Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #3: Perrin POV

By Linda


The scene is about Perrin making and Perrin dreaming. Making feels right to Perrin and so does the violence of that making – the hammering. At the moment, Perrin’s dreaming and making are turning out “wrong”. Perrin needs to understand the pieces of himself and his situation and to forge himself better. When he makes something without knowledge of himself, it turns out wrong. He can’t work iron successfully because he hasn’t worked things out in his head; nor can he successfully work things out while smithing. Working while resentful and confused is literally not constructive.

It’s all about balance – and it’s a difficult one to achieve. Perrin has two sides to himself: the craftsman/artisan and the shamanic wild man and both are important. He still wants to reject part of himself but then he would be half the person he could be. Rejecting being a wolf would be completely against the Pattern, as Hopper’s reaction shows:

Hopper seemed confused. No. “Confused” did not convey the pained mix of sendings that came from Hopper. Images of blackness, the scent of rotting meat, wolves howling in agony.

Towers of Midnight Prologue

but if Perrin ignores his need to create – physical as well as metaphorical things - he will lose his humanity. Hopper might laugh at making but making is human.

Hopper likens Perrin to a pup – immature – but Perrin is a married man and has mastered his craft. Technically anyway. But he hasn’t come together yet; he is still in pieces, misunderstood pieces. He is the master of his craft, but not yet of himself.

Hopper is Perrin’s spirit animal guide and appeals to Perrin’s shamanic side. He has little in common with the creator/artisan aspect of Perrin and indeed doesn’t see the point of smithing or forging. It is transformation, as we shall see. Smiths were revered or sacred in earlier times for this knowledge and ability, just as they are to the Aiel. Perrin being a smith probably kept the Aiel respectful during his ordeal.

Perrin assumed that when he got Faile back everything would be all right, but they still have unresolved relationship problems. Since they have not resolved them, the rumours have not died down, but may have grown.

Hopper suggests leaving and tempts Perrin with this way out of his responsibilities. Perrin is afraid to go because he fears he will become all wolf and lose Faile. He feels his dream is a blending of his own dream and the wolf-dream. The blurring of his own dreams and Tel’aran’rhiod shows he needs to be taught to sort them out, just as he has to sort out and separate the wolf and the man. Another way of looking at it is that Perrin’s need to be educated about Tel’aran’rhiod – and his fear of it? – is so important now that it is in his dreams. Wolves have an “odd sense for the future” equivalent to Dreaming. Perrin considers reversing his link to the wolves, his transformation, but this would be example of Wrongness according to Hopper (see my essay on the theme of Wrongness).

The dream rerun of the attack on Malden is all wrong. Perrin did not take the axe, he took the hammer. There is a difference between them and it matters to Perrin. Yet Hopper points out that so far Perrin has used the hammer and the axe in the same way – to kill - so the difference is only potential at this stage, not actual.

Perrin thinks of “my hammer” but “the axe.” He avoids acknowledging he owned the axe, yet he was given the axe before the hammer. He accepts the need to kill, and he even enjoyed fighting the Aiel to revenge Faile’s captivity. His thoughts on fighting the Aiel:

He didn’t regret their deaths. Sometimes, a man needed to fight, and that was that. Death was terrible, but that didn’t stop it from being necessary. In fact, it had been wonderful to clash with the Aiel. He’d felt like a wolf on the hunt.
When Perrin fought, he came close to becoming someone else. And that was dangerous.

- Towers of Midnight Prologue

show he’s still himself when he fights – and a man as much as a wolf. Nor does he consider or seem to care that some of those Aiel he killed had helped Faile and co. He was glad to do it. In contrast, wolves kill for food.

The splitting of himself in the dream over the subject of battle is right; Perrin does have these two halves of himself that he needs to reconcile (see Perrin essay). Perrin always blames the wolves and the wolf side of himself for any shortcomings and even accused Hopper of bringing this dream. In the dream Perrin’s shadow–self splits off to fight Aram and turns into a wolf. In reality Aram was killed by Aiel, otherwise he would have killed Perrin. Perrin regrets allowing Aram to take up sword, but at the time he felt as Hopper does.

Perrin pulls the Aram figurine out of the barrel first. Aram mirrored his problems: both being peaceable men whose families were butchered, although Aram turned into a wolfhound, not a wolf. When Aram left his group to join Perrin he should have been given more support through such a drastic change once the Emond’s Field battle was over, but Perrin was focussed on his own concerns. Perrin is too narrow, too, in his concentration on Faile, just as Aram’s concentration on Perrin and his sword was too narrow a life for a man. If Perrin is not careful he will be as obsessed as Aram was. He’s already too single-minded and loses himself in the task at hand. Perrin relived Malden in his dream because he has been thinking about Aram so much.

