In this introductory section, the story is no longer about Rand, but Perrin!
The prologue, as in the previous novel, provides some quick background essentials: how male channelers go mad, why no one wants the Dragon to be Reborn, the Three Oaths that Aes Sedai vow, and frames the battle against the Dark One. The prologue also ties off some loose threads from the last book: Fain fled to Amadicia, the Seanchan were repelled, and the Darkfriend Jaichim Carridin remains well placed, ready to use his station to advance the Dark One’s plans. With all that out of the way, there is even room to squeeze in the plots for this book: Carridin’s orders have suddenly changed from using Rand to killing Rand. The Whitecloaks mean to leave Rand alone, for now, but under Fain’s influence, they may investigate this Darkfriend-filled Two Rivers district. All the bases have been covered in this short passage.The most important new element out of those was the sudden desire to kill Rand. This is out of character for Ba’alzamon and Lanfear, but we already knew that the Forsaken work against each other as much as with, so perhaps a new Forsaken is involved. Remembering that Ba’alzamon represented doubt, and Lanfear desire, let’s watch for similar characteristics that could be attributed to a new villain.
Immediately, the feel of this novel is different than the previous two. The initial mystery introduced is not ‘who is the black rider?’ or ‘what does the Amyrlin want?’, it is ‘when will we move on from this valley?’. This is not as keenly intriguing as in the previous novels. It is the first appearance of an infamous style that Robert Jordan used abundantly in later books, it is dragging out the revelation of simple details. Why is it used here?
Firstly, this entire first section is told from Perrin’s point of view, the longest sequence to date devoted to a single character’s point of view other than Rand, indicating his importance to the story. As part of making Perrin’s point of view unique, the text is an expression of Perrin’s attitude towards life, move slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully. Perrin himself can’t get right to the point, so chapters from his point of view will show more consideration of details, and feel more drawn out than chapters told from other characters’ point of view. If this wasn’t as obvious in earlier Perrin chapters in the other books, it is probably because there were but one or two chapters at a time, and enough new material was being introduced to overrun this effect. Part of the problem here is that there is no new significant information being presented. Knowing reader perceptions of much later books, I’ll keep an eye on whether this slowness shows up more frequently in Perrin’s point of view than elsewhere.
Another way to show Perrin’s different way of seeing the world is the number of blacksmith references. Descriptions of faces or objects are as comparisons to his experiences at Master Luhhan’s forge. Oddly, Rand never made so many shepherd and tabac references. Perhaps Rand is simply more imaginative and eager for the future, such that his frame of reference extends beyond what he did as a young man. Nynaeve’s cultural references were consistent with her experience, and were used frequently, Egwene’s much less so. Every character, even Perrin, felt like a man or woman of action in earlier books, but now he stands out as slow-moving by association with the idea being expressed in these chapters. Chapter 1 is even called ‘Waiting’.
The famous Wind that rose in the Mountains of Mist does more than describe the setting, the language describing it sets up the mood of ‘Waiting’ before any character is even introduced. Here is some sample language: Down long valleys, hanging in the air, soon spring up, forgotten, snow that never melted, clouds clung to the mountaintops, snow and white billows seemed one, it held awhile, clung, not yet quickened. A variety of subjects have been described, none of them human, but altogether the reader is primed to think of being stuck in place and impatience to move.
Other characters are reintroduced, with their motivations. Loial who wants to write a book on ta’veren. Min who is reluctantly in love with Rand. Uno who bloody well fights goat-kissing Trollocs. Masema who is overeager to serve Rand. Several plotlines relating to Perrin are begun or touched on here: his association with Tuatha’an, his Wolfbrother abilities, dreams. As the central character, Rand scarcely appears. There is little point, his concerns are the same as Perrin’s to a large extent, and no one has the answers to his most pressing dilemma, how to control the One Power. Switching to Perrin’s Point of View instead of Rand’s has no downsides. Staying out of Moiraine’s point of view, but reminding readers of her inviolable objectives, keeps them suspicious of her.
In the dreams, Perrin gains more insight into the Forsaken than anyone else has. His Wolfbrother dreaming ability lets him enter the World of Dreams despite any protective effects from Moiraine’s presence. First Ba’alzamon, then Lanfear each pays him a visit and tries to get him to drink from their cup. They are still intent on using the Two Rivers boys, and have passed up easy opportunities to kill Perrin here. Interestingly, Perrin tries to assert his identity in a realm where force of will creates reality. Lanfear is eager to help Perrin, and brings him or lets him follow to the chaotic paths of the World of Dreams, where he sees Ba’alzamon meet with Be’lal in puffy sleeves and another Forsaken. They argue and vanish in a fireball. One of them is sending the Soulless after Rand. One of them is behind the Myrddraal that visited Carridin. One of them is not playing Ba’alzamon’s way, and is trying to kill Rand. And they just sent the Twisted Ones at the camp! Waiting is over.
Changing point of view also allows you to change the voice, style, and pacing of your writing. It’s a new person with a whole new world view.