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Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Loses His Falcon in Winter’s Heart (Part 4)


Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Loses His Falcon in Winter’s Heart (Part 4)

Home / Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Loses His Falcon in Winter’s Heart (Part 4)
Rereads/Rewatches The Wheel of Time

Reading The Wheel of Time: Perrin Loses His Falcon in Winter’s Heart (Part 4)


Published on December 5, 2023


This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, Perrin leaves a sort-of successful meeting with Masema, only to return home and learn of Faile’s capture. They’re short chapters, but there is a lot of emotional work being done for Perrin that I find really fascinating. While I was reading these chapters I suddenly felt very keyed into the fact that Jordan is a war veteran, and that some of what he builds into his characters and in the violence of the world comes from that. Of course I’ve known about Jordan’s history and considered it before during the read. But this was the moment that I felt like the experience was in the page, staring up at me, as I read.

A wind rises and crosses the land, over Tanchico and Amadicia, now ruled by the Seanchan. The common people are content enough, with peace in the land and mostly left alone, except for having some new customs to follow. In Amador, however, former Whitecloacks are forced to do hard labor and endure the winter chill.

The wind flows further over Amadicia until it reaches Abila, where Perrin is just leaving the house of the Prophet, Masema. Perrin is angry after his meeting with Masema; the stubborn man refuses to Travel to visit Rand, and Perrin had to spend a long time arguing and arranging for Masema and a guard of one hundred of the Prophet’s men to ride back with Perrin, over four hundred leagues or more. And somehow Perrin has to keep their identity secret, per Rand’s orders.

Elyas points out that they might have a better chance knocking Masema on the head and fighting their way out. Perrin thinks privately that with the Aes Sedai, Wise Ones, and Asha’man they might succeed, but his mind is full of the images of Dumai’s Wells, and he can’t bear the thought of turning Abila into a slaughteryard as well. As they leave, with Masema set to meet them at their camp by nightfall, Perrin considers the problem of Aram.

In Masema, Aram had met a man who had given his life and heart and soul to the Dragon Reborn. In Aram’s view, the Dragon Reborn ranked close behind Perrin and Faile.

You did the boy no favor, Elyas had told Perrin. You helped him let go of what he believed, and now all he has to believe in is you and that sword. It’s not enough, not for any man. Elyas had known Aram when Aram was still a Tinker, before he picked up the sword.

Balwer rejoins the group, and reports two important pieces of information to Perrin. The first is that King Ailron and the Amadicia army have been soundly defeated by the Seanchan. The Whitecloaks also took part in the battle, but Valda managed to retreat with many of them. The other news is also of a Seanchan battle, this one in Southern Altara. The Seanchan were defeated, with rumors of both Aes Sedai and men who could channel taking part, and retreated back into Ebou Dar. Perrin remarks that this is good news, and his mind turns once again to thoughts of Faile, who he is more than ready to be reunited with.

When they arrive back at the camp, however, they find the Mayener guards facing off with the Ghealdanin soldiers. Behind the Mayeners, up on a hill, all the Two Rivers men are arranged around the crest, with bows nocked and ready. Perrin hurries up to where Berelain, along with Gallenne and Annoura, is arguing with Gerard Arganda, the First Captain of Alliandre’s soldiers. Before Perrin can say anything, Berelain, in a formal voice, informs him of the details of Faile’s capture. When Perrin, in shock, demands to know why they aren’t out looking for her, Berelain reminds him that there could easily be many bands of Aiel about in the countryside, and that they must first ascertain which band has Faile and form a plan. Elyas agrees that blundering about will only get them killed.

Perrin struggles to hold back the rage he feels, towards the Aiel but also towards everyone there. He sends Elyas to scout, and Aram follows.

It would do no good to founder the animals, Perrin told himself, frowning at their retreating backs. He wanted them to run. He wanted to run with them. Fine cracks seemed to be spidering through him. If they returned with the wrong news, he would shatter. To his surprise, the three Warders trotted their mounts through the trees after Elyas and Aram in splashes of snow, plain woolen cloaks streaming behind, then matched speed when they caught up.

Perrin sends a grateful glance towards the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones, then reaches out with his mind to the wolves, even though he knows Elyas must have already tried this.  The wolves express sympathy, and advise him to mourn her and then move on, knowing he will meet her again in the dream.

He’s drawn back eventually by Arganda, who is angrily demanding to put the Aiel in Perrin’s camp to the question. Perrin angrily reminds Arganda that Alliandre swore fealty to Perrin, which makes Perrin Arganda’s lord.