Perrin worked only a few pieces of metal, but pulls far more from the barrel:

When he finished, hundreds of figurines stood on the floor, facing him. Watching. Each steel figure was lit with a tiny fire inside, as if waiting to feel the forger’s hammer.
But figurines like this wouldn’t be forged, they’d be cast.

- Towers of Midnight, Prologue

they amassed without him doing anything, just as he is attracting people to his army without recruiting.

The tiny fire inside each figure is heart-fire, soul. When Perrin hammers the iron in his dream, he makes sparks – chips of light like “incandescent insects”. These are reminiscent of the fireflies Min views whenever she sees Rand, Perrin or Mat, fireflies being swallowed by the Shadow. Perrin fears the responsibility for leading people to their deaths against the Shadow. Being at the forge is home to him, and so is Dreaming. The forge is the Light.

The dream also shows that whether Perrin likes it or not the smallest of his actions – especially the creating ones - has huge consequences in the Pattern and affects so many lives. Perrin knows that the dream is not literal, and that the figures would be cast, not forged in the real world. The metaphor of the dream is that Perrin is to forge his people into an army by forging himself into a true leader and into a whole person. In his case the figures do have to be forged, and Perrin will do that forging and temper them to make them stronger. At the moment they are only half-done, half unformed.

Perrin must make but he has to make himself first. The creative process will go a lot better when he does.

A dark influence enters his dream:

The shards [of Aram] all became little hands, climbing toward Perrin, reaching for him.
Perrin gasped, leaping to his feet. He heard laughter in the distance, ringing through the air, shaking the building.
Hopper jumped, slamming into him. And then. . .

- Towers of Midnight, Prologue

When the hot Aram figurine is pulled from the quenching barrel, it is screaming silently:

the face was distorted, the mouth open in a twisted scream… The figurine’s mouth opened farther, screaming soundlessly.

- Towers of Midnight, Prologue

like the figures in Moridin’s fire-place near Shayol Ghul. Aram was Shadow-touched, since he was persuaded to kill Perrin by Masema, who was deluded by one of the Forsaken (probably Lanfear). The dream hints of a confrontation with the Shadow that Perrin is not ready for yet. This is why Hopper booted him out of the dream.

The laughter reminded me of the Dark One’s laughter in Mat’s dreams in Knife of Dreams, Dragons’ Eggs as he plans the development of gunpowder weapons. When I first read this scene it suggested to me that a Forsaken or Slayer, or perhaps both, would attack Perrin in this book. I was right. Perhaps this blending of the Wolf dream and his own dreams is a prophetic dream such as Egwene has, or a way of reading Tel’aran’riod (see Talents article). Previously Perrin had brief visions in windows in Tel’aran’rhiod to see the near future.

Perrin, the Dragon’s bannerman, has the makings of a huge army. As he forges himself into a leader, he will attract more followers, even the Whitecloaks he is about to encounter, to increase his forces further, thus making himself worthy of the Bannerman title bestowed upon him at Falme by Artur Hawkwing. Perrin has unfinished business with the Whitecloaks since they were the first people he killed with his axe. At the moment he is an outlaw – in the Middle Ages described as a wolf’s head – as far as they are concerned. So the wolf’s head banner is doubly apt.

The scene introduces Perrin’s themes for Towers of Midnight: to sort himself out, strengthen his army, create an important item and fight off the Shadow in the dream.


Anthony said...

Great post as always. I had forgotten about the Bannerman title.

I can't shake the feeling that The Gathering Storm, The Towers of Midnight, and The Memory of Light are truly still just thirds of one work. And that we have fewer pieces of the puzzle to work with than at the completion of any of the other earlier books.

Clare said...

Hi Linda, I've been reading your blog for a while and I really enjoy it. I have always been intrigued by this scene, I think because I can't work out whether the first three objects Perrin is making have any individual meaning beyond their collective meaning of Perrin trying too hard to make himself into something he can't be. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Linda said...

Clare: I think those 3 pieces are the start of the power-wrought hammer, Mjolnir-equivalent, he makes later in the book.

Linda said...

All: Thanks for the positive comments.

It seems as though there is still a lot to tie up, but there's not much time or book space left in which to do so.