Friday, April 1, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #11: Chapter 9 - Leaving Malden

By Linda


Perrin is having trouble settling down after rescuing Faile, mainly because he can’t express himself to her. In a way he’s still in wolf mode and can’t talk intimately to humans. It’s one reason why he chose examining wagons while granting an audience. His fear of remaining a wolf is actually holding him in limbo; he’s neither one nor the other. He should be both.

Balwer wanted to question the Wise Ones but the Seanchan got these. He’s so desperate he even suggests sending questions for the Seanchan to ask the Wise Ones. Surely that would tell the Seanchan too much about what Balwer (and Perrin) know and would like to know. Just like many Aes Sedai, Balwer’s thirst for knowledge leads him into unwise actions. Perrin says Balwer can question the gai’shain. Perhaps the Aiel will agree to that, although reminding Aiel of their change in status is shaming.

Perrin’s shrewd observation on the difference rank makes to how people regard you is that when Lords are slow in thinking they are being careful and clever; when commoners are slow they are just slow. He promptly figured out that Forsaken met with the Shaido and were probably disguised, yet he considers himself a slow thinker.

Tam warns Perrin that most of the Two Rivers men will follow him to Shayol Ghyul. This makes Perrin brood on his leadership abilities:

He hadn't been a good leader lately. He'd never been a model one, of course, not even when Faile had been there to guide him. But during her absence, he'd been worse. Far worse. He'd ignored his orders from Rand, ignored everything, all to get her back.

The Gathering Storm, Leaving Malden

I don’t think Mat would describe any of the tasks Rand gave him as orders. Perrin takes his responsibilities seriously and not for granted as some nobles do – when they feel their responsibilities at all. He feels guilty about those people who died helping him and those he did not help, like Aram.

It strikes me that the last people waiting to consult Perrin are the most competent. I guess there was no rush for them to inform Perrin of completed tasks rather than ask for things or complain. Perrin feels empty now that he has achieved his goal of freeing Faile and hasn’t another one to replace it. He is a driven man who needs practical activity. Feeling Rand’s ta’veren pull again for the first time since Faile was captured, he decides to make returning to Rand his next focus.

Whenever I read about the wolf-head banner, it reminds me that the wolf head was a sign of an outlaw in Germanic and Anglo-Saxon society. The value of an outlaw’s life was equivalent to a wolf’s, meaning it was considered a benefit to society to kill him and a price was put on his (‘wolf’s’) head.

In the early Middle Ages a sentence of outlawry often expressed a society’s inability to enforce its legal codes; it was invoked when an accused lawbreaker fled justice. Because the sentence of outlawry placed a person beyond the protection of the law, it was in effect a death sentence. Later, as the systems of law enforcement grew more effective, the punishment of outlaws became less severe, and a sentence of outlawry often resulted in exile rather than death…Outlawry as often indicated political disfavour as it did criminal behaviour.

- Carl Lindahl, John McNamara, John Lindow (eds), Medieval Folklore

Rand banished Perrin as part of a ruse to ensure his movements were disregarded and the Whitecloaks considered Perrin an outlaw for escaping their death sentence. Considering that outlaws were called “wolf’s heads” in earlier times Perrin’s wolf’s head banner is doubly apt. See Perrin essay for an analysis of Perrin’s character including his lycanthropy or shape-shifting.


Anonymous said...

Even though I liked this section well enough, it felt useless. It felt like a place holder to me. I feel the same about Mat's first couple chapters. Everything but Verin could have been dumped with Mat's section. By dumping those sections BS could have included Galad being captured, Perrin's dream and a little of Elayne and Mat in Caemlyn. Hindsight is of course 20/20 and others will disagree of course.

Linda said...

Perrin's scene is more about character than plot. It was put in because Tam would need to be extracted from this group and this reminds us where he is. The scene is an artefact of the book split.

Mat's first scenes develop his role as King of the Dead and thus had a lot of relevance I thought. The living dead theme is strong in the Gathering Storm and I'll be writing about it when I finish looking at the chapters individually. Also other themes and issues raised in the book, including a major new essay, I hope!

Russ said...

Most of the Perrin POV's, and I'd argue most of the main character POV's in WOT are character studies. I think most people, not myself even though there was a time, find Perrin to be just too darn mundane with his relationship and leadership struggles. Mat and Rand have the same types of chapters as this, but nobody really complains. Why? Rand is suffering from taint-induced psychosis, so its out of the ordinary and interesting. Mat is roguish and has a very funny inner dialogue.

I thought the wagon-checking was a great parallel of what he was simultaneously doing in his head. He was checking the status, looking for cracks, trying to figure out what needed to be fixed, so he could move forward. In the end, he also found his direction, back to Rand.

Pretty good multi-tasking if I've ever seen it.