“I said I’ll find Alliandre when I find Faile.” The edge of an axe. She was alive. “You question no one, touch no one, unless I say. What you will do is take your men back to your camp, now, and be ready to ride when I give the order. If you’re not ready when I call, you will be left behind.”

Berelain praises Perrin’s handling of the situation and he tells her off for playing her “childish games” after his wife has been taken. Berelain responds by pointing out that he should be flattered by two women contesting over him, then rides off. Annoura tells Perrin that sometimes he is a very large fool. Perrin doesn’t understand what she is talking about, and doesn’t care.

Perrin rides up the hill to join the Two Rivers men and the rest of the Aiel. The Wise Ones and gai’shain show no sign of disturbance, but Gaul and the Maidens are veiled and poised for battle. Dannil Lewin reports that when the trouble with the Ghealdanin started, he ordered Perrin’s servants and Faile’s followers to make a circle with the carts and stay inside it, and then brought everyone else up to the defensible position on top of the hill. Perrin tells him that he did the right thing, and starts giving orders to prepare for travel. He goes to Gaul next, and for some reason he and the maidens tense up until Perrin asks Gaul to find Faile. The Aiel set off, with each Maiden pressing a finger to her veiled lips and then to Perrin’s shoulder as they pass. Perrin thinks Faile would know the meaning behind the gesture. Perrin also realizes that the Maidens are allowing Gaul to lead, something they would normally never do, and wonders if it has something to do with Gaul’s desire to marry Chiad.

Perrin tries to go talk to the Wise Ones, but they are in council. One of them, Nevarin, comes out of the tent to ask him what he wants, but she can’t tell him how Faile will be treated by the Aiel—taking wetlanders prisoner is against custom, so who can say what other customs the Shaido will break. When Perrin grows upset, she tells him not to become irrational, as men often do.

There is nothing else for Perrin to do, waiting on the scouts and having issued all the orders to prepare to depart. Lini urges him to take care of himself, and Perrin deduces from her drawn expression that Maighdin was with Faile. He ends up hiking to the top of a ridge where he can watch for the scouts’ return, and finds Tallanvor already up there. Knowing that Tallanvor is in love with Maighdin and likely to marry her, he decides the man has a right to keep watch.

They stay up there as night falls, with no sign of the scouts returning. There is also no sign of Masema and his party, but Perrin doesn’t care about that.

Snow began to fall with a dry rustling. Snow that would bury traces and tracks. Silent in the cold, the two men stood there, watching into the snowfall, waiting, hoping.


You know, a few books ago I was getting a little annoyed with the windy openings, but I’ve come back around to liking them again. It’s kind of nostalgic for me now, if that’s a thing I’m allowed to say about a series I started reading a mere six-ish years ago. In my defense, that was pre-pandemic, so it feels like it has been a lot longer. I’m just like the Two Rivers kids, looking back on the me of a few years ago, thinking about how young and innocent I was. Now I’m old and hard and far from home—well, I’m actually at home a lot more, but that’s basically the same right?

I jest, but in all seriousness, I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about how much our heroes have been through. The end of The Path of Daggers felt a little bit like the end of a second act, to me. There’s a sense of anticipation, with the discovery of a way to fight back against the Dark One climate change problem, and because both Egwene and Rand poised to make huge changes to the landscape of the world. There have been moments in which one or more of our heroes went on the defensive against the Dark, but never has it been at such a scale. At about halfway through the series, that feels relevant. Poignant.

It’s important to remember that not much time has passed since the story began. Maybe two years or so? I have a hard time keeping track of that sort of thing, but it certainly hasn’t been much longer than that. Which is really wild, considering how much has happened. It really puts in perspective how many characters are struggling to understand and accept how much their world is changing, and how quickly. It’s taken me three times as long to read the stories as it has for the stories to occur, so they way things have evolved and changed have gone at rather a reasonable pace. But in universe, Egwene and Rand were peasant children just about two years ago, and now they have risen to the two highest positions of power in their continent. It kind of makes more sense that everyone is resistant to Egwene as Amyrlin, when I look at it that way. And it makes more sense, too, that Rand has no idea how to emotionally handle anything.

