The sky had gone black, the dark clouds themselves vanishing into that nothingness. As he climbed atop a ridge, an entire section of the ground behind him crumbled—his stone footing shaking violently—and was pulled into the air.

Beneath that was only emptiness.

In the wolf dream, all was being consumed. Perrin continued forward toward Shayol Ghul. He could see it, like a beacon, glowing with light. Strangely, behind, he could make out Dragonmount, though it should have been far too distant to see. As the land between them crumbled, the world seemed to be shrinking.

The two peaks, pulling toward one another, all between shattered and broken.

- A Memory of Light, Light and Shadow

The breaking of the Land, Breaking of the world, is worse than ever. Crunch time, literally. Shayol Ghul and Dragonmount are pulled toward each other in the final stages of Rand’s battle with the Dark One. Is it so one volcano can smash or block the other, or so one can replace the other? The Dark One tried to break Rand with despair but at this stage had failed. Rand, on the other hand, intended to kill the Dark One, but this would result in the world being as evil in its own way as if the Dark One had remade the world. Finally Rand realised that he needed to seal the Dark One away again.

Written by Ruriha Sedai and Linda, April 2002 and updated June 2013 and July 2017

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