I’m kind of curious why Jordan made the timeline so tight. There are in-universe reasons that explain how our heroes have “leveled up” so quickly. Being ta’veren counts for a lot here, and Rand seems to have incredible natural instincts as well as Lews Therin’s memories, prompting him to “discover” new weaves with a rapidity no other channeler could probably manage. Egwene’s forcing is another, and although it’s not stated, I’d think that Nynaeve and Elayne have also experienced some degree of being pushed, or pushing themselves, faster than they would have been had they been normal Tower initiates during a normal time. Mat’s skills as a military tactician were basically downloaded into his brain, and Perrin’s wolfbrother abilities aren’t so much learned as unlocked. Even so, thinking about how powerful they have become in such a short span of time kind of reminds me of how in every training montage in action films it only takes a few months for people to go from absolutely green to a trim and mean fighting team.

(Yeah, I don’t know why I’m phrasing things the way I am today. It’s December. Just go with it.)

It just feels unrealistic, even for super powers and magic. It’s a book, you can have things take as long as you want, skipping ahead months or even years if you like. Our main protagonists are all so young, too. Is it only going to take two more years for them to be ready to fight the Last Battle? That’s wild to me.

On the other hand , it’s possible that Robert Jordan wanted them to face Tarmon Gai’don while they were still quite young because of his own experience fighting in Vietnam. He was quite young, as most soldiers are, and that’s where his perspective on battle and war are coming from. So it makes sense that he would want to explore the subject with characters around that same age. And as I mentioned above, this section really struck me with the specifically wartime PTSD, and got me thinking a lot about which parts of his own experience Jordan might be drawing on when he writes paragraphs like:

Dumai’s Wells flashed into his head again, stronger than before. For a moment, he was back-to-back with Loial again, fighting desperately, sure that every breath would be his last. For the first time that day, he shivered.

It’s a quick moment. Perrin doesn’t become lost in the memory, which is how flashback moments are usually portrayed in story and media. But not every experience of PTSD involves a prolonged experience in which the sufferer believes themselves to be back in the original experience. Sometimes it can be a quick reminder, a flash of anxiety, or paralysis. In Perrin’s case he has a few moments when the spectre of Dumai’s Wells looms up for him in this section. Earlier in chapter one he considers Elyas’s point that it might be easier to try to capture Masema and take him with them, but the idea of instigating a battle in which the One Power would be used is too much for Perrin. After seeing what happened at Dumai’s Wells, he is certain that “Abila would have been a butcher’s yard before they were done,” and determined that such a thing won’t happen again if he at all avoid it.

The decision makes sense. Time will tell if it was the right one, though. I can’t help wondering if Perrin’s ta’veren powers were working on Masema while they were talking. I’m sure Masema truly does worship Rand and believe that he’s following the path the Dragon wants him to, but all those ideas have clearly come from somewhere other than reality. Maybe a Darkfriend whispering in his ear, maybe Rand’s ta’vereness balancing some good it did elsewhere, or maybe it’s just Masema’s own mind gone sideways, but I could definitely imagine Masema deciding that Perrin wasn’t really who he said he was just about as soon as Perrin was out the door. Even without knowing that he’s talking to the Seanchan, I’d be suspicious of Masema’s ability to hold to a promise he made, and Perrin would have done better to insist that Masema come with him—although he probably couldn’t have done that without attracting the attention Rand told him to avoid.

But yeah, I wonder if Masema was as reasonable as he was because Perrin’s ta’veren powers were working on him, and Perrin leaving him to follow behind is going to be just like Rand leaving the negotiations with the Sea Folk—as soon as the ta’veren is out of the room, people stop being so easily led. And Masema’s brain in particular seems like it’s not going to stay going in any direction but its own. Given that he’s late for the arranged rendezvous, I’m guessing that theory is a good one.

Dumai’s Wells was also referenced several times in the prologue of Winter’s Heart, with Rand measuring the mettle and loyalty of Dobraine by his performance in that battle. Perrin also notes Dannil’s strength and ability by that metric in chapter two. You can see both Perrin and Rand feel a kind of kinship to those who experienced that battle with them, even with Rand’s ongoing and growing paranoia in play. It’s also notable, I think, to compare Perrin’s reaction to Dumai’s Wells and his reaction to the battle he led in the Two Rivers. The latter involved more deaths to people he knew and loved, but it was a defensive action against invading Shadowspawn. Dumai’s Wells, however necessary, involved leading people into a battle they could have avoided, leading people to their probably deaths in a desperate attempt to save the Dragon Reborn from captivity by the White Tower. And it ended with the Dragon’s own men, the Asha’man, destroying their opposition in a way that no one had ever seen before. They didn’t cook or eat any of their enemies, but by every other metric what the Asha’man did to the Shaido and the Aes Sedai’s soldiers was just as brutal and violent as the ways in which the Trollocs kill their victims in battle. And yet, the Asha’man are “the good guys.” On Rand’s side, so ultimately on Perrin’s side. On the side of the Light. This isn’t to say that one type of battle is necessarily more scarring or harder to recover from than the other, but they are very different.

And now Perrin is responsible for some of those Asha’man, and for Aes Sedai and Aiel, too. He knows his choices could lead to another Dumai’s Wells, and that is a much heavier responsibility than those he’s carried before. In many ways, the choices he made in the Two Rivers were the only ones he could make. But now, he has the ability to say they aren’t going to fight Masema, to try to avoid using the heaviest weapons in his arsenal as long as he can.

Of course, all that goes out the window once he finds out that Faile is missing. Jordan’s descriptions are on point again this week—I could feel Perrin’s distress in my own body as I read, like my own ears were ringing at hearing the news. Even knowing it was coming because I got to read the chapter in which she, Morgase, and Alliandre were captured, I felt unprepared for the revelation.

One of the most fascinating things about Perrin, for me, is that his emotional journey is the closest to Rand’s, but in a more relatable way. Sure, we don’t have wolfbrothers in our world, but it’s easier to imagine what that would be like than to imagine you were the Dragon Reborn. And while Rand’s anger is enhanced and warped by the taint on saidin, Perrin’s has nothing to do with the supernatural aspects of his nature. His anger is his, pure and human, and actually runs contrary to the way the wolves experience emotion.

I have so many thoughts and musings about how this next stage in his journey is going to go for Perrin. He’s already having a difficult time restraining his anger when interacting with his friends and allies, how much worse will it be if he encounters an enemy. And if, the Light forbid, Faile doesn’t survive her captivity, what will Perrin do then? Elyas once told him to keep the axe until he stopped hating it. It was hard to imagine Perrin ever enjoying violence, but if he lost Faile, I could see, possibly, him turning to violence and revenge as an answer to his pain.

Which brings us to Aram. Elyas has good observations about him, too. I was on Perrin’s side when he allowed Aram to join him, to pick up a sword and abandon the Way of the Leaf. Perrin’s argument was that he had no right to tell a man he can’t defend himself and his people if he chooses to, and you can’t really argue with that logic. But it is still true that Perrin made it easier for Aram to leave behind what he believed in, and Elyas’s point that a man need something more to believe in than fighting and hero worship of a few other fighters. I hadn’t quite been able to put my finger on this exact point until Elyas said it, but now it feels so obvious. Aram’s hunger for a fight makes more sense when you consider that it’s less about a love of battle than it is about filling a void. A man like that could easily fall prey to a cultist like Masema.

Despite all the harm he has caused and all the deprivation experienced by the Prophet’s followers, one thing Masema is giving to people is a faith, with clear rules to follow and which gives a sense of purpose to those who do. With so many people displaced from their old ways of life, be it through political or social upheaval, famine and climate problems, or Rand’s ta’veren “breaking of all bonds,” there are so many people in the land who are at loose ends, desperate for some sense of direction and belonging. It makes sense that Masema can attract followers, despite everything.

And finally, I still don’t get Berelain. Perrin is married, how can she claim that she and Faile are both trying to win him? I mean, I guess there’s divorce, or maybe Berelain’s happy being a mistress? But as the First you would think she would feel disrespected if she wasn’t, you know, first in her relationship. And there’s not really been any mention of divorce existing in any of the cultures we’ve met, as far as I can recall. So if that’s the endgame for her, someone should say. And why exactly does Annoura think Perrin is a fool for telling Berelain off? She was being annoying.


Next week we’ll continue on to Chapters Three and Four, which are also very intensely descriptive, a little scary, and full of little half-nuggets of information. I’ll be touching on the Aiel/Wetlander culture clash, as well, and how, in a way, it compares to the Faile/Perrin culture clash.

In the meantime, I leave you with my favorite quote of the section.

If he was going to get her back, he needed to strangle fear and see. But it was like trying to strangle a tree.


Sylas K Barrett wouldn’t mind some snow, really. But maybe after next week’s reading he’ll be happy enough with the usual December rain.

About the Author

Sylas K Barrett


Sylas K Barrett is a queer writer and creative based in Brooklyn. A fan of nature, character work, and long flowery descriptions, Sylas has been heading up Reading the Wheel of Time since 2018. You can (occasionally) find him on social media on Bluesky ( and Instagram (@thatsyguy)
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